Lunch at Monneaux Restaurant

Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee

Monneaux Restaurant is set in the lush gardens of the Franschhoek Country House & Villas. The tables look out onto the most magnificent surroundings which set the tone for a long lazy lunch. The husband and I were invited to experience the new menu from chef Calvin Metior who was most recently the executive sous chef at La Motte. We arrived on a beautiful sunny afternoon and were greeted with two glasses of ice cold L’Ormarins MCC.

Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee

Before I set eyes on any food my very first impression of Monneaux came from the restaurant staff. I was blown away at their friendliness and seamless service. Clifford, the restaurant manager, introduced himself to us and offered to pair each one of our courses with a local wine of his choosing. He was confident and charming and I knew we were in very good hands!

Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee
Photograph by Tasha Seccombe

The menu is divided into four parts. Snacks, small plates, mains and desserts. I love this concept as it lends itself to sharing and therefore being able to try many different things which is of course the biggest win. Kofi and Nerbert looked after us throughout the afternoon and were fabulous with suggesting what we should order and made sure our glasses were never empty.

Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee
Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee

We started off with the buttermilk fried chicken wings which were served with homemade mayo and some insanely delicious kimchi. With that we indulged in the chicken liver parfait served with chutney and flawlessly toasted brioche. The texture of the parfait was sublime. Extremely creamy and luxurious. It reminded me of foie gras on toast and there was not a morsel left. The chicken wings were juicy and crunchy and the kimchi was a refreshing bite in between the richness.

Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee
Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee

Next up on the small plates section came a beef tartare that totally rocked my world. The beef is aged and it is served with a coal emulsion, fermented garlic stems, burnt onion paste and warm ciabatta. The husband and I actually fought over this dish. It was supremely well balanced and was loaded with texture which I really appreciate in a dish. Calvin’s homemade mustard was a revelation and reason enough for me to keep going back!

With the tartare we had the local caught skipjack with sesame, lime, wasabi and avocado. This dish was light, bright and summer on a plate. And I mean look- it’s utterly gorgeous. I could eat this all summer long with a cold glass of Chenin Blanc in hand. Calvin’s plating is very delicate and incredibly beautiful. Things are meticulously placed but they remain looking natural and enticing.

Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee
Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee
Photograph by Tasha Seccombe

On the mains side of life was a perfectly cooked fillet of east coast hake with asparagus, chives and an oyster beurre blanc. I so appreciate when fish is cooked just right. It flaked apart delicately and the beurre blanc was sensational.

The honey glazed free range duck breast was served with turnip, cherry and coriander. The duck was beautifully cooked and ever so tender. Every element of each dish is so well seasoned. Calvin has tremendous respect for all of his ingredients. His focus is on seasonality, responsibly-sourced local produce and self-sustainability. He also loves making pretty much everything from scratch. He makes phenomenal kimchi, hot sauces, miso and mustard. He enjoys smoking all sorts of things in the garden and herbs and veggies have been planted all over the property so that the kitchen can have the freshest supply.

Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee
Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee

Dessert was the pièce de résistance. Calvin came out and told us he had just flipped out a spiced apple tarte tatin and it had our names on it. The tarte tatin serves two and comes with a heavenly ginger ice cream. The pastry was ever so crisp and crunched with every bite. The apples were cooked to tender perfection and the caramel was taken far enough that it wasn’t sweet and balanced out the dish perfectly. It was the most sublime end to a fabulous meal.

Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee
Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee

We are supremely grateful for the amazing spoil from Monneaux and Franschhoek Country House & Villas. I highly recommend visiting the restaurant as well as staying over at the incredibly luxurious house and villas. The accommodation is world-class and if that’s not enough to convince you there is a giant heated swimming pool with views for days that is just begging for a dip and a poolside glass of bubbles.

For reservations and enquiries, contact Monneaux on
+27 21 876 3386 or click here to book online.

Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee
Monneaux | The Secret Life of Bee

Rovos Rail- the train trip of a lifetime

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

I have always wanted to travel by train. There’s an old time romance about it. I love the idea of slowly watching the world go by and living beautifully while en route to your destination. It doesn’t hurt to have a cold glass of the finest Chardonnay in hand and still get from A to B. How very civilized!

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

Our journey to Cape Town started off at the gorgeous Rovos Rail station in Pretoria. Our luggage was tagged and whisked away and we were greeted with a glass of cold bubbly and snacks. We had a fascinating tour of the workshop led by Rohan Vos himself. This is the hub of operations and home to a massive team of extremely talented individuals who work on turning old reclaimed carriages into the magical moving hotel we know and love today.

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

After a handshake from Mr Vos it was finally time for the journey to begin! Hopping on board the Rovos Rail is like stepping into a different time. A time of vintage silver cutlery, monogrammed crystal glasses and cocktail dresses. I experienced a sense of wonderment as I walked down the immaculately restored hallways of the train cars in search of our cabin. Everything is in impeccable condition. It is truly a triumph.

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

We stayed in a Deluxe cabin as guests of Rovos Rail. The mahogany lined cabin was fully equipped with everything you could possibly need or want on the trip. A super comfy double bed, mini bar, tea and coffee station, swag bag of toiletries, a little lounge area and the best part- a gorgeous en suite bathroom. Loo with a view takes on a whole new meaning on board!

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

Afternoon high tea is served in the lounge cars in between meals. We sipped and nibbled on delicious things while watching the beautiful scenery like an ever changing painting. Then back to our cabin to get ready for the main event- dinner! I just adore that everyone is required to dress up for dinner. It adds such marvelous atmosphere and glamour to the evenings. What I will say though is applying liquid eyeliner while on a moving train is an experience and a half!

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

Every meal on the Rovos Rail is a feast. So come hungry and thirsty when you book! I was totally blown away at what the chefs were able to prepare on a moving train in a tiny kitchen. From seared scallops and fluffy omelettes to the most perfect ooey gooey molten chocolate fondant. The meals are expertly paired with some of the finest wine our country has to offer. You can choose to stick with your favourite or leave the choice in the hands of the supremely capable sommelier and you will be dazzled with top notch wine choices from course to course.

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

Not only is the food excellent but the service is world class. The staff are just incredible and really make the experience what it is. We were spoiled by so many individuals looking after us non stop, from making sure our drinks were never empty to the most OTT turn down service including a pillow extravaganza and a bottle of bubbly on our bed.

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

The best part about waking up in your extremely comfy bed while the train is gently rocking from side to side is opening the shutters and discovering the new scenery outside your window. Then it’s time for a hot luxurious shower and the promise of a hearty breakfast. (I mean- can I just live on this train forever?!) The breakfast spread on board is impressive. From a beautiful selection of fresh fruit, cereal and pastries to freshly made hot options that will satisfy everyone’s foodie cravings. The omelettes were particularly delicious. I had one both mornings and it was served piping hot and extra fluffy. So much yum!

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

We had two excursions on our trip from Pretoria to Cape Town. The first commenced as we pulled into the beautiful Kimberley station. We were whisked off with incredible efficiency in mini vans to visit The Big Hole. Rudely the husband didn’t buy me any diamonds but it was a very interesting excursion led by a wonderful guide and also lovely to stretch one’s legs and explore the mine and the museum.

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

The next day our excursion was to the charming town of Matjiesfontein. I have wanted to visit this adorable town and heritage site hotel, The Lord Milner, for years. It is a teeny tiny little one horse town and the train stops right in front of the hotel. We had a wonderful walk about the town, museums and hotel. I can’t wait to return and spend a night at the hotel one of these days. It is a truly special place that has been so beautifully preserved.

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

The scenery as we approached Cape Town was breathtaking. I am grateful every single day for this incredible country we live in. We are so lucky. The observation deck on the back of the train was definitely my favourite place to be. What a massive treat to have a completely open carriage with beautiful built-in wooden benches where you have the opportunity to literally have the wind in your hair and watch the countryside glide past. It is also directly next to the bar so a fresh G&T is a few steps away! As the train turned each corner winding into the Winelands we were met with picture after picture of the most magnificent landscape. I highly recommend ending off your journey in Cape Town. The sun setting over the mountains was the perfect end to a perfect journey.

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee
Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

As the train pulled into the Cape Town station I was filled with so much happiness and gratefulness for the incredible time we had just had and at the same time totally devastated it was all over! We met the most incredible people from near and far, made friendships for life and saw our country in the most beautiful way.

Rovos Rail | The Secret Life of Bee

I am so grateful to the Rovos Rail team for giving me the gift of a lifetime. I will treasure these memories. It was a truly spectacular experience and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

To book your trip on this life changing loco click here!

Luddite & Genevieve in Bot River

Genevieve MCC

I was recently invited to the most special day to sip on some Genevieve MCC & Luddite wines. Both farms are based in Bot River which is a little town I have fallen totally in love with. Having visited the area a few times now I can safely say there is something very special about it. The wine produced in the area is exquisite and the people are an incredibly passionate bunch that support each other and celebrate each other’s successes. It is a beautiful warm family feeling that I associate with this region and its wine makers.

Genevieve MCC

Genevieve MCC: The first time I tried Melissa’s MCC was at a wine festival in Franschhoek. My mom and I instantly fell in love with Melissa and soon after that her bubbles. We kept buying bottles to take home with us after the festival but they just kept evaporating! This MCC is incredibly delicate and has aromas of lime blossom, white peach and honeydew melon. Basically- it is delicious.

Melissa Nelsen
Photo by Tasha Seccombe

Melissa Nelsen had always had a love for bubbly and when the opportunity arose to make it, she jumped. Genevieve is her second name and the patron saint of Paris, making Genevieve MCC the perfect link between great South African MCC made in the style of French Champagne.

The first Genevieve MCC was released in 2010, a product of the 2008 vintage. “The initial decision on how much to make on a maiden vintage was decided in a very basic way,” says Melissa. “Make more than we can drink ourselves and friends so I’d be forced to go sell the rest!” The result was 5 000 bottles – “Quite a lot more than we could drink ourselves!”

Genevieve MCC

There are two cornerstones to her wine: that only a healthy vineyard can produce quality; and, that maturation is essential to adding texture.

The latter realisation came in 2011, when production was doubled to 10 000 bottles. “I realized as much as I loved seeing my bubbles in wine shops and top-rated restaurants, I was not presenting the Genevieve MCC at its most favourable release time. “I made the decision to stop selling my product for eight months. It was financially unwise but created next-level quality,” she says. The result realised export to Europe and the first to export to Canada this year.

Genevieve MCC

In 2017, Genevieve MCC achieved another milestone – the wine found a home. Until then, grapes came from pockets of Chardonnay across the region, albeit always from Bot River. This changed when she discovered a working farm where her dream for a space to give visitors the “MCC experience” became a reality. Today, there are self-catering cottages alongside the vineyards and a renovated barn where visitors can enjoy the Genevieve MCC and take in the Overberg air.

Genevieve MCC

Melissa’s latest release is the Genevieve MCC Zero Dosage, which is only produced when the vineyards show exceptional quality. The year 2015 was such a vintage and was selected as only the second release of the Zero Dosage extension. “Only first-pressed cuvée juice is used and kept for a minimum of four years on the lees, with periodical assessments,” she says. “The aim is to show the purest expression of terroir and the cap classique quality without any added dosage [traditionally, the topping up of wine and addition of sucrose].”

Genevieve MCC
Luddite Shiraz
Photo by Tasha Seccombe

Luddite: The first time I tried Luddite wines was at a dinner party a few years ago and I just adored the name and label before I had even tasted the contents. Once that happened I knew it was going to be a lifetime love of these exceptional wines. On this special trip to Bot River the moment I sipped on Niels’ new 2015 Shiraz I knew I had to own some! And seeing as this ain’t your average wine I chose to splash out and get a magnum of it because more is more with something this good! And when I thought the spending was over I tasted Niels’ daughter Alice’s new wine – It’s a Shiraz 2017 and then all of a sudden a case of that came home with us too!

Luddite Shiraz
Luddite Shiraz

Luddite began life in 2000 with the acquisition of a small 17ha farm. “After seeing the potential of Shiraz in the Bot River area, our dream to start something of our own came true,” says Niels. “Penny and I set about transforming the wild slopes into a beautiful farm. “The land was on the slopes of the Houw Hoek mountains and there was plenty of work, but no time to waste. In fact, the release of the first Luddite Shiraz came that year too, from bought-in grapes. Vines were planted the following year. In 2002, a barrel-and-wine storage shed was built.

Niels Verburg
Photo by Tasha Seccombe

It was only thereafter that a house was finally erected and the Verburgs moved in. More Shiraz plantings followed, along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre. The first vintage containing the farms own grapes came in 2004. “2009 was a big year with lots of excitement as our own cellar came to fruition,” recalls Niels. “Before we put the tanks in, we held an indoor hockey tournament to christen the cellar properly”.

“We also used 100% of our own grapes in that year, a requirement for the Luddite label since. “By then, the wines had a reputation. Luddite was the name given to 19th century workmen who destroyed labour-saving machinery. By now, Shiraz-lovers understood the name suited Penny and Niels’ focus on artisanal passion and excellence rather than wine mechanisation.

Luddite Shiraz

It was time to put some away. In 2010, Niels only released 3000 bottles with the balance set aside for release in 2020. In a short time, Luddite has established itself as a producer of great wines made with integrity and minimal interference – a foundation into which Alice stepped into, to work alongside her father in 2017. “The wines have benefitted from a feminine touch”, he declares.

Alice says It’s a Shiraz 2017 was a deliberate attempt to break away from the “seriousness and snobbyness” of wine.

Alice Verburg
Photo by Tasha Seccombe
It's a Shiraz 2017

“It’s an experimental wine for me. I made the decision to make it on the morning the grapes came in – after all, I’d picked up plenty of ideas just watching my dad. “There were about 400kg of grapes from Gabriëlskloof, “so, one bin to play with,” she says. After vinification the wine spent a year in barrel and another in bottle prior to release.

“It’s suitable to drink now, but I want to make wines that age,” says Alice. “There’s aging potential even though it has low sulphur, the good, natural acidity will look after it.”

Her father’s latest wine, the Luddite Shiraz 2015 stems from a harvest that signalled the start of a long, dry spell in the Western Cape. “Due to the dryness and heat towards the end of the growing season, the vintage is our smallest to date – 2.3tons/ha.”We picked both our old block and young block together for the first time and, as depressing as it was to look at, the whole farm fitted into one tank. “A highlight of the actual winemaking was that being a smaller crop, the wine retained “unbelievable fruit intensity”, says Niels. Various wood combinations were part of the process that led to this excellent wine.

Luddite Shiraz

Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

The dishes at Greenhouse are dazzling, exhilarating and unexpected. The ingredients are a mix of local, exotic and exciting. While elaborate, the dishes always remain focused on working together harmoniously.

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

I was lucky enough to be invited to experience Greenhouse and experience is a very fitting word. You feel immersed into a different world from the moment you step into the bar. We enjoyed supremely delicious and unusual cocktails before heading into the dining room. My personal favourite was the Kombucha-cha cocktail made with our own local Copeland Rum and of course a delicious dose of kombucha. It was refreshing and got the palate all excited for what was to come next!

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

Head Chef Farrel Hirsch has developed a skillful and refined menu that delights around every corner. And if you hurry and get yourself there soon they have an exciting à la carte lunch special at R550 per person.

Here’s a look at our incredible dining experience:

Trio of whipped butter & grated blue rock salt

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee
lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

Wagyu tartare

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

Confit duck bao, spring onion, ginger mayo & kimchi

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

Trout mi-cuit, dill mayo, liquorice teriyaki, pickled kohlrabi, fish crackling & furikake

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

XO pork, quail’s egg nest, eryngii, ponzu, dashi & pork crackling

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee
lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

Cape octopus, asparagus, sour fig, ink yuzu sauce & coral tuile

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

Braai bokkie, sweetbreads, carrot & cashew puree, pap, morogo & jus

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

Local cape fish & prawn, wild rice risotto, pea puree & garlic sake sauce

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee
lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

PB & J parfait, peanut butter brittle with a glass of milk

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee
lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

Petit fours – white chocolate, orange and rose truffle

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee
lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

The wine pairings were spot on and utterly delicious. A particular favourite was the Julien Schaal Mountain Vineyards Chardonnay. An elegant, complex and well balanced wine with glorious hints of white peach on the nose.

Another firm favourite was The Blacksmith ‘Hell Yeah’ Pinotage 2018. What a wine. Incredibly well balanced fruit and acidity with firm tannin and a fresh juicy finish.

Thank you to all the highly skilled staff at Greenhouse for making our lunch such a memorable food journey. We will be back soon!

lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee
lunch at Greenhouse | The Secret Life of Bee

*I was invited as a guest of Greenhouse and the husband paid his way 😉

A Kale Salad That Tastes So Good You Can Actually Eat It

I have been lying to myself for ages that kale tastes good. I’ve put it in green juices and snuck it into veggie soups just because I know it’s good for me and I need to combat the ton of wine I drink on a weekly basis. But lo and behold… this salad tastes fricking fantastic.

I based it on this salad from Smitten Kitchen. It has everything you want in a great salad. There is texture, saltiness, acid and crunch. I have made it three times in a row this week and I am still not sick of it. I’ve added extra avo on top which was a delight, ribbons of pecorino which was superb and another time some feta on top. So play around and add your favourite touches, but the bones of this baby are GOOD.

Kale & Cranberry Salad | The Secret Life of Bee

Kale & Cranberry Salad with Toasted Almonds & Garlic Crumb

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale (about 400g)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup panko or coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated fine on a microplane
  • 2 spring onions
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Olive oil
  • Sherry vinegar

Method:

Prep kale by washing it and removing the stems and any tough ribs. Pat it dry. Layer a few leaves at a time, roll them up and then slice them very finely. Place the shredded kale into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle it with a little olive oil and lemon juice and massage it well. Set aside.

Place the cranberries in a small saucepan and pour in the vinegar and water. Bring them to a simmer. Switch off the heat and leave them in that liquid to plump up.

Combine the breadcrumbs with the grated garlic, a good pinch of sea salt and a little olive oil, about 2 tsp. Toast this in a dry pan until golden brown and the garlic smells super fragrant.

Place the almonds on a baking tray and toast them for 7 minutes at 180˚C. Allow to cool and then give them a rough chop.

Finely slice the spring onions.

Assemble the salad by adding the chopped almonds, drained cranberries and spring onions to the large mixing bowl. If it needs it- add another drizzle of olive oil and a touch of Sherry vinegar. Sprinkle in half of the garlic breadcrumbs. Toss well. Season. Plate the salad and then sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs on top and enjoy every single bite!

*Deb from Smitten adds crumbled pecorino to hers. I used a speed peeler and added ribbons of pecorino to one version of this. But as I said it is delish as is and you can also add your own flair to it. Enjoy!

Kale & Cranberry Salad | The Secret Life of Bee

Summer Rolls

Mushroom Summer Rolls | The Secret Life of Bee

Summer rolls are a firm favourite in our household. We love using seasonal fruit and veg in them and often some marinated salmon or tuna. I made these for the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association and the mushrooms add some fabulous umami and great texture to the rolls. They are a winner all year round and a pretty darn delicious and healthy lunch, dinner or snack.

Summer Rolls

Ingredients:

For the mango dipping sauce:
1 large ripe mango
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
1 chilli, seeds removed
1 lime, juiced
Pinch sea salt flakes
handful fresh basil leaves

For the rice paper rolls:
250g white button mushrooms
1 english cucumber, julienned
2 large red peppers, julienned
1 mango, julienned
3 carrots, julienned
handful fresh basil
12 rice paper rolls
sesame seeds, for topping/sprinkling

Method:

For the mango dipping sauce:
Place the peeled mango flesh, vinegar, ginger, chilli, lime juice and salt in a plastic jug. Use a stick blender to blend the mixture until smooth. Add the basil leaves and give it a last little whizz to break them up and distribute them throughout the sauce. Keep the sauce in the fridge until serving.

For the summer rolls:
Slice the button mushrooms very thinly using a mandolin or a sharp knife. Prep the rest of your veggies and lay them out on a tray.

Fill a deep edged baking tray with room-temperature water. Immerse 1 rice paper wrapper in the water for about 10 seconds. Pull it up out of the water, allow the excess to drip off and lay it flat on a clean work surface.

Place sliced mushrooms in two rows along the centre and just below the centre of the wrapper. Top with 3 to 4 basil leaves. Now place an even mix of the rest of your veggies along the bottom row of mushrooms. Leaving gaps on the side of the wrapper.

Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling, tightly tucking it in as you go. Fold in the sides and continue to tuck and roll until you have sealed the wrapper and have a neat cylinder. Place the summer rolls in between two clean and damp dish cloths. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

Slice summer rolls in half before serving on a platter. Sprinkle them with some sesame seeds and serve them alongside the mango dipping sauce.

Mushroom Summer Rolls | The Secret Life of Bee

Raspberry & Vanilla Mini Bundt Cakes

Raspberry & Vanilla Mini Bundt Cakes | The Secret Life Of Bee

These little bundt cakes are all kinds of delicious. They are soft and pillowy and not too sweet. I love folding raspberries and blackberries into my batter, but you can also use any seasonal fruit you have on hand if you like. The glaze is lemony and delicious but they are just as good with a dusting of icing sugar if you don’t have time for the glaze.

Raspberry & Vanilla Mini Bundt Cakes | The Secret Life Of Bee

This mini bundt tray was a gift from Le Creuset and I am absolutely in love! I have used it several times now. It bakes like an absolute dream. Everything baked so evenly, so golden and came out spotless. You also barely need to wash it. I just wiped mine down with some paper towel. It is an absolute treat for parties, birthdays and whatever occasion you can make an excuse for!

Raspberry & Vanilla Mini Bundt Cakes | The Secret Life Of Bee

Raspberry & Vanilla Mini Bundt Cakes

makes 36

Ingredients:

  • 430g flour
  • 400g sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 225g butter, room temperature
  • 300ml buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 200g fresh raspberries
  • 100g fresh blackberries

For the glaze:

  • 2-3 cups icing sugar
  • fresh lemon juice

Method:

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and bicarb in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter, buttermilk, and oil and beat on medium speed, until smooth.

Whisk egg yolks, egg, and vanilla together. Add egg mixture to flour mixture until mixture is homogenous and thick. Fold in the raspberries and blackberries.

Transfer mixture to a piping bag.

Pipe batter into mini bundt tray. About 2/3 the way up. Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Flip out the mini bundts onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the glaze sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add a drizzle of lemon juice and whisk. Keep adding lemon juice until you have a thick pouring consistency.

Once completely cool dip each bundt into the glaze and flip it back onto the rack and allow to set. Enjoy!

Raspberry & Vanilla Mini Bundt Cakes | The Secret Life Of Bee

Raspberry & Vanilla Mini Bundt Cakes | The Secret Life Of Bee

Raspberry & Vanilla Mini Bundt Cakes | The Secret Life Of Bee

*Mini Bundt Tray supplied by Le Creuset, get your own here now!

 

Butter Bean Fish Cakes

It has become rather apparent that I need to change up the blog! I have some wonderful recipes that I constantly want to share but don’t really have the time to do a lengthy blog post. Bills and adulting… But then I figured for those of you that are after the recipe you really don’t care about my ramblings anyway! So things are about to get a lot shorter but definitely sweeter.

Butter Bean Fish Cakes

Butter Bean Fish Cakes

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

600g firm white fish fillets
2 tins butter beans, drained
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 handful fresh dill, chopped
1 lemon, zest & juice
5 spring onions, finely sliced
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
100g panko bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
flour for dusting
olive oil
fresh lemon wedges and aioli to serve

Method:

Add drained butter beans to a large bowl and roughly mash the beans.

Place a colander into a pot with a few cms of water. Bring water to the boil.
Place fish in colander and steam for 5 minutes until just cooked through.

Flake the fish into the large mixing bowl with the butter beans.
Add the chopped parsley, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, spring onions and season well with salt and pepper.

Form fish cakes into patties. Dust with flour, dip into beaten egg and then into panko crumbs. Double dip in the egg and crumbs for an extra crispy crust.

Place fishcakes on a lined and oiled baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 200˚C until golden brown and crisp.

For the aioli:

2 egg yolks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
125ml canola oil
125ml extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Place the egg, garlic, lemon juice and mustard in a small jug.
Using an immersion blender, slowly add the oils one at a time and blend.
Finally season well with salt and pepper.

 

chef’s table experience at Table Seven

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to experience the chef’s table dining experience at Table Seven in Salt River, located in the new and trendy Salt Orchard Precinct. Husband and wife team Luke and Katie Wonnacott have created a private dining experience that’ll knock your socks right off.

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

As you walk into the space you notice the massive open plan kitchen on one side of the room and then the most magnificent 20 seater table down the other side of the room. So while you sip, chat and eat, Luke is cooking away right in front of you. Pots steaming, sizzling noises coming from the grill and flour flying as he rolls out beautiful fresh pasta.

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Our meal was exceptional. Everything looked exquisite and Luke’s flavours pack a punch. Luke and Katie source the very finest produce and treat it with the utmost respect. It’s the kind of food you want to keep going back for. Again and again. The burrata made my knees weak and there was almost a table fight over the last piece of grilled octopus. We left very full and very happy.

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Here’s a look at our incredible meal:

Lightly smoked Lüderitz oyster, watercress pesto, seaweed granite & oyster jelly

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Wood fired baguette, olives, rosemary, chilli & fennel

Chorizo piperade

Duck Rillette, pickled beetroot, almonds & cranberries

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Grilled octopus & sauce vierge

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Burrata, nectarine, Parma ham, lavender vinaigrette & basil

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Butternut, goat’s cheese & sundried tomato ravioli, salsa verde & pickled waterblommetjie 

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Saffron & orange glazed lamb shoulder, braised carrots & artichokes 

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Whole roasted cauliflower, nori, cashew nut, caper & sultana beurre noisette

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

Madeleines straight out of the oven – HEAVEN

Table Seven | The Secret Life of Bee

 

To book for this amazing experience contact Luke or Katie here.

spiced plum tarte tatin with shiraz reduction

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

It’s not often I make something, eat it, and then make it again the next day. This tarte tatin will do that to you! It is an utter delight. The shiraz reduction was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I wasn’t expecting it to blow my mind. Of course I thought it would be yum and a fun way to use some shiraz in the recipe but I had no idea it would knock my socks off completely. The husband and I were eventually spoon fighting post shoot to see who could get the last drop.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

FAT Bastard Wines asked me to create a dessert that would pair well with their shiraz for their upcoming 21st birthday. The shiraz has a pure fruit character and gives off hints of red fruit, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. This spiced plum tarte tatin is a match made in heaven for the shiraz as I used all the spices to toss the plums and get their juices flowing as well as in the sauce. I also added some orange zest to liven things up in the reduction and hey presto you’ve got a concentrated liquid gold version of the best sangria you’ve ever tasted.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Two little tips… Remember puff pastry must stay very cold when you’re working with it. So cut the ring of pastry out and pop it straight back into the fridge. When it’s time to bake place it quickly onto the plums and into the oven. This will ensure a good puffy crust. Do not start drinking vino and get distracted, your pastry will suffer. Secondly there’s a butter zone of when you need to flip the tarte tatin once baked. Flip it too soon and all the caramel will be liquid, you’ll probably burn and make quite a mess. Flip it once it’s too cool and it’ll have solidified and you won’t get it out. If that happens fear not- just gently reheat the bottom of the pan on the stovetop. So aim for room temp. Check the caramel is sticky enough but the tarte is loose and wiggles around the pan.

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

One last thing… if plums aren’t in season nectarines will work beautifully for this too. Enough blabbing. Watch the video. Read the recipe and happy cooking!

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin

Ingredients:

7 large ripe plums
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla seeds
1 sheet puff pastry
100g sugar
50g butter

For the shiraz reduction:

300ml FAT Bastard Shiraz
100g sugar
The zest of 1 orange
4 cloves
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks

Vanilla bean ice cream to serve

Method:

Preheat oven to 220˚C.

Choose an oven safe round saucepan / buffet casserole dish.

Measure the diameter and cut out a ring from the sheet of puff pastry that will fit snugly in the dish. Place in the fridge.

Slice plums in half and remove pips.

Place in a large bowl along with the orange juice, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well and set aside.

In your saucepan melt the butter and add the sugar. Stir until they become homogenous, foamy and the sugar begins to caramelize. Switch off the heat and add the plums snugly. Keep the delicious juices from the bowl to add to your sauce later.

Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and cover the plums. Tuck the edges in around the plums.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.

While the tarte is in the oven make your sauce.

Add all the sauce ingredients into a medium sized saucepan along with all the spices, vanilla and juices from the plum bowl. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce has reduced by half. Strain out all of the aromatics and pour into a serving vessel to cool.

When the tarte is baked remove from the oven and allow to cool. Don’t let the tarte cool completely or the caramel will set and you won’t be able to flip it and remove it from the pan.

So once the tarte is around room temperature place your dish on top of the pan and flip it.

Serve the tarte with vanilla bean ice cream and a super generous drizzle of the shiraz reduction.

Enjoy!

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Spiced Plum Tarte Tatin with Shiraz Reduction | The Secret Life of Bee

Proudly sponsored by FAT Bastard Wines.