Month: June 2012

One night in Bangkok…

Here’s me blogging from the lounge!

Gee, I’m so happy to be back in the world’s friendliest country!  This trip has been a bit different so far from my normal shopping and sight seeing, because I have been mainly working.

The Royal Thai Embassy arranged my visit to Bangkok so that I could attend Bangkok Fashion Week and spend some time at the world famous Blue Elephant Cooking School.  Louis Wattana from the Thai Embassy in South Africa also arranged that I stay at the Amari Watergate Hotel which has proven to be an absolute bonus for a business trip.

Even by Thai standards the Amari staff are particularly friendly and courteous.  Our executive room is fabulous with the best bed I have slept on for many years.  I have had one or two organisational issues on this trip which have been smoothly resolved by Amari – the general manager and resident manager have always been available to give help when necessary.

I am currently blogging from the Executive Lounge sipping on a free Mai Tai and nibbling on a complimentary snack platter (from 5 – 7pm every day!) from the buffet which includes smoked salmon, spare ribs, crispy roast duck and spicy chick peas – happy hour has become ecstatic hour!!!

The selection for those with a sweet tooth!

The ultimate biscuit collection!

A great start to my evening – delicious thinly sliced smoked salmon

Exotic watermelon and dragon fruit tartlets at the Amari Watergate Executive Lounge

I think its time to get my dress pressed for Bangkok Fashion Show tomorrow but hang on… comes my next Mai Tai!

Sadly, tomorrow is our last day in Bangkok but I feel quite cheerful because on Thursday we kick off the second leg of this trip at the Amari Palm Reef in Koh Samui.

The Day Enrique Came To Town

Some of the delicious dishes at the Superspar

Some of the delicious dishes at Broadacres Superspar

I have been a guest chef at the Hobart and Broadacres Superspar for the last few months.  Both these stores have kept me on my toes – in fact, it’s actually the customers who keep me busy.  The demand for home cooked convenience meals has been growing.  During the Winter months there is a spike in the demand for comfort food. Soups, Hot Pots and Casseroles and yes, you guessed it….CURRIES!


The Curry Me Home Display at Broadacres Superspar

Chicken with baby spinach, Brinjal in Coconut Sauce (Mrs Tarr’s favourite), Coconut and curry leaf lamb and Mediterranean chicken casserole are just some of the dishes I have been preparing at the hot counter.  The customers have been enthusiastic and adventurous about the new meals and often talk about how much easier it is to pick up a meal rather than cook.  A lady popped in last week to pick up Pumpkin Pie (this is a speciality at both Broadacres and Hobart) that she was taking to Cape Town.

Loving the Spar’s Freshline baby spinach – All washed and ready to go!

My cooking stint last week coincided with the Spar International visit.  There were around 300 delegates from all over the world that visited the Broadacres Superspar.  I was gob smacked – I had absolutely no idea that there were Spar stores in so many different countries.  We watched as they wandered around the store staring at name badges…there were visitors from Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Austria – the list does go on.

The chicken breyani was simmering gently in my largest AMC electric pot.  If I could compare this pot to a 4 x 4, I would say that its not like having an ordinary one – Its like having a top of the range Porsche Cayenne!  This 40cm Magnum AMC pot always saves the day!  In the pot world it says “I have arrived!”  The chicken with baby spinach was cooked in time and the delicious spicy aromas wafted throughout the store.  The one thing that always stands out about these two Superspars is that it attracts the ‘gourmet customers’.  Broadacres Spar is an institution – just when boerewors got boring, they came up with the red wine, chilli and garlic wors.  That earned the Spar a big gold Yudhika star!  It is by far the best ‘blow your socks off’ boerie I have ever tasted.  Since the breyani was a new dish we handed out little tasters garnished with crispy onions and coriander.

The pot of all pots – My AMC Magnum

The last bus pulled in outside the Spar.  There were a few quiet whispers and a few ladies remarked that the Spanish visitors had arrived.  A lady at the counter said, ‘Off all the days!  Off all the days, today is the day I am shopping in my gym clothes!’

Can you imagine a bus load of handsome, well dressed men who look like Enrique Iglesias??? One or two Enrique lookalikes would be challenging but a bus load of them was just more that most girls could handle!  They toured the store turning heads everywhere they went.  Boy, I wish I had made a “Pull Out All The Stops Paella’ that day.  I handed out Chicken Breyani tasters instead.  I don’t know if they could sing – but that was the last of my worries!

My advice to the single ladies out there is, “Maybe you should book your next holiday to Spain and check out the ‘historical sites’ and soak up some Spanish culture.”

Enough about the Spaniards – the Breyani never made it to the hot counter.  We sold out in half an hour with the Broadacres customers ordering mainly large portions.



Reggie Naidoo’s 80th Birthday Bash

Sharmini, Yudhika, Quereshni and Dris

I was recently asked to host a Curry Club dinner by Sharmini Brooks.  I met Sharmini about a year ago when she accompanied her sister to a dinner I hosted.  They were both guests of my good friend, make up artist and stylist extroadinaire, Hester Magson.  I simply adore Hest and she has an amazing ability to make her subjects look like movie stars on their worst days.  She is a real gem who puts up with me in my most foul moods and spruces up my hair when I have been hovering over a stock pot.

Hester at the Curry Line Up

Sharmini had been trying for a while to set a date for a special party for her Dad’s 80th birthday.  As soon as a gap opened in my diary, we picked a day and planned a menu for the special occasion.  Reggie Naidoo turned 80 a few months ago but his daughters Sharmini, Que and Dris felt that he should have a year full of celebrations rather than just a day!

Yudhika serves up the curries

I obviously love entertaining and curry clubs are just my favourite parties.  The guests usually wander around and some of them always seem to end up in the heart of my home which is the kitchen.  They pop in for a chat, ask questions and are happy to just watch the meals being prepared.  Reggie and his wife, Suzie are both vegetarians and this called for some extra special preparations. Potato rolls and samoosas were served as starters.  There were seven robust curries served for mains, catering for both vegetarians and carnivores such as myself.  Traditional Lamb Curry, Thai Green Prawns, Chicken Curry, Brinjal in Coconut Sauce, Chickpeas and Spinach, Bombay Potatoes and Tadka Dhal were the perfect choices for a cold evening.  The curries were served with Basmati Rice, Minty Yoghurt Raita and Sambals.  A feather light chocolate sponge was served for dessert with a delicious warm Belgian Ganache.

The happy vegetarians

When some of the guests arrived I had just fired up the Bombay Potatoes in a large AMC electric cooker – potatoes always need to be served piping hot and immediately after they are cooked through.  Dris set up a projector and Que took us through some memorable highlights from Reggie’s life.  What a wonderful celebration it turned out to be – happy, warm and friendly.  Far too often, birthdays end up being  admin intensive with most of the focus on a gift.  This was not the case with Reggie’s birthday – this was a celebration of decades of life and love and achievements.

Firing up the Bombay Potatoes in the AMC cooker

Being a part of this celebration made me wonder about a few things, particularly since I am something of a loner that grew up without many friends or a close knit family.  We seem to live in a world where children grow up and almost disown their parents – this was certainly not the case with Reggie and his family.  I wondered if my kids would throw me a party when I turned 80!

After the party, I thought about how many things I had missed out on as a kid, and I thought how important it is for parents to not end up with regrets about missed opportunities with their own children. So for anybody reading this – go and build some happy memories with your kids right now!