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, October 30, 2009

Pan-fried lamb steaks with summer vegetables

Who doesn't like lamb? Seriously. Show me someone who doesn't like lamb and I'll show you someone not to be trusted. Last night we had The Greeks over for dinner so OBVIOUSLY I was looking at making lamb. (yip, that's a stereotype right there...) I wanted to try and keep it healthy though so you can imagine how stoked I was when I stumbled across lamb steaks. I had never cooked them before last night but I was amazed at how lean they were. A quick chat to The Brother of The Other Guy Who Can Cook confirmed that what I had in mind would work so off I went. Here's how it turned out.

Stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • 4 x 220g lamb steaks. (It's a rich meat so you don't need huge portions)
  • A teaspoon of dried oregano
  • A teaspoon of dried marjoram
  • A bunch of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • A few anchovies, finely chopped or minced (optional). Remember what I said when one of my recipes says optional. It basically means you're an idiot if you don't use it because it will make the difference between a good dish and a great one. But hey, it's your choice. 
  • 8 baby carrots, peeled with tops intact
  • A handful of frozen peas. (Yip, frozen peas)
  • A handful of sugarsnap peas (mangetout will also work)
  • A handful of tenderstem broccoli, peeled to remove any tough "woody" bits near the base
  • Juice of 2 lemons
Okay, what to do:

1. In a shallow dish combine all the herbs, the anchovies and  the garlic. Add a good glug of olive oil to create a paste. Throw the steaks in and add sea salt and black pepper. Leave to marinade for about an hour. 

2. In a red-hot pan fry the steaks for about 2 - 3 minutes per side. Remove and cover with tin foil. 

3. Meanwhile in salted boiling water blanch the carrots for about 2 minutes. Add the broccoli. After about 3 - 4 more minutes add the sugarsnaps. Finally, after about a minute more add the peas. When everything is done (the vegetables must be cooked but still retain a bite. If anything is getting too soft fish them out) drain the vegetables in a colander. Place in a bowl, add the lemon juice and toss. 

4. To serve, place vegetables in the centre of a large plate. Cut the steak into diagonal pieces and carefully place on top. Add a dash of olive oil to finish it off. 

So...again, that dish was so easy I'm almost embarrassed to put it up here. But bloody hell it was good. Lamb steaks. Write it down. 

Jamie Who

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Slow Foods Market - Well worth a drive

Last Saturday I had a business meeting in Stellies (can I still call it Stellies? Do you mind?) and after a good brunch at Nook I stopped in at The Fresh Goods Market at Oude Libertas. I had heard good things... 

As I took my first step into this market I was impressed. I digged the range of stalls - Indian curries and spices, handmade pasta, mushroom stands, organic salads, bakers, roasted coffee beans, fresh seafood, bright cocktails, a range of organic honey, moist cakes, delicate tarts, biltong, jams and chutneys, smoothies, art and more. What I was most stoked about though was the amount of people. Unlike other markets (like The Biscuit Mill) I was able to walk around without being bumped. I get grumpy when I spill my Jack Black. Here I was also able to actually talk to the people who were selling stuff. This is the main reason I go to markets and the intimacy has been lost at other venues. I met an awesome lady who showed me the most beautiful mushrooms I have ever seen (yes, I do excited about vegetables. Yes, I am a food nerd), I chatted with a girl selling fresh Saldanha oysters ("just the six for me please") and generally enjoyed a really good vibe. 

The quality on offer here was as good as anywhere I've seen in Cape Town, the prices were fair and the variety was awesome. I highly recommend it. And for those of you who say it's too far, I say shame on you. You're reading the wrong blog. 

Jamie Who

P.S. To get there, take the Stellenbosch turn-off from the N2. Travel past Spier on your right and when you come to a traffic light turn right. At the next set of traffic lights, directly opposite the entrance to Distell, turn left. Look for cars. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Skewered chicken thighs with courgette and red onion salad

Last night I wasn't really feeling the cooking vibe. I had an average day at work, I was exhausted from a session with The Gym Nazi ("yeah, come round, we'll just have a light cycle..." Whatever) and I was generally just uninspired. I had a look at what I had in the fridge, pantry and freezer and threw some of it together. I must say, it worked out really well.  Walk with me...

Stuff you'll need to feed 2: 
  • 400g - 500g of skinless chicken thighs
  • A dash of chutney
  • A dash of sweet chilli sauce
  • A tablespoon or two of soy sauce
  • A tablespoon or two of olive oil 
  • A tablespoon of dried Asian spices (I keep this in my pantry. You should too - it is so convenient to rub onto fish, chicken, and meat)
  • A bunch of courgettes
  • One red onion
  • A few blocks of feta (try use the slimmer's choice Danish Feta from Woolies) 
  • A big handful of basil
  • 3 lemons
  • 4 wooden skewers
Okay, what to do:

1. Place your skewers in water and allow to soak for at least 20 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile, slice your courgettes diagonally and as thinly as possible. In a bowl, combine the juice from the three lemons and a good glug of olive oil. Season with black pepper and salt. Throw in the courgettes and stir to make sure they are evenly coated. 

3. In a separate dish combine the chutney, sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, olive oil and spices. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and thread onto the skewers. Place chicken in marinade and rub onto meat. 

4. On a hot griddle pan (use a normal pan if you don't have one) cook the courgettes for a minute or two before turning them over. You want the slightly charred effect here. Once cooked remove and allow to cool. 

5. Cook the chicken under the grill in your oven, or in the pan until done. 

6. Meanwhile, slice the red onion as finely as possible. Combine with the courgettes and the basil, and place in the original lemon juice/olive oil mixture. Stir to combine. 

7. To serve, place a handful of the salad in the middle of a large plate. Crumble over some feta. Place the chicken skewers over the salad crossing over each other. 

Another ridiculously easy and healthy recipe here folks. Come on, that was pretty straight forward hey?Just make sure to soak the wooden skewers - that is actually important. With holidays around the corner I want you to file this one away under "easy shit for summer evenings". I can definitely see myself knocking this up in Knysna, pouring myself a glass of Moreson and setting the table outside. Should be good. Oh, and if you can cook the courgettes and chicken over a braai...well...even better. 

Jamie Who 

Cafe Neo - Home of the turkey which apparently has superpowers

You know those meals where the service is snappy, the food is memorable and when the bill arrives you are pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive it was? Yeah...this was pretty much the complete opposite.

On Saturday morning I went for brunch at Cafe Neo in Mouille Point and was horribly disappointed. I realise this is a favourite of locals and has a strong and loyal following so I am well aware of the reaction my review might get but I'm just calling it like I see it. My personal experience there was terrible. I have been there quite a few times in the last few weeks and have never been blown away but this was especially bad. Let's get into it...

The place itself has a pretty good vibe. Simple decor with a Greek-inspired menu written on a huge blackboard. The setting is awesome and I was happy with a table outside. I sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually we were helped and, feeling like a smoothie, I asked them what the vibe was. They said they had chocolate and strawberry smoothies. I asked them if they had any smoothies made with real fruit, not powder. The waitress told me no, BUT she could make a fruit shake with yoghurt. I got one of those. It was a smoothie. Just like hundreds of other smoothies I have had. But it was good so I was happy.

I ordered the Bircher muesli and The Princess went with poached eggs. She asked if she could possibly have ham instead of bacon. Here is a summary of the mindfu*k of a conversation that followed, starting with the waitress's reply:

Waitress: "No, we don't have ham"
Princess: "Umm...okay. How about some turkey?"
Waitress: "Ooooh, I don't know if we have turkey either."
Jamie Who, *pointing: "There is a turkey sandwich written on the blackboard over there..."
Waitress: "Aah yes. let me ask the chef what he can do."

Well, would you believe it, the chef managed to put 5 slices of turkey on a plate. Splendid.

My Bircher was decent - what eventually arrived for The Princess was very average. (Maybe it's just me but I absolutely hate poached eggs made from those mould things. You know, the perfectly round ones. Is it just me?)

The real shock was when the bill arrived. Have a stab at what you think we were charged for the turkey? Go on, have a guess. If you guessed R35 you are correct. And probably the owner of Cafe Neo. I was absolutely floored. I asked the waitress (who was actually quite sweet by the way) if there was some sort of mistake. She seemed more embarrassed than I was angry and said no, that is what she was told to charge by the manager. Unbelievable. R35? Come on.

Once outside the restaurant Elvis lifted his leg and gracefully pissed on their wall. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Jamie Who

P.S. The photo at the start of the article is of a turkey, not the manager.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jamie Who catering - Sandwiches and salads

So I had my second catering job this weekend. Two "friends-of-a-friend" got married on Saturday and on Sunday they had 50 people round for a lunch. The brief was pretty simple. They wanted a really chilled vibe and unpretentious food. We did sandwiches and salads. 

Now, let's clear something up. I am starting to hate the word gourmet as an adjective. Gourmet burgers, gourmet salads, gourmet bunny-chow, gourmet pies blah blah blah. It's getting really old, really fast. That said, there is something awesome about taking a simple food concept and dressing it up. That's what we did. We didn't make gourmet sandwiches. We just made sandwiches. But we made them look and taste amazing. Same for the salads. 

Here's the menu we put out: 
  • Roasted lamb-shoulder with tzatziki on toasted ciabatta
  • Sushi sandwich (salmon, pickled ginger, wasabi mayo and watercress)
  • Marinated mushrooms on sourdough
  • Chickpea, red onion and feta salad
  • Mixed greens with parmesan shavings
  • Roast chicken and pink grapefruit salad
All in all, I was really happy with the way it came together. It was hard work but really rewarding to see the end product. The Princess worked like a machine and I am so proud of her - watching someone fall in love with food the way she has been amazing to watch.  

We are taking this side of Jamie Who a bit more seriously next year, and with a focus on packaging and design I'm really excited about it. 

If you have any catering needs drop me a line on jamiewhoblog@gmail.com

Jamie Who

Friday, October 23, 2009

Superette - It's right up there

How do you define a hidden gem in terms of a restaurant? For me it's a place that exceeds all your expectations. It's a place that not a lot of people know about, and the people who do know about it are the type of people who will appreciate it. A hidden gem will always have quirky touches and will always place a big emphasis on the small details. Superette is the epitome of a hidden gem. 

I hit it up last week for lunch with The Pick and Power. As I walked in I was impressed. The place oozes cool. Decor-wise it is a combination of understated minimalistic tables and chairs, and old-school "country kitchen". The main feature is a beautiful, vintage fridge and shelves lined with organic homemade produce. The owners are the team that brought the awesome whatiftheworld gallery to Woodtock so the art pieces on the walls are as funky as you would expect. 

The menu is scribbled on some white tiles but focuses on gourmet sandwiches, seasonal salads, freshly baked goods, real fruit juice and artisan coffee. When we were there they even had oysters that had arrived a few hours before we had. I didn't hesitate to go for the seared tuna on toasted sourdough. The tuna was dressed with an Asian vinaigrette and was cooked perfectly. The bread was insane. The others both ordered a bratwurst/brockwurst (I'm not sure which to be honest. Let's just say it was a big fu*king sausage) and even that was presented beautifully with gherkins, pickled baby onions and real mustard. It looked phenomenal. When I had finished eating I asked Cameron if they served tea. I should've known better. He brought a bowl of individually-wrapped, flavoured teas to the table along with a retro teapot. Nice. I went for peach oolong by the way. Yip, that's how they roll at Superette. 

I haven't enjoyed a restaurant this much in a while. It reminded me of Cheyne's in a way. Funky vibe, cool owners, beautiful food and a menu that is truly different and exciting. I have already been back and this time went for a steak tartare sandwich with rocket and capers. It was just as good as my first visit. 

Highly, highly recommended peeps. You can find them at 218 Albert Road or call them on (021) 802-5525. 

Jamie Who

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tuna tartare with rye melba toast

I have explained the taste:health ratio before but I'll do it once more. Most people think that to cook healthy food you need to do something boring and tasteless. The same people think the only way to cook something that tastes awesome is to use loads of oil/butter/fatty foods. So basically they're saying you have to choose taste OR health. I'm saying bullshit. I'm saying you can cook amazing food that scores well in terms of taste and health. One doesn't have to suffer. This recipe is a great example of what I'm talking about. Oh, did I mention it will be finished in less than 15 minutes. Yeah, that's pretty cool. 

The list of ingredients below is pretty flexible. As with a lot of Asian cooking the amounts are up to the individual. The key is finding a balance between salty, sour, hot and sweet. Just taste as you go. 

Stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • 8oog of the freshest, best quality tuna you can find
  • 2 avocadoes
  • 2 chillies, finely chopped
  • A thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • A handful of chives, finely chopped
  • Juice of two limes (use lemons if you can't get limes) 
  • A dash of wasabi paste
  • About 4 tablespoons of the best soy sauce you can get
  • Two tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • A few dashes of sesame oil
  • A few dashes of fish sauce 
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Extra chives for garnish
  • 4 slices of rye bread
Okay, what to do:

1. Cut your tuna into small cubes and place in a bowl. Combine with all the other ingredients except the lime/lemon juice,the sesame seeds and the avo. Season generously with cracked black pepper. (You won't need salt because of the fish sauce and the soy)

2. Cut your avo's in half, remove from their skins and cube them. Squeeze the lime/lemon juice over and place in a separate bowl. 

3. Toast your bread. When done, place them on the counter and cut the four pieces in half lengthways (through the crust) to create 8 thin slices. Place under a hot grill for a few minutes until they crisp up. Watch them carefully, this won't take long at all. 

4. Wet the insides of glass bowls or anything you can find. Spoon some tuna in and push down. Layer some avocado on top and gently press down until the bowls are full. 

5. To serve, place a plate on the bowl and carefully flip it over. The tuna will slide out. Garnish with sesame seeds and chives that have been cut lengthways. Drizzle over some soy sauce to finish it off. 

Hey? How good does that look? This one is a killer as a starter for dinner parties and your guests will have no idea just how easy it was. There are some things to remember though. Only use THE BEST quality ingredients you can find for this dish. I'm lucky because So-So hooked me up with a mate of his who has bought a boat and turned it into a tuna exporting business. The tuna was caught the same day I made this. Now...I'm not saying you should buy a boat but just make sure the fish is amazing. Anything less won't work. 

Jamie Who

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All Manna of Mushrooms - Creating opportunity and selling awesome shrooms

On Saturday, browsing through the Oude Libertas Market in Stellenbosch (full review still to come), I stumbled across a real "feel-good" story. I stopped at a mushroom stand, and was busy shooting the beautiful things, when I got into a coverstaion with the lady at the stall. I was telling her about Jamie Who and asked her about where her farm was, how she distributes etc. She explained that what her company (All Manna Of Mushrooms) does is take old shipping containers and clean them out. These are then insulated and the end result is perfect mushroom-growing chambers. Kind of like portable micro-farms. How cool? But the best was still to come. She then takes these containers and places them in townships allowing the less fortunate to get involved an giving them an opportunity to earn a regular income. Awesome.

The mushrooms themselves are incredible and I walked away with Enoki, Oyster and Porcini varieties. I thought I'd give you a little run-down how I like to use the different types. If you thought a shroom was a shroom, then shame. That's why I'm here my luv.

Okay, so in a nutshell:
  • Enoki - Best used as funky garnishes in soups and salads. You can also use them in stirfries or as snacks at cocktail parties (Try wrapping parma-ham or salmon around them.)
  • Porcini - These are quite "meaty" so are good gently sauteed in garlic and parsley or added to a risotto.
  • Oyster - King Oysters are more common and are amazing with strong, robust dishes like lamb and pork. The more delicate pink, golden and grey oysters are an awesome starter served raw with a vinaigrette dressing.
  • Shitake - These guys are tough and can handle slow cooking so roast them, stew them, stuff them with cheese or use them in soups.
  • Button mushrooms - Piss off. We don't do boring here.

If you would like to mail Heike from All Manna Of Mushrooms drop her a line on heike@mushroom-manna.co.za or call her on 082 657 2428. It could be perfect for a corporate sponsorship. Otherwise, you might just want some amazing shrooms.


Jamie Who

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Borough Market - A reader's review

Another new addition to the Jamie Who blog today in the form of a new tag. This one is called "Readers' adventures and inspirations" and is basically a celebration of you guys. What I want is for you peeps to e-mail me any interesting stories/pictures/reviews etc. that you have experienced in the food scene. If they're any good I will turn them into stories and post them.

I got the idea reading a pretty hilarious e-mail that the brother of The Other Guy Who Can Cook sent me. It was recalling his time in the Borough Market in London. (Google it). Now, I don't know what to call him so let's go with The Other Guy Who Can Cook's Brother, but this dude is PASS-ION-ATE about food and cooks better than some qualified chefs I know. He spoke so enthusiastically about the produce on offer that I felt I had to show you some of the pictures he took (they're the ones above by the way genius). So anyway, he went on to explain the parma ham, mushrooms and assorted organic meats. He explained the marbling, the different cuts of meat and the fresh vegetables. He told a story of standing in a queue for 30 minutes to get a roll with only three ingredients: Chorizo, rocket and roasted peppers. But he understood that the quality of food was worth it.
Here is a guy who understands Jamie Who. Here is a guy who understands how you can fall in love with food. And you know what? I'm finding more and more people out there who are the same. Lately when I'm out at dinner parties or having a few drinks I'm amazed at how often the conversation comes back to food. It's awesome.

So with that in mind, let me officially invite you to send me your food stories (jamiewhoblog@gmail.com) Make them good, I'm not going to use them if they're shit. That's not how we roll at Jamie Who.
And...just like that we have quietly reviewed a market overseas. Yip, we have gone global.
Jamie Who

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nook - There is still some charm in S'Bosch after the franchise invasion

On Saturday morning The Princess, Elvis and I took a drive through to Stellenbosch. We had a meeting out there and when we were done we thought we would enjoy a brunch somewhere. Let me tell you, the place has changed since I was a student there. (Jeez, how old did that make me sound?!!) A quick drive through town and I was left feeling really disappointed. Simply Asia? Cape Town Fish Market? Vida? Melissa's? What the fu*k was going on? Where were the quirky little places that give Stellenbosch its charm? As I drove on they began sprouting up. A tiny little bakery called Sweet. A little deli called Cupcake. Some Cafes with outside seating. And finally a restaurant that seemed to be exactly what I was looking for: Small, tables and chairs on the pavement and a little bit of that "ouma"- style cooking. 

Nook is obviously the new hotspot and was absolutely humming. The atmosphere is relaxed and the decor a mixture of neutral colours, beautiful wooden tables and a collection of bits and pieces. The main feature is a wall with hanging brass cookware and cooking magazines but the whole place is done really well. There is a nice organic feel. 

The menu is simple, rustic food. You will see "homemade" a lot on the menu which always pleases me. The focus is on salads, sandwiches and light meals. And then there are the baked goods. Croissants, sticky buns etc. They are apparently phenomenal but I was not swayed. Instead I ordered two poached eggs. Here is where things got a bit strange. The waitress told me they don't do poached eggs. I was a bit shocked but happily enough ordered  some scrambled eggs, as long as they don't add cream. The waitress came back and apologised, saying they do add cream so was there anything else I would like. I asked if there was any chance they could just not add the cream. Apparently she had not thought of this. Maybe I'm just being a dick but I should not have had to ask, especially after they had told me they wouldn't make the poached eggs. 

Ok, so that was a bit of a rant. How were the eggs you are wondering? Worth the confusion. Presented on ceramic, brightly-coloured plates and served with grilled mushrooms and some fresh rocket. And real rye bread. The Princess had the same but with tomatoes and she seemed happy. Elvis had a bowl of water. He seemed happy. 

I must also mention the owners: Jessica and Luke. They were brilliant and are probably what will make me recommend this place. The personal attention and obvious passion for what they are doing is awesome to see. When next in Stellenbosch, check this place out. 

You can find it at 42 Van Ryneveld Street. Or call them on (021) 887-7703

Jamie Who

Friday, October 16, 2009

On A Plate launch - Jamie Who slumming it with some big dogs

10 years ago if a room filled with my heroes would have been a room full of sportsmen. Bob Skinstad, Robbie Fleck, Eric Cantona and others. Today if you asked me to fill the same room with my heroes they would be chefs. People like Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Margot Janse, Gordon Ramsay etc. Yesterday was probably the closest I will ever come to that.

I was lucky enough to get invited to the launch of a book called On A Plate. Written by a guy called Jess Watts - who has no professional training - the book is part recipe book, part restaurant guide. Showcasing some of South Africa's top restaurants (Myoga, La Colombe, Rust en Vrede, Terroir, Bread and Wine, Roots, 9th Avenue Bistro, Jardine etc), On A Plate shows you how to cook some of their signature dishes. With beautiful photography, a list of suppliers and step-by-step instructions on basic things like knifework and stock-preparation the book is awesome. And the most awesome part of all is that all proceeds go to StreetSmart.

So back to yesterday. The launch was at Myoga - Mike Bassett's restaurant in the Vineyard Hotel. We were served canape-sized portions of some the dishes featured in the book and as I lounged on a white, leather chair staring out at Table Mountain and sipping Moreson bubbly I had to wonder if someone was taking the piss. I was surrounded by people like Richard Carstens, Mike Bassett, Chris Erasmus, Philippe Wagenfuhrer, Topsi Venter (arguably Soth Africa's favourite food icon), Luke Dale-Roberts and more. And the food. Bloody hell. 8 bite-sized courses that were unreal. I won't get into them too much, but humour me for a minute:
  • Salmon with avo and cauliflower puree
  • Langoustine & quail fricasee
  • Salad of avocado and buffalo mozzarella with grapefruit dressing
  • Prawn risotto with shellfish sauce (my favourite dish)
  • Salad of baby beetroot and orange
  • pork and apple sausages with parmesan gnocchi
  • Slow braised lamb neck
  • Springbok wellingtons with caramelised red cabbage

Did I mention the Moreson bubbly? I think I did. How bout the Grande Provence Chenin Blanc? No? Or the Kleine Zalze shiraz? Yeah, we had some of that too. Look, it could have been worse.

But back to the book. A phenomenal amount of time and effort has gone into it, with nobody taking a salary. Everything was paid for by sponsors. It's for a good cause and it's awesome. Buy one.


Jamie Who

P.S. We were given a brief talk by a StreetSmart ambassador. She asked us to do our bit by asking restaurants if they were affiliated to StreetSmart, or indeed if they had even heard about it. I will be doing that from now on. So should you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Doppio Zero - Like Primi but less orange

Bearing in mind that I had just scratched my car and almost got into a street fight with a bergie, I had a decent time at Doppio Zero (Somerset Road) when I stopped by for a quick lunch. I didn't have much time so I went with the Thai-chicken sandwich on rye. Not bad! The bread itself was particularly good and when I asked the waiter about it he showed me their on-site bakery which operates from the small shop next door. It wasn't shabby at all - a couple of cakes, croissants, eclairs, gingerbread-men etc. Look, it's no Jardine Bakery but it will definitely do the job for locals. 

The Doppio Zero menu is huge. Salads, light meals, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, seafood, meat blah blah blah. It is basically Primi without the orange. I must say though, everything I saw getting carried out looked really good. They've also got a nice bar area and outdoor seating which lends itself to people-watching. And the people who walk past are well worth watching...

Service was a bit slow but overall I reckon it is a nice addition to a building that includes Best Ugly Jazz Bar and Beauna Vista Social Cafe. With Miss K already an established hit, the new Cape Quarter launching further up the drag and the new Bravado and Mano's within spitting distance there is a nice little food node developing. 

Have a look for yourselves at 81 Main Road, Greenpoint. Or call them on (021) 434-9581. 

Jamie Who

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New smoking laws passed - Great news for me but maybe a bit harsh?

When I was at varsity I smoked a box of cigarettes a day. Now the only tar I burn is the one under my running shoes. (Sorry...that was unbelievably poor). Why would I risk my reputation with such a terrible joke? Well, it's a nice way to ease into the topic of this post: why I f-ing hate smoking so much and the way it impacts eating out. 

You see, if you have smoked before and you have given up I PROMISE you you will hate smoke and smokers more than someone who has never smoked. As a never-before-smoker you might think you hate smoke(ers) but trust me you don't. That hatred is reserved for people like me. It's not that I hate the people who smoke, I don't. What I hate is the way you can be out for a meal and suddenly everyone has to rush outside for a quick nicotine fix. Between courses, before starters, after desserts - it pisses me off. 

And look, I don't want to sound like a complete dick but if I'm out for a meal secondary smoke has the potential to ruin it. If I'm going to a birthday party or a dinner that has the potential to get particularly boozy then sure, I will more than happily sit in the smoking section. But I will have the courtesy to consider other diners who are there to enjoy the food. And on the occasions when I have had to deal with secondary smokers do you know who I blame? Not the smokers. The restaurant owners. So you can imagine how stoked I am to hear that smoking laws have been tightened. Fines for breaching have increased to R50 000 for restaurant owners and R500 for individuals. Restaurants that allow smoking on verandas and outside areas will have to be extra-careful too, as partially closed spaces have now been included in areas where smoking is banned. Another interesting point is that it is now illegal for anyone under 18 to be allowed into a designated smoking area. It's all pretty hectic. 

I know I ranted a bit earlier and I do understand that restaurant owners and smokers will find these new laws a bit harsh. I might even agree. I personally reckon each restaurant should be assessed on an individual basis. Common sense should prevail and a compromise should be reached. What do you guys think of it all? 

Jamie Who

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Greenhouse - Two thumbs way, way up

The Liz McGrath consists of three hotels: The Marine in Hermanus, The Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town and The Plettenberg in...Plettenberg Bay. They have recently brought in Peter Tempelhoff as group executive chef and he has redone the menus of the hotel's restaurants. On Saturday night I celebrated a special occasion by taking The Dragon to The Greenhouse which is at The Cellars Hohenort. Shall we..?

Firstly, I would highly recommend arriving for any booking early to take a walk around the hotel's gardens, and quietly laugh at how ridiculously beautiful this city we call home actually is. As well as the beautiful flowers you can stop and appreciate the vegetable garden. There is something awesome and comforting knowing that ingredients you see on a menu were picked a few metres away. 

After we had perved Mother Nature for about half an hour we took a seat in the hotel's bar, Martini. The decor is a lot funkier than you would expect - oversized lamps, quirky wallpaper, polka-dot-prints on upholstered wing-back chairs etc - and it reminded me a lot of Planet Bar at The Mount Nelson. (Remember that place? Friday nights there were mental at one stage.) I had a dirty Martini which was superb and was more-than-impressed with the "canapes" that were offered. White tomato soup, crumbed goat's cheese and the smallest chicken kebabs I have ever seen. Honestly, making them must have been a job reserved for a special kind of asshole. Someone who had pissed the head chef off badly

I had a quick look at the menu but already knew what I was there for. With another mountain run with The Gym Nazi that morning under my belt I wasn't settling for anything less than the 7 course tasting menu. And yes, I was going to pair it with wine. The pain in my legs every time I stood up told me I had earned it. Now, I could go on and on and on and on about the food but I will try and keep it quick. I will say, however, that the entire experience (and the food in particular) was way more impressive than my visit to Roots. (here)

So what did we eat and drink? Let's have a look:
  • Carpaccio of tuna and perlemoen with pickled radish, wasabi, soya caviar and yuzu marinade. Served with 2005 Klein Constantia estate brut mcc. What a start! The dish was delicate and elegant, qualities that were both exaggerated by the presentation on a solid slab of glass. 
  • Terrine of South African game. Served with 2000 Nederburg auction reserve special late harvest. Probably my favourite dish. A generous portion complimented by the sweetness of baby beetroot and carrots. The wine pairing worried me when I saw it but it worked out brilliantly. 
  • Cape Malay langoustine & pork belly. Served with 2005 Klein Constantia riesling. The only disappointment of the evening. It looked great, but the pork was over-seasoned and dry. The langoustine was good but not amazing. 
  • Rooibos espresso granite. As far as palette cleansers go, this is one of the most memorable I have had. Like...ever. A great change from sorbet. 
  • Beef fillet with seared foie gras, celeriac and local mushrooms. Served with 2007 Herold pinot noir. I remember the menu saying something about "pinotage pearls" with this dish. They were rich, caviar-sized balls and were phenomenal. I have never seen them before and I loved them. A really nice touch. The fillet was slightly tougher than I expected, but the flavour was better than most so I was happy. It was my first encounter with Herold and I really enjoyed it. Apparently the farm is somewhere near George?
  • The next dish came from a cheese trolley which was wheeled to our table. Adding a bit of theatre, our waitress sliced the various cheeses and presented them with figs and walnuts. I can't even pretend to remember all the varieties but there were about 8, including blue cheese, goat's cheese, parmesan, red sage and camembert. The portions they gave us were fu*king massive and I didn't even finish half of it. I enjoyed every bite though. 
  • The finale arrived in the form of a chocolate gateaux with espresso syrup and mint jelly. The wine was their own...a 2007 vin de hohenort. The gateaux was moist and rich and the wine impressed me. 
The meal was R550/head including wine. Without the wine it's R350/head. With the quality of ingredients, and the style of food, with this setting, I reckon that's bloody good value. For birthdays, anniversaries, dinners-with-the-boss, or if you just feel like a good spoil this is the place. I am a fan. 

Visit them at The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel in Brommersvlei Road, or call them on (021) 794 2137.

Jamie Who

P.S. I forgot to mention the service which was top-drawer. True, I probably should have worked that into the article instead of tacking it on the end but...well...I didn't. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fennel, grapefruit and celery salad. Calamari and prawns with whole wheat tagliatelle

We had Mr. & Mrs. Awesome round last night for dinner. I love those two. As well as being such a cool couple they are also foodies which makes cooking for them that much more interesting. But, the irony is that the dishes I made were so basic. So simple. Again underlining the point that fresh, seasonal produce prepared well is way better than fancy, pretentious cooking. What did I make? Let's get into it...

Stuff you'll need to make a killer salad for 4:
  • 2 bulbs of fennel, sliced as finely as possible
  • 4 sticks of celery, sliced as finely as possible
  • 2 grapefruits, peeled and segmented
  • 500 ml of apple juice
  • A handful of peppercorns 
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • A tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Okay, what to do:

1. Bring the apple juice to the boil with the peppercorns and thyme in it. Turn the heat down to medium and reduce liquid until it is thick and syrupy. (Syrupy? Is that a word...)

2. Strain the liquid and allow to cool. When done add the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. 

3. Arrange the fennel on a platter and cover with celery and grapefruit. Drizzle dressing over the top. 

Jeez this is a goodie. Honestly, I've got no problem telling you how good this is. Humility is overrated. The flavours are so fresh. So clean. You will love it. Pair it with a crisp white wine and you will be digging your own vibe. (I went with the Daisy Darling from Cloof Estate. Yeah, it is pretty f-ing good)

Righty, for mains I made a little seafood pasta dish. I wanted to do mussels but couldn't find any so I improvised. I deliberately didn't make any sauce as I wanted it to be light. Here we go...

Stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • A pack of whole wheat tagliatelle 
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 - 2 chillies, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of prawns, cleaned and peeled
  • 2 calamari steaks
  • Five spice powder (optional) 
  • Parmesan
Okay, what to do:

1. Cook the pasta as per the instructions. If you mess this up piss off and don't come back to my site. Not ever. 

2. Rub olive oil and the five spice onto the calamari if using. In a smoking hot pan sear the calamari for about 1 minute per side. DO NOT OVERCOOK IT! Just have a bit of faith here. Remove and set aside. 

3. Add the garlic, chilli and prawns to the pan and cook for a few minutes until the garlic is brown and the prawns are pink. AGAIN, DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM. They'll be done in a few minutes. Remove and set aside. 

4. Slice the calamari and add to the prawns, chilli and garlic. Add the cherry tomatoes. Toss to combine. Drain the pasta and mix everything together. 

5. To serve spoon the pasta into bowls and garnish with coriander. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top and add some parmesan. 

This meal sounds a lot fancier than it is. The salad is soooooo easy and the pasta honestly isn't tough either. Just make sure not to overcook the seafood. The rest is simple. Did I mention how healthy everything is? Yip, that's how I roll...

Jamie Who

P.S. You know when a recipe says "optional"? That means you're an idiot if you don't use it. Basically...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We love gogo - yes we do, we love go go...how bout...yo

I try and prepare lunch at home every morning before I head off to work. I usually make extra dinner and mix it into some quinoa, chickpeas, whole wheat pasta or lentils. If it's an extremely rare occasion and I can actually see the sun, I'll bang out a nice salad with tinned salmon or tuna. Sometimes I just can't be bothered though... and it's on these days that I start thinking about lunch at about 10am! 

The decision on what to get for lunch is a BIG deal for me. Knowing how grumpy I get when I get a bad meal, there really is a lot of thought that goes into where I'm going to go. Osumo is my most popular choice, Kauai might feature every now and then, sushi is up there, the food lover's market pops up on occasion but what I am digging at the moment is a crowd called GoGo. They make salads and sandwiches and the cool part is they bring it to your office. They have partnered with Knead so you know the bread is going to be amazing, and their salads, while not being overly creative, are made of high-quality ingredients with no additives or preservatives. 

They've got a good vibe going with "boardroom boxes" which are aimed to cater for 10 - 12 people. These are a nice idea and I personally would love to arrive at a breakfast meeting to granola and fruit skewers instead of sugary muffins and pastries. 

Another nice touch if you are involved at an office with more than 120 employees is their vending machines which they stock daily. These are filled with fresh sandwiches and juices and make a nice change from chocolate bars and crisps. If you are reading this and you're the boss...well done. I like you. If you're reading this and you aren't the boss...well, keep on trucking I guess? But, in the meantime, tell your boss to get one of these. 

For a full menu check them out on www.welovegogo.co.za - I'm a big fan of the chicken, pesto and avo on country seed. (There's no sign of rye yet...)

Jamie Who

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Banks - An online kitchen playground

I started this entry to point you kids towards the coolest wholesale retail catering shop I know. Honestly, the place is like a Jamie Who candy store. I was going to tell you to get your asses to Banks which is in Sir Lowry Road. What number? Jeez, must I do everything? Ok, chill. It's number 77.

So, annnnyway, I was going to tell you about how much time I can actually spend there. Strolling through the shop and looking at everything. Appliances, pots, pans, crockery, glassware...it's all there. And it's all awesome. Look, I know I'm a bit of a kitchen nerd but the stuff is for everyone to appreciate. Power is a regular there and buys glassware by the bucketload for various tours and promotions he does with his brands (Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire, Dewars and more) so you know the quality is good. Novices can get entry-level equipment, professional chefs get uniforms and specialist knife sets, tourists buy presents, interior designers go there to get inspiration for restaurants. The place is pretty cool. So, I was going to tell you all about this until I found their website. It's friggin' awesome. You can shope from your seat. Your boss won't have a clue. They've got a full-on inventory of all their products, a breakdown of the various brands they stock, a list of specials and more. You should check it out on http://www.banks-shop.co.za/

Again I seem to have done the work for you. Again, I do it with a smile. Because that's how much I care.

One of my earliest posts on this blog was about yuppiechef (http://jamiewhatshisname.blogspot.com/2009/06/yuppiechef-who-me.html). Now, Yuppiechef to me has the coolest stuff out there and I notice Banks is stocking some of the same brands. So...they must be doing something right. 

Jamie Who

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grilled ribeye with a pear, pistachio and parsley salad

Last night was another case of a ridiculously easy-to-make salad overshadowing what was supposed to be the main attraction. Don't get me wrong...the ribeye (seen here sizzling away on my extremely sexy drop-in grill) was amazing but the salad was what I was really happy with. It took me the time necessary to cook the steak (8 minutes plus resting) from start to finish and all came together beautifully. 

I've written before about the fact that Woolies Danish feta actually has the same amount of calories and fat as their Slimmer's Choice feta:


Strange...but true. So get this, they have now introduced a Slimmer's Choice Danish feta. Now, I recognise that I am flirting dangerously close to the food-obsessed/nerd line here and I want to clear up that I have no time for people who read every label like it was a map to the holy grail but this is worth mentioning. Go get the Woolies Slimmer's choice feta. Trust me. The rest of the ingredients I threw in because they were in season but feel free to tweak it to suit your taste. The salad, paired with a juicy steak, was a complete meal. Protein from the beef, antioxidants from the fruit and good fats from the nuts and olive oil. A keeper. 

Stuff you'll need to feed 2:
  • 2 pears, sliced as finely as possible
  • About 3 sticks of celery, sliced as finely as possible
  • Feta (try use the Slimmer's Choice)
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • A handful of pistachios 
  • A tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • Three tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil 
  • Juice of one lemon
  • A few drops of sesame oil 
  • 2 x 200g ribeye/sirloin steaks
  • Dried herbs (oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme) 
  • Extra oil for the steaks
Okay, what to do:

1. Rub the steaks in olive oil and the dried herbs. Season with salt and pepper and cook over a high heat for about 4 minutes per side (for medium rare). 

2. Meanwhile, arrange the pears on a platter with the celery and the parsley. Scatter the pistachios and feta on top. 

3. In a bowl mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and sesame oil. Drizzle over the salad. 

4. After 8 minutes remove the steak and cover. Allow to rest for a few minutes.  

Cut away the strip of fat when you serve and you're left with a meal that is both super-healthy and tasty. The salad is so easy you'll think you've forgotten something. You haven't. Well...maybe just a thank you. 

Jamie Who

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sandbar - A nice change-up

I was supposed to drive through to Stellenbosch on Sunday for brunch but through a complicated, strange twist of events (I decided not to) I ended up at Sandbar in Camps Bay. Pafoof and The Monkey Whisperer were down from Jozi and I wanted to show them the famous strip on what was supposed to be a beautiful morning. Now, I always feel a bit strange being in Camps Bay and not at Caprice. It's like cheating on your girlfriend. But...I was keen to try something different so we settled in at the perfect outside table. 

The breakfast menu at Sandbar displays that little extra effort that I always look for. Sure, it's got the usual suspects but it also has things like ciabatta topped with spinach, feta, chilli and two poached eggs. It's got killer omelettes, a wide range of croissants, french toast and some healthier options like mixed nuts, yoghurt and berries. Having gone for a mountain run with The Gym Nazi - and with a day of work still ahead of me - I knew the healthy vibe was not really going to cut it. I had earned something a bit more spectacular. I had earned the bacon, brie and rocket omelette. Let me tell you, it was pretty awesome. Maybe the bacon could have been a bit crispier? The others had French toast (decent), and poached eggs on rye (not bad) but nothing really compared to my showstopper. Coffee was from Origin (spectacular) and the juice was freshly squeezed.  

One thing I have to mention is the service. I have previously written about my experience at Roots and the way that the chef's apology and manner in which he handled a mistake was so refreshing (http://jamiewhatshisname.blogspot.com/2009/08/roots-tough-one-for-me.html)

Well, on Sunday we ordered and hadn't really even been waiting that long. Next thing, the owner comes over and apologises prefusely for the wait. She explained there had been a mix-up at the pass and our order had been delayed. We said it wasn't a problem but she insisted that all our drinks were comped. I was amazed. If only every restaurant had standards that high...

Sandbar offers salads, wraps and more substantial meals as the day unwinds. You could do worse than catching a light lunch, smoothie or a cocktail there in summer - fresh off the beach. Yes please. I dig the pavement seating too. Caprice will still dominate the strip this summer but for a change-up Sandbar is a good call. 

Give them a call on (021) 438-8336 or check them out on www.sandbar.co.za 

Jamie Who

Friday, October 2, 2009

Looks like summer got the memo - your wine weekend options

I don't want to be "that guy" who calls it prematurely but I think summer has finally got the memo and arrived in Cape Town. Late, yes, but safely here. Thank you summer. To celebrate I am going to do something remarkably pro-active here and combine no less than FOUR entries into one as I effortlessly show you some different wine festivals taking place over the next few weekends. Let's get into it...

The Season of Sauvignon wine festival actually starts today and runs until Sunday. It is hosted by the Durbanville Wine Valley Association and showcases Shiraz. Not really. It showcases Sauvignon Blanc from the area. With farms like De Grendel, Diemersdal, Bloemendal and Altydgedacht all participating it should be a goodie. Expect sushi, live jazz and beautiful views of Table Mountain. 

Right...moving on. Next Friday sees the Breedekloof Outdoor Festival kick off. The weekend celebrates the area's beautiful natural surroundings and includes quad-biking, paintball, archery, fishing, mountain biking and even the Deetlefs Night Run through their vineyards. (5km and 10km). Food-wise there will be everything from - and I quote from their website - "skaapkop dinner" (umm...no) to oysters (ah thank you) to a spitbraai (maybe, depending on my sobriety at the time). I like the healthy appeal of this festival and let's not forget the quality of wineries out there. (Deetlefs, Lorraine, Jason's Hill etc.)

Okay, as if we needed another reason to go to Franschhoek they too are hosting a festival next weekend (the 10th and the 11th). Theirs is called Franschhoek Uncorked and promises to be a cracker. They have done well to organise a shuttle service to take you from one wine farm to the next and the lineup is...well...silly. Moreson. Boekenhoutskloof. Chamonix. Grande Provence. L'Ormarins. Vrede en Lust. You get the picture. I'm starting to get the picture as I write this actually. Yip, this could be the one. Screw the night run! I'll run back to the B&B! 

Lastly, we have the Robertson Wine on the River weekend. Bloody hell this sounds amazing. From the 16th to the 18th of October a place called Goudmyn Farm is your host. Situated on the banks of the Breede River, the event includes sampling wines from more than 40 wineries. There's a live blues band, country food stalls and a farmer's market selling local olives, cheese, chocolate and olive oil. There's a fu*king river cruise people! COME ON MAN! ARE YOU GETTING THIS? When I go on a booze-cruise I like to use the word meander. Yes...I think I will meander down the Breede. 

Phew, I got a bit carried away there but really...can you blame me? Summer is here and the outdoors are calling. Bring it on, it's been a long winter. 

Jamie Who

P.S. Check out the following sites for more info:



Thursday, October 1, 2009

Broad bean, asparagus and anchovy salad with lemon dressing

I made pork chops with an Asian rub last night. You might not think pork chops fit the healthy vibe that I like to kick around but if you get the right cut (trimmed of excess fat) pork is an awesome source of lean protein. Now, the brighter of you might have noticed that the picture above is not of pork chops. Well done. The photo is actually of the really simple little salad I made with them. It was a combination of an idea I had mixed in with a recipe from Taste magazine. That's the best part of cooking...taking recipes and adding your own little touches. It personalises everything and I dig it. I used broad beans which have just come into season. They are awesome as an ingredient and so versatile. You cook them for three minutes and they're done which helps too. I know anchovies aren't for everyone but if they are good quality and you chop them finely I promise you all it does is add an incredible depth of salty flavour. Try them, don't be shy. 

Stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • 2 punnets of broad beans
  • 8 anchovy fillets, chopped finely or minced
  • 2 punnets of asparagus
  • About three tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • A good glug of olive oil
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely or minced
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • A handful of blue cheese, crumbled
Okay, what to do:

1. In salted boiling water cook the beans and asparagus until done but still slightly crunchy (about 3 minutes).

2. Drain the beans and asparagus and plunge into a bowl of iced water. This stops them from cooking and keeps the awesome green colour. 

3. In a shallow dish, combine the olive oil, the vinegar, the lemon juice, the anchovies and the garlic. 

4. Marinade the beans and the asparagus with the other ingredients for about 30 minutes. 

5. To serve, spoon onto a platter, drizzle with the dressing and crumble on the blue cheese. Garnish with the lemon zest.

This is summer on a plate. Clean, crisp and everything in season. It stole the show last night and would be perfect to eat outdoors for a Saturday lunch. What's that? A glass of South Hill sauvignon blanc? Don't mind if I do. 

Jamie Who