Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Cape Town International Airport
Airports are funny places - almost like another world - maybe a kind of middle world in which one spends suspended time. Bubbly hubs where in the space of a few hours (which is my case on this trip down to Africa) you mix with travelers from all over the world. And then you realise once again that we all have the same needs.
To get to our loved ones, to get to a meeting, to see that place that you've saved for all your life, to....
We then get suspended in this world where all run around furiously to get to their gates, with a quick pit-stop at the duty free for the shopaholics, where they stock up on the latest label (probably more expensive than elsewhere)

And then one starts wondering about the 'inborn' waderlust of some of us. 

I have learned to travel on 9 hectares the last couple of years. Before would be off at the drop of a hat.
I have come to realise that  the yonder is in front of your eyes. The beauty of life is in the 'birds' tapping on the window every morning, the deer eating my roses, the incredible sunsets from our courtyard, seeing spring blossoming in front of my eyes, Lilli our silly cat seducing each and every one before tripsing off into the forest
Obviously this has not totally quench my thirst for jumping on the first plane to some unknown destination and whilst planning that, already think of other destinations, but it is not a huge gnawing craving bug in my belly anymore - only a little 'envie'.
And maybe this is just part of the amazing discovery of oneself.

The above I wrote sitting at Franfurt airport in March.

And now it is July already and our summer season is rolling ahead at lightening speed and having reread the above, I must confess that I do feel like packing that bag again!! Especially when I look at the photos of my trips!
View of my childhood beach

I must also confess that I have not been very good at doing this blog thing - will try and let you have some interesting 'titbits' soon and at the same time give you a quick and easy Coconut Flan recipe!

Here Goes - EASY Coconut Flan
3 eggs
1 tin of sweet condensed milk
1/2 litre of milk
125 g coconut

Butter a cake dish (or small individual moulds if you want to 'fancify' this dish)
Mix all the ingredients and pour into moulds or dish
Bake 50 to 60 minutes in a 'bain-marie' in a 200° oven!

Easy as pie!

Sorry about being absent - promise to be back!!

And I missed sharing with you!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Kuier* at Couffour

I did this for the wonderful South Africain Foodblog - SHOWCOOK 

and just had to share it with you too

It was our 15th wedding anniversary last June! With Olivier we decided to be 'green' travellers and not to up our Carbon footprints by going off to some exotic destination. So instead we did a delicious road trip into the deep heart of the beautiful region of Auvergne that has been our home for the past 10 years.
The Cantal, one of the four regions that the Auvergne is compiled of, is a rugged region (even in summer) but oh so incredible! It is home to many of the cheeses that made Auvergne famous, as well as the loveliest brown Saler cows with their pointy horns!
It is a region where one eats well even in the tiniest of towns. And so we stumbled upon an amazing Auberge (actually thanks to the fantastic Fooding guide – for any of you planning a trip to France well worth consulting them online or buy it first thing on arrival – it even has writeups in English! Saint-Etienne-de-Chomeil is not a village you arrive upon via normal tracks. But certainly worth the detour as Jean-François Pécoul not only cooks the most delicious organic meals at his café, aka restaurant, aka epicérie 'Les Glycines' , he is also an organic farmer farming with Salers and his Salers steak the best I've ever eaten! Not to mention the 'to die for doll' Aligot!
But the best of the Cantal to me is the recently opened Hotel Restaurant of Serge Vieira just outside another spa village most foreigners have not heard about, Chaudes-Aigues. 
(Reputed to have a hot spring with water so hot as to boil an egg!)
Serge, in his 30's, obtained the Bocuse d'or in 2005 and his CV is rather impressive – he worked with numerous chefs – amongst other he was 2nd to Regis Marcon, 3 star Michelin Chef also IN THE AUVERGNE!! He travelled and worked in other countries, in particular Australia, and the influence can be seen and tasted in his food. His lovely wife, Marie-Aude who also worked at various Michelin Star restaurants, is the perfect hostess. (We first met her 'Chez Michel Bras' in 2007). But the incredible feat was that, not even 7 months after opening Couffour, he got his first Michelin Star! And after having dined there, we know why!
Upon our arrival, we walked through a swaying meadow between two medieval buildings (future bedrooms), and then we arrived in a modern futuristic world with his logo used as metal decoration everywhere. All is harmony, from the colours, choice of furniture through to the very pleasant and quiet service. Marie-Aude made us feel immediately at ease.
For the moment they only have 3 bedrooms, and our bedroom was the 'Silène' bedroom named after a common European wildflower ( and used as inspiration for the decoration. Each room has a view of the beautiful Chaudes-Aiges Valley.
A long corridor leads from the rooms to the open space that has been very cleverly divided with a breakfast:lounge area just before the restaurant itself. All with 180° views on the surrounding landscape . The exterieur becomes part of the interior.
The 'apéritif was served in the lounge – Olivier had a local Cantal Beer and I had the 'house' mixture.
I could not wait to go through to the spacious dinning room for this show to start! We chose the 4 course menu. The amuses bouches was not just beautiful to look at, but delicious and tasty.
1) The first starter, a Crab ball floating on an asparagus gelée , topped with a frothy verbena/seashell mousse ,just encouraged you to have MORE! Tasty and futuristic
2) The second starter was inspired by the great barrier reef - various shellfish under a thin transparent lemon/water veil! Another artwork!
3) The cod was 'confit' and served with cabbage, cauliflower, organic almonds and almond oil.
  1. The rosé pigeon was roasted to perfection with spices and served on blond peas from the Planeze, a region in the Auvergne where they grow different pulses, amongst other blond lentils.
The cheese trolley had such a variety of local ripened cheese that the choice was rather difficult.
And to top it all, the delicate attention to our anniversary on the dessert plate which were accompanied by a delicious 'Pink Champagne'.
We opted for a glass of wine with every course and the wine steward advised very interesting, mostly organic, wines from lesser known regions
I did on purpose not go into detailed decriptions of all the plates as it was just too special with the tiniest detail everywhere to put words to it – one has to experience it first hand!
Couffour with Marie-Aude's delicate attention and Serge's incredible food - a place to return to at the earliest occasion!!

* - Kuier -South Africanism for visit
Here's to sharing lots more!

Monday, January 31, 2011

'Someday is Now'

Since I've read Kate's blog last week

I have not been able to stop pondering about these 3 words : 
Someday is Now!

In 2010 some of my friends had major health problems. Most totally unexpectedly and I just realised once again that life's far too short for nonsense.

So on this last day of January 2011 all I want to share with you is the realisation that time is of an essence and we only have here and now. 
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a dream, LIVE FOR TODAY!!
 Take the time!!

I shall also try and be more present with fun recipes in the next few months - I said 'try'!!

Thanks for your encouragement and your friendship!

Life's about sharing

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snowy Tales

We've been under snow for 4 days now and I must say, I love this incredibly quiet white world that rubs out all flaws - especially all the work that must still be done !!!! 

And on the other hand this is just far too early to have such incredibly cold spells! -11 yesterday morning! 

For a girl born in sunny South Africa, this does get a bit hard to handle especially if it carries on for some time!
But what this also gave us was a WHITE CHRISTMAS!

I am not going to blabber on and on about recipes and food and and and today.

I think we should all just take some time to say thank you for being so priviledged to have great food, warm homes even in the snow, wonderful friends wishing us great things for the future year ahead, loving families and the list can carry on! All the wonderful things we share every day.
And take time to think of those without anything.

And I shall end with this quote that my friend Jana posted on her Facebook Page:
"What is Christmas? It is a tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace." - Agnes M Pharo.
Here's to sharing stacks with you in 2011

Life is about sharing

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Off to Senegal

No no, am not off to Senegal in reality, it's just that I woke up this morning, with everything around me covered in frost, and somehow the magic of one's mind takes you along long forgotten paths.

Maybe it is the cold, crispy air that made me think of the most unforgettable meal I've had 'CHEZ AIDA', a tiny little café in the heart of the 'Goutte d'Or' area of Paris. Certainly not an area frequented by the chic Parisiennes as this it right up north in the city and known as 'Little Africa'. I went there on a similar cold crisp day with an old friend and had the most amazing Thiéboudienne!
Just the name allready evoke a trip to an exotic place and sometimes one does not need to be there in person, just preparing foreign-exotic dishes is travelling to different destinations!

Now, I know not many of you have heard of this dish, so I went on a big web hunt and found some recipes and info! And here goes: gave such lovely explanations so I took the liberty to copy it here for you!

Thiéboudienne is one of the most popular dishes in Senegal, especially along the coast. A Wolof term meaning "rice and fish," ceebu jen is a tomatoey mix of fish, rice and cooked vegetables that shows a strong resemblance to Spanish paella and Creole jambalaya. A wide variety of vegetables and fish can be used, making ceebu jen an extremely versatile dish. Also spelled tiéboudienne, thiep bou dien, Ceebu jencep bu jën. (cheh-boo jen)

4 to 6 servings
  • Whole fish (or fillets, see variations), cleaned -- about 2 pounds
  • Parsley, finely chopped -- 1/4 cup
  • Hot chile peppers, finely chopped -- 2 or 3
  • Garlic, minced -- 2 or 3 cloves
  • Salt and pepper -- to season
  • Peanut, dendê or vegetable oil -- 1/4 cup
  • Onions, chopped -- 2
  • Tomato paste -- 1/4 cup
  • Stock or water -- 5 cups
  • Carrots, cut into rounds - 3
  • Cabbage, cut into wedges -- 1/2 head
  • Pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and cubed -- 1/2 pound
  • Eggplant, cubed -- 1
  • Rice -- 2 cups
  • Salt and pepper -- to season
  • Lemons, cut into wedges -- 3


  1. Rinse the fish inside and out with cool water and pat dry. Cut three diagonal slashes about 1/2 inch deep in each side of the fish. Mix the chopped parsley, chile peppers, garlic, salt and pepper and stuff the mixture (called roff) into the slashes on the fish.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, deep pot over medium-high flame. Brown the fish on both sides in the hot oil and remove to a plate.
  3. Add the chopped onions to the hot oil and saute until cooked through and just beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and about 1/4 cup of water and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the stock or water, carrots, cabbage, pumpkin and eggplant and simmer over medium heat for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and tender. Add the browned fish and simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Remove the fish and vegetables and about 1 cup of the broth to a platter, cover and set in a warm oven.
  5. Strain the remaining broth, discarding the solids. Add enough water to the broth to make 4 cups and return to heat. Bring the broth to a boil, stir in the rice and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and tender.
  6. Spread the cooked rice in a large serving platter, including any crispy bits (the xooñ) sticking to the bottom of the pan. Spread the vegetables over the center of the rice and top with the fish. Finally, pour the reserved broth over all. Serve with lemon wedges. Ceebu jen is traditionally eaten with the hands from a common serving dish.


  • Fish: You can use whole fish or fish fillets. Any firm white-fleshed fish works well. If using fillets, try marinating the fillets in the parsley mixture (roff) instead of using it as a stuffing, then add the roff to the sauteing onions. Most Senegalese also add small amounts of smoked, dried fish (guedge) and fermented snails (yete) to ceebu jen. They add an incomparable, smoky flavor.
  • Vegetables: Use any vegetables you have on hand. Try yams, cassava, potatoes, green beans, zucchini, okra or bell peppers. You can use any hot chile pepper for heat, but Scotch bonnet peppers come closest to those used in Senegal.
  • Ceebu Yapp (Beef with rice and vegetables): Marinate 2 pounds of stewing beef in the roff mixture for at least 1 hour. Brown the meat in the hot oil and set aside. Brown the onions and roff in the oil, then stir in the tomato paste as indicated. Add the stock or water and return the beef to the pot, but don't put in the vegetables yet. Simmer the beef for 1 to 1/2 hours. Then add the vegetables and 8 to 10 shelled hard-boiled eggs and simmer for 45 minutes. Continue with the recipe as indicated.
  • The fish, vegetables and rice can also be served separately in the Western style.

The cuisine of Senegal has been influenced by nations like France, Portugal, and those of North Africa, and also by many ethnic groups, the largest being the Wolof; Islam, which first penetrated the region in the 11th century; and various European cultures, especially the French, who held the country as a colony until 1960. Immigrants have brought Senegalese restaurants to many world cities, where its popularity has been growing.
Because Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean, fish is an important staple. Chicken, lamb, pea, eggs, and beef are also used in Senegalese cooking, but not pork, due to the nation’s largely Muslim population. Peanuts, the primary crop, as well as couscous, white rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, black-eyed peas and various vegetables, are also incorporated into many recipes. Meats and vegetables are typically stewed or marinated in herbs and spices, and then poured over rice or couscous or simply eaten with bread.
Popular fresh juices are made from bissap, ginger, Buy (pronounced bouy) which is the fruit of the baobabmango, or other fruit or wild trees. Desserts are very rich and sweet, combining native ingredients with the extravagance and style characteristic of the French impact on Senegal’s culinary methods. They are often served with fresh fruit and are traditionally followed by coffee or tea. tree also known as "monkey bread fruit", 

So happy travelling to you today !

Life's about sharing and I love sharing with you


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dashing to the Dordogne (Feasting with the 'Marquis')

After a mad Saturday evening where we had the house filled with friends, then hopping out to the Opera in Vichy to see 'Les Ballets Trocadero', and back home for a very late night supper, we dashed to the Dordogne Sunday just after lunch.

The main purpose was to see our friend John who has been looking at property in a very beautiful village in the Dordogne region and who wanted the expert advise of his fellow Capricornian friend, Olivier. So you can imagine, 2 Capricorns together visiting century old properties - not a good thing!

But what I really want to share with you today is John's absolute incredible love for food! John is a Gourmand and a Gourmet!! John has had many lives - University lecturer, restaurateur and writer amongst other. A couple of years ago he published : Take 40 Fresh Crayfish......

In the meantime, life has walked many different roads with him and after a 6 month stint in Asia the first half of this year, he has decided to settle in France for now. A country he knows and loves and appreciates as very few foreigners does.

On our arrival at his new temporary home in the beautiful town of Belvès, we were greeted with an apéritif and we then had the most amazing Thai curry.
The 2 boys at table with the delectable and easy Thai Curry
 THE RECIPE received from John via email this morning:
'For Thai curry, simply slice boneless skinless breasts (with mushrooms or thinly sliced courgettes) to simmer in curry mix which consists of tin of coconut milk, generous scoop of Thai curry paste (red or yellow or green), splashes of Thai fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass, water chestnuts, touch of brown sugar, and don't forget the fresh ginger! Fresh coriander cut on top to serve. Recipe in 'Take 40 Fresh Crayfish' !'

Monday, after a visit to the now ex property, we quickly ran back home in the cold drizzling rain, to sit down to another great meal : This time a lovely Risotto of girolles with anchovies, parmesan and once again washed down with divine wine!

But the prize went to the delicious dinner. I've been crossing 'Elizabeth David' for many a year and actually never got so far as to buy a recipe book of this incredible writer on food. John cooked 'Noisettes de Porc aux Pruneaux' (Pork Noisettes with prunes and cream sauce) from her book, 'French Provincial Cooking' and when I got home on Tuesday afternoon, I ordered it on the spot! 
 Read more about her:

In case you do not have her cookbook, here goes : 'Noisette de Porc aux Pruneaux'.
'This dish, a speciality of Tours, is a sumptuous one, rich and handsome in appearance as well as in it's flavours........' This is how she starts the write-up of the recipe.

Take 6 to 8 noisettes (John used filet mignon)
1 lb (500g) juicy prunes
1/2 bottle of wine (white Vouvray will be great)
1 tablespoon of red-currant jelly
1/2 pint (250 ml) of thick cream
a bit of butter
and seasonings.

Put prunes to steep in bowl covered with 1/2 pint (250 ml) of wine, supposed to be done overnight, but with good prunes half-day will be sufficient. Cover and put them in a very low oven to cook - an hour or more, the longer the better!
John, the 'Marquis of Belvès' divine pork dish

Season the pork
very well with freshly-milled pepper and salt and sprinkle each 'noisette' with flour. 
Melt butter in the pan, put in the meat, let it gently take colour on one side and turn. Keep the heat low - butter must not brown. After 10 minutes pour in the remaining white wine. Cover the pan. Cook very gently, covered on top of the stove for approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

Pour the juice from the prunes over the meat - this must be done over direct heat on top of the stove - keep the prunes hot in the oven.
When the juice has bubbled and reduced a little, transfer the meat to the serving dish and keep hot. (John kept the meat in the same pan) Add the red-current jelly and stir until it has dissolved. Pour in some of the cream, shake the pan and add a little more cream until the sauce is just beginning to get shiny and really thick.
John added steamed potatoes at this stage as well and according to Elizabeth, there should be enough sauce to cover the meat, but not the prunes!

A truely delicious and easy meal. Whilst the meal was simmering away, John took time to teach us the basics of a Chinese society game, Mahjong! Not only a divine cook, art collector, expert on Sade, but also a great teacher! And John loves sharing with others!
The beautiful antique Mahjong set on which he taught us the ropes

Here's to sharing amongst friends!

Life is about sharing

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wilson the Piggy - Suite Ham!

Well it's a rainy autumn Sunday afternoon, we had wonderful oven roasted fish and steamed cucumber from the market in Vichy, all washed down with a bit too much delicious South African white wine and apart from being in bed with a great book, the next best thing is to share with you!

A couple of months ago I did a post on Wilson the Piggy if you remember (in January I think). Yesterday, Olivier sliced into Wilson's ham for the first time.

Now let me tell you how I've been pampering that ham! First, after spending about 30 days in a big salt jar, then rinced, we suspended the 2 hams of Wilson in a wired cage in the attic above the pool. An airy space so that it could dry out properly. Every week they were lovingly rubbed with a kind of grappa and I spiced them with a pepper mixture, especially around the bone. This went on for about 6 months. Then Wilson's hams were fetched by our friend Jean-Yves, and he placed his a an ash box for the next couple of months.
We eventually fetched our ham from him about a week ago, and were waiting for the right opportunity to slice into this air dried delicacy!

Olivier's old friends and his godchild arrived this past weekend and we decided that this was the perfect opportunity to inaugurate dear Wilson's ham!

And boy oh boy, what a joy!! Absolutely delicious and perfect as an aperitif on a autumny Saturday afternoon sharing with great friends in the lazy sun! But the whole process was captured by our friend Pascal and he kindly allowed us to place his video on the blog:
So guys, now you've seen it all!! And with this good night and it's always nice sharing with you!

Life is about sharing

Froggie hugs