Tulbagh, famous for the ‘wtf?’ earthquake of 1969, was the natural choice for yet another earth shattering event in the form of my ‘wtf-th?’ birthday. It was also the weekend of the Tulbagh Arts Festival, so I gathered the clan and we headed out to the country.
Terry, an old varsity buddy, owns the beautiful Wild Olive farm and guest cottages just outside town. We’d booked the Guinea Fowl (of which we saw many) which slept six comfortably. The cottage was beautifully appointed, the cosy fire place put to good use on the chilly spring nights and the sweeping views down the valley, breathtaking.
It’s not every day you get to cook a meal on the beach with one of your favourite chefs, but I was lucky enough to experience exactly that after a recent art holiday in Paternoster. The chef du jour was none other than Suzi Holtzhausen from Gaaitjie Restaurant. And what better way to end off a week of R-and-R-and-Art than by spending a day foraging and cooking with a personal food hero?
I love the food at Gaaitjie and have described it before as ‘highly skilled love on a plate‘. There are no pretenses, which I find particularly refreshing – flavours combine with reason, textures serve a purpose and it’s all put together with a delicate touch. Still, I was intimidated at the thought of meeting the chef.
When 2015 rolled around I hit the ground running. Work was crazy with a lot of time spent on the road. I’d barely caught my breath when March arrived, and with it, an art holiday I’d booked last year with Ajay’s Art. I wasn’t in the mood for spending yet more time away from the office, my home or my comfortable routine, but I’d paid and there really was no way out of it. Reluctantly, I packed my bags and set off for Paternoster.
From the moment I met hosts Andre (Ajay) Jacobs and his partner, Hesther, I started to relax. Their attitude was casual and laid back, yet everything had been organised well in advance – from the accommodation and restaurant bookings, to art supplies and schedules. I soon realised that all that was expected of me for the next seven days was to show up, relax and learn, which is exactly what I did.
It had been 15 years since our last reunion, a bunch of old varsity friends getting together for a major catch up to fill in the blanks left untold on Facebook. All we had were three days in Hermanus and we needed to make them count!
Day 1: The Sisterhood gathers at La Vierge (the virgin) in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley – an irony not entirely lost on this bunch of middle-aged broads!
My favourite chocolate mousse was the one my big sister used to make. It was sugary, chewy and lumpy – exactly the type of mousse you’d buy in those frosted metal parfait cups from any café or restaurant in every Portuguese town. She’d pried the recipe from a waitress many years ago by vowing to take it to her grave which sadly (but to her credit), she did.
I’ve been experimenting with a chocolate mousse recipe of my own and being a banting babe, I use severely dark chocolate and xylitol rather than sugar. But the choice is yours, it’s delectable either way.
Garlic and rosemary lamb with cauliflower and black pepper puree
To date, Banting has taken a pounding and those of us who have stuck by it have had to endure the countless jibes and derision from skeptics who have backed the food pyramid. A few months have passed and Banters have started to visibly shrink, now many of these self-same health-conscious individuals just want to know three things: ‘How much, how soon and with how little effort? ‘
There’s more to it than just that, and so for those interested in learning about a Banting lifestyle, what follows is a list of questions I am frequently asked.
Cottage pie with wilted baby spinach and cauli-mash topping
Known for its laid back locals, breathtaking vistas and superb food, Paternoster is the perfect destination to escape the madness – which is what I did in early November last year. My mission? To eat my way through town, one restaurant at a time. What follows is my selection of Paternoster’s prime pozzies:
The Noisy Oyster: 022 752 2196 – 62 St Augustine Road, Paternoster
Dinner at the Noisy Oyster should be appreciated with company. The place is warm and inviting and the staff almost over-the-top about making you feel at home. Frayed 30 Seconds cards lie scattered on the tables, the menu is tongue-in-cheek and every scatter cushion I’ve ever discarded in a fit of modernist rage has found its way here.
What to do in the middle of winter when you have the day off, the sky is deep blue and the sun just won’t quit? You take a quiet drive along the coast to remind yourself that you live at the ocean, with all it has to offer.
It’s easy to become complacent in the cold, to embrace the rut and cuddle up in your comfort zone, but when Mother Nature gives you a sneak peak at spring, you ditch the woolly mittens and grab it with both hands. The perfect opportunity to take advantage of the Cape’s bounty sans the usual tourists, traffic and torrential downpour.
There’s a lot of hoopla on social media at the moment regarding Woolworths and their ethical and sustainability claims. I often shop at Woolies as it’s convenient, fits in with my busy work schedule and provides me with my butternut ready chopped – just the way I like it (although I wouldn’t mind if the pieces were halved again). Still, there’s no denying they’re a large corporation with a serious bottom line, so if it’s a guarantee you’re after, then you need to remove a few links from the supply chain.
When I found myself cooking for my Cape Town Clan last Sunday, I made sure to source my lamb from the one place I do trust implicitly with my carnivorous needs: Gogo’s Meat & Biltong Deli in Newlands.
These days it’s safer to venture an opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict than it is to support Banting. I don’t know who’s annoying me more at the moment: the fence sitting foodies, the ill informed, yet exceedingly vocal skeptics or the Banting Bashers who think LCHF (Low Carbohydrate, High Fat) is KFC without the bun. What I don’t understand is, why all the drama?
I bought The Book earlier this year and it said I could still use cream, butter and olive oil in cooking and eat bacon, avocado and cheese. It also said to avoid sugar and foods high in carbohydrates — which include seed and vegetable oils. That’s it. It never said to eat any of the permissible foods in abundance and it clearly advises against too much protein.