Welcome to my world! I am Anna-Karien Otto, a freelance writer and editor living in the Boland region of South Africa. My specialities are columns about food, the arts and feature writing. This is where I share my passions for all of the above as well as exploring my interests as a collector of vintage children’s books, antique jewellery and art. I like to think of this portal as a secret library, a welcoming kitchen or a cabinet of curiosities.
Like all magical stories, it all started with a treasure chest. When I was very small, 5 or 6 I think, my father made a little wooden chest for me carved out with my initials ‘AKO’ highlighted in black lacquer on the lid. I kept it at the foot of my little pink wooden bed, stuffed full of bits and bobs for playing dressing-up. A special favourite was this silver tulle dress which transformed me into an enchantress. Here is a photo of me posing around in it while my friends Kathy and Reinette wait for me to get on with it!Continue reading “Wearing my heart on my sleeve – my life (so far) through what I wore”
Kersfees gaan vir vele net oor drie dinge: familie, tradisie en kos. Kosskrywer ANNA-KARIEN OTTO gaan steek kers op by ’n Provensaalse Kersnageregtradisie, en dek die tafel vir ’n Suid-Afrikaanse fees van oorvloed en voorspoed met ’n buitengewone Kerskoek met rum en garam masala as die hoogtepunt.
(VRYE WEEKBLAD Desember 2019)Continue reading “13 nageregete vir ‘n oorvoloedige Kersmaal”
Franschhoek and Stellenbosch may be the king and queen of dining destinations but the bustling town of Paarl and its quieter cousin Wellington have many culinary surprises hidden up their proverbial sleeves. Local food writer Anna-Karien Otto has put together her pick of favourite foodie items to be found only in these beautiful jewels of the Boland.Continue reading “My top foodie finds of the Winelands”
In January this year we went on a road trip, crossing the Western Cape through the Karoo to the hinterland of the Eastern Cape. After fulfilling the usual family obligations, we headed for our favourite destination – Graaff-Reinet.
It is here that we feel most at home, relishing in the absolute peace of the Karoo. The weather always seems to be perfect at any time of the year, with the loveliest long, drawn-out magical evenings. The sun takes its time to set, dipping below the mountain, painting the clouds gold or pink before giving way to a long deep cobalt blue twilight that seems to last forever. And in Spring the swallows and swifts arrive, gliding and dipping above the spires of the glorious cypress trees in the gathering dusk.
Imagine an ice cream that represents the many and varied flavours of Africa. Made with no preservatives or additives, only home grown ingredients. This is what Tapi Tapi desserts are all about, but the concept behind it is not only ground breaking, it could very well become a way to shift our cultural and social perceptions.
What is the dish that you associate with your earliest food memory? I love to think of what children long for, drinking cocoa by the fire after school like in an Enid Blyton story. In the classic Robert Louis Stevenson poem Young Night Thought a boy dreams of a procession of exotic characters marching past his mind’s eye as he falls asleep. My procession of nursery favourites would include dhal with spinach paneer from India, plum jam dumplings for the Austrian/Swiss Germans, pasta with pancetta and peas for those Italian bambini, vetkoek with mince or mieliepap with tomato onion sauce for us South Africans and roast chicken for almost everybody.
This year has been the coldest winter in the Cape in the six years I have been living here. I live in the Southern hemisphere and therefore don’t really have anything to complain about, yet every year the onset of winter takes me by surprise. I am amazed at how the cold changes my personality – I immediately become much more introverted, slow-moving and unexpectedly grumpy, like a desperate little animal preparing for hibernation, seeking only the warmth of its burrow. The only consolation I can think of is to seek out dishes that not only bring warmth and comfort, but galvanise me to not become too disheartened by the slow turn of the solstice.