Tag Archives: wine

My Top 5 Food Experiences in Rome

2 Oct

I had heard good things about the food in Rome. Amazing things, in fact, and I was excited. We did Rome with two friends and this is a list of my favourite food experiences:

5. Pane, Vino & San Daniele. San Daniele is a famous type of ham from the region of San Daniele in Italy. It’s sort of like a prosciutto, with a strong, delicious flavor. So we went to Pane, Vino & San Daniele to have some of this. We ordered a bottle of red wine, two huge plates of San Daniele, and two plates of fior di latte [which, did you know, means “tears of milk”]. Trust me, it’s all you need. Simple, high-quality food is the epitome of Italian cuisine so this was such a treat.

Via della Panetteria 42.


4. Baguetteria del Fico. Near the well-known Piazza del Fico [fico means fig], this place is super charming and quaint. The interior is small and can probably seat about 6 people, but outside, next to an old car, there are a few wooden stools which we always used. You have to pick up your stuff and move out of the way if a car comes past, but it’s all part of the charm. The make sandwiches [as the name suggests] and you can choose from a variety of breads. Most options of 4-5 euros, and with combinations like prosciutto, mozzarella, and truffle paste, it’ll be some of the best sandwich money you’ve ever spent! Pistachio paste is another delicious spread, and I can highly recommend the pata negra, which is essentially a grilled Panini with thin slices of lard and balsamic vinegar. If you like Weiss beer, try a bottle of Mikkeller Belgian Tripel. Ideal for a long, lazy lunch.

Via della Fossa 12.

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3. Carlo Menta is proper local. We were the only people in the entire restaurant who were not speaking Italian, and that’s always a good sign! The place is packed, I mean almost shoulder-to-shoulder dining, and there are three things not to expect here: Space; quiet; and fanciness. It’s a bustling little restaurant with honest-to-goodness, well-priced, delicious Italian food.. Marguerita pizzas are 3 euro, and you should know that a plain, good ol’ Marguerita pizza is pretty the best thing to have in Rome if it’s quality. But the best dish on their menu has got to be the Gnocchi di Carlo Menta: Perfect gnocchi with a tomato-base sauce, mussels, and baby clams. Incredible flavours, well-priced, and the cause of much order envy.

Via della Lungaretta 101.


2. Ginger was our “fancy lunch” for the trip. It was a hot, perfect summer’s day and we sat outside under the umbrellas, watching the stylish Romans go about their usual day. The interior is chic and simple but truly beautiful, and the menu is extensive: Everything from daily dishes depending on the available fresh produce to healthier options like juices and smoothies, Italian food like interesting pasta dishes and meat and cheese platters, gourmet salads – the list goes on. We had some champagne to celebrate my successful Jimmy Choo and Tiffany haul, and each enjoyed a pasta dish. The food is fresh, the décor is gorgeous, and all ‘round I think if I could have lunch at Ginger every day I would. Dishes cost less if you opt for take-away.

Via Borgognona 43/44.

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1. Da Francesco. The place where all four of us had the best meal we’ve ever had. No, really. The best meal ever, in four people’s lives with a combined age of 100. Neighbour to Bar del Fico [we’re back at this piazza], you’d be forgiven for not noticing Da Francesco. Some of the reasons you should go there are that it’s central, well-priced, the staff are delightful, and it’s a lovely spot to sit outside for lunch. The main reason to go there: Truffle and buffalo mozzarella pizza. Need I say more? I don’t think so. It was incredible. It was mind-blowingly delicious, and I pine for it daily. Truth be told I don’t have the words to explain how good this  pizza was, so go there and experience it for yourself. And bring me a slice, will you?

Piazza del Fico, 29.

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Hello, My Name is Lize Hartley

18 Oct

We’re married!

And after almost a month away there is so much to catch up on. For now, a few wedding pictures. You can see the rest here.

The St Anne’s chapel.


The men getting ready.

St Anne’s admin building and front lawn.

My amazing maid of honour, Nina, who I love even a million times more [if that were more] post-wedding!

Reading my vows.

Praying at the ceremony.

My Loubis [of course].

Super love this picture.

One of my favourite pictures ever.

In the chapel.

It was pretty cold. Love this picture, too.

Dancing with my dad.

Just love this picture of my new brother in law.


The night was just perfect from start to finish. Best wedding ever.

I have to mention Clip-In Hair. Yes, Natalie is a magician with hair and make-up but she would not have been able to create such a fab up-style with the measly bit of shoulder-length hair I have! They helped me out with some gorgeous, super duper long extensions. It took all of ten minutes to walk in, find a colour, attach them, and leave! They’re not permanent so you can re-use them as and when you please, without the pain and hassle of those glue-in ones. Can’t wait to use them again and be a Unicorn Mermaid Princess!

30 Aug

A while ago we cooked what I dubbed to be the South African version of spaghetti and meatballs. It was delicious, and got me thinking that it would be great to do a range of international dishes with a South African twist. Milk tart crème brûlée, anyone?

This weekend, without specifically meaning to, we added another dish to the list.

We still need a proper name for it, but basically it was coq au vin, a l’Afrique du Sud. We followed Julia Child’s coq au vin recipe.

Instead of chicken we used guinea fowl from Frankie Fenner, which has a great taste [and does not just ‘taste like chicken’]. I’d never had it before, and I have to say I like the texture and taste. The skin is very fatty, though, and doesn’t crisp up like chicken. But I thought the guinea fowl was a delicious alternative for this dish!

Instead of bacon we used buffalo sausage, also from Frankie Fenner. Firm, and absolutely packed with flavour, I think this is a new favourite of mine. Absolute must-have for any meat and cheese platter!

And instead of cognac we used good ol’ brandy. We also used Wolftrap, since it is the red wine we will be serving at our wedding.

And just in case we weren’t feeling ‘local is lekker’ enough, we added some NoMU fond, since NoMU makes all food better.


The  result: an interesting, tasty dish which we devoured in one go, and slept off with a good two-hour Sunday afternoon nap. Nothing better.

Chocolate and Wine at Waterford

8 Jul

SC and I decided we needed to treat ourselves/get out of the city/do something we don’t often do/indulge this weekend. So we did all of those things in one!

We went for a chocolate and wine tasting at Waterford Estate in Stellenbosch. They have several options, ranging from a simple wine tasting to a tasting which includes a tour of the farm. They are also well-known for their chocolate and wine pairing tastings. We went for the wine and chocolate and wine tasting. That is, tasting five wines, and thereafter another three, which are paired with chocolate.

It was such a lovely day. At 1pm we took a leisurely drive out to Stellenbosch. It was a gorgeous, crisp, sunny winter’s day with remnants of the rain on Friday. The drive itself is beautiful, and the estate grounds are simply glorious! Rolling lawns, lanes lined with massive old trees, and a building that looks like you just stepped into Florence [or something- I’ve never been to Florence so don’t take my word for it].

We grabbed a seat by the window to enjoy some afternoon sun. I’m not as much of a white wine fan as I am red, but Waterford’s white wines are delicious! The blanc de noir and chardonnay are delicious [we even bought a bottle of the blanc de noir- it is the most exquisite colour]. Their cabernet sauvignon was good, too, although I much prefer their whites. As for the chocolate and wine pairing: You get board with details of the chocolate and wine printed on it. Three wines, three chocolates. You have them left to right and you take a sip of wine first, followed by a bite of chocolate, and then wine again.

A masala chai dark chocolate is served with a shiraz. This chocolate has so many different flavours, from a spiciness that almost reminded me of biltong, to cinnamon and cloves, it stayed interesting from start to finish. Thereafter it’s the cabernet sauvignon with rock salt dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate with salt, and I thoroughly enjoyed their cabernet sauvignon! Lovely to have after dinner, I’d imagine. Lastly we had their dessert wine paired with rose geranium chocolate. Oh. My. Goodness. We thought it odd when the man serving us said some people thought it tasted like Zoo Biscuits. But it totally does! The dessert wine is absolutely delicious, and the chocolate is a smooth, milky chocolate that tastes like turkish delight and Zoo Biscuits. If I weren’t trying to get in shape for our wedding, I would have bought 6 slabs of the stuff. [You can buy wine at the estate, as well as the chocolate, which goes for R50 per slab.]

Afterwards we took a stroll around, followed by a drive around Stellenbosch where I showed SC some of my favourite hang out spots, where I had my classes, the res I stayed in, my old horse riding club, and other sights from my varsity life.

I definitely think getting out of the city is something we should do more often. Of course I cannot wait till we’re married and living together and are able to go away for the weekend together! If you’re keen for some gorgeous surrounds, and a little indulgence, try Waterford.

Cook This: South African Spaghetti and Meatballs

5 Jul

So, at this rate this is pretty much a food blog. But this recipe is another that was simply too good not to share. I made this over the weekend for dinner after the salt and pepper baby squid for lunch. And this one is also from Sam Linsell.

She calls this boerewors pasta. I call it a South African take on spaghetti and meatballs. I also call it “very quick and easy to make” and “amazingly delicious”.

All you do is buy some boerewors [yum!], slice it up into little discs [I went slightly larger, hence the meatballishness], and cook those in a little bit of olive oil until brown and cooked through. Remove the wors and drain it [you will be amazed at the amount of fat that comes out of there!].

Discard the excess fat from the pan, and then cook some halved cherry tomatoes in the remaining fatty layer.

Once they’re cooked you add the wors, some tomato passata, basil, salt, and pepper, heat it through, and you’re done! Serve with pasta, and sprinkle a little parmesan on top.


In fact, this was the so good that we cooked it again the next night for dinner. Delicious. Quick. Ridiculously easy to do. I love.

Once again, for the full recipe and delicious pictures, see it on Sam’s blog.

Cook This: Salt and Pepper Baby Squid

2 Jul

We love to cook. And I mean actually cook- we hardly ever do ready-made, microwave meals. SC and I also meet for lunch every day. We go to his place and either make sarmies or a salad, and we chill out for a few minutes. This part of my day is so important as it gives me a chance to step out of the office, unwind, and get my energy back, and I get to spend time with my fiance. Eating at home is also much healthier, and it costs less.

Believe it or not, SC does a lot [if not most] of the cooking. Every night we’re in the kitchen together, cooking up something healthy [mostly] and delicious [always].

Since he is so often the one that does all the cooking, I decided this weekend I would take over the kitchen and cook for him. He was not allowed to come into the kitchen. Just sit on the couch, keep me company, and chill out with some wine.

I found two recipes I was dying to try, and this is the first.

After a busy morning of brunch with The Gays, then Vida coffee with The Gays, Neighbourgoods Market for coffee with my cousin, and a lot of running around and cursing Cape Town drivers, I was quite excited to curl up with wine, a blanket, good food, and Amelie [the film, not a lesbian lover]. For this, I made Sam Linsell‘s salt and pepper baby squid.

This recipe is ridiculously easy. Trust me when I say it’s impossible to get this wrong.

I got some baby squids from Ocean Jewels. Julie is a SASSI participant so she only sells fish what is not on the SASSI red list [read more here], and has been fished responsibly/sustainably in the False Bay area. There are so many reasons to support her by only buying fish from her. I tweeted her to ask for some baby squids and she brought them to Neighbourgoods Market where I picked them up. Easy as comforting fish pie.

All you need to do is put your baby squids in a plastic packet with some flour, salt, pepper, and spices like paprika or chilly [if you want], shake it all around, and then fry them in oil. Literally. That’s it! And they are super duper delicious and crunchy.

Sam also has a home-made mayonaise recipe on her site. For the squid, add some lemon juice, chillies, lime, and coriander to the aioli.

I still cannot believe how easy this recipe was. And, of course, delicious. An easy, yummy addition for future platters of bread and cheese and cold meat and such, methinks!

I’m no foodie, or food stylist. So for the full post, with mouth-watering pictures, go to Drizzle and Dip.

Date Night at Rick’s Cafe Americain

26 Jun

Last night, I wanted to take SC out for dinner to thank him for being so super amazing.

We took a while to decide where to go, and eventually headed to the V&A Waterfront, specifically to have mussels at a place which [allegedly] does amazing mussels. There is a “red tide” happening at the moment, so no mussels for us. I felt bad, but since I had gone there specifically for the mussels, I simply couldn’t stay [although I shall be back!]. Stupid red tide. 

The second place, which was nearby, was the newly opened Cape Town branch of a Parkhurst restaurant I love. We sat down, and only a few minutes after looking at the menu [and after ordering water] did it emerge that this place did not have a liquor license. They mentioned that we could go buy a bottle of wine next door, and followed this suggestion with the fact that the bottle store had already closed for the day. People, it’s DINNER. There are candles, and couples, and it’s freezing outside. Assume customers are not teetotalers, and might want to warm up with a glass of red. Or just think logically, and mention this to them as they walk in.

So we left, because we really wanted a glass of wine.

Eventually we ended up at Rick’s Cafe Americain, in Park Street. I had heard good things, and people weren’t lying.

The decor is great and, of course, a nod to Casablanca. Of course. There is a smoking section, if that floats your boat, and all sorts of different sections separated by glass and staircases which create an interesting flow throughout the place. Situated in an old Victorian-style house, the walls are covered in Casablanca posters, tagines stand on display, and best of all, there are fireplaces!

They also make pretty good Gluhwein, which was exactly what I needed/wanted.

The menu has everything from mezze platters and cheese boards to burgers and pasta. There is seafood, comfort food like bratwurst and mash, and meat lovers’ dishes like rib-eye steak and pork fillet. And then are the more interesting dishes such as lamb tagine [complete with almonds, apricots, and cous cous] and even springbok tagine!

SC had the lamb tagine, which was delicious! I rarely have order envy, but wowee did I want to steal all his food. I had beef fillet with roast veg and fries and the most delicious jus I have ever tasted! Initially I ordered kingklip, and I wasn’t entirely happy with it. But the thing is, food isn’t always perfect at restaurants. It happens. It’s how they deal with complaints that matters, in my opinion. Sure, if you have to send every meal back it’s a problem, but it’s worse when sending food back turns into an awkward situation. Some managers/chefs/waiters get stroppy when you complain. But the waitress and manager were very polite, assured me they were hugely apologetic and I could order something else, checked up on me repeatedly, and so forth. I wasn’t made to feel awkward, and our waitress was friendly, warm, and enthusiastic.

Overall the food was good, the prices were reasonable, and the vibe was great. We loved sitting by the fireplace, and our waitress made the experience quite lovely. And personally, I would go back. For more gluhwein, and some tagine!