Our latest issue #90, is our country issue, so we head to Barrydale, a village located on the border of the Overberg and Klein Karoo.Named after James Barry, it is situated at the northern end of the Tradouw’s pass which winds its way through the mountains to Swellendam.
In our increasingly competitive and fast-paced lives, more and more becomes available to us, and more is expected of us.Each day brings with it encounters with new places, people,technologies and information. In spite of this constant flux, or perhaps because of it, we find ourselves gravitating towards simplicity. We gently lean towards our kinfolk, and seek out peaceful towns in the countryside where we can break bread together.
It is towns like Barrydale, on the famed R62, that we can find this breed of geselskap. Perhaps it lies in the poignant Karoo skyline, often in a good locally pie, or a friendly smile. It resides in a style of living that compels you to look to your garden for dinner, to look to your neighbour for a giggle, to your sewing machine, easel, workshop or recipe book for entertainment. It is here, in the humble ingredients of country living, that we find revitalization, so that we may carry on.
This does not for a second mean that life is rustig all the time though, in fact, quite the opposite.There is plenty of work to be done, albeit fun to be had.
There is spring water to be collected, olive groves to be tended to, mountain pools to be swum in, and pickles to be made. Simple meals easily turn into feasts, where extra chairs are squeezed onto the stoep, more bone-handled cutlery is hauled out, and yet another bottle of Barrydale’s famous brandy is uncorked.
We recently discovered this neat trick… use Iwisa Maize Rice instead of Arborio rice. Just cook it in the style of Risotto, and you have yourself the most delicious African version.
1.1 litres organic stock, chicken, fish or vegetable as appropriate
1 small knob of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ head celery, finely chopped
400 g Iwisa Maize Rice
2 wineglasses dry white vermouth or dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper
1 knob of butter
2 Punnets of wild mushrooms
Heat the stock. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
And then it gets really simple: just keep stirring and adding the wine and then the stock. Add a pinch of salt here and there and keep adding ladlefuls of stock. Keep trying the rice, when cooked, remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect ‘risotto’.
Fry up some wild mushrooms,either freshly picked or freshly bought(Woolworths always have a fantastic selection.)
2 cups of crustless stale bread, broken into pieces
2 cups of home-made vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup slivered blanched almonds (must be blanched, the skins are bitter)
2 cups green seedless grapes, sliced in half
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1-3 chopped garlic cloves (depending on how garlicky you want the result to be)
2-3 Tbsp sherry vinegar or cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Heat the stock until it’s steamy. Turn off the heat and add to the stock the broken up pieces of stale bread. Let cool.
Put the almonds, salt and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are pulverized. Add the soaked bread and any stock that was not absorbed by the bread into the food processor, then add the grapes and cucumbers. Pulse until the mixture is a rough purée.
Add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and pulse a few seconds to combine. Taste and add the other tablespoon if it needs it – grapes can sometimes be acidic enough to leave out the final tablespoon of vinegar.
With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Turn off the motor and taste the gazpacho. Add more salt if needed.
Serves 6-8 people.
Best served with…
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup cold club soda
1 tablespoon cold water
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 bunch of sage (about 24 leaves), stems trimmed
In a medium bowl, mix the flour,1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Whisk in the club soda and cold water. Let the batter rest for 20 minutes.
Heat the oil in a small skillet just until shimmering. Holding each sage leaf by the stem, dip it into the batter to coat both sides. Add to the oil and fry over moderately high heat until lightly golden, about 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
2 1/2 cups hulled strawberries
1 bottle [750ml] dry Riesling
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Keep 1 cup of the Riesling aside in the fridge to chill.
In a food processor, puree strawberries with the remaining wine, lime juice and sugar. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. When you’re ready to serve [or drink], puree the ice cubes with the remaining wine in your blender.
After our long and lazy lunch,the matriarch in our group read to us from Pauline Smith’s The Little Karoo.
All the images were taken by Julia Merret, an exciting South African Photographer with an exceptional eye and a talent to capture all manner of things.
Article and production by Bielle Ross.