The London Cooking Club cooks… South African!

by Jeanne on January 20, 2012

in London food blogger events

Post image for The London Cooking Club cooks… South African!

 

A long time ago in a faraway land, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, encyclopaedias were made of paper, and blogging was in its infancy, a very lovely friend of mine Johanna had an idea.  She was about to have her second baby and knew that she would be housebound for a while, but she did not want to miss out on foodie fun.  So she devised something called the Cookbook Cooking Club.  A group of us chatted on e-mail (pre-Twitter!  Gasp!) and chose a cookbook.  Then we put together a menu from that cookbook, set a date, got together at her house and communally cooked the dishes before sitting down to eat the gourmet fruits of our labours.  It was a great way to socialise and to enjoy awesome food.

So when Luiz invited me to attend an evening along very similar lines at his home last summer, it was a no-brainer.  Luiz runs regular events under the banner of the London Cooking Club, where he chooses a cookbook, cuisine or country, enlists 12 guests, distributes a menu from which each guest chooses what to make, and then everybody gathers at his place to eat, share and learn.  And as if that did not sound like enough fun, the clincher was that the theme was my motherland:  South Africa!  And so it came to pass that on a lovely summer evening last year, 12 people gathered in Luiz’s gracious home to eat and drink South African.  My lovely fellow-Saffer Tracey and I gave a short talk on South African foods and wines respectively and I gave some pointers on food photography while we tucked into canapés consisting of pancetta, spinach & pasta timbales; and goat’s cheese & coriander pesto samoosas, washed down with a lovely De Grendel 2010 Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc.  Although the timbales really aren’t particularly South African, they did come from South african author Philppa Cheifitz’s book Cape Town Food.

 

LCCPastaTimbales

 

LCCSamoosasWine

After canapés, we decamped to the dining area – a long table set up betweem the kitchen and the French doors into the garden:  a truly  magical setting for dinner.  Luiz explained the procedure for the evening (if you prepared a dish, you were responsible for serving it and clearing up after it; and chair-hopping is positively encouraged so that you meet and chat to as many people as possible) and then we launched into the starters.  First up was my warm avocado and biltong soup, followed by traditional Cape Malay pickled fish, and then Tracy’s fab little mini chicken bunny chows.  Luiz had asked me to bring along my Lowel Ego light to give people a live demo of how I shoot food – so if the pics look a little staged… that’s because they were ;) I must admit that it was all a bit nerve-wracking – not only trying to shoot in an unfamiliar location with only a handful of your props, but also having an audience while you are doing so, craning their necks to see the action!

 

LCCLuiz
LCCAvocadoSoup
LCCPickledFish
LCCBunnyChow
Mains spanned a number of South African cultures, starting with a Cape Malay bobotie; moving on to a Durban prawn curry with sambals; and then a farm-style dish of braised lamb shanks braised in Pinotage – South Africa’s own wine cultivar. To accompany these we had another Cape Malay standard – yellow rice with sultanas – and boereboontjies (literally farmer’s beans, consisting of roughly mashed green beans and potatoes mashed together with liberal amounts of black pepper).

 

 

LCCMains

 

Our dessert course was a wonderful combination of the traditional and the modern, pairing traditional South African milk tart with paw-paw (papaya) ice-cream – a wonderfully delicate shade of peach and then pimped up by the lovely Rosana with edible pink glitter – too fabulous!  The dessert course was paired with a wine from my all-time favourite South African sparkling wine producer – Graham Beck Brut – and other wines served with the meal included De Grendel 2010 Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc, Springfield 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Bouchard Finlayson 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Beyerskloof 2009 Pintage, Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Shiraz-Mourvedre-Viognier.

 

LCCDessert

All in all, it was a fabulous evening and a great way both to expand your culinary horizons a little and meet new people in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.  The concept encourages co-operation and teamwork, and Luiz and Dr G are fantastic hosts, making sure that everyone is included in conversations and that the evening (and the wine!) flows smoothly.  Thanks to Luiz for hosting and to everybody who prepared dishes.  Keep an eye on Luiz’s website for future editions of the London Cooking Club!

For another perspective on the evening, see Rosana’s blog post, plus there are some more pictures available in my Flickr album of the evening.

 

LLCJeanneLuizTracey
Jeanne, Luiz and Tracey (Photo © Hot & Chilli)

LCCJeanneShooting

 Me shooting in my makeshift “studio” (Photo © Hot & Chilli)

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

johanna January 21, 2012 at 10:25 am

see what a trend setter I am??? ;-)
I really miss our sessions, have been toying with the idea of re-introducing the CCC in Singapore!
The dishes look absolutely delicious – can’t wait to try them in their natural habitat soon!

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Tracey Howes January 21, 2012 at 10:46 am

Thanks for a fab write-up Jeanne. It was a fantastic evening and a great way to meet new people over sublimely tasty food. I’d be up for doing a joint event with you again… team SA here we come!!

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bellini January 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Sounds like an amazing evening Jeanne. Any time spent with foodie passionate about food, its history and where it comes from is time well spent.

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Herschelian January 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm

This is such a great idea, I think I will try to start up a CCC in Beijing when I get back there in February. Johanna really is a trend setter!!

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Gaby villarreal January 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Love it. Love it!

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Alli@peasepudding January 22, 2012 at 4:30 am

Sounds like a great night, now I knew more NZ bloggers I will she to see if we can get one going here.

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jon brierton January 22, 2012 at 6:59 am

Sounds wonderful…
Now if I could get something like this started in El Paso, Texas (USA)…and we exempted Mexican food…
well, OK, it wouldn’t work. But still…

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Rosana @ Hot&Chilli January 22, 2012 at 8:33 am

What a fab evening we had. Great food and I still in touch with most of the guests too, including Tracey – It’s great. I am up for the International Street Food themed meal! I have plenty of ideas what to cook. Thanks for introducing me to Graham Beck and for the mention too. See you soon. Lots of love. Rosana

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Rosana @ Hot&Chilli January 22, 2012 at 8:33 am

What a fab evening we had. Great food and I still in touch with most of the guests too, including Tracey – It’s great. I am up for the International Street Food themed meal! I have plenty of ideas what to cook. Thanks for introducing me to Graham Beck and for the mention too. See you soon. Lots of love. Rosana

Reply

Rosana @ Hot&Chilli January 22, 2012 at 8:33 am

What a fab evening we had. Great food and I still in touch with most of the guests too, including Tracey – It’s great. I am up for the International Street Food themed meal! I have plenty of ideas what to cook. Thanks for introducing me to Graham Beck and for the mention too. See you soon. Lots of love. Rosana

Reply

Firefly January 23, 2012 at 6:53 am

What an amazing idea. I’m seriously contemplating doing something similar.

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sue Mills January 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Was good to see Nick had some male company! Usually he’s surrounded by a gaggle of girls (but then I guess he doesn’t mind that too much!!)

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The London Foodie January 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm

What a great write up Jeanne, and many thanks for the links as well! We ought to do this again soon please!
Luiz @ The London Foodie

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Krista January 24, 2012 at 1:02 am

What a marvelously delicious evening, Jeanne! :-) You did a great job staging under such high pressure!! :-)

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Colleen January 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm

What an awesome idea for an evenings entertainment and socializing. I love this! And I love that table setting! Delicious food and good company with excellent wines…a winning combo! I want that light!!! ;) Well done! xxx

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Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen January 26, 2012 at 7:54 am

What a fun event and a feast for the eyes and the stomach!

Reply

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