What is a weekend without a braai?!! I know in our household, it would just not be possible. That fire is lit for any occasion, and very often.
Something happens to a man when he stands in front of a fire and you put a pair of tongs in one hand and a beer in the other. Not quite sure what it is, but he seems to be transported onto another level. The chest puffs up a bit, he stands taller, he rocks from side to side, waving the tongs around and says: “ Nou braai ons lekker, boet!”
Seems to be a very happy place for most South African men. Just watch them around a fire. There is a code of conduct here, you never mess with another man’s fire! You could kiss his wife, but hey, the fire!!! No no, this is out of bounds! This is a sacred rule they learnt from their Dads when they were little kids, as when a male at a braai doesn’t have a mate around, any other male presence around the fire with him would do, so any boy children are roped in. There needs to be a pack of them for it to be really successful, this is not a solo thing. They are the hunters returning from the field with the catch of the day, while the gatherers are chatting over chilled glasses of Sauvignon Blanc doing the prep of the salads in the kitchen. This is tradition. Do not try to change this system, it works!
And then, when the meal is produced, so proudly: “Now look at that, hey! What a feast! Isn’t that amazing?” they say. And now you must praise loudly and go into raptures about how incredible they are, and what a meal this is!
Never mind that you did the shopping, and you have been preparing the marinades and the sauces for hours, putting it all together and out at the fire, ready to cook. No credit for that, love! This is just what we are supposed to do!
And we grab another glass of vino and smile to ourselves, life is so simple when you know how to play it.
Enjoy this Heritage Day with two of our favourite gourmet braai recipes.
MEDITERRANEAN POTATO SALAD
1 kg baby potatoes
2 t salt
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jar of small capers
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped dill
4 hard boiled eggs, cut into quarters
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
1/2 t sugar
1/2 c olive oil
1 t Djion mustard
salt & pepper
Boil potatoes in salted water, but don’t let them get too soft.
Cool and peel, then slice in half.
Mix the dressing well, and pour over the warm salad.
Add the capers, olives, herbs (keep a few back to the top) and onion and toss together.
Check the seasoning and then let it stand to absorb the flavours for an hour or so.
If too much oil has been absorbed, then add more.
Top with the eggs and the rest of the chopped herbs.
BRAAI: SEAFOOD PARCELS
Serves 6 – 8 people
800g firm white fish fillets, sliced into cubes (can be an assortment)
12 deveined prawns with the shells on, cut in half lengthways
400g baby calamari, sliced into thin rings
(You can also add in a cup of mussels or clams)
Tin foil to make parcels
3 thumbs of fresh ginger thinly sliced
1 cup of coriander
1 lime slices
2 sticks of finely sliced lemongrass
Chili Ginger and lime sauce for seafood parcel
2 t grated ginger
1 t grated garlic
2 deseeded chopped red chillies
1 1/2 T sesame oil
2 T peanut oil
1 lime, juice & zest
1 T fish sauce
1 1/2 T soy
1 t brown sugar or palm sugar, grated
1/2 t hot chili flakes
Mix these together well in a bowl.
Add in the roughly chopped ginger and lemongrass.
Add the fish to this, and coat well.
Take a double square of foil and put the fish with the sauce in the centre of the foil.
Top with the coriander and the lime slices.
Make sure the parcel is closed very well.
2 T Capers
1/2 a cup of pitted Olives
1 cup of halved baby tomatoes
1 packet of baby spinach
Handful of each: basil & flat leaf parsley
4 cloves of sliced garlic
3 T of olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
Salt and Pepper
Take a double square of foil and put the fish in the centre of the foil.
Add in the ingredients above and then drizzle with olive oil and season well.
Make sure the parcel is closed very well.
Now place the parcels on a heated Weber and close the lid.
They need to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through.
Do not overcook the fish.
If you don’t have a Weber, you can do this on the open braai, but make sure the fire is not too hot.
You can serve these with steamed rice to mop up the juices.
We enjoyed a great experience at the restaurant L’AVENUE on the Champs Elysee. It was fascinating to see the well dressed gorgeous people who frequent this very upmarket, yet laid back establishment. Clearly a job requirement for waitresses to be employed here is to have incredibly long well shaped legs, and to be able to serve while wearing stilettos or high heeled over the knee boots, with a very short skirt, of course. Gavin didn’t know where to look first!
But onto the food: I enjoyed a wonderful piece of sea bass, which had a Tom Yum sauce, which was absolutely heavenly! Gavin had a Veal chop which was grilled to perfection, with a side of buttery green beans that only the French know how to do, and seriously I have tried! There is something about their beans that is just different. These dishes were recommended by a foodie friend of ours with impeccable taste, so we knew we could not go wrong, thanks dear friend!
There seemed to be a permanent light drizzle, and it was very grey. We didn’t see the sun at all for a few days. This of course necessitated remaining in the shops for more of the time, not a hardship to do, right! I am a seasoned shopper in this respect, and always wear light clothing under the coat, and shoes that slip off. A real professional!
Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, lower to a moderate boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cauliflower. Drain. Brush the cauliflower with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Place in a baking dish, place the dish in the center of the oven, and bake until the top turns golden brown.
In the two years since Miznon opened, it has become an instant favourite. Locals flock to Miznon, where fresh ingredients come together in fluffy, homemade pita bread. Miznon has left the chickpea-based falafel fare to their neighbors while upping the game with a giant blackboard full of other sandwich selections. Fresh herbs and vegetables are heavily featured in each dish, with the restaurant’s space itself being a showcase for seasonal produce. Walking into Miznon almost feels like walking into a vegetable still life, with every shelf, counter space, and corner adorned with stacks of onions, vases of parsley, dill, and cilantro, and pyramids of sweet potatoes and grilled peppers.
Roasted heads of cauliflower are sold as a whole, but also incorporated into one of the best sandwiches on the menu, the Chou Brisé. Another favorite menu item is the chicken salad sandwich, which sounds underwhelming, but is the exact opposite. A healthy handful of fresh parsley and thinly sliced red onion complement the tender chicken and just-enough secret sauce to elevate this sandwich from boring bagged lunch to a take-away delicacy. From time-to-time Miznon features a new item on their menu – recently adding a grilled head of broccoli – but the carte stays mostly the same, which is just fine because everything on the menu is so good that you don’t mind ordering the same thing over and over.
So from Paris, it was on to Manchester where Gavin had back to back meetings lined up. This is one of my favourite places, and really not at all as I had imagined it would be on my first business trip there many years ago. The food scene is buzzing, and again we stayed in the centre, so you walk everywhere. The curries are legendary as they have a huge Indian/Pakistani population, and we had a great evening at EAST TO EAST on our first night with Gav tucking into a spicy Lamb Curry which had loads of depth, while I opted for a milder Prawn Butter Curry, with various side dishes. This was as good as always.
The next day we had a quick lunch at Yo Sushi!, which is just always so good. They still do the conveyer belt, which is laden with all kinds of unusual sushi plates. I was really craving greens, so ended up having 2 portions of their mixed seaweed salad (have to try doing this, as just SO GOOD, plus being UBER healthy), and some edamame beans, which did the trick.
Then on the last night we went to SAN CARLO, again a traditional establishment which has stood the test of time. It is Italian, and specialises in the freshest of Seafood. We started with fresh white asparagus and then as we were feeling in a pasta mood, I had my favourite Spaghetti Vongole while Gav had a spicy Arrabiata pasta. Both were simple and authentic, and went well with a good bottle of the house Italian red wine.
So that was it as far as the culinary highlights went…….. Phew, did we eat a lot! I now need to do a raw diet for a few days to balance it out. I came home and hit the ground running as we were hosting a Batmizvah for 50 people (with outside catering, venue only) that evening! Fortunately for me, my amazing team had this all ready and prepped, so there was no stress whatsoever, and the evening went off extremely smoothly.
I have come away energized and inspired to bring some of what I have experienced into our kitchen at GINGER & LIME, and to share this experience with you.
FOR THE LOVE OF COOKING!
… And my very appropriate angel card for the day!
I was reminiscing over the past few days, about the path that I have been on with Ginger & Lime, and all the fantastic things that have been happening. The journey has been an incredible one, and has personally stretched me beyond anything I thought I would be capable of, that I thought I would be able to do and achieve. I was taken way out of my comfort zone, to a feeling and sense of achievement that I had not yet experienced in any of my other careers. I put myself, my passion and my soul on the line, exposed, raw and open for all to see. I am becoming more of who I am meant to be with each challenge that is presented to me, and all it took was taking that first step, even though I couldn’t see the top of the staircase. I know that I am only a few steps up, but I also know that I am on the right path. I am where I am meant to be, and the people that have been drawn into this amazing journey, are meant to be with me. The support I am receiving, and the people that are showing up at my doorstep are making this a fascinating ride.
I wake up physically tired, yet emotionally elated, with a sense of incredible excitement as to what the day will bring. Every day brings new opportunities and new experiences, with people contacting us from all over the world with so many different requests. They want to be part of the magic that we are offering, they feel our passion, and they have faith in what we are doing. What a feeling this gives us! I go to bed, drained, exhausted and yet on a high of note as I relive the all the happy, funny or trying moments that happened during that day. I just want to give more, share more and all FOR THE LOVE OF COOKING. Knowing that my team feels the same as I do, that they give me the back up that I need to keep going, to want to reach new heights and to take this further that we ever dreamed of, with them alongside of me.
When I think back as to how it all started, going to Liam’s place for an evening lesson, & just feeling so happy, so at home and feeling that this was so right. I then, of course, went back to as many of his lessons as I could fit in, as that was my treat, my way of relaxing, my happy place where I could immerse myself in the kitchen with no distractions, & become part of his world for a little while. And then, that AHA moment, when I realised that I wanted to be on the other side of the counter where Liam stood, teaching, cooking… not an observer, but to be fully immersed in it, knife in hand & showing what I could do. Sharing all the years of experience from all the hours spent in the kitchen… Finally finding an outlet for my creative foodie to come out and play. It was like a light bulb going on and illuminating my life, it just felt so right. I want to grab this, own it & do it! I decided in that moment, that I would make this happen. And for those of you who know me, when I make that decision, I will follow through, and it will happen.
Then the researching other courses on offer, the way other chefs taught, ran their schools and classes, seeing what I enjoyed and what I didn’t like, where I thought we could improve on what they did, and using these as references to find exactly our niche. Then the day coming when I had to commit to the final kitchen design, equipment choices, and the work began, and there was no turning back now. What a project to work on! The kitchen became real, Ginger & Lime had to now start to crawl, had to get out there, and this was probably the scariest part. Talking is easy, but I was now put to the test, and had to learn to fly fast, and just do it. I kind of get how a baby bird felt when it is pushed out of the nest!
I am blessed to have found my reason for being here, for being able to follow my heart and my dreams, and make them real, and for being given the support all the way along. I have learnt courage and how to be brave, stand tall, and to be fearless in the kitchen. I have learnt to believe in myself, my abilities, my skills and to appreciate my talent, and I have learnt how to share this with others. I am learning how to shine my light. I am learning how to delegate, and to help to grow those that are on this journey with me, and loving the feeling of pride that I have in them as their abilities and their confidence grow.
I watch in awe as the requests for special events, product launches, recipe development, guest chefs, TV shows and course enquiries pour in, and I feel the mounting excitement inside of me. I see the endless possibilities. I fully embrace the knowledge that there will be a TV show of our own, and that the Recipe Books will happen, as well as a product that I will develop, and I see the how this process is also unfolding and just happening.
And most of all, despite the physical challenges of the 16 hour days, sore backs and aching knees, I love the rush of adrenalin and pure energy that seems to flow from a source outside of me, as we start our “performance”, and feel the guests anticipation of what is to come. I love the interaction both with our aspiring “amateur chef” guests as well as with the other seriously talented professional chefs, and the fact that they love this beautiful space that I have created, and that they too want to be associated with it and be a part of Ginger & Lime. I love the fact that they have accepted me into their world, despite the fact that they may never have actually cooked with me, nor tasted my food, and despite the fact that I do not have any formal training. Guess they must feel that I have added value to the industry in my own way, and that makes me okay. I feel very much a part of something way bigger than just me, part of an exclusive club. Oh and how I appreciate the input from a giant of a chef like Liam, that he takes the time and energy to nurture Ginger & Lime, to support and endorse us, as well as to train Almo, which of course adds so much more to us all, as we learn through him and his time at Chef’s Warehouse.
And as for Gavin, despite knowing that it would mean that he has to share not only his home, but also me and my time with so many others, has encouraged and helped connect me all the way along this journey. He subtly pushed me when I had any self doubt, and believed in me all the way. I know I could not have ever come this far without his unwavering support.
What a week this has been! Starting off with the SA BRANDY at home event, finally after weeks of prep, and having our first very own recipe book printed in glossy full colour, with an influential who’s who’s as far as trend influencers go in the kitchen, and being blown away by our food creations, was a seriously gratifying experience. We DID it! They loved the recipes, the food and the whole package. We ROCKED! I went to bed with the hugest smile on my face, and pure joy in my heart, knowing that I had done the best that I could, and that it was worth all the hard work that we all put into the project. You get out what you put in, always. My aim is always to overdeliver, to give people more than they expect, to WOW them.
Then the next evening, having the contrast with the YPO event with youngsters (19 to 25) who took to the Masterchef Challenge and show impressed us no end with their enthusiasm, energy and the way they embraced the project and the fabulous end results. It restores our faith in the generation to come, knowing that we have future leaders of this calibre around.
And the highlight of the week, having Neill Anthony (Private Chef), Liam Tomlin and Matt Manning here the other evening, all at the same time…..TV crew all over and cameras rolling, the A List of all A list guests sitting at my table eating the fabulous food (you should have seen the Louboutins, Chanel and the diamonds!), drinking in the atmosphere and so enjoying it, was an amazing experience. And there we were, hanging out in the hallway, chatting up a storm, drinking wine, sharing our stories and our lives…. I cannot put into words how that made me feel. How it makes me want more of this, this interaction, this feeding off each other and off our ideas! I know this is just the beginning, and I am ready for more, so BRING IT ON!
I also love and am deeply appreciative of our team, the very real support offered on a physical and a spiritual level, and the special dynamics and relationships between us…. Each one of these people is a vital cog in the wheel of this awesome machine called Ginger & Lime. I know that this is a team effort, and that although I may be the one leading us, it takes a team to make the magic happen. I AM TRULY BLESSED!