21 March 2009

The Miller's Thumb.

I had read about a restaurant called the Miller's Thumb. The guidebooks and some variety of magazine that I read raved about it, calling it a not-to-be-missed experience.

Fortunately, S & L were already on the case, had booked a baby-sitter, and were planning to take us there. They are truly excellent hosts and should run a guest house. It was such a pleasant experience.

So for dinner on the Wednesday night, off we went to the Miller's Thumb. Wow. It was really wonderful! (I can't believe I am only blogging dinner from Wednesday of the first week. I am so behind.)

Frist off, the Miller's Thumb is a lovely restaurant on a quiet street. It's not huge, but it's very comfortable inside and has a delightful menu and extremely friendly staff.

To start, I ordered their crab stuffed mushrooms. These were amazing and I have craved them since we've returned.

The mushrooms had a really nice crab flavour, and a sharp cheese-y tang that really went well with the baked mushroom cap. I have always been a big fan of mushrooms, and the crab stuffed mushroom is way up at the top of the list of ways to eat them!

G and S ordered a game carpaccio. I can't remember what kind of meat it was, but it was really really red.

Carpaccio is one of those things that you either love or hate. Okay, maybe that's not so true. I would never order regular carpaccio on my own, but I am happy to nibble a bite or two off of G's when she orders it. She'd eat it for a whole dinner, she really really loves it. But this one really tested my limits, and I didn't try it.

G wasn't enamoured with it, either. The slices of meat were far too thick and G says that she had a very difficult time eating it. I am glad I didn't order it.

For mains, S raved about the jumbalaya and he ordered it up...

S patiently let me take the picture, and then he was forced to wait again while I snapped a close-up of the prawn that was staring at me...

I so want to like prawns, but when their feelers brush my arm... *shudder* ... it's no good.

Nevertheless, the jumbalaya was SENSATIONAL. It was really spicey, the rice was perfectly cooked and slightly creamy, the sausage and fish in the jumbalaya were perfectly cooked and added such a nice balance to the creamy rice. It was spectacular. And an enormous portion!

I ordered the Green Curry with brown rice. There were two reasons for this... one, I am slightly gun shy of ordering fish and I'd rather try everyone else's and then start to see things that I like, and two, I was craving brown rice and sauce, and the idea of the green curry really checked those boxes. Well, the reality of the green curry checked those boxes, as well!

Oh yeah. Lots of spinach, lots of sauce, lots of beef, and a bowl of brown rice. HEAVEN. I enjoyed this so much I think there wasn't a spot of sauce left! It was such a different curry from what I am used to. Maybe that's the Malay influence?

So another good meal in Cape Town. It's a food city and there's a lot of amazing food to be had. Coming up? Our trip to the Slow Food Market!!!

A Bad Picture of a Good Lunch.

On day three, G's family joined us downtown for a walk-about. I was really excited to get into Cape Town proper, and we went to the African Craft Market (which is overwhelming!!!), had a coffee, stopped at the CNW and bought some food magazines (!), and just soaked in the sites.

After soaking, we decided that a spot of lunch was in order. We somehow ended up wandering into a little pasta place that had seating outside. The restaurant had a long display case full of different types of cold and hot pastas, and you could pick either one or two pastas for your lunch. I can't remember the name of the place or the cost of the food. And really, all I have is a mostly crap picture of the wonderful gnocchi and chicken pasta that I had. So of course, I share with you...

It was really good. Not the best pasta ever, but for wandering in off a busy street on a busy day with a group of people, it hit the spot nicely!!!

Is there any food that Cape Town can't make?!

Lunch with a View.

Isn't that nice? One morning while in Cape Town, S, G and I took off for Boulder's Beach to hang with the penguins, Cape Point to see Cape Point, and then off to Imhoff Farm for a lovely afternoon lunch. This up here was the view from our table. Pretty sweet.

The menu at The Blue Water Cafe for Imhoff Farm sounded amazing. Open faced sandwiches of every type. It was hard to know what to order on the menu... so we started off with drinks...

G started off with a Grapetiser.

The 'tiser' family of drink is one of G's favorite things. S had turned me on to the Windhoek Light, so of course I had to have that when offerred!

Blurry beer, clear background. Just imagine you're nearsighted. The far away is the far prettier thing.

So after much discussion, we made our orders. We were not sure what the sandwiches would look like, but they sounded amazing so we all picked a different one in case anyone wanted to share (which I almost never do) and sat pack and waited. The wait wasn't long, and we had condiments to pass the time...

Okay, we didn't pass the time with the condiments, but they did present a pretty little picture...

Then came the sandwiches. Oh boy.

First up, S's roasted veggie...

You might be questioning how this could be classified as a sandwich. Well, there's bread under there, you just can't see it. But it is like a giant wodge of salad with sandwichy toppings interspersed on top of a piece (or two) of bread. S proclaimed this to be a mighty good sandwich, but perhaps not as good as mine...

Mmmmm. Mine was chicken, bacon, tomatoes, brie, avocado pear (which was supposed to be there but wasn't) and lots of rocket. I am not a huge fan of gigantic piles of lettuce, but the bacon, chicken and cheese on this was spectacular. It may not have been as fantastic as G's though... The Full English Sandwich...

Oh yes. That is the winner. It had two beautifully fried eggs, beef sausage, grilled tomatoes, grilled mushrooms, bread, and rocket. It was lovely. And she wouldn't share either. Nor should she have.

The Imhoff Farm is an absolute lovely farm. Thanks S, for another excellent recommendation!

09 March 2009

Grill and Butcher -- or -- eating for Africa

S had a list of restaurants that he wanted us to try and first on the list was the Grill and Butcher.

We were excited to go there because we were totally game to try game. (Hardy har har, really, it doesn't get funnier than this.) So yep, we tried our first of many rounds of game meat that night, springbok.

S had been talking about the GIANT ESPATADA, skewers of meat so big that when they are dropped on the floor in a crazy showy specatcle, they make a big mess! Okay, only mine was dropped on the floor, but it was done so with style and flair, so it was mildly okay! The kitchen staff quickly made me a new GIANT ESPATADA (which was weird because our entire meal took about an hour and 15 minutes to get to us in the first place, granted, there were 8 of us!!!)... but I digress... here she is...

The meat was delicious. There was supposed to be rump, sirloin, ostrich and game meats on the skewer, but they were out of ostrich so we ordered two game meats. And I say, bless you springbok, you are not only beautiful but wonderfully delicious! (Let me also add that this giant skewer of meaty goodness was all mine (one of my relatives asked if that were the serving for the entire table!). I made a good dent in it, the meat was really fantastic.) But it's not just meat! NO!

The skewer of meat dangled delightfully over a plate of goodies.

See for yourself...

The veg was really good. Still slightly crispy, nicely flavored, and the marinade from the meat just drip, drip, dripped happily into the rice.

Now, after an absolutely ginormous skewer of meat (and veg and rice) dessert may not be on YOUR radar, but that would make you weak. And I am not weak. (Ha ha!) Actually, I was intrigued that the restaurant had malva pudding on the menu. It's one of the SA foods that I desperately wanted to try, so I had to seize the day and order it.

It was absolutely delicious. It was a really nice sponge pud with a custardy sauce that made it rich and sweet. I couldn't believe how tasty it was. And it wasn't so big. (G ordered a peppermint crisp sundae that was positively ENORMOUS! No photos, but it did get passed around the table of EIGHT and still wasn't even dented!)

It was really a wonderful meal. S had brought a wine that matched the dinner happily (the name escapes me entirely), and the meal was a complete success. We really appreciated our hosts putting in the time and effort to take us to places that they thought we would like. Knowing that we wanted to try game, this was a great first stop!

All in all, despite the food on the floor, my first big restaurant outing in Cape Town was a triumph, and I couldn't wait until the next meal du jour! (Which I won't blog about. It was an Italian restaurant in Sea Point that was lovely, but I didn't take photos and I don't remember the name!)

08 March 2009

The Coast with the Most.

Our intrepid 'guide', S, took us to Fish Hoek for fish and chips after a delightful sojourn through the botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch. It's just beautiful. Mountains and ocean in one place? That's right.

I went with S to order the fish and chips, and he suggested that I try this great Namibian beer that is very low alcohol...

Yum! The Windhoek Light is very low in alcohol (so having two was not out of the question on my first full day in Cape Town!) and absolutely delicious. I looked for it at the LCBO here, but no.

Then came our fish and chips... OH MY GOODNESS. The box looked promising and the smell coming from it was greasy fishy goodness.

The little box is no nonsense. The fish and chips is not.

Wow. It was sizeable. The fish was crisp and steamy, the chips were delightfully crisp but soft inside. Now, knowing the local lingo, I asked the woman behind the counter for some 'tomato sauce' for my chips, knowing that I sounded exactly like a local. Oh yeah, save for my American accent and tourist look of wonder!

The package of tomato sauce came out, and it was as hoped, ALL GOLD, the local brand.

I don't know how much I talk about ketchup on my blog, but I have had a certain fondness for ketchup my entire life. I have to confess, that fondness has waned a bit in my adult years, but it's still there, and I love trying ketchup in different places. (For example, ketchup in Canada is much sweeter compared to ketchup in the US. As a result, I often bring ketchup home to Canada when I visit the States.)

Regardless, the tomato sauce/ketchup was very vinegary and delicious with my fish and chips. Bring it!

From there, we went to a area of Cape Town called Camps Bay. It's very swanky. S asked if we wanted to stop and have a drink, and we agreed. Once out of the car, we confessed that we were not huge drinkers, but would love to have a moment to walk around. So we did. Then S said, "OH, my favorite ice cream store is up the street, should we stop?" And of course we had to agree to go give it a try. After all, it was his favorite ice cream restaurant.

I had a wonderful ice cream. I can't for the life of me remember what it was called. It was an amazing vanilla ice cream with some sort of shortbread cookie dough in it. ARGH! I canNOT remember what it was called, but it was delish!

And all of this delicious food was just the warm up to an amazing dinner.

Plane Food... Dinner and Breakfast, in that order.

Full of pasty and ready to get onto Cape Town, we headed back to Heathrow. Terminal 5 is massive and I eyed the restaurants where we could eat on the way home (like the Boy Scouts, I am always prepared). Safely on board our 747 and bound for Cape Town, we ate our worcester pretzels and drank our drinks as we chatted.

Then came dinner. I don't know how they do it, but it's like they spray some delicious food spray throughout the plane that makes you start craving dinner. Then, they start passing around the special dinners and we eagerly await our dinner, straining to hear what's on offer.

This time? Chicken and ratatouille OR beef lasagna. And in the spirit of sharing, I ordered the lasagna and G got the chicken.

We both got a little green salad with slivers of beetroot.

And our main food package had a description of the innards.

And the inner picture looked very similar...

It was quite delicious! Not the best thing I'd ever eaten, but there were layers of tender pasta with a meaty sauce and an excellent bechamel.

G's chicken had an excellent barley pilaf and ratatouille.

It was tasty, actually. It had a very healthy flavour, and G seemed to enjoy it.

For dessert, we had a delicious frangipane.

It was lovely, really. It was almondy and rich.

As soon as we finished, it was lights out for dynagrrl. We flew overnight to Cape Town, which is great because you leave in the evening and you get to sunny paradise like Cape Town in the morning. I rested as well as I could on a plane, while G watched movies and dozed off and on.

Drinks started coming around again hours later, and the smell of breakfast started filling the cabin. The choice was frittata OR full english breakfast. Twist my arm. We both ordered the full english.

The bacon under the egg was gag inducing, but the egg itself was delicious, as were the mushrooms and tomato. Juice good. Yogurt good. Muffin too sweet. I'm not talking about the sausage because gag inducing doesn't come close.

We ate. I started getting antsy. The full english started rumbling like mad in my belly and soon we were on the ground in bright sunny Cape Town!

Lay Over...

Right. A lay-over. In London. Which means a trip to Laduree, Boots, and a meeting with good friends J and C. Which was an excellent way to spend our morning in London!

J suggested we wander over to Patisserie Valerie, a little shop with amazing pastries and what not right near the Green Park tube station where we had arranged to meet. We wandered over and one look at the menu made me realize that I needed FOOD not merely pastry, so I shyly asked if anyone else was going to order proper food. Everyone agreed, and I ordered the croque madame with poached egg and side salad.

This was amazing! The sandwich was ham and cheese, fried into a little beautiful pocket of goodness, covered in a beautiful, sharp gruyere sauce the topped with an amazingly runny poached egg. I dug right in and only then remembered to shoot a photo...

The side salad was nice, as well, with the dressing I equate with France but can't quite recreate at home...

Really delicious and an amazing way to spend a morning in London!

From there, we crossed the street and headed to the oddly shaped Laduree for macaroons. No photos, just delicious macaroons. Then off to Habitat where I drooled over the melamine tiffins that I have been drooling over on the internet for about six months. I couldn't justify buying them so soon in the trip but someday... From there, we just kept walking around, going in and out of shops and stretching our legs.

When our legs were duly stretched, we headed over to one of our favorite London institutions...

And I promptly ordered my favorite... beef and stilton pasty...

We sat on the curb in Covent Garden, enjoying the heck out of our pasty's, chatting with a little boy from Spain, and just generally being chuffed with our overwhelming good fortunes to be in such a lovely city ...

Little did we know that the amazingness we felt that evening was going to be multiplied by many once we arrived in Cape Town...

Beginning at the beginning.

The thing about South Africa, and being on a crazy relaxing holiday, is that there are so many food things to share that a little blogger doesn't know where to begin! So after much thought and weighing of the options, I am starting at the beginning...

And the beginning is a British Airways flight from Toronto to London Heathrow.

Flying BA was amazing. I've flown to the UK a couple of times, always on a charter airline, and have found the experience less than excellent. I fly within North America relatively frequently and wouldn't really rhapsodize about the service, but I was anxious to see what the long-haul flight on a proper airline would be like, and BA delivered.

Getting onto the plane, we found a little care packet in our seats that contained a toothbrush with toothpaste, socks, a blanket, and eye shades. Score! I got settled in, flipped through the movie offerings on my personal in-seat television, and promptly went to sleep. I did however wake up in time for pre-dinner snacks and drinks...

Worcester sauce flavored pretzels! SCORE! G's favorite flavor sprinkled onto little pretzels was a big hit and we happily crunched away while downing our drinks.

Yeah, this is what you get when you fly with a nervous flier (me). Poor G often had to keep everything on her tray table because I have some weird block about having the tray table down. It really bothers me, and while I am eating, it's okay, but when it's over, put the tray UP! The wine was mine and the whiskey and ginger ale was G's. We were very relaxed for dinner.

Our choice for dinner was pasta or beef. I chose the pasta because G wanted the roast beef and we had to get different things for photos. Then the dang photo of the pasta didn't come out AT ALL. AND G's beef was better than my pasta. Drat drat and drat again.

But we both started with a cheese and roasted veg salad.

Tasty. It was vinegary, the cheese was salty and soft, and the veg were roasted veg that had sat around in the cold for awhile. No complaints.

Now there's G's beef. Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, and carrots and peas. And delicious to boot. The photo does not justice but believe me, I wish I had ordered it and next time, when asked, I will pick the beef!

We had a strudel for dessert that was served in a very sweet custard sauce...

Lovely. It was soft and chewy with a little apple flavor. It didn't change my life, but I didn't not eat it, either.

After dinner, we had a bit of a snooze. G watched movies, I listened to Eclipse on my iPod and zoned out. I am sure we had some manner of food when we were landing, but I don't recall it in the slightest and there are no photos to jar my memory. Oh well. The dinner portion was great, and had me looking forward to the meals on our even longer trip to Cape Town. But that was hours away and we still had a full day in London...

04 March 2009

Vacation Week 1 -- Cape Town --

Or, how to relax and love life...

G and I just returned from a bit of a whirlwind vacation. We went to South Africa, where we spent a glorious week in Cape Town with G's amazing (!!!) family, and then a week at a game reserve and driving the Garden Route back to Cape Town.

While we were there, the weather was warm, sunny, windy as all get out, and beautiful. We had such an amazing time, I can't wait to go back...

I thought that before I plunged into posting about the CRAZY amount of food that we ate, I would start with a bit of a Cape Town recap, and then a post of the second week at the game lodge, then delve head first into food.

So let's begin...

Cape Town. I don't actually know where to begin with Cape Town. It is beautiful, dynamic, strange, conflicted, and full on has elements of what I imagine heaven is like... mountains and ocean. Sigh.

This is taken along a path in Stellenbosch, just looking out at the mountains... It really is sigh inducing, isn't it...

And the city is nice, too. This is the view from the Rhodes Memorial... and we also saw the currently being built World Cup stadium...

This photo is NOT from the Rhodes Memorial, so it's completely out of order in terms of daily activities, but it's my blog so there.

We also went to Boulder's Beach which is home to a large penguin colony. And they just swim and walk and sun in between the folks.. AND it was mating season, so everyone was VERY lovey dovey...


We took a catamaran cruise from the Wharf. It was lovely!!!

And I got a little bit sick...

G's cousin-in-law, S filled me in on the way to solve seasickness, though. Lie down (it was freezing, hence my blankie) and look at the horizon because it doesn't move. He ruled, I drooled, and there you have it.

The coastal areas are quite beautiful ...

But lest you think it was all fun and games with no culture... here is some art that we saw on the street...

Hmmm. Yes. I see. So I will let you pause for a moment and ponder this one and talk amongst yourselves. Send me an email or leave a comment with your thoughts...


All around Cape Town are townships where the poor live. It's amazing to see these huge expanses of house. It's so strange.

And all of these townships seem to have some sort of power/electricity connected to them...

I don't know. Cape Town was a very real lesson for me in how intellectually you can understand something that will in the end make no sense on an emotional level. But I loved how it made me think and question myself, my beliefs, and all the things that I always thought I had understood or had some understanding of... This isn't a political blog, so I am not going into the whole dichotomy of my thinking, but suffice it to say that it's a country with so much. I absolutely loved it and honestly I would go back tomorrow.

But first, we have to go to the game reserve...


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