Monday, July 29, 2013

A New Blog, A New Era -->

My food journey took a turn for the positive last year when I went to an Iridologist and finally discovered that I have Candida - and this pesky little bacteria inside my body was mimicking all the symptoms of the food allergies!

I have started a new blog because I wanted a fresh start. It is

Thank you for all of your support on this blog and I really look forward to interacting with you on my new one. I am loving having more freedom to be creative as my diet is far less restrictive - the main allergens I now eliminate are yeast, sugar and gluten.

Catch you on the other side :)

Lea xxx

Monday, May 27, 2013

Avondale and Chef Reuben Riffel Winter Warmer Pairing

A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the Media Launch of the Avondale and Reuben Riffel Winter Warmer Pairing - little did I know what I treat I was in for!

Upon arrival, we were handed a glass of bubbly, which we sipped while enjoying the magnificent views on the estate.

We then all clambered onto the back of a bakkie and were whisked away to the vineyards where we were lucky enough to spot a group of Pekin ducks, as they were returning to their "duck mobile". Avondale is an organic and bio-dynamic estate. Nature is very close to the Avondale family's heart, and the soil is the soul of Avondale; their ethos being Terra Est Vita - "Soil is Life", therefore they try and keep everything as natural as possible and the ducks are just one example - as they are in effect the "pest control system" and eat the snails that damage the precious vine crops.

The wine production itself is an intricate, slow and loving production of hand harvesting, gravity flow
cellar system and natural fermentation. Every minor detail is attended to and nothing unnatural is incorporated into the wine - it is as pure as Mother Nature intended.

Not only is the wine-making eco-system in perfect balance, but the wine itself tastes like heaven in a glass. Each wine, to me, embodies the love that was used to create it.

With the inclusion of Reuben Riffel in this unusual pairing of soup and wine, we indeed have an angelic match.

Chef Reuben says: "I like simple food, beautifully prepared, and I love soup for its versatility. The humble soup is quite often perceived as a boring “filler” item on a menu – or old-fashioned peasant fare – and is, rather mistakenly, overlooked. There are so many delicious possibilities and variants, and it can be an exquisite addition to any menu when properly prepared.”  

How true he was in this statement - my taste buds were dancing at every turn.

The Winter Warmer Pairing experience:

 - The Tasting begins with Baby Marrow and Basil Soup, garnished with crispy baby marrow, accompanied by a glass of the effervescent Armilla Méthode Cap Classique. Here the basil works very well with the MCC, which was a pleasant surprise as I wasn't expecting this.  

 - This is followed with Avondale’s vibrant Chenin Blanc Anima, paired with Confit Duck and Bean Soup. Lightly wooded, delicate, smooth wine is a perfect match to the soup.  

- Avondale’s Viognier blend Cyclus marries well with French Onion Soup, served with melted Epoisse Toastie. Here the wine cuts through the richness, and the subtle peach flavours bring out the sweetness of the onions.

 - Avondale’s Camissa rosé is served with Chai-Style Butternut Soup. Turkish delight flavour of the wine compliments the spiciness of the soup. 

 - Avondale’s Syrah Samsara is paired with Parsnip and Artichoke Soup, served with grated parmesan and olive oil. The earthiness of the soup and the wine compliment each other.

And finally, Avondale’s signature red blend La Luna partners with Truffle Bean Soup. Both the soup and the wine were equally delicious and tasted like more.

Johnathan Grieve, Proprietor of Avondale, says: “We have collaborated with Chef Reuben on numerous occasions before, and the soup and wine pairing was born out of a desire to give an exciting, fresh take on a traditional winter comfort food. We are extremely fortunate to have Chef Reuben on board for this experience as we knew he would be able do precisely that – create beautiful, gourmet soups created with fresh, seasonal and, where possible, local ingredients that would do justice to Avondale’s collection of fine wines.”

The Winter Warmer Pairing, available at Avondale Wine Estate from 22 May to 15 July, is R120 per person and by appointment only. Call 021-863 1976 or email to book now.

If ever there was a wine estate that embodies my feelings and attitude to food and wine - it is this one. 

And, what could be more perfect for a Winter's day than sipping on soup and wine by a roaring fire, whilst the rain beats down outside...?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why not fuel your body the right way with this yummy, but super healthy granola? The world is ours for the taking; let's ramp the waves of life - after a bowlful of awesome!

Healthy Granola
Makes about 4 cups or +/- 500g

Prep time: 10 - 15 mins
Baking time: +/- 30 mins


Apple puree:
2 apples, skins removed, cored and finely chopped
1 1/4 cup water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs Xylitol (healthy sugar alternative, can use brown sugar)
1 Tbs coconut oil

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (135g) oats (not instant)
1/2 cup (45g) spelt flakes
1/2 cup (60g) wheat germ
1/2 cup (60g) chopped almonds
1/4 cup (30g) walnuts
1/4 cup (30g) hazel nuts
1 cup (125g) seed mix
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbs Xylitol (or brown sugar)

20g Xylitol (sprinkled over, while baking)

Greased baking tray


Heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius
Add the apples and water to a pot on the stove and cook until the apples have softened to a puree (about 10 minutes)
Add the rest of the puree ingredients and simmer on low until ready to combine with the other ingredients
Mix all the dry ingredients together, except for the 20g Xylitol which must be reserved
Add the apple puree to the dry ingredients and mix well
Tip out onto a greased baking tray and spread evenly
Sprinkle 5g of the reserved Xylitol over the unbaked granola
Bake in the oven, stirring every 10 minutes, sprinkling 5g of Xylitol over
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown
Allow to cool and store in an airtight container
Can be stored for up to a month
Serve with yoghurt and fruit or eat as a snack on its own

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sunshine Burgers

As the sun dances along the ocean with a twinkle in its eye, it whispers the promise that summer is on its way.

Welcome the sunshine into your life with these delicious burger patties. Awesome on their own, with a salad or wedged between a warm bun, dripping with tomato sauce and melted cheese.

Char-grilled Burger Patties:
Makes 4 Medium Patties

Prep time: 10 - 15 mins
Cooking time: 10 - 15 mins


500g extra lean beef/ ostrich mince
1 onion finely diced
Bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 - 3 tsp cumin
2 - 3 tsp paprika
2 tsp thyme
1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp pepper (or to taste)


Combine all ingredients
Mix well
Shape into 4 burger patties
Fry in a griddle pan or a normal frying pan for 3 - 4 minutes on either side, until charred on the outside, but still moist on the inside.

Serve on rolls with the garnish of your choice or top with melted cheese, guacamole, rocket, baby tomatoes, spring onion and olives and eat as a warm salad.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vineyard Hotel - Wine Paired Dinners

What a privilege it was to be invited to help create the four course dinner for the Villiera Tasting Experience at The Vineyard Hotel.

It was one of the most exciting moments I've had to date. I met amazing people, such as the wine maker, Jeff Grier and the chef at the Vineyard Hotel, Chris Law. The wines and MCCs we tasted were exceptional and the way we unravelled the flavours in the wines and the foods, in order for Chris to use his mastery to come up with something unique and spectacular was in effect, "a paint-by-numbers-extravaganza."

Seeing our bantered-efforts come to life in actual dishes, on the night, was priceless.

Smoked salmon orzo with wild rocket, apple, toasted almonds and citrus emulsion
Paired with Villiera Tradition Brut Rose NV

Chris surpassed all my expectations with this first plate - the flavours were singing in my mouth! Such a beautifully executed and well balanced dish. The saltiness from the salmon, the slight sweet tartness from the apple, the toasted creaminess from the almonds, all brought out the flavours in the Brut Rose, but the textures of the apple, orzo and almonds were a delight. I was taken on a journey in this dish and I didn't want it to end!

Homemade blanc fromage, deep-fried with dukkha, artichoke, mango, pineapple salad and korma dressing
Paired with Villiera Tradition Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2010

The gentle curry flavours of the korma married perfectly with the Villiera Barrel Fermented Chenin as did the sweetness from the mango and pineapple and the nuttiness from the dukkha. Once again the textures in this dish and the balance of flavours made me happy: the crunchy salty exterior with the oozing richness of the cheese ball, accompanied by the crisp sweetness of the salad, a perfect combination.

Peppered beef fillet with rosti potato, creamed spinach and a bitter chocolate jus
Paired with Domaine Grier Crusade 2006

Whenever I see chocolate and steak together on a menu, I get nervous because the balance is very rarely right. But this bitter chocolate jus was delightful and a faultless accompaniment to the Domaine Grier Crusade, one of Villiera's overseas offerings. The earthiness of the spinach also complimented the wine well as did the umami from the steak, which was cooked to perfection!

Apple and pear tart tatin, roasted rhubarb ice cream and honey rooibos gel
Paired with Villiera Inspiration Noble Late Harvest 2010


I could have eaten bucket loads of the roasted rhubarb ice cream; its slight savouriness cut through the sweetness of the tart and worked wonderfully with the Noble Late Harvest. As did the honey, which was mirrored in the wine.

I would highly recommend treating yourself to one or more of these wine paired evenings, which are very reasonably priced at R265 for the four-course and R315 for the five-course. A wonderful night out with a group of friends or if you are wanting to be romantic, why not indulge and stay over. Exclusive stay-over packages have been designed specifically for these evenings, at a greatly reduced price.

The wine flows, live music sets the mood and the food is a treat for the taste buds. I couldn't think of a more enjoyable way to spend a Friday night.

 For more info go to The Vineyard Hotel's Website, or contact 021 657 4500 or e-mail

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Beef and Lentil Soup

There is nothing more comforting than coming home to the aromas of something hot and delicious bubbling away on the stove or in the slow cooker.

This, for me, is the true essence of winter and instantly makes a home more cosy.

I had this unctuous beef and lentil soup cooking in the slow cooker all night and waking up to the rich, savory smells wafting around my flat was just the way I'd like to start every day.  

I even had some for breakfast - I just couldn't wait! :)

Put a pot of deliciousness in the slow cooker before bed and you will have delicious dreams.

Beef and Lentil Soup
(Serves 4)


125g bacon diced
500g beef shin, bone in - excess fat removed
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp paprika
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 litre NoMU beef stock
3 large carrots, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
1 tin whole tomatoes and juice
2 sprigs rosemary
1/4 cup lentils (I used red split lentils)
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste


Fry bacon until golden
Add the beef shin to the pot and brown
Add in the dried thyme and paprika to flavour the beef
Add in the diced onion and fry until translucent
Deglaze pan with the red wine
Add in the beef stock
It is at this point that I transferred everything to the slow cooker. If you don't have one, just add everything to your original pot.
Add in the carrots, celery, tinned tomatoes, rosemary, lentils, sugar
Bring soup to a boil
Add salt and pepper
Check for seasoning and adjust where necessary
Cook on low for a minimum of 3 hours, or preferably over night, until the shin literally falls apart
Remove shin from the pot
Remove bones and any unwanted fat from the shin, but add the marrow to the soup for extra flavour
Flake the shin back into the soup
Simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes to allow all the flavours to merge
Serve piping hot with bread, if desired.

**Please note that some people who are gluten intolerant may struggle to digest lentils
*Red wine contains yeast


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

O' My Goodness!

During my trips to the beautifully picturesque, Plettenberg Bay, I stumbled on a fantastic product called O' My Goodness.

This is a range of vegetarian, organic and raw snacks, focusing on health, without sacrificing on taste.

The remarkable thing about this product range is that the ingredients are pure, generally kept in their original state, locally sourced where possible and do not contain any additives, preservatives, sugar, dairy or eggs. Gluten is also avoided as much as possible, therefore only a few products contain it, such as their rolled oat balls.


The range is split into three categories:

Raw Vegan Gourmet:

These raw snacks are dehydrated below 47 degrees Celsius in order to retain all the nutrients, enzymes and intense flavour.

Examples include their amazing Mushroom Biltong, which has the flavour and texture of real biltong! Another favourite of mine are the Spiced Cashews; packed full of delectable flavour as well as magnesium and copper. The Sweet Potato Flax Crackers are an excellent alternative to wheat or gluten-rich crackers or biscuits, which I am always on the hunt for, and they taste yummy!
I also love the Cinnamon & Apple Munch, a tasty combination of nuts, seeds, cinnamon and fruit.

All Round Goodness:

 Mouthwatering balls of deliciousness that contain fruit, nuts, spices and raw chocolate.

Warning: these are addictive!

Examples include: All Round Peachy - peaches are an excellent source of Vitamin C, beta-carotene,soluble fiber and potassium. Other ingredients are dates, raisins, raw macadamia nuts, raw almonds, ginger powder, nutmeg and cinnamon - making for a delightful taste explosion.
Equally delicious are the Coco Citrus Rounds, which contain raw cacao and organic dried naartjie.
Other rounds: Apricot Rounds, Cashmere Rounds, Oat Rounds, Carob Oat Rounds.
(If you find it too hard to make a choice, a selection of all their rounds is available too.)

Organic Tastes Better:

Tasty sun ripened fruit that is organically grown and naturally dried without any preservatives. 

Examples include: Dried Apples, dried apricots, naartjies, peaches, plums and of course tomatoes.

O' My Goodness was created by Ariella Kaplan and Kim van Rensburg who wanted to provide their children as well as everyone else with snack food that would leave one feeling "energized, buoyant, refueled and ready to take on the next challenge."

I think that they have achieved this and so much more!

I can't get enough of their products and I just love the fact that they are good for me too!

For more info on where to buy the products in an area closest to you, or even online, go to (They have stockists in Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal and the Western Cape.)

"It's not about the food in our lives. It's about the life in our food."
Dr Brian Clement, Hippocrates Institute
(Quote from website)