Friday, November 4, 2011

Rabbit in the Moon - Bohemian Cafe in the heart of Sandton

Food: Eclectic Bistro (a bit of everything)
Wine: Very limited, but some good choices. Prices rather on the high end.
Service: Very Good, attentive and enthusiastic.
Ambiance: Smart Casual, relaxed but eclectically elegant.
In a nutshell: Flavorful Food in a Heartwarming setting where the client is king. Prices on the Menu for the starters and Lunch Menu Items are on the affordable side, with the dinner price range significantly higher, yet reasonable. An excellent choice for a romantic dinner or simply the place to chill out with a nice selection of cocktails. Don't Miss: Filet Mignon and Three Milks Dessert.
City: Johannesburg, South Africa
Address: 198 Oxford Road, Illovo. (Same complex as Yamato, next to Thrupps)
Tel: 011 447 6720

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pepper Beef Fillet with a Truffle, Porcini Mushroom and Pine Nut Sauce

Signature Dish by iSa
Type: French, Italian, Fine Cuisine
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Servings: 4
4 Beef Fillet thick steak portions (200-250 gr each)
1 big or 2 small Shallots (Brown onion is ok if you can't find Shallots)
2 Large Garlic Cloves
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Olive Oil
250 ml Fresh Cream
40 gr Toasted Pine Nuts
100 gr of Fresh or 50gr of Dried Porcini Mushrooms 
50ml of dry red wine (use one you would drink)
1 bunch of Fresh Thyme
Freshly crushed Black Peppercorns
Freshly ground coarse salt
The best Black Truffle oil you can get your hands on

Friday, October 28, 2011

MasterChef South Africa is here and auditions are open!

After the great success of the many versions of MasterChef that have been launched worldwide and what appears to be the thirst for more from the South African public, the MasterChef franchise has made its way to SA and auditions are now open! To enter and check out all of the relevant info go to:

I will not be entering the competition, in case come of you may be wondering. Because as much as I love cooking, it is not my thing to do it professionally. I'll leave that to one of you, fellow foodies! 

See below the promo video used for MasterChef Australia, I couldn't find one for SA but this should get your cooking adrenaline pumping!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Addis in Cape Restaurant - Ethiopian Food in the heart of Cape Town

Food: Ethiopian, Curries and Beans.
Wine: Small Selection.
Service: Some staff were friendly and knowledgeable about the food but not wine.
Ambiance: Romantic with dim lights. Colorful and authentic Ethiopian feel.
In a Nutshell: An unforgettable dining experience where you share and eat delicious food with your hands.
 Don't miss: The tasting menu and great for a Romantic dinner!
Where: 41 Church St, City Bowl. Cape Town, Western Cape.
Tel: 021 424 5722

Following various recommendations from friends, we were eager to try the flavours of Ethiopia at Addis in Cape Restaurant. Our first attempt to go was on Sunday for dinner but they were closed, remember my previous complaint? We then tried them again on monday and succeeded to our delight. 

Decorated with a great variety of colour and what I imagine are Ethiopian artifacts, the place transports you in a matter of seconds to to your destination: Addis Ababa. The lights are dim and a lot of candle light brightens the room, giving it a relaxed, warm and romantic atmosphere.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Foodbarn Restaurant - Loving Food and Life in Noordhoek

Food: Fine dining, French inspired with some Asian twists.
Wine: Selection not excessive but right (all budgets).
Service: Outstanding, knowledgeable and friendly.
Ambiance: Relaxed country chic style, food barn setting.
In a Nutshell: Enjoy an unpretentious fine dining experience where food tastes fresh and is approached with creativity, care and a bit of dare. Don't miss: Tuna Sashimi, Nitida Wine, the Deli.
Where: Noordhoek Farm Village. Corner Village Lane and Noordhoek Main Road. Noordhoek, Western Cape.
Tel: 021 789 1390
Looking to plan something to do during our trip in Cape Town that we hadn't done in our previous visits, we were determined to take a stroll down Chapman's Peak Drive. I figured it would be nice to arrive in Noordhoek right around lunch time and looked for the best place to eat in that area. Almost immediately The Foodbarn popped up about everywhere and I was making a booking in no time. We arrived to find a very country chic styled restaurant where we were warmly welcomed. I had read about the Nitida Menu Winter Special on the website which were 3 to 5 course menus with Nitida wine tasting included. We opted for the 3-course menu option and our adventure began...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cape Town Gastronomic Adventure

The "Mother City", as Cape Town is known in SA, is also very much recognised for its amazing culinary experiences against the backdrop of Table Mountain, Table Bay and the Winelands. Having been to Cape Town a couple of times already, we came prepared for a gastronomic adventure in and around the City Bowl, and what an adventure it was! 
Table Bay Hotel and Green Point Stadium
We started our trip on a Sunday, and let me just pause here to recommend that you try to avoid Sundays and Mondays in Cape Town as many places are closed and you end up jumping from place to place trying to find one that is open. We were lucky enough though, to land at Hudsons - The Burger Joint on Kloof Street where a carefully crafted selection of gourmet burgers and local beer brews awaited, not to mention the staff who were just great...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tortellino D'Oro - Authentic Italian Restaurant

Food: Italian, Pasta
Wine: Good Selection, although Pricey.
Service: Good. Still room for improvement.
Ambiance: Casual, smarter in the evenings.
In a nutshell: Hearty food, nice wine and good service. Homemade pasta and excellent fresh ingredients and combinations thereof are the signature of this restaurant, with owners always present and an excellent culinary experience almost certain. Always a great choice, although rather on the pricey side. You should book for dinner.
City: Johannesburg, South Africa
Address: Oaklands Shopping Centre. C/o Pretoria Str & Victoria Rd. Oaklands. View Map
Tel: 011 483 1249

I've always been a fan of Italian cooking for its relaxed and casual style, yet color and flavor full meals, with another take on vegetables and a great deal of olive oil. Italian food, however, is much broader than one sometimes imagines, with dishes varying from very fresh and summer toned to creamy and rich.

We've found a place right here in Johannesburg where all these flavors coincide and where you can sit down to indulge or buy a whole lot of goodies from the deli to keep enjoying at home, this place is Tortellino D'Oro... 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Daddy's Deals - Groupon's got competition!

Remember I mentioned there is a site named Groupon where you can get excellent deals in South Africa? well they apparently have just gotten some competition! Kulula has entered the deal madness too! check it out. Daddy's Deals 
Love, iSa

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Good Food Studio (Pick n Pay) - Indian Cooking Class

Photo: Pick n Pay website
First of all, apologies for the long absence, but have been busy looking for my dream job lately and hope you can understand that it has taken priority at the moment. I also felt the two long weeks of no writing, I missed it terribly and I have so much to tell you about!!!

The other night my friend Sonia and I went to try our culinary skills and learn some more. We headed to The Good Food Studio in the Pick n Pay on William Nicol. 

Photo: Pick n Pay website
We stumbled upon these cooking classes at The Good Food Studio via our daily email intake of Groupon special promotions... 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Prawns in Lemongrass and Honey sauce - MexicAsian Fajitas

Signature dish by iSa
Type: Main
Prep Time: 30 - 40 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins

Servings: 7-8 Portions (depending on portion size)
  • 2.5 kg of prawns peeled seasoned with a bit of sea salt
  • 2 Lemongrass Stalks finely chopped (preferably crushed in a mortar)
  • 1 big fat Ginger root, peeled and grated or finely chopped
  • 50 - 70 gr Honey
  • 5 big fresh Garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 Lemons
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 2 shots of Tequila
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Sour Cream
  • Cheddar
  • Jalapeños
  • 16-20 Tortillas
  • Hot Mexican Salsa or Salsa Chipotle
  • 1 bowl (250 -300 gr) of Guacamole
  • 1 Bowl (200 gr) of Pico de Gallo

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Sauces by iSa

Type: Sauce
Prep Time: 10 - 15 mins 
Cooking Time: 0 mins
Servings: 6 - 8 Portions (depending on portion size)
  • 4 Ripe Avocados
  • 1/3 Bunch Coriander finely chopped
  • 1 Lemon 
  • 1 Chili finely chopped or 2 sliced Jalapeños
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ingredients for variations: Sour cream or cream, Powdered Lemon Tajin (my dear friend Lucia brings it for us from Mexico), Tomato Brunoise.
How to make Guacamole: Peel the avocados and put in the flesh in a bowl (keep 1 or 2 of the pits on the side). Mash the Avos until arriving at an almost homogeneous puree. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon, the coriander, chili and salt and pepper to taste. Try it and see if needs more seasoning. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle some cayenne pepper on top for a more colorful presentation.

Variations: If you like...
...a more creamy Guacamole, stir in a bit of cream or sour cream. use it for dipping nachos, then stir in some small tomato cubes (brunoise). make use of mexican goodies, sprinkle with some Powdered lemon Tajin instead of the Cayenne pepper.

Enjoy as a dip for nachos or pair with any mexican meal, or Latin American for that matter, we all love it!

Love, iSa

Pico de Gallo

Sauces by iSa

Type: Sauce
Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 0 min
Servings: 6 portions (depending on serving size)
  • 1/2 Yellow Pepper
  • 1/2 Red Pepper 
  • 1/2 Green Pepper
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 1 or 2 Hot chilis
  • 1/3 bunch of Coriander chopped finely
  • The juice of 1 or 2 lemons
How to make Pico de Gallo: Chop all ingredients above finely and place into a bowl with the lemon juice (enough to slightly cover the rest of the ingredients). I just advise, for more tastiness to make it before anything else, so it gets to sit for a while (at least 30 mins) and allow all the flavors to come together. Enjoy with any Mexican meal or with anything you fancy to try it!

Love, iSa

Hot Mexican Salsa

Sauces by iSa

Type: Sauce
Prep Time: 10 mins 
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Servings: 6 - 8 Portions (depending on portion size)
  • 5 - 6 Ripe as can be Roma tomatoes (or 1 can Italian peeled tomatoes)
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 - 4 Chilis
  • A sprinkle of fresh Oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • One sprinkle of sugar

How to make the Salsa: If you decide to go for the fresh tomatoes, get a pan with water to boiling point and put in the tomatoes (whole) for about 1 - 2 min, while still boiling, or until you see that the skin starts to peel right off by itself. Take the pan out of the heat and drain out all the hot water, then place them again in the pan and pour in some fresh cold water. The tomatoes should then get cold enough, so as to allow you to peel them by hand. 
Now, (if you bought the canned tomatoes start from here) place the tomatoes in a food processor or in a blender with the rest of the ingredients, except for the seasoning (oregano, salt and sugar), and blend until almost but not altogether homogeneous (I like a bit of chunkiness in my salsa). Place the Salsa back on to the pan, sprinkle with the oregano and let it reduce for a while on low heat until you arrive at a saucy texture, season with salt and sugar (it's not meant to be sweet, it's just used to cut the acidity down a bit). Serve warm and Enjoy with Tacos, Nachos, Fajitas, Burritos, Enchiladas, you name it!

Love, iSa

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thai Carrot Mango Soup

Reader's Recipes
Recipe by Ben and Siri

  • 750g carrots 
  • 40g ginger 
  • 1 normal can coconut milk 
  • 1 mango 
  • 1 red chilli 
  • 3 tablespoons oil 
  • salt 
  • 1 lime 
  • 1/2 bundle chives 
  • 1 bundle spring onions 
  • 3/4 liter vegetable broth 
Everything is 'to taste' because it depends on how hot the chilli is, etc etc
Chop the onion, ginger and carrot. Brown in oil. Add vegetable oil and let everything cook for 8-10 minutes. Take out half of the carrots and put the rest to puree. Add the carrots and the coconut milk. Cut up and add pieces of mango. Cut up and add spring onions and chilli. Season with limejuice and salt. Sprinkle with chives.

Ben and Siri

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ecuadorian Ceviche - iSa's Style

Type: Starter
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30 - 40 mins
Servings: 7-8 Portions (depending on portion size)
  • 800 gr Dorado or Yellowtail Fish Fillet (no skin) 
  • 1 big red onion or 2 small ones 
  • 1 bunch coriander 
  • 6 lemons / 4 lime (depending what is available, buy extra as the amount depends on how juicy they are) 
  • 3 oranges 
  • Pepper trio (1/4 Red Pepper, 1/4 Yellow Pepper, 1/4 Green Pepper) 
  • 2 tbsp plain yellow mustard 
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Sauce 
  • Sea salt 
  • Ground Black Pepper 
  • Cayenne Pepper Canola Oil
  • 1 cucumber 
  • 2 Tomatoes 
  • 2 packs Golden Oven-Baked Crackers 
  • 1 pack Plain Nachos
  • Hot sauce of your choice (Tabasco or Lea-Perrins will go well) 

How to cook the fish: Cut the fish into bit size cubes, of the cubes are about 2x2cm then it'll take around 30-40 min to cook, if they are smaller, it will take less time. I personally prefer to cut it in bigger pieces as it keeps the moisture and sea flavor from the inside of the flesh. Then place the cubes in a bowl and cover with enough lemon or lime juice, so that the fish is wet, but not fully soaked. Allow the fish to cook in the juice at room temperature (yes, no pot required, the lemon juice will do the job). 

Put together your Ceviche: In the meantime, chop the onion and the peppers brunoise style (small cubes), get the juice from the oranges, and have the rest of the ingredients at hand. Poke the fish to see if it has tenderized and if the flesh has turned white (like when it's cooked) on the outside. To see if it's ready I also pick one of the thicker pieces and cut it in 2 and if it's still too raw in the inside, wait a little longer. Then, when it's ready, season it with the cayenne and black pepper, the mustard, tomato sauce, coriander, oil and salt. Stir in the onion and pepper trio and soak it all with the remainder of the orange juice. Stir well and taste for salt and acidity, if too acid you can level it down with orange juice (if sweet) or with a bit more tomato sauce. 

Serve: Place two serving spoonfuls in a bowl and decorate with 2 slices of cucumber and 2 of tomato, you can also keep a bit of fresh finely chopped coriander to sprinkle on top. Serve with the Crackers and/or Nachos for choice and pour in a bit of hot sauce if you enjoy the heat. Ceviche makes a wonderful summer day Starter! (although we recently made it for a sunny winter day).

I dedicate this recipe to the friends (You guys know who you are...) who we recently had the fortune of sharing this Ceviche with, all new friends but friends for long we trust!

Love, iSa

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dinner at Chez Christophe's

We were inivited on a recent friday evening to indulge ourselves in a well kept secret in town, a place where you can't book and you can't buy your way in, a privilege indeed. We were greeted by Christophe and Christel into a warm and welcoming Dining and Living room in a cold winter night. Preceeded by his famous cooking, Christophe had high expectations to satisfy and did exactly just that!

We started with some meze of pita bread, tzazitki, hummus, taramosalata, salami rolled gherkins and beautiful fat green and calamata olives. We had been holding ourselves from eating much for the rest of the day, knowing the indulgence that awaited us in the evening, and thinking this was the starter, we tucked away. The other couple arrived and after some excellent SA bubbly, and some nice conversation, we then sat in at a beautifully set table. We were in for a ride through the tastes of France!

Salmon and Pea Veloutee
A bright sweet green pea, salmon and creme fraiche veloutee was served for starter. Not only were the colors inviting, but the combination was just warm, yet fresh and sweet, with the fleshy, salty and deep flavor of smoked salmon, with a creamy touch and a the sparkle of Paprika. I'm guessing there was a bit of mint in there, but then again, I'm just guessing, and it'll be up to our fabulous gourmand host to share the secrets to this delicious recipe.

Beef Bourguignon Caserole
The gorgeous smell all over the flat that one could almost taste, meant that the Beef Bourguignon was making its way to the dinner table, nothing like a melt-in-your-mouth Beef Stew, to warm up the cold winter night! Served in a rich, red wine jus, the beef did not need any knife at all, it was so soft, we could have eaten with a spoon! Served with artichoke raviolis topped with parmesan, poured under with the juicy beefy sauce, the meal was a delight! a true work of skill, patience and long, french style, perseverant cooking - just like out of Julia Child's cookbook.
Beef Bourguignon with Artichoke Ravioli
After such a feast, one can easily imagine that the host is not keen for dessert, but I guess we could have known better. How does a French foodie (aren't they all?) end his meal? Yes, you guessed right! with cheese!! and what a nice variety too... I'm not gonna pretend I knew even half the names on that board, but I promise you, they were all worth a few bites, even if you were as full as I certainly was!

We were very grateful to have been invited to indulge ourselves in such wonderful company and magnificent meal. It all made it such a nice evening, Christophe even made an attempt to enlighten me with his Beef Bourginon recipe, which I really wanted to take in, but I guess the excess of wine took my normally rather sharp memory away. In fear of failing to make honor to his great food, I'd rather let the chef tell us himself about the recipes, and that way I can share with you a more accurate (and sober) version of them.

Cheers to Christel and Christophe for their lovely food, wine and hospitality. I hope you would be as lucky as we were to try this amazing combination of ingredients sometime!

Love, iSa

Monday, June 20, 2011

The time has come for Modernist Cuisine
So, it's been a while since my husband and I discovered the object of our dreams - Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. However, when we did, we took a while reading about the book and analyzing the kind of content we could foresee as the book is serious business, and serious bucks too. The book is written by Nathan Myhrvold - a genius considered the modern day Leonardo da Vinci for his successful incursions in various fields, from Quantum Physics and Mathematics to Culinary Art and Food Science; Chris Young - a graduate of Mathematics and Biochemistry turned chef and food scientist; and Maxime Billet - Creative writing and Literature graduate, Chef and food scientist. Enough read, we soon came to the conclusion that this book would revolutionize the world! In the form of cooking, eating and obviously how those two take place in our own little world. This book explains the chemistry and beauty of cooking processes and ingredients, giving us an understanding from a molecular level upwards of what is taking place and the critical path to achieve utter perfection!
As you can imagine, we wanted the book, but when the decision was made the book was out of stock and it has been since! Looking back and forth into it, we realized today that orders where allowed in the Amazon UK website (although the stock will only arrive in August and we can only expect to receive it in September) anyhow we bought it!! Ordered in advance and with a great deal of excitement and expectation, Modernist Cuisine is bound to become our formal and glorified cooking trainer and coach! 
I won't tell you much more about the book itself for now, as I want you to judge for yourselves, but I'm sure I'll tell you more when we get it and begin exploring it (all 6 volumes and 2400 pages of it!). Please visit their website for further info, videos and the full downloadable guides. I feel this book will give us all more understanding and tools to enjoy our food in a completely different level, like we never have before.

“This book will change the way we under stand the kitchen.” — Ferran Adrià
“The most important book in the culinary arts since Escoffier.” — Tim Zagat
“A fascinating overview of the techniques of modern gastron­omy.” — Heston Blumenthal

Can't wait to get it!

Love, iSa

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A BBQ/BRAAI Grill in a Garden Pot?

WOW! This is quite inventive and very cool! As our living space gets smaller, this are the kind of inventions that we need to keep the up the quality of our food, no matter how big the space. Wish thy would sell this in South Africa! Visit the website to take a look for yourself: Grill in a pot: black + blum - Official website and shop

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Crispy Pork Belly Roast - EuropAsian style

Lazy Lunches by iSa

Type: Pork Mains
Prep Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 2 Hours
Servings: 3 - 4 Portions (depending on portion size)

  • 1 kg Pork Belly (one piece)
  • 3 tsp Five spice
  • 2 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Hot English mustard
  • 5 tbsp brown/treacle sugar
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Juice of 1 Orange
  • 9 Cloves
  • Rosemary Sprigs
  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Cider
  • Sauerkraut
  • Veggies of choice: Corn and Sweet Peas
  • Potato wedges or mashed potatoes
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda

How to make a mysterious Pork Belly Marinade: Start by pre-heating the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees celsius). Now, start getting your hands dirty by rubbing the skin side with the bicarbonate of soda, let it stand for about 2 minutes and then rinse it thoroughly. Place the meat cut on an oven tray (meat side down) and cut the skin on the top in diamond or cube shapes. Make sure you don't cut too deep, just enough to score the skin, not only will it look pretty, but it will allow the fat to cook down and the skin to turn crispy. Rub in throughout the meat the salt, pepper, five spice, cayenne pepper, paprika, mustard, soy sauce and sugar. Bathe the meat, trying to keep the skin dry, with the lemon and orange juices, followed by the cider while allowing all the liquids to flow into the oven tray. Chop the garlic and onion roughly and add to the oven tray juices. Next, place the meat in the tray, skin side up again, and stick the aromatic cloves and rosemary sprigs spread out in the incisions, rub the skin with a bit of salt and then pour some olive oil on top of the skin and through the cuts.

Stick it into the oven and let it cook away for approximately 2 hours, checking on it from time to time to make sure the skin doesn't burn and the juices don't dry or burn.

How to get the crackling right: Apart from the bicarbonate trick, keeping the skin dry from marinade and seasoning it with salt and olive oil, try to keep the skin dry form liquids and rather sprinkle it from time to time with a bit more olive oil. If towards the end of the 2 cooking hours the skin is not crispy, then take it out and let it rest outside the juices, while allowing these to keep reducing in the oven. Place a non-stick pan and some oil on the stove on low to medium heat and place the meat on top, skin side down. Be careful! the juices from the meat might roll down to the pan, causing the oil to burst out of the pan and getting you hurt. Please remember you only need to do this for a little while, and inly in the event that the skin doesn't get crispy. I made the mistake to bathe the entire piece of meat (skin included) and I take it that's why my skin didn't crispy up, so now I've included here the method to get crispy chicharrones, from a Colombian recipe to this one, it should work beautifully.
Serve with Hot english mustard and Sauerkraut on the side, as well as Potato wedges or mash. Veggies is a good inclusion as they help you keep it balanced and clean the palate between bites. I chose Corn on the cob, but would also taste very nice with grained corn and Sweet peas, simply boiled.


Love, iSa