I plant my flag. I sit by the warm fire. I see the road traveled so far,fruitful, full of joy and with lovely characters along the way.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Breakfast Bruschetta - Nigella Lawson

I have to say, I love Nigella Lawson. I am a big fan of her food, her television show and her cooking skills. Why her I wondered, and I do have the answer. She is a woman that enjoys life and loves cooking (like me!). In addition, she uses butter and cream a lot, nothing she is ashamed for and size is never and issue. Absolute perfection, enrichment and fun all combined on one plate.

Actually, she does not only love cooking or uses cream and butter a lot. She enjoys being around people and loves to have people over for diner. I find she is a great host. She entertains her guests as long as possible before she quickly goes in and out of the kitchen to finish her magical dishes. It is all about preparation guys.

How she sneaks out of bed to the kitchen every night after her guests have left, is daring and something many women would never dare. She does not care. The food is just too good and as she adds bacon from her ‘Nigella-fridge’ on a piece of ciabatta, folds it together and takes a bite.. I just love it!

This morning I made one of her easy recipes that I found on the internet: BREAKFAST BRUSCHETTA (Serving Size : Serves 3–6, depending on appetite)
All you need to buy:
For the Tomato Bruschetta
2 x 15 ml tablespoons olive oil
2 thickly sliced short pieces sourdough or rustic roast
1 ripe tomato (approx. 100g), roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Avocado Bruschetta
1 ripe avocado
2 teaspoons lime juice
4 thickly sliced short pieces sourdough or rustic toast
Salt and pepper to taste


I reheated the loaf I bought yesterday and cut it in slices. I drizzled most of the olive oil over each piece of bread and topped it with the chopped tomatoes. I seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste before I drizzled the remaining drops of oil on top. Done!
For the avocado bruschetta I halved the avocado and scooped the flesh into a bowl along with the lime juice. I mashed it roughly using a fork and seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste. I spreaded this on each waiting piece of bread and sprinkled it with parsley. Done!

I laid the pieces of bread on a lovely plate, made tea and fresh orange juice to go with it and in our lovely garden Peter and took our first bites. Can't choose which one I liked more. What a good start of the day! Although it is rich for breakfast, as I am used to have toast with jam or rusks in the morning I loved the taste and it is so easy. Next time I will try something more complicated from one of her cookbooks. Should invite people over, just like her.

Kitchen queen Nigella!

Warm regards,

Abigail Summer

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review Tortellino D'Oro Restaurant - Glenhove Road - Johannesburg

21st of February 2010

On this warm and humid evening, we accidentally passed by Restaurant Tortellino D’Oro by car and decided to make a stop. We have a good excuse now to dine out and order fantastic wine to accompany our dishes. Indeed, my blog. Ready to review my second restaurant in Johannesburg and together we march in (in Feb).

First impression at the entrance:

  • Beautiful laid tables
  • Funny earplugs waiters
  • Lovely Shop in the back
  • Good light in venue
  • Nice music
  • Too close to the parking area
Tortellino D’Oro(means Golden pasta shaped as a belly button)started with an Italian Pasta and Delicatessen Shop years back. The Italian delicacies on the shelves and in the fridges are keen to make you hungry, even if you were not. People walk in an out the Shop to buy themselves lovely Italian dishes, pasta sauces and homemade pasta to prepare at home. Quoted from the website: ‘Whether it's fettucine, trenette, panzarotti or regular lasagne you're after, all our ready-made meals are of the highest TORTELLINO D'ORO home made quality and freshly made.’ We decided to stay and sat down between the Restaurant area and the Shop. Our first mistake.

The waiters were not looking after our table. After a while, we both agreed our bizarre waves to draw the waiter’s attention were exhausting and stupid. They were not capable to see our empty water glasses, which we had to fill up ourselves. Worst of it all, like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City said, “Why have we ever stopped drinking this?” Honestly, the fucking wine was as warm as a toast in the dessert in Morocco. That is why we stopped drinking it Carrie. Ice cubes please. Bizarre wave again.

Our Aperitif was Champagne with warm toast, zucchini, a beautiful dressing and red pepper that ‘waited’ for their first consumers a bit too long. The Champagne was warm and the toast was very soft which I found a pity, like rain during a romantic picnic.




 We shared a starter that was delicious: Insalata Pere e Formaggio.  Must say, this herb salad with pear, gorgonzola, parmesan, marinated mushrooms and almonds truffle dressing was divine. 100% recommended.


Peter ordered Risotto ai Funghi Porcini (mushroom) and I ordered Summer Pasta (with pesto, rocket and Rosa tomato). All pasta is homemade and fresh but the dish was literally drowning in oil. Please do not go there if you are on a diet, or maybe if you worked you ass of in the Gym that morning like I did (well, sort of).
Summer Pasta


Dessert we shared: Ricotta Cheese Tart with Vanilla ice cream. Especially the vanilla ice cream, freshly made at the restaurant, was heavenly. We were in the mood for the special dessert on the menu. When we asked our waiter about it (after some bizarre moves again) the waiter told us they did not have a special dessert that evening. ‘What about tomorrow?’ I asked. ‘He was not sure,’ he said. Gee.


The cheese tart made up for that but still, take it of your menu then. After our bottle of wine was finished, we got for the bill and agreed it was expensive.

I found it difficult to compare the two restaurants because their style, ambiance and service is from another level, but it was only 250 ZAR less than our experience in Le Canard. Made me think about the value for money.
By the way, my review is taking into account that both (and in future all restaurants) have differences in style, history and quality. Maximum score is 5 and that is what I set as an objective when I enter a restaurant.
That objective is set up differently for Le Canard than it is for Tortellino D’Oro. That said the score is:

Overall experience?
Okay.

Value for money?
No. Too expensive for an average evening.

Food            3/5
Service        2/5
Ambiance    3/5


Overall review
2.6

Warm regards,

Abigail Summer

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Actual cooking - Spicy Fish Curry

As promised before I made Spicy Fish Curry from Leiths Cookery Bible - [Leith, P., and Waldegrave, C., (2003), Leiths Cookery Bible, 3rd edition, Bloomburys, UK].

With Peter (my boyfriend) in my kitchen, we went through the recipe time after time. Honestly, our conclusion was, it is incomplete! What a laugh, a well known and well reviewed book to make such a mistake in a recipe. In addition, the fact that I did not know for how many people this recipe was for, made me open a bottle of wine. Why not.

After reading the recipe with a glass of white wine in our hands this time, we still could not understand at what stage to add the fish into the curry. Prue tells me to ‘Return the fish to the pan’ at the end of the recipe. Mine had not been in the pan yet!

I went back to the website I got the recipe from http://www.prueleith.co.za/blog/index.php/category/recipes-fish and freaked out when I realized I did not forget to print some lines (have to say, maybe the original recipe in the book is set out differently but I did not have the book to check).
Anyway, I gave in and started cooking this shortened (I hope) Spicy Fish Curry because I did not want to let myself down by giving up so easy. I chopped an onion, cored, deseeded and sliced a green pepper and deseeded and chopped a green chilli. Fried those together in a frying pan. All well. When I added the garlic, ginger, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, ground cumin and ground turmeric for another two minutes, the smell that filled by kitchen was incredible. Peter peeked in the kitchen telling me it smelled delicious. It did. I felt a huge relief. This was high quality cooking (without tapping myself on the shoulder of course). Hey guys, so far so good.

Still have not overcome the fish-adding dilemma I decided to season the fish with the hot spicy fish juices and bake it shortly. That said and done I went back to my spices. I added water and reduced the sauce by boiling rapidly, to a syrupy consistency. The recipe did not tell me how long it would take so I poured myself another glass of wine and waited. Sigh. While I waited and took a sip, I freaked out. Why didn’t I think about this before? I grabbed a pan, rinsed rice, cooked water and rice, and read the package. 20 minutes! Sigh. You can’t just eat curry alone, can you?

I mixed the Greek yoghurt with a little water and with the hot fish juices. I brought it back to the boil while I read the sentence ‘Return the fish to the pan’ again. That was what I did. The rice simmered for 20 minutes. I fluffed it up with a fork and served it hot together with the Fish Curry garnished with mint.

The fish was definitely not overcooked. The spices in the curry were, together with the white rice and fish, a perfect combination. I dazzled myself in South East Asia for a moment when a loud noise of our upper neighbor awakened me. The fucker. He always does that! We rose our glasses and Peter and I agreed: today the Spicy Curry Award goes to our very own Abigail Summer. Hooray for me!

By the way, this is why you should eat curry spice: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-470467/How-plate-curry-spice-sex-life.

Warm regards,

Abigail Summer

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spicy Fish Curry - Prue Leith

Fish Recipes | Spicy Fish Curry

I am excited about tomorrow’s mission. I am going to make Spicy Fish Curry from Leiths Cookery Bible - [Leith, P., and Waldegrave, C., (2003), Leiths Cookery Bible, 3rd edition, Bloomburys, UK].

I have met Prue Leith at her book presentation in Johannesburg in September 2009, when her fourth novel Choral Society just came out. She lived and studied in Cape Town for many years before she went on to create a Michelin star quality food empire in London. In 1995, she decides to sell this empire and focus on writing novels and other businesses. I found her an interesting and friendly woman. She even signed my book. Hooray!

I quickly read the content of the recipe. ‘Any firm white fish will do for this curry,’ she says. ‘Be very careful not to overcook the fish or it will begin to fall apart and look unattractive. This is a fairly mild curry but can be made hotter by using an extra green chilli pepper.’ I create a shopping list, based on the ingredients needed for tomorrow. Satisfied, like I have achieved something already, I attach it to the fridge. The dish goes well with spicy dry white wine. Fantastic!

Stay tuned for my first adventure in my small kitchen, preparing this Spicy Fish Curry tomorrow.

Warm regards,

Abigail Summer

Monday, February 15, 2010

Review Le Canard Restaurant - Rivonia - Johannesburg




12th of February 2010

Rather honest, Le Canard Restaurant (originated in 1987) was the first restaurant that came across my mind, starting this blog. Johannesburg seemed like a good start, and I found it interesting to raise the standard for the next restaurant visits to come, comparing them to exclusive French cuisine.

We booked a table for two and dressed up for an expected fantastic evening. With my mission in my head, we drove through the gate and were warmly welcomed outside.

First impression at the entrance:
  • historical
  • unique
  • charming d├ęcor
  • friendly staff
  • warm temperature 
  • music too loud
I saw a glimpse of Freda, the owner. She walked around with a glass of water, not interfering with the guests. This is forgiven after she has earned so much respect over the years. The famous wall with pictures of Nelson Mandela, Boris Bekker and Bill Gates visiting, proves it. Enough said.
We ordered a glass of champagne to start the evening. Between the toast and my first nip, I thought I should focus on my mission, and not drink alcohol too much. Therefore, we ordered a bottle of their acclaimed dry white wine… It sank in my legs immediate. Woops! Come on, focus.

The idea to hand a priceless menu list to the woman at the table (I mean without prices situated on the menu) I found sophisticated and delicate. The menu is divine. My table partner preferred: Divine Duck Pate – Nut encrusted smooth pate with apple and cranberry chutney, and a glass of honey mead & Le Canard Signature - Free-range duck breast crisped with honey and pepper - Citrus Classique – orange with Cognac and Grand Marnier sauce. It sounds delicious, doesn't it?

I could not resist the chocolate sauce and it was not even dessert time, jammie! I picked: Scottish Salmon Trio – Freshly chopped wasabi-spiced tartare; Carpaccio painted with soy and chili dust; and rose centre of smoked salmon &Le Canard Signature - Free-range duck breast crisped with honey and pepper - Au Chocolat – jus of duck, dark Belgian chocolate and a dash of chili sauce. I could hardly wait! We did not have to wait long because the starters were served after 10 minutes of ordering. The salmon was so fresh that it melted on my tongue, perfectly mixed flavors with a touch of wasabi. It stole my experienced heart. I got to taste the duck pate as well. Smooth and gentle with a touch of honey. Fantastic choice.

I have not eaten duck that much because the fat between the flesh and the skin always made me change my mind. This time it did not because if you can not have duck in Le Canard, what else do they have that name for?The plates served for main course flabbergasted me. Perfectly decorated with a soft touch of sweetness (as in the chocolate sauce) and duck so juicy that this duck is the best duck I have (and I am almost sure I will) taste in my entire life.

The service was good. You tend to see at places where it is not as busy as normally (just before Valentine) that service is a challenge. The waiters do not want to come across as lazy or bored (which they were not) and then come to the table for service too often and sometimes in the middle of a sentence. The music was too loud in the venue and it was very warm as well. Therefore, I have come to the review as set out below. 

Overall experience
Excellent 

Value for money
Yes, definitely. 

Review
Food        5/5
Service     4/5
Ambiance 4/5 

Overall review
4.3

Warm regards,

Abigail Summer

Monday, February 1, 2010

BBC list about 100 books

Dear readers,

BBC believes the majority of people will only read 6 of these 100 books in their lives. It is based on a questionnaire. Why not ask you the dangerous question, just out of curiosity.

How much did you read? Six?? Less? Or more? Please prove BBC wrong!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchel
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Warm regards,

Abigail Summer