I just thought I must share my master class cooking lesson with you I had with Neill. When I found out he's a chef, I knew this was only going to end well. When we finally agreed to put in some effort to make everything happen, I decided to make the most of it. The idea was a cooking lesson with a few friends, initially, but then we wanted Neill to work his magic in a really stunning kitchen. Mine just doesn't cut it. Then SA model and business woman, Tanya Fourie, was kind enough to let us use her absolutely gorgeous villa, Kia Ora (which means 'be well/ healthy) for the evening. Breathtaking, eh?
Then we invited some cool guests over, but it was hard deciding who, because we could only be eight to keep it intimate and prevent a huge party from happening. Neill and I were joined by one of my best friends, and fellow-blogger, Johlene; radio presenter, Evox Cape Town and South African Blog Awards owner and sports enthusiast, JP Naude; brand activation manager at Kfm, Denver Apollus (he's becoming quite a regular on my blog); Kfm presenter, Theo Esau; 7de Laan actress, Sulette Winterbach and her boyfriend, Jaco van Wyk, who does the marketing and communications of the Boland Rugby website.
Neill starts with all the preparations before the guests arrive.
Once everyone arrived, we started off with champagne, sponsored by Villiera Wines, while waiting in anticipation for Neill to start with our lesson. I must admit, the only thing I really paid attention to, was how to make basil pesto from scratch. I stepped out of the kitchen for a short while to have champagne and mingle, and when I got back, everything was ready. Sorry Neill, but at least I grated some cheese.
Starters: homemade linguini, basil pesto, shaved parmesan and herbed ricotta. This was my favourite dish! The ricotta just complimented the basil pesto and when I added some chili oil, it just tied everything together so deliciously. I loved this dish so much, that I attempted it the next night again. Ok, so I didn't make everything from scratch, but I felt creative and added baby-marrows and chicken fillets to mine. From starters to mains in no time!
Neill, me and Sulette, hard at work.
And I am still grating cheese!
Keeping the guests entertained!
Yes, Theo, that is the cheese I finally managed to finish grating!
Neill, how come you gave me all the crap jobs? Huh?
Neill brought Hello Kitty plasters. He's forgiven.
Sulette helped make the basil pesto and couldn't wait to try it!
Neill and Johlene
Neill dishing up. Oh now I'm hungry all over again!
Mains: smoked chili braised leg of Karoo lamb, spiced white bean cassoulet, salted cucumber salad with cumin camoulla. The bean cassoulet and lamb topped with the cucumber salad worked so well together! The meat was so soft and absolutely great-tasting. Aah, I have to stop talking now.
Checking up on Neill as he dishes the bean cassoulet. Biggest beans I have ever seen!
The bean cassoulet. Mmm!
The Karoo lamb placed on top of the cassoulet.
Topped with salted cucumber. It doesn't taste salty. More pickled. And it's amazing how these three completely different flavours just perfectly compliment each other. Well done Neill.
After dinner I chilled with JP. Awesome guy and (almost) talks as much as I do.
Dessert: Caramelised peaches, coconut dust, crème freshe, hazelnut espuma.
Denver watches as dessert's being prepped...
... while the girls explore and appreciate this, beautiful, all white, villa! Kia Ora will definitely be my villa of choice for my next romantic getaway or girls weekend. Ooh, that's an idea!
Before we knew it, the evening was over. Not only have we had the most wonderful eating experience, but we made new friends, spent time in Kia Ora, had loads of wine and champagne, but we also left with a few cooking tips and completely stuffed.
Neill Anthony - Thank you so much for the wonderful evening and for spoiling us with your talents and cooking skills! It was the best food I have tasted in a long time. I especially loved that you paid attention when I said how much I love basil pesto and chili, and worked it into the menu. Thanks for the lesson and for answering all our weird questions.
Now, people, if you don't know this about Neill, he has worked with Gordon Ramsey and has cooked for big names, such as U2, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, The Beckhams, Elton John and Paul McCartney.
Tanya Fourie - A special thanks to you for allowing us to use your magnificent villa, Kia Ora. It truly is beautiful and all the guests loved it!
Thank you Villiera for the champagne! It went down really well with the cuisine!
Then another big thank you to Johlene who helped with all the arrangements! You have been a big help. Thanks to JP, Sulette, Jaco, Theo and Denver for the wonderful evening. Again soon!
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