Monday, May 21, 2012

New Latin American Restaurant in Cape Town

The Queen of the Kitchen

A breakfast menu I am dying to try
The homely atmosphere
This weekend I discovered a place for me to go to satisfy my need for everything Latin American.  ORINOCO has opened at 17 Bree Street and it has all the atmosphere and warmth of the people of Latin America.  The owner, Migdalia is from Venezuela and she has created a culinary destination with personality and true passion.  You can select from a range of tapas already made or order fantastic tacos and other specialities.  The cocktail menu boasts authentic caiparinhas, Pisco Sours and more made traditional not a South African version of the classic drinks.

The tapas were interesting and delicious and the chili sauce fantastic.  You can also buy some of her sauces to take home so that in between visits you can keep your cravings at bay.  I spent the evening with ladies from Chile, Argentina and Venezuela and they were as delighted with the food on offer as I was and so I am sure the authenticity is going to be appreciated by Capetonians.  Check the opening hours as it they are opening only on some nights until the words spreads and then I am sure they will be open every night.

Ready to grab Tapas

Orinoco's signature Sauces and Salsas

Some essential ingredients to create your own feast at home

Empanadas topped with Guacamole

a very fine Caiparinha

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Mexican Diary

This forms my first blog( after a rather large absence) about my recent trip to South America and Mexico.  To say it was inspiring and fantastic would be underplaying the insights and experiences of this trip.  I thought I would start in Mexico as this was absolutely fascinating and a culinary minefield of ingredients, techniques and regional cuisine.  Our first stop was a very big fresh produce, butchery, cheese and street food style stands.

A candy Stand in Mexico Market

Endless choice of Pinyata's

The Mexican Dish Staples
The colours of mexico, as you will see from the pictures, is a metaphor for the colour and variety of ingredients in Mexican cuisine.  

Today I thought I would share my 2 favourite dishes we had in the market.  The first a Pork Confit Tortilla.

The big cauldron of hot oil is the cooking pot for the pork.  This particular cut was the pork leg.

The meat was so succulent and the tortilla slightly heated. All this together with the chilli salsa and crunchy greens it was truly magnificent.

The other dish that was really new and exciting was the courgette flour and Mozzarella style cheese on a toasted tortilla.  Such a simple ingredient that is used often in posh restaurants with elaborate stuffings was presented so rustically. The flavours were so fresh and simple and tortillas being made in front our you to eat a few minutes later was terribly exciting.
Confit Cauldron
Slicing of the meat

Green Tomato Salsa and Lime for toppings

Flour Tortilla

Pork Confit Tortilla with Chilli Salsa and Greens with Lime Juice                                                 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mozambique Local Fare

On a recent holiday to Mozambique I discovered some interesting fruit and vegetables that the locals forage in and around their rural villages. I have been to Mozambique a few times and always love the freshly roasted cashews you can buy on the side of the road and the abundant seafood and fish available from the spear fisherman that one comes across on the beach.  I love snacking on the fresh coconuts and they are just sweeter and juicier than store bought coconuts. the Pineapples are the best ever.  Sweet, not sour and acidic and really big and light in colour.  There is so much food available on the side of the road markets, one hardly needs to go shopping or bring food with on holiday.

The locals call this Lemon Fish

Delicious Crayfish out the sea an hour ago

 There were 2 fruits I had never seen.  The first a bright red fruit made up of 4 "segments".  The locals told me they soak in warm water for 2 or 3 minutes, mix it with pineapple juice and a bit of sugar.  I had it just soaked in warm water and one sucks off the red part and you are left with a pip that looks like an almond.  Apparently this is a big seasonal treat from November to March.  This fruit is also sent to Maputo where they make soap and also extract an oil.  The name they gave me was "Mafura" but i can't find the scientific name.
Wonderful fresh Pineapples
Unamed vegetable but it looks like a wild marrow
 Lastly a vegetable i am still finding the name of above 
Local Fare
The other fruit was a small plum like fruit which is delicious and quite sweet but drains the saliva in your mouth.  The name of this I was told is Jambalaya.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NOBU - a must go experience

 I have never been to Nobu and was apprehensive due to the cost of an evening and past experiences at  The One & Only. Perhaps, no definitely an unfair preconception. It was such an exciting evening of food and a great change from the world of western fine food!

We started with tempura and can recommend the shiitake and scallop tempura. This was followed by crispy fried rice which is blocks of sushi rice formed into perfect blocks and deep fried.  This came with a raw minced tuna tartare.  This was sublime and the flavours of the tartare were so balanced it was almost impossible to single out the ingredients.  It did have cods roe as one of the ingredients which added a sensual pop in the mouth.  This was one of the house specialties and if u have a chance you really need to taste this!

The next few dishes of seafood hot pot - flamed in sake with Enoki, Shitake and Porcini mushrooms was meaty and rich yet very fishy.  this went well with our French red wine.

The almost seared beef with onion ponzu was the most melt in your mouth meat I have had - EVER!

The sun rolls( chefs choice of 3 sashimi) was so perfectly rolled that the rice was about 3 mm thick and the fish was the hero of the roll.

Cost: R850 for two of us. We had one glass of superb Spiced Route Viognier from Fairview each and brought our own bottle of fine French red 2002. The 2004 on the menu was R1750. Corkage is R150!

Well worth an experience!!

Christmas Food Shopping and a Grand Chef

I have been doing a lot of eating in the last few days and have been through inspired to excited.
Firstly I think the Christmas fare in Woolworths has improved on last year. I was very happy to see fresh (not frozen)Turkeys and the selection of gammons, hams and tongue is very good. Would be nice to see these all as free range next year. I was a bit irritated that the precooked whole tongue price has gone up a lot for the season. 

The best range to stretch your credit card on is the range Woolies has launched with Luke Dale-Roberts from the Test Kitchen. I bought the pork and duck Christmas stuffing sausages and did them on the weber. They were succulent and a hit with my guests.

Other products include a porkbelly trimmed to a small wedge which goes with a delicious selection of relishes. 

The Rooibos tea infused Salmon also looks delicious but all of these will set u back a pretty penny.  However should you want quality and premium at least you are able to get it. The dumbing down to affordable can be very boring.  I also liked the topped camemberts but the downside of this is that you need to go to the big stores and fight the malls to get a hold of these lines as the smaller stores don't get stock. Very irritating indeed.

In terms of chocolate, Valrhona has entered the country and I love their huge selection of gift formats and bar formats and the tasting boxes give you a chance to taste them all and find your favorite without too much investment - Lindt could learn from this.

Now to fine dining -
The Chef: Peter Templehof has been awarded the title of Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux and we managed to get a booking for dinner

The Venue: The Greenhouse at Cellars-Hohenhort. I really liked the clean decor and real daylight feel. It does not feel stuffy at all and since fine dining is coming to the end of an era, I think The Greenhouse is a refreshing change in which to experience fine dining.

The Food: a playful trio of toadstools started us off to our 4 course tasting Menu with Wine Pairing and a breadbasket with lavache, cheese bread sticks and other delectable slices. The nasturtium pate with mini leaves was not only terribly pretty but delicious.

The first and second course showed off exceptional flavor combinations, use of liquid nitrogen, and other molecular gastronomy marvels. The main course was more traditional cuisine and the flavours of the ingredients celebrated and  intensified.  My dessert of fennel panna cotta was superb and a perfect balance of savory and sweet.

The Wine: a good pairing but I felt that I had too many Sauvignon Blancs and would have liked the Sommelier to have been a bit more daring. The other guests had the Yardstick Pinot Noir which was superb!

Beware the cost of the evening was R2500 for three of us! But...well worth an experience.