Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rosendal experience at the start of 2011 recess

It is that time of the year again, when all Gauteng residents escape to more desirable and delectable destinations, albeit just for a moment – to soak up the sun and swim in the sea etc. etc.. Most of the Jozi (Johannesburg) restaurants, bars and local small street malls are shutdown for the festive season. The owners, managers and waiters all take a much-needed break, leaving the city deserted and traffic free. It is a time to braai (barbecue), drink and be merry (Christmas is here again). 
My holiday started with a three-day break at my favourite weekend-away spot Rosendal. Please follow link to previous post titled, The Rosendal experience is more than just another country treat.
Road to Fiksburg

I purchased a 18-200 lens for my new camera, the Sony NEX 5 and decided to shoot my Rosendal experience up close. Included are visuals of our walks round town (visits to the trading stores), our delicious food and a glimpse into the variety of animals occupying the property. 
He built a pond and maintains a fabulous flower, vegetable and herb garden that adds to the country retreat’s value adding experience. Situated in town, this man made country utopia is nestled in between other properties, and is therefore without the spectacular views of those homes situated on the edges of the town. The garden and small animals on his property therefore provides an alternative naturalistic environment to the already incredible surroundings.  

I enjoy cooking, especially at Rosendal. Having access to organically grown vegetables, salad leaves and herbs makes the experience that much more desirable. Picking your own ingredients surrounded by ducks, geese, birds and bees makes cooking an ultimate pleasure. Showcased here is a pasta dish cooked for the weekend away’s Saturday lunch. 

Prawns with French shallots cooked in an Italian Arrabiata sauce with a twist. Served with squid-ink pasta and broccoli as a side dish. The rich red of the tomato sauce and pink hue of the prawns contrasts sharply with the green vegetable; a visual feast for the eye and tasty combo.

Prawns Arrabiata served with squid-ink pasta.

Slice a few French shallots (from Woolworths).
Finely chop three green chilies (remove the seeds)  
Also chop three garlic glovesor minced (fresh and crunchy).
Heat a small quantity of olive oil in a pan. Add the French shallots and chilies and fry gently - till the shallots are almost soft and golden (sautéed).
Add the garlic and fry for just a few moments –release the aroma.

Add a tin or two of whole cherry tomatoes with the sauce (also from Woolworths). Depending on the number of guests/servings.
Add the chopped leaves of a sprig of oregano (or two) to the sauce (hand picked from Daniel’s herb garden). Alternatively add parsley – a more authentic approach.
Also add a squirt of organic Italian tomato paste (choice grade in a tube, also from Woolworths) to the cooking sauce. Cook for a few minutes.

Add the pre-cooked and shelled prawns (also from Woolworths at R69.00) to the sauce including a batch of basil leaves and cook for a few minutes.
Cook until heated through to blend flavors.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile drop the bowtie shaped squid-ink pasta into the lightly salted boiling water. When the pasta is cooked al dente (about seven minutes), switch off the flame and add a glass of cold water (stop the cooking of the pasta). Drain and set aside.
For the lunch I also boiled some broccoli, (their stems sliced down the middle at the thicker end - to speed up the cooking time and more importantly to cook through evenly). Drain when cooked; ensuring it retains its green colour and remains firm to the bite. Serve with sprinkled lemon juice (not too much), black pepper and grated Pecorino cheese.

P.S. Some Italian recipes state that you don’t grate cheese over this seafood dish – I grated cheese over, as you can see.

Serve on a platter with a delicious wine; our choice was a Haute Cabriere Chardonnay / Pinot Noir.

Recent developments in Rosendal.

Walks through the town reveal constant changes in the local businesses. The restaurant has changed ownership and with it comes a face lift – a new style including menu revealing the owner and new chef’s personal touch. In a small town like Rosendal such change is radical and brings a new dimension to the hospitality rituals the country retreat has to offer. 

The creative touch of neo-sculptor Dahla Hulme is evident. Her bold works, although utilitarian in function, has a very strong one-of-a-kind sculptural quality.  Visit her website to view her work.

Other notable changes are that of Sandra Lemmer’s recent additions to the few noteworthy business spaces in town. She has converted another landmark into a trading store photographed here. Every angle and corner of this store is meticulously styled – her creative touch is evident throughout. 

From the very last tin at the very top of each of the stacked products to the colour coded display’s of enamel jugs, basins and pots at Enamel. Each room carefully arranged from an open-museum and or film set perspective. These authentically recreated trading stores are strategically positioned in the town and maintains the nostalgic bygone era of this very special country retreat. In sharp contrast to the very commercial and overcrowded Clarence an hour’s drive away. 

This weekend away has most certainly stirred up the holiday feelings within my blood and tomorrow morning we are on our way on my way to Cape Town. We will spend one night in Knysna – the beautiful Garden route.