Spotlight on WineCountry

WineCOuntry Henre Rossouw of the blog WineCountry is a man on a mission.  And that mission is to get everyone thinking, talking, eating, drinking and visiting the wonderful Paarl wine region in the Cape! And I have to say he's doing a fine job of it.  In fact, after reading all the tasting notes, recipes, and winery, restaurant and accommodation reviews on his site, you'll be calling up your travel agent to arrange a trip.  Have a look and see what I mean.

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

I’m a resident of Paarl, South Africa.

2. How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for 2 years now, of which the last year has been professionally.

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

Wine is such a fascinating delicacy and together with food lends to it a romantic and mysterious angle. I am in love with the wine and food culture and it’s a highlight meeting all of the influencers, personalities and miracle workers in the Paarl Wine Region.

It is also extremely fulfilling to be one of the driving forces of the Paarl Wine Region’s web strategy and exploring all the avenues to promote this rich and historical region to a national and international market, especially with the 2010 Football World Cup beckoning.

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

Well, blogging is hard work. In terms of my blog, it’s crucial to add variety from a wine, food and lifestyle perspective.

It’s sometimes difficult to give up your baby, but in terms of growth, readership and diversity it is crucial to find contributors that add value to the blog. Value in this instance is opinionated, knowledgeable writers that spark an interest through the entire wine loving spectrum, whether general wine drinkers or the wine afficionados.

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

I believe that my product drives my inspiration. I love living in Paarl and everything about Paarl that makes it special. We have a host of top wine estates and restaurants and a plethora of activities and accommodation facilities to support them.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?

This is part of my job, so most blogging occurs during office hours although a lot of ideas stem from social functions, attending events, reading about wine and lifestyle.

I have recently realised that some of my best ideas come late at night just before going to sleep when I’m relaxed and very open minded.

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

I believe food is best enjoyed when you are at ease with the company you’re with and allowed to express your unique appreciation of food in any way you feel comfortable.

I’m a fussy (I call it sophisticated) foodie, so simple is often better for me. Prawns in any shape, size or format are always welcome.

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

Tough one. I read many as I need to constantly stimulate my creative thoughts. I absolutely love Gary Vaynervhuk’s Wine Library TV though. He’s a genius on more levels than just wine. His ideas are bold and have the capacity to draw massive wine loving crowds, not just regular winos.

9. Favourite restaurant?

I think it would be unfair toward my clients to highlight a single restaurant, but I must admit that when I experienced my new girlfriend’s cooking, I was blown away.

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

Chateaubriand with garlic butter prawns would see me die peacefully.<

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Spotlight on Lick Your Own Bowl

LickYourOwnBowlIsn't it funny how you read somebody's blog and just KNOW youre going to like them?  I can't remember how I came across Lick Your Own Bowl, but the first thing I noticed was the stunning photography (not surprising – she's a professional photographer!).  Then it was the breezy writing style, and then the little clues here and there that she might be South African.  A couple of comments and e-mails later, we were firm blog friends, and I challenge you not to read LYOB and want to be friends with Robyn too.  I was lucky enough to meet her for breakfast in London earlier this year and I can assure you that she is as lovely in person as her blog suggests 🙂 Blogging from Toronto, she entertains us with wonderful seasonal recipes and photo essays of her adopted hometown.  Welcome to her world.

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

Currently living in Toronto, Canada.

2. How long have you been blogging?

One year, since 2007.

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

I've always loved cooking and I love the whole process of food blogging: trying new things, photographing and writing about it, meeting other bloggers with the same love and it's a great way to organise your recipe's!

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

I often don't find the energy to blog everything I cook. Sometimes I make something great for dinner and don't get around to photographing it before it gets eaten. Other days there just isn't enough time t do something creative with what's in the fridge.

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

The farmers market, first and foremost, tons of magazines, restaurant's and cook books. I love getting cook books as gifts and I love cooking seasonally to keep ingredients and inspirations fresh. It's hard to tire of peas if you only have them in the spring!

6. Where and when do you like to blog?

At home, when my puppy's asleep and I have caught up my work load. Preferably with a pot of tea on hand.

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

I hardly ever make the same thing twice, unless in a pickle over a spontaneous dinner party and I need something I know has worked out in the past, so I don't really have anything signature. And a favourite wine? Well, there aren't too many that aren't!

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

Too many to list. My favourites are La Tartine Gourmande, Cuisine Campagne, Ms Glaze (who showed us how to skin a rabbit!) and Homesick Texan. But I'm adding new links to my bookmarks weekly. There's never enough time to check them out daily!

9. Favourite restaurant?

Currently Banu, and Iranian Vodka bar with excellent torsh, but my heart has a huge Percy's Pizza (also known as Lapa Fo) sized hole in it since leaving Johannesburg

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

My husband, on a bed of arugula and drizzled with a little truffle oil.

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Spotlight on Meals on Speed

MealsOnSpeedOne of the first bloggers I met when I first discovered the hidden stash of food blogs at Food24 was the lovely Saaleha of Meals on Speed.    Saaleha not only comes up with a constant stream of interesting recipes, but she also has a lovely turn of phrase:  "Persimmons taste pretty."  Now who's to argue with that?  She describes Meals on Speed as "a cooking blog for working wives, single parents, single singles", or indeed anybody trying to juggle work, home and play.  So if you fit into any of those categories (and who doesn't??), then do go and have a look and discover how to prepare delicious meals on a tight timetable!

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

Right here in Jozi (that's Johannesburg to the non-South Africans reading this!)

2. How long have you been blogging?

Vanity blogging since 2005 and food blogging since January of this year.

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

It's a solid finger pushing down on the creative button, it really spurs me on to start thinking on and creating interesting and innovative recipes.

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

Not every recipe turns out the way I envision, but this is the process I suppose. Hitting a cooking-block can be a great frustration, especially when you feel pressured by not having blogged anything in a while.

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

I cook for myself and my husband. I could say he's an inspiration, although he's not a very adventurous eater and tends to taste a little and deliver his yay or nay. I'm self-inspired, as narcissistic as that may sound, but I love food. I'm also inspired by other food bloggers like the fabulous ones on Food24 . My sister-in-law Naqiyah of Tongue Tickle is simply superb at what she produces in her kitchen and she spurs me on too.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?

I blog as soon as we've eaten the meal, with photographs taken before we've ploughed through and inhaled everything.

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

Honey and balsamic vinegar vegetables.

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

The ones on food24 mostly.

9. Favourite restaurant?

I don't have one.

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

Something rich, sinful and with the calorie count of a weeks-worth of a grown man's recommended energy intake!

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Winners of RMB Eat In South African producers awards announced

Yes folks, it's that time of year again: the time when we honour the little guys.  Not the huge flashy shops and state-of-the-art production lines, but the small producers of top-quality South African food, and the merchants and markets that sell them. A while back when I asked you to nominate products for the RMB Eat In South African produce awards, and those nominations have now been considered, the judges made their decisions, and the winners have been announced! 

The awards were created in 2006 by Eat In magazine to recognise independent producers and retailers whose integrity, care for the environment, passion and innovation are putting South Africa on the international food map.  The winners in 16 categories were announced on 3 September at a ceremony in Cape Town and there are loads that I can't wait to try!  The prestigious Best New Product aware went to Buffalo Ridge Mozzarella di Bufala.  Buffalo Ridge is one of only three producers worldwide outside Italy to produce authentic buffalo mozzarella, and the judges thought the quality was even better than some imported equivalents!  Makes my heart swell with patriotic pride!

Here is the full list of 2008 winners:

Best New Product: Buffalo Ridge Mozzarella di Bufala

Best New Product runner-up: Bags of Bites sugar-free choc chip and macadamia biscuits

Innovation Award: Kitchen Garden Sprouts

Innovation Merit Award: Soil for Life home gardens

South African Heritage Award: Fruits of the Karoo Aloe Juices

Best Organic Producer: Wegraakbosch Farm and Dairy

THE SMALL PRODUCER AWARDS

Bakery (bread): Trevor Daly’s artisanal wood-fired-oven ciabatta (at the Neighbourhoods Market in Cape Town)

Bakery (cakes, pastries and biscuits): Jardine Bakery’s braised pork belly and apple pie

Cheese: Dalewood Fromage’s six-month matured Huguenot

Earth: Earth Apples’ range of gourmet potatoes

Grocery and Condiments: Quality Pickles’s range of chutneys, sauces and pickles

Paddock (fresh and prepared): Dargle Valley’s bacon, pork cocktail sausages, pork pies and fresh rib-eye steak

OUTSTANDING OUTLETS

North: Braeside Meat Market, Johannesburg

South: Main Ingredient Gourmet Food, Cape Town

East: Everfresh, La Lucia, Durban

BEST MARKETS

North: Pretoria Boeremark

South: Neighbourgoods Market, Cape Town

East: Shongweni Farmers’ Market, KZN

So there you have it – the best of the best of our local small producers and retailers.  If, unlike me, you are currently in South Africa, please make every effort to support them.  And remember to start thinking about who you want to nominate in next year's awards 🙂

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Want to be listed on the Directory?

The South African Food and Wine Blogger Directory was created with the aim of providing a comprehensive catalogue of all the talent available on South African food and wine blogs.  Although I regularly scan the web for new South African food and wine blogs, it’s not possible for me to track them all down, so if you think you qualify and you do not yet appear on the directory, here’s how you can get listed. 

The criteria for listing are simple – your blog does not have to be fancy or famous:

1.  The blog must be predominantly about food or wine.

2.  The blog must either be based in South Africa, written by a South African abroad, or in exceptional cases, exclusively about South African food or wine but written by a foreigner.

3.  The blog must have been in existence for at least two months AND must contain a minimum of 20 posts.  (These requirements are to prevent the admin hassle of having to find and list every person who puts up a single post saying “Welcome to my new food blog!”, but then loses interest and never blogs again.) 

If you comply with these criteria, submit your details to me and I will look at adding you to the Directory.

Once your blog is listed:

1.  Please help to spread the word about the Directory by placing a badge and a link on the sidebar of your blog.  The code you need for the badge is as follows:

<a href=”http://cooksister.typepad.com/sa_food_and_wine”><img src=’http://cooksister.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451960b69e200e5534b6a988833-pi&#8217; width=”150″ height=”150″ alt=”The South African Food and Wine Blogger Directory” /></a>

2.  I will send you a short optional questionnaire about yourself and your blog.  If you choose to complete this, I will use the info to spotlight your blog on the Directory site.  I will profile a new blog every Monday until I run out of blogs, and I will notify you when your profile has gone live.

3.  If you have not posted anything in three months, I reserve the right to delete the blog from the Directory.

If you have any questions, ideas for the Directory or suggestions for posts, please e-mail me for a chat – don’t be a stranger 🙂

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Spotlight on The World Needs More Chocolate

WorldNeedsMoreChocolate Michelle of the wonderfully-titled The World Needs More Chocolate [now inactive] lives and blogs (as she puts it) in the Wild West of South Africa.  On her blog you'll find recipes, reviews… and the odd kitty photo ;-)  Michelle is currently on a little blog break but we hope she's back soon.  In the meanwhile, let's see what she has to say.

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

The wild, wild west of South Africa (Mogale City, formerly known as Krugersdorp)

2.  How long have you been blogging?

Since March 2008

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

Being able to share my obsession with good food with like-minded people who have similar obsessions

4.  Any downsides or frustrations?

Not being able to try all the recipes that are featured on the blogs (they ALL look delicious) – so little time, so little time…..

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

Foodie / travel writers like Anthony Bourdain and Marlena de Blasi. Also Ernest Hemmingway and Douglas Adams.

6.  Where and when do you like to blog?

From bed, surrounded by my cats while being served hot chocolate by my adoring husband…… actually any spare moment I have.

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

The jury's out on that one, and sadly I'm not much of a wine drinker. My tastes are decidedly plebeian. I did, however, recently drink a bottle of Brampton 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and for a screw-top wine it was rather nice.

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

None yet. I'm a busy gal….

9.  Favourite restaurant?

Don't have a single favourite as such. I have favourite meals from various restaurants…….

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

Hmmmmm, that's a tough one as I live each day as if it is my last one on this planet – so pretty much whatever I serve 🙂

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Project Laduma – 2010 sommeliers for 2010

In my humble opinion, the one thing that lets high-end South African restaurants down more often that not is the professionalism of their service.  The truth of the matter is that, unlike in France where being a waiter or a wine waiter is a life-long career, most people serving food or wine in South Africa are only doing it as a stop-gap measure while they study, wait to be discovered as models, or need to make a bit of extra cash.  Which is fine as far as it goes, but if you are visiting from abroad and visiting our top restaurants, you will probably be expecting the same sort of knowledgable and professional service that you are used to getting at home.  And you are likely to be disappointed, because a 19-year old first year student from Patensie moonlighting as a wine waiter is unlikely to be able to tell you which French red will be the best match for your kudu steak.

Which is where Wines of South Africa's Project Laduma comes in.  

WOSA is a not for profit organisation which promotes the sale of all South African wine in international markets.  As an industry, the South African wine industry wants to contribute to the legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup (due to be hosted by South Africa) and do this in a way which will also enhance the visitor experience. To this end, WOSA aims to train 2010 wine stewards (or sommeliers) by 2010.  Half of these sommeliers will be drawn from those currently working in the hospitality industry, and the other half will be drawn from people who are currently unemployed. The project has the full backing of hospitality industry body, Fedhasa

The  wine steward course will cover knowledge of wine varietals and their flavour characteristics; knowledge of wine production; knowledge of wine regions; food and wine pairing knowledge; wine service procedure skills; guest interaction skills; and service mindset and motivation.  Future training programmes are planned to include advanced wine service courses and sommeliers courses. Trainees receive certification from a SETA accredited training system, which also assists with job placements after training has been completed.

 So how is this training of 2010 wine stewards to be achieved?

On the 24th of July this year, WOSA launched a wine brand that has been selected through a blind tasting by the Cape Wine Makers Guild.  WOSA had invited the entire industry to submit wines for this project and six winners were chosen to be marketed under the brand name Fundi.  The word is derived from the isiZulu word umfundi or learner and has come to mean an expert in South African English slang.  Each bottle comes with a hand-beaded decoration which can be used as a wineglass marker, and these are sourced from crafters who are not in formal employment

The Fundi range consists of six wines and will be sold in restaurants and retail outlets across South Africa for a limited period.  The proceeds of all the wine sales will contribute towards the wine steward training programme. The wine will we sold at approximately R120 in retail and R150 in restaurants. A total of 17 500 cases of wine will have to be sold in order to raise the 4.5 million Rand needed for the training.

So next time you are perusing a wine menu, look out for the Fundi range, or log on to Cybercellar and buy a wine that will leave a lasting legacy of hope.

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Spotlight on My French Kitchen

MyFrenchKitchen Isn't it funny how you will sometimes read a blog and know within minutes that you like the writer behind the words and pictures?  Sometimes it will be because you share a sense of humour or a hometown, or sometimes it will be because their generosity and gentleness shine out from every word they write.  This was definitely the case for me with Ronell of My French Kitchen.  Ronell hails from the Cape but blogs from the Loire valley in France.  She is one multi-talented lady: apart from her food blog she also maintains an art blog and her artistic sensibilities are evident when she turns the simplest meal into a beautiful plate.

 

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

Although my soul and spirit will always be South African and can fortunately be replenished by a yearly visit back home, we are now living on the banks of the Loire, among the vineyards of Montlouis sur Loire, France, and we are very happy here. It is home and it reminds us so much of Stellenbosch.

2.  How long have you been blogging?

 

I started my art blog last year in February and then wondered why not do a food blog too, which took off two months later.

 

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

 

I enjoy the challenge behind it the most. The searching for an idea, the playing around with it, the implementation and the final presentation of the idea.

 

4.  Any downsides or frustrations?

 

The downside to blogging is that it can be tiring. Life already hands us loaded plates. It is sometimes hard to find the time to juggle it all. And I definitely don’t want to be glued in front of the computer either.

 

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

 

My inspiration just comes from ordinary, every day living. From traveling. Gardening. Walking.  Frozen moments in time. Seeing a field of bright red poppies can be inspiring to create something with strawberries, or tomatoes. Most of the time I’m not inspired by a recipe as such, but by the part it plays in the production. I am never interested in asking for a recipe. When a meal is presented to me, I see it as the result of a whole process that a person went through to present it to me. The recipe is only a small part of it.  

 

6.  Where and when do you like to blog?

 

I don’t have a time or place. When the idea hits I’d like to put it to work or at first opportunity. I have no worries about starting off in the middle of the night.

 

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

 

I don’t have favourites. I can say though say that I prefer a red to a white wine, a rose wine to a white and I like experimenting and trying out new. I don’t have a signature dish either. Maybe I could say that I like simplicity. Ingredients shouldn’t fight for the palate.

 

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

 

I can enjoy all. There is something to learn, to enjoy, finding inspiration in, from the smaller blogs just as much as from the big and grand blogs. Although, I struggle to read posts that are accompanied with stories which are far too long as I just don't have enough time to read – also those with hundreds of pictures of the same dish from every angle.

 

9.  Favourite restaurant?

 

My most favourite restaurant is my husband’s outside summer kitchen, where he takes care of weekend evening meals on the barbecue. And for the rest, I don’t actually have a favourite resto either…there are many, each one having something special to offer. I have a lots to offer, but it’ll first need some thinking of it’s own…

 

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

 

…..a beautiful meal in an outdoor setting, among the bees and flowers and herbs, with bright and gay table ware and consisting of some wild salmon and accompanying vegetable medley, with maybe a starter of light soup or salad, followed by a cheese platter and a full bodied red wine and finishing off with a dessert made with fruit, like a strawberry tartlet or a cherry clafoutis , definitely an espresso and chocolate and laid back, lazy, funny company….OR, maybe magret de canard , foie gras with a confit d’oignon and a chocolate mousse, served on stark white, linen tables with a witty French waiter seeing to all my needs….OR…actually, I hope I will never have to know it is my last meal…

Posted in SA food blogger profile | 2 Comments

SA Food blogger competes for Domestic Goddess title

NaqiyahIdeasMag It seems that last month's invasion of SA traditional print media by food bloggers was only the thin edge of the wedge… 

Now news has reached me that Naqiyah of Tongue Tickle is featured in the September 2008 issue as one of finalists in the Ideas Magazine's Domestic Goddess competition!The competition showcases local domestic goddesses and on that score, Naqiyah is fully qualified – even though she works, her hubby gets the most gorgeous packed lunches every day and she still has the energy for the beautiful recipes she blogs so regularly.

She not only gets a lovely profile and photo in the mag, but also two of her delicious recipes – go and check them out.

The winner of the contest will be announced in the March 2009 edition of the mag, so let's hold thumbs till then!   

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Spotlight on Marita Says

MaritaSays The first thing I noticed about Marita Says was the name – my mom's name!  It seemed like a sign to explore further… and I was so glad I did.  Bordeaux is South African but now lives in Bangkok, a city where he often dreamed of living.  While he's living his dream, he is happy to share his adventures with us, whether they be in the way of cooking, crafts or travel.  Some great South African kitchen classics sit comfortably side by side with Asian street food, so the site is popular with a range of readers.  Why don't you have a look and get better acquainted?

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

Currently living in Bangkok.

2. How long have you been blogging?

Food blogging for about half a year now.

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

I enjoy cooking and writing itself. So it's a fun creative outlet for me to combine the two. I also enjoy reactions and hearing other's opinions on what I did.

4. Any downsides or frustrations?

Lack of time to blog properly. And when I am beginning to write in my head when cooking/baking and then making a big flop. Hate when that happens.

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

I'm always hungry, so I try to satisfy that hunger with something tasty. Also, my boyfriend's reactions when I make something new/old and it is a big success.

6. Where and when do you like to blog?

At home, on the bed with a cup of coffee or glass of water by my side.

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

Hmm, there's a ground nut stew I love making, as well as bobotie and beskuit. Although that last one is not a dish as such.

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

Cooksister, 80Breakfasts, The Endive Chronicles, Bron Marshall, Winos and Foodies

9. Favourite restaurant?

Oh that's hard. Nyala – an Ethiopian place in LA. Queen of Tarts, Cafe Royale and Lola's in Cape Town. Vanilla Industries, Vanilla Cafe, Vanilla Restaurant, Ricky's, Roti Mataba, Ban Chiang and many street food stands in Bangkok.

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

I am terribly indecisive, so this is really hard! Possibly something baked with a hot latte, like a huge muffin!

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