Saturday, March 12, 2011

Too much of a good thing at Dukes?

It was a sweltering Jozi summer afternoon today and I had an appointment with a burger. Well actually it's a friend's bday lunch and she's a gourmet burger aficionado. So Dukes in Greenside it is. We're sitting in the outside booths, which are purple vintage fresh chandeliers and all. We're seperated from the neighbouring booth by a bookshelf. The booths are vintage quaint a contrast to the idea of a man sized burger joint, but perhaps that's the appeal to our table of ladies.

I was wondering can you ever get too much of a good thing? Well having been to Dukes in Greenside twice in two weeks, I came to the conclusion that I need to define what it means in my foodie case.

In the case of Dukes too much of a good thing means that I came across a burger on the menu that lacked lustre. The Duchess, a man sized patty topped with sweet, pickled betroot, crunchy sweet potato chips and horseradish. I also added a slice of mozzarella cheese for good measure. I love a burger with cheese, actually thinking about it I almost always add a cheese to my burger. My motto is clearly more is more!

The Duchess
The Duchess just did not have as much horseradish zing as I would like. I wanted a good amount that had the effect of feeling the slight heat through your nose. So the toppings just couldn't stand up to the lightly seasoned patty. Their fries as they call them, they're chips to me as fries are skinny in my mind, aren't salted but are drizzled with a wonderful sweet yet vinegary balsamic reduction

 Like a told my waiter it's a good burger, because it's good ground beef, but it's not Duke's best for my taste.

The Fidel Castro

A burger I would recommend especially for those who like it SPICY as I do, is the Fidel Castro, the one I had two weeks ago. The patty is flamed grilled in tequila, which honestly i didn't get a hint of but it's the thought that counts. Topped with jalapenos, a sweet corn salsa and guacamole. It's the combination of the jalapenos and the spice on the baby sweetcorn that causes a taste explosion. It's a stands up well to the hefty meaty patty without over powering it. I had the Fidel Castro two weeks ago with sweet potato wedges, which were the perfect sweet balance to spicy Fidel. And you know what makes it great is that I can taste now in my mind's eye, which is something the Duchess just does not have.

On both occasions I end of the day with the soft sweet banana toffee pie, whis is more like a cake with a good hadful of banana slices. It's lovely served with cream.

So is there too much of a good thing? If  you mean a big burger followed by a bana toffe pie then I'd say no but Alas yes if you choose the Duchess

It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but I think now it's time for something more dainty! macaroons anyone?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A quick dessert pick me up

So I was sitting at my desk at work today and dreaming about a little dessert pick me up that I would reward myself with. But for me the real reward is thinking about what I'd like to make and knowing that I have all the ingredients at home to make it. Happiness! No after work queuing to get one last ingredient.

Tuesday's dessert pick me up is my take on a strawberry shortcake. All that is needed is Madeira or orange cake, frozen berries, amaretto liquer, orange juice, icing sugar, cream, greek yoghurt, fresh berries (I used raspberries and gooseberries) and pomegranate seeds as extras like the fairy dust on top.

May I add that amaretto and frozen berries are a must in my pantry. There are so many quickie desserts that can be made with both. Oh and I do love a boozy berry!

It all takes like 10 minutes, honestly whipping with a hand whisk is the most time consuming, yes I always use a single hand whisk.

It's wonderful! the sauce is slightly sweet but the berries stay tart. The the citrus and sweet almond amaretto flavour come through wonderfully, the taste is as deep as the colour. Finally the cream yoghurt that's a sweet and tart mixture, and I also love love a good dollop of cream.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

All about Salvation Cafe at 44 Stanley

As I wrote the title of this post, I wondered is it really all about Salvation Cafe when I walk into 44 Stanley Milpark? Honestly for me walking into 44 Stanley is almost like walking into a gypsy's chest of tricks. You could find anything and it has a magical I can be anyone and I can exercise my artsy sensibilities!

The first thing that hits me, as I get out of my car, is the smell of baking bread that lingers over from Vovo Telo Bakery. And I have to be honest the smell of baking bread puts me into an almost euphoric mood, there are not many things that makes me happier than walking into a bakery and breathing in the bread! hmmmmmm, well perhaps watching it rise is more joyous! the chemical reaction

Now back to Salvation Cafe that had the grace of welcoming a patron on a bread aroma induced high. This Saturday is the first time I notice the Salvation Cafe board "Preaches the soul of good food". On this day and most other days i wisit I do feel like my morning walk through 44 Stanley towards Salvation is a spiritual journey through food that begins with the smell of baked bread and ends at the bottom of milky cafe latte.
I walked into Salvation Cafe at 09:00am and already had many tables reserved and about four tables of customers well into their breakfast. A mix of families and couples all with slightly artsy sensibilities. I choose a table inside as it's slightly nippy out and am seated next to a wonderful lamp, which makes me feel like I'm sitting in a eccentric aunts house or in the gypsy's trailer.

When at Salvation for breakfast I only order the eggs benedict, it's the best in Jozi that I've found and I just have to have it everytime. If i don't I suffer from intense loss and regret the following day or even a couple of hours later. Soft english muffin topped by smoky bacon, a soft poached egg and a smooth creamy yet slightly acidic hollandaise sauce. The extras are the rocket shoots, a lovely lgiht peppery addition.

I'm having breakfast with three girlfriends two of us ordered the benedict and two ordered american flapjacks with fruit and youghurt. No complaints were heard and conversation was paused, as if for prayer, as we all took and savoured our first bites.

Service can be slightly unattentive at times as the cafe gets fuller, which always makes me wonder how they allocate tables to waitstaff, as ours was serving tables outside as well. I also ordered a apple, pear and ginger fresh squeezed well juiced by a juicer actually. It's served cold which means the fruit must be refrigerated, high five for that. There's nothing worse than warm freshly squeezed juice. And I ended my meal off with a mild cafe latte.

The weather picked up while we were inside and we were in for a sunny Jozi summer day! We walk out at 11:00 am with Salvation and 44 Stanley a buzz with people. Gypsy market with many gypsy people.

What a wonderful way to start a Saturday! But perhaps it was just the smell of baking bread

Can a foodie edit her inner chef? Pt 2

I had that dinner and triumphantly I only had three dishes along with a wonderfully sweet blueberry reduction as an accompaniment. Well I honestly should say that the blueberry reduction was not so much an accompaniment as the star of the show. The best supporting actress to the fillet of beef. But honestly I could have kept it to two dishes. Dinner was fillet and the blueberry reduction, with a nicoise rendition and lentils.

I served up an edited rendition of a nicoise salad without any egg or tuna. A beef fillet made to perfection by my brother, from Meat on Grant, marinated in garlic, rosemary and olive oil, browned on a skillet and finished off in the oven. The medium rare fillet is complimented so well by the sweet, slightly overly sweet but it was a first try, blueberry balsamic reduction. But what is absolutely marvellous about this reduction are the pops of slightly tart blueberries that burst as you bite into them.

It turns out I am able to edit myself. But I think one thing we shouldn't edit is sharing great recipes and I'd like to thank my friend for sharing the berry balsamic reduction. I have already shared it with another friend and it is fast becoming a must have when making a fillet, whether a piece of steak or an entire fillet.

Happy sharing!