December was a crazy month of festivities and travel, including a glorious ten days in Cape Town with the only friends in the world who will house all six of us for a holiday. Some of this month's roundup will obviously come from the Southern Hemisphere where we basked in the sun, ate ourselves silly and toasted some of the most colourful sunsets I have ever seen. Wishing you all a peaceful New Year, and I hope, like me, you are embracing 2017 with open arms, open minds, and the eager anticipation of exciting adventures in food. I am so full of gratitude for all your support and cheer through the year. Thank you!
Do not underestimate the magnificence of the cocktail hour. The opportunity for an aperitif is a distinct rarity in my life. 6pm usually feels more like a war-zone than a time of quiet contemplation about the day. Only in my fantasy life am I seated calmly with all my children around me, slowly sipping some (probably) rust coloured beverage, nibbling on nuts or crudites while sharing snipets of our day.
Invariably only while we are on holiday do I indulge in an aperitif, our evening in Camps Bay this month. Every evening we gathered with our sundowners on the terrace of the 1960s house of my dreams, overlooking the magnificent ocean on one side and Lions Head on the other. While the sky filled with colour, we transitioned from day to evening with either a Negroni, Old Fashioned or Campari and Soda.
If you want to hear more about the resurgence of the cocktail hour, listen here to Diana Henry's episode of the Food Program on BBC Radio 4 earlier this year.
Ice Cream Obsession - Unframed Ice cream
Where the best in design and flavour collide. I am embarrassed to admit that we visited this small, yet impeccably designed and branded artisinal ice cream parlour almost every day of our visit in Cape Town. We even bypassed dessert at most restaurants in favour of a quick stop for ice cream on the way home. The simple use of natural materials in the shop design reflects the use of natural ingredients and flavours in the daily assortment of choices, from dirty sea salt caramel and roasted banana, to raspberry coconut sorbet and vegan sea salt chocolate. As the ice cream is only produced in small batches, the flavours vary regularly, but word on the street is that dirty sea salt caramel is a staple. Thank goodness.
(You can find Unframed Ice Cream at 45C Kloof St, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa)
Winter Flower Inspiration - Vegetable bouquets
During the summer months I never leave my local farmer's market without a herb bouquet from The Real Flower Co. All winter long I miss their presence at the centre of my table. But at the Granger Bay market in Cape Town I saw these bunches of seasonal blooms with kale, which also happens to be in season in the colder Northern Hemisphere. So while Rosebie Morton's team at the Real Flower Co. is not available to tie my winter bouquets together right now, one of my January goals is to polish up on my flower arranging skills and add some edible greens to my table decorations.
Latest Podcast Love - Homecoming
I am a huge fan of podcasts. Being a painfully slow reader, podcasts have opened up a whole new world for me, especially as they allow me to multitask. I can walk and listen, cook and listen, drive and listen, and sometimes even have something to talk about at dinner. My subscription list includes everything from This American Life to any number of food related programs to Revisionist History to Desert Island Discs to Fresh Air. But this month's hands down favourite was Gimlet Media Productions newest psycholgical American thriller, Homecoming. A cross between Homeland and Serial, Homecoming has one of the best scripts I have heard in a while, with fascinating postscripts at the end of each episode delving into the influences of the story and how it was written and produced. Please listen so we can discuss.
Cookbook of the Month - Dorie's Cookies
Warning: I will be churning out batches of cookies from Dorie Greenspan's latest book in 2017. It is the ultimate cookie guide with every recipe you will ever want to make from one of the all time baking greats. Need I say more? Rest assured the spine will be pretty much broken by the end of the year.