Krung Thep, Noosaville QLD

First I must apologise for the extended “dead air”. You know when life runs away from you? Well, it’s been 2 of those months.  Busy, but good months.

I’ve completed another unit of my Master’s in Gastronomic Tourism and indulged in many more experiences to share with you.

First up, the Sunshine Coast. For the past seven years one of my favourite places to eat in Noosaville has been and still is Krung Thep.NoosavilleIt’s a peaceful little walk along the river from our usual well-appointed and exceptionally managed accommodation at Noosaville Outrigger; and gives us everything that keeps us going back. Authentic Thai food, great service,  good value, an adequate wine list and the option of BYO if you want something a little extraordinary.

DuckI have tried everything from the fish cakes, spring rolls and curry puffs and Tom Yum soup to red duck curry (a favourite), chilli basil beef and jungle curry chicken. You guessed it, I like it hot.  So I was very happy with the addition of a hot and spicy duck stir-fry to the menu on our last visit a few weeks ago.  If you love duck, crispy stir-fried vegetables and a hot and sour kick without too much sweet, or are not in the mood for coconut milk, then this is for you.  Keep your wine handy though.  It packs a neat little punch.

ChickenIf your palate is milder, you wouldn’t be sorry for the sweet and sour chicken. A little more Chinese than Thai, but still with a smattering of coriander and white pepper to remind you where you are.

SatayFor a mid-ships spice hit without the in-your-face heat, the spicy rice served with the (also new) satay chicken main is perfection.

If you’re brave – and I mean very brave – and love a perfectly balanced super-hot, salty, sour and subtly sweet, tender chilli basil beef stirfry, follow in my husband’s footsteps and don’t waste your time with anything else … ever.  He’s never been disappointed and neither have I (being as the poor man never gets to eat anything without me tasting it).Beef


South Africa’s Wild

9 Africa Backyard
Apologies for the silence over the past few weeks, but we’ve been playing in Africa’s back yard. This blog (and the destination) is a bit off the beaten track but it’s worthy of the deviation.

1 CosmosSix weeks ago we flew into Johannesburg and drove from there to Kruger Park. The Highveld this time of year is resplendent with cosmos-fringed golden wheat. The countryside is flat and pockmarked with powerlines, African huts and tin shanties.

2 StreamTwo hours into the drive the terrain starts changing and the veld gives way to hills, rocky outcrops and glistening silver streams. This is the lowveld – rugged and wildly beautiful. Another two hours and the hills stretch out again and the sun lights up the scrub in a hazy mirage.

3 LeopardWe entered the park through Malelane gate to the south and half an hour into the bush saw our first (and last) leopard. Very fortunate, as leopards are solitary cats and spotting them (pardon the pun) takes a very good eye and a lot of luck.

Three weeks before our trip the park was given a proper soaking – 5 Baby Baboonnature’s green light for baby-dropping. From 7 elephantshyena pups, zebra foals and elephant calves  to suckling monkeys and baby baboons – we saw them all.

Dense, rain-sodden bush is not ideal for game viewing, but the abundance of 6 Lionsucculent vegetation and  flowing water works its way up the food chain and fills the pantry. Just as well too, when you’re up close and personal in an open Land Rover with a sated old lion.

The rhino, giraffe and Impala were so prolific we stopped counting. We saw close to 300 buffalo grazing and drinking on the other side of a very full river. Magnificent, IMG_2042really rather silly-looking beasts – though only marginally less stupid than the wildebeest. IMG_1664Mind you, the sight of millions of them migrating over the Serengeti I’m sure must command the utmost respect.

8 Lower Sabie SunsetOf course I can’t write about Kruger without telling you a little about what’s on the menu for us two-legged creatures. 10 hipposThere is nothing like a bit of biltong, a fine Cape chardonnay and the sound of the hippos guffawing as the sun dips behind river.

IMG_1128Ditto a good slab of beef cooked on an open fire (braai). Pair it with a slow-cooked, very South African “pap en sous” (maize-based type of savoury porridge with chilli, tomato and onion sauce) and you’ll know what I mean. There is no gourmet fare in the park and if there was, it would only wreck the joy of so much of what we go there for – the simplicity of cooking over a flame, under the stars – just the crackle of wood and distant roar of lions cutting through the silence.

This is God’s country and if you don’t believe me, one look at the gold dust He sprinkles over this wild land at sunset should convince you.