Spotlight on Just Me Shel

JustMeShel

I’ve been blogging for quite a while, and I have met people from all over the world who blog about food… but it isn’t every day that I meet somebody from my very own hometown of Port Elizabeth!  This rare creature is Michelle who blogs at Just Me Shel.   I recently asked her a few questions about herself and here is what she had to say:
1. Where are you – in South Africa or out in the wide world?

Port Elizabeth: South Africa

2. Since when have you been blogging?

October 2009

3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging?

It allows me to remove myself from the “real world” for a few precious moments…and … My cooking has transgressed from being a chore to being my passion!

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

When blogger is down and I’m trying to upload photographs!

5. What or who are your inspirations to cook, drink and write?

Firstly to celebrate life and dreams My family, close friends and my dearest blogging friend….Monique from Latabledenana inspire me.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?

In my study and either early in the morning before my day begins or very late at night when waiting for my child to return home!

7. What’s your signature dish or favourite wine?

Food: Slow cooked lamb…the way my mother taught me….when it falls off the bone and Oxtail Bredie….Favourite wine….Haute Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir

8. What other food or wine blogs do you read?
Latabledenana, Cooksister, My French Kitchen, Simply Delicious, Stonegable.

9. Favourite restaurant?

Old Austria and Leonardos in Port Elizabeth and not forgetting La Petit Ferme in Franschoek.

10. For my last meal on this planet I would order…

Prawns basted with lemon and garlic butter on the fire!

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Spotlight on Cooking Through the Seasons

CookingThruTheSeasonsMaybe it’s because of her background in conflict management and resolution, but Kate Abbott of the Cape Town blog Cooking Through the Seasons tells you straight off the bat that you won’t find any deliberately weird conflicting flavours on her blog.  Don’t you love an About page that tells you: ” To make these recipes you will not have to buy a myriad of different items, neither will you have to spend hours arranging them daintily on a plate and you won’t be left wondering what all the complicated flavours add up to, and you won’t find odd mixtures of chocolate and blue cheese, or coconut ice cream and fried onions.  There are no long lists of peculiar ingredients, and no need for complicated equipment.”  Sound like your kind of blog?  Then read on to get to know Kate a little better with our Q&A session:

1. Where are you –  in South Africa or out in the wide world?

I live in Clifton, Cape Town.

2. Since when have you been blogging?

I started blogging about 9 years ago on various topics which also included food. In 2011  I decided to start a new blog with the focus solely on food.

3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging?

I enjoy blogging about my journey with food. I absolutely love to cook, and I love to write about it too.  For me it is a wonderfully creative process.

4. Any downside or frustrations?

None that I know of.

5. What or who are your inspiration to cook, drink and write?

I have a love affair with food. Some say it is in the blood. I come from a long line of Hoteliers, Restaurateurs, Confectioners, Publicans, Chefs and great cooks. My family heritage and wonderful Chefs such as Michel Roux (Senior and Junior), Raymond Blanc, and Roger Vergé, inspire me constantly.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?

From my study which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean; usually in the morning.

7. What’s your signature dish or favourite wine?

I have three simple yet brightly flavoured pasta dishes that are my trump cards when serving up food where there is a combination of meat and non-meat eaters at my table.

8. What other food or wine blogs do you read?

Maggie Beer, Raymond Blanc, Chefs Warehouse, Nomu, BBC Food, Rick Stein, to name but a few.  I visit the SA Food & Wine Blog Directory page to breeze
through local food blogs and I also visit the food bloggers that come to or frequent my site.

9. Favourite restaurant?

There are a handful of very good restaurants in Cape Town/Winelands that I enjoy, who serve memorable meals. Which one to choose on the day would depend on what my eclectic taste buds are seeking, or how far I want to drive!

10. For my last meal on this planet I would order…

the most delicious, freshly laid organic poached egg, served on toasted sourdough that has been generously buttered; a garnish of fresh young rocket leaves, drizzled with just a touch of olive oil, sprinkled with a little black pepper and the best sea salt flakes to be found.

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Spotlight on Simply Delicious

SimplyDelishFive years ago, Alida Ryder of Simply Delicious did not know what food blogs were, let alone think about starting her own.  What started out as a way for her to record and share recipes with friends and family in other cities has grown beyond her wildest dreams and today she is one of South Africa’s most popular food bloggers, with a recipe book in print and a hugely talented food photographer and stylist. Let’s get to know her a little better.
1. Where are you – in South Africa or out in the wide world?

I live and blog in Pretoria, South Africa.
2. How long have you been blogging?

Since October 2009. It started as a way for me to give my family and friends my recipes, and has now turned into a full-time job.

3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging?

I think I enjoy reading other people’s blogs the most. As well as getting the comments about my recipes and photography. It’s really great to see people trying your recipes and really loving them.

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

None.

5. What or who are your inspirations to cook, drink and write?

I love working with fresh, seasonal produce and when I see something in the grocery store ideas immediately pop into my head. I think the people that inspire me to cook are definitely my family and they are very happy to be the taste-testers.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?

I write my blog posts in the morning after I have breakfast with the twins and I blog from the office I share with my husband.

7. What’s your signature dish or favourite wine?

I think I’m too young to have a signature dish but I am constantly asked to make my cheesecake/brownies/condensed milk tart so I guess for now, it must be one of those. I’ve grown to enjoy wine over the last few months and I must say I’m really enjoying Kleine Zalze’s Sauv Blanc and Adoro’s Mourvedre.

8. What other food or wine blogs do you read?

I adore reading the inspiring What Katie Ate, Not Without Salt and Always with Butter.

9. Favourite restaurant?

In Pretoria it’s definitely Kream. By far the most beautiful restaurant I’ve EVER seen and the food is to-die-for. In Cape Town at the moment I’d have to say Wafu because I’m going through a bit of a Dim Sum phase and their Crispy Prawn Puffs are addictive!

10. For my last meal on this planet I would order…

It would be a VERY long meal. Buttery Bruschetta with fresh tomatoes & basil, Butternut Risotto with Feta & Chilli, Oxtail potjie, Prawns with peri-peri sauce and end the meal with a giant bowl of Creme Brulee.

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Spotlight on The Gorgeous Gourmet

GorgeousGourmetSocial media can be an odd place.  Some people pretend to be something that they are not, exaggerating their talents and achievements online while being quite unremarkable in real life.  Others maintain a demure and dignified online presence, but when you meet them, they are an explosion of sound, colour, personality and humour. And then there are those people whose true personality shines forth 100% from their online presence.  There are no prizes for guessing into which category I think Candice from the Gorgeous Gourmet falls – her boundless enthusiasm and optimism shine forth from each post she writes, and she is just as full of positive energy and fun when you meet her in person.  If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, here are some bits and pieces to help you get to know Candice:

1. Where are you – in South Africa or out in the wide world?

In South Africa – Cape Town (Kenilworth)

2. How long have you been blogging?

Since October 2010. It’s been at the back of my mind for a while, but just seemed too self-indulgent – I couldn’t believe that anyone else would want to read what I was writing! Then with a bit of encouragement (or more like a firm push) I took the plunge.

3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging? 

Sharing my passion and food ramblings with people who understand that the anticipation of an amazing meal is sometimes the only reason I get out of bed in the morning.

4. Any downsides or frustrations?  

The only downside is that I can’t do this all the time! My goal is to eventually quit my day job, and focus full time on food (thoughts of private catering are running wild through my mind).

5. What or who are your inspirations to cook, drink and write? 

I cook for people – whether it’s my lovely man, close friends, family, or the amazing supporters I have on my blog, I want to share my passion with you. I love the excitement and happiness a great meal can bring – whether it’s merging new flavours, or simply allowing friends to catch up over a long lunch.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?  

I blog during the week, Mondays to Fridays. I ideally like to get 3 or so posts in per week. Weekends are normally spent planning adventures, recipes and meals to post the following week.

7. What’s your signature dish or favourite wine?   

Oooooo….signature dish would probably have to be Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta (if you visit the blog, you’ll notice cream is a frequent guest!) and for dessert, Chocolate Ganache Tart (I warned you about the cream!). Wine..I’m a sucker for a good pinotage.

8. What other food or wine blogs do you read?   

So many! I’m constantly in awe of the amazingly talented food bloggers out there, and they are a great source of inspiration. I love Foodgawker (great for tips on food photography, and finding other great blogs), also Canelle et Vanille, The Novice Chef, Cook Sister (of course! How can you not love someone who took South Africans to one of the Top 50 food blogs in the world!), and A Sofa in the Kitchen.

9. Favourite restaurant?  

At the moment, Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen, in Cape Town

10. For my last meal on this planet I would order…  

In an ideal world, the tasting menu at Heston’s The Fat Duck! But otherwise…to start, smoked salmon, lemon cream cheese and dill on crispy rye, then chateaubriand, done medium, with the thinnest potato chips and creamed spinach. To end, my very own chocolate ganache tart, with vanilla bean ice cream.

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Welcome to our new home!

Yes, I know it has been tumbleweeds around here lately…! but as some of you know, I have been migrating my own blog CookSister, which has taken rather a lot of time over the past few months and distracted me from all else.  But the good news is that this here is the far prettier new home for the SA Food & Wine Blog Directory which I have created for your viewing pleasure! I will also be working through my backlog of applications and profile posts, and getting the site back up to date over the coming weeks and months. Feel free to have a look around, try out the new e-mail and RSS subscription options so as to never miss a post – and don’t forget to change your bookmarks and RSS readers!
If you are currently listed on the directory and displaying the badge, please could you update your site with the new badge and link – below is all the info you need.  If you want the complete code to paste into your sidebar, e-mail me and I will send it to you.  Let me know if you have any problems!
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Spotlight on How to Cook an Elephant

HowToCookAnElephant

You know how sometimes you read an About Me page on a blog and you feel as if you are reading an anodyne press release and feel no closer to the blogger in question?  And then other times you read the About Me page and think "whoah – I want you for my best friend!".  Here's what Lara of How to Cook an Elephant writes on hers – I'll let you guess which camp she falls into ;): "At the tender age of 10 I had already developed the temperament of a head chef (My aunt caught me chasing my brother down the passage way with a 12cm butcher's knife). My brother is now a fast runner and I learned to curb my tendencies to take my energy out on him and use knives to chop inanimate objects." How can anybody resist that intro? I asked Lara a few questions about her blog – here's what she said:

1. Where are you – in South Africa or out in the wide world?  

I live in Cape Town and most probably always will. Despite being bitten heavily by the travel bug in my early twenties, and travelling all over the world, South Africa is and always will be my home.

2. How long have you been blogging?  

I have been writing (to myself mainly) for a few years, and friends have always encouraged me to take it further. March 2010 was the official month of launching My blog.

3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging?   

The freedom to be creative, and the chance to voice your opinions to people who are like minded. Its like a mini publication and a great sense of achievement, plus its fantastic to receive all the advice and comments from other foodies.

4. Any downsides or frustrations?  

Hmmm, yes, some days I'm so knackered, I just look at my camera and groan. I take a majority of my photos outside and getting parsley to stay put in this windy City is near darn impossible. Chasing after morning light is become one of my hobbies.

5. What or who are your inspirations to cook, drink and write?  

My mother started my interest in cooking from a young age, There are photos of me bedecked in a
 pink apron at the age of 7 and cooking. I think my speciality then was rock cakes, because, well they always came out like rocks. When my mother realised that my talent was quickly overtaking her own I was put to good use and allowed me to cook the evening meals. Both my grandmothers are fantastic cooks, and I would spend many hours watching and gleaning as much as I could from them.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?   

I blog at home, and have become a bit of a recluse, sitting on the couch and typing on a Saturday evening.

7. What's your signature dish or favourite wine?   

Hmmm, Well I did kinda wow all of my friends with a batch of chocolate chilli biscuits at one stage, but funnily enough, each of my friends remember me for different things, like chocolate eclairs,
 or my caramel snaps with lemon sorbet. I think I like to keep everyone guessing.

8. What other food or wine blogs do you read?   

I follow as many people as I can, I am so fond of so many blogs, and especially their writers. The food24 foodies are a fantastic community, there is always someone posting a delicious recipe. Scrumptous South Africa, BrownieGirl, Shaz, Leaine's Kitchen, Janice Tripepi, Fired Up Cooking, My Easy Cooking, ChefCaro, PinkPolkaDot, Tastes&Treats, Lavender&Lime, Daily Dose of Fresh are just a few of the blogs I follow.

9. Favourite restaurant?   

Ooooh, Busaba Eathai in Oxford Circus or Banana Tree West Hampstead, London, just imagine: Chilli and Butternut Asian Chicken with Cashew nuts, or Lemongrass and Bamboo shoot chicken with Peanuts, yum. I know I should be more adventurous, but I always ordered the same dish, creature of habit y'now…

10. For my last meal on this planet I would order… 

Oh dear, I always dread this question. What would I order? There is so much to choose from so many amazing flavours, I would feel so sad to only have to choose one meal! Not only is this such a depressing question, because it reminds me that I'm going to be missing out on all the other things to taste. I JUST CANT CHOOSE! sob.

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Spotlight on Chocswirl

ChocswirlThere's almost nothing to make you feel old like suddenly realising that your "baby" brother is turning 40, or that the baby nephews that you remember learning to crawl are now both in school.  In a similar vein, you kind of think that you have not been blogging that long – until you realise that you can remember when a blogging friend actually started their blog, and have known them pretty much for their entire blogging career! The lovely Robyn Gartrell of the beautiful blog Chocswirl started her blog in August 2009, and since then it has grown into a gorgeous resource of recipes and photos well worth spending a few moments drooling over.  I asked her a few questions: 

1. Where are you – in South Africa or out in the wide world?  

Cape Town, South Africa. 

2. How long have you been blogging?  

I started my blog in August 2009.  Still fairly new to it but enjoying every moment!

3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging?   

I love the fact that it brings out the beauty and excitement of food. How gorgeous photos and descriptive words can change your perception of a dish. It's so multifaceted in the way that we're bakers/cooks, writers, and photographers. It also brings people together in a way I didn't think was possible. Getting to meet people from all over the world who have the same love as you do is incredible and extremely satisfying.  

4. Any downsides or frustrations?  

I struggle with finding the time to blog. Organising my photos always takes so long as I take so many and then have to choose, and resize, and cut and crop etc. It's not often that I have a few hours at a time to sit and work on something so it gets difficult. 

5. What or who are your inspirations to cook, drink and write?   

Firstly my dad. His love and exuberence for food instilled in me the passion that I have for it.He makes every meal an experience. Other foodblogs hands down. Not so Humble Pie, Annie's Eats, Brownie Girl, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, and Cooksister to name a few. Also the feeling of making others happy with food. Food is joy.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?   

I'm off work on a Monday so I do a lot of my writing then. I also set aside some evenings in the week. Often I'll have to choose between baking or blogging, as I only have time for one. 

7. What's your signature dish or favourite wine?   

I would say my apple brandy creme brulee, It's my absolute favourite dessert. 

8. What other food or wine blogs do you read? 

The list would be way to long! But a few are mentioned above.

9. Favourite restaurant?   

The Five Flies in Cape Town. Best food I have ever had at a resturant. Coupled with the incredible service and food knowledge of the waiters, it is definatly something great.

10. For my last meal on this planet I would order…   
That's a really tough one… I'm thinking of the beginning of that one Monty Python movie where the guy eats EVERYTHING on the menu…:) I think it would be creme brulee… like a meal-sized one 🙂

 

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Spotlight on Cucina Carolina

CucinaCarolinaThe lovely and vivacious Carolina, originally from the Netherlands, swapped the grey winters of Europe for the sunny shores of South Afirca where she now lives in the Strand.  Together with her wife Lee (and four-legged Rhodesian Ridgeback child Ntombi!), she owns and runs the Cucina Carolina Delicatessen and posts regular podcasts to her blog – don't know where she finds the time!  Let's get to know her a little better:  

1. Where are you – in South Africa or out in the wide world? 

In South Africa – The Strand to be exact

2. Since when have you been blogging? 

Since 2003 for carolee.co.za and since 2010 for cucinacarolina.com

3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging?  

The pictures I make with it and the comment of my wife Lee

4. Any downsides or frustrations? 

That I don't get a lot of other comments. Ha, ha, ha.

5. What or who are your inspirations to cook, drink and write?  

Beautiful pictures of other bloggers, my wife Lee, our dog Ntombi, my own inspiration

6. Where and when do you like to blog?  

In my study with our Rhodesian Ridgeback Ntombi next to me and when I make pictures that Ntombi is right there with me to lick her lips

7. What's your signature dish or favourite wine?  

My snack signature dish is  Bitterballen, my main is Ajam Panggang and for dessert it is Tiramisu. My favourite wine is Meursault

8. What other food or wine blogs do you read?  

Unfortunately I don't have a lot of time but I love the blog What Katie Ate

9. Favourite restaurant?  

96 on Winery Road in Stellenbosch and of course our own deli for the best pizza and sushi in the world

10. For my last meal on this planet I would order… 

1/2 Pizza Prosciutto with Prosciutto di Parma, rucola, Parmigiano Reggiano and chillies and 1/2 Papalina with Salami Milano, black kalamata olives, mixed peppers, springonions, garlic and chillies made by my wife Lee as she makes the best pizza's in the world

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Spotlight on Bakercourt

BakercourtLike me, Stacey is a South African who finds herself transplanted to London and loving it!  She blogs at Bakercourt (Twitter: @baker_court) and describes herself as writer, blogger, baker and crafter who'll try everything once. When not working, she is baking my way through Nigella Lawson's best recipes.  Let's get to know her better:

1. Where are you – in South Africa or out in the wide world? 

I've been based in London since 2009. 

2. Since when have you been blogging? 

I actually started my blog just before I left South Africa in 2009 as a way to record all the delicious foods and local restaurants that I didn't want to forget. Then, when I got to London, I started writing about my move there, and my transition into London life as a sort of 'journal' for my family back home. It turns out I really love food, and a blog is an excellent platform for sharing, discussing and show-and-tell!

3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging?  

Ooh tough one. I love the challenge of photographing the food, the challenge of going out and finding something to write about, and of course – cooking or baking it too. 

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

Sometimes when you are having a bit of a 'down' time you stop posting blogs as frequently and your followers simply melt away, but, on the flipside, you get some really nice friends that stick around and pull you through it. Hm, now that I think about it: no downsides! I love writing, I love food, and I love interacting with the people who visit me.

5. What or who are your inspirations to cook, drink and write?  

I've always wanted to be a writer, and now that I am, I write about my favourite things in my spare time – food, restaurants, travel, crafts and baking. My whole family has always been into food and you won't find better cooks than my mom and her twin sister, so it was a natural progression into the 'family business'. 

6. Where and when do you like to blog?  

I like to write my blogs late at night when I'm rounding up the day's progress and I can enjoy an hour or so of sharing photographs and telling all the stories that go with them. Where: at home, all wrapped up in a blanket on a chair, or snuggled on the couch.  

7. What's your signature dish or favourite wine? 

Mm. Signature dish: braised cubes of beef tossed with pesto, roasted baby tomatoes and gnocchi, with a side of freshly-made bread. 

8. What other food or wine blogs do you read?  

This is going to be a long list. I think I'll give you my favourite five to read…

  • http://www.sprinklebakes.com/ - adventurous baking with exceptionally beautiful photography. I feel like a little girl whenever I browse through her amazing baked goods!
  • http://www.therecanbeonlyjuan.com/ - charming and wonderful, Juanita is a South African foodie after my own heart.
  • http://foodsnots.blogspot.com/ - ignore the name: it's the perfect place to stop by and browse through some pretty pictures, nice recipes and friendly stories
  • http://naturalsuburbia.blogspot.com/ - Okay, a sort of mix between home-cooking, baking and knitting, but it's a lovely blog to visit and always so interesting to hear about what's going on back home!
  • http://www.cooksister.com/ - of course, how could I not? I particularly love that it is just so easy to read – you sit down with a cuppa and end up staying for two.

9. Favourite restaurant?  

Oh! Again, difficult to choose. Either The Fat Cactus in Cape Town, South Africa (the one in Town) or Giraffe in London. I like restaurants that are friendly and comfortable with an excellent atmosphere and lots to choose from. 

10. For my last meal on this planet I would order… 

My mom's lasagna served with a side of green salad topped with Greek feta and balsamic glaze, followed by my aunt's spicy carrot cake with zesty cream cheese icing and a Vida e Cafe mocha.

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Spotlight on Cooking and Eating with Polkadot Cupcake

PolkadotCupcake

Contrary to what conventional wisdom might dictate, I always find that you can learn quite a lot about a person from Twitter and their blog.  You can learn that they like cupcakes.  You can learn that they have a small dog called the Evil Puffle.  But most importantly, you can learn that they are a fellow Cheese Slut!  Of course, I am not really talking in the abstract here – I am talking specifically about the lovely Sigrid from Cooking and Eating with Polkadot Cupcake.  Despite living on different continents we have spent a lot of time chatting on Twitter and e-mail, and finally got to hang out and have a drink together (hopefully the first or many!) at the Food Blogger Indaba in Cape Town this February.  She answered some profile questions for me recently, so let's find out all the news fit to print about Sigrid:

1. Where are you – in South Africa or out in the wide world? 

I'm in Cape Town

2. How long have you been blogging? 

Since April 2008, on and off

3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging?  

The people I meet, the events and experiences and, of course, the food!

4. Any downsides or frustrations? 

Struggling to find time to blog, when work gets really frantic!

5. What or who are your inspirations to cook, drink and write?

Ingredients inspire me to cook, as do pictures, and reading other blogs, I love to drink whichever way you look at it, and food inspires me to write. Often I'll be composing the post in my head as I cook!  

6. Where and when do you like to blog?  

I prefer to blog from work, but lately… time's been thin, and so has my posting!

7. What's your signature dish or favourite wine?  

My favourite wine is Zandvliet Estate Shiraz, and my signature dish? Probably cupcakes, although I can't cook em, everyone knows I love them!

8. What other food or wine blogs do you read?

Too many to mention each, but locally I love www.thecreativepot.net, www.my-easy-cooking.com, and more (check my blogroll)  

9. Favourite restaurant?  

Ever? A tiny place whose name I never got, on the waters edge on the island of Vis, Croatia. We had black risotto, and pink Croatian wine.. It was perfect.

10. For my last meal on this planet I would order… 

Black risotto, slow cooked oxtail, cupcakes and shiraz (though not necessarily in that order).

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