Tuesday, 29 November 2016

My Chef Gives the Cook a Break this Christmas

Thinking about Christmas lunch and all you can do is groan? Boiling hot Durban day and a boiling hot kitchen not to your liking? Well those days are gone! My Chef has the Christmas lunch menu sorted and they have done all the preparations as well, so no peeling and chopping needed.

Effortless Traditional Christmas Package + Artisanal mince pies

What does My Chef have for a delicious Christmas? (This is just a few of the items)

Starters : Bacon wrapped baby porkies, Tiger prawns filled with cheese and chilli and Mascarpone fig and pecan pate

Meat : Cooked Christmas turkey with cranberry and pecan nut stuffing, Crispy French style pork belly and Glazed Christmas gammon. Main meals can be purchased as a “ready to be roasted” or “roasted for you”. If you still want to have the smell of Christmas cooking in the air, then opt for the “ready to be roasted” option.

Vegetables : Ready to roast potatoes, Creamed spinach and Heavenly avo and pear salad

Dessert : Merry berry festive trifle, Christmas pudding and Kiddies chocolate mousse. Also eggnog!

There is even an outdoor braai option to keep the heat out of the kitchen, and get the Weber working with Lamb Tagliata, Beef Fillet Béarnaise, lamb loin chops, flatti special featuring 2 marinated flatties – one in peri peri and one in lemon and herb, chimichurri prawn and calamari kebabs served with spicy chimichurri relish and 3 cheese and herb ciabatta.

You also have the option of ordering an Effortless Traditional Christmas package perfectly portioned for your needs, and includes a deboned rolled turkey with sage and caramelised onion stuffing, sliced Christmas gammon, cauliflower and broccoli au gratin, roast pumpkin, carrots, sweetcorn, roast potatoes and gravy - all in ready to roast dishes, making your Christmas dinner a breeze.

We had a Christmas test run by trying out the Effortless Traditional Christmas Package and it was a winner. I put the potatoes in to cook first as they take the longest. (190C for 50mins although I cooked them at 220C). The cauliflower and broccoli au gratin and the roast pumpkin, carrots and sweetcorn were ready in 35 minutes at 200C. The deboned turkey is already cooked so it just needs to be reheated. Make sure you do not overheat as you will dry out the meat. We didn’t warm up the sliced Christmas gammon and I have to say it was the best gammon I have ever tasted. It had incredible flavour and was not at all dry. Included in the package was turkey gravy and my husband couldn’t stop saying how much he enjoyed the flavour. 

A close up of the gammon and turkey

A delicious stress free Christmas meal

Delicious ending to this pre-Christmas trial with their artisanal mince pies and a cup of coffee.

Mince pies and coffee served in Le Creuset

You are sure to find something you fancy on the My Chef Christmas Menu this year, as the list is almost endless and provides many options sure to suit any palate. For a full menu list take a look at the My Chef website.

Orders close on December 15th and will be delivered on December 23rd. For more details on the menu, prices and delivery days, visit www.mychef.co.za

New Year deliveries close on December 27th and will be delivered on December 30th.

My Chef is an online company operating 24/7 that offers a range of healthy meals delivered to your door every Tuesday and Friday and are perfect for those with a busy life, and want a break from cooking.

So if your sanity usually wears thin over the festive season I really recommend that you save it by ordering from My Chef. I am definitely going to order the Effortless Traditional Christmas Package. The mascarpone, fig and pecan pate, eggnog and merry berry festive trifle are also calling to me.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Bring Warmth to the Festive Season with Decorex SA

When we think of Christmas we think of snow, stockings hanging by a fireplace and of course good old Santa Claus. The only thing is that we live in South Africa and our Christmas is full on sunshine and very hot days. Forget about making Christmas the traditional red and green and go local and lekker. It would also be great to support our local suppliers, artists, crafters and shops with buying South African made products. Look around your house and check cupboards for items that can be used on your table. Everyone has items that are hidden away in cupboards and forgotten about. Support your local charity shops like Hospice and the SPCA, you will be surprised what you can find for home and table decor. "One mans junk is another mans treasure" The all important thing to remember at Christmas time is fun times with family and friends - no stress allowed!
Pink with rose gold and gold makes such a
 pretty table (Image : mrphome/Mr Price Home)

Leaders in the décor, design and lifestyle industry, Decorex SA has compiled a number of tasteful ornamental and decorating ideas that can easily be incorporated into every home, making this Christmas your #livingdream.
Get creative with colour : Entwined with the Decorex SA 2017 theme of ‘Make your space your living dream’, contemporary Christmas trends are moving away from the garish reds and greens to a more neutral, earthy colour palette that creates a serene, soothing environment. Bring in copper and gold to maintain that metallic Christmas feel while white, rose, blush hues will create a gentle contrast that warms the home.

(Image : mrphome/Mr Price Home)

Keep it natural : The fake trees and sensory assaulting tinsel, lights and ornaments are being replaced by more natural, textured decorations that are both environmentally-friendly and functional. Blush, rose and soft green-coloured succulents make for elegant décor and ornamental creations while coastal Christmases will see the incorporation of driftwood as well as white and rose seashells.
Do It Yourself : Distancing from the strong consumer sentiment that has gripped this holiday, the trend this year is to rather keep it simple with a focus on environmental sustainability. This is achieved by crafting ornaments and creating decorations that can be reused throughout the household or given as gifts to festive season guests.
Some interesting ideas for décor and design this Christmas:
For those celebrating along the coast this festive season, take a stroll along the shore to discover some oceanic gems. Seashells, dried starfish, driftwood and even sand can be fashioned in various creative ways for effective holiday decorations.
- Spray paint any sea shells and apply a thin wire adorned with small beads to create stunning tree or table ornaments.
- Simple, transparent glass balls come in a variety of shapes, styles and sizes and can easily be transformed into beachy decorations. Remove the top fixture, fill half the bauble with sand and small shells for a tasteful finish.
- To create an unassuming, refined summer wreath, fashion dried driftwood or sea grass into a wreath. This can be further enhanced with the addition of some shells.
- Varying lengths of dried driftwood can be cleverly arranged to form a wall-mounted tree. Fasten the wood to the wall in ascending length echoing the traditional Christmas tree shape. The ‘shelves’ can then be ornamented with various Christmas-related decorations and replaced with regular household items for use after the festive season.
- The over-used crimson Christmas candles can be replaced with white or blush candles housed in glassware, gently filled with soft sand for an elegant table illumination.
 For those celebrating this spirited season inland, there are a variety of décor options that lean towards the natural creating a serene, comfortable glow within every home.
- Inviting guests into your home can be an eye-catching wreath created using a selection of rose and green succulents. Alternatively, sage inserted into Styrofoam with a ribbon to hang hints at the seasoned Christmas mistletoe while remaining refreshingly original.
- Metallic baubles don’t just have to be on a tree. Repurpose these ornaments by placing them in a bowl to make a fantastic centrepiece. By adding a few green leaves, you bring in that textured essence while offsetting the sheen.

Baubles and bells not only on the tree
(Image : mrphome/Mr Price Home)

- For table decorations, leaves and soft coloured flowers can be beautifully wrapped conically in brown paper fastened with twine. These can be placed in a glass container on the table and taken home as gifts following the feast.
- Bypass the rolls of wrapping paper cluttering the shopping aisles this year and rather opt for a more environmentally, user-friendly alternative. Tea towels stylishly held together with twine is both an attractive covering and useful gift.

I am making chocolate cake pops for Christmas but
I think I need to dip in pastel colours
(Image : mrphome/Mr Price Home)

For year-round décor, design and lifestyle inspiration and trends, make sure to get to Decorex SA - Co-sponsored by Plascon and Caesarstone – happening in Durban, Cape Town and Joburg.
Decorex SA details:
Decorex Durban: 18 – 21 March 2017
Time: 18-20 March: 10am – 8pm | 21 March: 10am – 6pm
Ticket prices: Adults: R85, Pensioners: R 75, Children under 12: R20
Venue: Durban Exhibition Centre

Decorex Cape Town: 27 – 30 April 2017
Time: 10am – 6pm daily
Ticket prices: Adults: R95, Pensioners: R85, Children under 12: R20
Venue: Cape Town International Conference Centre

Decorex Johannesburg: 9 – 13 August 2017
Time: 10am – 6pm daily
Ticket prices: Adults: R120, Pensioners: R100, Children under 12: R20
Venue: Gallagher Convention Centre

For more information, email decorexinfo@thebereed.co.za 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Cartier Watches at Arthur Kaplan Gateway

Do girls/women still want to be/look/feel like princesses? Or has the princess phenomenon been relegated to fairy tales for good?

I don’t know about you but I love a chance to dress up and put on a pair of high heels even though I know my feet are going to be in pain by the end of the evening. On Thursday 3 November I was thrilled to be able to dress up again in my Ikhiwane dress (bought from Woza Moya Botha’s Hill) and put on my sparkling earrings (Colette by Colette Hayman) and my strappy high heels (Madison) and attend the Arthur Kaplan cocktail function for Cartier.

The Arthur Kaplan luxury boutique at Gateway Theatre of Shopping has recently been redesigned and Cartier which is one of the worlds’s most esteemed and respected brands has found a home there for its Watchmaking Collections. Some of the pieces on show included the latest ‘Drive de Cartier’ and iconic ‘Ballon Bleu de Cartier’ that showcase Cartier’s exceptional watchmaking as a fusion of cutting-edge technology and characteristic elegance in their designs.

Arthur Kaplan’s newly redesigned boutique highlights how the brand continues to evolve and innovate, delivering in its promise to provide the highest level of personalized customer service and exquisite selection of luxury jewellery and premium Swiss watch brands.

The evening saw guests entertained by classical duo Allegro Strings, French style canapés and special Cartier branded champagne. Arthur Kaplan’s MD, Dean Divaris reinforced the brand’s commitment to build longstanding relationships with their clients and celebrate every aspect of their life and love’s journey, be it through their designer jewellery collections or finest Swiss watches.

It  was an elegant and relaxed evening with wonderful people to chat to and gorgeous watches to ooh and ahh over. Arthur Kaplan’s staff is efficient and friendly and only too keen to show off the perfect Cartier watch to grace your wrist.

Arthur Kaplan traces its roots back to 1889 when the family business first started building a reputation for providing timeless jewellery to discerning clients. Arthur Norman Kaplan opened the first store in 1973, creating a culture of personal service and attention to detail that still defines the Arthur Kaplan brand to this day.

Today Arthur Kaplan is a luxury jewellery and watch retailer with 10 stores located in major shopping centres in South Africa. The brand is particularly well renowned for Swiss luxury watches, and is a trusted destination for diamond engagement rings.


Thursday, 10 November 2016

Local Was Lekker at the Durban Good Food & Wine Show

Thursday 27 October was a boiling hot start to this year’s Durban Good Food & Wine Show when Durban Tourism hosted a few of the chef’s at Cafe Skyzer in Chesterville. The meat was sizzling on the braai as were all the guests as we watched the heated cook-off. The chef's in attendance at the cook-off were Neill Anthony, Jenny Morris, Siphokazi Mdlankomo. Claire Allen, Sherwyn Weaich, Kamini Pather and Lentswe Bhengu.

Friday 28 October was the official start to the show and people were eagerly lined up at the entrance waiting to see what the show had in store for them. I was happy to get to meet Sean Kristafor of Black Insomnia and to taste his world’s strongest coffee #sleepingischeating. I also got a chance to watch the barista competition and meet Jamie Braun of Skyline Coffee who was helping out. I’m looking forward to buying Skyline Coffee once the online store is up and running. One of the judges of the barista competition was Wayne Oberholzer who was last year’s Western Cape barista champion and also the overall South African winner.

Okay -  so let me get down to what/who I saw at the show. I was there early on Friday morning so I could see and support my Granny Mouse Country House & Spa “family” at the Eat Well Live Well Theatre at 12pm. Before I could watch culinary artist Kirstie du Toit of Granny Mouse I was able to attend Neill Anthony’s session of Cooking with Chef’s. He showed us how to make a delicious breakfast dish containing chia seeds, nuts and dried fruit. If you would like to make and try this yourself, take a look at the recipe over here. Neill Anthony is fantastic with people and the audience at Cooking with Chefs enjoyed interacting with him and learning a new dish. It is great when you meet people that you have seen on TV and find that they down to earth, friendly and comfortable in meeting strangers. Strangers who ask you all sorts of weird and wonderful questions and want photos. Ha Ha no! I’m not speaking about me! Okay so I did get a photo and yes I also asked questions but they were definitely not weird #grin. Cooking with Chefs was fun and I hope that the Good Food & Wine Show continues with this concept.

Managed to get a second row seat (hard crate seat – really needed cushioning) at the Eat Well Live Well Theatre to watch Kirstie du Toit the culinary artist at Granny Mouse, who showed the audience a hot and a cold polenta dish. The cold polenta was a herbed polenta with basil goats cheese and a tomato salad and the warm polenta dish was warm citrus polenta with pan fried trout and citrus salsa. The dishes were divine and it was hard to decide on which I preferred more but I think the trout was the winner for me. After a bit of excitement a lucky member of the audience walked away with a two night stay at Granny Mouse #jealous. I can’t wait for the next time that I am able to stay there #bliss. I have also made a note to have the trout dish at the Bistro the next time I visit.

On Friday evening I watched Claire Allen in the main Chef’s Theatre prepare a slow cooked cumin rubbed rum and coffee brisket. She was assisted by a member of the audience – a very sweet boy who I am sure is going to become a chef in future. The completed brisket was melt in the mouth and the dish was picked clean by the audience.

Saturday 29 October was the exciting day – Chef’s Table with Neill Anthony!! Before attending the table it was more Black Insomnia coffee, watching the barista competition, watching Sherwyn Weaich make scones (divine) in the Baking Theatre and of course one of my favourite pastimes – people watching. People were eating, drinking, talking and watching demonstrations and it seems having a great time doing it all.

Just before 1pm we (Inge Loker and myself) made our way over to the Chef’s Table enclosed area to wait in line for entrance and we were happy to get seats near the front. I’m not going to go into a full description of what we saw and experienced at the Chef’s Table. Let me just say that Neill Anthony is a VERY talented chef and I definitely made mental notes of some of his tips and tricks in food preparation eg cooking onions. The dishes were a taste sensation and I can see why he is in demand as a private chef. I hope that you are watching his TV show on SABC3 Tuesday’s at 8pm.

Starter : Warm celeriac, pear, walnut and blue cheese salad
Mains : Bavette steak with potato puree, asparagus and onion petals
Dessert : Almond cake with ginger cream and honeycomb

Just typing that out and looking at the photos makes me want to have these dishes all over again.

The final chef that I watched was Sarah Graham in the Eat Well Live Well Theatre. I have two of her books – “Smitten” and “Home” and I need to track down “Bitten”. A fourth book is soon to be released and is called “Wholesome”.

It was a fabulous and tiring food weekend and the Good Food & Wine Show was SO much better than last year. I loved the mix of chef’s and there was a great layout and flow inside the exhibition centre. If you are asking if I saw George Calombaris – George who? #LocalisLekker

Constructive criticism of the Durban Good Food & Wine Show, the 3 P’s – Parking, Pensioners and Position :

1. Parking : What happened to the usual parking spot over the road from the exhibition centre? A lot of frustration was caused by this being locked and I ended up driving around the block twice before deciding to park at the ICC. The ICC parking also costs more that the regular exhibition parking.

2. Pensioners : It would be good for the people handling the tickets to know that pensioners could enter for free on the Friday. There were quite a few that were very upset when they were asked to pay. It was only when a supervisor was called that the ticket sellers found out.

3. Position : Please, please don’t put the Chef’s Table next to the main Chef’s Theatre, especially since we were paying to be there. When the show started in the Chef’s Theatre it was difficult to hear what the chef was saying.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

2016 Illovo Cafe Society Awards

On  the evening of the 25th October I was thrilled to have been able to attend the Illovo Cafe Society Awards. This year the awards were held at the lovely Bellevue Cafe in Kloof which was filled with KwaZulu-Natal’s top coffee cafe owners and baristas.

The Cafe Society Awards sponsors are the Sunday Tribune who started the Cafe Society in 1999 and Illovo Sugar SA who is now in its 16th year of sponsorship. This year’s panel included some of KZN’s very own stars with a taste for excellence, such as Darren Maule, Logie Naidoo, Vanessa Marawa and Sorisha Naidoo, who make up the 28 strong coffee critics judging the competition. Each and every judge undergoes a training workshop with top baristas before judging commences to ensure they understand precisely what constitutes a great cappuccino, and that they all use the same criteria.

Darrell de Wet, the Market Manager of Illovo Sugar SA, congratulated the Top 100 for their hard work and dedication in creating their cappuccinos. He also feels that this Cafe Society competition is a major reason why KZN have produced so many top class baristas. Illovo Sugar SA is also passionate about coffee and they have their own internal coffee programme called Good Coffee. 

Aakash Bramdeo, the Editor of the Sunday Tribune, says that the Cafe Society Awards are one of the highlights of the Sunday Tribune calendar. He thanked the judges for their hard work and said “I know how difficult it has been to try all that coffee”.

Here are the winners of the various regions :


1. Tea@Baytree (Southcoast Mall, Shelly Beach)
2. Daily Grind (Hibiscus Mall, Margate)
3. Beaver Creek Estate (Port Edward)

Owners of Beaver Creek, Tea@Baytree, Daily Grind


1. Counter Culture (Ballito)
2. Wonderland Coffee (LINC Church, Salt Rock)
3. Piccadeli Cafe (Ballito Junction)

Owners of Wonderland Coffee, Counter Culture, Piccadeli Cafe


1. Terbodore Coffee Roasters (Curry’s Post)
2. Sagewood (Pietermaritzburg)
3. Olde Duck Cafe (Drakensberg Gardens, Underberg)

Owners of Olde Duck Cafe, Terbodore, Sagewood


1. Lineage Coffee (Builders Way, Hillcrest)
2. Antique Cafe (Churchill Road, Morningside)
3. Bean Green (Glenwood)

Owners of Bean Green, Antique Cafe, Lineage Coffee

Best Barista

The winning coffee shops would not be where they were if not for their baristas.  Dirk Maritz said “Baristas are the centre of the coffee shop, the characters that bring people into the coffee shop. Baristas are no longer relegated next to the ice maker in the kitchen”.

This year the baristas were also split into regions and there was an overall winner.

North : Precious Ngcobo from Piccadeli Cafe

South : Princess Ntini from Tea@Baytree

Inland : Sinjin Wicks from Terbodore Coffee Roasters

Central : Kgune Dlamini from Lineage Coffee who was also the overall winner

Kgune Dlamini

Highly Recommended

Savior Brands, Morningside
Kaphine Korner, Berea
Jacksonville Cafe, North Beach
The Coffee Tree, Glenwood
The Talkhouse Cafe, Westville Mall
Lucky Bean, Assagay
Mark Gold, Morningside

Old Town Italy, Umhlanga Ridge
L’Edicola, Ballito
Steampunk Culture, Ballito
Hello Cafe, Durban North
Mayfair Cafe, Durban North

Mojo’s Cafe, Shelly Beach
Steam Cafe, Shelly Beach

Blueberry Cafe, Nottingham Road
Pizzology, Pietermaritzburg
La Popote (Sue Tarr’s Summerhouse) Hilton
The Coffesmiths, Nottingham Road
Steampunk, Nottingham Road
Bottega, Pietermaritzburg

Well done to Craig Charity (Lineage Coffee) for this amazing achievement of now winning three years in a row. Big congratulations also to Kgune Dlamini (Lineage Coffee) for picking up the title of Best Barista. This is now the second year that a barista from Lineage has taken the title. Hillcrest is again the official place to get the best cappuccino so head to Shop 2, Builders Way Centre, Builders Way Road in Hillcrest. You can also get divine cappuccinos at Lineage Coffee in Waterfall at the Watercrest Mall.

Inge Loker (Snap, Sizzle & Cook) and myself