Al Rawi – The One Who Tells Stories

I’m sitting reading Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur on the shores of the Kahlid Lagoon in Sharjah. I’m savouring words like, “Our backs tell stories no books have the spine to carry”, whilst sipping a coffee after lunch at the stylish Al Rawi restaurant at the Al Majaz Waterfront.

For those who are visiting or living in Dubai there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to satisfy every palate but if you venture just a few kilometers to the neighboring emirate of Sharjah you will find this super designer space, a book shop, and restaurant. Not only does it provide a tasty breakfast and all day menu you get to enjoy the setting with decor and interiors designed by Pallavi Dean. Events and creative workshops are held regularly with cookery demonstrations and talks by esteemed chefs and if you are a fan of cookbooks, there are plenty to flick through and purchase among a vast array of books.

For lunch, I share the Za’atar and pumpkin salad that brings a hint of the flavours from the Middle East to the plate.  Many local households keep their Za’atar blends a secret but we know its a mix of oregano, thyme and a hint of sumac. It has been heralded as a health food for centuries, long before the term superfood was coined. It is a rich antioxidant with a tangy taste and instead of the usual bread this time it is scattered over a fresh salad with goats curd. Then, for a taste of Thailand, we tuck into the char sui beef which is lovely and tender and the sweet and salty marinade blends beautifully into the meat on a bed of black rice that gives it a perfect texture. Char sui ( caa siu叉燒) means ‘fork burn’ and refers to the fork-like metal skewer that holds the beef over the heat. It’s a filling dish with lots of interesting flavours accompanied by a refreshing apple and saffron cooler to quench the thirst sitting outside enjoying the waterside view.

SALAD Zaatar pumpkin, celeriac, cauliflower, goat’s curd, savoury granola, herbs
CHAR SUI BEEF
CHAR SUI BEEF Braised beef with kimchi black fried rice, pickled vegs, edamame, ginger shards and nahm jim mayo

A highlight is the pistachio cake, made with cardamom. pistachio paste and a buttercream ‘hat’ with a sprinkle of pistachios. Great colour too!

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SWEET Pistachio cake

My Al Rawi take away 

Good food can be enjoyed in any setting but Al Rawi restaurant offers a cool and cultured space for you to nourish yourself and your time.

The gourmet sandwiches, in particular, mushroom, avocado, beetroot, provolone, frizze, with truffle fries and aioli. I had a taste, it was delish.

A concise menu filled with tasty ingredients and plenty of gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian options.

The full menu

Things to see in Sharjah

Sharjah International Book Fair (annual event)

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Art & Culture

Central Souq

The Butterfly House on Al Noor Island

Sharjah may not be the obvious choice of Emirate to visit when you have Dubai and all its finery next door, but it’s worth the short drive (it took me less than 30 mins from Dubai Mall) if you fancy a slower pace and a ‘bite’ of culture. There are concerns about traffic delays but I visited on a Saturday and had no issues. Sometimes its good to just go see, who knows what’s out there to whet our appetites and what will lead us to our next story to share. As the title suggests, Al Rawi means, ‘the one who tells stories’, in Arabic, and it is doing just that, reworking the lines that tell a new story within the UAE food scene.

Suzanne.x

With Zhora Qureshi
With Tetra Manager, Zhora Qureshi, who oversees the running of the restaurant and bookshop.

 

 

Dark Kitchens, Bio-hacking and Block Chains – The Future of Food.

Hot topics were on the table for the F&B industry at the inaugural Gulfood Innovation Summit held in Dubai. These included talks on health, premiumisation, plant-based protein and how AI and blockchain are revolutionizing the food space.

What I found particularly interesting is how eating behaviours and preferences are changing. Youth are hungry for quick and convenient food options where they get more bang for the buck in nutrient-rich easy meals in the shape of shakes and snacks. ‘Dark’ kitchens may be the order of the future so instead of ‘free from’ foods we have ‘free from’ restaurants as we choose to eat in rather than out and order direct from a kitchen for dinner to be served at the door.

Bio-hacking is a buzz term reminding us to eat mindfully and live our best lives weighing against the scales of the digital age where at a click of a button on our technical devices we have access to a wide range of foods and products. People want to experience the world of taste and flavors and the digital space is broadening our experience and how we interact with ingredients. A good example of this was explained by Michael Barsties, Head of Food Waste Heroes Programme at Olio. This app enables us to connect with our neighbours and the wider community to share our surplus food and avoid wastage.

Another stand out moment was hearing Ben Ebrell co-founder and chef of Sortedfood speak about the success of this online food community. He says it is down to the power of friendship between the founders (they met at school) and a shared passion for food and the art of storytelling. Sorted enhances brands in the global marketplace by telling the story behind the food and this way adding value to a marketing strategy through the targeted lines of social media and the internet. He says It needs to be honest, fulfill a craving and offer the chance to interact and share. This may sound like the kind of afternoon tea I would enjoy as a child at my grandma’s house but I agree with him and maybe this is, in essence, what we are seeking to recreate. Businesses can open up to the consumer and bring hearts and minds together through the story behind the brand rather than simply being commercial and transactional. Consumers want to know the story, the traceability and not just feel they are being sold to. Creating the right synergy between the brand, the creative and the consumer is an exciting way forward in marketing your business online.

I really enjoyed hosting the event over three days, moderating panel discussions and listening to the keynote speakers. For those in the food business, the Gulfood’s Annual Report for 2019 is available to download for free on their website giving you further insights into industry growth, trends and customer preferences along with the speaker presentations. I look forward to seeing how the ideas develop and take shape and what topics will be on the table next year and up for discussion at Gulfood 2020.

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Enjoying a ‘fireside’ chat with Miquel Povedano, Chief Operating Officer UAE & Head of Operational Excellence, Carrefour of Majid Al Futtaim, Retail, talking about private labels at Gulfood Innovation Summit.
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Chef Manal Al Alem reaches women across the globe with her social network and Youtube channel sharing recipes and offering support to women who wish to start their own food-related business.

On how to reach and connect with the consumer, I have written a variety of pieces for the business, Balqees Honey, for their website and newsletter. By sharing the stories behind the honey’s and traveling to the source and interviewing the beekeepers I bring the personal story behind the brand to the forefront aiming to inform, inspire and build a relationship of trust. Here are some examples:

http://balqees.com/how-a-female-beekeeper-in-australia-has-created-a-haven-for-bees

http://balqees.com/a-year-in-the-life-of-beekeeper-in-the-western-cape 

 

SR Signature

In Search of White Honey in Ethiopia

I came across this photo that took me back to my trip to Ethiopia when I went in search of white honey. It was a journey that took me from Dubai to Addis Ababa and then to the northern quite remote part of Ethiopia on the Eritrean border. Around a quarter of Africa’s honey comes from Ethiopia and honey production is the second biggest source of revenue after coffee production. There is the red, yellow and even black honey but I was in search of the white kind which is considered to be special, particularly the kind sourced in the Tigray region. This distinctive white honey is made from a local flower known as Adey Abeba, and it is this that gives it the special white colour. This natural, healthy, beautiful product took me to Mekelle and on a road trip to higher ground or as Ethiopians say, where ‘the mountains gather for a meeting’ and there I met with local beekeepers, supported by NGO’s and Slow Food International, who are making a living and helping the community grow a cottage industry.

Orit Mohammad of Boon Coffee is no stranger to the ways of the land as she trades in Ethiopian speciality coffee. She was my guide and she shared her insights into the culture of honey and the challenges faced when it comes to exporting out of the country. To hear the full story of my journey, the beekeepers I met and the apiaries I visited listen to the podcast here, at Dubai Eye 103.8

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Sights from the car on the road from Mekelle to Wukro in the Tigray region, known for its special white honey.
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Arriving in the town of Wukro where the Alomo family live and store their honey.
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The Alomo children greet me, hopefully, they will be the next generation continuing the tradition of beekeeping, like their father.
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Tasting the white honey for the first time with Mrs Alomo, wife of beekeeper Mr Alomo.
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On the road going into the mountains to the site of more hives, also where I got to see one of the rock-hewn churches you can find in this area dating back to the 6th Century BC.
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So precious is the honey these hives are watched over by armed guards 24/7.
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Back in Mekelle with my guides, Orit Mohammad, her sister Hanan and Mr Albera. The gentleman with the staff watches over the hives to keep them safe.
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Sitting amongst the hives, ‘nib’ is the word for bees in Amharic and ‘mar’ means honey.
In Addis with Orit Mohammad at the family home and Orit is roasting beans for the first round of coffee that day, her mother is in the background.
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Dus Betuluk, delicious deep-fried pastries drizzled in white honey and served with Ethiopian speciality coffee.

Your honey takeaway

Honey is revered all over the world and in Ethiopia, it is considered a symbol of good fortune and is often presented as a gift on special occasions. At weddings, the groom is given a spoon of honey in order to ‘keep him sweet’.

Is there a local dish or ingredient from a country that stands out in your memory? Share your experience, good or bad, I would love to hear about it.

Suzanne.x. 

 

 

Retracing Steps in Paris

Following a passion in life and work sometimes means going against the grain as I learned from the people behind some of the places I visited in Paris.

Paris is a beautiful destination in the spring or summer but we can enjoy the city in the winter too. It may be chilly and it isn’t the cheapest of cities to be visiting so close after Christmas but I like a city break in the winter, fewer crowds, less queuing, and you can often get better room rates, and the flights are cheaper within Europe too! Plus the shops have sales. The main reason I chose Paris was to meet and spend time with my 21-year-old nephew, Albert. He is a student and has long holidays (I have no excuse) so we thought a couple of days in Paris might be fun to soak up the culture and for him to brush up on the language.

We tested each other on what comes to mind when we think of Paris. Style, fashion, art, gastronomy, romance, baguettes (I once saw a guy riding a bicycle through a busy street in Paris biting into a baguette, I swear he was wearing a beret and a striped shirt!) and smoking. It seems like everyone smokes and even though I’m not an advocator of smoking (though I loved it when I was a smoker some 20 years ago) it is one of the few places left on the planet that makes the act of ‘fumeur’ look cool. I have visited Paris a lot in recent years and it never fails to deliver. Like New York, it feels like walking in a film set and with the beautiful buildings and streets to explore, it makes me think of those who have trodden the cobbles before me and with such a rich history of artists, designers, writers, and actors to shout about there is many a famous footstep to retrace.

3 Steps to take when visiting Paris

1. Shakespeare and Company

Situated on the Left Bank at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, this bookshop is charming and steeped in literary history. If reading books is a diminishing pastime the memo hasn’t reached here and it’s nice to step into a book shop again to explore the shelves and leaf through the pages of modern and classic stories, fiction and non-fiction. It also feels like stepping back in time to the days when writers like Joyce, Hemingway, Stein, and Fitzgerald sought inspiration in Paris.

The book shop was opened in 1951 by American George Whitman under the name Le Mistral, in a building that was originally a monastery dating back the 17th century. Whitman renamed the shop “Shakespeare and Company” in 1964 as a tribute to the admired Sylvia Beach and her bookshop, the original Shakespeare and Company (1919 – 1941) and to mark Shakespeares 400th anniversary of his birth.

George Whitman left the states to pursue his passion for travel ending up In Paris in 1946. He enrolled at the Sorbonne and with a love for reading and books he traded his G.I. rations for other veterans’ book allowances and went onto accumulate a large number of books. The story goes that he left his apartment door unlocked, so anyone could go and read the books whether he was home or not and this lead to him eventually opening the book store.

I created this bookstore like a man would write a novel, building each room like a chapter, and I like people to open the door the way they open a book, a book that leads into a magic world in their imaginations. —George Whitman

Shakespeare and Company has been a meeting place for English speaking writers and readers ever since, a place to buy books but also find refuge and people like Alan Sillitoe, Ethan Hawke, and Geoffrey Rush have been among the thousands to have discovered the shop and its supportive community, some even sleeping there among the books. Whitman named the guests, Tumbleweeds and likening them to ‘rolling thistles that drift in and out with the winds of chance’.

It was Albert who led me there and it was refreshing to be surrounded by people young and old and different nationalities, people who love a good book or a mooch around. No computer can make up for the touch and feel and smell of a bookshop, but more importantly the way it makes us feel. Calm. Looking, reading, thinking, moving around others, lost in thought and time. Wonderful, and all the more so after learning about Whitman’s legacy. He died in 2011 at the age of 98 and the shop is run now by his daughter Silvia Whitman and partner, David Delannet. and it continues to grow and flourish.

My purchase: The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

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2. Theatre DeJazet

I love a bit of comedy theatre and I thought to watch a play in French might be a nice way to immerse ourselves in the lingo so I was delighted to find a show close to where we were staying at Theatre DeJazet. On enquiring to the gentleman at the theatre reception what was currently playing we came to learn the play was Le Faiseur De Theatre with Thomas Bernhard, the theatre itself one of the oldest in Paris dating back to the 1700s with Marie Antoinette herself passing through the theatre doors. On further inquiry I came to know the gentleman on reception to be Jean Bouquin, owner of the theatre and who back in the 1960s was fashion designer and stylist to Brigitte Bardot. Interestingly both Bouquin and Bardot retired from their professions before they turned 40 at the height of their success to pursue other passions, Bouquin in purchasing and renovating Theatre Dejazet to its former glory and Bardot as an animal rights campaigner.

Albert and I sat through the play that evening, understanding very little of what was being said but I enjoyed it anyway. I felt like we experienced a little slice of French culture away from the commercial hot spots. To imagine the building was founded in 1770 by Comte d’Artois who was later crowned Charles X and the building survived the French revolution. Situated in the Boulevard du Temple (it was once known as the ‘Boulevard du crime’, but not anymore), I would highly recommend the area around Le Place De La Republique to stay or visit.

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3. Onion Soup

The provenance of food is a nice way to gain insight into a country and in tasting and focussing on ingredients we are often retracing the culture of a place or country. On our first night, I felt for something warming so it had to be the classic, soupe a l’oignon. We found Bistrot Pop a charming corner side cafe bar on 3 Avenue de la République. Onion soup is an ancient dish popularised in Paris (though the Lyonnaise claim it as theirs) during the 1800s and it makes for a super starter or dish on its own. Renowned chef and businessman, Michel Roux, when writing about onion soup, said it is all about the subtleties, from the bouquet garni to the cooking of the onions that give the soup its richness and flavor.  I really enjoyed Bistrot’s serving with lumps of grilled bread (croutons are also acceptable) and lashings of melted cheese (a Comte or Gruyere is recommended) all beautifully baked together.  And as Roux points out in an article in Saveur, this is a soup to savor and savor it I did. Perfect on a cold January night in Paris, vivre la belle vie!

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French Onion Soup at Bistrot Prop

 

Tips for transport:

Taxis are in abundance outside the airport or pre-book a car via, Get Transfer or Viator, prices around 40 Euros.

I pre-booked an airport shuttle from Orly to my hotel in the centre of Paris, that can take up to 90mins depending on the other passengers and scheduled drop-offs. In this case, there weren’t any other passengers so it took less than an hour during rush hour from Orly to Republique. Total ticket price 18 Eur.

On my return, from Republique to Orly Airport I took the Paris Metro to Gare du Nord and changed onto the Paris RER to Denfert-Rochereau where I took the bus (directly outside the station) to Orly. All tickets can be purchased at the Metro station at the beginning of the journey, the connections were smooth in morning rush hour with a duration time of 70mins. Total ticket price 10.20 Eur.

For more on Paris (and patisseries) listen to my podcasts French Butter

Suzanne.x

 

Keeping it in the Family – Food Stories From Ireland

Rain and green pastures make for nutritious grass that provides food for cows and brings us the quality ingredients Ireland is known for. Irish grass-fed beef, creamy butter and a wide range of potatoes are just some of the products this small island can be proud of. Those and Guinness! The people are warm and welcoming and they love to chat and have a ‘craic’. That’s what I found when I went on assignment for Dubai Eye 103.8 and took a tour of the country with the Irish Food Board, Bord Bia, meeting the people behind some of the family-run food businesses, entrepreneurs and producers supplying to the UAE with their sustainable practices and the Origin Green stamp of approval.

Here is a selection of some of the radio features that aired recently with personal accounts, recipe ideas, and an insight into running a food business :

Tom Keogh of Keogh’s crisps talks about Maris Pipers, family and what to do with a spud!

suzanne with tom keogh in a field of maris piper potato plants

Ann Rudden, Master Chocolatier, shares her love of fine chocolate and how she built her business to be the award-winning success it is today.

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Flahavans mill has been around since 1785 so I headed to County Waterford to speak with father and son John and James Flahavan to find out about the legacy and what makes their oats so special.

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Fresh Irish smoked salmon on oatey brown bread. Just one of the recipes we can enjoy using oats!

Siobhan Lawless is the inspiration behind Foods of Athenry when she took her love of baking from the kitchen in County Galway and turned it into a successful business whilst raising five children. Siobhan shares the trials and tribulations and how she and her husband with a little help from the kids developed a clean label range with gluten-free and vegan products.

a tweet from john cleese

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This family means business, Paul Lawless with daughter Grainne overseeing the production of the hugely popular cookie shots or ‘Blondies’.
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With Siobhan Lawless, what an inspiration. A woman who knows her food!

Do you have a story to share? Get in touch with me and share the love of good food.

Suzanne.x

Beekeeper Story, After the Fires

Honey is a big part of the culture in the Serra De Monchique region with around 1,500 beekeepers. Many are hobbyists and keep bees and produce honey for their own use and for some it is a business. The natural fauna is ideal for the pollinators to forage on with wild lavender, heather, arbutus and pine and eucalyptus trees aplenty. Throughout the year and changing seasons, I have taken great pleasure in walking the hills and valleys seeing beehives dotted around my natural landscape and all the more so as a regular contributor to the Honey Explorer blog and website of Balqees Honey. My work has taken me all over the world meeting beekeepers and learning about the production of honey and sharing their stories so all the sweeter when I moved to the hills of the Algarve. Yet also distressing when during my first summer here I came close to the wildfires that tore through the area and I realised people’s loss. I met with a local beekeeper, Joao Dimas and wrote an article about his experience, read it here: After The Fire. 

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Walking in the hills of Serra de Monchique looking out for beehives
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Lucinda Dimas wife of Joao tending to their beehives
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Jose Nunes Joaquim, a local beekeeper of Melaria Pe da Cruz honey, tends to his frames and boxes.
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The first fires started on August 3rd and ripped through the area covering 270,00 hectares. In the end, there were three fronds that finally reached a resolution nearly a week later after over 1000 firefighters got the fires under control.

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Beehives burnt or overcome with smoke. There weren’t any human fatalities but 70 homes were lost along with wildlife and livestock. Thousands of bees were lost.

Burnt Hives

Check out the full story on how the fires affected beekeeper, Joao Dumas on Honey Explorer blog.

I wait and see how the fires affect pollination and the environment and wonder what can be done to prevent such devastation from happening again. As local beekeepers slowly recover a lot depends on the weather conditions over the coming months to see the true effects on yield, meanwhile green shoots are appearing and the land is regenerating but it will take a long time if ever, to fully recover and forget the fires of 2018.

Thanks to Bruno Costa for the use of images of fire and burnt hives.

Suzanne.x

 

French Butter

Exploring French butter, meeting the producers and learning about the terroir and what makes great tasting butter. First stop is Brittany known for its dairy and Bellevaire to learn about raw milk butter. Click here and listen to the story.

 

From raw milk butter at Bellevaire to organic butter and the ‘savoir faire’ at Le Bordier.

So with an understanding of how butter is made, what do we need to know about using butter in cooking? Find out from Master cheesemonger Francois Robin who has the honoured title of Meilleurs Ouvriers de France and Chef Tugdual Debethune, expert chef at the Contemporary Culinary Center in Rennes, in the west of France.

From Brittany to Paris and a taste of the finest patisseries at Yann Couvreur, YC, at Gourmet Lafayette. Listen to what makes a perfect croissant and what’s typically included in a Parisian le petit dejeuner. Click on the feature and enjoy!

For more information on butter, the history, how to cook with it and recipes read all about butter here: Butter of Europe

The audio was broadcast on Dubai Eye 103.8 on June 28th 2018.

Eat Around Cape Town

It was a real pleasure to guest write for honeyexplorer on the food scene in Cape Town. Have a read of where to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few stops along the way.

For a wide range of breakfast and lunch options with fresh seasonal salads, roasts and spicy curries try Yumcious by Jenny Morris located at Green Point. Jenny creates her favourite dishes for the table and on Saturdays you can enjoy brunch and listen to live jazz.

Jenny brings a lot of joy to her cooking as the Giggling Gourmet. From the menu I chose the French toast with orange honey butter and caramelised oranges, then I hit the kilo table, a Cape Town favourite, where you weigh your dish of food and are charged accordingly.

Jenny takes inspiration from ingredients travelling the world writing cook books, running her cookery school, appearing at food festivals and presenting for the Food Network.

So is there anything that doesn’t make Jenny smile?

“Large carbon foot prints where food is concerned takes the smile off my face. I wish everyone would buy and cook seasonally. This way we have more sustainable food chains and it would lower the cost on local, seasonal ingredients.”

Look out for Jenny’s sixth cookbook coming out soon where she shares recipes and stories from Yumcious and you can discover what goes into running such a delicious restaurant.

For a Taste of South Africa?

Jenny recommends the award winning Karubu (which means ‘welcome’ in Swahili) for a traditional, authentic South African culinary experience. Carefully curated by Executive Chef Jamie Rowntree who has been at the helm of the kitchen for many years. You can find Karubu in the vibrant V&A Waterfront which is popular with locals and tourists alike, you can go for one of the set menu options for lunch and dinner or go freestyle.

Recommendations include:

Smoked Snook fish pate soaked in Rooibos (which is fynbos).

Karu lamb chops on a bed of gem squash.

Classic Cake Malva pudding baked in apricot jam and served with a toffee and cardamom sauce.

Its always good to tap into the local minds to find the best places and if you are short on time you can sign up for a food tour or guide. I signed up the services of Jared, tour guide, writer and social media ‘influencer’.

I gave Jared my brief: a day covering the best eateries in town from street food to the cultural, to the trendy and fabulous.

This is what he put together.

Vegan Breakfast at Plant Cafe

It came as a bit of a surprise that a French man would open a vegan restaurant but that’s how strongly Pierre Lambret feels about food and where it comes from. Leaving his corporate life behind he took over Plant Cafe in November 2017 changing up the extensive menu and keeping it #deliciouslyconscious. I went for the chia pudding and Jared the Plant Benedict with Lox.

So, first up:

What is lox?

Its a combination of carrot and beetroot marinated in sugar and salt with olive oil and lemon to create a smoky flavour vegan’s miss.

And

How do you make Benedict without the eggs?

We couldn’t get chef’s complete recipe but tapioca flour is used instead of eggs/flour/milk and soy replaces mayonnaise and cashews used to create the creamy texture.

I know vegan chefs don’t like talking about replacing or recreating ingredients but sometimes it helps for the purpose of understanding this art of cooking (without the heat) that is becoming so popular as a lifestyle choice across the globe.

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For more on vegan/raw cooking see how Riath aka the honey explorer and I got on in Bali.

Award Winning Coffee (and that’s the truth)

Voted the worlds best coffee by the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper two years running walking into Truth Cafe is like entering a live performance of theatre. With lots of activity built around the vintage probate coffee roaster the waiters are on hand to help tell the story and share the taste experience which is rich and dynamic. They use green beans that are micro roasted in house. I went for a rich blend flat white but one to try is the Sunrise espresso, a double shot with a splash of orange juice! I always find a spoon of honey helps put a spring in my step.

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A Walk Through

The Eastern Bazaar, an alleyway in the heart of the city serving from ten different counters reflecting the diversity of the city. From curries including butter chicken and bunny chow to Chinese and Turkish. Proper street food attracting anyone and everyone to eat well for very little.

Lunch, Cape Malay Style

High up Signal Hill in the Bo-Kaap area of brightly coloured houses and cobbled streets is the family run restaurant, The Bo-Kaap Kombuis, serving traditional Cape Malay cuisine and a fine view of the city and Table Mountain.

Steeped in history, community and Muslim culture favourite Malay dishes include tomato bredie (stew), biryani and babotie (like a spicy shepherds pie). Cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, tamarind and star anise are regular ingredients.

Going Casual is Fine

Cape Town does ‘casual fine dining’ well and Foxcroft is a great example of it. Located in Constantia, you sit in lovely surroundings tasting award winning food without it breaking the bank or having to dress up to the nines. Its what I believe a dining experience should be.

Jared and I chose off the set lunch menu and had a chat with Senior Sous Chef Tim Pick.

Chef’s recommendations include:

Seared Tuna Tataki which marries flavours bringing a little fattiness to moisten the fish with a nice lick of lime and a rice puff crisp.

Cured Yellowtale bringing complexity and a local flavour with mango atchar with ‘slangetjies’ which means little snake in Afrikaans and refers to the shape of the chickpea flour noodles.

I went for the game fillet which was robust in taste and rich and dark in colour and flavour with a smoky cherry jus.

Lunch at Foxcroft was a perfect way to spend an afternoon just outside Cape Town in the countryside.

Special thanks to Jared for putting together the whole day experience, and for the history lesson along the way.

Delhi Delights!

India is large and varied, but I am always struck by it’s colour and chaos. Previously, I visited Jaipur and rural areas of Rajasthan covering stories on organic farming and once I spent five relaxing days on a retreat in Bangalore but this time I’m visiting New Delhi and I only have two days.

Instead of trying to describe in words, here are the pictures.

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A ride through old Delhi. Photos taken from tuk tuk.

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I’m with Lara Matossian delivering training for the Foreign Commonwealth Office in Delhi and like when we were working in Morocco we find time to take in some of the sights and sample the local food.

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Street food at its best with chaat and pani puri and aloo puri. You can never have too many puris!
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Mashed potato patties with spices including spiced lentils and served with hot tamarind sauce

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Always fun working and travelling with Lara

And a morning looking at the spice market, mostly from rooftops!

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Exploring the rooftop I look through and see a man resting, but what is the orange ingredient drying beside him?
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I posted on my Instagram page and my friend Shalini explained it is called hing or asafoetida. It has great health benefits. It is used for tempering dals and the South Indian sambar. It aids digestion and flatulence!
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Hanging out!
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Our trusty guide and tuk tuk driver
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Vibrant colour of hot spices
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Dried red chillies and fenugreek
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Figs, nuts and pulses

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Enroute to the airport and a walk though a park. Always many temples to see but sometimes just walking gathers its own sense of magic

Its Sweet Potato Time at the Batata-Doce de Aljezur

The sweet potato festival in Aljezur happens each year in November celebrating the ingredient and the variety of ways it can be used and eaten. I love a roasted sweet potato in the pan with carrots, pumpkin and any other root vegetables you can find. Because the nutrient rich soil of this part of Southern Portugal makes a particularly tasty spud there is much to be celebrated apparently as thousands descend on the grand hall, there is even a little train which transports the masses from the carparks to the event. There is live music, cookery demos, arts and crafts and lots of people and batatas knocking around.

Along with roasting, people love sweet potato fries and crisps and apparently cake too!

Cake made with sweet potato flour!