lunch at la petite colombe in Franschhoek

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Last week Friday I had the pleasure of experiencing the winter special menu at La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek. The food was exquisite. The attention to detail on every dish was inspiring. This was hands down my favourite fine dining experience in the country so far. Every single course was a celebration of its ingredients and it was evident that a lot of love and care went into each element. The winter menu is exceptionally good value for money and runs until 31 August so if you haven’t been I suggest you get yourself there with a touch of speed.

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

We were also fortunate enough to be treated to the wine pairing along with the winter menu. Andrew, the sommelier, was outstanding and the wine choices were flawless. They complimented each dish beautifully, some were old favourites while others I had never experienced before. The Saxenberg ‘Limited Release’ Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon 2011 (Stellenbosch) was a particularly delightful white blend that I am still dreaming about today.

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

It is almost impossible to pick my favourite dish. The tortellini of prawn, quail, curried hake velouté, cauliflower and coriander was as good as it gets. The textures and flavours sang together. The tiny little angel hair like wisps of fried sweet potato were a revelation. They were so good we asked one of the chefs how to make them!

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Another highlight for me was the “meet the chefs” which is a R70 supplement and you get to head to the kitchen (glass of wine in hand of course) and enjoy a surprise course right next to the pass. Ours was a play on eggs & soldiers. The soldier was toasted brioche with a foie gras filling. Let’s just say I could have eaten one hundred of those fine morsels. It was sublime!

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Another major ‘ooooh’ moment was after dessert when we received our La Petite Colombe Treasures. That little nugget of gold was something else. It was full of creamy chocolate ganache, nuts and popping candy! We were all utterly charmed and it left you with a feeling of delight and playfulness. 

Here’s a look at the utter perfection we were lucky enough to experience:

Caraway sourdough, home churned butter, sesame and roasted yeast

Môreson Solitaire Blanc de Blancs (Franschhoek)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Poached oyster, pernod, grapefruit, verjuice, dill, apple, celery

Colmant Brut Chardonnay 2006-2013 (Franschhoek)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

or

Yellowfin tuna, aubergine, miso, kalamansi, avocado

Mullineux ‘Old vines’ 2016 (Swartland)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Tortellini of prawn, quail, curried hake velouté, cauliflower, coriander

Saxenberg ‘Limited Release’ 2011 (Stellenbosch)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

“Meet the chefs”

Eggs & Soldiers

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Palate Cleanser

Blood orange sorbet

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

 

Linefish, soubise, smoked mussel, squid, endive, chorizo, creamed leeks

Rickety Bridge ‘Paulina’s Reserve’ Semillion 2015 (Franschhoek)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

or

Seared duck breast, turnip, Jerusalem artichoke, rhubarb & lavender

Haut Espoir Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Franschhoek)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Foxenberg goat’s cheese, goats milk caramel, kouign amann, guava, tamarind

Vonderling ‘Sweet Carolyn’ 2007 (Voor-Paardeberg)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

or

Valrhona Itakuja crémeux, pineapple, mango, macadamia, passionfruit, lemongrass

Thelema ‘Late Harvest’ Semillon 2014 (Stellenbosch)

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

La Petite Colombe Treasures

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

It was an absolute delight eating chef, John Norris Rogers‘s carefully constructed menu. It’s not often that I leave a restaurant and immediately start thinking of when I can go back! Take advantage of this amazing winter special menu and allow your taste buds to be treated to some of the finest food in the land. The service is flawless, the setting is beautiful and it really is an all round wonderful experience.

Winter Menu:

R395 / with wine pairing R795
There is also an entire vegetarian menu so veggies there is a whole lot of deliciousness for you too.

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

La Petite Colombe | The Secret Life of Bee

Thank you to the La Petite Colombe team!

 

 

pumpkin puttanesca

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

I should probably say upfront this is a Puttanesca ish pasta. This little tart went a tad rogue. Well in my book the addition of a some smoked chipotle, shallots & olive caviar is hardly all that rogue but some peeps takes the classics very seriously. I was delighted so many people also love this classic combo and wanted the recipe after I made it on an insta-story the other night. Full disclosure- the husband does NOT!

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

The other blindingly obvious thing here is the bright orange pasta. Its a fabulous pumpkin noodle situation that allows me to pretend i’m enjoying a bowl full of carbs. You can of course make this with whatever pasta or zoodle your heart desires. Spaghetti being the classic choice for Puttanesca.

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

One of the reasons I adore this pasta ever so much is because you can always find capers, olives, anchovies and tomatoes in our household. Oh and an excessive amount of garlic. Like actually ludicrous. Vampires beware. These simple ingredients pack quite the punch when put together. No wonder Neapolitan prostitutes lead customers to their doors with this little number. Jokes.

This mighty combo also takes minutes to whip together and is utterly scrumptious. Do not salt it until the very very end IF necessary. You shouldn’t need to with all the salty goodness that goes into it, just lots of freshly ground black pepper is your friend here. Pepper and a generous glass of something delightful like a well chilled Pinot Noir to wash it all down.

Pumpkin Puttanesca

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500g veggie noodles of your choosing or of course +- 400g dried spaghetti
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely diced (or ½ red onion)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp smoked chipotle flakes
  • 100g capers, drained
  • 100g pitted black olives, chopped if desired
  • 2 x 390g boxes Italian crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh Italian/ flat leaf parsley
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive caviar for serving

Method:

Cook pasta according to package instructions until quite al dente as you are going to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.

Meanwhile, combine a generous glug of olive oil with the onion, garlic, anchovies, red chilli and chipotle flakes. Cook over medium heat until the garlic is lightly golden and the anchovies are broken up into bits.

Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the tomatoes reduce and the sauce thickens.

Add the capers and olives and stir to combine.

Using tongs, transfer pasta to sauce. If using vegetables noodles add them into the sauce now.

Cook, stirring and shaking the pan until the pasta is perfectly al dente, or the veggie noodles are tender. Stir in the freshly chopped parsley and season well with plenty of black pepper and taste for salt if necessary.

Serve straight away with freshly grated Parmesan or some crusty bread because carbs on carbs are the way forward in life.

And if you want to be a little bit extra a sprinkle of olive caviar is just the greatest thing ever on this delicious little number.

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

This isn’t a sponsored post but if you want to know where to find the delicious olive caviar I buy click HERE and then click HERE for the pumpkin noodles.

Pumpkin Puttanesca | The Secret Life of Bee

brown butter ice cream with easter egg bark

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

There are few things more delicious than brown butter, and few things more delicious than well made ice cream. Combine the two and boom you have yourself a winner! The brown butter adds richness and nuttiness to this creamy vanilla base. The Easter egg bark is fun and festive and can be subbed for any kind of bark all year round. All sorts of nuts, dried fruit and other chocolates will work perfectly too.

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

This ice cream base is a goodie and if you don’t have an ice cream maker no problem! Use the freeze- blend- freeze method and you’ll achieve a great consistency. If you are able to temper the chocolate- it’ll give you a much better snap and the chocolate will remain hard and breakable for much longer. But if you plan on digging in with some speed then no need!

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark

Ingredients:

  • 120g (½ cup) Lurpak butter
  • 200g (1 cup) demerara sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 500ml (2 cups) cream
  • 250ml (1 cup) full-cream milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 150g white chocolate
  • Speckled eggs

Method:

Melt the butter over medium heat until foaming. Swirl the pan often until butter turns a rich nut brown. Pour into a jar and set aside to cool.

In a medium sized pot- bring milk, cream and vanilla to a simmer.

In a large bowl- beat egg yolks and demerara sugar until thick and pale.

Gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture. Pour back into the pot. Stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the custard is cooked and thickly coats the back of a spoon. If you have a thermometer cook until the custard reaches 85 ̊C.

Pour custard into a bowl and stir in the brown butter. Combine.

Place in the fridge until cool.

Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and churn according to instructions. *If you do not have an ice cream machine- freeze the custard in a zip lock bag. Break the frozen custard into bits and blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. Then scrape into a tub and freeze again.

Scrape churned ice cream into a tub and freeze until firm.

To make the bark- Melt dark and white chocolate separately. Pour dark chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Using a spatula spread it out thinly. Drizzle with white chocolate and swirl them together. Scatter with speckled eggs. Place in the refrigerator until set and serve broken into shards with the ice cream.

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Easter Egg Bark | The Secret Life of Bee

Sponsored by the awesome folks from Lurpak South Africa

spiced rum & raisin pancakes

These spiced rum and raisin pancakes are quite honestly the most delicious pancakes ever. They’re like naughty, fluffy, hot cross buns… that are ready in minutes! Serve them piping hot with a dollop of butter shmelting away and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. Heaven.

Pancakes were funny enough one of the very first things I ever learnt to cook. My grandad would put the little step ladder next to the stove and help me ladle in batter and not burn the house down. Thankfully I didn’t set anything on fire and my love of pancakes only grew stronger.

The lovely folks from Lurpak South Africa are giving away a hamper of goodies. Watch this recipe video and head over to my Instagram page to enter the competition!

 

Spiced Rum & Raisin Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 70g (⅓ cup) Lurpak butter
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 500ml (2 cups) milk
  • 300g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 75g (½ cup) raisins
  • 1 -2 tots rum

Method:

Melt butter in a small saucepan and set aside.

In a small bowl- combine eggs, milk and butter. Whisk.

In a large bowl combine flour, caster sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice. Whisk.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry and whisk well until smooth and incorporated.

Fold in the raisins and finally a shot or two of rum if desired.

Fry pancakes using clarified butter until golden brown and fluffy.

Serve with a dollop of butter, maple syrup and cinnamon sugar.

Spiced Rum & Raisin Pancakes | The Secret Life of Bee

buttery date and walnut cookies

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

If you find yourself in the kitchen after dinner on the hunt for something sweet… If you find your afternoon cup of tea lacking a little accompanying treat… If you find yourself just in need of baked goods in a heartbeat, these cookies are for you!

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

They are ludicrously simple. They’re based on a basic cookie dough we were taught at Le Cordon Bleu. I love the addition of dates as they add some chew and the nuts add great texture. You can really add whatever floats your boat or add nothing at all and keep them a dead simple butter biscuit.

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • about a cup of chopped walnuts
  • about a cup of pitted, chopped dates

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and salt.

Whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and stir gently until combined.

Fold in the nuts and dates.

Form the dough into little balls. Place onto a lined baking tray. Spread them out well spaced and press down lightly on each cookie.

*if your hands are quite warm pop the dough into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill

Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly golden. Don’t even bother allowing them to cool. Tuck in immediately!

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

Buttery Date & Walnut Cookies | The Secret Life of Bee

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

This portabellini mushroom, pesto and bocconcini flatbread is a super speedy way to get something utterly delicious on the table. The meaty mushrooms add a fabulous umami punch and great texture. Tailor these as much as you like by playing with your favourite toppings and flavour combinations.

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

The husband and I have been steadily reducing our intake of animal products and meat specifically. So mushrooms have become a large part of our diets. They’re versatile, delicious and best of all cheap! So they really convince you never to want another piece of steak again. On top of that they’re just really good for you. So when asked by the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association whether I wanted to take part in their #festivemushrooms campaign I said hell yes!

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

The brief was to come up with a yummy mushroom recipe using our local cultivated varietals. If you’re looking for yummy then look no further. This meal will very easily become a weeknight staple! Keep up to date with the #festivemushrooms campaign and follow the SAMFA blog for more delicious recipes!

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

Portabellini & bocconcini flatbread

Makes 2 large flatbreads

Ingredients:

2 flatbreads – homemade or store bought
500g Portabellini mushrooms
1 large white onion, diced
Fresh thyme sprigs
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper
150g Bocconcini mozzarella
Sundried tomatoes
Fresh baby herbs and leaves

For the pesto:
1 clove garlic
1 tsp sea salt
40g fresh basil leaves
40g fresh rocket
30g Parmesan cheese, grated
80ml extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Method:

If you aren’t in a massive hurry to get lunch or dinner on the table then I suggest making the flatbread yourself. It’s deeply satisfying making dough with your hands and there’s something super duper rewarding about knowing you’ve made that baby from scratch. Also it really takes a couple of seconds to throw together.

I use a very simple flatbread recipe:
200g self-raising flour
250g full fat Greek yoghurt
1 pinch of salt

In a bowl mix together the yoghurt, flour and salt until it forms a dough.
Transfer dough onto a floured surface. Knead for a few minutes. Cut into 2 or 4 pieces depending on desired size. Cover with a dish cloth and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Roll out each section of dough using plenty of flour to prevent sticking or tearing.
Cook the flatbread in a dry hot griddle pan. Cook each side for 2-4 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

For the pesto:
Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic clove and teaspoon of sea salt into a puree. Scrape the garlic paste into a food processor for ease; add the basil, rocket, Parmesan and olive oil. Blitz until smooth. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and set aside.
For the flatbreads:
Sauté the diced onion with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt until gently caramelised. Slice the mushrooms and fry them in batches until golden brown. And a few sprigs of thyme as you fry each batch. Season well with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 200C and move the rack to the upper shelf.

Brush flatbreads with the basil pesto. Top each one with half of the mushroom mix. Rip the bocconcini mozzarella into pieces and scatter over the mushrooms. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the flatbread is golden brown.

Top with pieces of sundried tomatoes, a few dollops of pesto and fresh baby leaves. Slice, serve and enjoy!

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

portabellini & bocconcini flatbread | The Secret Life of Bee

spiced nectarine cake

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

I’ve always loved a spiced cake. My gran used to make a phenomenal upside down apple cake and the cinnamon smell would fill the kitchen and waft through the whole house. It was utterly mesmerizing. She served it with softly whipped cream and it was like my kryptonite. So as an homage to granny I made this cake the other day but thanks to leftovers from another shoot I had a crazy amount of nectarines in the house and voilà!

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

This cake is awesome because it really has three layers/textures. As you bake it upside down and then flip it you’ve got the nectarine layer which is super moist and buttery, the middle layer which is your perfect sponge like cake and then the base which has a sublime crunchy crust to it.

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

My only warning to you is make this when you have people around to eat it with you. It’s dangerously addictive and ‘just one more sliver’ turned into cake annihilation. It goes as well with a glass of bubbles as it does with a pot of tea. The mother bear and I made sure we did plenty of taste testing and wine pairing!

Spiced Nectarine Cake 

Ingredients:

  • 60g butter, melted
  • 100g muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 4-5 nectarines
  • 315g all-purpose flour
  • 115g sugar
  • 100g muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Brush the melted butter around all sides of a 20cm cake tin. Swirl the butter at the bottom of the pan into an even layer. Sprinkle with the muscavado sugar and mixed spice and set aside.

Slice the nectarines into wedges and arrange neatly over the spiced muscavado.

Combine the flour, sugar, muscavado sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl whisk together the softened butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter over the nectarines and gently flatten it out whilst trying to keep them in their arranged pattern.

Place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack with a plate underneath for catching some syrupiness.

Serve with whipped cream or cinnamon ice cream and a drizzle of dulce de leche if you just wanna be naughty.

spiced nectarine cake | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

Winter has me firmly in her clutches and comfort food is keeping me going. This mushroom ragù with truffle oil is exactly that. It’s rich and comforting and feels like a warm hug. I give this pasta a hefty dose of garlic and pepper. Mushrooms love pepper! And I finish it off with some crispy sage and Parmesan. It’s dead simple but utterly scrumptious.

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

I like to mix my mushrooms up. I went to the farmer’s market on Saturday and found a gorgeous mix but you can use whatever you can get your hands on. Shiitake, king oyster and shimeji mushrooms all work beautifully in this dish. Just cook your mushrooms in batches if necessary. Mushrooms don’t like being in a crowded pan or they sweat- much like meat. So brown them a few slices at a time and then combine them all together at the end.

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

I love a good truffle oil and this one from Lemcke is a lovely subtle truffle-enhanced oil. So it’s not one of those that over powers an entire dish. You can use a rather liberal amount and it really makes all the rich earthy mushroom flavours sing. I also made a fried egg using the oil and it was amazing.

Mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 600g mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup mushroom stock
  • 1/2 lemon
  • truffle oil
  • sea salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g fresh tagliatelle
  • handful fresh sage leaves
  • butter for frying
  • Parmesan for serving

Method:

Heat olive oil with a knob of butter and fry mushrooms in batches until golden brown. Set aside.

Heat some fresh olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions until soft. Add the crushed garlic, a knob of butter and return the mushrooms to the pan. Cook until the garlic smells fragrant. Add the mushroom stock and simmer until reduced by half. Season well with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and add pasta to the mushrooms. Toss well and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon.

In a small saucepan heat a few knobs of butter and fry the sage leaves until crispy. Drain on paper towel.

Serve the mushroom ragù topped with the crispy sage leaves, freshly grated Parmesan and a generous drizzle of truffle oil.

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

mushroom ragù tagliatelle with truffle oil | The Secret Life of Bee

Truffle oil provided by the lovely folks from Lemcke

A taste of Porto, Portugal

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

My mom and I went on a mother daughter trip to Portugal last month and we ate and drank ourselves incredibly merry. Porto was an absolute revelation. The food scene is incredible, the people are supremely friendly and the city is gorgeous. It’s the perfect food and wine lovers city. Every few metres there’s something delicious to sample. We promised ourselves not to use any forms of transport apart from our feet in a futile attempt to combat the calories going in! If you aren’t into a lot of pictures of food and wine- look away now!

Port Tasting in Porto | The Secret Life of Bee

Pictured above is Bacchus Vini– a divine little wine bar along the Duoro river. They do splendid wine and Port tastings served with generous cheese and charcuterie platters. We sipped under the sun until it was inevitably nap time.

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

When the clock strikes tapas time one of our favourite spots was UVA wine bar. It’s down a little alley and doesn’t look like much but the tapas was scrumptious. Try the ham and cheese wheel thingy. It’s amazing. They also have a superb wine list full of small production wineries and the staff are very knowledgeable.

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Just an adorable 20 minute tram ride to Foz and you’ll have your toes in the sand and a glass of vinho verde in hand. Praia da Luz is a gorgeous beach restaurant with simple food, cold wine and live music. The service is non existent so if you get a waiter make sure you order enough to keep you going for a while! But it is a marvelous, relaxing way to spend the day.

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

The Mercado do Bolhão is a must visit. There’s the most divine husband and wife team that do wine tastings. Him and his wife don’t speak a word of English but between our terrible Portuguese and a lot of hand gestures from his side we had the very best experience. He gave us a few slices of cheese with our wine tasting. We told him how much we adored the cheese and wanted to know what it was called etc etc. Two seconds later he’s on the phone talking rapidly and tells us to wait. The kind soul called a friend and had an entire WHEEL of the cheese delivered to us at the market! We snacked on that cheese for two weeks! Pictured below is that devilish little wheel of queijo.

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

While we’re on the indulgence train… You cannot say you’ve truly experienced Portugal unless you’ve eaten Santini‘s ice cream. It’s just seriously better than any other ice cream i’ve ever had. Ever. And i’ve eaten ice cream in France and Italy and all over but holy guacamole you need to try this stuff. My favourites were the granadilla, vanilla and chocolate. Just wow.

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

This sweet treat deserves a special mention. The pastéis de nata gets all the glory but the Queijada de Feijão is where it’s really at. This sweet bean pastry has a buttery almond and white bean filling and it’s all encased in a million layers of puff pastry. It’s a winner and I NEED to learn how to make it.

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

To add to the list of things I want to learn to make is tomato rice. I’m sure you’re thinking what is so special about tomatoes and rice? This dish tastes like pure love. It tastes like the warmest hug from every vovo in Portugal. It is much looser than a risotto. A lot more stock is used but the rice is still kept perfectly al dente, not mushy. We discovered this pot of love at one of our favourite spots: À Parte Restaurante. This and their Bacalhau à Bras were two of the yummiest things I have ever eaten. Bacalhau à Bras is a very traditional dish of shredded salt cod, potatoes, onions and eggs. And it’s always topped with olives. The potatoes are grated and then fried crispy before everything is mixed together and then baked in the oven. This recipe will be hitting the blog soon because it’s something everyone needs to experience!

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

What you really don’t need to experience is the seafood soup at The Majestic Café. It’s a tourist trap, over priced and the food isn’t very good. So if you want to go there to take some pics (it’s very pretty) rather order a G&T and do some people watching instead of eating.

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Café do Cais is a great spot along the Duoro River for wine sipping and tapas nibbling. Their blistered Padrón peppers are melt in the mouth delicious. And my favourite part? They serve their coffee with a cinnamon stick! How divine!

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Above all else- if you visit Porto you have to try a Francesinha. It is specifically famous to Porto, it’s basically their official sandwich. The name means “little Frenchie.” It Porto’s version of the French croque. The bread is toasted super crispy and filled with layers of ham, linguiça and cheese. It’s finally served with a flavourful beer and tomato based broth that every chef puts their own spin on. The egg on top is optional much like the croque monsieur vs the croque madame, but it is highly recommended. I also suggest a Francesinha buddy- because you definitely need two of you to tackle one of these babies. The best one we had was from our favourite little cafe just below our apartment, Cafeteria Dona Antónia.

Porto is a magical city. If you ever have the opportunity to visit… do it! I cannot wait to go back. But first gym. Lots and lots of gym.

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

Porto Portugal | The Secret Life of Bee

 

hot cross bun pudding

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

Hold onto your hats, cos this one is a goodie. In fact this dish of deliciousness is so good it’ll make you wish it was Easter all year round! Easter brings with it many a public holiday and many an opportunity for lavish brunching, lunching and general munching. This hot cross bun pudding is pretty much perfect for any and every occasion.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

I do love a hot cross bun all year round. Toasted crisp and then slathered with some farm butter. Bliss. This hot cross bun pudding brings you all of those delicious spicy flavours but in the most comforting way. The vanilla and orange scented custard is rich and creamy and the tops of the buns get a wonderful crispy crust while their bottoms soak up all the custard and become gloriously pudding like.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

I do not recommend making this while alone at home. It is dangerous. The husband nearly got home to an empty baking dish and a self loathing wife. But fortunately I somehow pulled it together and managed to share this with him and a neighbour who stuck their head in through the kitchen window.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

Hot Cross Bun Pudding

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 6 hot cross buns
  • 250ml cream
  • 250ml full cream milk
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 60g sugar
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 Tbsp Grand Marnier *optional
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Softened butter for spreading
  • Maple syrup

Method:

Preheat oven to 170 ̊C. Grease an ovenproof baking dish with softened butter.

Slice hot cross buns in half and butter the insides. Place the bottom half of the buns in the baking dish.

Whisk the cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, Grand Marnier and salt together. Pour half of the mixture over the buns.

Top with the other half of the bun and finish with the remaining mixture. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the custard is set and the buns are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and brush the tops of the buns with maple syrup while still warm. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and a glass of bubbles.

Hot Cross Bun Pudding | The Secret Life of Bee

 

*Disclaimer: Delicious bubbles provided by the wonderful folks from Krone.