Saturday, December 27, 2014

Downtown Ramen

I visited our first official Ramen Bar in Cape Town the other day and was pleasantly surprised, situated in Harrington street, filled with a hip crowd the Ramen lived up to those I have tried in Hong Kong.

The menu is small but has all you need really, its a Ramen bar and they have Ramen. A chalkboard menu with starters and mains, a vegetarian or meat option for both. A small place with communal tables.

I suggest a Bao to start which is a soft steam bun with a filling of either beef, pork or eggplant, the beef was sold out so we went with the pork buns, soft and light we loaded ours with the Asian version of tomato sauce,  Siratcha a spicy chilli and garlic condiment.

Watching everybody slurping up their Ramen we were excited when ours was placed in front of us, a heavy beautiful deep black bowl with a lid and a huge wooden spoon for slurping. We quickly opened our steamy lids and an amazing site awaits, a bowl full  of broth, pork, noodles, seeds, sprouts, egg, chilli and spring onion making every mouthful a different taste, pretty as a picture.

All I could say was maybe in Hong Kong the broth was a little richer or deeper flavoured but it was really nice on a summer night to have a slightly lighter version, go for the added egg and chilliwhen the waiter asks.

I will be back soon, great food and great vibe and great music, will slurp noodles to Wu Tang Clan in sunny Cape Town any day.

Downtown Ramen
103 Harrington Street, Cape Town (entrance inside Left'y)

Pictures and article Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Monday, November 24, 2014

Coconut, rice flour and chia seed pancakes

I have been missing from my blog for a while due to the fact I bought an entry to the 70.3 half Ironman race which is taking place in January next year... it's just around the corner now, so when I am free from work I am training most of the time, not to mention the fact that I have not really had a chance for restaurant testing either as our only stop is for breakfast and beer to fuel our long rides.

One of the other lessons we learning lately is firstly waking up early and having a need to eat something that your stomach will tolerate at 4:30am as well as foods that we can take with on our training that will give us the endurance we need.

So I find myself on my off day with a cupboard full of foods to aid my training so I came up with this recipe, the chia seed is known for its omega 3 and endurance capabilities, the coconut is energy dense and easily digested as well as contains loads of electrolytes needed to replenish your lost fluids.

Coconut, rice flour and chia seed pancakes
Makes 3 x10cm 

80ml rice flour
80ml cake flour
7.5ml baking Powder
10ml crushed flaked almonds
2tbsp rough chop fresh coconut (optional, can replace with dessicated)
1tbsp chia seeds, allowed to swell in 100ml water for 10 minutes
2 eggs
10ml honey, I use raw
80ml coconut milk
pinch of salt
Oil and spray and cook for frying

Mix the dry ingredients together, flours, baking powder, almonds and coconut.
Separately mix the wet ingredients, honey, eggs, chia mix, salt and coconut milk.
Slowly add the wet to the dry and mix until smooth.
Spray a non stick pan with spray and cook, add a little oil just to coat the pan, allow to heat.
Pour a third of the mix into the pan or make them as big as you wish, fry until golden on both sides and repeat with the mix.
I served with raw honey and butter melted on top but it would go great with jam and cream, mashed banana and yoghurt, ice cream, bacon and maple syrup. 
Enjoy warm.

Recipe and pictures copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Black Tonics

My new favorite summer drink is a Black Tonic or Cafe' Tonic, basically a mix of tonic water and espresso.

This new trendy drink is appearing on menu's in New York, Berlin and Tokyo, possibly sounds a bit weird but I figured I would try it, the slight bitter tonic flavour is totally complemented by the similar bitterness from the coffee.

I used one tin of Schweppes Tonic water and a Caffeluxe coffee pod, the trending cities mentioned above however say they get the highest quality tonic and coffee for the best result so my next one will be with another brand but the Schweppes one is a good start.

This drink must be poured carefully otherwise you end up with a bubbly mess. I placed the tonic in a glass with some ice. Brew your shot (I used a single shot) of espresso, tip your glass and pour it slowly over the tonic. The drink should separate creating a foamy top similar to a Cappuccino.
After your first one you will be hooked :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Oreo & cream Cupcakes and Burnt Twinkies

I made cupcakes for my Triathlon training group, it's tradition on your birthday and since we were all running hills and swimming 2k's I made the richest and most decadent ones I could!

The first one is based on cookies and cream and of course the best cookie out there is the Oreo.

Oreo and Cream Cupcake
Makes 20

Biscuit base:
1 pk - 400g Oreo cookies
140g salted butter

Cupcake mix:
80g dark chocolate, I used Albany
200g cake flour
120g castor sugar
3/4 tsp bicarb
25g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
160ml coffee
160ml buttermilk
140ml sunflower oil]
100ml cream

630g icing sugar, sifted
300g butter
5tbsp milk
1/2 vanilla pod
Oreo crumbs

Blend the biscuits until fine, melt the butter and mix through. 
Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cups and press a spoonful of biscuit mix into the base of each cup. Keep the leftover crumb for the buttercream.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Finely chop or blitz the chocolate. Sift the other dry ingredients adding it to the chopped chocolate.
Mix the wet ingredients together except the cream. Using a mixer.
The mixture is quite runny, pour over the biscuit base and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top springs back.

Meanwhile mix the buttercream, beat the butter until white with a cake mixer using the paddle attachment. Sift the icing sugar onto the butter, add the vanilla seeds out the pod and the milk.
Mix slowly to start then beat fast until light and fluffy, fold in the Oreo crumbs.

Once the cupcakes are cool, take a chopstick and make a hole in the centre of each cake. Whip the cream with a little sugar and pipe into the hole. Top with buttercream and more crushed Oreo to decorate.

So being a chef I know not everybody likes chocolate and these people would go vanilla any day, here is my Burnt Twinkie vanilla cupcake.

Burnt Twinkie Cupcakes
Makes 12

Biscuit base:
1 pack tennis biscuits, blended until fine
100g butter  melted

125g butter
1/2 cup light caramel sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1 vanilla pod, seeds only
3tbsp buttermilk
100ml cream - for filling

Burnt Meringue Icing
2 egg whites
3 cups icing sugar
squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Mix the biscuits and butter, Line a muffin tray with cupcake cups. Press a spoonful of biscuit mix into each cup.
For the cupcakes, use a food processor, place the butter and sugar in and blend until light in colour, add other ingredients and blend until smooth.
Spoon the mix over the biscuit base and bake for 20 minutes or until springy.
Meanwhile make the icing by whipping the egg whites and sifted icing sugar for 5 minutes, add the lemon juice and whip for another 3 minutes. Place in a piping bag.
Once the cakes are cooled, use a chopstick to make a hole in the centre, whip the cream with a little sugar and pipe into the centre.
Top each cake with the meringue topping and burn with a blow torch.

Both are now my new favorites, cant wait to see what the other athletes bring in the future.

Recipes and pictures copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pot Luck club and Gallery Sunday Brunch

I have posted about Pot Luck club before and it remains my favorite tapas restaurant by far, this post however is about their Sunday brunch which I tried for my birthday recently with my chef friends, sharing food with them is always my favorite.

The meal costs R350 for the menu in the picture but I suggest you add the bottomless bubbly and the bloody mary bar for an extra R150,  the constant flow of Graham Beck and bloody mary's with every topping possible from caviar to pickled onions and chorizo sausage definitely adds to the festive sharing feel of the brunch.

The food begins to arrive perfectly paced and beautifully presented with our waitress explaining each dish and also accommodating food allergies where need be.

Endless tapas keep arriving giving us a taste of food from different countries and using all different cooking methods, flavour combinations and textures from classic french to korean, a real treat.

Besides the food and service the venue is spectacular with a full surrounding view of Cape Town and Table mountain, main course arrives just before everybody is drunk on bubbles and finally dessert was a fun popcorn milkshake and churros, most delicious milkshake ever topped with honeycomb coated popcorn.

I cant wait to go again, sit on the top of Cape Town being wined and dined by Luke Dale Roberts and his team. Great birthday treat. Brunch is from 11am - 2pm and you must book.

Pot Luck Club and Gallery
021- 4470804

Pictures and review copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pea, Bacon and Yolk Ravioli with B-well oil pesto

A friend of mine joked saying what am I going to say about an oil in a post, well chefs love any new product and this was a gift from B-well, it is a new range of oils endorsed by CANSA and the Heart and stroke foundation. I can by no means guarantee its health benefits but what I do know is that you should not fry pure extra virgin olive oil and I myself cook with a blend daily.

This oil has a very high ratio of olive oil in the blend and uses best quality olives and canola seeds, adding the other oils raises the smoke point of the oil allowing for use while frying and with a high enough olive ratio it can be drizzled on salads and used in marinades too.

They running a competition on their website and Facebook page where you can upload a recipe using the product with great prizes to win. Below is my B-well recipe.

Pea, Bacon and Yolk Ravioli with B-well oil pesto
serves 2

I chose this recipe as it uses the oil raw and cooked and as a flavour agent in the pesto, it did a great job, the bottle is made with an easy pour top and the olive taste was not too overpowering. I have also had a ravioli craving for ages now so today was a good time to try the oil and cure my craving. Enjoy my dish with a nice woody Chardonnay on this wintry day.

Pasta dough
Serves 2
200g 00flour or cake flour
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1 tsp B-well Extra Virgin Olive and Canola oil

Place the flour in a bowl, mix in the salt, make a well in the centre, add the eggs and the oil.
Mix together starting in the centre until combined, knead until smooth only adding flour if necessary.
Cover and allow to rest while the filling is being made.
Once rested , roll out using a pasta machine going from the thickest setting to the second last setting.
lay on a floured surface.
Using the filling below, place teaspoons full along the bottom half of the pasta sheet with 2.5cm intervals in between, brush between with egg and fold the top half down over the fillings. Use your hands to gently work the air bubble out from around each mound of filling, cut square or round, rest.
I made one with an egg yolk resting in the pea puree which was delicious but optional and expensive.
Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer and blanch the ravioli for 4-5 minutes. Strain.
Serve with your choice of sauce or try my pesto below.

Pea and Parmesan filling
Serves 2
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
10ml B-well Extra Virgin Olive and Canola oil
1.5 cups of frozen peas
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 packet streaky bacon

Fry the garlic and onion gently in a pan with the oil until softened.
Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the peas, when soft strain and cool with icy water to keep the green colour, strain.
Blend everything together with a hand blender and adjust seasoning. Refrigerate until ready.
Fry the pieces of bacon until crisp and use when plating.

Herb Pesto with sunflower seeds
Serves 2
1 big handful of mixed herbs, I used mainly parsley and basil with a little dill and mint
15ml sunflower seeds toasted
20ml grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 piece of garlic
35ml B-well Extra Virgin Olive and Canola oil
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon

Blend with a hand blender adding the oil slowly while mixing, adjust seasoning.

To Assemble
Place on a plate, top with pesto, plain blanched peas, Parmesan shavings, crispy bacon and baby fine herbs. Drizzle with B-well Extra Virgin Olive and Canola oil.

This recipe may be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon and I would add danish feta for a salty taste.

Recipe and pictures copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Royal George Hotel and Pub

I am back from an amazing holiday, I look forward to travel the whole year and work towards it each day. The bug bit me very hard since my first overseas trip to Italy and now I cannot resist an invite from my friends to join them discovering places that win my heart across the world.

I am going to write starting at the end since this little hotel will never be forgotten, having been on boats, in big hotels, overnight bus drives and staying in central London where nobody really paid any attention to us I felt right at home at The Royal George situated in Birdlip, the Cotswold region of London.

They are a Hotel with conference facilities for weddings, they hosted two while we were there, a Pub you just want to hang out in, serving real London Ales which I learnt have no gas and are served at room temperature, a restaurant with food served all day and garden seating for the summer days which I was lucky to have.

Their menu has all the classic pub food on it which I was eager to try having put many a dish on our menu's back home and only guessing what it really should taste like. They have special evenings like Thursday's is curry night, quiz night and Friday night is a live band.

First and possibly my favorite was their Chicken Caesar salad, juicy chicken, crunchy croutons and a perfect dressing, I could have eaten the whole bowl. The other dish a ham hock and black pudding hash with mustard cream, mushy peas and a poached egg, this was a nice light starter but I still need to sample black pudding as I could not taste it with the other components of the dish... I will have to return to London to try black pudding again one day.

On curry night we tried the Chicken Korma with onion bahji's and naan bread and of course I had to have fish and mushy peas, a British classic, both really comforting and tasty.

On my sad last night I tried the house speciality, a beef and ale pie which was so moreish and tasty with all the extra gravy and crispy pastry, normally served with mash but I switched for chips,  I finished the whole pie myself. To end off we shared an apple pie with custard and clotted cream ice cream which was surprisingly light with the tastiest tangy apple filling, our apples don't taste like a British apple that's for sure. I was not an apple pie fan but I am now.

Staying at the Royal George was a great ending to my holiday, their breakfast was a treat with great service and all the spoils of Eggs Benedict and Scottish smoked salmon. I got to know the staff, some of the guests bonded over the Soccer World Cup even though England went out, as well as helpful advice and friendliness from the General Manager, Michael Jeffries, always ensuring my favorite drink a "beer and black" Fosters beer with blackcurrant cordial is perfectly poured and my friends Guinness beer always topped with the classic clover leaf. 

I suggest this hotel if you travelling through the Cotswolds, it is very central and easy to drive through the other towns especially with a happy full stomach from breakfast and a peaceful sleep although not dark for very long.

Pictures and article copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Louw's Curried Potjie

It's becoming colder and colder by the day in Cape Town and menu's have quickly become richer and heavier along with a hefty stock up on warming red wine. I have mentioned my craving for "Potjie Kos" a stew cooked in a large three footed, cast iron pot over a fire.

I am not entirely sure if there is a classic version of this dish but I think your favorite stew recipe cooked this way becomes a "Potjie" the Afrikaans word for pot.

My craving so overwhelming I basically invited myself, it was really so good I had to post the recipe on behalf of my friends the Louw's however nobody in South Africa ever knows if the potjie was good or was everybody drunk or even if the cast iron pot makes any difference, not to mention the three legs... we will just keep on making them regardless.

This one is a curried chicken pot but may be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken with butternut and eggplant, dairy free and carb free without the rice.

The Louw's Curried Potjie (aka Sannie)
serves 6

1kg chicken thigh and drumstick, skin removed
30ml cooking oil
2 onions, sliced into rings
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
30ml chopped ginger
1 chilli chopped
15ml mild curry powder
2ml turmeric
5ml ground coriander
1 by 410g tin whole peeled tomatoes
6 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 4
5ml salt
1 500g packet potjie vegetables or a mix of peeled baby carrots, rough cut baby marrow and baby onions
1 bunch fresh coriander
20ml lemon juice
40ml cornflour slaked with water

Make the curry paste by placing garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, ginger, chilli, curry powder, turmeric, ground coriander in a pestle and mortar, grind until smooth.

Allow the potjie pot to heat over the fire, add the oil and brown the chicken pieces in the pot, remove and add the onions, allow to soften.

Add the curry paste, cooking for 2 minutes then top with the chicken, tinned tomatoes, arrange the potatoes on top and lastly the vegetables. Adding salt to each layer.

Close the pot and adjust the coals to make it simmer, cook for 1.5 hours.
Check the seasoning with salt and lemon juice, add cornflour if necessary to thicken and lastly add the roughly chopped fresh coriander.

Best eaten with rice and a salsa or yoghurt raita known as sambals and Mrs Balls chutney.

Cucumber sambal
100ml chopped cucumber, seeds and skin removed
50ml desiccated coconut
100ml Bulgarian yogurt
30ml flaked almonds
15ml lemon juice
10ml chopped fresh mint
10ml chopped fresh coriander
2ml salt
grind of pepper

Mix together and serve along side the Potjie

Recipe and picture copyright by Tamsyn Wells and Julie Louw

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thai Mango and Sticky Rice

When life gives you mangoes you just have to make sticky rice to go with it, traveling through Vietnam and Thailand with my foodie friends is always the best part of my year as they introduce me to all these amazing foods, so simple but a taste memory I will never forget.

A year later I decided to recreate my own version craving the salty sweet flavour, unfortunately the Tim Noakes dieters must stay away from this dish, I may try make a quinoa version at a later date when I have finished indulging in mine.

Traditionally Thai sweet rice is used or glutinous rice, I only use Jasmine or Basmati in my house so below is my version, much lighter and a little less sticky than what you would find in Thailand but still hits the savoury sweet spot.

Suitable for vegetarians and lactose intolerant.

Mango and Sticky rice 
Serves 4

1 cup Jasmine rice
1/3 tin coconut milk (400g tin)
1tsp salt
1 tbsp light brown sugar
2 Mangoes, perfectly ripe

Coconut sauce:
2/3 tin coconut milk
3 tsp light brown sugar
about 1 tsp salt, depending on your taste

Soak the rice covered in water for 20 minutes, rinse and strain.
Measure 2 cups of liquid, include the 1/3 tin of coconut milk and water, place in a pot and bring gently to the boil with 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp brown sugar.
Add the soaked and rinsed rice and turn the heat to its lowest simmering with a lid half on.
Stir occasionally, cook for about 8 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the beads of rice are almost cooked. Switch off the heat, place the lid on and leave for about 6 minutes to rest.

Meanwhile make the coconut sauce, heat all ingredients in a pot but do not boil as it will split. Add the salt and sugar to your taste.

Peel the mango and slice.

Remove the rice from the pot and allow it to com down to room temperature.
Once cool serve yourself half a mango with some rice on the side topped with coconut sauce, I added sesame seeds but the traditional topping is a crispy like puffed rice topping.

Recipe and picture copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tashas V and A Waterfront

This past Saturday was the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, I was not going to do it but after receiving an entry via their lucky draw I figured fate wanted me to. I suffered through most of it but completed in time and received my medal.

We woke up at 4am, I ate a coconut chia seed breakfast and a banana and fueled along the race with copious amounts of sugar in the form of Gu, Powerade and Coke. On completion, after the best shower ever, we went for breakfast to drink Champagne, celebrate and eat something... Salty.

I read about Tashas ages ago before she got her spot in the Waterfront and have always wanted to try it so we decided it was a good place for our celebration it being an anniversary and for the marathon we had completed, being my first, we totally needed to toast the moment.

They don't take bookings so there was a waiting list when we got there but were seated pretty quickly and were at a door so we had a view of the ocean. It is really beautiful inside, clean, airy, minimal and sleek with a cake table catching your eye, planning your after meal treat before you sit.

In my ravenous state I forgot to take pictures of our meals but they were well sized hearty portions, I had chicken schnitzel on ciabatta with an avocado and french dressing salsa and my friend had bacon rosti with a forestiere sauce of mushroom with poached egg. There were lots of delicious meals passing us all looked of a high quality which is why it has become a well known brand. None of us had any dessert but all said we would be back soon.

Our meals were all R80 which is quite high for breakfast but fair for lunch, the menu is large and will cater to all tastes, we had a great time and well done to all my friends who completed the two Oceans until next year.

Shop 7117 V and A Waterfront
Cape Town
Tel: 021-4214350

Pictures and article copyright by Tamsyn Wells