Abigail Summer

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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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cheese platter Shiluvari

Hi there,

Limpopo Province is fantastic. We visited Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge for a long weekend, and on our first day we ordered the Shiluvari cheese platter. Coming from Holland, and used to visit France (cheese heaven) a lot for holiday while I lived overseas, this was a challenging pick!

Shiluvari has an amazing view of the Albasini Dam and Luonde Mountains, situated close to a little town called Elim. It houses craft and art shops and it has a small fruit and super market, 23 kilometer East of Louis Trichardt. Besides hiking, visiting the spa and shopping for art in the small shops around Elim, there is nothing much to do around here besides doing nothing at all, which we did..

Their cheese platter increased our dining expectations and most importantly: our dining pleasure. Where normally one would eat cheese at the end of a meal, instead, or before dessert, a cheese platter for lunch accompanied with a green salad or fruit is a treat.
Traditionally, a cheese platter should include a variety of cheeses, progressing from the very mild to the more pronounced.
We are easy customers as we love mild, medium and strong cheeses. But tastes vary, and they served cheeses that were not too mild, and not too strong. The cheeses were taken out of the fridge an hour before serving (a must to allow the flavour to develop) served with tasteful dips, accompanied with the best of South Africa's ham, roast beef and avo salad. An enjoyable array of colour, texture and taste.

Michel and Clare run Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge on a daily basis. Needless to say their customer service is excellent. They promote the local artists and crafters by informing their guests about the art route in and around Elim. Also in the rooms, the d├ęcor is handmade by local artists.

Thanks to Michel, Clare, their friendly staff and their beautiful land (called the land of the legend) we had a great time. Thank you very much.

Warm Regards,

Abigail Summer

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review Pomodoro Ristorante - Morningside - Johannesburg

I was so excited to have my first wine tasting since when? Well.. two months! This time we were guests at Pomodoro Restaurant. Pomodoro was once my favorite restaurant in Johannesburg, before they relocated to a more commercial hub. I was a bit nervous that their fantastic Italian cuisine had suffered from the move to Morningside. I was nervous about the idea that the romantic atmosphere, that I appreciated so much, got lost.

A fresh interior, Italian flavours and passionate management greeted us into the 'Pomodoro world'. The world I left behind, for whatever reason. A reason I could not remember.

First impression at the entrance:

• Good atmosphere
• Fully booked
• Friendly waiters
• Nicely laid tables
• Modern look
• Sadly enough it missed romance

Klein Constantia organized the Gourmet Wine Evening. Klein Constantia is the oldest, most enduring vineyard region in the Cape. ‘Family owned and run, Klein Constantia's philosophy is founded on quality rather than quantity, reflected in the wines regularly inviting accolades, both locally and internationally’. That evening we were spoiled with KC Rose (Cabernet Franc), Vin de Constance, Klein Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, Klein Constantia Cabernet Sauvignon Red and KC red.

After a short introduction from the manager, warming up the tast buds for the evening, the cook shared his passion for Italian food and knowledge about preparation and flavor. He explained the variety of the menu:

Shot of chilled yellow pepper and roasted tomato soup

Truffled chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche and ginger ale syrup

1st Course
Spiced confit duck ravioli with an orange and pepper veloute

2nd Course
Red wine poached springbok shank with sweet potato puree in a Cabernet Sauvignon jus

Praline semifreddo on a burnt pistachio brittle with espresso gelato in a Belgian chocolate cup and a macadamia nut gastrique.

Do I need to squeeze your arm? Absolutely not. This is the best menu I have had in many many years.. stunning. Except for the Springbok shank. It just did not work for me, but in general shanks are not what I would order from a menu, ever. Dealing with the bone and cut around the fat are not what I enjoy. You could stand on your head and blow bubbles and I wouldn't eat it. The sweet potato puree made up for it and the jus was stunning.

We agreed 200% that the starter was the best dish of them all. We are serving our guests for Christmas, guess what? Truffled chicken liver parfait! Without a doubt. At least, I'll try.

The representative of Klein Constantia introduced us to their wines, but as the other guests (not part of the wine tasting) chatted in the background, we could not hear a word she said. Unfortunately..
Management really impressed me with their wine and food knowledge, their passion and attention. The waiters let me down. Although they smiled, they were not part of the diner event as such. Just collecting the plates and serving them, without them understanding how special the dishes were. The dishes definitely needed more attention, more words, more sharing.. more love..

That said, I have come to the following conclusion: a hub location, warm, great food but it missed romance.

Overall experience?

Value for money?
Yes, absolutely. It is the best menu I had in a very long time, and the set price of 320 rand (I think, but can't remember precisely.. because of the wine I guess) including wine was fantastic. In one word: scrumptious.

Food         4/5
Service     3/5
Ambiance 2/5

Overall review

Warm regards,

Abigail Summer

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review Karoo - Cattle & Land - Fourways Johannesburg

'As South African as it gets' is the heading on the website. Curious as I am, I book a table for four and look forward to an evening of South African Dining in Karoo - Cattle & Land with good friends.

First I want to apologize a million times to you who have followed my blog for the past couple of months. I admit I haven't been the sharpest pencil in the packet these days and I am so sorry. Due to the fact that I started a new job two months ago, I lost focus on what is really important in my life: writing & eating!! So guys, be aware.. I am back! And I look forward to more Summer!

The Karoo is a semi-desert region of South Africa. It has two main sub-regions - the Great Karoo in the north and the Little Karoo in the south. Currently sheep farming is the economic backbone of the Karoo with other forms of agriculture taking place in areas where irrigation is possible.

Karoo - Cattle & Land is famous for their red meat, ribs and fresh fish. To complete their African style menu they offer Boerewors and Bobotie. The atmosphere in the restaurant is good. It is very busy this Saturday night with a huge variety of food lovers that sit at the nicely laid wooden tables, some by themselves, others in groups.

First impression at the entrance:
  • Friendly staff at the entrance
  • Very busy
  • Convenient temperature
  • Wonderful salade bar in the front
  • Nice finishings
  • Modern
We sit down at a table in the back area and order a good bottle of wine (Hidden Valley Stellenbosch) to start the evening. The ambiance is fantastic. The music is soft, although once in a while when quiet at the table for a few seconds, I hear Jamiroquai, Sinead O'Connor and other all time favorites. Great songs!

Our friends ordered Butternut soup for starters. The soup was creamy but very thick. The chicken livers, prepared with piri piri, were great. I ordered carpaccio. The dish was thinly sliced, (too salty!) topped with roquefort cheese and rocket. For mains our friends ordered crumbed chicken breast lightly fried and served with Karoo sauce. Surprisingly enough the Chicken Schnitzel was really good. It would never be my first choice in a Steak Restaurant with South African traditional dishes. But that is just my opinion. Because it is my blog, I am allowed to have an opinion. Especially when it comes to food!

I recently read a book from Anthony Bourdain. He reminded me not to order food, that is not a fast seller. Which means that the chicken sold in an Steak Restaurant is probably not your best option as it comes to taste and expiry dates! :) But anyway..

Peter ordered Spare Ribs, finished off on the flame grill with basting sauce. The ribs were an absolute winner, the marinade very tasteful. I ordered Traditional Bobotie dish, served with yellow rice. For dessert Melktert, a good choice and such a difference to the melktert in the retail shops. Jammie!!

While we were still enjoying our starters, the waiters walked up to our tables with our mains. Such a big mistake, and bad communication between the front area and the kitchen.
Overall experience?
Okay. Karoo Cattle & Land serves good food, the place has a great and modern atmosphere and it is a nice overall experience. I loved the choices the Salad Bar had to offer.

Value for money?
Starters range from R40,- to R55,-. Mains range from R75,-  to R165,-. Desserts are R35,-. For the wine we paid R150,-. It was not cheap but it was worth the money spend.

Food        3/5
Service     2/5
Ambiance 4/5

Overall review

Warm Regards,

Abigail Summer

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review Cup Decadently Yours - Morningside Johannesburg

Hi there, 

Today I spend an hour and a half at Cup Decadently Yours in Morningside. I had to wait for my appointment at the hairdresser's. I noted the wrong time in my diary (how foolish), and had some time to spend. Therefore, I went to Cup Decadently Yours and had soft drinks. I absolutely loved it!

Wedgewood nougat, twinnings tea, fat free - non dairy smoothies, great cappuccino with heart shaped cookies on the side. All in a pink environment with sweet and friendly waitresses in pink and light blue dresses and waiters in pink and purple shirts.
Besides lunch, they serve coffee and tea in different flavors. What to think of a French Vanilla Coffee, a Dutch Chocolate Coffee (Recommended!), an Irish Cream Coffee, a Rooibos cappuccino, a mango smoothie?

Also they have a popcorn machine, lots of sweets and cookies for sale and even teapots! And what I loved was the branding on the serviettes. Lot's of time spend on details. Although it is a relatively open space, exactly in the middle of the shopping center, it did not feel like that. It was quiet, peaceful and a perfect place to drink a coffee in the morning by yourself, waiting for an appointment, or have lunch in the afternoon with a couple of friends or just the two of you. The heart shaped cookies, pink colours and general sweetness might lead to a romantic afternoon :)

So as I said, I love this place. I did not order lunch but I'll definitely come back once to review their sandwiches. Therefore I am not able to review this beautiful lunchroom for now as I am used to.

I can and will absolutely recommend the smoothies. Once seated on the classical chairs, enjoying the environment, you'll agree with me about Cup Decadently Yours.

Warm Regards,

Abigail Summer

Monday, May 10, 2010

Review Fisherman’s Plate – Cyrildene – Johannesburg

This weekend we went to China Town. Having been in Johannesburg for more than a year, this was my first visit. Our mission was to have diner at the Fisherman’s Plate, at Derrick Avenue in Cyrildene.

A Garmin could be of sufficient help when you do not know the route. If you type in the correct address Abigail! Which I did not (stupid!). We drove straight to Derek Street, following the instructions from our friendly Garmin-lady. From there we realized we were in the wrong street with nothing China alike.
We looked up the address again and typed in the right one this time! But..
From Derek Street to Derrick Avenue you cross Hillbrow. It is known for its high levels of population density, unemployment, poverty and crime. I read that once before I came here and stayed away from it as long as I could. Now we were forced to drive through Hillbrow, for the first time since I arrived in Johannesburg. It was okay but I did not feel completely safe. Especially because it was dark, and lots of people were out on the streets. Nothing happened by the way :)

Anyway, we arrived at the right address. It was just around the corner.. We parked in an extremely busy but cosy street and were on our way to Fisherman’s Plate. As we walked to the restaurant we enjoyed Derrick Avenue with all its Chinese restaurants, electronic equipment shops, supermarkets, hairdressers and massage salons. Also the flavors from the apartments above all these shops, made us very hungry.. :) A big sign above the door pointed us in the right direction. 

First impression at the entrance:

•    Fluorescent lights
•    Plastic plates/bowls on the tables
•    Lovely wall painting on the right side
•    Relaxed atmosphere
•    Sweet white little curtains at the front
•    Not busy
Fisherman’s Plate offers delicious Taiwanese cuisine; especially the seafood is really good. So I heard.
We tried the deep-fried salt and garlic prawns with vegetable noodles and rice. As well, we tried the sizzling beef with vegetables and we ordered chicken as well. The bony chicken was not what I expected. I expected chicken fillets I guess, cut in smaller pieces together with a sauce. The sauce was good though but the skinned and bony chicken just was not for me. The sizzling beef with paprika, onions and carrots in a wonderful soya sauce was unforgettable.
The prawns were also fantastic. Although I found it a bit awkward to eat them. The 'heads' were deep fried and therefore eatable as well. 

What I loved was that each guest is allowed and advised to bring own drinks. They have soft drinks, beer, and an average choice of wine, but there is not always enough stock. Especially if you book for a group, bringing your own drinks is advisable. We ordered two Windhoek beers. In stock. Ice-cold. 

Overall experience?
Okay, nice total experience.

Value for money?

No. I think it was too expensive. We paid 280 ZAR for three plates (prawns, chicken and beef) for two people, rice and noodles and two beers. An average price at Saigon (in Rivonia) for instance is 90 ZAR per person with exquisite service and a chic and warm atmosphere.

Food         3/5
Service      n/a
Ambiance  n/a

I reviewed the food and not the service and ambiance for Fisherman’s Plate.

A piece of advice people. If you decide to go there, check the address before you drive off into the night. China Town, it is just around the corner.. It gets you closer to new places!

Warm Regards,

Abigail Summer

Friday, May 7, 2010

Best films ever..

Hi all, 

Every decade, the British Sight & Sound asks an international group of film professionals to vote for their greatest film of all time. The Sight & Sound accolade has come to be regarded as one of the most important of the "greatest ever film" lists. Described as "by far the most respected of the countless polls of great movies-the only one most serious movie people take seriously." 
The first poll, in 1952, was topped by Bicycle Thieves (1948). The Sight & Sound Top Ten Poll 2002:
  1. Citizen Kane
  2. Vertigo
  3. The Rules of the Game
  4. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II
  5. Tokyo Story
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  7. 7. The Battleship Potemkin
  8. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
  9. 8 1/2
  10. Singin' in the Rain
I must admit. I have not seen any of these movies! Where have a been over the past two decades? I do love watching movies, but I was so surprised to have missed all 10 of these movies that I decided to post the list.

This weekend more reviews. It has been a while, and I can't wait to spend some money in restaurants in and around town and tell you everything about it!

Have a wonderful weekend guys..

Warm Regards,

Abigail Summer

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pasta with sweet tomatoes, aubergine and mozzarella - Jamie Oliver

Today I am going to try one of Jamie Oliver's recipes. I love his shows on television and I do think he is the most gorgeous chef on earth. Also he is lucky with his accent, it is lovely. Although it is described as mockney or fake, it has become famous over the years. Particularly the use of the Hindi word 'pukka' (meaning brilliant or solid) refers to him.

Some of the newsflashes in which he was the center of attention:

In 2003, Oliver was ranked number 28 in Channel 4's poll of '100 Worst Britons'. The poll was inspired by the BBC series '100 Greatest Britons'. The poll specified that the nominees had to be British, alive, and not currently in prison.

In 2005, Oliver was widely criticized by animal rights groups for slaughtering a fully conscious lamb on his TV show (my God!). Some critics believed his act would scare meat eaters into becoming vegetarians, which they stated as good television. I would never become a vegetarian to be honest but I am happy to not have seen this video..

Also in 2005, Jamie Oliver embarked upon his school dinners campaign to improve the quality of food fed to pupils. While the campaign was arguably successful, at the time it was a highly controversial shake-up for students and parents, some of whom believed that the students should have a healthy option available, but still be given the choice as to what they want to eat. (agreeable I guess)

In September 2006, Rawmarsh Community School, South Yorkshire, UK, made headlines after a handful of parents revolted against Oliver's lunch plan (in which all 1,100 pupils on site were fed two portions of fruit and three vegetables every day) by delivering junk food from local shops to the pupils through the school fence. (who are these people for Heaven's sake? So much for setting an example!!) One parent dismissed Oliver's food as 'disgusting rubbish' and declared: 'Food is cheaper and better at the local takeaways.'

Well guys, believe me he knows how to make a good healthy vegetarian dish :)

For this Pasta with sweet tomatoes, aubergine and mozzarella dish you would need:
  • 350 gr pasta (whichever you like)  
  • 1 large firm aubergine
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons thick cream
  • a large handful of fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 x 200g ball of buffalo mozzarella
  • 4 large handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Slice up the aubergine into 1cm thick cubes and heat a griddle pan. Meanwhile, put 4 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan on a medium heat. Add the aubergine for seven minutes on medium heat. After that add the onion, garlic and dried oregano and cook for a few minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic has a tiny bit of color. Then add the tinned tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar. When the tomato sauce is reduced, season it carefully with salt and pepper. Cook on slow heat for 15 minutes, then add the cream. Cook the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce mixture together with the torn-up mozzarella and basil. Serve immediately.

 Thanks for sharing this recipe Jamie, you are amazing!

Warm regards,

Abigail Summer