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eG Foodblog: GSquared - An Innkeeper in Eden


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Will you show us your market, and all the fruits and vegetables that are unique to your area? 

We do not have many markets in S.A. The supply chain has traditionally been farmer->wholesale market->retailer->consumer. Over the past 10 years or so markets have appeared where smaller producers sell direct to the consumer, but it is still not prevalent thoughout the country. We have a local market on Saturday mornings, but it is useful mainly for the range of preserves that is available. There is better fruit, veg, meat etc. available in the retail shops and from wholesalers that supply the catering industy. That said, one can on the odd occasion pick up some decent baguettes

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and home cured meat.

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Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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I'll walk you through morning's work in some detail to give you a feel for how my day typically starts. It is now just after 10:00.

5:00am. Preheated the oven and started baking the muffins. Veronica, who is the chef for this 14 day cycle, baked the seed bread yesterday afternoon. The great thing about muffins is how forgiving they are. Ideal for a bread wuz like me. Cheese muffins – grate some cheddar, add salt, pinch of sugar, two eggs, melted butter and some milk. Mix and then add about 400g self raising flour. Mix and into the muffin pan. Top with finely grated cheese and into the oven for 26 minutes at 190C.

5:45am. Muffins in the oven. Typed and printed the menu.

Wrote the number of covers and seating arrangement on the chef's copy of the menu. Today we had 12 guests. Four singles and 4 doubles. Easy seating plan, as the breakfast room has 8 two-seaters.

6:00am. First batch of muffins done, second batch in. Bran and peanut butter. Whole wheat flour, brown bread flour, bran, molasses, baking powder, peanut butter, eggs, milk, melted butter.

Pan-fried a piece of the Impala to check that it is ok. It is a boon that we have two kitchens. One is dedicated to breakfast cooking and is located of the dining area. The other is my personal kitchen in our living area. This means that the mess I make when baking muffins can be cleaned up at leasure and does not affect breakfast service. Also a damn sight more convenient knowing that I will not encounter early morning guests and can do my work in shorts and an apron. Not a sight any rightminded guest would want to encounter unexpectedly in the wee hours!

I should explain that our living area is completely separated from the guest facilities.

This keeps our private area private and keeps the dogs away from the guests.

6:45am. Second batch of muffins done.

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7:00am. The girls arrived and I discussed the seating plan with Miki, who will wait on the tables. Went though the menu with Veronica. They left for the breakfast kitchen to start prep. Handed out housekeeping checklists and arrivals/departures lists to the others.

Off to the breakfast kitchen to do a sample plate of the fresh fruit and to check that the mise had been properly laid out. For the first hot dish we had no prep to do other than trim the loin, cut it up into chunks, toss in olive oil and sesame oil, wash the tomatoes and set out the mozzarella. For the second we only needed to set out the salsa ingredients, cheese and the grater. The chicken is still half-raw and sits in one of the fridges. It is a lot easier to stop the smoking before the meat is completely done and then quickly sear the slices in a pan to complete the cooking. I find it fiddly to get the timing right to cook the chicken completely when smoking it. Here is the setup I use for smoking:

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7:30 Mozarella no good – sour smell to it, so we substituted haloumi.

8:10 First guests arrived. We get the fruit, coffee/tea, bread and fruit juice out as soon as possible to take care of the initial hunger pangs. When we are slammed, it buys a lot of time. You may chuckle at the thought of being slammed with a max of 18 guests, but getting orders for 10 hot breakfasts in short order is, in my world, a problem. Mainly because I bought the wrong stove. I should have waited a while but I was keen replace the dysfunctional relic in the kitchen. Still thinking within my then frame of reference, I bought a very decent 5 burner Smeg gas stove with a big electric oven.

What I should have bought is two electric ovens and a 6 burner hob with a flat top. Oh well….

The magnificent but utterly screwed up and unrepairable old Garland

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And the new Smeg

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Service proceeded well. The guests arrived well staggered and I could leave the cooking to Veronica. I only get involved when things get a bit hectic. This was an easy morning, so I could spend more time on the floor, talking to the guests and, where required advising on their plans for the day. Two golf bookings, a booking for the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe (steam train) and a dinner reservation.

Fruit plate

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Scotsman

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Fried eggs, fritter, kebab, tomato, cheese

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Chef's choice

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As the guests arrived for breakfast, Welda and Patricia popped in to check which rooms are in for breakfast so that they could get into the stayover rooms to do housekeeping. For stayover guests who are not going out immediately after breakfast, we try to clean and refresh the room while the guest is breakfasting. I have always hated getting back to a mussed up room when we stayed in some hostelry and I was determined to do better in our own place.

Breakfast service was done by 9:30. Miki, Veronica and I sat down over a cup of coffee to do a quick post mortem. Room cleaning is underway, the laundry is running full tilt and all is at peace.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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STAFF -- so that's how you are able to have a life beyond guest house-keeping! :smile: How many employees altogether? Do they stay with you long or do you get a lot of transient help?

Food-related: What was the side dish on the chef's choice plate -- it looked like mango salad?

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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STAFF -- so that's how you are able to have a life beyond guest house-keeping! :smile:  How many employees altogether?  Do they stay with you long or do you get a lot of transient help?

I'll tell you about my staff tomorrow - have to get them together for a pic first!

Food-related:  What was the side dish on the chef's choice plate -- it looked like mango salad?

Yep- mango, diced chilli, dill, coriander and black pepper

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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The bloody dogs found a dead, rotten fish on the beach this morning. And rolled in it. They returned smelling to high heaven. I have taught them to jump into the paddling pool when we return from the beach (to wash off the sand). This morning they had to be soaped and hosed down. Much barking and excitement.

Reminded me of the dead whale two months ago. About 3 tons of decomposing whale meat washed up up the beach a few hundred meters from us, right in front of Wilderness Village. The chemist ran out of face masks toute suite and the place looked like a biological war zone. The restaurants all closed down - nothing like the smell of a rotten whale to put one off dinner. The municipality dug a very deep hole in the sand and buried it in situ. Lets hope that we are in a cycle of beach accretion and not erosion...

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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I have some very nice muffin recipes, if you would like some new recipes to try.

Your breakfasts look very nice.

I really want to visit South Africa. I have family in Durban and live near a very large South African community here in Israel.

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Tonight is neap tide and Judy Dixon, a local resident who is an expert on marine life, will take a group on a starlight (it is dark moon) meander of the intertidal zone exposed by the low tide. The group has pizza and wine on the beach and then sets off to examine the marine life in the rock pools and on the beach. Four Mes Amis guests are trundling along. I'll ask one of them to take some pics. Maybe they'll even return with something edible.

Fortunately the weather looks good – blue skies and sunshine.

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Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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The weather is beautiful today. We'll eat on the patio.

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I prefer fresh to frozen fish (who doesn't?) but I got hold of some frozen monkfish tails a week or so ago. The theory was that the monkfish should stand up better to the damage wrought by freezing. Tonight I will test the theory. Pan fried and then into the salamander for a short while. Maybe some garlic buter over. If they come out well, I'll reserve the rest for our own use, otherwise I'll pickle them for the breakfast menu. I may do some potato skins with it. And perhaps use the bok choi that has been lurking in the veggie drawer for a day or two.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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We were fortunate enough to take a trip to S.A. and Zim this past September. We will be returning in 2008 (for cape buffalo) and will definitely will come to stay at your inn. Your views are just incredible.

I'm interested in your game meat. Do you get it from a regular supplier? I noticed while there, that most menus include game meat, so I'm sure Africans are used to seeing it. Do you get any odd reactions from 'foreign' tourists? We enjoyed impala, kudu, and warthog, but our favorite was eland. Do I understand correctly that you can help set up activities for your guests? Are there wineries in your area? What is neap tide?

Thanks so much for this.

By the way, the plane ride from Atlanta to Jo'berg is a booger.

Stop Family Violence

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This is an interesting blog for me. Believe it or not my family owns a rather large chunk of land in Zambia. We have a farm on the land right now, but my dad is interested in developing tourist attractions and accomodations.

I will be taking notes.

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I'm interested in your game meat. Do you get it from a regular supplier?

Yes, we do. The Venison Company specialises in, well, venison. They acquire it mainly from commercial game farms.

Do you get any odd reactions from 'foreign' tourists?

Very few adverse reactions. There are always people who are more comfortable with familiar food, and we will happily do bacon, eggs, baked beans and fried bread if it makes a guest happy. The overwhelming majority are happy with trying out something new.

Do I understand correctly that you can help set up activities for your guests?

Yes, we do. There is much to do in and around Wilderness and our local knowledge helps guests get the best out of their stay.

Are there wineries in your area?

Closest winery, or rather Co-op, is about 70Km from us. Quality is somewhat dubious, unless you are partial to fortified wine (Jerepiko and Muscadel).

What is neap tide?

Neap tide is the weak tide caused when the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon are perpendicular. That is, perpendicular relative to the earth. I think I mentioned dark moon upthread. That is, of course, not correct. Neap tide by definition occurs at quarter moon.

By the way, the plane ride from Atlanta to Jo'berg is a booger.

True, but what delights await the end of the ordeal! Look forward to seeing you.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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The monkfish looks dubious. Not much water leaked out during defrosting, but the texture is mushy rather than firm. I shall, however, persevere.

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The spuds prior the becoming skins.

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and after

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Drizzled with duck fat. Maldon salt and into the oven. Chopped up the Bok Choi, roasted sesame seeds and orange peel, wilted the bok choi down, added chunky cottage cheese.

More later.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Thanks for this blog. My family owns a bed & breakfast in the states and it's always interesting to see how similar business flourish on the other side of the world!

Eating pizza with a fork and knife is like making love through an interpreter.
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As suspected, the monkfish was vile. No texture and an unpleasant "fishyness" to the nose. Cat food. What to do with the rest? Certainly not suitable for pickling. I should have known better. At least the skins and the Bok Choi turned out great.

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The wine was also fine. L'Ormarin Sauv Blanc ($8). The rest of the bottle will serve to soothe.

I still have no idea what to do for breakfast tomorrow. The bloody fish has upset me and I will now go and sit on the patio and look at the neap tide. Maybe a dram of single malt is also indicated. I think I still have some Lagavulin 16yrs. left.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Come to think of it, the Lagavulin is appropriate. We lost the cricket test against the Aussies.

Last guests are in and the house is full.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Last guests are in and the house is full.

What a lovely way to end the day!! Such a fulfilling thought.

Looking forward to seeing your staff at work making the breakfasts. And some closer views of the sand and water...your photos are spectacular, and make me miss our whitesugar sand back home.

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This is such fascinating reading! I've long toyed with the idea of opening a bed and breakfast eventually, so I'm also taking notes. What are the things that surprised you when you started out? What aspects of catering to guests frustrates you the most?

Also, a request for the seed bread recipe if possible. It sounds delicious! I have a simple whole grain quick bread that might suffice as well, if you're interested in the recipe.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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What are the things that surprised you when you started out? What aspects of catering to guests frustrates you the most?

How easy it is to do. And how much fun. I worried about retirement and becoming a bored, boring old man. Maybe the boring bit will be difficult to avert but bored? No way. I like devising ways to please guests. I like to anticipate their needs. I like giving them the odd unexpected snack when they are sipping wine on their patio, looking at the sunset. I like getting their muddy car washed early morning before they get up. I like helping them organising their day. I like serving them a glass of wine upon arrival. I enjoy their pleasure in our food. I am not sure where all this came from, given that I spent most of my working life writing computer software, but this is right now exactly what I should be doing.

What aspects of catering to guests frustrates you the most?

Two things:

1. When a guest sprinkles salt without tasting first. We have spent a lot of time on seasoning properly and the mindless salting really gets to me.

2. When a guest asks for ketchup and pours it all over a carefully constructed dish. I mean, we really tried to make this good and the best you can do is drown it in ketchup. When this happens I leave the rooms an go and sulk on the patio. And look at the neap tide.

Allso, a request for the seed bread recipe if possible. It sounds delicious! I have a simple whole grain quick bread that might suffice as well, if you're interested in the recipe.

I am indeed interested. Please PM me with the recipe.

My seed bread is simple - please forgive the rough and ready quantities:

300gm roughly milled wheat flour

100gm rolled oats

50gm wheat bran

a handful of sunflower seeds

2 heaped teaspoons baking powder

Place the above in a food processor and whizz briefly. This mixes the ingredients well and chops up the seeds.

Turn out into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons cane sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 eggs, 4 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons molasses and sufficient milk to make a smooth batter. The batter should drip from a spoon like thick mud: if it flows, add more wheat flour. If it falls off in huge globs, add more milk.

Spoon into a greased bread tin and top with more seeds. Bake for 40 mins in a 200C preheated oven.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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The Lagavulin helped.

The dogs are passed out.

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and I may as well get on to tomorrow's menu.

I have two loin of warthog. Strange - I have never seen a fillet of warthog. Nevertheless, the loin is a clean, fat-free and pinkish strip of meat. Slightly tough, so you need to marinate it or deal with it in thin slices. Ideal for stir-frying. So - thinly sliced loin of warthog, stir-fried with ginger, coriander and cumin. Served in a creamy mustard sauce with cinnamon butttered apple chunks and an onion bhaji.

Chef's choice will be our interpretation of a croque madame: a fried egg on ham on a round of garlic toast, covered with a cheese and herb sauce.

I'll worry about the bread in the morning. We have 14 for breakfast - 6 singles and 4 doubles. Of the 6 singles, 4 asked for an early breakfast at 7am. This means that I will have to lay 4 tables and have all the prep ready by 7 when the staff arrives. Up at 4:30, I think. I will probably start waking up periodically at 3, wondering if it is time to get going. I have a fancy clock that has an LED projection thingy attached to it. You hit a big button and it projects the time against the ceiling. Useful for a quick check in the wee hours.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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When I moved into my current place, the African warthogs woke me up at 4:30 sharp, snorting loudly when they were fed.

I am so very, very glad they became loin in someone's kitchen!

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I have two loin of warthog.

Out of all the dinners, lunches, breakfasts, dining-outs and ins, preparations, cooking, shopping and cruising markets ad infinitum, this has to be a first.

Only on eG.

eta: Sorry, Hathor---I stepped on your post---didn't see it til after.

Something like this is worth saying twice, anyway.

Edited by racheld (log)
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I have two loin of warthog.

Out of all the dinners, lunches, breakfasts, dining-outs and ins, preparations, cooking, shopping and cruising markets ad infinitum, this has to be a first.

Only on eG.

And what about the impala? Am I the only one who caught that? Is it similar to deer at all?

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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