Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventure

A dark, wet world with a power outage after a couple of days of water pouring from the skies. A tad bit more red wine than necessary, to accompany the Boeuf bourguignon. Prince, bouncing off the walls.

Beach walk. Sun doing its best to heat the snow wind from the mountains. Not enough to stop frozen feet and hands. The hot-water bottles at East Head welcome after our run and toe-testing dip into the sea. Much too cold for me.

‘Family Outing’ finally finished. Grateful for the extra paint supplies that eased the constraints of my acrylic paint options.

‘Côte de Boeuf’. A monster – first – experimental dish for the Kamado Jan. As advised, I let the steaks sit for two hours to reach room temperature before starting the ‘Reverse Searing’. Which is basically doing a slow cure (based on 4min per 100gram of the largest piece of meat) at 150 degrees.

I struggled to get the temperature down, having added too much charcoal initially. The heavy bone of the cut, rescuing me, as I did the initial cook, bone side down over the high rack position.

The meat then rested for an hour before winding the Kamado Jan up to its steak searing 400 degrees temperature. The rested steaks, seared for 4 minutes on each side, plus an additional 4 minutes, or so, to render the fat.

At the high temperatures care needs to be taken to prevent combustion and that ‘charcoal’ state. Having Coreta watching the meat, a necessity, as the high temperatures also evaporated the wine in our glasses.

The grilled hunks of steak were rested off the grill for the ten minutes it took to cook the green beans. The steaks were separated from the bone and cut into slices. Bones, then grilled for an additional ten minutes, adding that last ‘curtain call’.

Sweet potato gratin. 2011 Grace Land and Black Rock, special on their own. With the Côte, spectacular.

Dad on a surprise visit for his 85th birthday. Very special.

September, ‘10-mile’ challenge, with the sunrise. Something conjured from nowhere definitive, on a beautiful early summer morning. Long time since I have run that far. That easily. That quickly.

Diary of an Adventure

Calitzdorp Cycle Adventure

First time I have spent so long on a bicycle, with three days of cycling into the red mountains. Groenfontein. Kruisrivier and Seweweekspoort.

Beautifully restored houses from the days of the Ostrich Barron’s. Blue skies. Green valleys. Dust. Gut wrenching climbs. Legs turned to mush. Bruised bum. Exhilarating decents. Demanding terrain that challenged yet left you excited for the next day.

Soeterus guest farm. Roaring fire under the stars. Space for Prince to run. Warm showers. Comfortable beds. Breakfasts to fuel the starving and close enough to the wine cellars of Boplaas and De Kraans, an incentive at days end.

A new technique for cooking fillet from Coreta. 80 degrees for 4 min per 100 grams of the largest fillet. Stand for an hour. Then cooked over a hot fire for ten minutes, turning continuously. Delicious.

Terry, Coreta and Clair, with careful menu planning, ensured that my blood sugars over the demanding days didn’t spiral out of control. A touch of hyperglycemia as I waited too long before refueling with blueberries. Particularly on the afternoon rides when my sugar levels seem to fall quicker. Carrot cake very tempting!

Blood sugars

Day 1

Before ride 6,7 mmol/L (target 4 – 7.8 mmol/L)

After 47,9 km 3,8 (2h 11m)

2 hour after ride 5,3

Daily carbs 31 grams

Day 2

Before ride 4,8 mmol/L (target 4 – 7.8 mmol/L)

After 32 km 4,1

After 64 km 4,3 (3h 18m)

1 hour after ride 6,4

2 hour after ride 4,4

Daily carbs 30grams

Day 3

Before ride 4,9 mmol/L (target 4 – 7.8 mmol/L)

After 22 km 4,1

After 42 km 5,4 (2h 17m)

1 hour after ride 5,2

Daily carbs 30grams

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

First ‘Wearable Art’ 100% silk scarves with my paintings sold and heading to new homes. Orders for the next batch received with a few adjustments made to the art work. ‘Irises’ design painting finished, adding an additional option to the range. Working on an elephant painting that is also designed to be used as a scarf painting. The link to the website sorted and the international purchase pricing adjusted to include free shipping.

https://janraats.com/wearable-art/

Running with my shadow in the early morning before the storm made being in front of the fire the more sensible option. Getting Prince out that much more challenging, as he didn’t see the need to move from his warm bed before the birds were awake.

The painting of ‘Irises’, a simple, abstract approach. Colours clean and vibrant. The long rectangular format, challenging. Working in acrylics allowing for a fast application of paint. The course canvas trashing a couple of layers of skin on my fingers.

Bicycle cleaned, ready for the 3 day Karoo Tour in Calitzdorp. First, birthday weekend lies ahead. One of those life milestones.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

The sample silk scarves of my ‘Wearable Art’ have arrived. Quality much better than expected and the colour saturation extraordinary. Perhaps a tad too much.

Not sure where the ‘edge’ is between a cycle that allows one to enjoy the waves, sunshine and incredible privilege of being in this part of paradise, and the blood-pumping, muscle straining, ambition to go that slight bit faster that has sweat streaming into eyes. An oblivious focus on numbers. A bit of both??

Sautéed foie-gras. Generally, I find foie gras too rich, however this slightly seared way of serving slices was delicious. As was our dinner at Le Marquis. The calamari tube starter was stunning. I might even get to like the stuff! The house speciality, duck confit lived up to its reputation, even if the cranberry sauce was too much for my diabetic constraints. Remy brought the table a duck breast in Lagrange that I hope finds its way into the menu, as it was outstanding.

Nothing Impressionistic about the top 40 Sanlam Portrait Award exhibition. I actually preferred the other portraits in the gallery to those of the competition. The quality, particularly of the draughtsmanship in the charcoal works was outstanding, and in general the exhibition wasn’t morbid or soul stealing, but rather well executed portraits. I didn’t come away inspired or with new techniques, or radical insights into composition. Grateful that the exhibition has been in Knysna, uplifting portrait painting.

Long narrow canvas (200cmx70cm) for a painting of irises based in a couple of the iris paintings I have done and the wild irises that are flowering along the route we walk Prince. Acrylics, for a minimalist, sketch style that I’m also hoping will work well as a silk scarf painting.

Hot off the easel

Oil on canvas 20cmx20cm

Sautéed Foie Gras Recipie

Sautéeing duck foie gras is not hard to do, but be careful; otherwise, you’ll end up with a puddle of very expensive melted fat.

INGREDIENTS

• 1/2 lb piece raw Grade A duck foie gras at room temperature, cleaned and deveined

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 2 tsp canola oil

• 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

. Special Equipment

• a 10-inch heavy skillet

PREPARATION

. After deveining, cut the foie gras crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces, then season with salt and pepper.

. Heat 1 teaspoon of the canola oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.

. Sauté half the foie gras until golden, 45 to 60 seconds on each side (it will be pink inside). Quickly transfer to a paper towel to drain and discard fat in skillet.

. Sauté the rest of the foie gras the same way, then discard all all but 1 tablespoon of remaining fat in skillet. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Serve foie gras with sauce.

. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/v

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

We are adding a range of 100% silk scarves to the items available in the studio. Taking some of my favourite paintings onto silk. ‘Wearable Art’.

A bit of a learning curve. Habotai, Silk Twill, CDC, Satin Silk, 8, 12 or 14mm weight. Square or rectangular. Social responsibility standards, under ISO9001 and ISO14001. Image size and borders. Hope to get the first samples in a month or so.

That I’m also reading ‘Mulberry Bush’, about the ‘silk-worm’ farmers in the Knysna Forest serendipitous.

Didn’t think I would ever be chasing around the place looking for salad greens! A bunch of pretty looking organic type things that were pretty good tasting. For green stuff anyway. Or maybe, it was the Slovenian pumpkin oil CC brought back for us to try? Nutty flavors that worked well with the courget soup.

Phantom ride with the sunset and a jog with the last of the moonlight. Summer already on its way as the mornings are full of bird song and it’s getting light earlier.

On the easel, ‘Girl Power’, the young girl hurtling around Nieu-Bethesda, is taking shape. My head at odds with where the painting seems to be going. A life of its own.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Didn’t do a great job of the baby chickens on the Weber. Not crisp enough and probably needed another half an hour. Annoying, as they were delicious. Fresh spring rolls as a starter, with salad, sweet potato gratin and a bunch of cheese to help with that last glass of wine.

In the forest, tracks weaving between the trees, testing the limits of my balance and coordination. No blood, which is itself remarkable. Only one steep bit in the wrong gear that had me walking after overbalancing in the sand. A tad undignified.

‘Horsing Around’, oil on canvas 76cmx102cm. My reference photos, taken outside ‘Dustcovers’, the fabulous bookshop in Nieu-Bethesda. I pushed the painting hard to bring out the youthful, movement, so full of vigour, of the horse and rider. Using dashes of paint whenever I felt the painting was heading too far down the reality slope. The two figures in the background, to give perspective, also smudged into obedience.

Keeping an 18 month old Border Collie quiet is no easy task. Prince managed to damage his eye playing and needed eye drops to clear the infection. An hourly and two hourly regime that had us all exhausted.

Soft jazz, sunshine, wine and friends. Fabulous anywhere. Next to the water, with the Heads as a backdrop. Spectacular.

Core muscles feeling bruised and battered. Cycling in the forest, or the tension of watching the TDF??

Visited the rejuvenated ‘Art Cafe’ at the Old Gaol complex and to spend time amongst the paintings of the current exhibition ‘African Wealth’. Fabulous works of Sudan by Susi Rood and fascinating urban African portraits by Thanduxolo Ma-awu.

https://www.knysnaplettherald.com/News/Article/General/knysna-art-society-in-new-location-201807251043

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Angel shadows and sunbeams, the Nieu Bethesda scene in my head for the canvas in the studio. An underpainting of Naples yellow. The softer tones indicative of the calmness of this small town, with the sculptural elements, and sunbeam floor polish, of the ‘Owl House’ in the shadows.

Yachts and whales at sea on a sparkling day after a run to East Head Cafe. Renoir? My ‘funky pants’ their own craziness.

Marinated crottin served with a glass of Balia Pinot Noir, followed by a chorizo chicken dish with Le Bonheur Prima and a hint of Ile de Pain campagna. Coreta’s menu to distract us from the rugby.

Shaken, bruised, rattled. A bit of blood and mud. Contours, with a touch of single-track through the Forest, to emphasize how unprepared I would be if I was racing in the Oyster Festival. Fortunately, the studio keeping me away from being too silly.

TripAdvisor Review

Excellent artist

*****

‘Visitors to Knysna should not miss visiting this studio on Thesen Island. Truly a great artist and a master at it.’

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

SOLD

‘The Yard’

Oil on canvas 100cmx80cm

Rolling the pork belly, with pesto and a butterflied pork fillet to prepare the Porchetta is a messy business. I managed to make an ever bigger mess of the Weber fire, which meant only half of it was ready. Not nearly hot enough to cook the thick roll of pork. It did do a bit of the skin crisping before the oven came to the rescue. A bunch of wine while we waited the extra hour for it to cook.

Forgot the anti-chafing cream. That extra, last, glass of wine, probably didn’t help. Neither did the, failed, rescue attempt of the storm trapped bird in the midnight hours.

Puddles after the rain. Sock dye. Black nails. Heart rate marginally elevated. 12km easy fun alongside the estuary with the rising sun

Discussing composition, tone and the use of technology to untangle the frustration when a painting isn’t working. Art teacher looking for inspiration and assistance for his art class heading into a new semester.

Spectacular sunrise. Skirting the magical forest at Bibby’s Hoek. Tearing down sharp descents, powering up the steep inclines. Or at least until my legs faded. Body bounced into jelly.

‘Blue House’, an acrylic and marker pen illustration on paper of one of the houses in old town Hoi-An, Vietnam. The blue startling amongst the yellow which dominates the town.

Rain. Diabetic sensitive bobotie from Coreta’s kitchen. Three Graces, oozing grape berries. Prince squirming himself into the contours of the sofa.

‘Monochromatic’ exhibition at the old jail complex gallery. A couple of amazing works amongst the conservative. My painting ‘Boudoir Study 2’, fabulously positioned.

Porchetta

Like many traditional Italian foods, porchetta is prepared differently from region to region but is generally defined as a dish of boneless roast pork stuffed with filling and then rolled and roasted, usually over wood. In the town of Ariccia in the Lazio region of Italy, porchetta restaurants abound, leading to a close association with the dish, though variations of it are made across the country.

Add, a twist with the melting pork belly and blue cheese combination invented by Iain Graham of Urban Caprice to go with Mumm champagne.

Pork Belly and Pork Loin

• 1 piece pork belly with skin, about 10-by-20 inches

• boneless pork loin

Pork Roast

• 1 Tbsp kosher salt, plus more

• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more

• Pesto

• 12 smashed garlic cloves

• 12 fresh sage leaves

• Herbs (recipe below)

• Blue cheese

| Preparation – Pork Belly and Loin |

With the pork belly skin-side down, score meat in a cross-hatch pattern. Turn pork belly over, and using a sharp knife, score skin deep in a cross-hatch pattern. Turn, skin-side down, and set aside.

Place the pork loin skin-side down. On the tapered side of the loin, make a cut about 1-inch deep and then cut straight across to butterfly, continuing to make 1-inch cuts until the loin folds open like a book. Set aside.

| Preparation – Pork Roast | Season skin side of prepared pork belly with salt. Turn belly skin-side down and place flat on a cutting board with the short end facing you. Season with pepper and more salt.

Spread half of the pesto over the belly, leaving a 1-inch border around the sides.

Lay butterflied pork loin in the center of the pork belly and spread remaining pesto over loin. Arrange garlic and sage on top of loin. Season with salt and pepper.

To roll the roast, begin at the end of the pork loin where you finished the initial cut, slowly rolling and packing ingredients in tightly. When finished rolling the roast, use butcher’s twine to tie roast at 1-inch increments so it will cook evenly. Set roast on a platter and refrigerate overnight.

| To Cook | Remove roast from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking.

To estimate the cooking time, measure the roast through its thickest part, and cook for 1minute per millimeter. Hence if it’s 90mm thick, cook for 90 minutes.

An indirect fire (two equal piles of coal on either side of the charcoal grate, with a drip pan in the middle to catch the rendering fat), topped with a couple of pieces of hard wood.

Place roast on the grill, turning every 10 minutes until the skin is browned and crisp.

Reduce the temperature (325ºF) by closing the vents halfway and leave until the loin reaches 140 degrees. (1½ to 2½ hours)

Remove and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Just before serving, top with a sliver of blue cheese and a tiny button of redcurrant jelly.


Herbs

• 2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves

• 1 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves

• ½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

• 3 tsp roughly chopped fennel fronds

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

Johannes’, a painting in my ‘Humanising the Homeless’ series, has been recognized by the London International Creative Competition, in the professional painting category.

This is the 7th year that my work has won an award in the professional painting category at the LICC.

The LICC is a juried competition with well over 1500 entries from 65 countries focused on innovative artwork. Submissions are juried by a board of international luminaries of the visual arts.

The portrait is defined by his red hat ,with an underpainting of French yellow. A mix of Quinacridone Rose and Raw Sienna balance the yellow tones of the red hat.

Fabulous cycle through the Homtini Pass to start the day. Legs suffering on the climbs. It was beautiful though the indigenous Forest, with the gradient steep enough to have me gasping, but allowing my imagination to be transported on the mist that settled in the valleys. Frantically grasping at the Seattle cappuccino at the end of the ride!

Easter. Braai on a perfect day. The half a hot cross bun delightful, especially with a glass of Rupert and Rothschild classic.

‘Sleeve’ 21cmx29cm, Acrylic on 300g paper. Tattoo art in Vietnam was everywhere, and where we stayed in Saigon we were surrounded by tattoo parlours.

Much of the work is inspired by Japanese tattoo art, however, I was drawn to the colour and vibrancy of these tattoos as they passed us while we sat having a beer.

The red and yellow, national flag dominating the small painting.

‘Saigon Park’ 21cmx29cm, Acrylic on 300g paper. Le Van Tam Park, District 7, Saigon. An oasis of calm in the city.

Diary of an Adventure

Harbour Town Adventures

The world is quiet on a late summer evening. Sky full of stars. Glass of excellent red (La Vierge ‘Nymphomane’). Hint of jazz. Lights along the lagoon. Owl hooting somewhere amongst the roof tops.

Legs weary after their cycle through the forest. The ride along the ‘Coffee Pot’ trail beautiful through the indigenous Forest, full of life after a couple of days of rain. Which made the ride, with the strong men, demanding. My bum a tad bruised. Glad for the extra control afforded by the wider handle bars and new grips that kept me from being thrown from my bucking bicycle. Nothing elegant about my wrestling over branches, stones and through the mud.

The trail follows the route of the old 2-Ft. narrow gauge railway line that transported timber (mostly Yellowwood) from Diepwalle to Knysna for milling and shipment. Affectionately known by the people of Knysna as the ‘Coffee-Pot’, for the engine that was fitted with bulbous spark suppressors to prevent forest fires from the steam engine.

Thrilled to see my art used to illustrate stories in the Kalahari Review. The studio quiet after the craziness of the past few months. My heads sorting the ‘monochromatic’ parameters on Fabriano paper.

Stunning crisped chicken skin, with cauliflower mash, chicken breast and a Venetian duck ragu at the J9 kitchen. Don’t think the Master Chef judges had anything that tasty, and the Graceland 3Graces was delectable.