Pea and Ham soup

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pea ham bacon soup winter yummy slow cook

Pea soup picture from myrecipes.com


A joke that always get a laugh in our house is, “What’s the difference between popcorn and pea soup? Anyone can pop corn”. Yes, I know its lame but it raises at least a smile every time. Not too long ago I found a recipe for Bredasdorp pea soup from a travel magazine or something and every time I make it, I tweak it a little to my liking. A recipe is just a guideline isn’t it…?
The recipe says to just chuck everything into the pot and let it boil for two hours but there are obvious issues with this. Yes, I’m sure the writer’s grandmother has done exactly that for the past 50 years but all it takes is a few easy tweaks to get the best out of the ingredients to take it from mmmm to yum.
For one thing, since it is a ham and pea soup, if you just throw the meat in without browning, you are essentially boiling the meat with the rest of the ingredients. While this is perfectly edible, browning the meat with the onions and garlic just takes it to another level. Allowing it to brown a bit gives you a good excuse to deglaze the pan with some white wine/stock before throwing everything else into the pot. Another issue I had with the recipe was the fact that when they said, “throw all the ingredients into the pot” the ingredients list included salt and most of us know that if you add salt to the water you are cooking any form of legume in, it automatically gives the split pea a hard coating and you can boil it until the cows come home but it just won’t become soft and mushy (which is preferred in a soup).
Pea and ham Soup
Ingredients:
15ml oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
100g bacon (chopped or use bacon bits)
1 large potato,peeled and cubed
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
300g shin (I just use stewing/potjiekos pork)
100ml white wine/stock
1 packet dried split peas, rinsed and drained
1 tin processed peas (it has to be processed peas) rinsed and drained
1.5 litres of water
15ml each tomato sauce, Worchester sauce, vinegar
Salt and black pepper about 10 minutes before turning the stove off
Heat oil in a large pot. Brown 1st 6 ingredients. Deglaze pan with about 100ml white wine/stock. Allow to cook off before adding split and processed peas. Add 1.5l cold water and sauces with vinegar. Allow to boil for about 10 minutes. Scum will float to the surface. Skim foam off the surface and discard. Lower temperature of the stove and allow to simmer gently for 2 hours. Near the end of the cooking time, check seasoning and adjust with salt and black pepper to taste. Snuggle under the covers and enjoy with some fresh bread.

Luscious Lemon Curd

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Lemon Citrus Curd yellow happiness tart sweet spread

You know how people say there is power in positive thinking…? What many fail to also mention is the crippling nature of negative thinking. After researching how to make mayonnaise to death and some fantastic advice from fellow bloggers and friends…it flopped.

 

There wasn’t actually anything wrong with the recipe and research as the emulsion worked and it did look like mayo, but when I tried to adjust the seasoning so that it would taste like mayo, I went a little overboard with the lemon juice and once it split, there really was no going back. So now I just have to get back on the horse and try again.

 

But while I was gathering the courage to actually make the mayo, I decided to turn my procrastination into something productive and tackled making lemon curd for the first time. Well, I had to find something to do with those lovely fresh, free range eggs I had bought to make mayo… ;). I found this lovely recipe and it was a good way of using up the big bag of lemons my mom had passed on to me after being given some from a neighbour’s tree. For the recipe, go to http://sweetapolita.com/2012/05/sunshine-sweet-citrus-curd/ . I have also copied and pasted it down below for your convenience. I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was and I’m looking forward to making some passion fruit curd within the next few days.

 

Citrus Curd        

 

*loosely adapted from Williams Sonoma

 

Yield: ~ 1-3/4 cups

 

Ingredients

 

4 lemons (or 6 Meyer lemons), or 2 oranges, or 5 limes (or 8 Key Limes), preferably organic

 

2 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks

 

1 cup sugar (200 grams) (7 ounces)

 

4 tablespoons (60 grams) (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small even cubes

 

Method

 

1. Wash citrus really well (with a bristled brush under cold water) and using a Zester , remove all of the coloured portion of the peel from the fruit (not the white pith–it’s bitter!) into a bowl or onto a piece of wax paper. Rotate fruit as necessary to get as much of the zest off. Repeat until you have 2 teaspoons (30 mL) of the zest, and set aside.

 

2. Slice the citrus in half crosswise (I find room temperature citrus is best for juicing) using a sharp knife, and extract as much of the juice as you can using a citrus reamer, or I use a small Citrus Juicer . Just be sure to catch all of the juice in a bowl and to completely strain the seeds before using. Repeat the juicing until you have 2/3 cup (5 fl oz/160 mL) of the strained juice.

 

3. Get your double boiler ready by filling a saucepan with 1″ of water, then placing a metal bowl on top of the saucepan. You will need to ensure the bowl fits snugly into the top of the saucepan and that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water (important, or your eggs will cook!). You can now remove the bowl and continue with making the curd.

 

4. Whisk the juice, whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl until smooth. Add the butter cubes to the bowl, but don’t stir.

 

5. Heat the water in the saucepan over low heat until it simmers (not boils) and place the bowl atop the rim. Stirring gently, but constantly, using heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, cook until the curd has thickened and all of the butter has melted and is incorporated, about 10 minutes (this can vary). To test if the curd is thick enough, remove the spatula or spoon from the curd and check that it’s coated.

 

6. Strain the curd over a bowl using a fine-mesh sieve and then stir in the zest. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly against the curd (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 3 hours (I like to chill it overnight). It also thickens up a bit more while chilling.

 

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

 

You can use the chilled curd right away, keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze the curd in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the curd surface for up to 1 month. To use frozen curd, you can remove from freezer and use immediately–no need to thaw it as it doesn’t really freeze, per se. You can either scoop out what you need and keep the rest in the freezer or use all at once

Rolo Cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

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Rolo caramel-filled chocolate cups cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

Rolo cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream

I made Mini Eclairs with salted caramel and banana from this recipe http://simply-delicious.co.za/2012/07/04/mini-eclairs-with-salted-caramel-fresh-banana/ last week after a hellish day at the office where the only thing that would cheer me up was baking only to find that, because I had used coarse salt instead of salt flakes or Maldon salt the salted caramel was much too salty. It was perfectly useable especially when I made the salted caramel cream but I didn’t top the éclairs with more caramel preferring rather to go the more traditional route and decking it with melted milk chocolate. This did however leave me with leftover salted caramel and I had to make a plan to use it up before it turned into fudge.

Since caramel goes really well with chocolate and you find both in Rolos, that gave me an idea. I made up a batch of my favourite chocolate cake (I have copied and pasted one below but feel free to use any recipe) and turned it into cupcakes.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Serves 8 – 10

125g butter

125ml oil

30ml cocoa powder

250ml water

500ml flour

400ml sugar

2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

5ml bicarbonate of soda

5ml vanilla essence

125ml buttermilk

2.5 x rolls of Rolos (10 in each pack)

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Grease a muffin pan well or put a cupcake liner into each hole.

In a pot heat the butter, oil, cocoa powder and water.

When the butter has melted, remove the pot from the heat.

Cool slightly and place in a large mixing bowl.

Add the flour and sugar.

Mix well.

Add the eggs and bicarbonate of soda, vanilla essence and buttermilk.

Mix together.

Pour the mixture into the muffin pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes.

As I had used some of the salted caramel in the éclairs, I didn’t have enough to put into the cupcake but I did put a Rolo into each cupcake before baking so that sorted it out.

Buttercream Icing

180g soft butter/full cream margarine

550g icing sugar

15ml milk/water to loosen icing if required

100g melted dark/milk chocolate for decoration

Cream the butter by hand or with electric beaters until smooth and light. Slowly add the sifted icing sugar until fully incorporated. It will look a bit dry at this stage but when you add the salted caramel and allow  that to mix in, you will have a better idea of how much milk/water you will need to make a spreadable icing. The longer you beat the icing, the lighter in colour it will become and the creamy colour set off the melted chocolate I drizzled on top beautifully.

Make the salted caramel before you start baking or while you’re waiting for the cupcakes to cool. You will need to wait until the mixture is room temperature before adding it to the buttercream.
250g (8.82 ounces) sugar
50ml (1.69 fluid ounces) water
100g (3.53 ounces) butter
100ml (3.38 fluid ounces) cream
2 t sea salt flakes

To make the salted caramel, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and allow to come to the boil. Cook until the sugar is the colour of amber then add the butter and cream and stir until smooth. Add the salt and set aside to cool slightly. 

Assembly

Allow cupcakes to cool before generously topping each cupcake with some icing. I found piping impossible because some of the salted caramel had turned into fudge bits that kept getting stuck in the icing nozzle.  Drizzle over melted chocolate and top each cupcake with a Rolo.

The Cooking Club for Kids Cooking Classes Launch at Liam Tomlin Food, Franschoek

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I heard about the launch of the Kids Cooking School on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.399861646744122.95334.217107955019493&type=1  and decided to surprise the family with a little trip out to Franschoek to see what was happening. For more information about the launch, have a look here http://franschhoek.org.za/events/event/the-cooking-club-for-kids-at-liam-tomlin-food/ . After driving on the R45 for what felt like forever, we were nearly in the little town of Franshoek when I saw this tall sculpture through the mist and rain of a leopard standing atop a long branch. The bright red walls of the front gate welcomed me to Leopards Leap Vineyards. After signing in with security, we made our way into a very Frank Lloyd Wright-ish building with stunning views all around. For more information about the vineyards and all the great work they are doing to product the leopards, please have a look here http://www.leopards-leap.com/home .

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The kids loved their first experience of visiting a professional kitchen and the staff were so friendly and welcoming. Zac is a huge fan of Justin Bonello and I’m afraid Liam Tomlin was a little put out by the fact that it wasn’t hes name being dropped all the time. It was such a great experience for the children to meet and chat to a “real chef” and, while they didn’t absorb the full impact, they had a great time.

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Since we had taken such a long drive (by our standards and the price of petrol) it made sense to see as many places in Franschoek as possible. It was a miserable day weather wise so most of our time was spent dashing from one sheltered area to another. We did make a special point of popping in at Hugenot Chocolatiers and the kids chose (with a lot of subtle hinting and suggestion) to have the marshmallows on a stick (which is very well priced at R8,50 for marshallows covered in Belgian chocolate). On our way back home, I decided to pop in at Fairview http://www.fairview.co.za/ as I had seen the signs but had no idea how far out of our way it would require us to go. After sampling some cheese and buying some to take home, we headed back just in time as the skies opened and even my wipers at full speed couldn’t cope.

Of course, no one in their right minds undertakes a “road trip” with children without making sure they are well fed so after they had their Ace porridge for breakfast, I also made some “American Pancakes” which is more like our flapjacks than crepes. You can find the recipe here http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/1454/fast-and-easy-pancakes.aspx but I have also copied and pasted it for your convenience. I loved that it could be made in a blender, which saves on washing up and makes it easy to pour the batter into the pan.

American pancakes in a blender

Ingredients Serves: 6

·     450ml (16 fl oz) semi skimmed milk

·     150g (5 oz) caster sugar

·     2 eggs

·     1 teaspoon vegetable oil

·     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·     250g (9 oz) plain flour

·     1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

Preparation method

Prep: 5 mins | Cook: 15 mins

1.

Place milk, sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla in the blender. Add flour and baking powder. Blend until smooth.

2.

Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the pan, using approximately 4 tablespoons for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

 

Bringing budget and blogging together

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Maybe I should hold a bake sale to support my blogging habit

Maybe I should hold a bake sale to support my blogging habit

I have an issue with articles like this on http://www.health24.com/dietnfood/Diet_basics/15-1168-1173,46224.asp that give you guidelines on “how to buy healthy food on a budget” and, while I can sympathize with people who are in such dire straits that they often only manage 1 meal a day and their kids have to get sandwiches provided by a feeding scheme at school, the media only seem to focus on 2 extremes…the very rich and the very poor. The tricky part comes in is when you are a person who loves cooking and baking but apparently can’t call yourself a foodie because of your lack of experience in the food industry, the fact that you have margarine in your fridge or because you don’t drink wine (I hear those gasps of horror and the thumps as many people faint – but when you recover, I hope you’ll continue reading).

Every now and then a fellow blogger will post something like this http://blogs.food24.com/sous-chef/2012/07/16/chicken-parcels-feed-4-for-under-r30-00/ and I start thinking, “Now this is what I’m talking about”. Taking advantage of specials is my sport of choice and I often get to try things I wouldn’t usually when I dig out a pack of camembert out of the bottom of a after 4pm trolley at my local Checkers. (After 4pm everyday, Checkers puts out trolleys in their fruit n veg, bakery, convenience foods and occasionally cheese sections with items that haven’t sold for the day for up to 50% off).

It’s because of my lack of money that I have had to explore baking my own bread and cakes instead of buying. I’m hovering on the brink of making my own nougat, Turkish delight and marshmallows as soon as the mini panic attack I get every time I pick up my newly purchased sugar thermometer from www.yuppiechef.com , subsides. So there is a positive side to being the sole breadwinner. It forces you out of your comfit zone and you get very money savvy about where to get the best deals. Never will you see me putting an item in a trolley without checking the price per gram/mil and I often work my recipes around what I could/couldn’t afford.

I am fully aware how important good ingredients are to a dish but I cannot justify frying my toasted cheese sandwich in a “blob of butter” when spreading marg on the outside of bread and frying it in a pan that has been sprayed with “Spray n Cook” does the job perfectly well. And when you have kids who love toasted cheddar sarmies (crusts off please), it just doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. And while I don’t buy butter, I do buy Corden Bleu baking margarine (?) that is currently on special at Checkers for R8,99 and use this when making pastry and biscuits.

I do understand that one day when I blog about the half-price brie and apple toasted sandwich on slices of ciabatta that I got in the bargain trolley at Checkers the day before for R6 that margarine is just not going to do the trick but in between blog posts, I am just a mom, trying to feed a family healthy, nutritious filling meals so we can save our money for fun experiences like ice-skating and horse riding.

P.S. I really hope that this confession doesn’t get me ousted from the blogging community and that you will share you cost saving hints and tips with me 🙂

Bar One Chocolate Brownies

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I mentioned on twitter (@rumtumtiggs) at the end of last week that I had recently taken advantage of Pick n Pay’s special they were running on Bar Ones in conjunction with the Bar One Man Hunt (http://www.barone.co.za/whatshappening.aspx ) and I was looking for suggestions on what to do with it. I considered making cupcakes or cheesecake but that would require me to buy additional ingredients and I would prefer to work with what I already had in the house. Image

 

After searching the interwebs I found this recipe and, while it listed Mars Bars, it was close enough to suit my needs. Since this recipe doesn’t call for the melting of butter and chocolate and it includes a raising agent, I wouldn’t actually consider it a brownie as the texture is more cake-like but it was enjoyed by the family never the less and it gave me an opportunity to play around with “food styling” as it was a decent subject to photograph.

Recipe follows under the picture… Image

 

American Brownies (http://www.lydiabakes.com/2011/07/mars-bar-brownie-recipe.html )

Robyn Brown Bakes Recipe Book

Ingredients

250g Butter

1/2 C Cocoa

1 1/2 C Sugar

4 Eggs

1 C Flour

1 t Baking Powder

1 t Vanilla Essence

2 Mars Bars (chopped) or 100g “man sized” Bar One chocolate bar

1/4 C White Chocolate Buttons

1) Melt butter in a saucepan large enough to mix all the ingredients.

2) Mix in cocoa.

3) Remove from heat and stir in sugar.

4) Add eggs and beat well using a wooden spoon.

5) Sift flour and baking powder into the mixture. Add vanilla.

6) Add chocolate if desired and mix to combine.

6) Pour into a 20 x 30cm sponge roll tin with a baking paper-lined base.

7) Bake at 180 Degrees C for 25 – 30 minutes or until brownie springs back when touched.

8) Cut into bars while still warm. Sift some icing sugar on top and serve with cream, enjoy!.Image

Getting to know you

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ImageI have created a poll because I read a post yesterday where a food blogger mentioned doing Home Economics in school. This was interesting to me because I didn’t do home economics and I wonder if I would have the same number of food fears to conquer if I had that sort of grounding.

So far, I have managed to conquer my fear of making bread, pastry and working with gelatin. I also conquered my fear of making choux pastry last night and, like with all my other fears, I have no idea what I was worried about as the chocolate eclairs (recipe from http://simply-delicious.co.za/2012/07/04/mini-eclairs-with-salted-caramel-fresh-banana/) turned out perfectly. Next on my list of fears to conquer is making sweets. Now that I have bought my candy thermometer and Silpat from http://www.yuppiechef.co.za , it’s now just a matter of finding rose water to make Turkish Delight and fresh eggs to make nougat.
 

P.S. A local retailer was selling chocolate eclairs, filled with “imitation cream” for R7,99 each!

So please take a few minutes to complete the poll below because I would like to get to know you 😉

Good coffee at a good price

While I’m not old enough to remember the “good old days” where supermarkets were a foreign concept and you got your meat from a butcher and your milk from a dairy, I imagine it was a wonderful thing to be able to walk into the local butcher where he actually knew your name and you chatted about children and family when you went to pick up your meat for the week. I am old enough to remember dropping little discs into glass milk bottles and putting them out on the stoep for the milkman but even that was phased out all too quickly. As it is, there is no justification for going to borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbour since your local corner store has turned into a shop that is open from 7am to 11pm 7 days a week.

When you are on a tight budget, you come face to face on a weekly basis how expensive things have become and you really have to hunt for bargains. Often, that means you spend a lot of your time finding little hidden gems in order to save a few rands. There is a Chinese shop down the road that not only makes a nice chow mein but has 2-ply toilet paper for R20 for a pack of 10 rolls. Then there is a pizza place that not only has 2 large pizzas for R120 (all pizzas even the ones with the fancy toppings) but they sell all their cheeses (blue, mozzarella, feta) for R54/kg. This cheese shop is owned by a guy who still actually makes the pizzas and operates the till but also takes time out of his day to find out how you and the kids are doing and recommends his pick of the week.

This brings me to the topic of today’s post. I was in a supermarket on Saturday and I needed to buy some coffee. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that sometimes it is better to pay more to get something that is high quality but when I looked at some of the prices (e.g. R85 for a 250g packet of ground coffee) I turned and walked away. 250g of coffee lasts about 2 weeks in our house (that is 1-2 cups per day for 2 people) and I simply cannot justify spending over R170 per month on our morning beverage. I’m actually really not sure how people manage to buy a cup of coffee everyday from a coffee shop before work. So I decided to share one of my hidden gems with you. Since the article has already been written (not by me) it makes sense to just share the link http://www.capetownmagazine.com/cafes/The-coffee-mans-aromas-invite-the-people-in/93_22_18253

Here you can find coffee for prices ranging from just over R40 per 250g and you can customize your blend to your liking. There are no limits to the combinations you can try out. There is something really special about selecting your beans, watch them be ground to spec according to how you brew and walk out with a warm bag of tantalizing coffee. I usually take a walk up Loop Street to get the coffee and bring it back to the office. If you don’t put the bag away, the gorgeous smell of freshly ground coffee with permeates the whole office.

I am aware that there are many amazing little places in and around Cape Town like @truthcoffee and @rosettaroastery (follow them on Twitter) but since I haven’t tried them yet it makes no sense for me to comment on their awesomeness. Anthony’s Golden Cup Coffee Shop is where I get my coffee and they give a great service for a reasonable price. Where do you go for your coffee?

New blog focus: Budget Busting!

BUDGET! There I said it. I can almost hear the gasps. “How dare she…?” you may ask. “Such a bad word!” others may say. Well, in this post I hope to answer that question.

When I went to #FBI2012, I was challenged to look at my blog and ask myself the question,” what am I offering my readers?” Since I have frustrated myself by just making other bloggers recipes and posting my experience and I feel I can’t really call myself a foodie since I rarely go out to eat and more often than not it’s at SPUR (and there go the remaining readers who weren’t scared off by the title) I decided to really dig deep and make a change for the better.

I Google’d budget blogs and, while there are many bloggers from the USA (them with the awesome coupon system and the like) pages from South Africa came up very short. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me and visit http://thebudgetingbabe.com/budgeting-blogs/ if you want some USA links to budgeting sites.

Every now and then a food blogger will do a post on “Cooking on a budget” but often the very next post requires 2 tubs of mascarpone and 750ml of fresh cream. Have you seen what those go for these days?? I love it when I see recipes with heart-warming stories like this one http://blogs.food24.com/cookalooks/2012/06/20/budget-pork-comfort/ and I even did a post late last year on how I keep my kids tummies full and warm for about R14 per kilogram packet of ACE porridge http://blogs.food24.com/rumtumtigger/2011/08/15/the-secrets-outbudget-beating-breakfast/ . But sadly, there are more recipes that require expensive ingredients than there are good budget friendly recipes that go beyond the realm of stew and other dishes that may or may not taste like cardboard.

I also get that there is more to life than cooking and eating so I wanted to open up my blog to other topics too like good deals you can get on experiences (Groupon has been such a help in this regard) or hints and tips on how to make your money stretch just a few days further. At this point I would like to point out that I am no expert, I don’t sell policies/Avon/Tupperware and I don’t belong to an affiliate program (Groupon included). So I will simply be sharing my experience in the hopes that you too can benefit and maybe we can start sharing ideas with one another.

Please also know that while I am green with envy of other food bloggers for whom money is no object and they live happily surrounded by their kitchens full of KitchenAid, Le Creuset and Wursthof I am not judging at all. I simply bake from scratch because I can’t afford ready mixes and budget because if I didn’t, I would be in even more financial trouble than I already am.

So I hope that this post will be taken in the spirit it was meant and that you will leave a comment and let me know what you think of my idea.

Reuben’s Tasting Table at The One & Only, Cape Town

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Just before #FBI2012, Colleen Grove (@collywolly) ran a giveaway on Twitter with Manley Communications (@manleycom) where 5 followers could win at place at Reuben’s tasting table at One & Only on Monday, 25 June 2012. I was one of the lucky ones and I looked forward to seeing Candice (@gorgeousblog), Jeanne (@cooksisterblog), Sam (@drizzleanddip) and Colleen (@collywolly) again after the craziness of #FBI2012 where they were all far too busy to chat for any length of time due to the tight time schedule we were kept to.

Arriving at The One & Only (@OOCapeTown) I was a little awestruck to be in such a beautiful venue and while the soft lighting did nothing to assist in taking pictures, it had all the elements of a decadent evening out. I was greeted by Colleen & Donald Grove (looking forward to that guest blog post Donald ;)) and Ian from Manley Communications and immediately a glass of bubbly appeared in my hand. That was just a taste of the type of service I would be experiencing that night. After meeting Kate (@saltedcaramel) and Nothando (@jozifoodiefix) we chatted for a bit before being led up to the large round table just next to the One & Only enviable wine sellar that can be freely admired through its glass walls.

We just to got settled at the table and were suprised to see a “Lazy Susan” straight out of the 70’s in such a posh venue when Reuben Riffel popped his head in to say hello. He apologised for not joining us since he was ill but gave us a bit of a background into the reason behind the tasting table and how each dish had managed to win a space on the menu. As I had found at #FBI2012, everyone looks much better in person and Reuben was no exception wearing a chocolate brown leather jacket and looking like he had just stepped off the set of Top Gun.

The tasting menu was a treat and well priced at R275 per person (without wine pairings) and R595 with wine pairings. It was great to have dinner in a relaxed, sharing atmosphere where the “Lazy Susan” encouraged conversation and giggles as the dishes were circulated and shared. I won’t go into detail about the menu as it would ruin the suprise but I would encourage you to make a booking at restaurant.reservations@oneandonlycapetown.com or call (27) (21) 431 4511.

Disclaimer: This experience was made possible (and paid for) by Manley Communications and One & Only Cape Town.