A foodie family's diary of travel, food, and photos

Colin’s Half Century or not

September 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Ruby in Friends - (Comments Off on Colin’s Half Century or not)

A few weeks ago Rebekah started arranging Colin’s surprise 50th birthday party, the surprise being that he was in fact turning 49.  But since she caught him out on this 40th birthday with a surprise party she knew she wouldn’t get away with it a second time round so stole a march (or a year) on him.   Somehow she managed to keep it a secret, and right up until just before the party he was out ferrying kids to and from karate with not an inkling of the behind the scenes events.

When I arrived the party was well under way with champagne flowing freely and the teenage kids recruited to serve canapes.  The party was off to an excellent start.  Quite unexpectedly but nonetheless enjoyed by all, a nearby (unknown) neighbour put on a spectacular fireworks display that provided some gratuitous entertainment.

Having appointed myself the unofficial photographer for the night with camera in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other I roamed through the various rooms that were hosting groups of guests – the kitchen where all the foodie action was on the boil; the living room retaining a suitable level of decorum where guests relaxed in big comfy sofas; the dining room with a buffet dinner where the hungry or greedy were congregated; the billiard room where the teenagers were ‘hanging out’ once their waiting services were over; and the patio (hosting the liquid refreshments) where the hard core were camped within easy reach of the champagne, beer, wine…

Perfect Pickled Fish

September 17th, 2012 | Posted by Ruby in Lunch | Starters | Summer - (Comments Off on Perfect Pickled Fish)

Most South Africans are familiar with pickled fish. It’s a typical Cape Malay dish and one of those dishes that I must eat whenever I go to SA. Having not been back to SA for well over a year now and with no plans to return in the foreseeable future I decided it was time to find the right recipe.

Cheri and I have had some interesting experiences lately with our attempts to recreate typical south African dishes.  The recipes are usually easy enough to find but very few produce a perfect result and so it was for the pickled fish.  After a few attempts, the first too vinegary, the second too bland I’ve finally arrived at my version of perfect pickled fish.  Almost any white fish can be used, and either sea or fresh water fish.  I’ve used haddock, tilapia and red snapper with equal success.

For those of you who’ve never eaten pickled fish it’s a lot better than you might imagine.  It’s usually eaten cold or at room temperature with a salad of your choice and a hefty chunk of artisanal bread.  Although I usually skip the salad and eat it with bread and lots of butter.


Pickled Fish Recipe


4 Tablespoons oil + 1 extra spoon
2 pieces white fish fillets about 400grams (haddock, hake, tilapia)
2 Tablespoons flour +1 extra spoon
1 onion thickly sliced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (medium strength)
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar +1/4 cup extra
1 cup water
1. Dust fish in flour
2. Fry fish in old till lightly golden on both sides then remove with slotted spoon to a plate
3. Add the extra oil to the frying pan and fry the onion over a slow heat until softened  (about 8-10 minutes)
4. Add all the spices and extra flour and fry for a further 2 minutes
5. Add the vinegar, sugar and water and turn the heat up and simmer briskly for about 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to reduce and thickens slightly
6. Remove from heat and add the extra vinegar.  Remove the bay leaves and allspice.
7. Layer the fish and sauce in a dish and allow to cool.  Keep in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before needed.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
Is best eaten a day or 2 later so that the sauce has time to soak into the fish.
It’s also available from the SA stores dotted around the planet – looks like this:


Memories of Summer Blooms

September 16th, 2012 | Posted by Ruby in Flowers | Summer - (Comments Off on Memories of Summer Blooms)

I know I’ve mentioned this before but I’m going to say it again – summer is my favourite season.  Its warm, sunshiny days, not having to wear six layers of clothing.  Swimming, sailing and surfing, soaking up the vitamin D – what’s not to love.  Evening barbeques and fresh salads on the patio.  Long, cool summer drinks with loads of fruit and ice – again…what’s not to love.

With autumn just arriving I thought I’d post some of my favourite flower photos from summer 2012.

Gardenias and Hydrangeas at the Bio Marche on Boulevard des Batignolles

English Roses – in London and Paris

The Colour of Summer

and finally, roadside blooms in Auvergne …