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eG Foodblog: GSquared - An Innkeeper in Eden


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Do any guests balk at the non-chicken-pork-beef-lamb meat offerings?

Also, are warthog and impala, for example, readily available at local markets or do you have to search out specialty shops?

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I think impala is more like antelope than deer.

Well, yes, in morphology, but I've never eaten antelope either :wink: , so I'm trying to think of what might be similar.

Though it's not as if chicken and duck are all that similar.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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Just surfacing from a work deadline to say I'm really enjoying this blog. Fascinating look at a part of the world I know almost nothing about.

I also couldn't resist commenting on this:

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...

One surprise feature of a memorable group camping weekend I once took at Kalaloch, Washington (right on the Pacific Coast, part of Olympic National Park) was a dead whale carcass just a little ways up the beach. Fortunately the prevailing winds were blowing the stink away from us, but on those brief occasions when the wind shifted and gave us a whiff--boy howdy, what a a mindbending STINK!!! A few brave souls hiked over for a closer look--I don't quite know how they managed it without passing out. :blink: I'm not sure what the park staff wound up doing with the poor critter--it was still out there when our group departed. At least our group didn't have to give up on our weekend plans, nor even relocate our camp kitchen. In fact, we had a wonderful time, in an idyllic setting (though very different terrain from your stretch of shoreline).

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

Impala is a small antelope. About the size of a Springbuck, if that helps. :biggrin:

Edited by gsquared (log)

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Do any guests balk at the non-chicken-pork-beef-lamb meat offerings?

No - to the locals it is not that exotic and for the foreign touists it is, I guess, part of experiencing a new country. I do not persists day after day with game - that would in itself get a bit boring.

Also, are warthog and impala, for example, readily available at local markets or do you have to search out specialty shops?

Some more common game such as Kudu, Impala and Springbok is fairly widely available. For others such as Eland, crocodile, warthog you need speciality suppliers.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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It is 5am. The first batch of muffins (sweet corn) is in. I think I'll make scones today. I should report that jackal10 was so upset about my inability to bake decent bread that he has offered to take me under his wing and rehabilitate me. So, all future Mes Amis guests, there may still be hope beyond muffins and scones.

If 5am is the wee hours of the morning, does that make 4:30am the wee wee hours? I'll report back after breakfast.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Loving your blog, Gerhard, just as much as I loved the first one. If it makes you feel any better it is only 9:30 pm here, time for a glass of wine!

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Loving your blog, Gerhard, just as much as I loved the first one.  If it makes you feel any better it is only 9:30 pm here, time for a glass of wine!

Thanks, Jake. No, it does not. Make me feel better, I mean :biggrin:

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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If 5am is the wee hours of the morning, does that make 4:30am the wee wee hours?

Shudder. 4:30 am is when REM sleep begins. I envy your guests, and I never ever could imagine saying: "I want warthog for brekkie!" before reading your eye-opening exotic blog. Now I do.

Your guests are lucky.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Last year, on the 1st April, I prepared two printed menus, one intended as an April fool's joke. It had, for example, as the chef's choice, "Thinly sliced Elephant testicles, pan-fried, and served with a concasse of mopanie worms, tomato and basil". About half the guests took it seriously! I'm not sure whether to repeat it this year, so I'll be grateful for suggestions.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Shudder. 4:30 am is when REM sleep begins.  I envy your guests, and I never ever could imagine saying: "I want warthog for brekkie!" before reading your eye-opening exotic blog.  Now I do. 

Your guests are lucky.

Thanks, Margaret. It is, however, I who am the lucky one.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Do any guests balk at the non-chicken-pork-beef-lamb meat offerings?

No - to the locals it is not that exotic and for the foreign touists it is, I guess, part of experiencing a new country. I do not persists day after day with game - that would in itself get a bit boring.

Also, are warthog and impala, for example, readily available at local markets or do you have to search out specialty shops?

Some more common game such as Kudu, Impala and Springbok is fairly widely available. For others such as Eland, crocodile, warthog you need speciality suppliers.

Fascinating, thanks for the answers. On a related note, I can't remember if you mentioned it in this, or in your previous blog, but are these meats from "farm-raised" animals? I think in the US that "game" animals in restaurants have to be farm-raised.

It would be definately be exciting to taste these different meats. Here, I feel slightly exotic eating rabbit or elk!

edited to add: I think the April Fool's Day menu is pretty funny; I would enjoy it if I were a guest.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Last year, on the 1st April, I prepared two printed menus, one intended as an April fool's joke. It had, for example, as the chef's choice, "Thinly sliced Elephant testicles, pan-fried, and served with a concasse of mopanie worms, tomato and basil". About half the guests took it seriously! I'm not sure whether to repeat it this year, so I'll be grateful for suggestions.

That's hysterical!! Yeah, you've got to go for it again, I think. In keeping with the warthog theme, how about warthog testicles sous vide wrapped in smoked springbok intestines?

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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This may be a good time to introduce you to my staff:

gallery_7837_2715_152497.jpg

Miki, Welda, Veronica, Margie and Patricia with Hope at the back.

We can run Mes Amis with fewer staff, but we have very strong ideas regarding our role in the community, especially given the high unemployment rate. We are not in the business to accumulate wealth. If I wanted to do that, I certainly would not be running a guest house. In any event, employing 5 ladies means that we have 4 on duty at any time given days off and so on.

Hope is the general handyman and gardener and also drives the ladies to and from work using the staff car: they all live in George, about 15Km from Wilderness. Working hours are 7am to 4pm and they work a 5 day week.

The ladies circulate though the basic tasks in the house on a fortnightly basis. The tasks are laundry, chef, housekeeping/waitress and housekeeping.

We spend 2 or 3 hours on Mondays on cooking lessons. Initially all the teaching time was spent on basics, such "All about eggs" . (I made extensive use of EGCI materials!). We moved on to more complicated things later. I have to confess that I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the teaching thing. It is immensely satisfying. All the ladies can now cook the hot breakfasts to what I think is a high standard.

Other areas that we covered in training was breakfast service, doing dry runs and rehearsals until everyone was comfortable serving the guests. Food hygiene, safety and fire drills, housekeeping, the use of chemicals in cleaning and in the laundry, computer literacy, basic accounting, controlling stock levels, stocktaking and ordering. Where required I got local experts to do the teaching. (fire procedures, for example)

All this has paid off handsomely. After the first year the staff was placed on a generous profit share scheme. We have had zero staff turnover so far. Running the guest house is just so much more fun with an entire team geared and eager to increase profitability and provide our guests with the best service we can.

As we do not serve dinner, I decided to keep a range of frozen meals in a freezer in our breakfast lounge, install a microwave and make crockery and cutlery available. The idea was that this would offer our guests an alternative to the local restaurants.. I created a brand – Five Ladies Foods, and the staff runs this as a business, providing the meals to Mes Amis on consignment.

gallery_7837_2715_1666.jpg

They cook for Five Ladies on Mondays after their Mes Amis work is done.

We developed just three meals, a beef lasagna, chicken Florentine and a lamb curry. It has proved to be a good idea and the turnover, though not brisk, is sufficient to keep the five ladies happy.

All in all I think that we have a happy business. The Artist and I are content. So is the staff. I hope.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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On a related note, I can't remember if you mentioned it in this, or in your previous blog, but are these meats from "farm-raised" animals?  I think in the US that "game" animals in restaurants have to be farm-raised.

No, these animals come from game farms where they roam wild. The supply of game meat comes mostly from culling and tophy hunting. There are very few farms that keep game only for commercial meat production, but even then the animals are kept in the wild.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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That's hysterical!!  Yeah, you've got to go for it again, I think.  In keeping with the warthog theme, how about warthog testicles sous vide wrapped in smoked springbok intestines?

Great! Thanks. On a related note, I await delivery of my circulating water bath.....

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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It sounds as if many of your guests are from Europe. Do you get many South Africans as guests as well? Many Americans? Do you take the nationality of your guests into account when you plan your menus?

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This may be a good time to introduce you to my staff:

gallery_7837_2715_152497.jpg

Miki, Welda, Veronica, Margie and Patricia with Hope at the back.

We can run Mes Amis with fewer staff, but we have very strong ideas regarding our role in the community, especially given the high unemployment rate.  We are not in the business to accumulate wealth. If I wanted to do that, I certainly would not be running a guest house. In any event, employing 5 ladies means that we have 4 on duty at any time given days off and so on.

Hope is the general handyman and gardener and also drives the ladies to and from work using the staff car: they all live in George, about 15Km from Wilderness. Working hours are 7am to 4pm and they work a 5 day week.

The ladies circulate though the basic tasks in the house on a fortnightly basis. The tasks are laundry, chef, housekeeping/waitress and housekeeping.

We spend 2 or 3 hours on Mondays on cooking lessons. Initially all the teaching time was spent on basics, such "All about eggs" . (I made extensive use of EGCI materials!). We moved on to more complicated things later. I have to confess that I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the teaching thing. It is immensely satisfying. All the ladies can now cook the hot breakfasts to what I think is a high standard.

Other areas that we covered in training was breakfast service, doing dry runs and rehearsals until everyone was comfortable serving the guests. Food hygiene, safety and fire drills, housekeeping, the use of chemicals in cleaning and in the laundry, computer literacy, basic accounting, controlling stock levels, stocktaking and ordering. Where required I got local experts to do the teaching. (fire procedures, for example)

All this has paid off handsomely. After the first year the staff was placed on a generous profit share scheme. We have had zero staff turnover so far. Running the guest house is just so much more fun with an entire team geared and eager to increase profitability and provide our guests with the best service we can.

As we do not serve dinner, I decided to keep a range of frozen meals in a freezer in our breakfast lounge, install a microwave and make crockery and cutlery available. The idea was that this would offer our guests an alternative to the local restaurants.. I created a brand – Five Ladies Foods, and the staff runs this as a business, providing the meals to Mes Amis on consignment.

gallery_7837_2715_1666.jpg

They cook for Five Ladies on Mondays after their Mes Amis work is done.

We developed just three meals, a beef lasagna, chicken Florentine and a lamb curry. It has proved to be a good idea and the turnover, though not brisk, is sufficient to keep the five ladies happy.

All in all I think that we have a happy business. The Artist and I are content. So is the staff. I hope.

Your care for those around you is obvious, especially in how you treat the staff. It's impressive and heartening to find someone who works so hard to help better those around them. I'm sure your staff is more than content as well!

Kathy

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

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It sounds as if many of your guests are from Europe. Do you get many South Africans as guests as well? Many Americans? 

The split is:

61% South African

13.6% German

7.8% UK

2.8% Switzerland

2.1% Holland

1.5% Begium

1.4% U.S.A.

1% Canada

1% Sweden

The rest under 1%

Do you take the nationality of your guests into account when you plan your menus?

No, the only consideration is to cater for dietary requirements - gluten intolerance, religious requirements, vegans and so on. It is obviously not possible to cater for all cases - I cannot deal with Kashrut, for example, but in most cases I can create a menu specifically for a guest with special requirements.

I am careful, though, not to use quotes that poke fun at a nationality. If people from that county ar in the house.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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Last year, on the 1st April, I prepared two printed menus, one intended as an April fool's joke. It had, for example, as the chef's choice, "Thinly sliced Elephant testicles, pan-fried, and served with a concasse of mopanie worms, tomato and basil". About half the guests took it seriously! I'm not sure whether to repeat it this year, so I'll be grateful for suggestions.

Greetings from the far side of the Commonwealth, Gerhard.

Innkeeper's Monthly suggests that these April 1st dishes are "guaranteed to ensure repeat trade". I've taken the liberty of suggesting some local twists:

• Blackened Group (in the style of Basil Fawlty) - a certifiable morning classic and nifty homage to the iconic innkeeper

• Regional Haggis complemented with Mrs. H. S. Ball's

• Seasonal Meat Leathers with Wilderness Sea Foam

• Neap Tide Chef's Surprise - today only: Fermented Whale

• Sandbars

• Pickled Guest (Yup - thank the honour bar)

• Braised Limb of Strandloper

I too am not much of a baker; best left to people who measure and that sort of thing.

But here's a recipe for Gloria's Irish Soda Bread [photos on Post 80] well-suited to the morning meal. Even I haven't figured out how to make a complete bollocks of it quite yet:

In a large mixing bowl, combine

5 cups graham flour

2 cups white flour

½ cup wheat germ

½ cup sugar

5 tsp baking soda

5 tsp salt

1 litre buttermilk

Up to half ½ litre milk

Blend dry ingredients thoroughly.

Add buttermilk and mix with a rubber spatula, adding additional milk until dry spots have disappeared and dough takes on a mud-like consistency.

Add dates or other dried fruit such as cranberries or currants to one loaf.

Place dough in loaf in lightly buttered loaf pans.

Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Bake for 65 minutes in a convected oven, about 10 minutes longer in a standard oven, or until a wooden skewer comes out cleanly.

Cool on a wire rack for one hour.

Makes two loaves and great toast.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I've taken the liberty of suggesting some local twists:

Thanks Jamie. I like this approach - no possibility of it being taken seriously!

But here's a recipe for Gloria's Irish Soda Bread [photos on Post 80] well-suited to the morning meal. Even I haven't figured out how to make a complete bollocks of it quite yet:

Into the file straightaway. Thanks.

Edited by gsquared (log)

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

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I've taken the liberty of suggesting some local twists:

Thanks Jamie. I like this approach - no possibility of it being taken seriously!

But here's a recipe for Gloria's Irish Soda Bread [photos on Post 80] well-suited to the morning meal. Even I haven't figured out how to make a complete bollocks of it quite yet:

Into the file straightaway. Thanks.

No worries - I haven't been taken seriously since I was three. Looking forward to the printed version - and the reaction of the combined 2% of Swedes and Canadians attending breakfast. Better add a starter of Wors'doeuvres, though.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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