Thursday, January 27, 2011

Takeaway Chronicles: Lucky Moo

I write this on an extremely full stomach and with a satisfied smile after a quick lunchtime excursion to Lucky Moo in Parkhurst. Having just today decided to do takeaway chronicles, I decided that the first should definitely be on Chinese because in my household most often than not it’s chinese or asian and followed closely by nandos.
Off I went from Rivonia rd in Sandton, only calling Lucky Moo to place my order after I had passed Sandton City. Thanks for calling Lucky Moo how can I help you? I’d like to place a takeaway order of Mushroom chicken with noodles! How long will that take I ask? 5-10minutes, to which I say give me an extra five to get there. The Mushroom Chicken is marinated boneless chicken strips tossed in the wok with Chinese mushrooms, broccoli, onions and a sprinkling of Chinese five spice.
 I’m greeted by a bright, fairly busy Lucky Moo with two tables occupied and three people waiting for orders, if only they had my foresight. My order is ready and waiting in its brown bag, oh yeah! Fast and efficient just the way I like it. Now all I have to do is make my way back to the office. My takeaway is riding shotgun and the drive is filled with the wonderful earthy aroma of Chinese mushroom. I can’t wait! I have to admit I even contemplate pulling over to sneak a taste. A 15 minute drive back to the office, I put my hand over ever so often for a temperature check and we’re still good.

Shotgun Noodles
I open my box, up comes some steam and I’m wow-ed by the amount they put in there, it’s chock-a-block. The aroma that comes to the fore is a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg, must be the five spice. My enthusiasm meant that I may or may not have got some sauce on my forehead (attack the noodles in the box with care) and ended with a drop, lucky me only a drop, of sauce on my light linen pants.

The broccoli, carrots, green beans and onions all crunchy! The Chinese mushrooms are soft, juicy with a vinegary taste at first. The noodles are the normal egg noodles and yum yum coated in the sauce. For a takeaway it is surprisingly unsalty- is that a word but you get what I mean. Overall it’s a slightly sweet dish with light soya flavour, oh so satisfying although next time I will ask them to add a little bit of chilli, because I do like it SPICY!

At first I doubted my ability to get to the bottom of the box, but I’ve come to realise there is never need for self-doubt. The noodles are a man size portion and great value for R38, but I have a man size stomach that hummed nom nom nom! All that was left was the dark gravy like sauce.

Will be back to Lucky Moo to try the rest of their menu including the sushi. So all I can say is if you’re in Jozi lucky me, lucky you, Lucky Moo

Monday, January 24, 2011

Looking for Saturday salvation at Vovo Telo

Now I must admit that although they have been acquired by Brandhouse and are off to franchising glory, Vovo Telo still seems to be struggling to make that switch from PE mom and pop to Jhb eatery able to handle the Jozi crowds or well the 44 Stanley crowds.

I must admit it is that brother sister mom and pop charm that draws us to it but I would like some fast efficient service to go with it, without having to see the effects of being overwhelmed.

So a few words of advice: do not go to Vovo Telo absolutely starving on a Saturday at around brunch, so between 10:00 and 12:00, take a spot of patience especially if you’re a big group and a pregnant woman (yes we had a hungry and thirsty preggers friend with us) as it is very popular and for good reason.
Once seated I have to admit that the food comes relatively quickly, although sometimes it may be directed to another table before reaching your own. Yes someone did breath over my sandwiche before I did, but she happened to have ordered the same sandwiche on that specific occasion.

Now back to the eating at hand!
You must try the pickering (if you’re a meat and pork eater)! But ask them to swap out the ham for bacon and make sure to let them know how you liked your egg poached, for me that’s soft, as the waiter did not ask.

The pickering is a poached egg on tomato, bacon and camembert with basil served on the best bread in Jozi! Yes I have said it before and I will say it again. If you must eat bread eat the best bread you can find and that’s Vovo Telo bread! Try their baguette and sourdough

Nothing beats a burst yolk over salty bacon and deep smoky camembert, then adding the tomato and basil combination is a true triumph. Sopping up the yolk with the bread crust made my wait to be seated almost bearable.

Hopefully franchising will make Vovo Telo more accessible and the waitstaff more efficient without losing the brother sisterly mom and pop PE vibe. For me Vovo Telo in 44 Stanley will always be my first port of call, for those days when only the Pickering can be a hangover helper or for those early mornings when I want a quickie cappuccino and watch dough rise (I love watching dough rise). I fear I’ve given away the depth of my love for great bread.

For all my crit about the speed of their service on a busy day they still have me coming back for more. Perhaps it’s the price I’ll pay for great bread.

Now I'm off to tell my friends who live by the mantra "No Chains No Malls" that they better get to Vovo Telo quickly before they lose out due to self imposed madness *yes I said it*

Vovo Telo
44 Stanley, Milpark
011 482 4139
Best for: Breakfast and brunch

La Colombe

I have been mulling over this blog for a month now, just wondering whether I have a natural bias to high end fine dining, coupled with a dose of laziness and a lot of eating out.

Then I was asked by someone recently what my favourite meal and restaurant was? The first thing that popped to mind was La Colombe and the trio of lamb I had there. I can still taste the confit lamb with its tender falling off the bone texture.
Now let me get to it, when I was in Cape Town I had the opportunity to lunch at La Colombe, which is on the Constantia Uitsig wine estate. By opportunity I mean I sent my reservation via email a month and a half before. I still think of it as a wonderful opportunity, even though I was paying.

I must tell you that it was the 3 January and our waiter did look like he had fallen into the vineyards a night or two ago, he cleaned up nice but had a few telling scratches. Other than that he gave great explanations on the dishes which are put up on blackboards and then mounted on a chair next to the table. He also knew the exact moment to send over the sommelier to help with our wine choices and was just attentive enough without disrupting the great conversation.

 To start there was what they call Tapas, but really it was an amuse bouche of Asian kudu tartare with pesto sweet potato crisps and hoisin sauce. It was wonderful, even for my brother’s girlfriend the reluctant meat eater. It was soft and sweet with a spicy under current that lingers slightly at the back of your throat. It had the right amount of seasoning, not overly salty but just right.

We then ordered glasses of white wine and true to form I did not take these down, as I love a good glass of wine but not an enthusiast so tend not to pay attention to the label. What I can remember is it was a blend of some kind, totally helpful I know.

Then came the second amuse bouche which was a prawn style thai egg, it’s served in the shell with what looks like a foam. It was light the prawn was partial coated in cooked egg an submerged in the salty, hoisin and wasabi flavoured foam. I must be honest at this stage I wasn’t sure what utensil to use, as it would seem simple enough to just tip the egg and drink it all, but knowing my luck with spillage I use the mini spoon that was laid out.

Yes like any great establishment bread was served too.

Now to the main event, as a starter I ordered the fricasse of quail and langoustine, which is apparently the popular choice. The gamey quail was set on sweetcorn alongside the sweet langoustines. Honestly I enjoyed the dish but felt that my quail although tender was slightly under seasoned, more salt please!

To go with the mains we had a wonderful Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir, now I love a pinot Noir and to date nothing has topped my love for the Hamilton Russell but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Think smooth, mellow and light!

For mains I had the trio of lamb with dauphinoise potatoes. Sublime!

The medallions are cooked medium and to perfection, also superbly seasoned unfortunately they could not overshadow the melt in your mouth herby confit of lamb. That confit was super tender, and when you put it in your mouth you can taste the juices that it was cooked in. So wonderfully developed is that thyme garlic wine flavour that I felt like I was eating the gold that is at the bottom of the roasting pan. The third of the trio was the sweet breads, now sweetbreads are the glands found in the throat of the lamb. I found the texture not as pleasing although the taste reminded me of eating bone marrow combined with kidneys and skop. What I can say it was tasty slightly crisp on the outside and soft to the bite.

For dessert I had the tanka bean crème. Now there should be a warning if you are not a fan of banana steer well clear of this dessert. Tanka bean is similar to vanilla, the crème is served in a chocolate cylinder with banana cake and caramelised bananas. Wonderful and not overly sweet way to end lunch. I could not even squeeze in a coffee, little did I know that La Colombe gives you a little something extra for you to remember them by.

A choice of Turkish delight, truffle, marshmallow ,a queen cake i think it was set on coffee beans. Being the glutton I am, I had their marshmallow truffle.The marshmallow was so light it was like eating air sprinkle with vanilla sugar The truffle was deep and decadent filled with coffee crème/ liquer

This experience was definitely worth the money spent which for three course, two amuse bouche, three glasses of white, a bottle of pinot noir and a delight at then end for three people including tip around R2000. A splurge but as Oscar Wilde says "Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination". I have told my family that we need to have a dinner at La Colombe, as we are all great appreciators of fine food prepared to perfection and delivered with finesse.

What we did notice is that all the wait staff that afternoon were caucasian, which is surprising in South Africa. This had our table wondering whether it is the same at dinner service and whether this is a La Colombe specific phenom but I will take that out of the Jozi Foodie Fix realm.

Parting words, if you love lamb then trio of lamb at La Colombe is the best sacrifice that could be made of a lamb. Above and beyond the exquisite food, the knowledgeable, warm waitstaff and wonderful extras in between and at the end make it a lovely experience set in a romantic nook in the centre of the Constantia Uitsig vineyard.

My experience at La Colombe affirmed why it was on Eat Out’s Top 10 in 2009 and part of 2010’s Top 2010 nominees. I think I need to make it my mission to eat at all of the 2010 Top 10 establishments as I can’t imagine they’d top that lamb.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jozi Foodie Fixing in Cape Town

I was down in Cape Town over New Year's Eve and part of last week for one of my besties' wedding celebration. And true to form I had to put in some foodie time, although honestly not as much as I would have liked.

So all I have to offer is a little Beluga the restaurant not the caviar, a touch of decadence that is La Colombe and a splash of dark asian that is Haiku.

Spent the Sunday 2nd January afternoon at Beluga, for their half price sushi and cocktails. It was a slightly chilly day so I decided to have a full price starter, the Duck Liver Creme Brulee.
The Duck Liver Creme Brulee is served with apple preserve/ chutney and bread wafers. And it's definitely a creme brulee caramel topped and all. Our waiter recommended that you mix the preserve in with the duck liver brulee.

The duck liver 'pate' was the smoothest I've tasted and was wonderfully rich! Honestly i didn't need the bread wafers I could and did simply eat it as is! For those who don't eat "organs" as one of my friend's call it you are seriously missing out. The apple preserve added a great sweetness and texture to it. For me this dish gets two thumbs up! A must try at Beluga.

Now on to the half price sushi and cocktails. We opted for the Molito, litre of Mojito and the blood orange and coconut mojito, my FAVE! It has the regular mojito tartness with extra citrus touch of blood oranges and slight sweetness of coconut syrup, Sublime!
Next was the sushi we had a platinum platter which is the chef's selection and then the green plate. The green plate has Salmon roses, tuna sashimi, Seared Tuna, Salmon and Tuna sashimi, rainbow rolls, California rolls.
The sushi was fresh and the test was their wonderful salmon sashimi, along with the seven spice seared tuna sashimi *so flavourful* with just the right amount of subtle heat. Even the sushi newbie among us enjoyed the seared tuna sashimi.

The chef served up some favourites on the platinum platter with rainbow rolls and nigiri, along with something new which was the tempura prawn california and another roll that was salmon outside rice inside topped with a salmon seven spice mayonaisse.
The only debate our table had about the sushi was normal soya or low sodium soya.

This was a great way to spend a Sunday, and it was kinda on the cheap being half price!

La Colombe and Haiku will follow shortly but what I can tell you is that La Colombe alone is worth the wait. Happy New Year's eating all!