Jamie Who is a blog about everything. Except current affairs. And politics. Also science, sport, religion, celebrities, movies, media and marketing, technology, business and design. So...basically Jamie Who is a blog about food. All things food.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Good Food and Wine Show

The Good Food & Wine Show rolls into Cape Town this weekend. The event is at the CTICC and highlights include the chance to taste bite-size portions of signature dishes from some of the best restaurants in Cape Town as well as the chance to taste and buy over 200 different wines. There is also a food theatre where you can watch local celebs, as well as international food personalities, doing their thing. I feel I should warn you that Ainsley Harriott is one of those people. Is there anyone more irritating on planet earth than Ainsley Harriott? He creeps me out. Please look at this picture properly...
That said, the whole vibe should be awesome. Tickets are R35 for children and R75 for adults. Do it.

For more info check out http://www.gourmetsa.co.za/

For my readers (fans? Is it a bit early for that?) elsewhere in SA, the show is coming to Jozi and Durbs later in the year so don't stress.

Jamie Who

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gammon and corn muffins with silky scrambled egg

Who doesn't love a muffin? Seriously. The problem is, when you order a muffin at a restaurant/cafe they are loaded with sugar and/fat and usually tip the calorie scales somewhere between 800 and 900. To put things in perspective, a Big Mac is about 550 calories. My versions here are about 150 calories per muffin. They are high in protein, fibre and Vitamin B so you will be doing yourself a big favour having them for breakfast. I made a couple this morning but if you don't have the time try them out over the weekend - perfect for a Sunday brunch vibe.

Okay, stuff you'll need to make 6 muffins:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour  
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 250 ml of fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • Half a cup of corn (From a can is fine, rinsed well.) 
  • A handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • About 75g of gammon, cooked and finely chopped. (Use lean ham if you want) 
What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
2. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. In another bowl mix 1 egg, milk and oil. 
3. Place wet ingredients along with corn, gammon and parsley in the flour and fold in carefully.
 4. Grease a muffin tray and spoon mixture into six holes. 
5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly browned. 
6. Meanwhile, add a teaspoon of milk and some parsley to the other two eggs and gently scramble. (Scrambling an egg properly is an art but that is a lesson for another day. One word of advice is to take it off earlier than you think. The egg will continue to cook.) 
7. To serve, cut 4 muffins in half and place the egg on top. 

Now, the smarter readers will notice there are still two muffins left over. Well done. For spotting this you get to take the remaining muffins to work and enjoy as a snack. Otherwise, freeze them and save them for another day. 

Jamie Who

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Restaurant specials to keep you warm this winter

I have been getting a few e-mails and checking the occasional ad regarding winter specials currently on offer. I know I have mentioned Myoga and Caprice in the past but The Godmother sent me a list of all of them which is nice of her. I'm going to give you that list now which is nice of me. If you went and invited me that would be nice of you... (UPDATE: THIS LIST MUST BE CREDITED TO DAX FROM HIS SITE AS BEING THE ORIGINAL. HIS LINK IS IN MY BLOGROLL ON THE RIGHT)

Okay, check these out. There are a sh*tload of them, some better than others.

Andiamo: Two pastas + two glasses of wine R100. Everyday, lunch and dinner.

Alba Lounge: Two pastas and two glasses of wine for R100. Everyday.

Aubergine: Two courses R185 / three courses R245. Everyday.
Barristers: Early bird special. Choice of 8 mains. R39. Monday to Saturday, 12 - 7PM.

Bravo: 1kg of prawns for R69. Monday to Friday lunch and Tuesday evenings.

Beluga: Two course lunch R125 / three course dinner R165. Every day until the end of September. Don’t forget their year round specials: 1kg prawns R100 / 26 piece sushi platter R100 / half price sushi until 7pm.

Bungalow: Crayfish R100 / Lamb Shank R100 / half price cocktails & tapas between 5pm and 7pm. Everyday.

Caprice: Two of their legendary burgers for the price of one. Lunch and dinner, Monday to Thursday. 3 course meal with Heineken R80. Friday nights.

Catharina’s: Two course set lunch menu with glass of wine R125 / three course set lunch menu with glass of wine R165 / three course set dinner menu with glass of wine R195. Everyday.

Five Flies: Two course menu + glass of wine R125. Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

Geisha: Half price sushi & dim sum before 7pm / 25% of noodle dishes. Everyday.

Harbour House: Three course R150 / two course R130. Everyday except Sunday lunches.

Henri’s in Somerset West: Three courses R120. Everyday.

Myoga: Six course menu R150, paired with wines R225. Dinner only, everyday.

Pepenero: Rump with fries and sauce R80 / half price sushi / seafood platter for one R110 / 1kg of prawns with chips or rice R100 / oysters R9 each / sushi platter R90 / Osso Bucco with mash R90 / pasta of the day R55. Everyday.

Salushi (Claremont): Half price sushi until 5pm / standard starter + noodle dish R70. Everyday.

Sinns: Two courses with a glass of wine R100 / three courses with a glass of wine R125. Everyday.

Tank: Half price sushi. Everyday.

The Foodbarn: Three course meal R175. Everyday.

The Kove: Parties of 4 get one of the meals free / half price on entire menu between 5pm & 6:45pm / 2 courses with glass of wine R100, 3 courses with glass of wine R130. Everyday.
The Square (Vineyard Hotel): 2 course meal for lunch or sushi platter for 2 at dinner. R115.

Tobago’s at the Radisson: 25% off tables of 4 or more.

Tuscany Beach: Order two main courses, get one free / 20% of all sushi and oysters. Every night and lunches Monday to Friday.


Buitenverwachting: Three courses + carafe of wine R230. Everyday.

Constantia Uitsig: Three lunch courses R200, with carafe of wine R230 / 3 dinner courses R240, with carafe of wine R280. Everyday.

Cuvee at Simonsig: Two courses with a glass of wine R125 / three course with a glass of wine R165.

Jonkershuis at Groot Constantia: Starter & main from the Cape Malay themed buffet R100 / add dessert R110. 6pm to 9pm weekdays.

La Colombe: Three lunch courses R210, with carafe of wine R240 / 3 dinner courses R250, with carafe of wine R290. Everyday.

Terroir: Two courses R150 / three courses R195. Everyday.

Event specials:

Cape Colony restaurant at the Mount Nelson: Four course pairing R350. Last Thurs of each month.
Salt at the Ambassador hotel: Four course pairing R350. Last Thursday of each month.

Continuous specials:

Cafe Sofia: Cooked breakfast for R20. Everyday.

Sevruga: Twenty six piece sushi platter R110 / seafood tasting platter R110 / sushi half price between 2pm and 5pm and all day Sunday.

Societi Bistro & Labia: Two pizzas + two Labia movie tickets R70. Monday and Tuesdays .

Phew, there you have it. Decisions, decisions. I hope all this info is correct but maybe just phone them to check. I can't do ALL the work hey. If you take advantage of these please let me know how they were.

Jamie Who

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How do you judge a restaurant?

Food is such a personal thing and it always amazes me how people's opinions/reactions to a restaurant can be so radically different. I think it's awesome how food can create such strong emotions and find it cool to compare notes. That said, there are people who travel around the world refining their palettes to officially announce the best restaurants. Here in SA, we have a few awards, with the Eat Out Magazine naming their top 10 restaurants annually. I was interested to see how they choose these. The following is a list of criteria they use when judging:

o Menu composition

o Seasonality of ingredients

o Food presentation

o Food taste

o Specific dishes eaten

o Value for money

o Wine choice and service

o Service

o Ambience

These categories are then marked seperately and then added to give a final score. Looking at their top 10 f0r 2009 (http://www.eatout.co.za/restaurants/top_10.asp) it's fun to see how you would mark those restaurants. Would you agree/disagree? Which restaurants are missing and which are lucky to be included? I would be interested to know...

It is a list that will be debated every year but as I said, that's part of the appeal isn't it?

Jamie Who

Monday, May 25, 2009

Brewers & Union - Beer and meat. That'll do.

Health took a back-seat on Friday as I met Power and The Big Guy at Brewers&Union for lunch. From the dream team that introduced us to Vida e Caffe, this beer salon/charcuterie is like nothing else in Cape Town. The concept here is that beer can be elevated to gourmet status and with several premium versions on offer, along with staff who love to chat and educate you about the different flavours, they have more than pulled it off. After some advice, we went with the Brewers & Union Unfiltered beer. Well...it was a revelation. Full-bodied, perfect carbonation and packed with light, fresh flavours.

Food-wise the guys have put together a fun, relaxed menu concentrating mainly on high quality meats and cheeses. You can order a couple of tapas or get something a bit more substantial. Two of us went for the beef prego roll which I can categorically say is the best I have ever had. The Big Guy had a spicy chorizo sausage which was beautifully cooked and nicely piquant. The food arrived on wooden boards with a fresh side salad and crisps. Expect to pay about R65 for a main course.

Inside, the space is unique, as you would expect from these guys. There are no tables, only a bar counter running around the perimeter of the room. Different-height steel barstools provide the seating and if the weather is good there are a couple of outside tables.

This is a good spot for a Friday lunch when you're not reaaaaaaaally going to do that much work in the afternoon. Otherwise, it is perfect for a drink after work. Check it out at 110 Bree Street.

Jamie Who

Friday, May 22, 2009

Asian-style tuna steaks with steamed green vegetable salad

I got really lucky a few months ago when some dude called Jerome came knocking on my door at the office. He's an authentic fisherman with the accent to prove it, and he sells me fresh fish from the back of his bakkie. I bought some tuna steaks the other day and made some last night. The cool thing about tuna steaks is the short cooking time and the wide variety of flavours you can season them with. Last night I went Asian. I would recommend making a turn past a proper Asian store and loading up on some ingredients. They keep for ages and you will use them often. I am giving very rough guidelines for amounts in this recipe, as it is all about personal preference. As with most Asian cooking, it is a balance of sweet, salty, hot and sour. Just keep tasting and you'll be fine.

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 2 people:

  • 2 x 200g tuna steaks
  • About 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger, grated
  • About 2 teaspoons of chilli, finely chopped
  • About 2 teaspons of fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of light soy sauce
  • A few drops of sesame oil
  • A few drops of fish sauce
  • About 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Juice of 1 lime (use lemon if you can't find limes)
  • A few drops of kecap manis (this is like a thick soy sauce. Get it at any Asian store). Leave it out if you can't find it.
  • Mixed green vegetables. (I actually like brussel sprouts so I used them but most people don't. Just use what you like. Things like spinach, asparagus, brocolli etc)
  • A handfull of sesame seeds
  • A handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Okay, what to do:

1. Make your marinade. Place soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, kecap manis, coriander, ginger, chilli, garlic, fish sauce, and half the lemon juice in a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, let it simmer for about 10 minutes and allow to cool.

2. Pour marinade over tuna steaks and let them sit for 20 minutes. Turn them over and wait 20 minutes more.

3. Cook your vegetables in a steamer. Remember things like spinach will need hardly any cooking time so put the hard vegetables in first and add the rest accordingly. The total time will be about 20 minutes. You want your vegetables to still have a bite. Nothing is worse than soft, limp, overcooked vegetables without any colour or flavour.

4. Cook the tuna steaks for 1-2 minutes per side. DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM! They should be pink in the middle.

5. To serve, get a large platter, toss the sesame seeds through the vegetables and place on one side of the platter. Slice the tuna crossways and place alongside the vegetables. Drizzle a bit of the marinade over the tuna and use the remaining lemon juice to pour over the entire dish.

This is pefect for a dinner party dish. You would place the final dish in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves with chopsticks and a side plate.


Jamie Who

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chicken and sweet potato curry served on lentils

The great thing about curries for me is their diversity. Some are robust and rustic and others are a lot lighter and more refined. You can pretty much add whatever you feel like and as long as you've got a solid foundation as a result of a few compulsory spices you can tweak it to suit your tastes. The curry I made last night was a variation of a Thai red curry. I didn't want to use coconut milk (it has one of the highest fat contents per 100g around!) so I just used skim milk. It was a complete experiment but it worked perfectly. Again, this is one of those recipes where the longer you leave it the better. Make sure you make more than you need and take it to work the next day. The flavours will be so good you might just want to go sit in the corner and shed a tear.

Stuff you'll need to make four portions:
  • 500g skinless chicken thighs (The flavour is way better than breast, but use them if you have to)
  • 3 Tablespoons of red curry paste (This is one thing that I don't mind buying pre-made. You can make your own but to be honest it is a bit of a hack)
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • About 250 ml of skim milk
  • A cup of water
  • A handful or two of frozen peas
  • A handful of baby spinach leaves
  • Some chopped mushrooms
  • Some fresh ginger
  • Coriander to garnish
  • Half an onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • A tin of lentils, drained and washed
Chop the other half of the onion and mix it with one chopped tomato to make a salsa.

What to do:

1. Heat some oil in a deep dish and add the onion, mushrooms and sweet potatoes. Fry for two minutes. Add the curry paste and stir it in.

2. Add the chicken and fry until everything is coated and the chicken is browned. Pour in the milk and the water. You want everything to be just covered with liquid. Add some more water or milk to get this result and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for about half an hour, stirring every now and then. If you can, cook for longer at the lowest heat possible. It is done when the sweet potatoes are soft but not falling apart.

3. When you are ready to serve, add the frozen peas and the spinach to the dish and cook for 1 minute.

4. To serve, place lentils in a bowl and pour sauce on top. Add some of the salsa and garnish with some coriander.

This was a huge hit with the princess and with all the nutritional value, it was quickly added to our "favourites" list. I'm sure you will do the same.

Jamie Who

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Table thirteen - very, very cool

From the vintage-styled lounge chairs to the stunning crystal chandeliers I loved this place from the second I walked in. The restaurant is small but luxurious and shares its space with a beautiful decor shop next door. The food is a mixture of gourmet sandwiches, creative salads and special items made that morning. This is just the savoury stuff - there is an entire table covered with cupcakes, muffins, cakes, meringues and more.

I met a good mate there who I haven't seen in ages so we were in no rush, but if we had been it wouldn't have been a problem; service was friendly and knowledgeable. The owner was making an effort to personally chat to all the tables and her genuine passion for food and design came through strongly.

My mate went with a roast chicken sandwich with truffle mayo on rye and I had salmon fishcakes served with couscous and a green-bean salad. Both were really good. Light, fresh, well-seasoned, healthy and really tasty. The fishcakes were R65 and the sandwich R50, not bad when you consider the ingredients are all obviously of the highest quality.

Table thirteen is just next to the Victoria Junction Hotel off Somerset Road. I'll be back but next time I will take one car. Finding parking was a pig.

Jamie Who

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

StreetSmart - Do your bit

I must admit, I have eaten at restaurants and seen this logo without paying it too much attention. I never really took the time to check it out properly but I'm glad I finally did. StreetSmart is a fairly simple concept. Basically, participating restaurants have a card displaying the StreetSmart logo which gives diners the option of adding R5 to their bill should they wish. You can add more if you want, all you have to do is fill out a card. It'll take a few seconds and you can leave knowing you have done your small good deed for the day.

The money is then split between three charities, all aimed at helping children who are forced to live on the street. The long-term goal is to obviously have as many restaurants as possible participating and the concept seems to be growing fast. For a full list of restaurants who are trying to help check out http://www.streetsmartsa.org.za/

Keep your eyes open!

Jamie Who

Monday, May 18, 2009

Myoga - Six course special

As winter sets in you'll notice restaurants start announcing their specials. This is the time of year that reallly tests the worth of a restaurant, as people prefer to get cosy at home instead of braving the weather. I have seen dozens of restaurants advertising their version of a winter special but for me the one that really stands out is at Myoga. Mike Bassett is offering a six-course tasting menu of his phenomenal fusion style for R150 which is awesome value. The menu consists of:

1. black pepper tartlet onion ragout broccoli rabe crème fraiche stone fruit chutney

2. roast pumpkin miso soup gorgonzola croute

3. linguine thai pesto grana padana homemade lamb chorizo

4. raspberry jelly coconut milk dressing

5. sous vide beef fillet sauce bordelaise puff pastry feullentine char grilled vegetables crispy roast potatoes wasabi hollandaise OR cape sea fish lemon verbena risotto broccoli rabe candied ginger and chilli coriander beurre blanc

6. liquid aerated sponge Mexican vanilla bean ice cream Ayrshire cream

If it sounds complicated, that's because it is. The flavours at Myoga are complex and unusual and this special is an opportunity to get a sense of Mike Bassett's food philosophy. The deal runs until the end of May. For R225, the six courses will be paired with wine.
Myoga is an amazing eating experience, from the UV lights in the toilets to the open plan kitchen where you can watch every masterpiece being prepared. There is a bit of a "Alice-in-wonderland" vibe, with oversized wingback chairs, brass sinks with whisks as props in the entrance and jelly beans on the bar counter. Check it out.

Jamie Who

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nobu - love it or hate it

I had read and heard some shocking reviews for this place which meant that I went there with low expectations. Which I'm really pleased about, as I found everything to be absolutely incredible. I don't even know where to start with the food but first let's explain a little about who the dude is...

Nobu Matsuhisa is a world-renowned Japanese chef known for his ground-breaking versions of traditional Japanese cuisine. He has taken philosophies and skills that are centuries old and added his own eccentric twists. He has created a chain of restaurants around the world in locations such as Melbourne, London, Vegas, New York and his latest, Cape Town.

So with a CV like this, I headed to the One&Only Hotel at the Waterfront to see if he was worth the hype. Let's begin...

Firstly, the menu is impossible to understand. This is one of my biggest criticisms. It's fine having the authentic Japanese names for each dish but a description/definition would be nice. Not to worry though, the staff are so well trained you can stop any of them and ask them to explain something and they will. I 'tested' a couple of them by asking them to explain various ingredients, cooking techniques, recommendations etc. and they nailed it every time. One of the comments I had heard about this place is that the staff are like robots, just churning out answers like they were reading a textbook. I found the opposite. Part of eating out, to me, is the feeling of being hosted and I got this throughout.

Ok, on to the food. As was explained to us, the Japanese way of eating is to order a few dishes and share them from the middle of the table. We were pointed in the right direction and had the following:
1. 6 oysters with mixed dressings
2. Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno
3. Tuna tartar with caviar
4. Crab leg tempura with ponzu (ponzu is made from mirin and rice vinegar and tastes "citrusy")
5. Beef teriyaki tenderloin
6. Miso soup with tofu
7. Assortment of petit fours (Basically a selection of small cakes)
8. Their signature dessert, a chocolate fondant and green-tea ice cream, which arrived in a box!

We both found the food to be phenomenal, but definitely not to everyone's tastes. I will be interested to see if this place does well in a country where we have been brought up on huge portions of red meat and potatoes. Price-wise it is very expensive (in the same league as La Colombe, Jardine etc.) but you have to understand what is being produced. It's like taking your car in; you are charged for parts AND labour. Here you are paying for the food conceptually and the skills shown in preparing it.

My final verdict? Awesome. Will everyone enjoy it? Nope. But if you go promise me you will go not only with an open wallet, but an open mind too.

Jamie Who

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Caprice dinner club - are they joking?

I often feel sorry for Caprice. You see, the view and the vibe is so awesome and so conducive to cocktails and ice cold Peroni on tap that often the food there gets forgotten. The food is, in fact, pretty amazing and someone could make a fair argument that they have the best burgers in Cape Town. They also make tasty calamari and great salads. Personally, I like to settle in to an assortment of tapas (sorry, are those tender Sirloin cubes? Thanks) and get one of the corner tables near the bar. That's just me...

So when a friend told me about the Caprice dinner club I thought she was taking the piss. Let's break it down. For R80 - that is not a typo - you get three courses and a Heineken. Seriously? Seriously. This Friday the menu includes: Butternut soup with toasted pita bread, a choice of either sirloin steak or pan-fried cajan calamari (both with chips and roasted vegetables) or a vegetable pasta with a vodka and tomato sauce. Dessert is Lindt chocolate brownies. Bloody hell that's good value.

For more info give them a call on (021) 438-8315 and speak to Mike.

Jamie Who

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Healthy cooking techniques

As I have hopefully been pointing out, healthy cooking really doesn't have to be boring. Obviously the key is to try and add as much variety to your diet as possible by trying new ingredients but the other important thing to remember is to try different techniques when cooking them. Below are some of my favourites:

1. Stir-fry:
The only mission about a stir-fry is cutting and preparing the meat and vegetables. You'll find that, like everything, the more you cut and slice the better your knifework becomes. The only important thing here to remember is that your vegetables and meat should be the same size to ensure even cooking. Always cook the meat first to about 80%, then remove it. Add your vegetables and sauces and cook until almost done before adding your meat to finish it off. Use tender cuts of beef, pork, seafood, duck or chicken and play around with authentic Asian spices and sauces.

2. Saute:
This generally isn't the healthiest option when you see it on a menu due to the amount of oil that is used. However, if you invest in a high-quality non-stick pan and use only a little amount of light olive oil you can get away with it. This suits tender cuts of meat or fresh vegetables.

3. Steam:
I got given a bamboo steamer as a gift a few years ago and it is one of the most important things in my kitchen. Steaming is an awesome way of locking in flavour and nutrients. Steamed food doesn't have to be the boring, colourless stuff you picture it as. The secret is to season the food well and not to overcook it. If you don't have a steamer you can use a heat-proof bowl placed in a wok. Surround it with a bit of water and place the food inside. Then take a plate and cover the food before fitting tin-foil or a lid over the bowl. When you get the hang of it, try adding flavours like ginger and soy sauce to the food while steaming. This is a perfect way to cook fish, chicken breasts and vegetables.

4. Griddle pan:
A griddle pan is basically like an indoor braai. They both give slighly charred results and markings on the food which are visually very cool. A major point to remember here is to always put your food in a marinade or olive oil before putting it in the pan and to make sure the pan is smoking hot. To get perfect markings on the food you have to leave it alone once it is in the pan and only turn it once. This is perfect for cooking a wide variety of foods but note that if you want to cook thicker cuts of meat (like chicken thighs), then pre-cook them first and finish them off in the griddle pan. Steaks, vegetables, and especially fresh tuna, are perfect for the griddle pan.

5. Braise:
This involves browning meat on a high heat before reducing the temperature and slowly cooking it in liquid. The pan is usually transferred to the oven but you can finish it off on a hob as long as you cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid or foil. I recommend using this technique for cheaper cuts of meat still on the bone that need a longer cooking time.

6. Poach:
Not just for eggs people. Poaching chicken, lamb or beef will give you amazing, moist flavours as a result. When poaching try and use a high-quality stock or wine for best flavours. You can also use a sweet wine for poaching firm fruit to make desserts. Think figs, plums, pears etc.

7. Roast:
Similar to braising, what I like to do here is to the brown the meat at a high temperature and then roast it at a lower one in the oven. This will give you a nice crust and juicy, tender meat. Always leave a roast to rest before carving - this will make all the difference. Basically any meat is suitable for roasting but obviously the favourites are beef, chicken and lamb. Experiment with different cuts and flavours. For example, try roasting lamb shoulder instead of leg of lamb.

I would really recommend getting one or two high-quality pans, a large pot for slow cooking and a wok and/or steamer. These can be added slowly to your kitchen as your repertoire grows!

Jamie Who

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Old-school burgers with all the trimmings

I woke up on Saturday with a fairly epic hangover and the terrible feeling that I had arranged a braai the night before. I believe the words "best fu*king burgers you will ever eat" were being thrown around as what I was planning on serving up. Now, not one to disappoint, I made a trip to my butcher for some lamb mince. I had planned to make lamb burgers with a blue-cheese sauce. My man informed me that he was out of lamb but sold me some awesome, lean beef mine. I thought that was a fair compromise and I set off. While not as impressive, or unusual, these burgers are simple to make and will beat the hell out of any pre-made patties in a supermarket. While summer winds down here, maybe the readers in London can celebrate as the temperature soars to the mid teens with an afternoon spent outside. You can't beat it with a stick. In SA, you might get lucky with a few more sunny days. Next time one presents itself, give these a whirl.

Stuff you'll need to make 8 big burgers:
  • 1 kg of the best quality beef mince you can find
  • One large onion, finely chopped
  • A handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • A few squirts of organic tomato sauce
  • A couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • A dash of tabasco sauce
And garnishes:
  • A few gherkins, sliced diagonally
  • One large onion, sliced and fried
  • About 4 tomatoes, sliced
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • High-quality, medium strength cheddar cheese, sliced
  • Soft bread rolls
What to do:

1. Light a braai. Combine the burger ingredients in a bowl and season well. Form 8 fat patties and squash firmly. This mixture doesn't use egg or bread as binding agents so make sure they will keep their shape.

2. Arrange the garnishes in bowls and set them out on a table. Slice the rolls.

3. When the coals are the correct temperature, wipe the grid will oil and place burgers on the grid. After about 5 minutes turn burgers over. Cook for 5 minutes more or until done.

4. Rest the burgers for about 5 minutes and then let everyone help themselves to the toppings. It is a great way to have a relaxed lunch with a couple of beers.

The recipe would also work with ostrich mince if you wanted to be healthier, but make sure to cook it for less time as the meat will dry out easily.

Jamie Who

Monday, May 11, 2009

oxtail stew with creamy mustard mash

In terms of comfort food you have to go a long way to beat oxtail. It is an awesome cut of meat when cooked properly and this recipe is unbelievably easy. The thing about oxtail is you want to make sure you get the best quality you can. Get it from a butcher who knows what he is doing and cook it for as long as possible. If you follow this recipe the meat will fall off the bone and taste sensational. 

Stuff you'll need to feed 6 people:
  • A large oxtail, cut into joints
  • Flour for dusting
  • Mustard powder
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • A few carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 leeks, roughly chopped
  • Some celery, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • A punnet of mushrooms (I went with shitake. Any will do but try not to use button mushrooms. They are so boring)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 750 ml of red wine (Use a good wine, something you would love to drink.) 
  • 8 potatoes, halved and skinned 
  • Two handfuls of baby spinach
  • Parsley, chopped. For garnish
  • Two heaped tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
What to do:

1. Add some mustard powder to the flour and dust the meat. 

2. Set the oven to 150 degrees celsius, allowing for three hours of cooking. If you have time, set it for lower and cook for longer. In a large, heavy-based pot add some olive oil and brown the meat in batches. Take your time and don't overcrowd the pan or the meat will start stewing. Remove the meat and set aside. 

3.  Add the onion, celery and carrot to the pot and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms. After a few minutes add the thyme and bay leaves along with the oxtail. Give it a good stir and add the tinned tomatoes and fresh tomatoes. Pour in the red wine. The liquid should cover the meat. If it is too little, add some water. 

4. Bring briefly to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and season well with salt and pepper. Put the lid on the pot and put in the oven. Do not be tempted to check it too often or stir it. Just chill and allow the meat to gently cook in the amazing flavours you have created. After 2 hours have a look if you have to and adjust your seasoning. The oxtail will be ready to serve after 3 hours, but as I said leave it even longer and reduce the heat to about 120 degrees celsius if you have time.  

5. When you are getting near serving, boil the potatoes in salted water until they are soft. Mash them up, add some milk and stir in the mustard. 

6. 10 minutes before serving remove the pot from the oven. Wait 5 minutes and stir in the spinach. Spoon the mashed potatoes into bowls and place the meat and vegetables on top with plenty of sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley. 

This meal is perfect for a dinner party when you can prepare everything way in advance. It's dead easy but looks impressive. Give it a shot. 

Jamie Who 

Friday, May 8, 2009

The fruit and veg rainbow

By now, we should all know that fruit and vegetables have health benefits. Loaded with antioxidants and vitamins, they should form a huge part of your diet. But what is as important is to get some variety. Certain fruit and veg have specific benefits so how do you choose? The most obvious way is to look at their colours. They can generally be split into the following groups:

Look out for tomatoes, strawberries, pomegranates, apples, red peppers, raspberries, watermelon etc. These will have a high count of vitamin C, as well as lycopene which can lower the risk of cancer.

Things like carrots, corn, apricots, nectarines, oranges and bananas are all high in beta-carotene which promotes healthy eyesight. They are also high in calcium and magnesium and promote the formation of collagen.

I couldn't think of anything healthy that was green....Wait, how about brocolli, spinach, any herb, kiwi fruit, grapes, apples, runner beans, asparagus, avocado, peas, mangetout. Give those a try. They will all help boost your immune system and lower the risk of several diseases including cancer.

What's that? I'm writing in black. Yeah, I know. It didn't work in white and I wasn't keen on re-doing this whole post. White fruits and vegetables are amazing sources of sulphur compounds which help balance hormone levels. (laydeeees.) Jokes. Sort of. Check out onions, pears, mushrooms, cauliflower and potatoes.

What you want here is things like aubergine, cabbage, grapes, blueberries, plums and blakberries. Rich in antioxidants and and specific minerals that help the body with recovery.

So next time you buy make sure your trolley looks like a rainbow threw up in it. You will apprecite the benefits of a wide variety plus you won't get bored easily.

Jamie Who

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sweet potato frittata with tomato and basil salsa

I love frittatas. I can't understand why we don't see more of them on menus. Basically, a frittata is a cross between a quiche and an omelette. It generally has potato as the main ingredient and then meats, cheese, vegetables or whatever is left in your fridge as the filling. I was reading Gordon Ramsay's new book the other day and saw he had a recipe for a frittata using sweet potato. Pure genius. A sweet potato is one of the best sources of nutrition around. High in vitamin A, B6 and C, high in fibre, loaded with anti-oxidants and low in calories.

I gave it a shot for a filling this morning and was stoked with the result. I served it with a little tomato salsa to add some colour.

Stuff you'll need to make a frittata for two people:
  • One large, cooked sweet potato (skin off), cut into cubes

  • Olive oil

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 4 eggs

  • A handful of chives, finely snipped with a pair of kitchen scissors

  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

  • A handful of basil, ripped

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • A tablespoon of sesame oil

  • One chopped chilli (use a splash of tabasco sauce if it is easier)

  • A tablespoon of fat-free milk
What to do:
1. For the sals, combine you tomatoes, half the chopped onion, the lemon juice, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the basil and the chilli in bowl and mix well.

2. Heat the grill to its highest setting. In a frying pan (suitable for oven-cooking) , add the rest of the onion and soften for a few minutes. Then add the sweet potato and cook for a few minutes more.
3. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl and add the milk and chives. Pour the egg mixture over the sweet potatoes and gently swirl the pan to make sure the mixture evenly covers the sweet potatoes and onions. Cook over low heat WITHOUT STIRRING for a few minutes until the egg begins to set at the bottom but the top is still runny.
4. Put the pan into the oven as close to the grill as possible. Cook until the eggs have just set. Leave to stand for a minute before gently loosening with a spatula. Carefully slide the frittata onto a plate and garnish with the tomato salsa. Serve as is.
A brilliant and easy breakfast. If it turns out well try adding different fillings like you would do in an omelette. Think gammon, cooked tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, beans etc. You can make it light, or beef it up and serve it for brunch. Some smoked salmon, capers, and goats cheese and you've got something different to serve on Mother's Day.

Jamie Who

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Don't try this at home

The basic principle of weight-loss is that you should burn more calories excercising than you consume on a daily basis. The opposite is also true - if you consume more calories than you burn off you will gain weight. Not exactly rocket science. The general guideline for a typical person to maintain their weight is 2000 calories a day for women and 2500 - 3000 calories a day for men. These figures depend on how much excercise the person is doing as well as the speed of their metabolism. So I started thinking...if you are a professional athlete and your job is to train every day what exactly do you eat to fuel your body? I checked out Michael Phelps's diet. Holy monkey. The dude consumes 12 000 calories on an average day. Here is a sample of his daily diet...


Three fried-egg sandwiches with fried onions, cheese and mayo. One omelette made with FIVE eggs. A bowl of fried bacon. Three slices of French toast with sugar. Three chocolate-chip pancakes. Nice start to the day there Mike...

500g of pasta with sauce (Just think how much 500g of pasta is!!) Two large ham and cheese sandwiches. 1000 calories-worth of energy drinks.


500g of pasta again. One pizza. 1000 calories-worth of energy drinks.

Bloody hell. The boy can eat. So he is burning off 12 000 calories a day! To put things in perspective, cyclists on the Tour de France burn off 8000 - 10 000 calories a day. Lazy bastards.

I'd like to see him laugh off the olympics and chase a career in professional eating. Surely he can get through a few hotdogs?

Jamie Who

Col'Cacchio celebrity chefs series

I know a lot of people who swear by Col'Cacchio pizza. They claim it is the best in Cape Town. Debatable, but with the new celebrity chef challenge they have definitely got a foot-up in the quest for top pizza honours.

Basically how it works is Col'Cacchio have teamed up with some of the country's top chefs to create gourmet pizzas for the months April through to September. A chef will be in charge of designing a pizza for a specific month and every time the pizza gets ordered R5 will be donated to The Red Cross Children's Hospital.

May belongs to Mike Bassett, owner and head chef of Myoga, Ginja and Shoga. His masterpiece uses Indian butter chicken as the main ingredient as well as two types of mozzarella (cow's milk and buffalo milk), yoghurt, coriander and onions. Doesn't sound too kak. Another famous name involved is Reuben Riffel, who will be in charge of September's pizza. Me? I'll be heading there in August to check out Margot Janse's interpretation of a pizza. The food at Le Quartier Francais has its own style and thought-process and I can't wait to see it in the form of a simple pizza.

For more details check out http://www.colcacchio.co.za/ or head to your nearest branch. Buy a pizza and feel good for helping a good cause. Lovely...

Jamie Who

Monday, May 4, 2009

Meals at top 50 restaurants auctioned on eBay

A nice little follow up to my previous story about the world's top 50 restaurants. It seems you can now bid online for a chance to dine at these exclusive establishments. Proceeds go to Action Against Hunger, the official charity sponsor behind the top 50 awards.

A 12-course tasting menu at the world's third best restaurant is yours for the right price (plus a flight to Copenhagen - you might want to factor that in...)

The first round of bidding drew to a close on the 1st of May but the next round starts today. It will be interesting to see what punters are prepared to pay for the chance to eat at La Colombe and Le Quartier Francais.

To get invloved check out myworld.ebay.co.uk/actionagainsthungeruk. It's pretty cool to follow the bidding.

Jamie Who

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fu.shi - average vibe

I got the infamous sushi-craving yesterday so we headed to Fu.shi for my fix. For those of you who know Plett it is in the new centre next to the dolphin statue at the end of the main drag. The centre itself is pretty awesome and looks glaringly out of place for a holiday town. It would fit in with the most fashionable parts of Cape Town with great finishes, expensive fittings and modern architecture. Sadly, the food did not match up.

Things started off well-enough with the assorted sushi platter. Not amazing, but not terrible either. The tuna and salmon were both was at least fresh. From there though, things took a horrible turn. I had ordered some chicken and vegetable dumplings and when they brought the bamboo steamers to the table they were covered in permanent marker, with the writing indicating what was inside. Not a great vibe. Who exactly is this for? The waiter or me? Couldn't the kitchen just tell the dude who could then tell me? Apparently not. Anyway, I let it slide. What I should've let slide however is the dumplings...all the way onto the floor where my puppy was waiting because maybe he could've eaten them. I could not. For some reason the chef had decided that curried dumplings were a good idea. Now, I know this place is all about fusion cooking, but this really did not work. He had put so much cumin and turmeric in there that the entire texture had changed which meant that the whole thing fell apart when I tried to eat it. I couldn't bring myself to finish them.

If you're ever in Plett and are looking for sushi this place is a good call. Just don't go for the dumplings. Leave that to Wakame. And Haiku.

Jamie Who