May 18, 2011

Weekend at African Relish with Roxy Floquet

Gosh, where do i begin...
I suppose that i should begin with the town of Prince Albert, where this wonderful weekend took place.  Quaint, quiet, characterful.  A peaceful village at the foot of the Swartberg Pass, population approximately 10 000, but when you drive or walk around, it feels closer to 1000!  There are plenty of gorgeous little antique shops, coffee shops and restaurants that i wish that i had had the time to explore and try out.

African Relish is a recreational cooking school, which offers set courses and culinary tours lead by a medley of renowned chefs from SA and abroad.  If you have even the slightest hankering to learn more about spices, meat, sauces or bread-baking; i can strongly recommend that you spoil yourself with a weekend in Prince Albert.  African Relish also boasts an enchanting restaurant where you can enjoy meals made with love, creativity and bags of fun.  

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by our hosts, the lovely Virna and gracious Jeremy.  African Relish have a few little cottages that they use to accommodate their guests attending the culinary weekends.  What a pleasant surprise we had when Virna showed us to our cottage, Akkedis!!  Tanya and i wandered around our spacious quarters for a lengthy time oohing and aahing at the luxurious furnishings and precious details before we unpacked our bags.  

To recharge our batteries after the 4 hour journey, we enjoyed a pot of tea out on the stoep, allowing the tranquility of the Little Karoo to take the place of the stress and strain of everyday life.

Now, to get to the reason why 10 ladies from various reaches of the country drove all the way to Prince Albert.  For this weekend, African Relish was hosting the very talented Roxanne Floquet and her sister Debbie to teach us about cake baking and decorating.  And WOW, did they teach us.  I gleaned so much knowledge and inspiration from this weekend!  
This is one of the nine different cakes that Roxy made to show us all the different  techniques that one can use to decorate cakes. We each got to take a gorgeous little cake home to share with our loved ones!

The beautiful petits fours (fondant fancies) that Roxy showed us how to make.  They are as yummy as they look!

Day 1: how to bake sugar biscuits and decorate them.
Day 2: Two comprehensive sessions on sugar craft (we learnt how to make roses, hydrangeas and various other beautiful blooms using sugar paste), and creatively decorating cakes using different piping techniques and the hand-made sugar flowers.
Day 3:  How to make neat-as-a-pin petits fours (or fondant fancies) and decorate them.

I not only gained an exciting array of new skills and techniques, i was inspired by Roxanne's creativity and perfectionism.  After a long, sometimes hard, wedding season, i feel rejuvenated and full of enthusiasm to get creatively cracking in my kitchen!!

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