Num Num

eat. cook. write.

December 26, 2011

Road tripping: The Garden Route

Storm's River  is a magical place. The background of dark trees, craggy rocks, course sand, and the wild sea make me feel sort of crazy and content simultaneously. We arrived just before sunset, and settled into our little forest cabin. Dammit; I like forest cabins. Then off to the beach for a look around. I reached happily back into memories of my childhood holidays there. Everything seemed to have shrunk, now that my lens was no longer that of a twelve year old's. 

Dinner at the restaurant surpassed all expectations (previous encounters had been tough, bland and poorly served). I had blackened sole,  the flesh melting tenderly in the mouth before giving way to a shock of well- selected spices.

December 24, 2011

Christmas fever: Quince, red onion, rosemary and rosé wine stuffing

You know it’s Christmas when the queue in the Hermanus Woolworths winds up and down three aisles at 7 30 am. It’s a killer hot day, and everyone’s dashing around trying to keep the festive spirit together.

I’m also getting in on the fever. I’ve baked like a banshee today, a second batch of mince pies, a lemon and vanilla biscuit wreath, a batch of puff pastry and a few other things are ticking over. The other day I attempted to bake some Lebkuchen but they turned out rock hard. So I whipped out the gold and silver dust, and a dash of yellow raffia, and did some cookie pimpin' for the tree.

My fave thing from today is the quince stuffing I dreamed up for the half- smoked turkey tomorrow:

Quince, red onion, rosemary and rosé wine stuffing

December 22, 2011

Decemberitis: The fear of cooking failure

Mageirocophobia: The fear of cooking. I am not a sufferer. But every year I fret from a dose of what I call Decemberitis: the fear of flops.  It creeps up on me towards the start of the festive season. After six months of my academic, student lifestyle (where I eat communally on a low budget, only cook once or twice a week, and leave my favourite kitchen equipment to gather dust in the cupboards) I start to prepare for my private cheffing stint in Hermanus.

The annoying worrying starts. What if I’ve lost my touch? What if I can’t chop fast enough? What if… what if…. They don’t like the food? I try to resist it, going through old blog posts, proof that I can. Paging through my favourite recipe books, hoping inspiration will strike. Googling away at food blogs while I should be studying for exams.

On my first day of work I get a caught by a speed trap en route to Hermanus. Then, the guests arrive late. The butcher order isn’t in yet and I go shopping elsewhere. The meat is not top notch. (I don’t recommend Woolworth’s sirloin, mine was super- stringy) A first lunch flop. This is exactly what happened last year and the year before. A tradition perhaps?

December 19, 2011

Road tripping: Eastern Cape

I'm writing now from Bantry Bay; the doors are open to let the sea air through and there is still sand between my toes from Glen Beach.
The sea was as cold as slush puppy but we stayed in, soldiers.
Beach bats.
Good friends.
Ice cold coke.
Paragliders suspended in the blue sky; Table Mountain grand behind us.

I feel rested and smug. My skin is browner.  My hair curlier from the sea. My brain has rebooted.  December has been a most beautiful month. 

It started in the Eastern Cape, with a Nanaga Pie that was confirmed to be the best pie ever (By a man who doesn't normally like pies) .Then Grahamstown: The rain had finally cleared, it smelled of dust and the stench of exams had finally been erased. We celebrated the holidays with wine at the Monument, and pizza at the Rat and Parrot, which is just as it should be. 

Bathurst toposcope.