Just over two years ago, I took the plunge and moved from being a reader of blogs to being a real, live creator of a blog. Thanks to the user-friendly Typepad templates, the site was set up in the space of one Sunday evening and before I know it I had three posts up. And thus the thing began… Now, two years later, I can look back on all the great places my blog has taken me to. It has led me to rediscover some traditional South African dishes; it has brought me mentions in the press; it has led to making some very good friends, both here and abroad; it’s got me some awards; and even led to my first proper appearance in print. That’s a lot to celebrate, so a couple of weeks ago Johanna (who started her blog within weeks of mine) and I decided to have a “blogday” party for our respective blogs.
The date had been carefully chosen so as to ensure that we had a good chance of lovely summer weather as we had visions of a long sunny afternoon spent in Johana’s garden. I mean, canapes and cava – what could be more delightfully summery?? The day finally dawned and – hallelujah! – it was lovely and warm and sunny, so I made my way over to Johanna’s and we spent the morning making canapes and getting ready for the party.
First to arrive was Andrew, followed in no particular order by Christina, Anna and Pille all the way from Edinburgh (all of whom we’d met before), plus a clutch of bloggers that we had not met before but were delighted to meet: June (who had driven over from Somerset), the intriguingly-named Xochitl (she was born in Mexico and the name is Aztec), Shana (who’s not exclusively a food blogger but is interested enough to want to hang out with us ;-)), and the lovely Amy from California (here for a holiday, not just our function!). Xochitl and Shana were also moved to bring their respective partners, Steve and Colin, just in case we did tin fact urn out to be a bunch of internet chatroom crazies masquerading as foodies (From left to right in the picture, you have me, Pille, Johanna, Xochitl, Steve, Christina, Shana, Anna, Colin, Amy, June and Andrew.)
The weather was very kind to us, as I mentioned, so we all settled down in Johanna’s sunny garden and got to know each other better, while nibbling on the olives and smoked almonds on the table and sipping on Codorniu Pinot Noir rose cava. June and Amy had a lively debate about storing your content on your own server or trusting your blog host to do it for you, and there was much discussion about the Taste of London to which some of us were going. But soon it was back to work for Johanna and me as we made and served wave after wave of delicious canapés. Our feast included:
- roasted red pepper and tuna “swiss rolls”; (made by me and not pictured here)
- figs and Manchego cheese wrapped in prosciutto;
- gazpacho shots with sesame seed cheese twists;
- “magic” mushroom croustades;
- baby potatoes with wasabi crème fraiche & caviar;
- smoked salmon and herbed creme fraiche roly polies; (not pictured here)
- feta, mint, olive & melon skewers;
- chicken balls with a Vietnamese dipping sauce; and
- boerewors, peppadew and haloumi skewers (also my creation). Have a look:
At the end of the list (and mercifully not recorded on camera), I also brought out my rather disasterous cheese olives. These have always been a favourite party trick of mine back home, but I haven’t made them for at least 4 years, and hastily copied the handwritten recipe out last time I was back home in South Africa. It seems that my measurement dyslexia reared its ugly head because with 20-20 hindsight, there really shouldn’t have been equal quantities of butter and flour in the recipe… But hey, it was 23h00 and I just followed the instructions I had (incorrectly) copied down. I did think at the time that the mixture was rather wet, but didn’t appreciate the extent of the problem until I opened the oven after 10 minutes to find… not so much cheese olives as olives-under-a-blanket-of-terminally-gooey-cheesy-butter-mix. Oh dear. Not the crisp, cheese balls I had made in the past, but also too late to do anything (and I wasn’t going to throw good ingredients after bad at that stage of the night!!) So I cut them anyway and served them in all their unattractive cheesy sogginess, on the premise that nothing with that much cheese and butter in it can be inedibly bad. And yes, they were tasty, but if you know what they were meant to look like, a resounding aesthetic disaster!!
After a little break to let the canapes settle, Johanna produced the piece d’resistance: a chocolate fountain! Things were off to a good start when I saw her melt (wait for it) 1.5kg of chocolate in a double boiler in order to fill the fountain. Woo hoo! The chocolate has to be thinned with a little oil to stop it solidifying as it cools down, and then you simply pour it in and start the motor – within 30 seconds you have an utterly decadent chocolate fountain! To dip, we had chopped kiwi fruit, pineapples, mango & banana, as well as some fruit scones. Johanna was a bit concerned about asking guests to chop fruit after they had been drinking cava in the sun (!!) but the only stains by the end of the day were chocolate stains down certain people’s shirts, mercifully no blood stains! After much comparative tasting (purely for scientific purposes, of course!!) the general consensus was that the fruit scones were too sweet and that the tartness of the pineapple worked best with the richness of the chocolate. It certainly made me wonder whether my next investment shouldn’t be a little chocolate fountain…
And so we whiled away the afternoon, lolling on the grass, eating and talking and all too soon it was time to say goodbye to our old and new friends. Thanks to everyone who came and helped Johanna and I celebrate – all I can say is that if the first two years of blogging were this good – imagine what the next two could bring!! Hope to see even more of you at our next party in a year’s time