Jazzing it Up

Yesterday was another of the jazz events Norm and I enjoy attending. This time it was held at Amakhaya Guest Lodge which is owned by Lee and Pierre. Lee is the daughter of Harry Peacock whose band was performing.

The weather was perfect, we arrived just after 5pm and the sun was still beating down, but after some negotiating of one of the many sun umbrellas and we were sorted. The seats were placed round the pool which made for a lovely setting.

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My friend Caroline joined us.

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We had brought our own drinks and snacks. I wasn’t driving so enjoyed some ice cold Sauvingnon Blanc.

The event started with a little dance treat by the Jikeleza Dance Project. The Jikeleza Dance Project works with young people and children in the communities of Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg in Hout Bay, South Africa to empower and turn young lives around through dance and music. They strive to keep kids in school and have after school sessions with them where they study dance and music. Some of these children may have gone all day with no food, no breakfast or dinner. Can you imagine trying to learn when all you can think about is how hungry you are?

The girls were so adorable and all were wearing African face paint and had little shells full of beads tied round their ankles so each step generated a lovely sound.

My pics are not great as it was so bright and I didn’t want to block anyone’s view by standing in front of the dancers. But you can get a feel for it I hope.

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This is such a worthwhile group, I so admire what they are trying to achieve and was happy to donate. If any one also wants to donate, especially those overseas, your foreign currency goes so far here, it would be wonderful if you ‘adopted’ this charity on an ongoing basis, but even a once off donation would be so helpful.

Norm seemed to really relax, he’s usually running round networking.

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I do adore this man. My soulmate.

The band started up when the girls finished. Lots of people were dancing and we all really enjoying the music.

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The sun set and it finally cooled off, it was just a magical evening.

The event was due to finish at 8 and we had another party to go to so we toddled off about 8:30 and dashed home to feed the pooches and let them have a wee, then off we went to Fish Hoek. We went via Chapman’s Peak Drive but the most beautiful drive was lost on us as it was pitch dark. We found the Athletics Club where the party was happening.

It was my friend Rhona’s 50th birthday and the theme was The Wild West.

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The decorations were fabulous, they had put up saloon doors at the entrance, hay bales were piled up and they made wanted posters of many of the guests. All the guests really made an effort to dress up, the guest of honour looked stunning in a scarlet red saloon girl outfit she bought for the occasion. Rhona is a former work colleague who is now working in Dorset in the UK. She flew home just for the weekend!

They had a lamb on a spit and roast chicken, pita breads and cole slaw. By the time we ate it was about 10pm so I was like a half pissed ravenous menopausal bear.

I could have eaten my own leg by that stage! But the food was simple yet delicious. We shoved it all in the pita and wolfed it down.

There was a DJ and the crowd were all up dancing. We even got a boogie in, I do love dancing. It was the first time I met Rhona’s hubby and daughter and they were both really lovely, open and welcoming.

If we lived in Fish Hoek we would definitely join the Athletic Club, it’s a great venue and the members all seemed like such lovely people.

We finally set off home about 12.30 and when we got to the stop and go section of roadworks on Chappies there was no one anywhere to be seen to let us through. We waited, and waited and finally hooted the horn. No Joy. Norm started to get out to check things out but it’s too risky in SA to be wandering in the dark in an unknown situation. I thought I could see boots in the little shed the workmen use so I sat on the hooter. Finally a guy pops out the shed, rubbing his eyes. He had been sound asleep on duty. Oh dear. Never mind. After 10 minutes we finally get waved through and head home.

Today is also a stunning day. We have no kids this weekend so Norm made us coffee and toasted ciabatta when he fed the dogs, and we slothfully spent the day in bed. It was heavenly! We finally surrendered to the heat and our hunger and got up about 2.30!

I put on my new leopard print swimming costume and giant hat and had my lunch by the pool. I spent all day there, retreating to the shade after a bit to avoid burning.

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Norm is now braaing some kebabs for us and I’m off to make a salad, then we are going to watch a film.

Life is rather fabulous.

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Under The Stars

This week was still intense at work, we had a data load which means stress and tension and late hours, but we hit our delivery.

Norm had his old friend Rowan come over from Belfast this week for a wedding, this was a guy Norm had coached over 20 years ago and had not really seen since then. Rowan’s wife is Cathy and we made plans to go to one of my favourite restaurants which is owned by an amazing chef. La Mouette is run by the lovely couple Mari and Henry, the food they conjure up is a treat to the taste buds.

Rowan and Cathy were lucky enough (or rich enough hahaha) to stay at the stunning Mount Nelson Hotel and we offered to collect them, so we drove through the gorgeous entrance and up the winding drive towards the big pink hotel to collect them.
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We arrived at La Mouette just before the sun set and the courtyard was all ready with the tables beautifully set, the fountain tinkling in the centre, and fairy lights strung in the trees. It is such a lovely oasis in the centre of busy Seapoint, but it somehow feels as if you are off in the countryside, you are unaware of any noise or chaos nearby. As the sun went down the candles were lit and the light was from the periphery of the courtyard.

We opted for the Spring Tasting Menu which consists of 6 courses for R295, or if you opt to have the wine pairing it is R475. Instead of the wine pairing we chose to go with the Warwick Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc at R225 a bottle.

The 1st course was Roasted cauliflower soup accompanied by Gruyere cheese scones, truffle Chantilly and red onion jam.
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The soup was creamy and tasty, the cheese scone was gorgeous with the truffle cream and onion jam. A lovely way to kick off the night.

Next was the course I was least looking forward to as I am not a fan of celery or celeriac. But I have now learned to not question Henry’s seemingly bizarre combinations as somehow the chemistry just elevates the food to another level.

The Celery panacotta was creamy and smooth and only lightly flavoured with celery and it came with Hazelnut crumble, Grilled asparagus, and an apple and celeriac remoulade and it was all just divine. The nuttiness of the hazelnut was a perfect balance to the other flavours. It was light and refreshing and perfect for the heat of the evening.

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Next was a choice of either:
Peas, ham and eggs: Glazed pork belly, lomo, peas, parmesan cream and egg yolk emulsion.
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Or
Salt and pepper squid: Roasted corn, puree, pickled cucumber and caramelized onion ketchup.
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I opted for the squid. It was breaded with a light crispy coating and the combo of the corn and the other items was perfect, but then I have a slight corn fetish, I blame my Native American heritage, we invented that stuff didn’t we? 🙂
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Or was it the pilgrims? Whatever the history, it was damned good.

Norm had the pork, he has a bit of a pea obsession. Not sure why, did the scots invent peas?

The next course also had 2 options:
Either the Springbok ‘pie’ Bitterballen, medallion, spring baby vegetables, smoked mash and crispy pastry,
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Or the Franschhoek trout Tartare, cauliflower cous cous, quinoa, crispy calabash, pickled pumpkin seeds, spiced chicken jus.
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All of us had the springbok other than Cathy who tried the trout. The springbok medallions were really tender, the bitterballen like mini schnitzel balls, crispy outside, tender and delicious inside. The mash had a delicious flavour, maybe truffle oil? Not sure but it was so creamy and flavourful. It was so delicious I wanted to lick the plate.

The trout looked very nice and Cathy polished it all off and said she enjoyed it.

The next course was Eton mess which consisted of Meringue, lemon curd, strawberries, vanilla cream, cassis gel and strawberry sorbet.
Clever Cathy called it Eton tidy as it was so delicately arranged on the plate, it was a visual treat as well as one for the taste buds.
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It was tart, and very refreshing. I really enjoyed it.

Memories of sweets by the seaside was the final course, this consisted of a donut, ice cream and a mock up of a bit of rock which had a jelly type outside and a creamy filling.
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For you Americans, rock is a traditional British seaside treat,and this is what we always just called hard stick candy, we used to always buy it when we went to Gatlinburg for some reason.
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The evening was fabulous, it was a hot evening, the food was perfect, and I really clicked with Cathy, we had such a giggle over everything, she seemed to get my odd sense of humour and we chatted the entire night while the fellas caught up. It was just magical.

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We only got to sleep at about 1am which was a killer for a Monday. It didn’t help that I had bookclub on the Tuesday and another late night, but it was good to see my girlies and catch up. We celebrated Camilla’s birthday and chatted and laughed for hours, it was lovely.

Norm and I attended the CPF (Community Policing Forum) meeting on Thursday evening and there was a new board elected, I am looking forward to the changes they will implement, they are all young and as devoted to Hout Bay as Norm and I are and we anticipate a lot of energy coming in to make a difference.

Last night after work I went for a cocktail with 2 of the lads on my team. We went to the Park Inn at the Foreshore, they have a lovely lounge on the roof, it has a pool and a DJ and cocktails with a view of the mountain. Did I mention cocktails?
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As I was driving I just had 1 and made it last for 2 hours 🙂 that meant I avoided brain freeze so it’s all good.

We had a lot of laughs talking nonsense and then we all headed home.

Tonight we have 2 events to attend, so it is definitely the end of year craziness starting. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend, the sun is shining and life is pretty fabulous.

http://www.lamouette-restaurant.co.za
http://www.belmond.com/mount-nelson-hotel-cape-town/
http://www.parkinn.com/hotel-capetown

Happy At Home

My daughters have now finished University exams and are now ready to be released onto the work force. Hard to believe I have 3 children with university degrees, I am very proud of them all. I’m also glad they are on holiday as things were a bit stressful during exams. Throw in a menopausal woman and it’s a hormonal hot pot with potential to boil over at any moment. Poor Norm.

The girls are in George to visit their Dad, brother and friends so it is very quiet at the moment.

Friday night we went to Papino’s for dinner. We love the steaks there and Norm and I both had the fillet and chips, the veg is always al dente and perfect.

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I ordered the mushrooms as a side, one of the things I have always loved about this restaurant. However when they arrived I saw they have changed from the lovely butter fried button mushrooms to black mushrooms. Yech. Not a fan of those, but they were ok just not as good as the old version.

However, the service was shocking. Before the food arrived there was plenty staff wandering about, but once our food was delivered they seemed to vanish. We only received 1 portion of chips, a second order arrived after we had mostly finished. Our plates sat in front of us for ages after we were done, one of my pet peeves.

We both fancied a bit of dessert, but no one came near to offer us any, nor were coffees offered. I could have sworn a restaurant actually wants to make money, but we finally got fed up waiting and had to literally wave our arms wide to get someone’s attention at the bar to ask them to send over a waitress.

This is the 2nd time we have been unimpressed with this venue, but the food is so divine we keep giving up being annoyed and go back. We have been going there longer than we have lived here as we went even when holidaying here from the UK.

We had a lovely evening despite the lack of attention from the staff.

Saturday I awoke hot. I can’t sleep without a fan. I thought that Norm had turned it off, but it was a power cut due to load shedding. I was feeling the wine the night before and I was desperate for a coffee. I would have killed for a gas stove.

Luckily it wasn’t off too long, only 2 hours. I was off to Janine’s Skin Clinic for a facial. This is the spa where I’ve been going for laser hair removal so I’m there most weeks it seems!

This week I went for deep cleansing. My therapist had asked me to not wash my face as she wanted to measure my oil levels. She also took pics of my skin in various lights and all the data is entered into the computer program and it analyses your face and compares you to all other women your age.

First you put your face into this contraption that looks like the machine to test you for glaucoma.

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Then there are flashes of bright light and the laptop brings up various pics of your skin. I now know how my face will look when dead. I look like a cadaver. A cadaver with good skin for my age, but a cadaver none the less.

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They then check your pores, your wrinkles, your sun damage, pigmentation, all that can be measured is measured.

I didn’t fare too badly, I’m way below most women my age on most of the measures. But my pores looked horrendous. I had much torture of my pores being cleansed, which sounds innocuous until you experience someone else essentially squeezing your zits. Which brings me to the question of what the hell is a woman of my age doing getting zits!? I even had zits in my ears. How does that happen?

Next year I’m going to start going for microdermabrasion just to help my skin a bit more. It all helps!

We just stayed in last evening, ordered pizza and watched a movie. Norm was feeling a bit poorly so we chilled.

Today we went to do some shopping. Norm isn’t any more of a fan of shopping than I am but the days til Christmas are ticking away fast! We headed to Blue Route and I found a pair of jeans that looked decent and were also comfy. I also got a top for work and a casual comfy dress just to slob around in, cool and comfy and perfect for summer to throw over a swimming costume.

However I didn’t get a single Christmas present. Oops. Today was my bestie Retha’s birthday and I did find a lovely lantern for her. She has been making bits and pieces in pewter since our class so I thought it would go nicely with those and would be lovely in their conservatory.

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What do you think? I have a lantern fetish as I love candles. Of course we do have a lot of power outages in SA so it also has a function. We popped by for a quick visit on our way home to say happy birthday.

Tonight is another quiet night in, just us and the doggies.

It’s cozy 🙂 I’m happy and blessed.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

Dangereuxly Delicious

This week has rattled past, I’ve been so busy. Norm has his board still here from the UK and we have seen very little of him, he warned me he would be unavailable this week so I planned accordingly.

Tuesday I went to see my myosteopath who worked out the pain I’ve been having in my neck, I always leave there so relaxed, even though part of the pleasure is tinged with a bit of pain. It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain.

Wednesday evening was all about the pleasure though as we had booked a girls night out at one of my fave venues in Cape Town, Cheyne’s. My daughters are busy with Uni exams and Wednesday was the 1st of 4 for Lily and the only one for Caitlin. But Cait had plans with her beau so Lily and I joined my friend Retha and her work colleague Kerry-Anne for dinner.

I was pleased to see Cheyne has finished decorating his venue, I love the charcoal walls (says the colour blind one….they look grey to me but who knows!?) Cheyne displays art by a brilliant Banksy-esque style artist. I would love one of her pieces. (Is it a her? I realise I have no clue?!)

Lily looked lovely as always.

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As it was a school night and I was the only one drinking white, I just ordered a glass of wine. It was yummy whatever it was, I didn’t pay attention, it was the only Sauvignon Blanc available however, I did note it was R220 a bottle. It was nice.

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We ordered separately off the menu instead of doing dishes for the table as we normally do, Retha is allergic to garlic and Kerry-Anne has various things she doesn’t eat, so everyone ordered a portion of the Firecracker Crayfish to start, as always it was so divine.

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The next round Lily and I shared the Mumbai chilli beef and the line fish on cucumber noodles. The fish was divine, moist and yet firm. Perfectly cooked. I think Cheyne has changed the noodles, they were previously served long like noodles, however these were a bit chopped up. I prefer the way he served them previously, they felt more substantial. But the taste combo is still the same and we really enjoyed both courses.

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For dessert Lily and I shared 2 desserts, a double thick peanut butter and miso butterscotch shake and a thick dark chocolate infusion slab which was so rich I could only cope with 1 bite. I am a peanut butter fanatic and that shake was wonderful! Full of chunky peanuts and crumbled chocolate cookies, it was just delicious. But even 2 of us could barely make a dint in it. It was a puddle of heaven.

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We had a lovely evening. I am so pleased to see Cheyne was chockablock for a weeknight. I love to see our wonderful Hout Bay venues being supported.

Thursday I had a pedi appointment after work and I had a relaxing visit and a lot of giggles with the girls in the shop, we rehashed our Halloween party and I am happy to say they are now converts to our annual celebrations. They had a blast 🙂

As I knew I’d be home late I asked Lily to phone in a sushi order at the place next to the nail salon, Mila Noodles. I finished my pedi and having forgotten to bring sandals, I had to trot off barefoot. I went Into the tiny restaurant and asked for our order, they said ‘oh I told her 30 Minutes.’ The chef was sweating and shouting. I checked my phone as Lily messaged me after ordering and it had been 26 minutes. So I said ok so it will be ready soon and waited. Eventually after 2 other people had come in and collected food and left I went up and said I would just pay so I could go when the food was ready. They hand me a slip which I knew was not what we ordered, and when I question it the chef shouts at me again, ‘what you order what you order?’ Well, heck if I know, I just know I didn’t order that, I told Lily to order whatever she fancied, all I asked for was bamboo rolls. That order had none. I phoned Lily to confirm and repeated the order back to them. They then whip out another receipt. I was getting rather annoyed by now and asked ‘ok how much longer will it be for THIS order?’ Chef shouts ‘quick quick’. I paid an extra 10 bucks for extra mayo, sat back down and waited. They really need to take names of people who phone in to reduce the chaos.

It finally arrived, 45 minutes after we originally ordered. I went home and when I opened it I thought it looked like he had made it with his flipping feet. What a mess. Loosely rolled, and the bamboo rolls had all manner of stuff in it which should never be in a bamboo roll. Adding insult to injury, the added salmon had bones in it. We also ended up with something we didn’t order, a deep fried mess with what tasted like Chicken Mcnuggets on top. I’ve never eaten worse, in fact we put all R220 worth in the bin. They also didn’t include the mayo I paid extra for.

All in all the worst sushi I’ve ever tasted. I won’t say ‘eaten’ as we binned it, it was dreadful I cannot say how bad. My daughter actually gagged. This was our 2nd time at Mila, we had Chinese the 1st time, the beef was tough and stringy. I gave them a 2nd chance and they failed that one too. I won’t be back. K1 sushi in Red Sail Centre is divine, I will stick to their sushi in future.

Friday I came home from work and spent the early evening by the pool, it was incredibly hot. Also Cordelia is busy cleaning on a Friday so it’s best to get off side. It was too hot to cook so Norm popped down to Spiro’s for chicken kebabs and a halloumi salad and we hired a movie, we had a lot of giggles over 22 Jump Street.

Saturday Lily and I had to be in the CBD for 10am at the hairdresser. We raced off and had a relaxing session, we munched almond croissants and had cappuccinos. My hairdresser has a new colour which takes 10 minutes and covers as well as the longer stuff so we were outta there quite quickly. We had errands to run and I even managed to get a bit of Christmas shopping done!

Last night we were out for Elmari’s birthday celebration at the Foodbarn in Noordhoek farm village. There was a huge gang of us and it was lovely hanging out with both old friends and new.

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I’ve been to a few of the venues in the village there but had not tried the Foodbarn. I’ve been very keen on trying chef Franck Dangereux’s culinary skills, I’ve heard so much about him. I’ve wanted to do his cooking evening many times but it’s so expensive. I can’t justify it.

However when we arrived at The Foodbarn we were redirected to the tapas venue in the deli. There’s a deli?! Off we went across the green to the deli and tapas venue. It’s very French, inside is a shop in the daytime, selling everything you need to whip up a stunning lunch from fresh flowers to meats, cheeses, fresh breads and all manner of deliciousness. On Tuesdays through Saturdays they are open from 6pm for sit down tapas meals. You choose ala carte from the big chalkboards.

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Or if you have a large table of people you can do a per person price of R175 which is so unbelievably reasonable as oh honey – we had a feast!!

The inside is a warehouse sort of style with exposed pipes and beams but decorated with a rustic, almost French cafe decor. It was noisy and full of laughter, a fabulous vibe. I could imagine this place in Provence, the place all the locals shop for charcuterie in the day and gather at night for their dinner and a glass of pastis or a bottle of red wine.

The service was attentive and the staff smiling (that matters to me, nothing worse than someone with a miserable face serving you and harshing your mellow).

The food was delicious and it just kept coming…..I made a schoolgirl error by not pacing myself at the start. I was hungry and launched into the gorgeous fresh baked bread. I don’t even like bread?! I liked this, such a gorgeous texture. The butter was room temperature. Cold butter is my pet peeve!

There was a big wooden board piled high with bread, butter, a round of Brie and some juicy melon slices, all accompanied by the charcuterie with chorizo and Parma ham of an excellent quality. As a person with the sense of smell of a wolf in human form I am overly sensitive to the smell of foods and especially some cured meats, particularly Parma ham, to me can smell almost rancid. I can’t eat it if it smells. These meats all tasted so beautiful – fresh and they really were divine.

This was followed by the arancini, risotto balls with tahini mayo. These were gorgeous! Sometimes I have had these at other restaurants and they are not cooked adequately resulting in a pasty mushy texture which is very unpleasant. These were perfection. Crispy outer covering, rich and creamy inside, yet the risotto maintained it’s firm texture. The sauce was creamy, but light and slightly spicy and the perfect accompaniment. I had 2 of these, part of my failure to pace myself.

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They brought grilled halloumi and ripe rosa tomatoes with basil and balsamic.

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It was fresh tasting and lovely. I had this with the lentil Dahl with poppadom crisps. It had chunks of coconut and some yogurt I think. It was so full of amazing flavour I could have eaten it off my fingers, but the poppadom crisps were nice. I would have preferred them served separate as poppadoms absorb moisture and become rather soggy. But the 1st few were delicious. Wow that whole bowl was so full of amazing flavours! I didn’t get a pic unfortunately and neither did Retha. I used most of her pics, so thank you Retha.

We had Steamed mussels in a basque sauce with chorizo which was fab, plump fresh mussels flavored with smoky chorizo and what tasted to me of paprika, all in a chopped tomato and onion mix.

Then they served salt and pepper fried calamari with aioli. There were both rings and crispy baby squid heads. This was a brilliant dish. The batter was very light and crispy. The calamari was tender.

After that we had the line fish. It looked amazing.

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Unfortunately for me it was salmon, but not our local cape salmon which I adore. It was the pink variety, Norwegian or wherever. I detest that salmon so I passed on the fish.

We had a gorgeous wee field mushroom dish with asparagus and a buttery, cheesy sauce, also fire potatoes, which is a wetter version of potatoes bravas. Nice but I’d prefer them crispier. Retha and Pierre had without sauce as they can’t eat garlic and theirs were better I thought. When I go back I will order the potatoes with no sauce.

They went perfect with the seared fillet steak with mushroom duxelle. This was to die for! Oh. My. Gawd. It was like a deconstructed beef Wellington, covered with garlicky chopped mushrooms, the fillet was perfectly cooked. There was a wee pastry hat and a puddle of delicious sauce.

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I will definitely have this again. It was so nice.

However I couldn’t believe it when yet more food arrived. There was braised pork belly, normally I don’t eat pork belly despite loving pork roast, bacon or pretty much all pork, I find belly too fat and can’t eat it. But I had to try it and wow! It was crispy outside, rich and moist inside, the fat either cut off or grilled off, it was perfection. But I was so full I could only literally manage a bite just to taste it. It’s the price I pay for you all my little voyeurs! I could call myself a pig, but that would reek of cannibalism in this scenario.

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This was still followed by Panko fried chicken breast strips with a gorgonzola dipping sauce. These were very nice, the chicken was firm and crispy, yet moist and not dry. I am not a fan of Gorgonzola, it is too overwhelming for me. To me it reeks of mold. (See previous wolfhound comment). But it was a nice creamy texture and suited the crispy almost cornmeal type of breading on the chicken. This dish tasted very southern American to me. Maybe because my mom makes bleu cheese dip. Who knows how my mind works? Not me.

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The encore was the fried churros with chocolate dip. I love churros so and you seldom find them in SA so I was lying in wait for those saving a wee corner of my glutinous self just for those. They were so yummmmmm.

My friends have a rather…saucy sense of humour and it’s the only pic we took.

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They were crispy and light, no horrid oily aftertaste like I find with most South Africa fried dough products. (Wonder why that is- what’s different?)

The chocolate dip was warm but not molten hot, so once everyone else admitted defeat my fingers were right in there haha. I was so full by this stage.

It was getting late and I needed to take off my pants lol. I was bursting with food. I had gotten a lift with Retha and Pierre as Norm appears to have gotten a touch of sunstroke, silly Scotsman. So he came home and slept and we carried on.

The drive there and back is over Chapman’s Peak drive, one of the world’s most beautiful drives.

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Coming home we could see all of the lights of the harbour reflected in the bay. This pic does no justice to how stunning it is in reality.

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Today Lily is studying and Cait and Norm are out so I’m having a pajama day. I hope you all enjoy what remains of your weekend.