Spotlight on Voer


It isn't often that I return over and over again to a blog that does not feature a photo with every post, but where the writing is as exceptional as it is on Voer, I am willing to make an exception.  Voer is a collaborative blog written by Arcadia in Pretoria and JvdH in Hampshire in the UK where they document their food, their travels and their observations on life, both in English and in Afrikaans.    It's seldom that a blog with two authors manages to maintain a uniform and consistent style, but Arcadia and JvdH are so attuned to each other that it works beautifully here and there is never a jarring note in their beautifully written posts.  Keen to find out more about the bloggers behond Voer?  Read on…


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

I grew up in the old homeland of Bophutatswana but have been living in an old art deco-style apartment with a 1950's kitchen in Arcadia, Pretoria, for almost six years now.

2. How long have you been blogging?

I started blogging in 2006, and started Voer with Jvdh in 2008, which focuses specifically on our shared love of food.

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

I think blogging is quite an exhibitionist venture, and I revel in that – I love telling people about what I've been eating, and being awakened to the narratives of our lives which are always spun around our food.

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

I don't currently own a camera (which, for a filmmaker, is unheard of), so there are no photographs accompanying my posts.

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

I echo Nora Ephron's feeling of "I don’t think any day is worth living without thinking about what you’re going to eat next at all times". I come from a family obsessed with food, and who are always eating. My mother is a baker above all other things, and I grew up with a new cake or pudding in the house every day, and to this day she keeps all her many children in stock of rusks and cookies and baked cheesecake. My father is a writer so I learnt to write haikus at age seven, and it's been all downhill from there – I now spend my time engaged in academic writing as well as the writing of screenplays, and food blogging is a welcome hiatus from it all. And whilst I love cooking for others – a table full of people to feed has always made me immensely happy – I also love cooking for myself. You have no one to please when cooking for one, and you get to make everything you feel like eating.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?

Whenever I have the time, and usually at home.

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

It would probably be something sweet – Nigella Lawson's chocolate espresso cake, Nigel Slater's amazing brownies, or bread. I made a decision at the beginning of last year to no longer buy any bread but solely subsist on what I've baked myself, and so far I've been remarkably successful at keeping the resolution. I also make a good bearnaise, sour cream chicken enchiladas, and borscht. As to wine – I'm quite a seasonal wine drinker, so currently there's always a cold bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonay around. There's also nothing like having wine at breakfast.

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

My favourites include Orangette, Smitten Kitchen and The Wednesday Chef, and a few lesser-known ones such as Caviar and Codfish, Lottie and Doof and Hannah's Country Kitchen. I'm also quite partial to the blog of Marie Viljoen, a fellow South African, now living in New York, 66 Square Feet

9. Favourite restaurant?

Olympia Café in Kalk Bay! I also recently fell in love with a little place in Stellenbosch called Nook, and although I've only been there once Stellenbosch's French bistro Café Dijon immediately stole my heart. Here at home I love Li-bel in Sunnyside, Moema's in Parktown for cake, Al-Amin in Laudium for Indian fare, Kung-fu Kitchen in Brooklyn for cheap but delicious sushi, and the Dutch Oven in Sunnyside for croissants and their chocolate ganache cake. And I have a soft spot for the gourmet pizzas of Toni's in Villeria, where jvdh and I met.

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

Peking duck with all the trimmings, rugelach, a very good cheeseburger with American-style fries, some garlicky and gingery prawns, a large plate of watermelon chunks, a rare piece of rump with some bearnaise sauce, Peter Veldsman's chocolate mousse, and the room brie from the Albert Cijp-market in Amsterdam. Or, failing all of that, lobster rolls with goose fat fries and champagne. I might as well go down in style.



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

Mostly in the Hampshire, UK, but I manage to fit a week or two of SA-time in every year.

2. How long have you been blogging?

A bit more than two years now: it started as a collaborative effort motivated by a weekend of excessive cooking and has continued ever since.

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

Someone once said that they prefer cooking for an audience, which is something I experience too. It encourages me to learn new skills, try new things. The blog allows me to share this, making single meals effectively much more communal. Over time our blog has also become a collective memory of projects and places, experiences and experiments.

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

I'm always writing about things which happened "recently", i.e. months ago. I would like to blame a lack of time for this, but a lack of discipline is the more likely cause.

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

I experience the whole read-cook-eat-write cycle as a very creative and stimulating process. It allows me to relax, it is distracting and satisfying enough to slow down from the daily rush. And in the process you can experience something new, again and again. Drinking can be a creative process too, but that is usually more aligned with the writing phase.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?

While in transit is generally good: buses, trains and airports too. Also while I'm supposed to be working. A small notebook partly filled with an illegible scrawl helps a lot.

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

A crisp, grassy Sauvignon makes me very happy. Something from Marlborough or the cooler spots around Cape Town and Stellenbosch. People have come to associate me with bread, but I can do other things too. Bread has, however, been the dominant obsession the last year or so.

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

Most of what's on our blog roll, with a random sampling of pretty blogs and columns I come across in my daily life. I think I'm drawn towards people who cook with what's available: it is a lot easier to make spectacular food when you spectacular ingredients, but it takes skill to transform the mundane into something special. If have to single out a single blog, then has been inspirational, human and warm all along.

9. Favourite restaurant?

I don't think I'm a restaurant person. I can remember several stunning meals in good restaurants, meals I wouldn't mind having again, but does that make it a "favourite" restaurant? Olympia in Kalk Bay has good food, but too many people like it for me to relax completely. So I usually ignore Michelin stars, and look for authentic, personal places I can go to again and again.

Al-Amin in Laudium (outside Pretoria) is one, while the Salty Seadog in Simonstown has repeatedly fortified me against wet winter nights. I've also spent many a long afternoon at Café La Fayette in Stellenbosch, but that was some time ago. Good wine, good people.

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

Everything? Fresh, crusty bread with a rough crumb, a bowl of olives, some cheese and few slivers of good jamón. A glass of white on the side.

About Cooksister

Food & travel writer, photographer, blogger, recipe writer and speaker. South African by birth, Londoner by choice.
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1 Response to Spotlight on Voer

  1. Marie says:

    Nice to see more of these two, here!
    One of the great privileges of reading Voer is to read about food in Afrikaans (as many of the posts are), something I had never done before. Not only Afrikaans, but the language beautifully rendered, with a vocabulary of food quite new to me. Tasting these words on the tongue is as good as tasting what is described.
    And how can you not love a blog where an author must remonstrate with himself in a Hungarian Market about whether or not to carry the smoked face of pig home to England in his backpack?

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