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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kiddies Menus

I am one of those rare individuals. A woman who has never been a mother and quite happy with that thanks very much. I put up with the “Happy Mother’s Day” greetings every year with a Madonna like smile hiding how annoyed I get at the assumption. I put up with my feministic lower salary no doubt based on the fact that most women take a considerable amount of their productive time out of the workplace while they are having children. I accept that. I put up with the fact that sometimes my friends are unable to meet me for lunch because their darlings have soccer, ballet or whatever extramural activity. But when I am asked to do reviews on restaurants with playgrounds I have to say enough is enough. I mean come on. To the childless those jumping castle adorned venues are quite simply hell on earth. Mothers and Fathers (in the metro sexual age) are oblivious to how annoying their little darlings are. The food menus at these restaurants have been designed to turn you and your darlings into lumps of lard and only seem to add to the exuberance displayed by the screaming bundles of parental joy. One of these restaurants is actualy named after a middle English term for dregs and waste. A perfect description of their fare in my opinion.

There are very few children that I enjoy in restaurants. And those children that I do enjoy in restaurants are those that are used to sitting together as a family at a table and eating a meal. And they do it well and there is usually lovely chat that everyone gets involved in. The event of eating out together is all the entertainment required. These kids also are never offered a kiddies menu. They eat adult food and are encouraged to eat healthier options. The White River Rats are a perfect example of this. These kids were raised in restaurants and around the family dinner table. They prefer to be in on the conversation. They are not told to go and leave the adults alone.

T & A, my nieces were raised to be restaurant friendly by me. I frequently took them to very adult restaurants and ordered weird things like oysters and sashimi for them to try. We had one rule. They had to taste anything we ordered. They didn’t have to like it or eat a full plate of it and if they did not like it that was fine. But taste first. It proved to be quite expensive as they both adored oysters at first bite. And now that they are both in their twenties they gulp glasses of bubbly with the oysters. They both love food and have become quite discerning over the years. Budding foodies. And I take full credit.

I believe very firmly in families eating together. I have never found children bothersome at a table where they are used to sitting and eating at dinnertime. In fact I find the conversation at dinnertime to be rather pleasant. My dad was my food mentor. He was a sales manager and often entertained his sales teams at home as a team builder. I was always very involved and would set the tables and design the flowers etc. Then later when our maid was off on Thursday’s I cooked for the family. I often made a minced beef dish. With half a bottle of red wine. In those days it all went in the food. It was rich and dark and packed with garlic and mushrooms. And served with Tastic rice. I made up the recipe myself. Real rib sticking food. I like working with mince and I have quite a few favourite recipes. Not least of which is the simple Spag Bol (Spaghetti Bolognaise). The one that comes to mind today is:

Ostrich Frikkadels with Cucumber & Mint Tzatziki
Ostrich Frikkadels
500g Ostrich Mince
1 Medium onion chopped
2 tsp chopped capers
2 tsp chopped anchovies
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp lemon rind
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped parsley

Mix all the ingredients together and form into golf ball sized frikkadels. Shallow fry until golden brown all around. They should be slightly pink inside. Do not do too many at a time or you will stew them. Fry about seven at a time in a 28cm pan.

Cucumber & Mint Tsatziki
125ml Greek yoghurt
1 tbs chopped English cucumber
1 tbs chopped mint
Salt and black pepper to taste.

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside for the flavours to infuse

Serve with pita bread and a crunchy salad.

For those that are counting the approximate kilojoule count is 1900. The serving size will have to be 3 frikkadels, half a pita bread, a side salad and a table spoon of tsatziki. You can lower the count by replacing Greek Yoghurt with fat free yoghurt.

I am not a nutritionist so my kilojoule calculation is my best guess using several online kilojoule charts as reference.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ek en jy special

Well here we are eight days after my start at a diet and I am now 2.1kgs down. I have been very bad though this weekend (my weekend by the way started on Thursday)and I wonder when it is all going to catch up with me. I am back on diet with a vengeance today.

My temptation started on Thursday when I met J for dinner at Sai Thai in Derek Ave, Cyrildene. Sai Thai has to be one of my favourite restaurants in the world. I have been going there for a number of years and I have never had a disappointing meal. On this night, trying to be good, I had a cabbage soup and a Som Tum salad. Both were delicious. Micky and Dennis run a very good show here that just seems to have gotten better and better over the years. In fact when Boston booitjie arrives this is the one restaurant I most want to show him. This restaurant satisfies my need for good service and good food and whenever my quest seems too daunting a visit here puts me at ease.

Friday I went solo and saw a movie (The Visitor), with popcorn, and then had some takeout from the fast food sushi spot opposite King David's in Linksfield. The sushi was difficult to eat. The rainbow roll pieces were too big. I don't like that. I don't think I will be back. There are so many sushi joints to choose from in Norwood now that I can be as picky as I please.

Saturday and Sunday were spent in the company of my fiercest competitors. My aunt and uncle. I tried to develop good needs work. Lots. So I will not publish that recipe here yet. It will be a brown rice pudding and I was experimenting with rice milk.

Tonight,being back on track, I made a low fat fish bake that was delicious. Pretty simple too. Even Angela could do it. Angela by the way is my cousin who is more a won't than a can't cook. She has a very busy life and if a recipe is too complicated or too exotic she simply could not be bothered. I try when doing recipes to adapt them to be Angela friendly. This one is.

Baked Cape Whiting

1 box of frozen cape whiting steaks defrosted
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbs chopped chervil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200oc. Cover the bottom of an ovenproof dish with the fish. Place the tomatoes , onions, garlic and chervil into a pan and reduce to a thick sauce. Season to taste and pour over the fish. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve with a green salad.

And for those that are counting this meal is a really low kilojoule count. The serving size is one steak per serving and a healthy side salad. Approx 1300kjs

I am not a nutritionist so my kilojoule calculation is my best guess using several online kilojoule charts as reference.

Monday, January 4, 2010

First of course

I have always wanted to have a food blog. Quite simply I am passionate about food. I spend a lot of time talking about food with my friends, most of whom are either also enthusiastic cooks or are enthusiastic diners. Blogging may well be one of the most self indulgent things I have ever done but then I will indulge in a fillet on truffle cream, topped with a foiegras and thyme butter crust and garnished with red caviar. A memorably good meal at Thomas Maxwell Bistro, Parkmore. I like indulgence of any kind.

The decision was finally made when I went out for cocktails with friends on New Year's Eve to RiCH Grill, Bedford Centre, and I was served the most unpleasant Kir Royal ever poured. It was made with JC Le Roux La Fleurette Rosé and 50ml of cherry liqueur. It tasted like Ribena. I told the barman that it was too sweet and was annoyed at his response that the restaurant had changed this classic cocktail to suit its patrons who preferred a sweeter drink. He added some soda in an attempt to tone it down. I kid you not! He then replaced it with a marginally less sweet drink. Classics should not be changed. Ever. This drink has been poured and enjoyed in good establishments since the early 20th Century.

So for the benefit of the very pleasant but knowledge impaired barman the classic Kir Royal is a brut Champagne with crème de cassis

The classic recipe (courtesy of the International Bartender Association) is:

Kir Royal
Pre dinner (flute glass)
9.0 cl Champagne
1.0 cl crème de cassis
Pour crème de cassis into flute glass, top up with Champagne.

And for more classic cocktails go to: