Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The truth about olive oil – a visit to Gabrielskloof

I was lucky enough to be invited out to a boutique wine and olive oil farm in Bot River called Gabrieldskloof to learn about how extra-virgin olive oil is made and about all its nutritional values and properties.

The timing of this visit coincided with the fact that lately a few people have been asking me what I think of olive oil and the (new) fear that it might be carcinogenic. Calm your panties people – there are some facts to get straight here. AND IT IS GOOD FOR YOU!

Here are 10 very important facts I learn't about extra-virgin olive oil:

1. Extra-virgin olive oil has a smoking point of 207 degrees Celsius, this means that for your general roasting (180 - 200), extra-virgin olive oil is ideal. Don't use it for deep-frying (who can afford to anyway?). Best for drizzling over anything: pastas, salads, pizzas and used in dips.

2. For an olive oil to be classified as extra-virgin, there are strict processes and measures taken in SA. To make sure you are getting quality-assured extra-virgin olive oil, always only buy olive oil with the SA OLIVE stamp. And only buy bottles that say "extra virgin".

3. For an olive oil to be classified as extra-virgin, it has to be pressed (or, more accurately, cold-extract) within 12 hours of picking. Gabrielskloof does theirs within six hours.

4. You must consume extra-virgin olive oil within 1 to 2 months of opening. Oxygen interaction and light will make the olive oil go rancid and olive oil loses nutrients as it ages. Store it in a dark, cool cupboard and never decant it into those colourless glass bottles you so often see on local restaurant tables. In fact, never use olive oil from said glass decanters at restaurants.

5. Want to know how you can tell that an olive oil is going off/has gone off? It has an oily, buttery smell. Fresh extra-virgin olive oil will smell like earth and artichokes (indicative of the fruit).

6. Olive oil only has a shelf life of two years and will often only reach supermarkets four months after pressing. This is why it's important to check the SA OLIVE stamp as it will also have the vintage of the olive oil. Do not consume a olive oil older than two years, i.e: no 2012 vintage in 2015.

7. Always buy olive oil in antique (green) glass bottle or a tin instead of a colourless glass bottle, this will help preserve it.

8. Most olive oil producers no longer 'press' olive oil, but instead use cold extraction. This is a more hygienic practice and it is done in a room with a cool temperature (very important in SA, where our temperatures are high). Gabrielskloof extracts their olive oil in a room set to 18 degrees Celsius.

9. Extra-virgin olive oil is packed with nutrients and very high in monounsaturated fatty acids and is a really healthy alternative to other vegetable oils. You can also rub it into your skin as a moisturiser.

10. South Africa produces excellent quality extra-virgin olive oils and many local producers have won big international awards. Always rather support local (not only for the carbon footprint), but because you can be assured of the quality of local oils (remember the SA OLIVE stamp).

For more info on Gabrielskloof, visit: http://www.gabrielskloof.co.za/olives-lavender/
For more info on SA OLIVE, visit: http://www.saolive.co.za

Homemade gluten-free pizza with bacon jam and goat's cheese

After a sweaty SWEAT 1000 workout tonight I was craving salt and some carbs. I'd had a low carb day: bananas for breakfast, leftover roast chicken and avo for lunch, so I decided to cook up some gluten-free pizzas.

Normally I would make the bases from scratch, but – sweaty gym gear in tow – I needed a quick fix and found these awesome gluten-free pizza bases at my local SPAR. The brand is Mom 'n Ty's (a local Cape Town gluten-free food company) and the pizzas are pre-baked, so just need 10 minutes in a super-hot oven (230 degrees C) and you're done.

I also received a jar of Melissa's The Food Shop's Bacon Jam to try out, so I killed two birds with one stone and whipped up some quick pizzas – my husband was only too thrilled to be getting pizza on a week night ;-)

I bought some Karoo goat's milk cheddar (I already had chevré in the fridge), grabbed some tomato paste out the cupboard and set to work.

I spread a 1 tbsp tomato paste thinly on each base, sprinkled over some chevré and grated cheddar, dolloped bits of bacon jam over and shoved the pizza bases in the oven. Out and on my plate all in less than 15 minutes! Now that's quick eating! I sprinkled some fresh home-grown basil over, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of dried chilli flakes before serving. YUM! Definitely a new quick-and-easy fave. I'll just add some fresh ago on top afterwards next time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Paleo-style banana-nut muffin recipe

This recipe is #grainfree, #glutenfree and #dairyfree. To make it vegan, simply whip up some flax seeds with water to replace the eggs. There is absolutely no sugar or sugar replacement added, making them a great breakfast for diabetics.

The bananas and coconut flour give off some sweetness, although these are definitely more savoury and nutty. You can add a touch of honey to the mixture if you prefer a sweeter treat. The muffins are also very light and fluffly, unlike some other gluten-free recipes, which tend to be pretty dense.

What You Need

Makes 12 muffins

3 ripe bananas
4 free-range extra-large eggs
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
Seeds from a vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla essence)


1/ Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2/ Mash banana, mix in eggs and coconut oil until well-combined.
3/ Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until fairly smooth.
4/ Pour equal amounts of batter into the muffin tray.
5/ Bake for 15 minutes until golden and set.
6/ Remove from oven and allow to cool in muffin tray, before serving.

Gluten-free, dairy-free pancakes

When I was about 10, my dad’s mother taught me how to make the simplest pancakes with the Number 1 recipe. It’s called “Number 1”, because you only need one portion of each ingredient, so as a 10-year-old, I memorised it and still use it today. However, I’ve tweaked the ingredients to make the pancakes suit my gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle.

What You Need

1 cup of soy milk
1 cup of gluten-free cake flour
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbps of oil


1/ Mix all the ingredients together and gently fry dollops of batter in a pan over medium heat. 

2/ Serve a stack of flapjacks with fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, pomegranate arils) and honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon if you like.

Azure food and wine pairing dinner with Stellenzicht Wines

A couple weeks ago I attended one of Azure's Food & Wine Pairing Evenings hosted by Stellenzicht winemaker, Guy Webber and Azure Executive Chef, Christo Pretorius. 

After being shown to our table with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand, I found myself luckily placed next to the winemaker. He explained that the Golden Triangle wines that we were tasting got their name from the "golden ratio" (2:2:1), which indicates perfect balance, which he feels is also reflected in the wines he makes. We also spoke about his love of Pinotage and he was determined to change my not-the-biggest-fan-of-Pinotage mind. He succeeded.

 After our amuse bouche and delightful breads (yes, they have gluten-free breads available!!), the chef introduced the rest of the meal and Guy got up to talk a bit more about the wines.

 We started with a sous vide salmon trout with oyster soup, which was paired with the Stellenzicht Sémillon Reserve 2009. It was probably my favourite wine of the night! You don't often find a 100-percent Sémillon and the wine had a lovely complexity and full-mouth flavour that had me asking for a second glass in, well, seconds.

Next up was the hanger steak tartare with sourdough toast, mustard mayo, egg yolk, crispy capers and pickled onion. This was paired with the Stellenzicht Rhapsody 2007, a Cape Blend (Yes, that means it contains more than 30-percent Pinotage), which was a rich, robust blend. Spicy and fruity.

We then had a rather impressive palate cleanser (just look at this pic!), before moving on to the Char Sui Blesbok with barbecue glaze, mushroom ragout, potato espuma and gremolata sauce. This was paired with the Plum Pudding Hill Syrah 2009. I'm a big Shiraz-lover, so I was looking forward to this one! An elegant, fruity, spicy wine that left me wanting more... But it was a pretty even toss-up between the Rhapsody and the Plum Pudding.

Our dessert consisted of a black sesame cake with port ice cream, coconut crumble and cured lemongrass. Paired with this was the Cellarmaster's Release Chardonnay, which contains no sulphates – something else Guy is very passionate about. The wine was buttery, yet fresh and clean. I thought it worked nicely with the dessert, but it was a bit tricky for my palate to go from two big reds back to a white and perhaps I didn't appreciate the Chardonnay as much as I would have if I'd tried it before the reds.

We left soon after the petit fours were served as we were tired and had probably had too much wine at this stage! All in all it was a fantastic evening and I definitely recommend it for anyone who has an interest in food and wine pairing – and great conversation.

The next one: Friday 29 May: Morgenster Wine & Olive Estate
Based in Somerset West and dating back to 1711, Morgenster produces internationally acclaimed Bordeaux-style wines and award-winning extra-virgin olive oil, with four Bordeaux cultivars grown on the Estate: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

For more info on Stellenzicht wines, visit https://www.stellenzicht.co.za/

What else is new at Azure:

The Dinner & Movie nights make for an ideal winter date night or evening out with friends or family. For only R475 per person, movie fans get to combine the pleasures of a three-course menu at Azure with a VIP silver screen experience, courtesy of the hotel’s very own 16-seater cinema. The hotel’s monthly movie schedule meanwhile features something for everyone, from recent blockbusters (The Hunger Games – Catching Fire) and comedies (The Internship), to classics (Casablanca), dramas (Black Swan) and chick flicks (Sex and The City).

Visit http://www.12apostleshotel.com/ for more info.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Launch of the New Bacon Bar on Bree Street

Tonight I was invited to the launch of the brand new bacon bar on Bree Street (where else?).
The bustling spot, previously home to Sarah Ord Interiors, was packed with journos, local foodies, a giraffe and the fabulous Roger from Jorgensen's distillery – who was there launching his new hibiscus pink gin. (For more info, visit: http://www.jd7.co.za)

The decor is minimalistic, but rustic-chic, as most Bree-town spots are. I loved the wallpaper downstairs, next to the room that acts as an art gallery. 

The bacon bas is the brainchild of Richard Bosman – well-known for his charcuterie around South Africa – and will feature a menu of sandwiches and a selection of his meats for tasting and for sale to take home. They do not yet have a liquor licence, but are awaiting approval.

With the success of the bacon bar in Franschhoek, it's no surprise that Cape Town would want its own taste of piggy, although one of my favourite things tonight – besides the crispy crackling, also for sale – was not made from pig at all. I loved the chicken wings, basted in bacon sauce. I mean, who does not love a sticky chicken wing (as long as no one is watching you getting down and dirty, looking like The Bone Collector)?

The bar is a daytime spot – but it will stay open at night for #firstThursdays – so make sure to grab some lunch when you're in the neighbourhood.

Wine and Food Winter Weekend Getaways at Bushmans Kloof

Planning a getaway this winter? Look no further than the Cederberg! Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat is the go-to destination for delicious signature Food and Wine Weekends held in June, July and August.

Executive Chef Floris Smith will be teaming up with respected local winemakers from four top wine farms, to create inspired culinary creations that perfectly capture the tastes and flavours of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
All weekends will include special presentations, talks and tastings, nature drives, rock-art excursions, all meals, wine and lodge activities.

The dates for the gourmet weekend getaways are as follows:

Glen Carlou 29 – 31 May 2015
Bouchard Finlayson 26 - 28 June 2015
Cederberg Private Cellar 24 – 26 July 2015
Constantia Uitsig 21 – 23 August 2015

From R2 635 per person per night, sharing and including all meals and lodge activities
Follow these guys on twitter for more info: