Spotlight on What I Drank Last Night

ChristianEedes Christian Eedes of What I Drank last Night graduated from Stellenbosch University with a philosophy degree.  Apparently his time spent discussing Hegel anf Kant in student bars over a glass or ten of red wine equipped him well for his future career:  he joined Wine magazine in 2000 and served as editor May 2008 - December 2009. He has also completed a small-scale wine making course with the Department of Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University and has been a taster for the Platter wine guide since March 2010.  Here are his Q&A answers.

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

I live in Mowbray, Cape Town.

2. How long have you been blogging? 

Since May 2010.

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

Anything goes.

4. Any downsides or frustrations? 

Old Media is dying but how to make a living out of New Media?

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

Drinking is self-medication; writng is an itch I can't scratch. 

6. Where and when do you like to blog? 

Anytime, anywhere.

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

Dread that question. Bit like what's your favourite book, movie, sexual position…

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

Grape.co.za, Pendock Uncorked

9. Favourite restaurant?

Bizerca (Cape Town) La Tupina (Bordeaux) 

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

Grilled lamb chops, petit pois and frites with a Left Bank Bordeaux from a good vintage…

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Spotlight on Whale Cottage Blog

Whale CottageChris von Ulmenstein is the owner of a number of guest houses and the blogger at Whale Cottage Portfolio Blog. She is known for her outspoken and direct views on the topics of both the South African tourism industry as well as on the foodie scene in Cape Town.  We asked her a few questions:

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

I am proudly-Capetonian, living in Fresnaye, but often in Franschhoek, especially over weekends

2. How long have you been blogging?

My blog will be 3 years old in September 2011, and our 1000th blogpost will appear next week

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

Blogging makes me aware of what is happening around us in Cape Town and the Winelands. Restaurant reviews are the most enjoyable blogposts, although our honesty does cause controversial responses on occasion. I have met lovely food and wine bloggers since I have started blogging, and therefore started the Food & Wine Bloggers Club last year, to help bloggers to connect, and to ‘feed’ them with blogging information and tips.

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

Nasty comments, either aimed at the subject of the blogpost or at us as writers, are a frustration, as there are no clear guidelines – one cannot win, as one is criticised if one deletes comments, and one is criticised if one allows them! Cowardly commenters who do not reveal their real name are annoying, especially when they become disparaging. Rudeness in comments is a grounds for immediate deletion. Yet comments do stimulate interesting debate, if they are constructive. Once one has made a commitment to write a blogpost a day, which is what we have done, it needs lots of energy to keep this up! Stats on readership are frustrating, as there is no consistency – our Hetzner stats looked wonderful, but those on Google Analytics are far lower.

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

I am not a cook! I don’t drink and write, if I follow your punctuation in the question! I don’t think it would be very coherent. A blogpost must be written daily – either it is about a restaurant I have just visited, or it is about a tourism issue, for which I have seen information on the internet, or experienced something myself. The Sweet & Sour Service Awards are based on my service experiences, and nominations from our readers. I also try to judge what is of interest to my readers. Restaurant specials, especially in winter, are hugely popular, and are our best read blogposts.

6. Where and when do you like to blog? I usually blog at night, in front of the TV with a broadcast in German (ZDF) – I am writing this profile like this right now.

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

I am not a cook, so the question does not apply. Generally I prefer to eat out. I am a very frequent Woolworths customer! I eat far more healthily since having been diagnosed with diabetes in October last year, and am proud of the resultant weight loss. I love drinking Shiraz.

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

I read blogposts when they come up as Google Alerts or via Twitter, and could include JamieWho, Relax with Dax, Cathy Marston, La Motte/Hein Koegelenberg, Colyn Truter, Mike Ratcliffe/Warwick, Neil Pendock, Christian Eedes, Spit or Swallow, Emile Joubert/Wine Goggle, The Foodie, and Spill.

9. Favourite restaurant?

My current favourite restaurants are Casparus in Stellenbosch, and Dash at the Queen Victoria Hotel in the Waterfront.

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

Something with perlemoen, prawns, kingklip, crayfish, avo, lots of lemon, rice and Etienne Bonthuys’ Cap Classique butter sauce. With the best pink bubbly!

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Spotlight on… Jamie Who a.k.a Andy Fenner

JamieWho It's always great to meet somebody talented who is tremendously passionate about what they do – and there is no denying that Andy Fenner, the talent behind the Jamie Who? blog, is just such a person.  In the relatively short time that he has been blogging he has built a reputation for himself as an exciting new voice in SA food writing – and when you meet him in person you will know that the voice on his blog is a true reflection of the man himself.  Pull up a chair – let's chat to him:

 

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

South Africa. Based in Cape Town and the Garden Route but I try and write about JHB too, as I am up there fairly often. 

2. How long have you been blogging? 

Since about mid-2009 

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

I believe anyone can fall in love with food – you don't need to be famous. I love de-mystifying food and showing people that they need to try things. I also love explaining to people that they need to start appreciating where food comes from. I like to ask people to visit markets instead of shopping malls. Pick up a butternut, feel it and smell it. Don't buy it already cubed and in a plastic packet!  

4. Any downsides or frustrations? 

There are some malicious people out there and with success comes jealousy. I have been lucky enough to have been able to turn food writing into a career and I am always shocked that certain people seem to resent me for that. Also, being linked to certain brands doesn't mean you have "sold out". I hate it when people use that phrase.

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

My readers. The fact that I know I have people reading my blog everyday means I can't be lazy or boring! Which is awesome and something I don't take for granted.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?  

My blog is part of something a bit bigger but it is still my "basecamp" where I load most of my content. I spend most of my time on deadlines for magazines but the blog is my personal space without editors, briefs, deadlines etc. so it's super-important. I give myself an hour in the morning every day to make sure it's current. 

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

Signature dish at home is tuna steaks on the Weber for summer, and braised lamb shanks which I shred into gnocchi in winter. I absolutely love entertaining and often have friends over. For the wine I'll take a chilled Chardonnay or any Shiraz/Syrah.

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

There are loaaaaaads. CookSister course! Then Rossouws Restaurants, Eat Out, Eat In, Scrumptious, Nina's My Easy Cooking and too many more to mention

9. Favourite restaurant?  

That's like asking a mother of three who her favourite child is! If I had to choose it would probably be Bizerca Bistro, or Massimo's Pizza Club.

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

The roasted scallop and pig's trotter dish from Bizerca Bistro. And a big glass of the Galpin Peak Pinot Noir from Bouchard Finlayson to wash it down. I would die a happy man.

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Spolight on 66 Square Feet (The Food)

66SquareFeet Every now and again you run across a food blog that inspires you on every level – visually, verbally, intellectually and creatively.  It doesn't happen often, but it does – like when I first discovered the wonderfully talented Marie through her principal gardening blog, 66 Square Feet .  So I was understandably thrilled when she created a secondary blog especially for her food.  Reading Marie's eloquent posts from New York City and Cape Town always make me feel as if I have been on a short holiday – so pack your bags and come on a little mini-break with me as we enter Marie's world on 66 Square Feet (The Food)

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

Currently I live in New York with my French husband and Dominican cat. I spend time in South Africa every year and we are considering a move back…

2. How long have you been blogging? 

I started 66 Square Feet, a blog about my small terrace, small apartment and New York life,  in May 2007. Then last year I created 66 Square Feet (the Food) as a food-only adjunct to the main blog.

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

Blogging is a wonderful way to communicate one's enthusiasm about the world immediately, and to an audience from all corners of it. I tend to focus on what is beautiful despite having an outlook which says that life is mostly pain. We know that, so why dwell on it?

What I did not anticipate when I started blogging was that some of the best things in my life would enter it through the cyberportal of my blog: my husband, good friends, and work.

4. Any downsides or frustrations? 

Time, time time 🙂 It takes time.

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

Where to begin?

If we are receptive or perceptive, every day that we live we see or taste or smell or touch something new that is added to our conscious or subconscious and comes out either in the kitchen or on the page, or through the camera.

But:

A clear influence would be my mother, Maureen Viljoen, who gave me a fundamental reference point for very good food. So I grew up with a strong French provincial Elizabeth David influence (in Bloemfontein!). She also has a very good and critical eye for what looks good and how to make things beautiful.

My attraction to drinks perhaps comes from my father, Henri, who has always had a flair for showmanship and the shaking up of an old fashioned, Cary Grant-era cocktail. And he will appear after a long lunch with a bottle of dessert wine in one hand and a handful of small glasses in the other. There is something effortlessly graceful and generous in the gesture.

People: Bevan Christie and Mustafa Candan used to run and cook in Anatoli in Cape Town, in its good old days. I absorbed so much from them in my late teens and early twenties, after we became friends, that it became part of me. About how a thing ought to be done (perfectly, effortlessly, generously, casually). They live in Turkey now. Aside from my mother they are the best cooks I know.

And books. I see Raymond Blanc, the Roux Brothers, the brothers Troisgros, Paul Bocuse, Roger Verge, Marcella Hazan as my early teachers in technique, in my late teenage years. I read their books cover to cover and then cooked my way through substantial parts of them.

Good food writers and observers: MFK Fisher, Hemingway, remain inspirational. Mr Bourdain was great until he became really famous.

And interesting food people  – local foragers, wine makers, butchers, gardeners – I am fascinated by why they do what they do, and love to hear their stories, photograph them and write about them, and learn from them.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?  

I blog daily, usually at home, whenever I can.

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

Friends know me best for bouillabaisse. But for me it's just roast chicken with potatoes under it, as a comfort food fallback, green salad with a perfect vinaigrette, and probably white wine at the moment: I love New Zealand Sauvignon blancs, finding them less astringent and puckery than many South African ones, but had the best rose of my life from Waterkloof in Somerset West this year, and am partial to Spanish Verdejo. But my tastes change often. Different mood, weather, different wine and food. And I love picnics. Can a picnic be a signature dish, or is it a signature past time?

In my next life I would like to be a picnic.

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

Voer – I love that it is in English and Afrikaans. It is very well written, idiosyncratic, and has a voice (voices) of its own.  Last Night's Dinner was the first food blog I loved, and I still read it. It is based out of Rhode Island.

And I often drop in at Cooksister 🙂

I should read more but I don't have the time. There are so many very good ones.

9. Favourite restaurant?  

Al di la, in Brooklyn, New York. Northern Italian, simple, delicious.

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

If I knew it was going to be a last meal I would be far too nervous to eat anything! The last thing I want to do when I am sad or upset is eat and drink. If the world is too much with me I do revert to a childhood meal of boiled eggs, toast with marmite and strong tea with sugar in it…

Rather ask me what I'd eat with people I like and who like to eat. The list would be endless, or very simple. Like a perfect baguette, thin ham and fresh butter. And a glass of something lekker.

Ja nee.

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Spotlight on Chef PrivĂ©

ChefPrive If you thought all trained cordon bleu chefs were as arrogant as Marco-Pierre White or as aggressively sweary as Gordon Ramsay – prepare to change your mind.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jaclyn (also known as @PrncessJacalini on Twitte) - the chef behind Chef PrivĂ©.  She is neither sweary nor arrogant – but she is a self-professed food nut, and the array of delicous recipes on her blog pays tribute to this beautiful obsession.  So pull up a kitchen chair and let's have a chat with her:

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

I live in Cape Town, but I was born in the sleepy town of Bulawayo, in beautiful Zimbabwe.

2. How long have you been blogging? 

Chef PrivĂ© only started in February 2010, but growing actively.  In blog-time it's the equivalent of the terrible-2's – we've found we have a voice, and this period of self-discovery & boundary-testing is a challenge & a delight for all involved.

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

I started blogging because I'm inspired by the combined creative processes involved: cooking, styling food, photography & writing.  I also love sharing my epicurean obsession with other similarly inspired folk. It's like therapy for food junkies, just without the bad coffee, cigarettes & flannel.

4. Any downsides or frustrations? 

I have a pretty full-on day job which sometimes spills over into the evenings, so finding the time to blog is my biggest obstacle at the moment. 

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

My grandmother was my inspiration when learning to cook, as she was the stereotypical food-fanciful matriarch of our family.  My mother has extraordinary elocution & an impressive comprehension of the English language, and so perhaps my inspiration to write came from her.  As for the drinking part, well, dues must be paid to Silwood Kitchen and the Cape Wine Academy, as they taught a young, hapless Zimbabwean girl to quaff a wide array of drink at all hours of the day, all in the name of getting an education!

6. Where and when do you like to blog?  

I blog at 3am when I've lost the battle with insomnia.  I also blog on the WordPress app on my iPhone when I'm out & about.  Modern technology allows us to pretty much take out blogs with us wherever we go, kind of like that Chicken Licken advert where that guy has a growing toy orangutang masquerading as his hunger attached to his back. Yeah, just like that actually.

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

I'm not really into signature dishes.  I enjoy cooking rustic, al fresco Italian cuisine, as it's so simple & the seasonal, sun-ripened, grown-in-your-back-yard ingredients are made to be the hero.  Osso buco is probably my favourite dish to make, probably because of my strange love of gremolata.  It has the same effect on me as catnip does to cats.  We'll leave it there. 

Wine-wise, my favourite wine would have to be a very cold Provençal rosé on a very hot day by the sea.

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

I just adore BĂ©atrice Peltre's La Tartine Gourmand.  It's a feast for the senses – I love the way BĂ©a writes.  Her stories & recipes for the Boston Globe food section entice & delight me constantly.

9. Favourite restaurant?  

I simply have far too many favourites to list.  Thomas Maxwell in Johannesburg ranks high up there. I'm part of the outdoor furniture at Jardine Bakery (sadly closing soon) – Captain Bread makes a bacon croissant that will  literally make your toes curl. 

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

Kylie Kwong's book Heart & Soul contains a recipe for carpaccio of wagyu beef with Parmigiana Reggiano, baby rocket, black figs & capers.  That'd be it.  Finished and klaar.

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Spotlight on Batonage

Batonage Well, I am back from my trip to South Africa and attending the fabulous 2011 Food Blogger Indaba!  I met such inspirational people and the event has made me feel so positive and energised by the state of South African food and wine blogging in general that I can't wait to introduce you to more of our incredible home-grown talent right here on the Directory.  Today it is the turn of Hennie and Maggie, the duo behind Batonage.  They describe themselves as passionate foodies and wine lovers who keep a record of their adventures in food and wine at restaurants and wine farms in and around Cape Town for our viewing and reading pleasure.  Let's ask them a few questions about themselves:

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

In Cape Town South Africa

2. How long have you been blogging? 

Since April 2010

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

HENNIE: Networking with fellow bloggers and attending bloggers events. Its a whole new world that opened up and experiencing events that I wasnt aware of before. 
MAGGIE:  We've been "exposed" to quite a few unknown (to me) wines and wine makers.

4. Any downsides or frustrations? 

HENNIE:  Getting the actual website to work and look like I want it to look is a huge challenge.  I have never been an IT person, cannot code in HTML and also do not really understand WordPress and all its features.
MAGGIE:  My general laziness as this is not my "day job".

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

HENNIE:  To cook its definitely the chefs who’s restaurants I frequent who shows me delicate, beautiful dishes.  To drink… too many to mention – I love, adore and love and adore great wine.  I have a list of favourite producers that can go around the earth.  To write… strangely enough Stephen King.  I adore fiction, but simply cannot write it myself – not through lack of trying.  Non fiction seems to be my forte. 
MAGGIE: I'm always chasing the new, the unknown, the weird and the wonderful in the line of food and wine.  Love trying to pair the wrong thing with the perfect dish.  Writing-wise…recognition I suppose – even if it's just a "I've learnt something new" occasionally.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?  

HENNIE:  I tend to write best during office hours… but that doesn’t work out well with my day job.  So I tend to blog late at night after my other half has gone to bed. 
MAGGIE:  Early mornings (I'm a morning person).  Often I feel inspired out of the blue (mostly after a glass or 3).

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

HENNIE:  Favourite wine is definitely Jean Daneel Chenin Blanc… or perhaps its the Springfield Methode Ancienne Chardonnay… or no…
MAGGIE:  Must be Jean Daneel Chenin Blanc, or anything from Springfield & Bouchard Finlayson and Lammershoek.

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

HENNIE: Cooksister (of course!), Pendock Uncorked, Winegoggle, Grape, Spit or Swallow, Whale Cottage, Relax with Dax and The Travelling Vineyard (when he updates it once every few months!)
MAGGIE: So boring, but I have to agree with Hennie!

9. Favourite restaurant?  

HENNIE: Toss up between Reneesance in Napier, Bizerca and Societi Bistro
MAGGIE:  Societi Bistro in Cape Town & Reneessance in Napier

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

HENNIE:  a 5 course food and wine pairing, consisting of (in no particular order) pigs trotter from Bizerca, sweetbreads from The Roundhouse, sea urchin spaghetti from Mezzaluna, tomato sabayon from The Tasting Room and the chocolate nemesis from Societi Bistro, paired with wines from Jean Daneel, Springfield, Morgenster, Vergelegen, Bouchard Finlayson and Klein Constantia
MAGGIE:  8 courses from The Tasting Room in Franschhoek paired with with Champagne and Jean Daneel Wines.

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