How to save Valentine’s Day

This year is going way too fast for me. So fast that even I, quite the fan of Valentine’s Day despite all the red hearts and cheesy love bears, forgot that it’s today.

So, the question is: How do I save the day?

There is still time for a couple of rescue dates. Consider these:

Couples Cooking Class

If you live in Jo’burg, book yourselves a couples cooking class with the Wooden Spoon Kitchen. The evening includes a welcome drink. You’ll also learn how to make maki rolls with pickled ginger and soy sauce, Vietnamese spring rolls with hoisin and peanut butter dip, as well as mango and lime sorbet with passion fruit.

Cost: R900 per couple

Date: 15 February 2019

Venue: 51 Eleven Street, Linden

Time: 18:00 – 21:00

Contact info@woodenspoonkitchen.co.za 

 

Steenberg Bubbly Tasting

Enjoy a complimentary pairing of note at Steenberg Farm, the Cape’s first farm. Enjoy a magical, romantic pairing of Steenberg’s blushing Pinot Noir Rose Méthode Cap Classique and heavenly macaroons. This tasting will be available at Steenberg’s tasting room from today until Sunday, 17 February 2019.

www.steenbergfarm.com

Bring the Cape up North

Not from the Cape, but still feel like enjoying a good bottle of bubbly or wine? Try Kleine Zalze‘s 2018 Cinsault Rosé (R56). It is an easy drinking wine, the ideal summer companion, and can be enjoyed on its own or with a spread of fresh summery snacks. It’s perfect for a picnic under the stars (if the rain allows). Or, if you are feeling in the mood for a dark red, consider Alto‘s Rouge 2016 (R112). It displays powerful berry fruit with cigar box and dark chocolate flavours, followed by vanilla and oak spices. Light a fire, create a romantic ambiance, prepare a tasty red meat dish at home and enjoy each other’s company.

TOKARA’s Rare Plant Sale

Experience TOKARA in all its natural splendour when this acclaimed wine and olive estate opens its extensive private gardens to the public for the annual Rare Plant Sale on Saturday, 20 October.

This popular event is a spring highlight for plant lovers. From indigenous offerings such as fynbos and proteas to the more exotic, the wide variety of plants will appeal to all tastes. In addition to the wide variety of plants, there will also be tea and other refreshments for sale. TOKARA will definitely also be well represented with their elegant wines and award winning extra virgin olive oils.

Meander through the indigenous, exotic and vegetable gardens, explore the woodland walks and discover the untold works of art spotted throughout the farm. The colossal landmark, the Angus Taylor Dionysus sculpture, commissioned by owners GT and Anne-Marie Ferreira proudly stands against an impressive Simonsberg backdrop.

The Rare Plant Sale starts at 09h00 with tickets (R50) that will be available at the gate. Children aged under 10 can enter for free. The TOKARA Tasting Lounge, restaurants and Delicatessen will be open as usual on the Saturday.

For more information, email pieterdiener@gmail.com.

 

Image credit: Supplied

Staycation – Ways to be a tourist in your own town

Feeling like you never get to go away on a special holiday? You don’t need to travel far to do some sightseeing, relax, and get an exhilarating feel of adventure. Here’s how to be a tourist in your hometown and see your city with new eyes:

Show foreigners around

Take foreigners around your area – be it friends from another part of the country, family or an exchange student from Finland. Think of places that are usually branded as “too touristy” and try to enjoy the experience just as much as your guests do.

Take a bus tour

Do you know the history behind the buildings seen in your hometown? Do you understand how and why your city was founded?

Take a bus tour that is usually meant for tourists to gain some local history knowledge. Engage yourself with the tourists on the bus to see what they find interesting – you might be fascinated about a few things you forgot your city has to offer. City Sightseeing‘s hop-on hop-off bus includes all major Cape Town, Jo’burg and Soweto tourist attractions.

Stay in a hotel or guesthouse

To set yourself in a mood for exploring and travelling, book into your town’s favourite hotel or guesthouse. Jo’burgers can indulge in a staycation at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa, which should tick all the boxes. (See our recent post about their bubbly bar here). Being away from home for the evening will add to the touristy feeling you’re after.

The Fairlawns Treehouse Studio

Schedule time for those “one day” places

We all have places that we pass regularly in our town or city that we plan on visiting one day. It will never happen if you don’t actually decide on a date to go. While busy, look at recommendations and tourist brochures of activities in your area and create a schedule of the things you want to do.

Go on a taste adventure at the most touristy restaurant in town

Go to the most touristy restaurant in town and eat the meals they specialise in. Look at coffee shops and restaurants you usually don’t go to and try various cuisines. Stepping out of your comfort zone when it comes to restaurants, is exhilarating and refreshing. If staying in Pretoria, why not visit the Monument Restaurant and experience authentic Afrikaner food.

Cheer on a local sports team

To get a feel for the spirit in your city, go to a stadium near you and watch a sports game with passionate locals and tourists.

Do something that only your city can offer

Most towns and cities are well known for an outdoor adventure like no other. Go out and explore your town’s most fun activity. If you’re from Cape Town, head to Table Mountain and experience the Aerial Cableway.

Glide into vacation-mode

When leaving the office for your staycation, leave all your worries behind and settle in for your well-deserved holiday. Put on some music, open a bottle of wine, relax and get ready for your holiday at home.

Written by: Katrien Nel

Images: Supplied

Things to do before winter ends

Winter is slowly but surely coming to an end. With summer fast approaching, make sure that you take that last sip of hot chocolate and indulge in that glass of red wine beside the fireplace. Here are a couple of things you should do before winter ends:

Enjoy an old favourite movie with a blanket and a bowl of popcorn

When it is cold outside, even the idea of leaving the house to go to the movies is hard to get enthusiastic about. Gather your blankets, get a bowl of popcorn and enjoy a cozy movie night.

Go for a hike

Just because the weather becomes a little chilly doesn’t mean that you have to bundle up and spend our short South African winter avoiding the great outdoors. Hiking is a fantastic way to get those joints moving and to get a dose of vitamin D. We recently enjoyed a hike at the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve in Pretoria and what a wonderful experience. Bonus: You can bring your dogs too!

Enjoy a meal at an Italian Restaurant

A glass of vino to accompany a hearty pasta meal is exactly what you need to give you that unmatched winter feeling. Head to your nearest Italian restaurant to warm up with some delicious Italian cuisine before winter ends. Alfie’s Italian Café at The Village in Pretoria is a definite favourite.

Prepare a delicious dinner

Too cold to go out? Celebrate the end of winter by preparing a delightful feast with your closest friends at home. Woolworths has some of the best pastas in store – have a look at the options on their Instagram page and shop online here.

Baking: The cure for the winter blues

Winter is the perfect excuse for baking. Take out your grandma’s most mouth-watering, crave-worthy biscuit recipes and bake up a storm to warm up for the last stretch of winter.

Have a cuppa…

A steaming mug of hot chocolate or a cream-covered cappuccino is one of winter’s greatest pleasures. Head to your nearest coffee shop and indulge. Too cold to go out? Make your own by combining a cup of warm milk with 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Top with mini-marshmallows and enjoy!

Enjoy a Winter Market

Get your friends and family together and enjoy a day of craft stalls and street food at your nearest Winter Market. The Hazel Food Market is one of our favourites and if you go there, you have got to try a Lamb Pita at Smaak.’s stall.

Credit: Renate Engelbrecht

How to plan a trip with a big group

Travelling in big groups with friends or family can result in the most amazing times of our lives, where the precious memories made will be remembered for years to come. However, if not planned meticulously, group travelling can be stressful.

Here are TMG’s top tips on how to plan a trip with a big group:

Have a leader (or two)

Appoint an individual to lead the planning of the trip. It makes travelling a lot easier if there is a go-to person who knows how the planning is progressing. If there is a lot of planning to do, different people can be in charge of different aspects of the trip. One person can be in charge of accommodation, one in charge of researching activities, another of meal planning, etc. The final decisions can still be made as a group, but this will ensure that everything gets organized in advance.

Agree on a budget

One of the most difficult aspects of planning a trip for a group is the budget. People have different ideas about how much they are willing to spend when travelling. Decide on a budget that suits everyone and adhere to it. Some activities could be optional so group members can decide whether they want to participate, but a budget for the necessities is crucial.

Consider Alternative Accommodation

Accommodation makes a huge difference to your travel experience. Hotels aren’t necessarily the best option when travelling as a big group. Renting a holiday house saves money and provides opportunities to cook together and socialize. Websites like Airbnb and Rentbyowner make it very easy to find homes to rent anywhere in the world.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Make reservations ahead of time. Transport and accommodation need to be arranged and booked as early as possible. Research the top things to do at your chosen destination and look out for group discounts.

Limit the amount of activities

It isn’t necessary to plan every moment of the holiday. Some of the best experiences may be decided impulsively during the trip, or just happen spontaneously.  Managing the itinerary for a large group, particularly one with children, is rather difficult and may lead to unnecessary tension. Limit big outings or activities to one per day.

Split up

It isn’t necessary for the whole group to be together all the time. If there are people who want to participate in different activities from the rest, split up according to interests.

Communicate

Communication is key when travelling as a big group. Make sure everyone is aware of the itinerary and all the details, pack clever and you are all set for your holiday adventure with the people you love!

 

Written by Katrien Nel

Lentevieringe by Gabriëlskloof

Gabriëlskloof, ‘n wynkelder buite Botrivier, wuif die winter vaarwel en vier fees met hul heel eerste Little Spring Market, want alles is vars, vrolik en nuut.

“Lente is dié seisoen van hergeboorte en vernuwing en dis wat ons graag terug verwelkom na die heuwels en valleie, wat ons pragtige landgoed omraam,” sê Nicolene Finlayson, proelokaal-bestuurder en die vrou van Gabriëlskloof se keldermeester, Peter-Allan Finlayson. “Dit is hierdie heerlike energie wat ons wil vasvang en met ons vriende wil deel by hierdie rooskleurige geleentheid.”

Die Little Spring Market nooi jou om op 1 en 2 September jou winterslaap af te skud en jou spens opnuut aan te vul met dit wat vars en vrolik is vanuit die die Overberg kontrei.

“Die hoofdoel van ons Little Spring Market  is om die lente in al haar gloeiende glorie te vier,” sê Nicolene.

Besoekers kan hulself verlustig in ’n eklektiese verskeidenheid plante en handgemaakte produkte, tot speelgoed en juweliersware en elke aanbieding sal hulde bring aan die seisoen se opgewekte varsheid. Lewendige musiek en wonderlike lente-geïnspireerde kos sal natuurlike pasmaats wees vir Gabriëlskloof se diverse en uitstekende wynversameling.

“Behalwe die lentefokus, sal Gabriëlskloof se Little Spring Market  ’n ontspanne wegbreek wees en daarom het ons die hoeveelheid stalletjies baie min gehou. Dit is ook die perfekte lusmaker vir ons gewilde feesseisoen mark in Desember,” sê Nicolene.

Die markie val oor dieselfde tyd as die Botrivier Lentenaweek (1 – 2 September) en skop Gabriëlskloof se trio van seisoen-geïnspireerde markte af.

Die landgoed se hoof jaarlikse mark, die Gabriëlskloof Favourite Things mark, keer vanjaar van 14 tot 16 Desember terug – net betyds vir daardie laaste minuut-Kersinkopies. Dit bied ’n viering van alles feestelik, heerlik, tuis- en handgemaak. Die eerste Herfsmark sal die naweek van 20 April 2019 gehou word. Hier sal alles wat knus is te koop wees – van droë vrugte, vye en gesmelte kaas tot heilsame soppe, geweefde komberse en leergoedere.

Die Little Spring Market is Gabriëlskloof se voortsetting van ’n trotse tradisie. Behalwe dat die Botrivier wyn- en olyflandgoed uitstekende wyne maak, het dit ook ’n baie goeie reputasie as gasheer vir uitsonderlike en intieme geleenthede, wanneer die grasperke rondom die moderne en estetiese wynkelder in ’n gesinsvriendelike kuierplek omskep word.

Vir meer inligting oor die jaarlikse Gabriëlskloof Little Spring Market, kontak Nicolene Finlayson by 028 284 9865 of nicolene@gabrielskloof.co.za.

Stellenbosch presents an all-new Celebration of Wine

Stellenbosch – A Wine Celebration, the latest innovation by Stellenbosch Wine Routes offers an unprecedented opportunity to re-discover the wines and wine people of the illustrious wine region over the course of a single weekend. From Thursday, 2 August to Sunday, 5 August, this top-drawer vinous show will toast excellence and diversity through a handful of intimate and exclusive, must-attend events.

The most famous legends of Stellenbosch will be brought to life through fantastic wine tastings and elaborate fine dining, pairing delicious food and wine with fascinating, entertaining wine personalities, all at one cosy location: De Warenmarkt, in the historic heart of the City of Oaks.

The weekend celebration will highlight the region’s winemaking heritage, premium status and internationally-recognised excellence. Among the events a special focus commemorates Women’s Month and the contribution of female winemakers, while another showcases the essential ingredient of family tradition entwined with the very DNA of Stellenbosch wine.

On Thursday, 2 August, Boutique Brilliance & Big Bottles opens the show. This walk-around wine tasting takes place from 6PM to 10PM and features a dozen of Stellenbosch’s boutique wine producers. Demonstrating that big is not always better, this is the opportunity to discover and stock up on rare and lesser known wine treasures. The entry fee of R290 per person includes access to a feast of delicious canapes and the harvest table with a special cheese fondue.

On Friday, 3 August, the Women-in-Wine brunch puts the spotlight on the region’s female winemakers. A three-course meal will be served from 10AM to 12PM, with bubbly and wines and the stars themselves taking centre stage. Tickets are R400 per person.

The formal dinner, titled In The Company of Legends, takes place later on Friday, 3 August, and offers the exceptional chance to meet some of Stellenbosch’s greats over a premier four-course, food-and-wine extravaganza. Among the luminaries who will attend are world-renowned winemakers and exceptional story-tellers. Tickets to the event, which starts at 6.30 for 7PM, cost R650 per person.

On Saturday, 4 August, Father & Son acknowledges the unique contribution of skill and knowledge that is passed from generation to generation, to Stellenbosch wine excellence. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, this dinner will feature some of the famous father-and-son winemaking duos, who will share their stories over four courses, paired with their wines. Tickets to the event, which also starts at 6.30 for 7PM, cost R750 per person.

The final event of Stellenbosch – A Wine Celebration will be a very special lunch at noon on Sunday 5 August. The Cabernet Long Table will underline the region’s leading prowess with the noble Cabernet Sauvignon cultivar – status that is held thanks to its incomparable concentration of local and international award winners. The four-course meal pairs vintages of the variety with every dish, including dessert and will see some of local Cabernet Sauvignon winemaking royalty in attendance too. Tickets are R650 per person.

Tickets to each of the Stellenbosch – A Wine Celebration events are very limited. To book, visit www.wineroute.co.za.

For more information, contact Elmarie Rabe on 021 886 8275 or info@wineroute.co.za.

There’s Magic in Bubbly

Love, romance, milestones, anniversaries, great achievements, deals signed and sealed – these all have one thing in common: It calls for bubbly! The effervescent bubbles magically create a joyful feeling of celebration and special moments.

There is always an occasion for some bubbly or a delicious cocktail. Even if it’s simply to reward yourself after a long day or to indulge your craving for your favourite bottle of Champagne in a gorgeous venue designed for magic and Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa‘s MUSE Champagne Room offers the ideal setting for celebration.

The Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa has added a brand new MUSE Champagne Room, in collaboration with French Champagne House, Perrier-Jouët. The Champagne Room and adjoining Courtyard is a combination of elegance and contemporary chic, utilising nature as source of inspiration.

The adjoining courtyard is ideal for late afternoon sundowners, offering an eclectic range of designer cocktails, as well as a signature Casse-Croûte menu. This unique space goes beyond the sipping of champagne and draws you into an atmosphere that contributes to a fabulous event or a decadent do.

The MUSE Champagne Room is where Joburg’s hottest movers and shakers share their bubbles during a perfect date, anniversary, special occasion or friend’s night out.

“Only the unimaginative can fail to find a reason for drinking champagne.” – Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright and novelist

Where to go on your next trip

I was recently asked where I want to travel to next. This question was difficult as, when it comes to travelling, any destination is an opportunity for discovery, inspiration, learning, adventure, relaxation or all of these combined!

As travel time is limited, the decision on where to go shouldn’t be taken lightly. Travelling Mystery Guest has compiled a list of criteria to help narrow down your options.

Consider your budget

Knowing how much you have to spend will help you decide where to go on your next trip. Considering what you want to spend your money on is just as important.  Some prefer to travel for longer rather than spending money on expensive meals and accommodation. Others will splurge on luxury accommodation and top restaurants even if it means a shorter stay. Only you can decide what is worth spending your hard earned money on.

Ask yourself why

Why do you want to travel? Do you want to learn something new or relax and get a tan? Do you want an adventure? Have fun with friends or travel solo? Have a break from work or reconnect with a loved one? Knowing why you want to travel makes the decision of which destination to go to much easier.

How far do you want to go?

Travelling doesn’t have to include long flights. South Africa is such a diverse country and if you do a bit of research, you’ll see that you most likely haven’t explored half of it. Decide whether you want to travel domestically, visit our neighbouring countries or go for something completely different abroad.

Decide on your preferred environment

City, beach or countryside? Cold or hot weather? Not everyone is enthusiastic about snowy, cold weather and are drawn to warmer climates. Think of the weather, landscape and style of the destination you want to visit to narrow down your travel choices.

Different or familiar culture?

It’s important to consider whether you want to visit a country that has a similar culture to yours or experience something different from what you are used to. Being in a country with an unfamiliar culture can be lonesome and stressful but it can also be incredibly exciting and inspirational. Do thorough research on the culture of the destinations you are considering before making a decision.

So much to do…

Time is precious when travelling, so plan your travel activities wisely. If you want explore the outdoors, think of travelling to a destination that is known for great hiking routes. If a great culinary experience is what you are after, look for destinations that have a reputation for excellent cuisine. If you are interested in art, consider travelling to cities with the world’s major art galleries. Decide on activities and organize your trip around them.

Wherever you go, make the most of the experience. Remember – you’ll only regret the things you didn’t do so have an open mind and broaden your travel wishes.

 

Written by: Katrien Nel

Cakes, Macaroons and Meringues with a Twist

Born and bred in South Africa, Anmar Odendal-Wilding is a renowned pastry chef who has made her mark in the wedding cake industry. She is definitely living life 100%, which assisted her in receiving numerous prestigious awards, including being selected as the best wedding cake designer in the East of England.

After studying at the Institute of Culinary Arts just outside Stellenbosch, Anmar worked as an executive chef on yachts based around the Mediterranean and the Pacific. While working on these yachts, Anmar cooked for the likes of Uma Thurman, Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson.

Anmar’s next culinary achievement was in England, where she worked as a pastry chef and had her own highly successful wedding cake company, Crumb Cakes. After eight successful years in the United Kingdom, Anmar brought Crumb Cakes to South Africa.

Since Anmar moved back to South Africa in 2017, she has been working as a pastry chef at the Slippery Spoon Kitchen in Stellenbosch whilst running Crumb Cakes SA. One of her specialities is multi coloured, delicious macaroons.

Anmar is a creative thinker and each cake is out-of-this-world and sometimes over-the-top unique, depending on the client’s brief. She recently also started a vegan-friendly baked goods range. The vegan friendly creations are as gorgeous as her initial range and it is hard to believe that they are made without dairy or eggs.

Although Anmar is based in Stellenbosch, she often travels to different South African destinations for catering or demonstrations. In 2013, while working in England, Anmar came all the way to South Africa to present a macaroon-baking demonstration at the popular Innibos Festival in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.

As for the future, Anmar is looking forward to some very exciting developments. Later this year, she will be publishing a book on her work, which will include some of her delightful recipes.

One thing is for sure, Anmar is a pastry chef you should keep your eyes on!