Walking with elephants

img_5446Memory come through in short snippets in my brain. Flashes of memory. Good ones. Maybe the brain battles with all the fog between my years. Sometimes it feels like walking through deep water. What actually comes through crystal and clear is the memory of walking with elephants on my birthday. So very, very special and an instant feeling of pure love for those amazing big animals. It is something I will never forget as long as I breathe.img_2020

The allow you to be near them (like some humans), and then they don’t (like some humans…) but they are quite playful and inquisitive. Those skins are soft, very surprisingly,  not at all how I imagined it. img_5447img_5395

The way they stand has meaning, which I never knew. This pose means they are content, hind legs crossed. img_5411

Absolutely amazing giant.

They are loved and so well taken care of at the Knysna Elephant Park .

Random photo’s:

Chinese New Year Singaporeimg_6278

RIP Gerrie

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Korean Street Food

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Incheon: Seoul

I visit South Korea always in winter, never in the hellish summer heat and humidity, which I avoid at all cost. This year I went in March (late winter) instead of January (deep winter) and I could deal with that type of cold much better. Our South African winter this year is colder than normal, or so it feels to me at least and today I miss the Korean street food which is fascinating and delicious. My favourite place in Ulsan is stricly speaking not on the street but rather a “hole in the wall”‘type of place with limited seating, so eating standing around huddled together in the cold is just the thing! The tempura fried vegetables are served with a rice vinegar dipping sauce.

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Vegetable tempura and glass noodle roll.

Tempura Vegetables

Tempura Vegetables

In Seoul the street vendors are lined up one after the other and walking around, tasting and eating from one vendor to the next with a spot of shopping inbetween is a nightly pass time, which I embraced whole heartedly if my bank balance was anything to go by…

Vibrant candy floss!

Vibrant candy floss!

Strawberries dipped in chocolate

Strawberries dipped in chocolate

Street food Seoul

Street food Seoul

I absolutely LOVE the traditional Bibimbab which is not street food but my favourite sit-down Korean meal. There are always a million and ten side dishes of all sorts of soups, pickles and kimchi of course. The main dish is served in a piping hot bowl and consists mainly of rice, root like “things” and vegetables, meat is optional. The raw egg comes on top and you then fry your own dish in the piping hot bowl with a mild chilly sauce. Oh the joy!

Vegetarian Bibimbab

Vegetarian Bibimbab

Pickles&Kimchi

Pickles&Kimchi

Street Scenes and goodbyes:

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Seoul at night: photo Tara

Why do I always have to leave her behind…..

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My Tara walking away

Random Photo:

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Oops! Handbag shopping in Seoul. Just could not resist

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Street Art Down Town Ulsan

 

Santorini, so ridiculously beautiful

White, blue and nature all around,  heart stoppingly beautiful, another window to the soul.


 Asian brides arriving with their wedding dresses on holiday to take wedding photo’s, even though the wedding did not take place there.

 In full dress regalia running in their flip flops/All Stars, wedding dress lifted to the knees over the cobble stones to the next perfect picture.


Then agian, almost impossible to take a bad photo any place in Santorini.

 

Random Photo:

Or not so random, when in Greece and all that…

Baklava of course!

All in a day

Sometimes it is better not to plan. Just go on a whim by the seat of your pants. This weekend was one of those.

Room with a view-Simon's Town

Room with a view-Simon’s Town

We went for a one night stay in the sleepy Naval village of Simon’s Town about 40 km from Cape Town. Browsing, shopping a bit, eating a lot and sleeping well.

Simon's Town

Simon’s Town

The next morning the full intention was to go straight home but a detour here and there and playing tourists in our own area, we ended up at Cape Point. To most it feels like the most southern tip of Africa but is is not, it is however open water from there right to Antarctica. Ahoy sailer!

Cape Point and then Antarctica!

Cape Point and then Antarctica!

A very nice weekend always has to end with a special lunch of sorts……

White and dark chocolate desert. Hotel Hohenhort Constantia

White and dark chocolate desert. Hotel Hohenhort Constantia

Random Photo: #ilovecapetown

This is how far we are

This is how far we are

Eisbein and Rhubarb Epic

I grew up in a home where nothing was boiled and never did meat touch water in the cooking process, ever. I bought lovely smoked Eisbein and all the recipes I found wanted me to boil the meat first for a few hours before roasting it. No, not in this here house. This particular cut of the pork shank is of German origin and can be fresh but is usually pickled or smoked.

Roast Eisbein and baked apples

Roast Eisbein and baked apples

The name however is Nordic in origin and means “pork knuckle” . In Swedish it is Islaeggor and in Norwegian it is called Islegg. Directly translated into my Afrikaans home language therefor: Ysbeen! The interesting part is that it has nothing to do with the “Ysbeen” in our bodies, but the name stuck because they used to make ice skates of the knuckle bone in the Nordic countries. There you have it!

So upwards and onwards and hell bent on not boiling anything and definitely not my smoked Eisbeins, I googled and found the passionate blog of The Rider who also did not boil his meat but instead did a barbeque and smoked it in a Webber. We corresponded and food friends made, I told him smoking and Webbers are out of the question as it is not going to go down well in an apartment block where no such shenanigans will be allowed. The poor man was having a gall stone attack at the other end of the country after his indulgences with the exact same Eisbein culprit went too far for his doctor’s liking (oh what we would do for good food…). I hope he is alive and well and firing up the Webber again as we speak.

Investigations done, I  found a recipe for pork fillet by Jamie Oliver which he combined with rhubarb of all things and I had rhubarb in my fridge!

Preparation: I formed a bed of onion, garlic and rhubarb. No water no oil no nothing, the meat has enough fat and juices.

Tucked in on a bed of rhubarb

Tucked in on a bed of rhubarb

Oven: The Eisbeins went into the oven, covered with foil. Bake it at low heat (140 C) for 3.5 hours. I added carrots towards the end. Roast : remove foil and roast for another hour or however long you want on n higher heat or if you do not have another hour, grill it at high heat until you have hard crackling. Be around and look often if on a high heat so you do not overdo the roasting and burn the crackling part.

Eisbein & roast veg

Eisbein & roast veg

In other words, take your merry time on a Sunday or whenever because it is so worth it. No need to boil anything and the meat was soft and juicy. The rhubarb with smoked pork is an absolute winner, it has the same tartness as the baked apple. Next time I will put in the rhubarb much later as mine disintegrated into a sauce ( nice) but lost its pink colour and I am all about colour as we know.

imageI served it with baked apple slices and pickled radishes instead of the normal sauerkraut.

Baked Apples: Place sliced and cored apple on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and butter and bake till you have a soft apple.

Random Photos:

I miss Europe. Do I feel a trip comming on…..?

Mont Martre, Paris

Montmartre, Paris

Walk- about

Walk- about

Floating Islands in the Mist?

Aside

In the mist-Cape Town

In the mist-Cape Town

On a scale of weirdness these past two months were just that, weird. I did not travel(by plane) for two months. First time in eight years. I am a commuter and work in two cities. One where my whole heart lies and where I live and the other where I need to be to do what I do. My body and mind is so used to leaving on a jet plane that at first I was at a loss as to why I felt between two worlds, as if I needed to be somewhere where I am not. The broken up weeks of the past two months with public holidays, Easter Weekend and Workers Day added to the stop-start, stop-start of normal routines. A bit like floating around in the mist really. At least I spent quality time with good people and great mini road trips in between. Just as sudden as this small hiatus started, it stopped and I am on my way again. More sudden is winter that descended with a vengeance and is now here to stay. Good soups, curries and pot pies come to mind!

Walking, walking, walking in Paris a year ago.

Walking, walking, walking in Paris a year ago.

It is now a year since I visited my friend OddlylivinginParis and I miss the walking,walking and talking, talking with her (not to mention the eating-eating…) and sitting in front of her picture perfect Parisian window putting the world to rights! Her written piece on “hands” make me weak in the knees, so beautiful.

Odette's view

Odette’s view

The floating island dessert I made and blogged on my return needs a re-mention to celebrate remembrance.

Oeufs a la Neige/Floating Islands

Oeufs a la Neige/Floating Islands

It is to remember and celebrate mothers passed, mothers around me, sisters near and far and children of my heart. One so far and one so near. Happy Mothers Day.

Thank you Boxofrecipes and lapetitartichaut with their lovely blogs for the rewards, much appreciated. This dessert is also for you!

Random Photo:

Very quirky upside down, inside out display in Paris. I like!

Upside down, inside out!

Upside down, inside out!

Paternoster

A holiday needs to end, I suppose. Back to the grrrrrind for me tomorrow and no better way to end the holiday than with a short road trip up the West Coast of the Western Cape. My friend Karin and I decided to leave the husbands behind (someone needs to work!) and went on the 400 km round trip with lots of laughing and eating (shopping…) along the way.The first stop was a farm stall for some sustenance and parrot watching. Amazing what one can find on these road trips.

Farm Stall, Yzerfontein

Farm Stall, Yzerfontein

Over night in the coastal town of Paternoster consisted of eating fresh fish, browsing, snoozing on soft beds and a walk on the beach followed by more seafood! I went totally overboard with all the battered and deep fried everything, hake, prawns and calamari, end of holiday binge. Tomorrow we shall concentrate again.

Paternoster, fish on the beach

Paternoster, fish on the beach

Paternoster means “Our Father” as a prayer by and for the many a sailor meeting their end on the ships passing and hitting the Cape of Storms, for which our seas are very much known.

Voorstrand Restaurant, Paternoster

Voorstrand Restaurant, Paternoster

From there we went inland to the Riebeeck Valley Wine Region and tasted olives in every shape and form.

Tasting room, Kloovenburg Riebeeck Valley

Tasting room, Kloovenburg Riebeeck Valley

When the car boot was full of wine and olive products we returned to glorious Cape Town. Home sweet home!

Kloovenburg Wine and Olive Estate, Riebeeck Valley

Kloovenburg Wine and Olive Estate, Riebeeck Valley

At least my head is clear for the year ahead, will work on the body soonest, promise.

The big fat ZERO

I turned the very ugly zero in October and still do not know if it is the big number preceding  the zero in the birthday digit that is so offensive or if it is the big fat ZERO itself. Flippet just don’t know.
However, I took my few weeks of introspection, silent tantrum throwing and general panic about the state of my age and I got over it (just) and enjoyed one hell of a birthday month! Yes month, not day, because it was spread out and celebrated.Overworked, we decided to go away for the birthday week and then to celebrate with family and friends on our return.

Road trip! With a lot of ” visits” to farm stalls along the way where they force feed people fresh scones and cream.

And what a lovely week it was in Plettenberg Bay, Eastern Cape at the Beacon Isle Hotel with a LOT OF activity every day as is evident here……..

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On THE BIRTHDAY morning my sweet husband arranged a great breakfast in bed and lunch at Bramon Wine Estate followed by a lot of doing nothing.

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All and all the perfect day.

Two weeks later my friend Fiona and I went to Stellenbosch for a one night stay over in Baruch Guesthouse to celebrate our birthday month. She had her birthday before mine and she treated me to a spectacular lunch at Babylonstoren, Franschhoek where I had their Red Salad (so befitting for my OCD that they have colour coded food!)

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Also uhmmm………a LOT of activity on this breakaway!

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This two part celebration was followed by the mother of all high teas at home with my dear and near. More later.

Random photo:Taken on the day of my High Tea held at home two weeks after my birthday.

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Cape Town sunset kitch at it’s best but oh so beautiful my town.

Kitch! Those were the days….

We spent a weekend in the whale coast town of Hermanus, Western Cape and we sort of happened upon the delightful Kitch Cafe in one of the many side streets and nooks and crannies this town seems to have. image Oh what I would give to have this vinyl kitchen cupboard! Elvis of course had to feature somewhere. image The Cafe is proudly kitch and beautiful with a good selection of Vladimir Tretchikoff prints hanging all over and so reminded me of a lot of South African homes of my youth. Read more about Tretchi at http://www.vladimirtretchikoff.comimage My mother used to have a copy of the swan painting, beatifully  and ornately framed and I really wish I knew what happened to it. The crying boy featured in a lot of homes in the 70’s! image For me the spanish  “dance doll” has to take the cake! I have not seen this for many years and remember an aunt that had them in the brightest of orange and bright red, proudly displaying them between other kitch items in her “formal” lounge, imagine….. image We only had coffee but the food we saw looked great and the service was excellent. Old Afrikaans LP covers used as place mats, nice touch!  I will for sure go back for a lunch and to reminisce more about the past. Ahhh, those were the days! image Visit Kitch Cafe in person where kitch is really cool or on their facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Kitch Cafe Hermanus-“Whale Capital of South Africa”

Floating Island (Oeufs A La Neige)

In this case a dessert, not a real ocean island. I had this dessert one night in Paris( sounds so nice just to say it, this Paris thing!) at the Le Montparnasse 1900 Restaurant. Art Noveau everything in all it’s glory. Big names and painters were hanging out there at the turn of the century and today it is a monument to that era.  Dinner was fantastic(thank you Dirk and Odette!) to say the least but the brain-stopping moment came with dessert. It was just so damn good and one of those ones where every morsel just tasted perfect. Don’t know if it was the place or the good company or just the dish or all of the above, it just worked for me and of course I had to make it and had the same experience again! Clearly my kind of food.

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A floating island is a French dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise (a vanilla custard).There is some confusion about the name. In French cuisine, the terms œufs à la neige (“eggs in snow”) and île flottante (floating island) are sometimes used interchangeably; the latter is the source of the English name. The difference between the two dishes is that île flottante sometimes contains islands made of “alternate layers of alcohol-soaked dessert biscuits and jam but generally speaking the dessert is just called floating island.

Herewith the recipe for my little islands of wonder as I found it on Allrecipes.com and it tastes perfect, just like in Paris!

3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Toasted almond flakes to spinkle just before serving
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 Separate two of the eggs. In top of double boiler, combine 1 whole egg and 2 yolks with 1/4 cup sugar and the salt, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook over simmering water, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon. When the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat. (Do not boil. If custard should start to curdle, remove from heat and beat vigorously until smooth.) Pour the custard through a strainer into a bowl and stir in the vanilla extract. Cool and refrigerate.(i did not strain the custard and it was perfect).
In a heat-proof bowl, lightly whisk the 2 egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, just enough to dissolve the sugar. Place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water and stir constantly until the temperature of the whites reaches 145 degrees F (63 C) or hotter. (I did not have a thermometer and it just tested the heat on my hand, luke warm is the right moment to take the next step).
Immediately remove the bowl from the heat, and use an electric mixer to beat the warm egg whites until they form stiff, glossy peaks.
Pour the chilled custard into a serving dish. Drop the meringue by heaping tablespoons onto the custard to make islands. Chill before serving.
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Sprinkle with toasted almon flakes before serving. It is so easy and can be made the night before a dinner party to save time on the day.
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I found these translations on the interwebs
Afrikaans: drywende eilande/ sneeu eiers
French : île flottante, œufs à la neige
German : Schnee-Eier (“snow eggs”)
Polish : zupa nic
Austrian : Kanarimilch
Hungarian : madártej (“bird’s milk”)
Croatian : schneenockerln, šnenokle
Romanian : lapte de pasăre (“bird’s milk”)
Italian : uova alla neve, uova di neve
Spanish : isla flotante
Portuguese: forofa