Australian Masterchef and some Life skills…

Dear Aussies- As a South African, I am supposed to hate you guys. It has something to do with rugby union (but you also struggle at the moment, I see…) and cricket. That magnificent game that you sometimes play so well… as do we…

We make a lot of jokes about you guys- something to do with handpicked ancestors. And some unfortunate encounters with sheep in the Outback…

Be that as it may, Australian Masterchef has really become our (my wife and I, not the whole of SA!)  favorite program of all time. In the process we have seen a few things that really excites us about you as a nation.  Let me share a few thoughts and impressions.

  1.  You focus on the main thing.  In this program it is about the love of food. Of  good chef skills, and presenting an amazing dish.  And the love for food shines through all the way, and binds you together.
  2.  Your respect for nature, and the respect for the good ingredients used to cook shines through- well done! Your agricultural products and seafood looks amazing.
  3.  You are amazing at people skills! I am amazed by the way the judges handle all contestants.  Everybody is welcome and important, and it does not matter what their background and level of education might be. Everybody is treated with respect, and the underlying  impression I get- the goal is to help every contestant to be their best, to produce their best cooking, to learn from their mistakes and to improve as chefs.  I really love that there is none of the Gordon Ramsey Hell’s Kitchen style yelling and insulting going on.
  4.  Mistakes are tolerated– and improvement encouraged. Everybody sometimes have a bad day in the kitchen, and knows it. The way that people are encouraged to get up, dust off and try again are really inspiring- learn from mistakes, do it better next time.
  5. Even elimination are handled with dignity- there is none of that “You’re the weakest link, goodbye…” sendoffs. I love the way that each leaving contestant is encouraged to follow their dream. The way that contestants victories are celebrated when they leave is really good. And the humane way the Judges act towards contestants- well done guys!
  6.  The way that contestants support one another, encourage, help… it looks like one happy family.  Maybe not all Aussies are like that, but you do give a very positive picture of a healthy nation.
  7.  The way contestants grow along the journey, producing food that they could never imagine before…
  8.  Marco Pierre White on the one hand scares- that look over his glasses… on the other hand inspires and share experience designed to push contestants to a next level- great to see a 3 Michelin star chef being an inspiration and a mentor– true greatness.
  9.  It seems as if everybody taking part gets a truly life enriching experience!
  10.  You have inspired our own cooking and the dare to try some new techniques and styles.
  11.  Billie McKay was such an amazing winner last year, I would love to sit at her table one day.
  12.  Would love to end with a Shannon Bennett desert!

In conclusion: As a Pastor I would love to see more of these life skills displayed in church! In the way all people act towards each other, love and support one another even though we might be from different backgrounds and opinions.

And finally: Aussies- see you on the Rugby field… you will bleed…

Respect!

Country Church Fete

In our rural churches in South Africa, a pretty big chunk of time goes into planning and executing our yearly Church Fete. It happened today.

And here is just some of the moments from today.

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The last 4 photos was taken by my talented daughter… anyone looking for a great graphic designer next year, let me know…

BTW- Aussie friends- I am so sad about this morning’s rugby game… hate the ref…

Meanwhile, back in Harare… Isn’t the Du Plessis/ De Villiers batting partnership pure joy to watch? That is cricket for our USA friends, you don’t get rugby and cricket, but we love to hate the Aussies on those sport fields… 🙂

From Drought to Floods in 1 week…

Yesterday I blogged about a nice breakfast run to our neighbouring town of Warmbaths/ Bela Bela. Even then the water was flowing about 30 cm deep over the road when entering the town after a week of quite heavy rain at times. But the sun shone brightly for a while yesterday, and it was quite an experience to take the bike out again.

But things in our region changed very dramatically. Some more rain fell. And a few farmers’ dam walls broke. We have a very good holiday resort between our towns,  named Klein Kariba. Unfortunately it is in a valley. With all the dams broken upstream a huge flood went through the place, washing caravans (mobile homes?) tents, cars and people downstream.  We hear the rumours on facebook this morning that a few people are missing at the moment. Not good news.

I did not take photos of the water along the road yesterday. But a few of my facebook friends did. And these are some photos from Juanry and Mona of the town of Bela Bela (AB de Villiers, the #1 Cricket Batsman at the moment in the world- his home town.)

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Photo: Monique Ungerer

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Where I buy my diesel…
Photo: Juanry van Niekerk

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Photo: Juanry van Niekerk

At Klein Kariba, one of my favorite holiday resorts to visit, the damage was the worst as stated above. I have blogged quite a lot about this place, with a lot of photos of wildlife, boats, peaceful waters… that is why it is such a shock… 

Like these:

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From Klein Kariba’s website at http://atkvoorde.co.za/klein-kariba-meer-oor-ons

Well- this is what happened yesterday afternoon: 

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Photo: Antowan Nothling Jacaranda FM

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Klein Kariba Caravan Park
Photo: Antowan Nothling on Jacaranda FM’s facebook page

Also- Earlier in the week the rain already caused major damage to road to the town of Ellisras (Lephalale) where a huge power station is being built to save our economy…

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Photo: Clara Ludwick

For some video material of the water to the west of us at Vaalwater-  from Afriforum’s website:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=724973804201188

 

While this all is happening, the whole world’s eyes are on a small little altercation in the High Court 130 km south from us, where there is a show about some Oscar guy…  No golden statues involved, I believe…

We also experience huge power outages at the moment, because it comes to light that all our good grade coal is being exported to India, and the dregs from the washing process of this is used in our coal burning power stations, and everything is wet in any case…  So no electricity= no economic growth…

And our National Cricket team lost to some small island somewhere in the South Pacific, something like Australia or something…

And I am not in Cape Town to compete in my 20th Argus Cycle Race in a row- I think that is the worst of them all… the sun is shining in Cape Town, and I am not there.

No sorry- the worst still remain the people missing from Klein Kariba…

 

These are interesting times in Africa…

 

 

Back on my feet…

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Me and my younger colleague… older one took the photo, we had a teambuilding day…

Wednesday I went to Supersport Park, to see the first day of South Africa vs Australia, Test Cricket. Then I still thought we will do something worth seeing. But… at the moment I only have any respect left for two South African players- AB de Villiers for his 91, and Dale Steyn, for being a good bowler.    I gained a lot of respect for Mitchell Johnson, who took 7 wickets in Australia’s first attack.  And the Australian batsmen have made more runs in one session now that we took a day to gather yesterday.   I am deeply saddened by my team! Nearly ashamed…

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AB de Villiers keeping the wicket, who is the batsman?

But it was good to see this real life on Wednesday… They ask us politely not to call our team Chokers. Well, except for AB and Dale… you C…

Wednesday evening I slept over at my mother’s house. My wife came through to take me to the doctor yesterday. And Wednesday I had one of the worst spasm attacks yet. It really hurts a lot. Yesterday the specialist put me to sleep to do a gastroscopy. I was really out of it when I finally woke up- my wife jokes with me for all the questions I have repeatedly asked her. Including Austin Powers’ famous question, Shall we… now or later…

The report will be sent to my GP. It might be gall dust attacking me. There is a kind of infection in some parts of my stomach- I am now really too scared to eat almost anything at all…  Soon- skinny me…

I tried to go cycling this morning, turned around within 500 meters, I really do not feel that great at the moment. I must also go to my GP for 4 hours on Monday to get a Kalium drip, my k levels are nearly gone, and I feel extremely tired all the time.  I only have 2 weeks left to train for the Argus Cycle race, and am seriously starting to doubt if I will make it this year…

So  it goes with me like the Protea Cricket team at the moment- lots of things going on, no performance…

But I want to publish something uplifting: a photo from our district this month:  Sunflowers in the sun…

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David Warner was dropped at 26, 27 and 51- now he has reached his 100. Well done! Graeme Smith- your team are chokers!!! Except AB…

 

 

 

At the Cricket!

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Dale Steyn has taken Mr Warner’s wicket, it is a glorious sunny day in Pretoria, and I am so glad to be here, right in line with the wicket on the western grass banks… What a day…

I need today for tomorrow morning a gastroscopy awaits me…

And there Rogers goes, balled Morkel caught de Villiers…

Australian Sport…

There is one thing I never knew as a South African. We have no hope in the Winter Olympics. Maybe because a lot of us have never seen snow in our lives (like my wife…) So… my sister who is a UK Citizen stated how she looks forward to the winter olympics. So I decided to tune in on the dish.

I am amazed by the Aussies on the Winter Olympics. I never knew you were doing it, and sometimes good. These past couple of days I saw sports I have
never seen before. And I saw Torah Bright in action. I am amazed and impressed. Where do you guys get all the snow?

But before I head for the Aussie embassy to emigrate- I have bought my ticket for coming Wednesday, Pretoria, Supersport Park. Test Cricket day 1, South Africa vs Australia… I am going to be there on the grass banks! In the team colours with more green in it.

Australian sport does have my respect. I hope for a good test series. And hopefully a SA victory. I hope you guys bring Torah Bright with for moral support!

Earning a Michelin star or two…

My wife and I are addicted to Australian Masterchef. This series has totally changed my view of that small island on the other side of the Indian Ocean. As a rugby and cricket fan- we sometimes find it difficult to like Aussies. Maybe it is just a little jealousy. They are really good at sport, and they know it… but Australian Masterchef changed the perception of the people of Australia a lot. We actually started to like them a lot. But when Gary and George and Matt starts introducing rock star chefs, they sometimes drop the title of “Michelin stars” behind a chef’s name.

Now, before Australian Masterchef, we did not have any idea of good cooking. My idea of a good dish remains a medium rare steak prepared on my Weber, with our South African Mieliepap (only Africans get it, I think… almost cous cous but not quite…) and a salad.  Would the Michelin inspectors like our Christmas lunch at Casa Rider?

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Some steaks- from well done for the grandmothers to medium rare for me… and some Boerewors- our famous sausages…

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And some salads, some veggies even sourced in my own garden…

We have yet to find a Michelin star restaurant in South Africa, I don’t think they give any stars to MacDonalds or Wimpy… I have seen a few chefs on the internet that is Michelin starred, but I am not sure that Michelin travels here to award stars in a guide.

I also saw somebody referring to “South Africa’s only 5 star Michelin restaurant…” but I have only heard of three stars.

So how does it work? Yes, I know, you can google it like I did, you don’t have to read my version of it.  But for those who want a short answer, read on…

The beautiful story over at Wikipedia says that the Michelin brothers, André and Edouard, was in this little company making car tyres. At that stage in 1900 there were maybe 3000 cars in the whole of France. So they thought to get the public going on road trips- more kilometers covered means more tyre wear, means more potholes connected, means more business- you see?  So, these two brothers started promoting road trips, with free tour guides for motorists. In these tour guides you would find the info needed for your road trip, with essential info like where to buy your Michelin tyres. Also where to find petrol (gasoline…) and mechanics  along the way. Where to find a place to sleep. And while you are at it, where to find a decent meal…  They printed 35000 copies for their first edition in 1900, talk about vision! Then they started spreading the news, to Belgium in 1904, They even had guides for Algeria and Tunisia in 1907 before they started the UK edition in 1911…

The story goes that the guides were free of charge, until André Michelin saw a stack of guides used to prop up a  workbench. Then they decided that people only value what they pay for, and people started paying for the Michelin guides.

It became a sign of good quality cuisine if the Michelin inspectors visited your restaurant, and award you a star rating in one of the guides.

But how does it work?

According to this excellent article in the Telegraph:  You will not know when there are Michelin inspectors in your restaurant. They don’t warn you to prepare your very best- they just arrive as normal, incognito paying customers. There are a few dozen of these inspectors worldwide. They have some culinary background, some are chefs themselves. They take great pains to avoid recognition, and will not travel officially in the same region for 10 years after an inspection trip. They are looking for new restaurants worthy of a mention.  They will also visit currant Michelin star holding  restaurants to see if they maintain, improve or lose their star rating. Gordon Ramsey lost two stars in a Manhatten restaurant- these cause tears…

There is a certain standard which must be met. The inspectors says: ” it all depends on the food, cooking, flavour, texture, technique. Good value for money in clean surroundings…”

There are no 5 stars in the Michelin world. The following star classification was decided on in 1936.

  • one star: “A very good restaurant in its category” (“Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie”)
  • two stars: “Excellent cooking, worth a detour” (“Table excellente, mérite un détour”)
  • three stars: “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” (“Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage”)

I am still not sure about the Michelin star restaurants in our country. But it is my birthday in a few weeks time. And I would love to take my wife to La Madeleine in Pretoria- I think they would easily earn a star. Never been there, I hear it is amazing!

South African readers- any exceptional restaurants that I should put on my culinary bucket list?

Related Articles…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/10337149/Inside-the-secret-world-of-Michelin-restaurant-inspectors.html

http://www.restaurants.com/blog/how-does-a-restaurant-earn-a-michelin-star/#.UtOIrtIW02A

The Red Bike outside Australian Masterchef Kitchen, Series 3

One of my biggest questions in life has finally been answered. But is a long story- I don’t like to keep things short…

My favourite television program is Australian Masterchef. I must say- this program has changed my perception of the Australian people a lot.  As a proud South African, we do not like the Aussies. They are just too good in cricket (sometimes… 🙂  ) and their rugby- the decent kind the rest  of the world can understand, not that Aussie rules funny stuff- is also sometimes ( 🙂 I know…) good.  We all know they come from hand-picked ancestors, Her Majesty’s best…  And there is the story of Breaker Morant– quite a bad bastard in our history…

Agggh mate, -get to the point, I hear the Aussies scream in their weak pale beers…

In any case- Masterchef Australia changed all that negative perceptions. Well, nearly all- do I really HAVE to like Shane Warne?

But the Aussies showed me they have a certain style of doing things, which I really like.  The American cooking competitions are so aggressive  and their judges really like to break the weakest link in the kitchen. And the Brits can be quite boring sometimes in the kitchen and bedroom.  Sorry Nigella. Sorry Gordon. Sorry Jamie…  maybe there are a few exceptions.

As I said in a droning voice already, the Aussies have a certain style of doing Masterchef. Their judges, Adam, George and Matt really love their food and their art of cooking. In the television series, I find that they are quite decent blokes, who do not go about negatively with the competitors. They challenge and inspire. They drive the competitors to give their best.  For the competitors it is a steep learning curve, it looks like one of the best experiences of their lives to participate. THe food they produce is spectacular, and I as viewer learn a lot as well. I did not know that they have such world class Michelin starred restaurants. The outdoor activities shows the viewer  a country of awesome beauty.  I am beginning to like Aussies… (except in that funny yellow Sporting gear…)  Maybe that is why half of my nation emigrated to Australia… 🙂

I know, I know, it is getting long and boring… but it IS workers day in South Africa, I couldn’t sleep anymore and am a little bored, so now I thought to bore you as well, maybe we can go back to sleep…

Anyway, somehow we always suck on the rear teat in SOuth Africa. We only now get to see Series 3, which was broadcasted in 2011 in Australia, and even in Ireland. I peaked on the internet yesterday and now know who won… we are in the final 8 of the series…

Let’s FINALLY get to the point. In Masterchef Australia, Series 3, there is a beautiful Red Motorbike standing just outside the door. One of life’s biggest questions in my mind was: Whose bike is it? And what is it?

So this morning, I decided to find out. (in a Jeremy Clarkson voice. Listen, BBC guys with the thick glasses and moustaches and checkbooks, if ever you plan a Top Gear for motorbikes, and need a fattish middle-age Stig for the job- call me…)

Whose bike is it? The television companies’ bike. Even the presenters are not allowed to ride it. Lawsuits etc- you never know when the handpicked ancestors’  genes kick in and it gets nicked…   Gary is the biker amongst the team, and owns his own Triumph. This is out of the mouth of Matt Preston himself.

The Bike? It is a Triumph Thruxton. I am a bad researcher, I can not find ONE photo of the real one standing outside the MCK on the Internet- can you help?

The Triumph Thruxton was named after a racing track of the 1960’s.

It is described by Triumph South Africa as:

Thruxton. The café racer. Reinvented.

Thruxton. Named after the race track where Triumph ruled the roost and inspired by the famous “Ton Up Boys” of the 60s. The Thruxton is Triumph’s sportiest classic, an authentic café racer delivering that unique Brit twin riding experience. Low rise bars, sporty riding position, aluminium-rimmed spoked wheels (18” front and 17” rear), megaphone style silencers and a modern 865cc parallel-twin engine. It stirs the heart for those around at the time and for those who seek the classic sporty retro cool….

Specifications for the Petrolheads: (2013 model)

Engine and Transmission
Type Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360º firing interval
Capacity 865cc
Bore/Stroke 90 x 68mm
Fuel System Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
Exhaust Stainless steel headers, twin chromed upswept silencers.
Final Drive X ring chain
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox 5-speed
Oil Capacity 4.5 litres (1.2 US gals)
Chassis, Running Gear and Displays
Frame Tubular steel cradle
Swingarm Twin-sided, tubular steel
Wheel Front 36-spoke 18 x 2.5in, aluminium rim
Rear 40-spoke 17 x 3.5in, aluminium rim
Tyre Front 100/90 18
Rear 130/80 R17
Suspension Front KYB 41mm forks with adjustable preload, 120mm travel
Rear KYB chromed spring twin shocks with adjustable preload, 106mm rear wheel travel
Brakes Front Single 320mm floating disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
Rear Single 255mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper
Instrument Display/Functions Analogue speedometer and tachometer with odometer and trip information
Dimensions and Capacities
Length 2150mm (84.6in)
Width (handlebars) 830mm (32.7in)
Height without mirrors 1095mm (43.1in)
Seat Height 820mm (32.3in)
Wheelbase 1490mm (58.6in)
Rake/Trail 27º/97mm
Fuel Tank Capacity 16 litres (4.2 US gals)
Wet Weight (ready to ride) 230 kg (506 lbs)
Performance (measured at crankshaft to 95/1/EC)
Maximum Power 69PS / 68 bhp / 51 kW @ 7400rpm
Maximum Torque 69Nm / 51 ft.lbs @ 5800rpm
Fuel Efficiency
Price
Recommended Retail Price R92 500

This means that this bike is almost the same specs as my BMW R 850 R, I don’t need to buy one.

But: It is a beautiful bike!  Now you know…