Taking a break (from everything but cooking)

Well, it’s been quite a few weeks since my last posting thanks to holidays and stuff. I did think at one point that I might post while I was away, but chilled out mode kicked in almost instantly and the thought of typing seemed too much like work. Speaking of which, I’m back at work tomorrow and while I’m sure it will be grand when I get there, the thought of it right now does NOT excite me.

So, most of my recent adventures haven’t really been food related. I spent just over two weeks in South Africa avec la famille and while food is VERY important to hubby and giant sons, it’s really more of an interest in quantity and ‘packing’ than any kind of gastronomical passion. We did have a lovely 50th birthday lunch (for me, yes) at Cape Point in the Two Oceans restaurant, which, while a complete tourist trap (cheers Phillipe from 4 on Varneys, Cape Town), was as close to fine dining as we got all holiday. Other than that, the culinary highlight was two visits to Rocomama’s burger joint in Cape Town. I must say, they did have THE nicest red wine I’ve ever tasted there – a Goats do Roam red blend from the nearby Fairview estate.

Some of the best food we ate while away was cooked by my beautiful friend Julieanne (that’s her in the pic, looking glam), who is a fantastic cook and someone whose recipes I am forever stealing. Look out for her oat bran muffins and slow cooked pork belly recipes in a future post. I had to pre-warn her just how much hubby and giant sons eat before we arrived, but to her credit, she didn’t bat an eyelid as they cleaned up every meal like human hoovers!

It would be remiss of me not to mention the scariest experience of my life, which happened when on safari outside Port Elizabeth at the fantastic Schotia Game Reserve. We were very lucky to get a ranger (Dale) and jeep all to ourselves for the duration of our two day safari experience and he was intent on giving us the best up close and personal experience of the wildlife he could, much to everyone’s delight. However, we got SOOOOO close to a lioness and two male lions that I genuinely was sick with fear. Like, physically, “please stop the jeep and let me out to puke” sick. I do believe we were under no threat, yet it’s amazing how primal fear can completely overtake any sense of logic and put you into shock. I will of course never live this one down with hubby and eldest son, who just days earlier stared death in the face doing a parachute jump off the Western Cape, while I was a blubbering, shaking wreck in the back of a jeep on a safari experience I’d been looking forward to for over a year!

Since we got back I’ve attended Belfast Cookery School and under the tutelage of the lovely Chef Ben Arnold, learned to make California Rolls, Sushi and Beef Ramen during an Asian Fusion class. I’ll be back soon with some sushi recipes when I’ve made it myself at home. The sushi mat is on its way from Amazon as we speak! I also had a very informal dinner party at the weekend which was all well under control and ahead of schedule until hubby informed me with just a couple of hours to go and as I was on my way out, that one of our guests was a vegetarian. Cue the handy storecupboard standby of vegetarian chilli! Desserts were both new recipes for me – a rhubarb and custard tart to make the most of the bounty from our garden which has just come into its own, and a saffron and pistachio kulfi with pomegranate and mango which worked well alongside the old faithful slow cooker beef chilli and a goan coconut chicken curry (not one I’d recommend, so I won’t bother sharing).

Anyway, that’s all for now. Preparations are hotting up for my second Supper Club in a few weeks, with a run-through of the menu planned with some friends in two Saturday’s time, so no doubt I’ll share how that goes.

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