It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Heathrow Airport - "Food on the Fly"

Those of us who do a bit of flying usually have a favourite airport - mine is Changi (SIN) in Singapore.  Changi is seriously amazing and you can happily while away a long layover there (shopping, pedicure, swimming pool, food, more shopping, butterfly lounge, koi carp pond, more shopping, massage, several hotels, free movie theatre, friendly and helpful staff etc.).  My current least favourite is John F. Kennedy (JFK) in New York.  JFK is utterly disorganised and staffed by disinterested people who have no idea, clue or responsibility - and it's filthy.

I know lots of people really don't like Heathrow (LHR) in London, but I think it's okay, and I love the new Terminal 5.  If you're transiting through LHR just make sure you've got plenty of time - it's big.  Anyway, LHR has an amazing selection of 73 restaurants and bars throughout, ranging from Gordon Ramsay to McDonalds.

John Torode and Gregg Wallace, the hosts of BBC's "Master Chef" have joined with LHR to release a little guide to what's available, called "Food on the Fly".  It's a really handy little reference, and you can download a free copy by clicking right HERE, or there are 10,000 copies available for FREE at LHR if you're passing through in the next little while.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Salzburg, Austria

I've blogged before about beautiful Salzburg in Austria, and we visited again a few months ago to help a dear friend celebrate his birthday.  We drove from home and picked up our friends from the airport on the way - easy peasy.

We stayed again at the Goldener Hirsch, which we had booked in advance to secure a great rate.  The traditional high-end style of the Goldener Hirsch is wonderful, and the staff are first class.  That said, I still get excited to find chocolates on my pillow each night - YUM!

The birthday dinner was at the amazing Ikarus, which we had booked months in advance.  Ikarus was guesting the amazing triple Michelin starred chef Eneko Atxa.  The food, as you might imagine, was seriously amazing and we were all thrilled to see that Ikarus was still using their brilliant "butter trolley" (similar to a cheese trolley, but with a selection of house made butters to try on their scrumptious house made bread).

As I've already reviewed lots of things about Salzburg, I don't want to bore you all again - so here's a random bunch of shots I took over the weekend ...

Yeah, I got arty with Instagram!

Moscow Mule anyone?

Part of the crypts ...

Gorgeous old door handle.

And another ...

Got to get my horse fix in!

1517!  That's 271 years before my country was discovered ...

"Oxen Washers"

View from the castle ...

Inside one of the small churches in the castle.

Outside the church.

I really want to know what's behind doors like this.  It didn't open ...

Drinks with the birthday boy on the ramparts of the castle.

View up the Getreidegasse ...

The traditional door bells of the building next to the hotel.

The Goldener Hirsch - we're home!

The lobby of the hotel - yes, it's OLD.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Walk

Last week, whilst having lunch in town with my friend Sandra, I noticed this gorgeous woman walking past the restaurant.  She wasn't just walking, she was sauntering along as if she was on a runway, and she looked amazing.  She wasn't trying to impress anyone, it just must have been her way of walking.

As we left the restaurant, we found ourselves walking behind her.  We were chatting about how fabulous she looked (it helped that she weighed about as much as one of my legs), and I declared that I was going to try and walk like that.  I think you can all guess how well that went.  I looked like I had dislocated hips and palsy.

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is that she looked great because she had that confident, fabulous walk.  Obviously we can't all walk like models, or look like models, but we can all stand up a bit straighter, put our shoulders back, change out of our sweats, put some lipstick on (probably for chicks only, though if you boys want to glam up, then you've got my full support!), and maybe, just maybe, other people will look at us as we are walking past and think "Wow, doesn't that person look fab!".

And if you don't feel fab?  Fake it.  Fake it until you make it!  You're worth it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Strasbourg, France

We've been travelling a lot, and I had so many posts on Macatoo and Cape Town to put up, so things have gotten a bit out of whack.  Added to that, we had no internet in the house for a few weeks, so it was hard to blog.  Consequently, I'll be putting up a few travel blogs that happened earlier in the year - one of these is our great long weekend trip to Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, in France to catch up with our friend David.

Catching up with David - yay!

One of the brilliant things about living where we do, is that so many other places are very close to us.  Strasbourg is less than 3 hours drive away and it's a fab destination for a long weekend.  Strasbourg is a gorgeous town, dripping with history (the Romans first pitched up in 12BC), and the entire town centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We stayed in the Sofitel Strasbourg Grand Ile, booked on and got great prices.  The Sofitel is in a great location, and is in the process of being done up, so make sure you ask for one of the new rooms when you book - you won't be disappointed.  We had a great room with opening windows (always a bonus), huge king bed, Nespresso machine, iPod dock, free wifi (yay!) and lovely amenities in the bathroom.  The hotel lobby is big and posh and there's a decent restaurant and a fun bar.  We had dinner in the restaurant on the first night, and it was okay (the wine was great!), but not amazing.  Go out and explore!

Flower arrangement in the lobby of the hotel.

We also did the Batorama Boat Tour, which was a brilliant way to see the town from a different angle.  Tickets are €9.60 for adults and €5.20 for children, and you can buy them at the dock.  The tour takes 1 hour and 20 minutes and the boats are covered by a glass roof for inclement weather.  They are also heated in winter so you can keep snuggly warm.

Strasbourg by water.

Check out the seagull!  Didn't know it was even in the frame until afterwards.

Make sure you take the boat tour.

We hadn't made any dinner reservations, but we wandered about and had great meals wherever we ate. You can pretty much cover Strasbourg in a long weekend, so go and visit if you get the chance!

Brilliant breakfast out a cafe in Strasbourg.

The Fish Market

Lemon & sugar crepe for breakfast - yummo!

Crepe and icecream - scrummy!

Strasbourg Cathedral

Artisan bakery - amazing!

Bike hire.

Hermes - bliss!

Don't forget to look up when you're walking around.
You never know what you might see!

A welcoming gentleman on a church door.

"What?  What did you say?"

"Sorry, can you call your dog?  He's biting my ankle!"

"I've got a large key, but no nose - win some, lose some."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Recipe - Cherry Preserves

  • 1kg of cherries = €5
  • 1 cherry stone remover = €8
  • 3 cute little preserving jars = €9
  • Sugar = €1
  • Required spices = €1
  • Cost per finished home made little jar of preserved cherries = €8
  • Cost of much bigger jar of already made preserved cherries from the supermarket = €2
  • Feeling of satisfaction of making my own = priceless
  • Chance of me ever doing it again = MY INTERNET IS WORKING AGAIN, so, minimal at best

I’d never made preserves before, let’s be honest, they’re not terribly pricy at the supermarket.  But all of a sudden I had time on my hands and thought I’d give it a shot.  “How did you have so much time on your hands?” I can hear you ask.  Well, let me just say, quietly, MY INTERNET STOPPED WORKING AND MAKING PRESERVES STOPPED ME GOING INSANE.  Now you know.  Oh, and my house got really clean.  And I started going a little wiggy.  And the dog got walked.  A lot.  And I started “bored eating”, so that hasn’t helped with the weight loss plan …

Anyway, the preserved cherries were actually quite yummy over icecream, so if you ever have a glut of cherries and want to give it a shot, here’s the recipe.  My notes in italics.

  • 1.5 cups caster sugar
  • half a lemon (I only had limes and used a whole one)
  • 3 star anise
  • 6 whole cloves (didn’t have any, didn’t use any)
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • 1kg cherries, stalks removed (It didn’t say to remove the stones, but who wants to crunch down on one of those during a delicious mouthful?  I stoned all mine and managed to spray cherry juice across most of the surfaces in my kitchen – but that’s okay, MY INTERNET WASN’T WORKING (sigh) so I had time to clean it all up)

  1. Firstly, let me just say that I know this looks like it’s really complicated, but it’s honestly not.  It’s incredibly simple, just has lots of steps.  You can do it!
  2. Combine 1 2/3 (that’s one and two thirds, don’t know how to do that symbol) cups of water, sugar, lemon, star anise, cloves and cinnamon quills in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  3. Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to the boil.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes or until mixture is reduced by a third and has become slightly syrupy.
  5. Remove from heat and leave to cool for one hour (I got bored waiting for it to cool and used it after 40 minutes – REBEL!)
  6. Pack as many cherries as possible into a 1 litre screw top jar (I had three little CUTE preserving jars and a jar I found in a cupboard – ran them all through the dishwasher to make sure they were sterilized).
  7. Pour the cooled syrup over the cherries, making sure all the fruit is covered.
  8. Carefully screw on the lid very tightly.
  9. Place a folded tea towel on the bottom of a deep saucepan to prevent the glass jar coming into direct contact with the base of the pot.
  10. Place the jar (or jars) on top of the tea towel (if you’re using smaller jars like me, make sure they’re not touching each other).
  11. Pour cold water into the saucepan to cover the jar (or jars).
  12. Place the saucepan over a medium-low heat.
  13. Bring the water to a simmer, just below boiling point at 92c, so that the faintest ripple appears on the surface of the water.  (I don’t have a thermometer (surprise!), so I just kept the heat on until the water was “wobbly” on top, but not “bubbling”.  Technical terms, people, technical terms.).
  14. Cook the jar (or jars) for 70 minutes before switching off the heat and letting the jar cool completely in the water.  Removing the jar (or jars) whilst still hot may result in it cracking.  (I made mine in the evening, so took the jars out of the water in the morning).
  15. Store your preserved cherries in a cool, dark cupboard; the fruit should keep for at least a year.  (Or you could just eat them!).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Restaurant Review : The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa

When we were preparing to leave for Botswana and Cape Town, I was mainly focussing on Botswana, and didn't really make any plans (apart from accommodation) for Cape Town.  If I had, I would have realised how fabulous and incredibly popular The Test Kitchen in Cape Town is.  You have to book several months in advance, unless you strike it lucky.

Brilliantly, the concierge at our guest house knew someone who knew someone and managed to snag us a last minute table booking after a cancellation - and I'm so glad he did.  The Test Kitchen is amazing and absolutely world class, one of the best restaurants I've ever been to.

Luke Dale Roberts is the brain behind The Test Kitchen.  British born, Swiss and Asian trained, Luke and his large and amazing team turn out astonishingly good nosh.

You can choose from a degustation Gourmand Menu (13 courses and R700 on the night we were there) or a 5 course Discovery Menu (R470 or R715 including wine flight).  We chose the Discovery Menu and hubby had the wine flight to accompany it, I stuck with the house cocktails (scrummy!).

I'll list what I had, and it was all seriously good:-

  • Grilled scallop, asparagus, tofu miso suke, braised scallop dressing, miso on toast, braised shitake, raw shitake
  • Fricasse of langousinte and smoked quail, corn and miso veloute
  • Plum cured foie gras, plum and cinnamon confit, halva croquette, pulled biltong
  • Test Kitchen suckling pig, Bread, Milk and Honey
  • Caramelised banana pancake, lichi and mango canoli, passion fruit ice, lemon grass infused tapioca

The food is world class, the staff are attentive and knowledgeable, the menu is intriguing and the price is less than half of what you'd pay anywhere else in the world.  If you're considering a trip to Cape Town, this is a restaurant you must not miss.

The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale Roberts
The Old Biscuit Mill
Unit 104A
Albert Road
Cape Town
Phone:- +27 (0) 21 447 2337

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Apologies for the lack of blog posts of late, our home Internet is down and I'm posting this from my phone.

Whilst the lack of Internet is driving me just a little bit mad, it's amazing how much I'm getting done in the "real world".  My house hasn't been this clean in ages, and I've even made preserves for the first time ever (cherries, should you ask).

Someone's meant to be coming on Tuesday to fix it, but  guessing it'll take a bit longer to get back online.  

I've got some great blog posts coming up though, so please bear with me!

Hope you're all having a wonderful Sunday!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Berry Yoghurt Cake Recipe

The local supermarket had blueberries and strawberries on special last week, and we all know that I can't resist a bargain, so a few punnets found their way into my trolley.  Of course, then I had to figure out what to do with my bargain berries, so I looked in my fridge and found some pots of Greek yoghurt, and then trotted off to the internet and did some poking around to come up with this scrummy Berry Yoghurt Cake.

It's dead simple and very tasty.  This is a heavy cake, not a fluffy sponge, it'll stick to your ribs and make you smile.  As usual, my comments are in italics, so let's cook!

Berry Yoghurt Cake

  • 2 cups mixed berries (you can use frozen or fresh apparently, I didn't measure mine perfectly and I think I put in more than 2 cups)
  • 3 cups self raising flour
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yoghurt (I used one pot of Greek Honey yoghurt, and one pot of plain Greek yoghurt, and had slightly more than one cup)
  • 5 tablespoons of butter (I melted mine)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (forgot this - oops!)
  • Zest of one orange (this really lifts the cake and makes it a bit zingy)

  1. Combine berries and flour
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix until just combined
  3. Pour into greased 23cm springform tin (it's a lot of mixture, my mixture overflowed during cooking time - will use a bigger tin next time, or even two loaf tins instead)
  4. Bake at 180c for about an hour (my oven is old and dodgy, and I kept putting a sharp knife into the centre of the cake to check for "done-ness", but it just wasn't cooked in the middle.  I dropped the temperature to 150 after an hour, then about 15 minutes later I turned the oven off altogether and let the cake sit in the "off" oven for another 10 minutes.  So, all in all, it took about 85 minutes for me.)