Monday, March 12, 2012

BiCE Ristorante

City Press iMag
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of dining at BiCE Ristorante in the Southern Sun Hyde Park, for the City Press iMag review. The review was featured in yesterday's City Press iMag.

I asked a friend who happens to be an amazing photographer to join me. So I had great company down, all we needed was great Italian food. We decided to go big and chose  the signature Italian BiCE and wine 8 course journey. It is money well spent though I felt the portions are big for a tasting menu.

The BiCE way is excellent service, I don’t say this lightly, just about the best in Johannesburg. The host Roberto was attentive to the entire restaurant with his welcoming Italian charm. Our waiter Vincent was well versed and the sommelier Sylvain very passionate about wine.

Now for the eight courses: First course was a caprese salad served with  pickled eggplant. The second course eggplant parmigiani. Third smoked veal. Fourth Caccuico. Fifth Spinach ricotta tortellini. Sixth Oxtail gnocchi. Seventh salmon on mash with lemon butter sauce. Finally, Cioccolatissimo. 

Overall it was a wonderful meal, although I would change the order of the courses slightly, like not serving mash straight after gnocchi for one. And I may exclude the smoked veal altogether.

The wines: Pre-drink 2010 Simonsig brut. First course Feiteiras Verdelho 2009. Second Del capo sangiovese 2009. Third De Krans touriga nacional 2008, Fourth De Grendel rose 2011. Fifth Dutoitskloof dimension nebbiolo 2009 (the wine of the fog). Sixth Welbedatcht pinotage 2009. Finally, Meerendal chenin blanc 2009.
On average the pairings were good even for those of us that aren't wine connoisseurs.

For those looking to order ala carte I highly recommend the Cacciucco, tomato based seafood broth, and the perfectly cooked salmon served on mash with a wonderful lemon butter. Sublime!

The Cacciucco, of Roberto's hometown Livorno, was my favourite dish of the night.It was a well balanced tomato based broth filled with prawns, mussels, clams,calamari and slight heat from the chilli coming through at the end.

The salmon was perfectly cooked served on mash covered with a tart lemon butter sauce. I enjoyed the salmon with the lemon butter sauce, the sauce complimented the rich fish to perfection. But straight after gnocchi I felt the bed of mash was overkill.
Salmon with lemon butter sauce

Steph's favourite was the oxtail gnocchi, in her words: pleasantly tender with perfect sweet savoury undertones!
Oxtail Gnocchi
I have to agree that the oxtail gnocchi was a fantastic dish, light potato pasta pillows served with a sweet oxtail sauce. I would however had appreciated it even more if it were served as an earlier course, it was number 6 of 8.

Our least favourite was the smoked veal and tuna paste served with deep fried baby marrow and onion crisps. It had a left over roast, sandwich meat texture and not tender as i would have hoped. On top of that it's a cold dish and I like to be warned when I'm being served a cold dish, so it was a cold rude awakening, that even BiCE can have an imperfection.
I must say although it was a tad overpowering I enjoyed the tuna paste because it had a strong anchovy taste. I love anchovies, they're salty heaven!
Smoked veal with tuna paste

Our evening was ended on a cholocatey high, wonderful! Cioccolatissimo, molten chocolate cup served with vanilla semifreddo and a side of berries to balance the richness.
Cioccolatissimo with vanilla semifreddo

BiCE is great for an occasion dinner. Also if you are going for BiCE & wine journey then like we did, just get a taxi cab to drop you off and pick you up. It's safe, legal and saves anyone from worrying.

Foodie Pictures by Stephanie O' Connor of connervarin

Friday, March 9, 2012

Halloumi & Sardines at Mezepoli

My girlfriends and I decided to have a midweek catch up over a guilt free dinner. By guilt free my friend meant a place that has good salads, seafood and sushi, so Mezepoli it was. The service as always is good & slightly hands off or let me say not overbearing which is great for a ladies catch up session.

We ordered a few dishes to share, the Greek way! Halloumi salad, grilled sardines and peri peri chicken livers. All I can say is that the peri peri chicken livers are always a winner, perfectly cooked in a mild spicy peri peri sauce.

The halloumi salad was wonderful with a creamy dressing, they don't ask if you want it on the side and I'm not complaining. The salty grilled halloumi & olives served on a bed of greens and cucumber with tomatoes and red onion slices.The dressing did well to balance the saltiness

The sardines weren't as I expected, well not as salty as I would have liked. I guess I have the idea of salt encrusted sardines grilled in a clay oven or over an open flame. But these were good served with pickled fennel and a lemon vinaigrette.

I ended dinner with a sweet Greek coffee and I have to say that I felt that the proportion of grounds to water in the brew was off as the grounds settled quite high up in the cup. The last thing I wanted was a mouthful of grounds with every sip.

I would recommend Mezepoli for those days when you want a little bit of everything, have some time to spare and a few good notes in your pocket. Try the chicken livers and a caipirnha, they're always winners for me. If you're looking to celebrate have a shot of Ouzo!

The Peppers Woolworths Chopping Board Chit Chat

Two weeks ago I spent most of my time obsessed with peppers, well more precisely what to do with them. Which meant that there was always a pepper roasting in the oven at night. I gave Woolworths a few of my favourite ways to use peppers.