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, July 31, 2009

The Quarter - umm...interesting


I wrote an article a while back about Bruce Robertson's new venture into gourmet bunny chows (http://jamiewhatshisname.blogspot.com/2009/06/quarter-breath-of-fresh-air.html) and today I got the chance to check it out for myself as Power joined me for lunch.

The decor is quirky but stylish which matches the food concept nicely. It is obvious that the plan was never to take things too seriously here and the end result is a good vibe. One of the walls is covered with instructions on the correct way to eat your bunny chow, or "Kota" as it is supposedly better known as. Beneath this there are shelves lined with Matric-biology-looking glass jars containing some pretty interesting items which didn't appeal to me at all. Of course, Bruce Robertson has never really been one to worry about what others think.

The menu gives you the option of having a quarter- or half-loaf of bread with your choice of filling plus a topping and a sauce if you need it. The fillings range from the more traditional mutton and chicken to the more extravagant goat and venison. There are gourmet options available, with crayfish, ox tail and rabbit making an appearance. Vegetarians are catered for too, with things like the waterblommetjie or the the feta and spinach bunnies. Fillings range from R25 - R65, toppings are R10 and sauces are R5.

I went for the goat as a filling and added a prego sauce. The meal was actually awesome, full of flavour and really tender meat. Power went for the mutton with Mrs. Balls and, while the meat he did get was good, there was nowhere near enough of it. This was owing to the fact that the meat was still on the bone so there wasn't much space in the actual quarter.

The place is definitely worth checking out and if you are a fan of Bruce Robertson you will dig it. You have to admire the concept and applaud the fact that at least it is something different. It gets messy though so add this to your list of places not to eat on a first date.

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Homemade Bircher muesli


Another quick one today peeps. I had a request from Pull-Up all the way from London town for a Bircher recipe. We've spoken before about the miracle that is Bircher muesli, but if you are a newcomer (welcome by the way, I like your moves) then let me paint you a picture from a website called http://www.swissroots.org/ :

"Bircherm├╝esli" was invented by Dr Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner (1867-1939), a pioneer of organic medicine and wholefoods. Dr Bircher was active in Z├╝rich and around 1900 he put forward the controversial view that cereals, fruit and vegetables have more nutritional value than meat. The view at that time was that meat was the best source of human nutrition, and that vegetables and fruit were a second-best option for the poor. But Dr Bircher continued to believe in what he called "the food of sunlight", meals based on natural organic ingredients.

So there you go: Bircher muesli. I love it and if I love it so should you. That's the way it works.
On the taste:health ratio it is almost unbeatable. You will honestly struggle to get a breakfast this healthy that tastes this good. It is ridiculously easy to make and you can tweak it to add your favourite ingredients. Here is my version, using stawberries as they are in season.

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • 220g of raw oats
  • 400ml of fat-free milk
  • Two teaspoons of cinnamon
  • Two apples
  • Fat-free yoghurt, to serve
  • Organic honey, to serve
  • A pack of cashew nuts, roughly chopped/crushed
  • Two handfuls of strawberries

Okay, what to do:

1. Add the cinnamon to the milk and pour over the oats. Soak overnight in the fridge.

2. In the morning, divide the oats betwen four bowls. Grate the apples and slice the strawberries.

3. To serve, top the oats with the yoghurt and add the apple, the nuts and the strawberries. Finish by drizzling over some honey.

How easy was that? Seriously, don't come back to my site if you fu*k this one up. I don't want you. Obviously it's up to you what you add as long as you keep the base of the soaked oats. Play around, go crazy. You're crazy like that! Crazy kid.

Cheers,

Jamie Who


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Port and prune lamb shank with lemon zest quinoa


So, The Rentals came round for dinner last week just as the weather was turning from glorious to pretty gross. I wanted comfort food but I also wanted to dress it up a bit so I came up with the gem that follows. The fact that I could use quinoa to keep it healthy was a bonus and I really enjoyed the lemon which cut through the lamb perfectly. Everyone was amazed that I had found time to make it but to be honest all I needed was half an hour between meetings (which came at about 4 o'clock) when I rushed home, prepped everything, chucked it in a pot and threw it in the oven. I didn't touch it again until we ate 4 hours later. That was more than enough time.

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • A bottle of good port
  • 2 handfuls of prunes, pitted
  • 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
  • A handful of fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 3 leeks, roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Quinoa, cooked as per the instructions on the packet
  • 3 lemons, with the zest removed. Keep the zest and the lemons. (Basically what this means is use a fine grater to remove the lemon skin. There is loads of flavour in the skin and it also adds an amazing fragrance.)
  • Flour, for dusting the shanks.
  • About 300ml of water

Okay, what to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius. (If you only have 3 hours, 180 degrees.) Pour some flour onto a plate and season with salt and pepper. Dip the shanks in the flour and shake off any excess. Place the shanks to one side.

2. In a deep, heavy pot brown the meat in some olive oil until they are nicely coloured. Remove and set aside.

3. Add the leeks, the carrot and the celery and fry for a few minutes until the vegetables soften. Add the garlic and the rosemary and fry for a few more minutes.

4. Add the shanks, the water, the prunes, the fresh and tinned tomatoes and the port and bring to the boil. Season generously and reduce the heat so that the liquid is gently simmering. Cover the shanks and place them in the oven. Cook for as long as possible.

5. Take the cooked quiona and stir in the juice of three lemons and the zest of two. To serve, place the quinoa in deep bowls and place a shank on top. Spoon over some of the amazing sauce and garnish with the remaining lemon zest.

I would say 3 hours is the minimun cooking time if you want this dish to really be worthwhile. The meat will be falling off the bone and the flavours will be phenomenal. As with most of my winter recipes, the longer you can cook it the better. Just reduce the heat and leave it. A nice little tip: when you are buying the shanks ask your butcher to saw off any unnecessary bone. You are paying per kilo so that weight is an extra cost for no benefit. It's a pleasure.

Cheers,

Jamie Who.






Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Foodbarn - Will you forgive me?


When people ask me where to eat out to celebrate special occassions I always ask them what their budget is. When they insist they want top-end dining by the best chefs in town the obvious restaurants always come to mind (Jardine, La Colombe, The Tasting Room, until recently Nova and The Showroom etc.) but for some reason I never think of The Foodbarn. I seem to have forgotten that Franck Dangereux is the man in charge in this kitchen. I seem to have forgotten that he was responsible for putting La Colombe on the international stage by being placed 28th in the world's top 50 restaurants in his time there. I visited on Friday night to see exactly why I had forgotten. And honestly, I couldn't find one reason.

I hadn't been to the renovated premises but upon arrival I was impressed with the much-improved layout. The deli area has been moved across to the other side of Noordhoek Village and now operates as an independent daytime venue. In its place there are more tables and a funky bar beneath gorgeous (too gay? Gorgeous?) chandeliers. Baby-blue screens are a nice accent and vintage kitchen accessories are framed on the walls. In one corner there is a "stage" set up with rows of chairs facing it. This faux-theatre is where Franck does his cooking demonstrations three times a week.

We were seated upstairs by our waitress Alex, who was full of energy and very knowledgeable about the menu. She offered us the usual still or sparkling water but what blew my mind was when she said "Or a jug of water with ice and lemon?" These are the little touches which make the big difference. In tough times when other restaurants are charging ridiculous prices for water, some even charging for tap-water, this was extremely refreshing.

We were there to try out the winter special menu which is made up of 3 courses and a caraffe of wine for R175. Between The Dragon, The Silver Bear, The Princess and myself we pretty much got to try most of the various options, which included: Starters of caramelised-onion tart with shavings of roasted-lamb, a tomato and aubergine terrine with bocconcini and fried goat's cheese with fig, blackcurrant jam and pumpkin seeds. I was a bit disappointed with the goat's cheese dish as I was expecting fresh figs but generally all of the starters were amazing - I was most impressed with the terrine. It was a perfect example of allowing food to speak for itself.

For mains, I went with veal trotters wrapped in savoy cabbage. Presentation-wise it wasn't the most attractive but it more than redeemed itself when I had my first bite. Absolutely delicious. The others had a wild mushroom and ricotta ravioli finished with truffle sauce and a rack of lamb with a bread and lemon crust. We made a bit of a spectacle of ourselves passing the food around like we were eating dim-sum in Chinatown but the food was so good and we wanted to taste it all. Besides, by now, the wine was flowing. The wine - we had an extra bottle after our caraffes were done...as you do, was their House Red which was only R78 a bottle and could have fooled a lot of posers who would gladly have paid twice that amount if it had a different label.

Desserts involved a cheese platter, a chocolate and almond biscuit with toffee sauce and a crepe filled with chestnuts and served with a milk sorbet (brilliant touch).

With obvious French influences, The Foodbarn reminded me a lot of Bizerca Bistro in terms of the unpretentious style of food. Both could charge far more and both make you feel extremely welcome. There are lessons to be learnt in service and quality of food that some of the more celebrated restaurants would do well to take notice of. Next time you are looking for somewhere to book, don't make the mistake I did of overlooking this place. It is pure class.
Give them a call on (021) 789-1390. The also have a pretty cool website: www.thefoodbarn.co.za

Cheers,
Jamie Who












Monday, July 27, 2009

The Red Herring - See you never


*Guys, let me start by pointing out that the photo above is not, in fact, a photo of the restaurant The Red Herring but rather an actual Red Herring. I left my camera at home and had to improvise...
Yesterday, after a near-flawless performance at Steenberg had seen Long Distance and I comfortably defeat The Silver Bear and So-So over 18 holes we headed out to Noordhoek Village for lunch. Oh. My. Word. It was an absolute bleeding eyeball. There were kids and dogs, kids with dogs and kids pretending to be dogs. It was pretty hectic. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that's the vibe out there and I understand that but this was all a bit much. I didn't feel like the scrum of finding parking so we headed off to The Red Herring. I had never eaten there, except for a pizza at Power's birthday party but it was Sunday, I was chilled and I figured "how bad could they be?" Absolutely shocking is the answer.

I suppose the warnings signs were there. When we asked our waitress what the linefish was and she said she had never had linefish and didn't know what it tasted like I should've left immediately so maybe what followed was my fault...

The fish and chips was a tiny portion of hake with a soggy batter. The pre-bought oven chips were fine but what really made me have a little giraffe (a laugh. My new word, use it if you want) was their garnish. A sprig of rosemary, a stalk of lavender and a small bunch of coriander. Three herbs. One plate. Come on. The burger and self-same oven chips were better but not great.

Now, I need to make something clear. I am not a food snob. I see the value in a toasted cheese made on the braai, a bacon and egg roll, or a hot-dog, when the timing is right. Cheap and cheerful is fine but it can still be done well and with a level of pride. Unfortunately, The Red Herring is disappointing in all areas and I left feeling totally dissatisfied. I have heard their pizza is legendary (I remain skeptical) and there are great views from the deck upstairs so maybe you are best sticking with that. Otherwise, give it a miss.

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dish and Cloof tasting dinner


Stop what you are doing. Pafoof sent me details about this and I think you should know about it. R385 for 5 courses prepared by Dish food paired with premium Cloof wines, including the much talked about Inkspot Vin Noir. This wine was recently awarded 4 stars by The John Platter Wine Guide and with the unusual blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cinsaut plus the jet-black colour I cannot wait to try it. The wine will be paired with miso-marinated tuna. But, before you get into that, you will have to struggle your way (whatever) through crispy tempura linefish on black sushi rice. You'll be forced to wash it down with the Daisy Darling Sauvignon/Chenin Blanc blend. Oh the horror! What are we? Animals?
After the tuna and Inkspot combo you'll move on to Szechuan-peppered ostrich terrine served with herbed aioli. Okay, not too kak. Can I get a drink with that? Oh, some Duckitt Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2006...why thank you. Next up will be lamb-belly on a bed of bobotie spiced lentils, with butternut croquettes and a banana and red onion salsa. Jeepers. A man could get thirsty eating that. Wait, what's this, a glass of shiraz 2006. Ta.

The final course is a pineapple disk served with pineapple sorbet and berry marshmallows topped with a chocolate froth. Okay, I see what you've done there but I'm a bit parched. What should I have to quench this? The Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc naturally...

This evening has me more than a bit intrigued. Very funky menu, very innovative wines. It's on the 13th of August. See you there?

Cheers,
Jamie Who

P.S. If you're keen phone them on (021) 465-7888

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oyster mushroom, courgette and gammon omelette


Guys, not a lot of time today as my real job continues to interfere with my love for you. I thought I would quickly bang out a little post about breakfast this morning though. Omelettes are awesome because you can put basically whatever you want in them. If you don't add cheese they are super-healthy and an easy way of getting some vegetables and/or protein into your body early on in the day. I knew I had to be out of the house early this morning so I prepped the filling last night. With that all done it took no time to knock up breakfast this morning.

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 2:
  • 3 or 4 free range eggs
  • A handful of courgettes, finely diced
  • 2 gammon steaks (150g), finely diced
  • A tablespoon of parsley, chopped
  • A handful of oyster mushrooms, finely chopped
  • A tablespoon of fat-free milk

What to do:

1. To make the filling, gently fry the courgettes, the gammon and the mushrooms. Remove and set aside once cooked.

2. Seperate the egg whites from the yolks. THIS IS WHAT WILL MAKE YOUR OMELETTE A SUCCESS. Beat the egg whites and then add back to the yolk and continue to beat until the eggs look "frothy." (Not a very technical word that but you get the vibe hey?)

3. Add the parsley and the milk and stir it into the beaten eggs. Drizzle some olive oil into the pan and make sure the entire surface is covered by shaking the pan gently. Now add your eggs and cook over a medium heat until the edges are starting to set. Using a spatula, gently run it around the edge of the pan, underneath the eggs, to stop the eggs from sticking. Add the fillings to cover one half of the eggs. When the egg has set gently fold the other half over the fillings and slide your little masterpiece onto a plate. Cut it in half, and serve on some toasted rye/sourdough bread. A beautiful way to start the morning.

I don't know why it took me this long to post an omelette recipe. Maybe because they aren't the easiest things to master. But keep trying - a little practice will have you knocking them out in no time. And as you grow in confidence you can start getting creative with the fillings.

Cheers,

Jamie Who

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Q:What's pink and is behind the labia? A:The Mount Nelson hotel...


Admit it. On Sunday, when the sun was out and it was 25 degrees you went a little bit overboard. The slops were hauled out from the back of the cupboard along with dresses and skirts. Vests and boardies were donned and the sun-g's were thrown on. We all acted like it was December! It was pretty cool. But you know what? I don't feel like summer yet. Don't get me wrong, I love the beach and the sun and cocktails and the rest of it as much as you but I dig winter too. Stews and soups and slow-cooked roasts. Red wine, fires, pubs...it's all good. And movies. I'm not shy of a movie in winter. So, when I saw what The Labia theatre in Orange Street is offering I was intrigued.

Now, we have spoken before about how many winter specials there are. A sh*tload basically. Some of them are good, some of them aren't and all of them sound pretty much the same. That's why when something a little bit different comes along it's exciting. The Labia attempts this by teaming up with a few restaurants in the area (Gardens) and doing a dinner-and-a-movie vibe. For R70 - R75 you get 2 movie tickets and two meals. Monday and Tuesday is pizza at Societi Bistro, Wednesday and Saturday is the same deal at Diva Cafe, Thursday and Friday is Kauai and from next week Wednesday it's Hudson's Burger joint's turn.

What's also cool is that at The Labia you can buy a glass of wine or a beer and enjoy it during the movie. Nice.

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Breedekloof wine weekend - 24 and 25 July


Friday and Saturday sees yet another wine weekend taking place near Cape Town. What I like about this one is that it's a bit alternative. Often with the commercial expos you end up indoors with little stands for each farm that look identical. This doesn't really allow the winemakers to bring their wines' personalities through and I always leave disappointed. This little beauty sounds like the exact opposite. PLENTY of character here.

It's dubbed the Soetes & Soup weekend and takes place in Breedekloof. Jamie, Jamie, where the hell is Breedekloof? Relax, petal, I will tell you. Breedekloof is only an hour from Cape Town and is made up of 22 wineries in the Rawsonville, Slanghoek, Goudini and Breede River areas. There is a nice mix of boutique farms, estates and large commercial co-operatives. Happy? Good.

Okay, so the vibe is that you buy an enamel mug for R10 and then fill it with delicious soup at the participating wineries. There are some very interesting (ambitious?) sounding recipes including biltong and blue-cheese, apple and brie and even chocolate. There are food and wine pairings, special prices on selected wines, art galleries, jewellery exhibitions and live music. For a full programme of activities check out http://www.breedekloof.com/events.html

I can see this being a bit of a cultural crowd but we've got no problem with a bit of culture every now and then. I just hope they don't overdo it. There's nothing worse than someone tasting a glass of wine and calling it things like "playful" or "witty". Really, the wine is "cheeky"? How so?

If you're looking for something different take a drive. It's an hour. In Jozi you can drive an hour and still be in the carpark.

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Roundhouse - You will see me again soon


Last Friday Wes Anderson, Mouse, Long Distance and of course The Princess joined me for dinner at The Roundhouse. The vibe here is that you pay according to how many courses you have. 3 courses is R330, 4 courses is R440 and R550 gets you 5 courses. You also have the option of pairing each course with a wine, or, if you are feeling super glamourous, pairing each course with a reserve wine. The main reason we had gathered though was because of the special they are currently running: 6 courses for R180.

Now, let's start with the service at The Roundhouse. For me, the best in the country. I have said before that part of eating out is the feeling of being hosted, and that is exactly how you feel here. We were greeted by Vanessa who had just returned from New York. She was brilliant throughout the evening, explaining complex dishes and even the reason why they were on the menu. The most impressive thing for me was the passion and pride which came through. It was very obvious that she believed in each dish and the quality of the food on offer. She was right too.

We kicked things off with an Amuse Bouche in the form of a lentil and smoked salmon soup. I wasn't mad about the texture, but the flavour combinations were good. For starters there was a choice between a potat0 and parsley puree, served with bone marrow and oxtail jus or a duck egg linguine. The pasta was a cheeky take on a classic carbonara sauce and was light and delicious. The bone marrow blew everyone away with its taste and presentation.

Gurnet featured as the fish option for mains, which was a refreshimg change to the normal fish we see everywhere. The other option was slow-cooked pork belly with an apple and rosemary sauce. I had been particularly taken by a dish on their regular menu and asked the chef if he could make it as my main, which he graciously did. Squid-ink tagliatelle with squid, tomato and chilli. I found the chilli to be almost non-existent but to be fair Vanessa had told us it wasn't very strong and we should ask for more if we wanted. The pork belly was a huge hit and arrived looking a lot more attractive than most versions I have seen.

As a palette-cleanser we were then brought strawberry sorbet which was good but not amazing. Dessert stole the show. One was a cake layered with peanut butter, banana and Felchlin chocolate. (Felchlin is a premium Swiss chocolate brand), served with chocolate ice cream and the other was a blood orange and gingerbread tart. Both were phenomenal.

Just when we thought we were done they brought out the bon bons. Honeyed popcorn, lime marshmallows and shortbread. A nice touch and a good way to finish things off.

While all this was going on we worked our way through a few bottles of Babylon's Peak Syrah, which I discoverd on a recent meander through the Riebeek Valley. It has leapfrogged a few others to officially become my favourite red wine...

So, all in all, The Roundhouse impressed the hell out of me. Unlike other specials where either quantity or quality is compromsed, this one is amazing. To put things in perspective if you went to the Spur and ordered a starter, a main and a dessert it would probably be about R140.

Get hold of them (The Roundhouse, not Spur)on 021 438-4347.

Cheers,
Jamie Who

P.S. Did I mention the massive, rolling lawn and views across Camps Bay? No? I guess we take that for granted in Cape Town.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Firefly - Bloody hell it's good


There is a whimsical, Alice-in-wonderland kind of vibe at Firefly. The candles and abundance of red are striking, while beautiful touches like scented face cloths on the table, ribbons, fairy lights and embroided cushions create a very special space. Supporting the decor is the slap in the face aroma that is coming from the busy kitchen. Saffron, cardamom, cinammon, tumeric, coriander seeds, fennel, you name it. With spices and flavours this strong it takes a talented chef to find a balance and so I was as keen as ever to see what was new on the menu. Every time I have been in the past they have really pushed the envelope and this time was no exception...

Now, during the oyster fest certain restaurants have specials with their own interpretation of how to eat the delicacy. Firefly's answer is to smoke them with cherries and serve them with sesame ice cream. Yeah, maybe now you are getting the picture. Although I was worried about it being over the top, the combination was surprisingly subtle and worked well. Other starters included beer-battered tempura prawns, ostrich and orange springrolls and their signature bobotie springrolls. The batter for the prawns was a bit disappointing but everything else was brilliant.

For mains, there was a pork, cardamom and tamarind dish, a potent chicken curry with creative sambals like quince, coriander yoghurt and chilli and cucumber salsa, a milder chicken dish made with five spice and served with wasabi mash, a fairly traditional beef curry and prawns cooked in coconut milk. Every person thought theirs was the best which is always a good sign! Seriously though, mine was the best. The thing I love about Firefly is their range. Curries on offer are South African, Indian, Thai, Indonesian and more. In every dish you can taste the layers of flavour - nothing is added unless it will benefit the dish, Too often, curries are just spices thrown together but here they have carefully thought about the composition of each meal.

Desserts, I must say, did not match up to the rest of the food. We tried two specials of the day and neither made an impression. One was a spanish-styled custard with saffron and the other was basically crushed ginger biscuits topped with cream. Previously I have been blown away by things like banana and chocolate samoosas or liquorice ice ceam so this was a bit of a letdown.

The bill for five of us including 2 bottles of fantastic Shiraz (I forgot the name unfortunately. My bad...) came to R1000 including a tip. For the effort that goes into every dish I found this amazing value. Our waitor Ivan was way above average which is necessary when the menu is this complex.

Eating at Firefly is an experience. It is something special and I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat. Don't go there to "pop in". Relax, unwind and enjoy the culinary journey.

Get hold of them on 044 382 1490.

Cheers,
Jamie Who

P.S They don't accept credit cards. Nice to know before you arrive.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Search engine vibe - it's a pleasure

I have added another nice little feature to make things easier for you. With so many amazing recipes, interesting news and general awesomeness on this site I have added a search-engine-gadget-thing. So now you don't have to trawl through loads of content looking for something you woke up in the night thinking about. Just bang in a key word or two and you're away.

Just another way I try to make things simpler. Better. Faster. Funner. Sexier. Cooler. Smarter....

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Whole wheat tagliatelle with arrabiata sauce, prawns and asparagus


I'll break it down for you: 100g of cooked pasta has about 220 calories. It also has 59g of carbs. 100g of cooked whole wheat pasta has 100 calories and 18g of carbs plus the extra benefit of added fiber. So...basically you're an idiot if you're not eating whole wheat pasta. 

Now, if you make a tomato-based sauce instead of a creamy one there really isn't any reason that pasta can't feature as part of a healthy eating plan. Obviously you don't want to be eating it every night but every now and then its hundreds. Last night I was lazy so I got some cooked prawns from Woolies and knocked up a sauce. Admittedly, the prawns were a bit lavish but if you make extra and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day it doesn't work out too expensive at all. 

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • About 300g of dry, whole wheat tagliatelle 
  • Two tins of whole tomatoes
  • About a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 - 3 chillies, sliced diagonally
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • A punnet of cooked prawns
  • A punnet of asparagus
  • A handful of basil, shredded plus extra for garnishing
  • Shavings of pecorino cheese for garnishing
Okay, what to do:

1. Gently fry the onion in about a tablespoon of olive oil for about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and the chillies and fry for a further minute. 

2. Add all the tomatoes and about 250ml of water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and gently simmer for 30minutes or more if you have time. You want the sauce to thicken up but not disappear so just adjust the heat until you are happy with your consistency. 

3. Meanwhile cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes or until cooked but still firm. Remove from the water and place in a bowl of cold water with ice. This will stop them cooking and will allow them to keep their bright green colour. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. 

4. A few minutes before the pasta is ready add the basil, the prawns and the asparagus to the sauce. When the pasta is ready drain it and add the sauce. (When you drain pasta, always leave some - only a tiny bit - of the water in the pot to add to the sauce. This will keep your sauce smooth and will stop the pasta from sticking.)

5. Stir to make sure the pasta is coated with the sauce. To serve, place in deep bowls and garnish with some torn basil and shaved pecorino. 

A nice little dish that is easy and looks impressive. If you have time, look specifically for the Woolies organic whole wheat pasta range. It tastes like regular pasta but while you're eating it you have the smug satisfaction that those who aren't as clever as you and don't read this blog will be eating normal pasta. He he. You can see them in gym and laugh under your breath. Fatties...

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Earth Fair food market - do they sell dream catchers?


So, it seems there is another new food market to try. Dubbed "The Earth Fair Food Market" I must be honest I am a bit skepitcal. It sounds a bit hippy-ish for me. They do promise a wide range of goods though. Free-range meat, a fishmonger, organic fruit and vegetables, a baker and a wine merchant (great title to have on your business card, don't you think? Merchant. Jamie Who...Food merhcant. Nice)

There is a coffee shop, a sushi stand and sparkling wine apparently. It could be a worth a trip? It runs on a Saturday from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Find it in Tokai between the Builder's Warehouse and the Reader's Warehouse...

Cheers,
Jamie Who

This just in: It seems The Pom visited the above market last week. She tells me it was pretty average. It was their opening day though so maybe a few teething problems? If any of you go let me know your thoughts...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ile De Pain - Everything tastes like rainbows


I ate for the A-Team on the recent trip to Knysna. My first stop (as it always is when I get there) was Ile De Pain. I have put this place on a bit of a pedestal and rate it as one of my favourites in the whole country so the stakes were high when I stopped in for lunch. I wasn't disappointed...

Splashing out from her normal conservative approach to ordering, The Dragon went for the "fingerfood" tasters (R68). Basically, this is a little sample of some of the items on the menu and I must say it left me a bit jealous. She received a mini-burger, some shredded duck, creamy mozzarella and smoked trout. This is served on an assortment of their famous breads and is an awesome way to taste the variety on offer. The Princess was seemingly hungry and went for the slow-roasted beef fillet. This arrived on fresh rocket leaves and was drizzled with truffle oil. The meat was unreal and the portion-size was perfect for lunch. At R82, you could do far worse! I went for the beef burger(R65, no chips thank you) and it was amazing. A homemade patty from quality meat, served with their own tomato relish and a lightly toasted bun. It was unpretentious and tasty. Exactly what a burger is supposed to be. The cappuccino was declared by those who had them as one of the best they have tasted.

We obviously didn't leave empty handed and the sourdough, 100% rye and sesame-crusted breadsticks kept us going for the next few days.

I set the bar pretty high for this place but they always seem to meet and exceed my expectations. If ever you are in Knysna, do yourself a favour and visit them. Trust me. Get hold of them on 044 302 5707.

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Monday, July 13, 2009

1h49min...


...I'll take it in the rain. Every time I run a half-marathon I promise myself I will never do another one. This race was no exception and I pretty much hated every step. That said, the feeling when you finish is pretty awesome. That and the frenzied drinking that follows. I swear, people drink like the booze is going to run out. Now, I'm a man who loves the "out the gates early, in bed early" strategy so it suits me perfectly.

The venue for Saturday's celebration was Cornutis in Knysna. It was a fu*king dogshow. They opened their doors at 12h00 and the queueing started straight away. Almost 2 hours later we got a table and settled in. A full review of all the restaurants I've been in over the last 5 days will follow but let's just say we had ourselves a good time here. An interesting point I would like to make to the marketing team at Cornutis: Calling a shooter a Milk Tart is a good idea. Calling one a Sowetan Toilet is not such a good idea. I rsvp'd noooo to the latter when it was offered.

Now, I had myself such a good time at The Oyster Fest that I'm actually writing this from my balcony in Plett, where I stayed last night. (Not on the balcony...just in Plett). That's right peeps, I'm still here. So, again, I am sorry for the lack of posting but I'm sure you understand. You understand me so well.

I'm driving back later today so hopefully my brain will be fully functional tomorrow. Stay posted.

Cheers,
Jamie Who

P.S. What did I do on Sunday? Went for a run on the beach. As you do...

P.P.S. The photo is of sunrise this morning. Not kak.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another one bites the dust

Guys, I must apologise in advance for my posts in the next few days. As I wade my way through oysters, wine and planning a wedding I'm afraid this blog might be a bit neglected. But I need you to know I am not neglecting YOU. I still love YOU as much as ever. I love your laugh, your bum, the silly little way you toss your hair from your face when you eat pasta...

Aaaaaaaaaanyway, I have some good news and some bad news. I always start with the bad news so here we go. Nova, one of Cape Town's most exciting restaurants, is closing down. With Richard Carstens at the helm, there is a general feeling with those "in-the-know" that his style of food was simply too advanced. Like me when I wear my running tights, people just weren't ready for it. This is a very sad day for me, as I really loved that place. It was one of my first reviews (http://jamiewhatshisname.blogspot.com/search/label/Restaurant%20review) and I am bummed to see them close their doors. 

The good news is that the team behind Beluga and Sevruga are working on something new. Called, "Blonde", it seems their new spot will be aimed at fine dining and will only be open for dinner. There isn't too much info out there on this one but watch this space. You know, and I know, that when there is word on the street I will be bringing it to you IMMEDIATELY. 

Well, I better get going. Oysters await. 

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sweet-potato gnocchi with bacon, chilli and roasted cherry tomatoes



I had the pasta craving on Sunday and after a long morning run in anticipation of Knsyna, I figured I deserved it. Gnocchi was the call from The Princess and inspired by my recent trip to Genot (http://jamiewhatshisname.blogspot.com/search/label/Winelands) where we had an unusual sweet-potato version, I gave it a try. I found some reduced-fat bacon at Woolies and made a tomato sauce. Was it any good Jamie, was it any good? HA HA HA HA! Oh, you were being serious. Yeah, it was good. 

Stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • About 750g of sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 1 free range egg, beaten
  • About 2o0g of flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Half a teaspoon of nutmeg
  • One or two chillies, sliced diagonally 
  • A pack of reduced-fat bacon, cubed
  • Two packs of cherry tomatoes
  • Two handfuls of basil
  • A handful of pine nuts
  • Olive oil 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Some parmesan, grated with a vegetable peeler
Okay, what to do for the gnocchi:

1. Make sure the sweet-potatoes are well mashed and while they are still warm add the flour, egg and nutmeg. Season well with salt and pepper add knead to make a warm, soft dough. If you need to add some more flour or water you can. Cover with a tea towel for 5 minutes. 

2. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll out the dough to form a long, thin sausage. *Lifts fist to mouth and muffles laughter. 

3. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into 1cm pieces. Take a fork and squash each piece to form a disc with ridges on one side. Place them a floured baking tray. 

4. Bring a pot of salted, boiling water to the boil and cook the gnocchi pieces in batches. What's pretty cool is that the gnocchi tells you when it's ready. It rises to the surface. When this happens, fish them out and put aside. 

For the sauce:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season generously. Roast for 20 minutes. When done, scrape the tomatoes, the oil and all the juices into a pan.

2. Add the garlic, chilli and bacon and fry until crispy. Turn heat way down and simmer for about 20 minutes. 

3. Slowly add the gnocchi and gently fold through until it is nicely covered. Rip up some basil and stir through. Garnish with extra basil, some pine nuts and fresh parmesan.  

This is a bloody fantastic dish. The basic gnocchi can be served with any sauce so get a bit creative and try some different combos. 

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Triangle Square Food Market - There are two shapes in their name


I'm starting another new tag here for "food markets", as I believe they are the cornerstone of all would-be chefs. There is nothing better than cruising a high-quality food market checking out the amazing produce on show. The attraction for me is meeting the people behind the food and having a chat with them. In the modern-age of supermarkets and convenience shopping we are all guilty of buying vegetables already cut up and in a bag. We buy sliced fruit, peeled potatoes and cubed butternut. Are we really that lazy? Cheese shouldn't come in a tub, already grated and meat should be bought from someone wearing an apron. Here, breads can still be bought warm and watching a fishmonger fillet the fish you have chosen yourself is surprisingly pleasing. But what makes food-markets extra-cool is the way most of them punt the little guy. The small wineries and the microbrewed beer are always on offer and as a result you get to see and more importantly taste the effort that goes into preparing everything. I absolutely love it.

Now, let me introduce you guys to one that is new on the scene: the triangle square market. Located in Fish Hoek, this market has the usual vinegars, pestos, preserves, nuts and cheese. It also has a West Coast seafood deli, a Cape Malay section, spectacular biltong, and Guiness-and-steak pies. Not a kak idea for winter.

This is defintiely a place to visit after a good session in the gym, where you leave the guilt behind. It is open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm and can be found at 60 Main Road, Fish Hoek.
Cheers,
Jamie Who

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bastille Weekend in Franschhoek - I RSPV'd no thank you


I know this seems, well...silly, after I clearly stated I was going to be in Knysna this year(see article above), but for anyone who is choosing The Bastille weekend instead I thought it was only fair to point you in the right direction for things to do.

The obvious attraction is the food and wine marquee which is set up for Saturday the 11th and Sunday the 12th. The marquee is open from 12 to 5pm and showcases some of the area's best wines, sparkling wines and food. At 2pm on both days there is a barrel-rolling competition which should be a good laugh. Like pool, and nothing like formula-1, I think barrel-rolling falls into the category of sport where you need to be semi-drunk to be any good. This shouldn't be a problem at the festival, as the booze generally flows pretty steadily there. It is a good idea to get some accommodation and stay the night. That way you can get properly stuck in and even enjoy a little brekkie out there the following day. If you are more of the cultured type the private screening room in the awesome Le Quartier Francais will be showing French movies on Friday and Saturday nights at 6:30.

For the sportier of you (and to be honest, you are my favourites) check out the 15km Freedom run on Saturday morning. It starts at Groot Drakenstein Prison and ends at the town hall. If you can manage this run/walk you can go bananas with the food and wine in the knowledge that you have earned it, which is pretty cool.

There's plenty more to do, for a full breakdown check out the website at http://www.franschhoek.org.za/festivals.

There's no doubt, it will be a good way to spend the weekend. Wine, food and festivities. Like Knysna without the oysters...

Cheers,
Jamie Who




Friday, July 3, 2009

The Knysna Oyster Fest - I RSVP'd yes

You're in a good place when you have trouble deciding whether your weekend should be spent in a beret, trawling the Franshoek winelands, or elbow-deep in Knysna's oysters but indeed that is the exact position I am in every year around this time. Knysna has won the honour of my company this year, as I head up a particularly strong team. With the likes of The Big Man, C-Dog, Long Distance, Mouse, The Princess, Favourite sister and more behind me I think its safe to say the title of Mr. Knysna will be coming home again.

With so much going on in Knysna at the time it is worthwhile getting some kind of gameplan together in advance. If you're running on Saturday there are plenty of restaurants to carbo-load at but as we all know that can be dangerous. Me, I'll be heading down a day early to climatise...

The Oyster Fest is 10 days this year and there is actually too much going on for me to mention. If you want to see more visit http://www.oysterfestival.co.za/

What I can help you with is where to eat though so here are a few recommendations:

1. Firefly. One of my absolute favourite restaurants in South Africa. Indian/Cape Malay vibe with insane curries. The use of spices is the best I have seen anywhere. 0443 821490

2. Sirocco. A bit shmancier than most places in Knysna. Awesome decor with good seafood and pasta. 0443 824874

3. 34 Degrees South. A Knysna institution. Fresh oysters and seafood. Browse the deli section when you're done for supplies.0443 827331

4. Cruise Cafe. Very underrated spot. Home of some serious burgers and not-kak views of the lagoon. 0443 821693

5. Ile De Pain. Home of the best bread in the country. If you don't believe me I dare you to go there mid-morning. Enjoy the queue buddy? Rather wake up early and get there before the rush. Settle in for a breakfast or get some hot bread to take home. 0443 025707

6. Cornutis. With arguably the best setting in South Africa, this is a new addition to Knysna on the back of the success of the Plett branch. I did some extensive research here over December and can report the booze is fine. Food is not nearly as good as Plett though. If you're in a rush you might want to give this one a miss - service is sloooooooooooooooow. 0443 840408

7. Dish. I haven't eaten here but I popped in last time I was in the big K just to check it out. Good vibe, at the bottom of the uber-stylish The Rex Hotel. It is brand new so I'm not sure about the quality but it is worth a try I reckon. 0443 025900

There are so many more places, but this is a good place to start. Enjoy...

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Spinach and feta muffins - A classic


Guys, I'm going to have to make this pretty quick. It seems my real job is interfering with my posting schedule today... 

Now, we all know how good the spinach and feta combo is when it comes in the form of a muffin so I knocked these up for breakfast this morning. I used Danish feta from Woolies which amazingly enough had the same fat content and calories as their "slimmer's choice" version. The thing is, without getting technical, Danish feta retains whey proteins when being made, while normal feta does not. The end result is Danish feta being far healthier. It tastes way better too and is less salty and much creamier than normal Greek feta. 

Anyway what you want to do is fry off a good handful of spinach and chop up about 2 matchbox-sized pieces of Danish feta. Follow the basic recipe below that I did for previous muffins but obviously substitute the spinach and feta for the corn and gammon. 

http://jamiewhatshisname.blogspot.com/2009/05/gammon-and-corn-muffins-with-silky.html

We ate them with some roasted tomatoes and a poached egg. Glory. 

Cheers,
Jamie Who

Gordon - Ouch


I was watching Sky News at gym this morning. What's that? How far did I run? 10km's but that's not important. How long did it take? 50 minutes. I was obviously tired...

Aaaaaanyway, I saw a breaking news story that Gordon Ramsay's restaurant sales are down, wait for it...87% for the past financial year. Holy monkey. I knew things were tough but the recession seems to have hit home pretty hard. One wonders why with things going so badly he has brought his Maze restaurant to Cape Town. Perhaps he signed on prematurely? 

I was really interested so I dug a bit deeper. Check out the link below. It seems Mr Ramsay (among others) are in financial pooh. With places like The Showroom, Ribboville, Summerville and others closing locally there is definitely food for thought for would-be restaurateurs. 

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/leisure/article5848113.ece

Cheers,
Jamie Who


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jack Black - Microbrewed awesomeness


We love the little guy at Jamie Who. We love the underdog. Most of all, we love the farmer, chef, wine-maker, butcher, baker, distiller etc. that is passionate about what he/she does. Did we mention we love beer too? With the slow-food revolution and the emergence of artisanal fare, brewing beer has become an artform. In a previous review I wrote about how beer has been taken to gourmet-levels at &Union in town and I think it's only fair that I bring your attention to another brand that wants to put beer on the foodie pedestal.

Jack Black is a beer founded by a couple trained in wine originally. Taking the same fundamental concepts of matching wine to food they have produced a beer that concentrates on the finest ingredients around and an extra slow-brewing process. There are no additives and every ingredient is fresh and 100% natural. The resulting beer is robust and less carbonated than normal beers. Of course, you might be working out right now that this means you can drink more without getting bloated. We like that, but remember my philosophy of training a bit harder that day if you plan on throwing a couple of these back. Good beer is, unfortunatley, not on any eating plan...

The beer is starting to pop up in a few of Cape Town's "boutique" bars on tap and there is just something so cool about it. You know when those moron judges on Idols say a singer has the X-Factor? Well, Jack Black has it. Awesome packaging, a nice full, rich flavour and the added benefit of the beer being brewed with food in mind. What's not to love?

If you are looking for a pint check out Caveau, Boo Radley's, Cafe Mojito, Kink Bar,The Roundhouse, Planet Bar or Caprice. You know you want to.


Cheers,

Jamie Who