An unforgettable Paper Anniversary

Unbelievable that a year has gone by

Wow a year already? Just feels like yesterday

A whole year and you two are still so much in love

I heard these statements, and the like, rephrased in many different ways over and over by loved ones for the last week.  I just have to smile because I can believe it has been a year, a wonderful year of being married to my best friend…my soul mate…the first of many years ahead.

Our wedding was small and intimate, as intimate as 80 people can be, we focused on sharing our joy and happiness with the people closest and dearest to us. With one of the best wedding teams in the country, St Francis Links Golf Estate exceeding all our expectations.

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But you all know the story of our wedding…now for the story of our first anniversary.

Monday past, being our first wedding anniversary, represented by paper, I had in my mind that I should expect a gift voucher of sorts – maybe to the day spa or the bookstore…but I am blessed with a very romantic husband.

Sunday afternoon, Justin arrived home from work with 3 envelopes.  I at first took no notice of them as I was very concerned he had forgotten to pick up the odds and ends that were essential to my dinner preparation.  Picking the envelopes up to move out of my way while I frantically dug in the shopping bag, I noticed the one said “1st Anniversary” which obviously grabbed my short attention span away from the shopping packet.

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There in my hand were 3 envelopes marked “1st Anniversary”. The first one, Part 1 was to be opened on Sunday.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love surprises, and even more so, I love the game that goes with a surprise.  Part one was bullet point instructions to pack essentials.  This got me even giddier as not only was it a surprise but it was a going away surprise. I was in my eliminate right there!

Part 2 of my envelopes were only to be opened when Justin told me to do so.  I was dying inside as I needed to know what the next part of the surprise was. But I had to wait…I didn’t do so very patiently, asking every 5kms if I could open the envelope. Eventually the go ahead was give, Part Two was instructions to please help the driver with directions, a map was fastened to the letter.

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Arriving at our destination I was overcome with such love for this man.  He knows the internal workings of my mind so well, he understands how I love being isolated and in a natural environment, yet don’t do the camping / hiking or any general outdoors type activities.  He knows just the right spots.  Our anniversary destination was Misty Mountain Lodge in Tsitsikamma, situated between Plettenberg Bay and Jefferys Bay. The resort is based on a cliff and overlooks the ocean with the most picture perfect scenes.

The afternoon of just being together –  laughing and sharing, the joys of no phones…being surrounded by peace and calmness and simply enjoying each other’s company was the perfect way to spend our anniversary.  We explored what the venue had to offer, followed by a relaxing bubble bath, building up to the delicious dinner shared over drinks and much happiness.  The staff of Misty Mountains was amazing, very welcoming and so efficient.

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Part 3 was only allowed to be opened on Monday morning, the day of our anniversary.  Justin wrote me a love letter, filling my hearth with warmth and my eyes with tears.  I am so fortunate to have the unconditional love from this man.  Every day that goes by, I count my blessing.  Along with my love letter was an “IOU” for the next time we are in Port Elizabeth to go pick out jewellery…a romantic weekend away with my amazing husband and jewellery…sorry ladies, he is all mine!  Can a girl get any luckier?

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Welcome 2013…you are going to be a fantastic year

And so 2013 has arrived.   Christmas celebrations came and went, followed by the big decision as to what one should do for New Years, all through our busy little town the big discussions of where, what and how while buzzing around and getting in your last bit of 2012 before that first day of 2013’s hangover sets in and you spend your day lazing around.

Sitting now and watching the news, you really take in all that happened last night, from the tragedy of the fires in Cape Town, to the tradition of the Annual Malay Choir Parade being cancelled due to Mother Nature’s wrath.  All this makes you really think hard about your year that has passed, and your year ahead, waiting for you to embrace it all.

I had a wonderful 2012, I started the year by marrying my best friend, my soul mate and the one person who never judges my choices, who supports me and loves me unconditionally. Babe, you bring a smile not only to my face, but also to my heart…every day I fall in love with you more and more.

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Mid-way through the year I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Food & Wine Bloggers Indaba in Cape Town, little did I know that this was the kick-start to so many new challenges, goals and dreams that will be accomplished in 2013, along with this, I spent the day with my wonderful friends, catching up, drinking wine and enjoying delicious food.  This needs to be done more often girls!

Along with these two events, so many other wonderful moments for 2012 spring to mind…

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Now all long 2012 was not always sunshine and roses, there were a few tears, a few days of feeling defeated…there were days of internal screaming and shouting in my own head, but with each one of these days, came the unconditional support and love from my wonderful family and friends, who makes even the darkest clouds have a silver lining.

I do not have any New Years resolutions…this explains it all…

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So…with this, farewell 2012, it has been great, thank you for not ending.   2013, the year of the snake, this year is the first year since 1987 to have all its digits being different numbers. I embrace you and cannot wait to experience all you have to offer.

Food and Wine Bloggers Indaba 2012

So it’s been almost two weeks since the 3rd Food and Wine Bloggers Indaba, and let me tell you, I still smile at the great memories, of not only the whole experience but of old friends, new friends, and of course the wonderful organizational skills of the beautiful Browniegirl aka Colleen Grove.

Before I go any further, I have to give Colleen a round of applause, I attended the first FBI 2 years ago, this year, Colleen, you have set your standards extremely high, you are going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat to beat this experience!  You did a wonderful job, and I have to say a big thank you for not only putting it all together, and for all the hard work, but for the warm welcoming hug, and all the love you give.  As mentioned before, you inspired me not only to blog, but with day to day inspiration with your stunning desserts.

The morning started off with excited hugs and long time no see’s, and of course our lovely gifts from Yuppiechef – our knife & apron, which has a lovely space on my knife magnet between my collection of Scanpans.  After coffee, busy chattering, meeting new friends, and  buffet of welcoming cookies, off we were to the conference room to kick off the Indaba.

As each speaker enlightened us with their know how, many people where taking notes and as I looked around the room, I could see the busy fingers of fellow bloggers tweeting, causing #FBI2012 to trend.  Such an achievement for such a young event. Many things were learnt which shall soon be put into practise…which I know will only open more doors for me.

After lunch was served, a buffet of beautifully presented mezze’s of deliciousness, and wine was drank, thank you Tangled Tree, we broke up into our different workshops.  As a chef, I blog for the networking and inspiration, so for myself, the inspirational workshops were Hands On Cupcake Decorating Workshop and Bubbly & Canapé Pairing Workshop.

The hands on cupcake workshop was presented by Grace from Cupcakes by Design, and boy was it loads of fun.  Not only was Grace a wonderful teacher with her knowledge and know how, but she was so friendly and gave personal attention to each one of use that sat around the table.  We were taught about fondant, shaping, different design techniques and then left to ourselves to design away.

We could decorate 4 cupcakes which were baked by Grace, and this was my end result.

At the end of the first workshop, we enjoyed another wine break, and some lovely little pastries, which I have to just single out, the Tangled Tree Shiraz was a beautiful combination with the moist rich chocolate brownies that were served. Happiness still fills me as I remember the flavours on my palate.

The second workshop that I attended was called Gorgeous Bubbly & Canapé Pairing Workshop, presented by Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira, who had us from the first cork pop.   Chef Garth Almazan of Catharina’s cooked up a storm for the pairing.

Our first pairing was freshly shucked oysters with a Vietnamese dressing, which was paired with Graham Beck Brut Zero 2005.

I love the whole play of anything Asian influenced saucing, such beautiful fresh flavours, which just worked so very well to with the oyster.

Second up was something that really boggled my mind.  I was skeptical, but at the same time intrigued.  Malay style scrambled egg with a cured salmon terrine, paired with Graham Beck Cuvee Clive 2005.

This was without a doubt the top pairing for me.  The bubbly on its own stood out, as did the canapé, but together they complimented each other and the dance that went on in my mouth was slow and delicate with a few edgy steps and in seconds I was swaying with happiness.

Third up was a Graham Beck Brut Berry Terrine with macerated berries in a raspberry and pomegranate balsamic syrup, paired with Graham Beck Brut Rose NV and Graham Beck Bliss Demi Sec NV.

I am going to firstly admit that I am not a huge dessert fan, and I personally didn’t enjoy the texture of the terrine, but having said that, the raspberry and pomegranate balsamic syrup was out of this world.  I personally enjoyed the dish more with the Graham Beck Brut Rose NV and found the Graham Beck Bliss Demi Sec NV slightly to dry and harsh.

The day ended with a few prizes, which I never win!

And a lovely auction for Lavender in Lavender Hill Charity, and of course 3 goodie bags filled with such wonderful bits and pieces, and many hugs and kisses from old and new friends.

What a day!  Again, a big thank you to all the wonderful sponsors and people who spent hours of their times to make this all happen.  Pick n Pay, Yuppiechef, Nomu, Tangled Tree and everyone else who helped to make this all happen.  I definitely look forward to #FBI2013

Favorite flavor combinations & home made pizza

I think one of my all time favourite foods to create at home is a good home made pizza, and I know I have blogged about this before, but I think another home made pizza blog is definitely in order.

For the wedding, my lovely friends Liza & Gerrie gave a great present, a pizza board and cutter.  And let me tell you, this has made a few appearances at dinner time.  I think its just such a great way to not only whip up a quick pizza for us, but also for when entertaining!

These pizzas were kind of “what I have in my friend” type of pizzas.  Today on in the world of Twitter, the question was raised…what is your favourite flavour combinations, and it’s such a great question. These pizzas has so many great combinations…

Bacon, feta, mushrooms and spinach
Green fig, camembert & bacon
BBQ chicken, feta , peppadews & roasted peppers

Now the best part of pizza, and again the reason why I love it so much, is just the versatility of it, you can create so many different flavours, there is no right and wrong when it comes to pizza, from the toppings, to the sauce to the dough.

Why not add some excitement t your dough, maybe a little beer dough, or if you like to spice things up some garlic and red chilli flakes.  Another something and something I like is to add extra cheese to the dough, always brings that “double cheese” flavour though.

So now the question that @lusciousCT raised, what is your favourite flavour combination

 

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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30 before 30 list and new hobbies

My latest hobby, knitting. I have knitted before, don’t get me wrong, I know the 101 of knitting, however, I can’t say with pride that I have every created anything from a ball of wool and 2 needles…well until now. So far I have created a beanie, which I have to say I am madly in love with, and I am about three quarter way through a winter scarf, which I shall make a matching beanie.

But I am guessing the real question going through your mind is…why knitting. Well, I have a 30 before 30 list which I have been trying to knock out of the way. I can happily say that I am on a roll! I am currently 29 and 3 months, and only have a few items left on my list. I know one or two will be pushed onto my 35 before 35 list, but that is January’s worry.

My 30 before 30 list is as follows

Learn to play golf – Since I am married to a golf pro (and been working in the golf industry for 5 years), this is done and dusted. We go out to the driving range once a week, I now not only can drive the ball, I can keep up with the lingo and even watched parts of the Masters with my husband.

Learn to scuba dive – this needs to be done still – I have a plan in motion, when it warms up.

Experience Victoria Falls – I have been to Niagara, so I have to see Vic. Hopefully this year.

Go on a cruise ship – Again, hopefully this year

Knit a scarf – This I have completed. My Mother in law was such a great help!

Own a brand new car – This has been achieved when I bought my brand new car last year August.

Do a wine course – I often look at the Wine Academy of Cape Town…I want! I need to find a way to do this! Anyone know of a correspondence course or one in the Eastern Cape?

Own a bonsai tree – My lovely husband gave me a Weeping Boerboon last year to celebrate our 1 year of dating. She is beautiful, she is so well loved and is still full of luscious green leave

Touch a dolphin – Now I know this sounds somewhat suspect. It was originally swim with dolphins, but I really want to go to a place like ushaka marine world – I got this from their website – Meet a Dolphin Get up close and personal with one of the ocean’s most incredible mammals. You will be able to meet, touch and feed a dolphin – a once in a lifetime experience.

Plant a tree for my 30th birthday – This I will complete the day I turn 30

Go to the FBI2012 and spend time with all the inspiring foodie friends – this plan is in motion as we speak!

Be able to converse in a foreign language – I have 2 years of very basic German under my belt, I would like to carry on with this.

Complete a photographic Diary for a month – I have now done 2 of these, and I love it!

Make a scrap book – Now people who know me know that I am not very sentimental, but I would like to make a scrapbook of our wedding…maybe

Play Bingo with a crowd of “Bingoers” – This was awesome. I “bingo’ed” with the best of “bingoers”. When I was in the USA I use to watch this, and never had the courage to do so, until there was a bingo night and we went, had loads of fun. Didn’t bingo at all though

Have an inspiring blog – I like to believe that I inspire at least one or two people out there, so I feel I have achieved this!

Host a traditional Japanese tea party – For our wedding we received the most beautiful tea set from my brother & his wife, this is just about done and dusted, just need to find people who like to drink tea.

Complete 1 Open Course Program – This is important to me, open course is free online programs from different colleges in the USA which you can do at leisure. You don’t get a degree or anything, however, it’s a learning experience, and you can never take away knowledge

Cook the national dish of 2 countries from every continent – I think this would be such a wonderful research project

Write a letter to my “Old Self” – This was inspired by a book I read, and it’s so true. I want to write a letter to my old self to tell her not to worry, you have not only succeeded in your career, but in life as well, you have a wonderful husband, a lovely home, live in a great area, and have a wonderful family and FYI your parents don’t hate, they only want what’s best for their little girl.

Read more – at least 15 books this year. I have achieved 7 so far, so I think I am well on my way to finishing this one.

Start drawing & Painting again – I have done one drawing so far this year, I am not putting much punch behind this to task, however, I know I have time. I want to complete at least one painting this year, and at least 10 drawings.

Travel somewhere completely new – This has been done when my husband took me on honeymoon to Umgazi Rive Lodge. I have not experienced the Transki before, so this was such a wonderful journey, and I got to share it with him.

Eat something so different it will make other people go WHAT?!?!? – I achieved this when I ate deep fried pig brain. It was actually very tasty and I have since at it twice.

Blog for an entire month everyday – not a photo diary – would be awesome to blog like I use to, where I would sometimes post twice a day.

Be more daring with my makeup – I have always done the casual look, be as natural as possible, and being in the kitchen means I don’t often get to glitz myself up. Lately I have been experimenting with bold fun colours on my eyes and I am loving it!

Have professional photo set done – Done this when we had our engagement photos done as well as our wedding photos It was so much fun, Heather from Heather Stevens Photography is absolutely wonderful.

Visit the top of Table Mountain – I want to sit on top of the mountain and overlook Cape Town with my wonderful husband.

Jodi Picoult’s latest offering, Lone Wolf, a must read

I was first introduced to Jodi Picoult books when I went on a trip to Washington DC and I desperately needed something to read on the plane, so I grabbed the first book available to me off the bookshelf at home, which was My Sisters Keeper. I never really started reading until after the trip as it was just to fun filled, but once I opened the book and read the first page, I was hooked!

When I heard the news that Jodi Picoult was launching a new book in February 2012, Lone Wolf, I was super duper excited. I really enjoy her work, for one reason alone…the emotions. I find with her books that you become each character, you have strong feelings for each character, whether it positive or negative feelings, you feel!

I so often read a book and don’t really connect with the characters and you kind of feel like you just reading the book, going through the emotions.

Lone Wolf, Picoult’s latest books got me from the start. It tells a story of Luke, who not only researches wolves, but integrated his life into a wolf pack for 2 years by living with them a pack, his daughter, 17 year old Cara who lives with him, his son Edward who left when he was 18 due to an argument with his father, and Georgie, his ex wife. Their stories entwine when Cara and Luke are in a car accident, and Edward needs to make the decision of whether or not to keep his father on life support or to take him off, and donate his organs.

The story unfolds very quickly, when Edward makes the decision to remove his father from life support, yet Cara believes their father has a chance to come out of his vegetative state, their fight with each other involves Joe, Cara’s new stepdad (Georgies Husband) who defends Edward, in the legal battle of who has the right to make the decision. Edward, who has not seen his father in 6 years, or Cara who is only 3 months away from being legally allowed to make this decision, yet who has lived with Luke and organized their daily lives together.

The story come out of how the car crash really happened, and why Edward really left in the first place, and the uniting of two siblings who were once very close, who now go to court to fight over whether to “kill” their father or not. To throw the mix out a little, a guardian of the state is called in to give a recommendation as to who she thinks is best suited for the decision.

From the get go, I disliked Cara simply because she is a typical teenager who thinks she knows it all, her lies and deceit is apparent from the get go, Edward kind of grew on me, as the story goes deeper, you realize he is just following his fathers last wish, but the best part of the book for me is Luke, and his story through all of this. He reveals his life, living with the wolves, a lot of research he has put into wolves. From the get go I knew the outcome for Luke, so that was no surprise, however the interaction of the two siblings captivated me and every now and then I thought one way and the story went another way.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story for those who want to read the book still, all I can say, this is definitely one of my top 5 Jodi Picoult books.
In no particular order, other recommendations of her books are My Sisters Keeper – the movie does NOT do it justice, Plain Truth – again, the movie does no justice to this book, Sing You Home, Harvesting the Heart and Nineteen Minutes.