Thursday, June 27, 2013

She said - The Dining Room

I was lucky enough to get an invitation to join a couple of bloggers for a dinner at The Dining Room in the Union Bar about a month ago. I have to say I was excited to go because Jozi is in desperate need of pop up culinary experiences. Just the thought of food and cocktail pairings has a thumbs up from me.

We started off with the trio of savoury macarons, absolutely divine. The expectation of something sweet paired with a depth of savoury flavour, it's the best mind & taste bud f*ck ever!

The next course was a combination of scallop and prawns, once again this was a winner. The scallop was perfectly seared and the prawns faultless. The first two courses were my favourite of the night.

It was followed by the hot rock salmon which conceptually is a great dish, but I am a seared salmon girl so by the time the hot rock hit the table my piece of salmon was over cooked. With that said my friends loved it!

The final savoury course was the prime beef fillet, unfortunately I wasn't asked how I like my steak which is medium rare. The fillet was medium to well done so two bites was all I could do. I do wish they would have focused on the little touches that I would expect from Vicky Crease, such as asking how I'd like my salmon and fillet done.

The portions are man sized which is great for a mixed group, code for the men will not complain after. The concept and meal progression was well worth it.


The Dining Room
At Union Bar, Shop HL 63, Melrose Arch Piazza
Best for: Pop Up experience between16 May - 13 July and the trio of macarons

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

He said - The Dining Room

I am just an explorer of food and my exploration took me on one of the more recent trends in dining – the “pop-up” restaurant a couple of weeks ago. Showcasing new foods, culinary talent and limited in availability pop-up restaurants have been popular overseas for a while and the concept has now captured the imagination of South Africa’s foodies. See Thando's post on Pop Up phenom here.

The Dining Room, collaboration between the Union Bar pop up and the glamorous Vicky Crease, of Vicky Crease Catering & Events, and who was gracious enough to personally pop in on our taste experience.

Nestled at the back of the Union’s Bar in Melrose Arch the Dining room is unassuming, quaint, intimate room hidden from the main bar area and we were pleasantly surprised at the warm candle lit, sophisticated retro décor of the room adorned with art and sculptures from up and coming South African artists.  And so our 6 course private dinner with no more than 16 fine guests wining and dining at one time.

We were warmly ushered into the room, graciously welcomed, and joined in some enjoyable “ice-breakers” as we met the other fine diners and nibbled on petit knotted rolls, focaccia and flatbreads served with a trio of unique flavoured butters: Satin thyme, truffle and volcanic salt and crushed chilli. Although the breads were uninteresting, the truffle and volcanic salt butter was the groups’ favorite with the crunch from the salt and the deeper, earthier undertone from the truffle shining through.

Next was the winner of the evening – again a trio, this time of macaroons with a basil infused macaroon topped with Springbok Carpaccio, basil aioli and parmesan shards, being the highlight. The “soft and crunchy” at the same time, textures and flavour profiles built to a perfect crescendo and offered an impeccable bite which was was well supported by an a butternut scented, creamy gorgonzola cheese and crushed pistachio nuts and a black pepper with curried crocodile, shallot marmalade and fresh baby herb macaroon. The dish was executed perfectly, with each of the colourful ingredients peeking through and packed with flavour.

While I felt the poached herb infused prawns was slightly overcooked, it was saved by the perfectly cooked scallops which were delicious, accompanied by a faultless zesty citrus crème and fresh roasted baby corn. All this rested on a poor, soft crostini which seemed an after-thought and failed to add any texture or enhance the dish.

Course number 4: The Hot Rock Salmon - which looked better than it tasted and while a novel way of cooking and presenting a meal – the seriously hot stone dried out not only the fish but the Beetroot infusion as well. The salad was delightfully refreshing and fresh berries provided an extra dimension.

Perfectly cooked, chargrilled prime beef fillet was served next, drizzled with a rich red wine jus, the dish failed to deliver on flavour and was not helped by a flat leek mashed potato. The only redeeming feature of the dish was a beautiful crisp parmesan shard that enveloped the fillet.

Dessert was a sad affair. An unexciting almond encrusted dry mousse which was far too stodgy and lacked sweetness.  Flambéed in Stroh rum did not complement the dish. Our host was humble enough to ensure the chef heard of our discontent and disappointment and promised an improvement.

The “pop up” restaurant has slowly been gaining a reputation not only as being trendy but a great night out and I must say it's quite an experience. But for a foodie like myself I have to say this about the Dining Room apart from the macaroon dish the food was average and lacked lustre at a price point that I think missed the mark.

They change the menu every two weeks – let’s hope they get it right the next time!


The Dining Room
At Union Bar, Shop HL 63, Melrose Arch Piazza
Best for: Pop Up experience between16 May - 13 July and the trio of macarons

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

One Liner - District Six Eatery

You been to District 6 in Emmarentia?

"It's very quaint but soulful place, simple and small. I like it. Classic Cape Malay food that tastes like your moms made it. Hearty and delicious... They have a tripe curry here that takes me back home to Mthatha. MOER."

This was Donovan's two cents (yes I literally copied & pasted our convo) on District Six Eatery as he was bout to smash a carrot, pea, potato and beef stew in his face.

District Six Eatery
42B Greenhill Road, Emmarentia
011 486 7226
Best For: Cape Malay tripe curry (I can testify for this)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Introducing the "One Liner" Donovan Goliath

I happened to meet Donovan in the foodie circles at the Ultimate Braai Master Jozi semi final auditions, he like myself was part of the judging panel tasting the good, the bad and the ugly. I have subsequently discovered that we share a love for food & finding great restaurants particularly those that don't look like much at first glance. After putting me on to a seriously good food spot, I asked Donovan to write a feature on the blog when his busy schedule allows. He is fast becoming one of my favourites, my favourites tend to be Coloured comics that speak Xhosa and have an appreciation for serious eats.

The One Liner will feature Donovan's first thoughts on restaurants he's visited recently including a few of his favourites. In his own words this is Donovan

"I'm the white looking, Xhosa speaking Coloured guy from Mthatha. I'm a stand up comedian, art director, Cressida beaded seat cover designer and aspiring YOU magazine centerfold guy. I love all kinds of food not just meals made with Bisto."

A warm welcome to one of my favourites! Go ahead follow @DonovanGoliath on Twitter

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Introducing the new Jozi Foodie Fix teamie Nishal

Jozi Foodie Fix has a new foodie joining the fold, Nishal Rattan a man of simple tastes easily satisfied with the best!

To his more orthodox contemporaries he is seen as as a semi-madman but then genius was always misunderstood. He loves to travel and to explore cultures and cuisines. He will probably say yes to anything exciting, exotic or beautiful. A fan of the urban jungle he would not say no to a weekend away in the bush but would be just as at home on a tropical beach with palm trees, waving to a waiter for his next G&T.

He is a man of the world though far from flawless Nishal is not without virtue, among them you will discover a rigorous intelligence, playful charm and a rather dangerous sensuality. The gift of tact, sensitivity and razor wit are given to very few and he is among the blessed. He is an accountant, historian, chef, critic, cunning linguist, novelist, and ceramic potter.

But to see him is to love him and love him most do. A warm welcome to Nishal, who will be guest blogging over the next couple of months.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

For dessert - Chenin Blanc baked pears

This is the perfect dessert after a hearty meal, I paired it with Moroccan style lamb shanks over the weekend.

I baked the pears in chenin blanc, citrus rind and juices, Mauritian spices (Cinnamon, cloves & vanilla pod) seved with a zesty double cream. I adapted a Jamie Oliver baked pears with wine recipe, you can find it here

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lunch at La Cucina Di Ciro

A friend hosted her birthday lunch at La Cucina Di Ciro in Parktown North a little while ago. It was the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon. Sitting under the trees with a cool breeze blowing through (Yes this was before the cold front hit Jozi). The service is friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. The chef comes out to tell each table what the specials are, this is a great typically Italian touch. We arrived a little late for lunch, so we took our waiter's suggestion and ordered mains and dessert at once.

I had the deboned confit duck with black cherry reduction, absolutely sublime! Crispy skin and tender flesh. The slightly sweet sour cherry sauce created a great balance to the crispy savoury, perfectly seasoned duck. It is one of the best lunch items I've had this year.

For everything the confit duck was, the dessert wasn't.  I opted to have the taster of desserts. The brownie was rich and chocolatey, the cardamom pannacotta was fragrant and spicy. Now the macaroon on the other hand was an absolute disgrace, it required a good banging of the spoon to cut through it and after all that work I didn't even have the will to taste it.

Friends had the apple cake and loved it! So next time I'm going for a clear choice and not this I want everything taster.

La Cucina Di Ciro
43 7th Avenue, Parktown North
Best for:  Date night, it's quiet and intimate. Perfect for a romantic dinner, I recommend it to friends for date night all the time.
Not sold on: The dessert taster trio
Will come back for: The deboned duck served with a black cherry sauce

Friday, June 7, 2013

Today's Craving - I want a Cronut!

I follow Dominique Ansel on Instagram and twitter, he also happens to be the owner of my favourite bakery Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo New York. It will remain on my NY must eats list (see NY Must Eats list here) and of course I love his made to order madeleines, see my post on heaven in Dominique Ansel here. About a month ago Dominique started Instagramming the Cronut which peaked my interest. I thought I'd share a few pictures of Dominique's Cronuts, to share in the craving.

The Cronut must be the perfect breakfast pastry decadent and sinful treat paired with a cuppa or so I imagine. What is a Cronut? It's half Croissant and half Donut. Layers of flaky croissant pastry deep fried ala doughnut and filled with a "custard" cream topped with a glaze. It reminds me of my favourite doughnut, the boston creme only better. I'll call it the Boston Creme's sexy second cousin.

Rose Vanilla Cronut

Undressed Cronut

Lemon Maple Cronut cross section

@Tastyones (Woolworths' Taste Magazine twitter handle) tweeted that Jason Bakery in Cape Town has made a couple of Cronuts this morning. Can a Jozi bakery get on it though?! or I may need to get Cronuts flown in from Jason Bakery, can you spell O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D

This pastry even has a movement Home of the Cronutophiles, I kid you not. All I'm saying is give me a cronut so I know it's real!

A Kitchen Tea made by Jozi Foodie Fix

A couple of weeks ago I organised a Kitchen Tea for one of my beautiful friends Ashleigh. The brief I got from Ashleigh's mum was that it has to be beautiful, tasteful and elegant.  The Kitchen Tea was hosted at the Munro Boutique Hotel that has a spectacular view of Johannesburg's urban forest. Dress code was casual elegance with a hat or fascinator.

The Munro provided a wonderful variety of sweet and savoury treats for the high tea, including cucumber sandwiches, pumpkin scones, chocolate cups and mille feuilles. The Kitchen Tea was an intimate affair and time for the bride to be to mingle with her closest friends. Games included What's in your bag (the ice breaker), a bride quiz and dress the cake. Prizes for guests included champagne, chocolates and of course slices of the wonderful 'dress the cake' mini cakes. Party favours were beautifully wrapped macarons (macaroons). I sourced the mini cakes and the macarons and had them brought in to The Munro.

Munro Boutique Hotel view of Johannesburg
Bride to be greeting guests
High tea treats
Menu, table setting & party favours
Bride quiz, bride, mom, Mother of the groom & Grannie buttons

Dress the cake
The winning mini wedding cake
Should you need assistance with coordination of a Kitchen tea, Bridal Shower or Baby Shower feel free to contact me on

Photography by Stephanie O'Conner (see her work here)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Afternoon Snack - Homemade chocolate brownies

I made these yummy Nigella triple chocolate brownies (see recipe here) week before last, as dessert for a dinner date. The brownies have a combination of white and milk chocolate chips in them. the are crunchy on the outside and fudgy on the inside - Yum O! They're great after dinner or as an afternoon tea snack with a piping hot cup of tea.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Jozi Foodie Fix ramblings in Conde Nast House & Garden Gourmet Magazine

If you have the Conde Nast House & Garden Gourmet second edition, page to the back page and you will see my "love" letter to Cube tasting kitchen. The back page last word feature allows a "foodie" to give their own account about their favourite table at their favourite dining spot in their city.

Grab a copy of Conde Nast Gourmet magazine to read my ramblings and for winter feast ideas.