Monday, February 28, 2011

Neighbourhood, Long Street, Cape Town

I was in Cape Town with a friend a little while ago and stayed in an awesome little hotel called Daddy Long Legs. It couldn't have been situated in a more perfect position... right on Long Street across from Neighbourhood. Yes!

The atmosphere at Neighbourhood is very relaxed and comfortable. There are huge comfy couches scattered around the place for patrons to lounge around and enjoy two for one cocktails between 5pm and 7pm everyday. The spicy Mojito is to die for but stay far far FAR away from the blackberry pina colada. I actually believe that the blackberry pina colada was put on the menu as a joke. That's how gross it is.

Anyway, the first night we ate nachos and chilli poppers and OH MY! they were good. In fact, we coined a new phrase that night. Instead of the commonly used "OMG" we now say "OMN", in homage to how good those nachos were. OH MY NACHOS!

The jalepeno poppers were large and juicy and not too hot.. which is always my problem when I make them at home.

The second night (yes, we were in Cape Town for just two nights and chose to eat here both of them) I ate a bacon and avo burger with their famous curly fries. The burger was delicious and the fries weren't too bad. My friend (the vegetarian) had a cous cous and roasted vegetable salad. Neighbourhood really caters for its vegetarian clients and I think that is awesome. The edamame beans starter is interesting. I'd never eaten a bowl of edamame beans before but it was surprisingly good, and a great healthy alternative to the other starter options on the menu.

As it gets later the restaurant becomes more of a bar and it gets noisier and noisier (or vibe-ier and vibe-ier, whichever you prefer).
The staff are super friendly and efficient. Prices are reasonable and portions are large. The top of the bar itself is kind of a centrepiece to the whole place and is made of a clear resin with things like coins and watches suspended in it. Quite remarkable indeed.

Completely Cooked Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jalepeno Burgers

Burgers are great and so versatile. You can put almost anything in them and almost anything on them
I used to add half a cup of breadcrumbs to my burgers. Then one day I was like WHY? I like the bulk of my burger to be meat so these days I tend to nix the extra carbs.

1 cup minced beef
1/3 cup onion finely chopped
2 jalepenos finely chopped
1 egg
salt and pepper

Cheese slices
Pineapple rings
Avo slices

Finely chop onion and jalepenos - i used jalepenos out of a jar because i'm tired of being surprised by the lack of consistency in the heat of fresh ones.
Mix together minced beef, egg, onion, jalepeno, dried herbs and salt and pepper
Form into patties... I once saw a great tip on tv (though i can't remember which show it was). The chef lined the lid of a jar with platic wrap and formed his burger patties in the cavity... perfect shape every time!)
Fry the patties in heated olive oil (or on the braai if you're eating outside)and pop them on a burger bun when they're done
I ate these patties on a fresh burger bun with cheese slices, 2 pineapple rings and avo slices, perfect chilled out summer dinner. So perfect, in fact, that I wasn't quick enough to snap a photo before its deliciousness was gobbled up by my greedy mouth. Better luck next time I

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PL8 at Hotel 64, Gordon Road, Durban

The restaurant ran a ‘half price Mondays’ special for the entire month of January 2011. We decided to take advantage

The design and decor of the restaurant and hotel are really well thought out and interesting. Sleek and uncluttered. I like that the interior is unusual without being in your face about it. I felt comfortable and at home but still enjoyed the little details.

The waitresses were flawless- friendly but not annoying, extremely efficient and quirky. It is always obvious how much a waitron hates or loves their job and it really seemed as though these people were happy to be there.
To start I had the mussel pot. The mussels were large, juicy and had quite a smokey taste, which we decided was very nice. Others at the table had peri peri chicken livers, escargots, fishcakes, butternut soup and mushroom risotto.
I tasted the fishcakes and thought were a little bland but they were presented exquisitely and paired with cream cheese which added a bit of interest.
The mushroom risotto was definitely the winner for me though. Perfect texture and a great rich taste.
The choice for mains had all bases covered (beef, chicken, fish and veg options as well as pizzas) but it was not as interesting as I had expected for such a trendy looking place. They definitely stayed on the safe side with the menu.
The linefish was cape salmon and was served with linguine, the linguine was nice and so was the salmon, nothing that I would get excited about though. The chicken roulade was exceptionally tender and fairly tasty, but again, nothing spectacular.
I ordered the fillet of beef with potato rosti and red wine jus. I have to say this was the most disappointing meal of the night. I asked for it to be cooked 'medium' and it was completely over-cooked. It was still tender (somehow) and the rosti was very nice but the taste was just plain boring. I kind of felt like I was eating a very average pub lunch of steak and gravy (not to diss steak and gravy at all... just saying that if I wanted such an ordinary meal I could get that at the pub down the road and it would be tastier and cheaper). 
On any other occasion such poor food would probably have ruined my night. Thankfully, It didn’t. I can't say why because it's something that I haven’t been able to put my finger on but even though I didn’t love the food I still managed to have an absolutely fantastic evening. As a result, I could definitely see myself visiting again… perhaps only for drinks and the risotto starter though.
completely cooked rating: 5.5 / 10

Thursday, February 10, 2011

chocolate covered pretzels

I have been itching to start this blog for months now. Something always comes up though, something to prevent me from putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) and publishing my first post.
That something is programming illiteracy. 
I've now decided that enough is enough.So this is me biting the bullet.

It's the first post so I thought I would start with something super simple. In fact, it's not as much a recipe as it is DIY instructions. I made this on Christmas and everyone loved so I decided to make them again for a friend's beach party... admittedly it's not the best beach party food considering that chocolate melts almost instantly when exposed to a combination of 30degree celsius temperatures and direct sunlight but that didn't matter because these guys were such a marvelous success that they were gobbled up in mere minutes.

If you need a small but scrummy gift this delicious, cost effective, no skill required, recipe is for you! All you need is a few minutes to make them, pop them into clear bags and tie them up with some pretty ribbon. done.

So... chocolate salted pretzels:


1 slab (approx 200g) dark/milk/white chocolate (whichever you prefer... I initially made this with milk chocolate and this time used half dark and half top-deck)

Plain salted pretzels (as many as you need... usually for a slab you can make about 100 - 150 pretzels... depending on how chocolatey you like them)


Break up the chocolate in a double boiler (Hint: I don't have one so I used a pyrex mixing bowl on top of a sauce pan filled with boiling water)

Wait for the chocolate to melt completely

Either lay out the pretzels on some wax paper and drizzle with melted chocolate
Dunk each pretzel into the melted chocolate (preferably without burning your fingers) and then lay them on some wax paper to dry

The first alternative is much quicker but I usually make them using the second method as I think it looks prettier and there is also less chocolate wastage.

(Hint: If you're making these during South African summer... or similar temperatures the chocolate is going to take hours to harden - if at all. I usually stick the chocolated pretzels in the fridge to set. And, actually, the coolness of the pretzels is pretty great when the air around you is a stifling hot blanket).


And yay me! First blog post... tick!