Yesterday I read an article on the BBC website that got my mind spinning. The article is about how the UK Office of Fair Trade (OFT) has decided to launch a study into the high price of fuel. In the UK the price for petrol and diesel went up 38% & 43% respectively from June 2007 to June 2012. There are other factors they are investigating, but the bit that got me thinking was their citizens being upset about the 38-43% increase (Read the article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19489908)
This past month our petrol prices went up to their highest ever levels. A litre of 95 octane petrol now costs R11.97 inland and R11.62 along the coast.
Since June 2007, our petrol prices locally have gone up by a massive 59% for 95 octane unleaded and 65% for diesel! The chart below shows us in a bit more detail how the prices have risen and fallen over the past 5 years. In 2008 you may recall that oil prices rose dramatically, reaching a record $147 during July and then dropping to around $40 in December. However despite the oil price being lower than at it’s peak, we are paying R2 more a litre.
Looking at food prices isn’t much better. I chose six random food products that I felt were quite common among all income groups, being: 1l Full cream milk sachet, loaf brown bread, 1kg whole fresh chicken, 1kg beef chuck, sunflower oil & 1kg carrots.
The increases ranged from 30% (chicken) to a massive 104% (Sunflower oil).
Separately, however, these didn’t make much sense, so I went to a bit of effort and created a weighted average between fuel, food and oil prices and compared them to the trend over the years and this is when it made more sense
If you look at the below chart, you will see red, green and blue solid lines indicating the movement of fuel, food and oil over the 5 year period, while the dotted lines indicate the trend created by this movement.
The purple line (X) is based on year on year inflation over this period, in other words what price increases should look like.
But what do you notice if you compare the 3 trends and the solid purple line? This clearly indicates that fuel, and by comparison food, since SA relies on transport via our road networks, follow the trend of oil prices rather than the actual inflation rates given by government, which granted takes into account much more than I have: house prices, car prices, etc.
I’m no expert in matters like this so if anyone out there can give me a better explanation I will gladly accept it, but as if climate change wasn’t reason enough for us as a species to move away from oil and fossil fuels as a source of fuel and energy, then surely this should be even more reason?
The sources for all the above prices and rates are:
Petrol Prices: http://www.aa.co.za/
Food Prices: http://www.namc.co.za/
Oil Prices: http://www.investis.com/
Inflation Rate: http://www.liberta.co.za
- Petrol Prices: Watchdog Launches Probe (news.sky.com)
- Petrol price warning: Trouble ahead (itv.com)
- Petrol companies too quick to raise prices – AA (nzherald.co.nz)
- Hike in petrol, diesel prices likely after Sept 7 (ibnlive.in.com)
- Petrol price increase could have been avoided (jbaynews.com)
- Record high petrol prices ‘unlikely to ease’ (radionz.co.nz)
- Petrol prices in Germany hit all-time high (english.ruvr.ru)
- Fuel prices do not reflect international costs – PL spokesman (timesofmalta.com)
I love cooking. In fact, I think the fun part of food is in the preparation and getting your hands dirty. My dad inspired me to cook. He used to cook all the time for us, and was really good at it. He would always be trying new things and most of the time would come up with really awesome stuff. I am kind of the same in that regard, but I think I get a bit too experimental at times. Never while cooking for other people, but when it’s for me only I tend to be a bit more adventurous. That’s not to say I don’t experiment while cooking for other people, but not as much; in fact for my first date with my girlfriend I tried Oysters Rockefeller for the first time. Turns out they’re way better the regular raw way with a vinaigrette, but it was something I had to try…
For a while before I met my girlfriend, I had almost lost interest in cooking. You tend to be less creative when it’s just you. Now I try all sorts of things and want to do even more. Luckily we have similar tastes, and she puts me to shame with her cooking skills as well sometimes, so it definitely keeps me on my toes. A few times we have made a good team while cooking.
Anyway, once in a while I come up something worthwhile. Here are a few of my better creations, although I should warn you, when cooking I hate measuring stuff if I don’t have to, so I tend use handfuls, etc as measurements. I also cook according to the way it tastes. If a recipe says 200g and I think it needs more, I add it. If I make a stuff up, I try rectify it by adding things to get the taste right. Cooking is all about taste. If it looks good, but tastes crap, what’s the point? I taste constantly while cooking so the end result is normally just as I want it to be.
The first one is a recent experiment. I made this just a little while ago and was delicious. I am used to Mussels in a creamy sauce of sorts, so this was a pleasant change.
- About 500g cleaned and debearded mussels in whole shell
- 1 large loaf of crusty bread (french loaf, etc)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 large handful coarsely chopped herbs
- 3 generous tablespoons of butter
Note: With regards to the herbs, I used basil & thyme, although parsley and thyme may be a safer bet. While looking at existing recipes for inspiration, there are plenty of different herbs recommended, so it is really up to you.
- In a pot large enough to hold your mussels, over medium to high heat, add the wine, 2 tablespoons of the butter, herbs, garlic & onion.
- Heat until the butter has melted and the mixture begins to boil, then lower heat to medium-low.
- Drain any excess liquid from the mussels and place them in the pot. Cover and steam them until ready (about 3-5 minutes) being careful not to overcook them.
- Remove them from the pot and place in bowls ready to serve. Now strain the remaining liquid from the pot, add the remaining butter and heat until the butter has melted.
- Pour this over the mussels and serve with the bread and a nice fresh salad and a crisp glass of the white wine.
Fresh Ciabatta with Grilled Chicken Breast
- Any ciabatta bread or rolls
- Chicken breasts marinated in choice of marinade (sweet and sour is good)
- Onion marmalade (see below)
- Fresh cherry tomatoes
- Fresh rocket
- Feta Cheese
- Put the chicken breasts in a marinade while making the onion marmalade. I made a marinade which included some mustard, honey & some Cajun spice, but the choices are limitless.
- For the onion marmalade, it is best to make it in larger quantities and keep in the fridge. It makes a great addition to any stew or pasta or just served as a side. Put about 8 medium sliced onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir infrequently, until the onions are dry and almost sticking to the pan.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil and a large pinch of salt and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally,until the onions are done as you like them, adding some oil to keep them from sticking without getting greasy. Cook it to suit your preferences. 10-15 minutes for a more bitter taste, up to 40 minutes for a browner sweeter onion marmalade.
- In the meantime, prepare the bacon and grill the chicken breasts. Prepare the tomatoes (sliced raw or grilled) & the rocket and feta cheese. Cut the breasts into large slices once cooked.
- To prepare the final meal, spread some dijon mustard on the ciabatta (slices or rolls halved) and put a large dollop of the onion marmalade. Exactly how much is a personal choice…
- Place a generous portion of bacon & chicken on top of that and finish with the tomato, feta & rocket.
Four Cheese Taglietelle with Chilli Fried Shrimp
- 250-500g Shrimp (personal choice)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 finely chopped Chillis
- Olive oil
- 1 cup Cream
- 1 cup of 4 various Cheeses, finely grated
- (I used Mozarella, Cheddar, Parmesan & Danish Regato)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the taglietelle and cook until al dente
- In the meantime, prepare the cheese
- On a very hot pan, fry the shrimps with the garlic and chilli and once done set aside
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot on the stove.
- Add the cream and 4 cups of cheese and mix until the sauce has thickened (+/-3 mins)
- Serve the pasta and top with the shrimp
Last night I had the pleasure of going to a hidden gem of a restaurant in Richmond Hill here in Port Elizabeth. I had chosen to take my girlfriend out here since it was recommended to me by a colleague at work. And I am really impressed to say the least.
The vibe of the place is pretty awesome and the open kitchen is a pretty nifty touch!
I have to say, that getting the contact details anywhere was quite a mission, but since I was heading that way yesterday during the day, I popped in to make the booking. If I’d only looked on Facebook for their fan page, it would have made that a lot easier though. Hindsight is a bitch 🙂
We started off sharing a Warthog Carpaccio with some yummy pesto on the side. It was presented nicely on a bed of rocket. This was followed by a stunning main course. I had a Sole Bonne Femme served with herb & parmesan potato wedges as well as veggies roasted in a tomato pesto. My amazing girlfriend (sorry baby) had yummy Lamb Steaklets with Mint Tzatziki. That was also served with the same sides, but as an alternative to the wedges, you could have Kous Kous as well. Both were mouth-wateringly awesome! After that, neither of us felt like a dessert, even though there were options such as Smooth Chocolate Mousse with Chantilly Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Tower and Tiramisu Cheesecake. Next time 🙂
All in all, the vibe is great, the food is first class and I would say without hesitation that anyone in Port Elizabeth looking for a good meal, head on down to Flava. To make it easier, here are some details.
Address: 17a Bain St, Richmond Hill, Port Elizabeth
Phone number: 041 811 3528 / 082 666 7098
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/flavarestaurant
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