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The KZN restaurant that beat the Cape

Everyone in the SA foodie world is talking about The LivingRoom at Summerhill Guest Estate in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, which beat every restaurant in the country to take top honours at the 2022 Eat Out awards last week. Wanda Hennig met chef Johannes Richter for our July 2021 story about the venue and their way with food.

What’s cooking today: Gingered croissant and butter pudding

The traditional British bread and butter pudding is switched up by using croissants and candied ginger in this air fryer recipe.
Foil containers turn out to be a very handy item for an air fryer. Expect a rush on them, and foil loaf tins and the like becoming ubiquitous while also potentially selling out once everyone who owns an air fryer gets wind of this.
A regular foil loaf tin, 13 cm x 25 cm, was perfect for the quantities of this pudding.
You can of course also make it in a conventional oven, in which it would cook for longer.
100 g dried ginger slices (they come in 100g packets)
⅓ cup hanepoot or other fortified wine
250 ml full cream milk
250 ml cream
1 tsp vanilla essence or extract
3 large eggs
½ cup golden brown sugar
4 mini croissants
4 Tbsp golden brown sugar
Butter for spreading on the croissants and dotting
Chop the candied ginger (available at dried fruit outlets such as Wellington or Montagu) and put it in a small saucepan with the hanepoot or other fortified wine. Bring it to a slow simmer and reduce until you have a sticky but slightly runny sauce.
Heat the milk and cream together until just less than boiling point, then turn off the heat.
Beat the eggs and sugar together.
Add the dairy mixture to this a little at a time while stirring. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir on a low heat until the custard thickens.
Stir in the vanilla essence or extract.
Grease a foil loaf tin or metal one with butter.
Cut the croissants in half, butter them generously and place them alongside one another in the greased tin.
Spoon half of the candied ginger and their wine essence over, then put them back together and place them alongside one another in the foil tin.
Pour the remainder of the ginger sauce over.
Pour the custard over evenly.
Dot the top with butter here and there.
Sprinkle golden brown sugar over the top.
Preheat the air fryer to 160℃ for 5 minutes.
Put the tin in the basket and set it to cook at 160℃ for 15 minutes. Check, and if not quite cooked, put it in again for another 5 minutes. It’s self-saucing so doesn’t really need anything else, but you could serve it with vanilla ice cream if you like. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year (Lifestyle) Eastern Cape for 2022 and Galliova Food Champion 2021.
Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling ...

Food Porn for Dummies: Experts share their secrets

We ‘eat with our eyes’ doesn’t only mean a dish must look good, it means it must be photographed beautifully as well.
The term “food porn” has been around for ages, used to describe unrealistic and unattainable food images that are nonetheless gorgeous and we cannot get enough of them; at least no one gets hurt. Then there is the modern compulsion to take and post a pic of every meal you eat – at home or at a restaurant – and post it on social media.with varying levels of success.
This story is going to have one of two outcomes. Either you’re going to be filled with insecurity and self-doubt when it comes to your food pics and immediately cancel your Instagram account. Or, you will learn from it and set about creating better images. Me, I’m still on the fence.
On Instagram, depending on who you choose to follow, the standard is high. You can curate a newsfeed filled with gorgeousness – which is what I do – with the added bonus of recipes you can save compulsively. I’ve progressed from the old days of having only shelves filled with cookbooks to additionally an email folder full of newsletter recipes, bookmarked recipes in my browsers (laptop and phone), printouts, magazines and social media. What do I make? Yes, that’s right, the same dish I’ve known out my head for 20 years. Either that, or something spontaneously decided in the supermarket based on one ingredient I know I have at home. Like parsley.
On Facebook, it’s a different story. There we have our personal friends and sadly not all of them know how to take even halfway decent pics of their brunch. Also, it’s 2022 – surely you’ve learnt to rotate by now? Heck, there are some restaurants who need friendly advice.
I asked three amazing foodie photographers and they all said the same thing: light, preferably natural light. So the first thing you should do is disable the flash on your phone camera. Do it now. It sucks everything out of a picture and where it doesn’t, there will be harsh shadows. The other demon shadow to look out for is the one cast by your phone when there is overhead lighting. Like there is In. So. Many. Restaurants.
There’s much more to it though, especially when it’s being done professionally, and my own takeaway from this is to put way more thought into ...

Moon over Helsinki: The wild and earthy food of ‘Suomi’

Radio Suomi Pop playing softly in the black Mercedes taxi on the way to Helsinki-Vantaa airport has me reminiscing about a world of food captured in just four days in a city that stole a Karoo boy’s heart.
If Helsinki reminds you a little of Prague in the magnificence of its architecture, it soars above the Czech capital’s duck-and-dumplings cuisine. The proximity of wild berries with the meat of its reindeer, elk and moose, root vegetables with more earthy flavour than I have eaten anywhere, abundant mushrooms as the forested land’s gift to its people, and even the sprouts of the trees themselves, makes this a cuisine that the Finns have developed quietly and without fuss, just as in everything they do. There’s no hint of the pretentiousness too often attached to fine fare; they just use their ingredients well, with finesse but without taming them either, and they’re generous in their portions. This is, once you have understood the Finns, utterly expected. It is just how they are.
The first hint of this Nordic world of trees, water, deer and berries is the juice on board the Finnair flight from Heathrow to Helsinki-Vantaa as we fly over Denmark and Sweden. Blueberry juice. There is no more blissful berry juice in the world, surely. Once we have descended over a million spruces, birches and pines, I will encounter berries everywhere, from the lingonberry juice on tap at the hotel (you choose it from a touch screen and it pours into your glass at the adjacent tap) to the little jars of jam and every meat sauce in every restaurant.
Finns call their country Suomi in the way we call South Africa Mzansi. Their use of it reflects their sense of pride and purpose in being Finnish and living in their beloved Suomi, a world all their own and nothing quite like anywhere else.
The Finns are not quite Swedish or Norwegian but not Russian either; their accent when they speak English sounds, to me, somewhere between Swedish and Russian, with a hint of something almost like Dutch. Their English is flawless; they learn it as a compulsory language, as they do Swedish as well. Many Finns speak fluent German too.
They feel, especially now, their past association with Russia, now a volatile neighbour right at their shoulder; they’re proud of the welfare state they have forged with sweat and muscle over much of a century; ...

What’s cooking today: Chicken drumsticks

It’s the perfect road food, contains a scrumptious morsel of meat and even has its own built-in handle for convenient roadside eating.
These drumsticks are a tad sticky but if you pack wet wipes this won’t be a problem. You can slip sealed wet wipes into the cooler bag along with the padkos. This recipe pairs with this column.
12 chicken drumsticks
6 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup sherry vinegar
¼ cup sweet soy sauce
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of black pepper
Salt to taste
Mix together the garlic, sherry vinegar, sweet soy sauce, spices, pepper and oil. Douse the chicken drumsticks in this in a deep oven pan and marinate for three or more hours.
Preheat the oven to 220℃ or higher. Season the drumsticks with salt on both sides. Bake until cooked to the bone, tender and golden brown. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to travel. Pack in a tub in a cooler box with ice packs. Eat on the same day. Don’t forget to pack serviettes and/or wet wipes. Remember not to litter at the picnic spot. There are rubbish bins at every South African picnic spot. Yet there’s plenty of litter too. Odd, that. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop or, if sold out, directly from him. Buy it here.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.
SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.

Perfect padkos – pity about the mess

The roadside picnic spots along every road are a boon for anyone driving through South Africa. But they’d be that bit more perfect were they litter-free.
It feels odd to be writing about food for the open road while sitting at an international airport between flights, but that seems to be a food writer’s life in these tentative post-Covid days. But no matter how far I fly away from home, the sweet, cool drive over the hot and dusty plains is always something I yearn for.
When the plane took off from Gqeberha for Joburg, from my cramped window seat I could see the tiny trails snaking up and down mountain passes 30,000 feet below. My body was up here, but my heart was still down there.
Along every road in every part of the land, there are picnic spots where we stop to refresh, stretch our legs, have cold drinks, open the flask for a cup of coffee, and take out the cold nibbles we packed for the drive. Sitting at Oliver Tambo Airport is exciting, the flight ahead to London is an exhilarating thought, especially as it’s my first flight out of the country since the pandemic struck; but nothing in the world is good enough for me any more now that I have tasted, smelt and savoured the massive, endless plains of the Karoo. Since it became home.
There were so many long months of enduring the viral menace way down there that we wondered if we’d ever get our international travel back again, yet here it is. Like Londoners during and after World War II, we know we have to get out there again, and what we went through was barely a fraction of what they endured during the Blitz.
Travel is a salve, a balm. The quiet of the country road soothes us; new sights and smells in foreign parts stimulate the parts of the mind that were dulled by Covid. We hid from a virus and were made to remove ourselves from friends and even family. But being deprived of something makes it all the more precious, more worthwhile; we see and feel its value doubly, like never before. The hug that we were denied, the touch on the shoulder that we missed and longed for.
It’s all back again, for those of us blessed enough still to be here, and for the ones who have those we love with ...

To crown it all, will the King eat turtle soup?

Now that Charles is King and measuring up the curtains for his new role, what will the food be like? We all know that the queen liked plain food, no garlic.
Eating at the palace, said a frequent visitor, “is not much different from supper in an NHS ICU ward”. And added, “And there are fake logs in the fireplace.”
The thing about King Charles is that he really understands nutrition and is in the happy position of getting wonderful things like wild boar, fresh laid organic eggs, oysters, whole wheels of Stilton, and boxes of Charbonnel et Walker chocolates, although it is rumoured that he dislikes chocolate. Plus meat and milk and cheese that is not chemically enhanced. This is partly the reason why, at 75, he is still as spry as a sparrow. Pity about that male balding gene that shadows all the men in the royal line.
When I lived in Notting Hill Gate, I used to buy meat from a butcher in Ladbroke Grove where the meat came from Charles’ private house, Highgrove; it was creamy as butter with a delicious slightly untamed under taste.
He also opened a company called Duchy Original. I could live on Duchy oat biscuits, which cost more money than a new air conditioning unit.
But, as King, will Charles even be allowed to bring home what his father once called “bloody organics” (Charles had a habit of arriving at Buckingham Palace with his own hamper of organic food)? Or will he have to go the Turtle Soup, Grilled Sole route?
When I first heard about Turtle Soup I tingled with excitement, imagining varnished scales, dark under-ocean tastes, wild unearthly flavours. Did they boil a whole turtle? It turned out to taste like bath water and was the colour of kimchi.
We all know that King Charles is a bit of an orthorexic, ripping into the Balmoral forests to look for wild mushrooms for a risotto, hunting down hare and rabbits; only eating his own farmyard chicks and a couple of residential deer. Sadly now there is a cost of living crises in Britain; the royal family who believe they are poor will probably turn to an old favourite, Marmite, to my mind another fairly revolting spread, but adored by British uppers.
However, the culinary life of most toffs revolves around boiled eggs which is one way of really rattling the staff. A soft boiled egg can be too ...

The rice dish at the end of life

Funeral rice, better known in South Africa as begrafnisrys, is part of a rich South African tradition.
The grim procession snakes from the farmhouse across the werf towards the low white wall that surrounds the little fenced cemetery. The dominee’s right arm is heavy under the weight of the heavy family Bible, rendering him lopsided, as though he has a limp. An old man near the back of the procession leans on his walking stick, head bowed, brow morose; the son should not die before the father. Two children, a boy and a girl, slightly younger, skip and giggle with the insouciance of the innocent; a mother and aunt chastise them, bringing them to heel. A dog wanders the yard oblivious.
When the day and the climbing sun have taken their toll of sweat and tears, the troupe is less ordered as they traipse back to the house, the wailing done, regrets pocketed, resolve firm. These people are stoics, as were their forebears. They know that the putting to the ground of the loved one is also the laying to rest of the hope that they might see him just one more time. Even as they turned away from the grave, they were turning their backs on the life all had had with that person, and facing the rest of their lives without him. This is the way of life and death.
But first, after the sombre ritual, there must be the joy, inasmuch as any can be found in it, the trenchant telling of tales about the life of the departed, and the feasting.
The feasting. At the old Cape, whether in the town or a dorp deep in the country, a funeral could be a lavish affair, not dissimilar to a modern day after-tears gathering.
Renata Coetzee, in her The South African Culinary Tradition, wrote that an old Cape funeral was “a major social occasion”, so much so that laws had to be promulgated to make the proceedings less extravagant.
There was even an element of what today might be termed rent-a-crowd. When a funeral was held after dark, lantern bearers were hired to light the way for the cortège. Weepers, called huilebalke, were paid to sob and wail, while others called trop sluiters or procession joiners were hired to bring up the rear, to create an impression of greater numbers.
After the funeral, “everyone who had been to the cemetery, including the hired participants ...

What’s cooking today: Begrafnisrys

The meal after a funeral would include begrafnisrys, the jewelled yellow funeral rice that still bears the name today, although in our times this dish is commonplace and not only brought out for a funeral or after-tears party.
Michael Olivier wrote that begrafnisrys was traditionally served in Cape Malay homes at large family gatherings such as funerals, cooked either as “droeërys” (dry rice) or “paprys” (wet rice) and that while saffron was used in earlier times, “turmeric is the current favourite spice used for colouring the rice”. The raisins, he added, were optional.
I chose to use a cinnamon stick with ground cumin (a winning aromatic for rice) and a few cloves in a nod to the old Cape spice tradition.
1 cup basmati rice
3 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp seedless raisins
2 Tbsp butter
I cook rice like this: Rinse in a saucepan and pour the water off, four times. Measure 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Add the cinnamon stick and cloves and stir in the salt, turmeric and cumin, then add the raisins. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then turn off the heat, cover with foil and put a lid on tightly. Leave it to steam for half an hour until cooked. If, when you check the rice, there is still any liquid at the bottom of the pot, cover, put the heat on for half a minute, turn off and leave it to finish steaming through. Add the butter and fluff it with a fork. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.
SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.

Stoep sitting after the rain

A stoep. A chair. A glass in your hand. The view of the koppies and infinity beyond. For Karoo people, this is living.
In the Karoo, when the weather is fine and you’re feeling really placid, you find a stoep, sit down, and count your blessings. Luckily, the weather is nearly always fine in the Karoo and we feel really placid most of the time, so when you come to visit us in the Karoo there’s a very good chance you will find us on our stoeps.
Stoep sitting is not a rigorous sport. You do need to bend your elbow frequently, when raising glass to lip, but most of us are happy to endure this discomfort as a small price to pay for the benefits to mind and body of this singular pastime.
The activity is not for everyone. Those for whom the thrill of leaping out of planes or abseiling down treacherously high mountains gives them the adrenaline rush that ignites their minds should steer clear of this relatively tame alternative. We get our rush when, once the curtain has fallen on the day and the nightly bioscope projector has been switched on by Zeus in his universal wisdom, we look up and our eyes are taken yet again by the splendour of infinity. We catch our collective breath, as though we have never before seen these wonders that shine above us despite our worthlessness in the greater scheme of things. We are reminded, once again, of how infinitesimal we are, and how infinite, how unfathomably vast, is everything that is not ourselves.
Sit on the stoep after the rain, and there’s an even more magical aura about everything. The scents of the dry earth unleashing its bouquet of leaf, blossom and soil as the rain releases it from its scorched aridity is to be savoured like the finest wine. “After the rain” has so much meaning, and is such a compellingly beautiful phrase in Afrikaans, that a singer even named himself after it: Joshua na die Reën.
So we gather on our stoeps, with our friends or neighbours popping in to kuier, and we tell stories of the land and the sky, of the trees and the creatures that scurry among the karoobossies. I share my stories of my cooking adventures, of the jam I made with the figs that a friend gave me or how I learnt to cook a Wagyu ...

What’s cooking today: Potato & salami breakfast skillet

Take a break from bacon as a breakfast essential and use salami instead, in this one-pot (well, one-skillet) meal cooked on the stove top.
This was one of my “necessity” meals, the kind of recipe that transpires when I have something left over, stare them down for a few minutes, then come up with an idea for what to do with them.
The leftovers were potatoes, so they had already been cooked (steamed, actually). I left them to cool overnight and then made a one-(skillet) breakfast with them also involving salami (which I also had a few leftover slices of), cheese and, of course, eggs.
(Serves 4)
3 medium potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Tbsp butter for the onion
4 Tbsp butter for the potatoes
8 XL eggs
100g salami, sliced and diced
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste
Parboil the potatoes whole or halved until almost tender; about 15 minutes. Let them cool, then dice them into small pieces.
In a skillet, fry the onions until soft and pale golden. Remove to a side dish.
Add more butter and sauté the diced potatoes until golden on all sides, salting them lightly while they cook and adding a grinding or two of black pepper.
Beat the eggs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir the cooked onions in.
Scatter the chopped salami over the potatoes in the skillet. Grate the cheese and scatter it all over the top.
Pour the eggs over and move the skillet about so the egg settles evenly.
Cover the skillet with foil and cook on a low heat on the hob until the eggs are cooked through to the top and the cheese has melted. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.
SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.

Black nights, white lights in the City of Golden food

Three nights in Johannesburg, in the shadow of a giant black diamond in uber-cool Rosebank, has you questioning whether the country’s food capital is anywhere near where Capetonians have long presumed it to be. It’s not necessarily at the coast.
The City of Gold shines diamond-black. The gleaming omnipresence of the AngloAmerican De Beers Group headquarters, an architectural masterpiece that looks like a giant ship made of cut-glass black diamonds, ironically at berth in supercharged Rosebank, oversees a sea change in Jozi’s food life.
Her passengers seem to have been spewed out into the streets below, dispersing into cafés, restaurants and bars to eat, drink, laugh and shuck off life’s stresses in tall tales of trial and triumph, washed down with world-wise humour and stoicism. This is a hard city; it parties at the edge over which any may plunge in a flash of bad judgement.
Somewhere in the middle of it all I’ve found Proud Mary, a swish bar-eatery that reminds me of a Soho brasserie. At dusk here the people spill out of offices and into bars and restaurants the way they do in London before getting the Tube home. I remark on this to my friend and colleague Jillian Green, who has come to meet me for a drink and catch-up before getting back to the Daily Maverick grind. She adds context for me, and context is everything. Sandton is the high end, the gilt heel, the fat wallet; Rosebank is more real, less flashy. And it’s where a restaurant revolution has been happening since lockdown locked down so many restaurants, forever.
I had stayed here in 2018, before all that happened. The precinct is barely recognisable now. Where there were a handful of familiar franchises, Bright Young Things and their cosmopolitan elders now flit in and out of a slew of new eateries on every street and block. Finding them all, in a well planned brief visit, turned out to be a comedy of errors. I Ubered from place to place, day after night, only to find that each was only a short walk from the other. The restaurant I went to on my last night was barely 50 metres from the Indian place where I’d met an old friend on my first night.
This is a business visit to meet my colleague Ferial Haffajee to talk all things TGIFood and bringing you more of what you like on our food ...

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