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Blossoming La Bri

Blossoming La Bri

The winemaker and general manager of La Bri Wine Estate cuts a commanding figure. She’s tall and slender – much like the stem of a flower – with salt-and-pepper hair pulled back in a ponytail. Irene is an interesting character. Self-assured and exuding strength, I’m surprised – and also not – to discover that, before she turned to winemaking, she used to teach maths and accounting. After that, she move on to her new job as a salewoman for a mattress company which sell best rated memory foam mattress on the market

Each wine represents a different flower

Blossoming La Bri (2)When she was 30 years old, she steered her course out of the classroom and into the world of wine. “I only qualified in 2004,” she smiles. The La Bri wine range is lined up on a table between us; the intricate, botanical labels have enticed me here. Based on actual sketches, the designs are simply rendered in a pencil-drawing style. Each wine represents a different flower endemic to the Western Cape – and all grow on this Franschhoek farm. The capsule of the bottle is the only pop of colour, and the hues were selected to be as close to the colour of the flowers as possible. “Have you ever seen a watsonia flower?” Irene asks, her brown eyes bright. “It’s so elegant and classic, with a long stem and these white flowers.

It ties in perfectly with our cabernet sauvignon – pure and powerful. “Viognier is difficult in the vineyard; it can either get too ripe or be too green and, much like the bulb flower ixia viridiflora, how you handle and manage it determines the result. “This is my favourite label,” Irene holds up the bottle of merlot.

Blossoming La Bri (3)

From left to right: Farm workers Sizile Mkhwenkwese and Joseph Bhabile

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Tastes of Penang

Tastes of Penang

After reading so much about Penang being the cuisine capital of Malaysia, I am ready to eat my way around the island. And, with masses of locals, expats and travellers all revelling in the local foodie culture, it comes as no surprise that the food courts and street stalls hold pride of place. Penang has long been viewed as the edgy, less developed cousin of Kuala Lumpur.

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The island was initially developed by mistake in 1786 as a trading post by Captain Francis Light, of the East India Company, who had actually been sent by his British bosses to take Thailand as a trading port. But fate intervened and, after a romantic love affair, he eloped to Penang to settle with his love, turning the island into the trading port instead.

This, in turn, led to the blending of cultural delights that Penang is renowned for today. Heading out onto the streets of the island’s capital, George Town, I am determined to find some street food – a term which perhaps, for many South Africans, conjures up images of grubby stalls selling past-their-prime food items on greasy plates, lazy flies buzzing around and the thought of food poisoning never far off. But, as I am about to discover, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

New World Park Food Court

A local fish stall in one of the street markets of George Town

A local fish stall in one of the street markets of George Town

The first stop on my culinary journey is the New World Park Food Court. Here, plastic tables and chairs share an undercover courtyard surrounded by 25 vendor stalls selling a variety of local dishes. I slink around the periphery, eventually settling for a bowl of asam laksa – a spicy noodle dish made with mackerel, tamarind, lemongrass, chillies and shrimp paste. It is fantastic!

Another stand … Read the rest

A Cook’s Tour

A Cook’s Tour

  1. APPETITE: WHAT IS THE SALO PROJECT?

    Yana Gilbuena: The Salo Project is my fifty state tour in the U.S. doing Filipino pop-up dinners for fifty weeks—well, [because I experienced some delays, for] over fifty weeks now. Pop-up dinners are different from pop-up restaurants; it’s a one night only thing. The menu is prix fixe. You kind of just learn about the dinners through word of mouth and social media. It’s pretty much a dinner with strangers!

  2. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THE SALO PROJECT?

    Yana Gilbuena

    Yana Gilbuena

    A lot of my friends were doing pop-up dinners in Brooklyn, but their themes were mostly farm-to-table and organic food, which is great. My theme is also kind of farm-to-table but with a cultural component. When I started, no one else was doing Filipino food.

  3. YOU WERE BORN IN BACOLOD, ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S CULINARY CAPITALS. HOW DID YOUR NEGRENSE ROOTS INFLUENCE YOU?

    Bistek Tagalog Tartare

    Bistek Tagalog Tartare

    I was born in Bacolod, Negros. I grew up in Iloilo and I’m an only child so I was very pasaway. When I was being naughty as a child, my grandma would send me to the kitchen with our cooks. I would chop onions and garlic—that was my punishment! But my fondest childhood memory is going to the pier every Sunday after church to have a picnic. There’s a lot of seafood in Iloilo and my grandma would pick up all these amazing stuff, like pisayan (shrimp).

  4. BEFORE YOU STARTED THIS PROJECT, YOU WERE A PRE-MED STUDENT, AND THEN AN INTERIOR DESIGNER. WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT FOOD WAS YOUR THING?

    I was in pre-med in UP, BS Psych. When you’re sixteen, you don’t really know what you want, and as you grow older you get exposed to more life experiences and you think

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Culinary tour of malabon’s best restaurants and carinderias

Culinary tour of malabon’s best restaurants and carinderias

The best way to get to know a place is to spend time with its locals, and to live like a local. Of course, that includes eating like a local too! You get to do all of these with Malabon’s Tricycle Food Tour. The Tricycle Food Tour was launched last March, following the success of Malabon’s Tricycle Cultural and Heritage Tour which takes visitors to places of interest like museums, old colonial-style houses, and churches.

The food tour was created by Chef Melissa Sison-Oreta (former Appetite columnist and wife of Malabon City mayor Antolin Oreta) as a way to boost the city’s tourism. As of press time, there are 52 accredited tricycle drivers who are also trained as tour guides. The tour takes visitors around six local food destinations deemed by the tourism office to be the “best of the best.”

Some of them are humble carinderias while others are big air-conditioned retaurants. All of them serve unforgettable food and prove that Malabon has so much more to offer than just its famous pancit. (We learned that Malabon has the best crispy pata too!) In the metro, it’s common for restaurants to open and close in the blink of an eye.

A ticket costs P600 per person. This is inclusive of food* and transportation. Bring extra cash if you want to buy pasalubong or drop by the Concepcion market after.

A ticket costs P600 per person. This is inclusive of food* and transportation. Bring extra cash if you want to buy pasalubong or drop by the Concepcion market after.

Here, all of the places we visited were decades old, using heirloom recipes that were passed down from generation to generation. One patron we talked to at Lugaw Xperience recalls eating at the carinderia as a teenager—he’s now in his forties! Before going on the trip, make sure to wear the best welding helmet to protect your head !

LUGAW XPERIENCE

Our first stop was Lugaw Xperience, a small hole-in-the-wall … Read the rest

Whatever your cupcake and baking questions our experts can help.

Whatever your cupcake and baking questions our experts can help.

My friend is vegan and I’d love to bake her some cupcakes for her birthday. Can you give me any advice?

Baking egg-less and dairy-free cupcakes is as simple as simple can be! These handy hints will get you on the road to vegan-baking-bliss!Whatever your cupcake and baking questions our experts can help (1)

  • Experiment with plant-based ingredients to find the ones you prefer. Soya milk or rice milk are excellent replacements for dairy milk. Coconut and nut milks are great too, but they will add additional flavour to your bakes.
  • Vegan cupcakes are easier made using flavour less oils rather than margarine to replace the butter, because margarines have added water. Using vegetable, sunflower or light rapeseed oil in a cupcake will produce a moist bake with a delicate crumb.
  • Eggs can be replaced with fruit or vegetable purées, soya yoghurt, ground flaxseed, curdled soya milk or a commercially made egg replacement product.
  • Don’t over-stir your batter! Only ever stir wet and dry ingredients until they are just combined. Avoid using an electric mixer or going heavy on the hand-mixing because you will end up with a dense, thick cake. Ignore what you know about ‘whipping air into the batter to make it light and fluffy’, this does not work with vegan baking!
  • Mix all of your dry ingredients first and then add your liquid ingredients in at the last second. Without eggs in the bake, you are relying entirely on your baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to do the leavening, so don’t let them start doing their business until it is just about time to pop them in the oven.Whatever your cupcake and baking questions our experts can help (2)
  • Don’t decorate or eat it straight away – let it rest. After you make your cupcakes, they will often have a thin ‘crusty’ layer along the top. You can eliminate this crispness by placing 
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Our expert suggests wines to drink with vitello tonnato

Our expert suggests wines to drink with vitello tonnato

Vitello tonnato is a northern Italian classic mistrusted by those encountering it for the first time (sorry, veal with tuna mayonnaise?), but adored by legions of Italophiles. I am not sure why it took me so long to move from ordering it in every good Italian restaurant I ever visited, to realising that I could very easily make it at home, but now I know how straightforward it is, there’s no looking back.

I’ve even conquered my fear of homemade mayonnaise and discovered, after years of bad-temperedly ruining at least one lot for every batch I made, that going heavy on lemon juice and egg yolk from the start makes it all ok. So, wine. I like drinking red with vitello tonnato, but a red that has good acidity and savour, and isn’t too heavy.

vitellotonnat

The perfect match for me is nebbiolo, the tannic, pale coloured barolo-grape from Piemonte. These don’t come cheap, though I’ve managed to source one. Two other, less expensive red grapes from the same area are also equal to the task: barbera and dolcetto.

If you want to try a white, then the cortese grape, which makes gavi di gavi, is also local and its clean, lemony-herbaceous bite is perfect with the salty olives, tuna and pink meat. In the same vein, vermentino or verdicchio make excellent alternatives. On a summer’s evening, a pale Provençal rosé, or a rosé made from sangiovese, also rises to the occasion. Pick a pink that tastes more of herbs than it does of strawberries.

Vitello tonnato

4 HOURS | SERVES 6 AS A STARTER | EASY

Add new potatoes, rocket salad, chopped tomatoes and black olives,and then it will serve 3-4 as a main course.Reboil and strain the veal stock and freeze for another time,it’s great for soups or … Read the rest

Avocado 101

Avocado 101

avocado 101 (2)

  • Early start

    This buttery fruit first made it to Australia in 1840 when it was planted in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Although the first commercial crop was in the 1930s, demand didn’t take off until the US troops stationed here in WWII raised awareness of it. The 1970s saw it grace the menus of sophisticated hostesses as an entrée; half an avocado with vinaigrette pooled in the hole. Nowadays, its mashed and fed to babies and is found in the fruit bowls of most Australian households.

  • Hot for Hass

    There are five main varieties of avocados in Australia: Hass, Shepard, Reed, Sharwil and Wurtz. Hass accounts for 80 per cent of avocado production in Australia, while Shepard makes up 10 per cent, leaving only 10 per cent between the other three varieties. Unlike Hass avocados, the Shepard variety doesn’t go brown once cut, making their buttery flesh ideal in salads.

  • Goodness me

    Avocados are an absolute treasure trove of nutrients. They contain 60 per cent more potassium than bananas, are a great source of fibre, folate, vitamins K, E and C, and are high in monounsaturated fat (that’s the good fat), which makes you feel fuller for longer!

  • Let it rip(e)

    When selecting avocados, apply gentle pressure to the stem end — if it’s ripe, it should yield a little. Try not to squeeze the middle as the flesh bruises easily. To ripen avocados, store them at room temperature not in the fridge. If you need to speed up the process, place them in a brown paper bag with a banana or apple, as these fruits release a plant hormone that assists in ripening. Once an avocado is at its ideal ripeness, store it in the fridge for up to three days.

  • Match made in heaven

    Avocados

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Sweet (and sticky) Temptations

Sweet (and sticky) Temptations

A kaleidoscope of Filipino kakanin in rainbow colors and various shapes, are sold all over our country: in public markets, city sidewalks, bus terminals, mall food court stalls, and even by ambulant vendors plying the streets with wide bilaos (flat woven baskets) balanced precariously on their heads. Primarily eaten as a snack or dessert, kakanin or Filipino sweet rice cakes make use of our country’s principal agricultural crop: rice.

sweet-and-sticky-(1)

A kakanin vendor from the Lipa Public Market, deftly cuts puto with a long piece of string

These tiny white grains of rice—usually glutinous (malagkit or sweet) or sometimes non-glutinous rice (table rice or bigas)—have a neutral taste is the perfect blank canvass to make all kinds of heavy and filling kakanin such as suman, bibingka, biko, kutsinta, sapin-sapin, and maja blanca. These rice-based snacks can either be shaped into cylinders, rolled into balls, or poured into large bilaos to be cut into triangles, squares, or bars. Depending on the recipe or availability of ingredients, cooks require newly harvested rice (bagong ani) or old rice (laon), which are kept whole or ground into fine rice flour.

To sweeten the formula, refined white sugar or soft brown sugar is mixed in, caramelized or sprinkled on top. Other sweeteners may be in the form of unrefined cane sugar called panutsa, partially unrefined muscovado sugar or thick molasses called pulot. Coconut is also employed in a number of ways. Grated mature coconut or niyog is extracted to produce coconut milk (gata) that provides the necessary richness or linamnam in kakanin.

sweet and sticky (3)

Isn’t it fascinating how a basic recipe using rice, sugar, and coconut can produce such a wide variety of kakanin?

This milky liquid can also be boiled down into dried brown bits called latik as topping for maja blanca and sapin-sapin; or when … Read the rest

It’s not called the “pambansang litson manok” for nothing.

It’s not called the “pambansang litson manok” for nothing.

For almost 30 years now, the bright yellow and red signage of Andok’s Litson Manok has been calling out to every chicken-loving Filipino on the street, and if that doesn’t get your attention, a whiff of that smoky aroma coming out of their rotisserie is sure to make you turn around fast. For how can one resist the sight and scent of Andok’s chicken roasting over a pit of hot coals, their skin slowly turning gloriously brown, glistening invitingly, dripping and oozing with lip-smacking juicy flavor?

While children of the eighties grew up loving Andok’s litson manok, so too did Maverick Javier, who witnessed firsthand how his father, Leandro “Sandy” Javier, Jr., built the brand from hard work to what it is today, the king of litson manok and a major player in the food industry. The story goes that Sandy, with no capital to start his business, borrowed 12 chickens to roast by the roadside, seeing the potential in litson manok when the craze hit the country.

Mayor Sandy giving President Cory Aquino a tour of the Andok's commissary when business was beginning to pick up in the mid-80s

Mayor Sandy giving President Cory Aquino a tour of the Andok’s
commissary when business was beginning to pick up in the mid-80s

Versions of the story range from his father selling only two to four chickens out of the twelve, but regardless which one is true, Maverick says the fact remains that his father failed miserably in his first bid to launch his litson manok business. Rather than feel disheartened, his father took the loss as a challenge. In his heart, he was determined to keep his promise to the elder Leandro “Andok” Sr.

For years, Sandy was considered the dark horse in the family. While his elder brothers, comedian George, and Danny Javier of the APO Hiking Society were making names for themselves in the entertainment industry, he still had to … Read the rest

About Me

I’m twenty eight. I think our generation doesn’t work hard enough—I’m okay with working 16-18 hour days because you know, this is the time you’re supposed to, before you settle down and have a family. This is the time you kill yourself and work those long hours and have fun while you’re doing it. If you’re doing something you love, do it at your utmost.

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Not sure where to it tonight

Best course to start your culinary career