Saturday Morning at the Outeniqua Farmers Market

What a beautiful Saturday morning it was in George, I wanted to be outdoors…and for those who don’t know me that well, by outdoors I mean outside, not doing any weird or wonderful extreme sport.  The outdoor farmers market is the perfect outdoors for me.

Follow the N2 heading for PE from George, you will find the Outeniqua Farmers Market nestled on the Kraaibosch farm, close to the Garden Route Mall.  I am told that on the opening day of the market, a year ago,  it was so busy that people were parking on the opposite side of the highway just to be able to get there.

I love the concept, strolling between the big trees, all the little stalls of all wonderful little goodies. I met some great people, every stall that caught my eye, ended up with a few minutes of great conversations and of course some great networking.  I just love the vibe, I have been to markets where the people are rather off putting, you walk away feeling more of a bother than educated.  This is definitely not the case at the Outeniqua Farmers Market.

The first stop was coffee, I was amazed how well organized the coffee store was, in my opinion, more organized than most coffee shops I have been to.  On the menu were different coffees, cappuccino and teas, no lack of milk, sugars, sweetners, I loved how clean and neat the station was, and the absolutely delicious cappuccino!

The food stalls were impressive, such a large variety, local restaurants offering prego rolls, or a stall for bacon and eggs, some pancakes, and the speciality stores were amazing, you had such a choice of world cusine – Indian, German, French, Thai, Chinese, South African and Greek.

I settled on French simply because of the personality of the stall.  Such a lovely energy, German born, married a Frenchman, loved South Africa and finally settled on living here.  She was making the famous Crepe de Paris.  But what really got my attention was how natural she was, she just loved making your crepe and chatting with you.

Her croissants had me drooling…I had a croissant filled with gypsy ham, and topped with béchamel and a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar. I was in heaven.  Flaky and light croissant just heated enough to melt the cheese…yes please!


Next door was the German Butcher, all homemade bacons and other charcuterie and man oh man was he busy.  He had his little deli slicer set up and was selling like hotcakes.

And of course to cater for everyone, the rugby was broadcasted for the men while the ladies strolled from stall to stall.  Tables set out under the trees for people to sit and relax, enjoy the weather and all the market has to offer.

So if you are in the Garden Route area, I would recommend that you stop by.  The Outeniqua Farmers Market is every Saturday, there is ample parking and for more information, pop on over to their website

Food Love at Meade Cafe, George, Gardenroute

Meade Cafe has been around for a while in the Garden Route.  I remember being fresh out of high scholl we all flocked there for the signature “Jamie Oliver Sandwich”.  Since then it has changed hands, turned into a more interior decorating spot, and now recently back into a cafe in its original spot and even more impressive!

Being slightly warmer, we decided to sit outside in the garden, which I absolutely love.  Looking around you would never imagine you are sitting in the middle of George’s CBD, you forget the world outside of those walls.  With Spring in the air, the flowers are starting to bloom, the smells of fresh Spring surrounds you, and you are taken into a magical world.


 

Inside if fit with a few tables, a counter full of wonderful pastries, quiche of the day, and the entrance to the kitchen simple says “the best kitchen staff works here” I absolutely love the positivity and friendliness, and most importantly the warm Meade Cafe gives you, inside and out!

The menu is small, nothing over the top, printed on recycled paper, all so simple and absolutely perfect!  They have a few adverts from different businesses in the close vicinity, so while sitting and looking over the menu, you can book a spa treatment or think about booking a photographer…

The fishcakes were highly recommended, so we had to order these!  Along with the fishcakes, we ordered the grilled polenta.  Both dishes blew me away.

The homemade fishcakes served on a baby potato and leaf salad, homemade tartar sauce and salsa

A mixture of hake & snoek, with fresh parsley and lemon zest gave these fishcakes so fresh and light!

Grilled Polenta topped with Ratatouille & olives and a touch of anchovies just had me squirming with delight.  Such a simple dish and my mouth was watering with delight!

This is a perfect example of the type of food I love.  Often you go to a restaurant and you have the restaurant classics, but nothing excites you…I love the excitement of food, of that something that really makes you think, feel and fall in love!

Lazy Sundays and a wonderful lunch at Crossways Country Kitchen

I know I have not been on the blogs much lately, I guess just a mixture of being busy, and for a while I stepped away from the  stoves, I just didn’t have any confidence in my cooking after a rather nasty incident with a patron.  But I am back, and I am feeling again…I have missed food…and most important, I have missed the feeling I have when I create in the kitchen.

Today, we had to do a little celebrating, so my lovely husband and I went to discover a new destination for lunch.  Now this is definitely what I would refer to as a “Hole in the Wall’ type place, which is exactly the kind of restaurants I love.  I am not one for the top 5 restaurants in the country, in my opinion, fine dining does have its purpose, however, for me…I am more the “mom & pop” kind of chef, where food comes from the heart and the creativity on the plate is such a large part of you.  Maybe its the artist in me as well that brings these feelings out.

The Crossways Country Kitchen is exactly what I love about the industry.  Briefly listening to the owner, I am so excited for the ideas he has, and WOW, it will bring so much into the community and more importantly for the “foodie’ community of the Eastern Cape.  I really look forward to his vision.

You can find out more about the restaurant here

We were warmly greeted by the handful of waitresses which are so lovely and friendly, and told we may sit anywhere, as there were many open tables.  I was rather surprised as I thought they would be more busy, however, we were early for lunch, and by the time we left, they were buzzing with people.

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We were brought the drinks menu and asked for a wine list, I was slightly confused as there was not an actual menu.

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The waitress brought us our wine, and in tow were 2 more waitresses, one with an easel and one with a large blackboard which was set up in front of us.  I absolutely loved this, however not very practical when they got busy as there was only one menu floating around.

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We settled on a wine I have never heard of.  Brampton Viognier, which was so fruity. The aromatics are splendid: springtime perfumery, fresh ginger, peaches, apricots and honeysuckle. The palate is waxy and delicate yet with an underlying strength and focus. Aromas follow effortlessly onto the rich palate the wine just set the mood for an absolutely wonderful meal.

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We started with the roasted tomato soup with basil pesto and  lovely homemade bread.  The bread was so delicious, beautiful soft crumb texture yet the crust was so crispy and chewy – exactly how I love my bread, with oregano and nuts, this was a perfect companion to this hearty earthy soup.

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As always mains are a tough decision as I always want to have so many things!  I finally settled on my old time favourite Lamb Shank with spring onion mashed potatoes with a lovely red wine & onion gravy.  The lamb was so full of flavour and just fell off the bone, definitely country cooking at its best.  The spring onion in the mash just gave the mash such a beautiful uplifting flavour which enhanced the flavours of the lamb.

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Justin had the smoked pork neck with rustic butternut mash, when the food arrived I had one of those breathtaking moments.  The sight of this dish made my mouth water!  The roasted naartjies and the beautiful Fall colours on the board  just oozed creativity, I was in love!

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I was already so full however when the dessert blackboard was set out for us, and there was a cheeseboard…I had to have!  Very seldom do you find a cheeseboard part of dessert, so we enjoyed cheese, preserves, crackers and a lovely cuppachino for dessert.

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The setting was just stunning, about 40kms from Humansdorp, just off the N2, take the Sunnyside turn off,  nestled between cows roaming free.  Open from 9am to 3pm, Wednesday through Sunday, from what I understand the menu changes all the time, and the pork belly is something to look out for!

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Sunday Lunch at Hankey Hotel

I don’t often write about a place I have eaten at, unless I am completely blown away, or I am horribly disappointed. In this case, The Hankey Hotel just blew me away…I don’t often get the chance to go off the beaten track, so when I do, I grasp it with both hands.

The Hankey Hotel is in the little town of Hankey, in the Eastern Cape, not far from where I currently live. Having heard so much about the Sunday Lunch Buffet that gets served at this establishment, and all the praise it gets, I was determined to experience it for myself. Let me tell you, it’s such a gem.

The owner, Mario, welcomes you shows you through to the bar for a pre lunch drink, the doors to the hall where the food is served only opens at 12:30 on the dot, there is only one sitting, so you arrive a little early and you enjoy a drink in the real small town type bar. The bar is so quaint, with 2L bottles as opposed to the 330ml cans we are so use to, and beer in cans ( I can honestly not remember the last time I saw a beer in a can.) Mario then comes around to each table and tells us that they are ready and we may go through.

The dinning room is exactly that…a large dinning hall, the type that would remind you of your assembly’s in primary school. In the one corner there is a grand piano, and a gentleman on a guitar who gets your foot tapping happily along to the classics. You are then once again welcomed by Mario, who proceeds to explain the way the buffet works. You typical course for course, but all set out in buffet style, with the mismatched plates and service gear…I have to admit, it was absolutely charming.

Starters consist of choices of either minestrone soup or fish soup, served with rosterkook, or a choice of brown or white farmstyle bread.
Mario and his lovely wife do all the cleaning of the tables, they cook and serve, and are just gracious hosts! They know everyone by their first name and make you feel so welcome.

Then comes your fish course with your salads, on offer were a garden salad, curried pineapples, smoked snoek, mussels in half shell with a creamy sauce or crumbed, pickled fish, snoek kookies, fish nuggets, deep fried calamari, deep fried fish, potato salad, beetroot and an arrangements of little sauces.

After your fish course, you are encouraged to the hot mains. Mario knew that my father in law wanted “afval” and therefore brought him a small portion, it is not always available, but he knew we were coming so he made a plan. Other than the afval, which is on my list of “no no’s” there was so much on offer. Creamed spinach, cinnamon pumpkin, cauliflower, green beans, sweet carrots, rice, roast chicken, roast pork, beef stirfry, brisket and roast potatoes, which Mario refers to as His Roast Potatoes, and were delicious!

In the middle of mains, Mario too a break from clearing tables and climbed on the grand piano and proceeded to entertain us with his musical ways accompanied by the gentleman with his guitar, the atmosphere was so friendly, so family orientated, took me back to the days when I grew up in Vryburg and our Sunday lunches which was also such a large affair, with all the food and family. The home cooked meal vibe took me far back into my childhood, my grandparents and how, at the age of 8 I would sit and watch my father cook like this.

Dessert, which is not really my forte, but I had to go and try because of the peppermint fridge tart which I have been told about, consisted of another large selection. Along with the peppermint tart, there was a lemon meringue, marshmallow and pineapple tart, banana tart, fruit salad, sago pudding, jelly and custard and last but not least, poached pears.

This spread of home cooked food sets you back R100 per person. I can say, very well worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. If you are in the area on a Sunday, I would recommend a visit! Contact Mario +27 (0) 42 284 0325

Ocean Basket Service – Disgusting!!!

I was so disgusted with this service at this restaurant, I had to put it up here. This is the same compliant I lodge with both the local restaurant as well as the national complaints for the OB group.

Ocean Basket – Garden Route Mall
George, Western Cape

I went for dinner at the local OB last night (17 / 7 / 2010 between 7pm – 8pm), and after a lovely meal, the waiter ruined it.

She didn’t bother to explain any specials to me (which I left slide). After battling to get her attention to bring me the bill and then again she took her time to bring the card machine, I was paying with my debit card, when she swiped the card, handed it back to me, looked at me and told me my card was declined. I was a little taken back, she then smiled and said “just joking”. I was disgusted and just left. A perfectly good meal ruined.

I find this HIGHLY unacceptable behavior from a waiter. I am in the industry myself, as a chef of a local restaurant in George, and because of this pathetic behavior from this waitress, I shall NEVER return to OB George (or any other OB), I shall also proceed to tell anyone and everyone how disgusted I am with the service of this OB. I am often asked for recommendation in the area, OB George will not be one of my recommendations.

I was table # 41, and my waitress was Desiree.