26 April 2009

Random food.

Dinner can sometimes result in a complete meltdown in our house. We're tired, we're stressed out, and we're trying to get the best dinner on the table possible without tons of dishes. But we almost always manage to come up with something tasty, even if it isn't incredibly photogenic or exciting.

This dinner is one that was pretty and delicious, however.

Stuffed Peppers! G browned some ground beef and mixed it with rice and seasonings.

G also made an amazing quajado using the aforementioned recipe that her Auntie Rae in SA uses.

We also had a very normal dinner of breaded chicken and peas and smashed potatoes. This is a favorite dinner in our house. It's simple and delicious.

Back to themed posts after this one...

Builder's Breakfast -or- how Walker's made me want to hurl.

While on our stop-over in London, I did some damage in the WH Smith bookshop at Heathrow. I love the bookstores in London. And the airport shops are no different. Sooo many magazines and great books, and new books in "airport softcover" when they are still hardcover everywhere else. So of course, I had to set out and make some purchases. (A few things: all the April food magazines (Olive, BBC GoodFood, Delicious) because it is so much cheaper to buy them there then to buy them here... the latest Ian M. Banks book Matter, and the Jamie Oliver magazine (crap).)

We also picked up some Walker's crisps. As mentioned before, the worcester flavour Walker's are the very very best. Without question. They were having a contest for a new flavour and had produced the top few and put them into circulation. I bought and sampled the Builder's Breakfast...

NO NO NO NO NO. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. I am going to be graphic and indelicate here, so do forgive me, but they tasted like bacon and ketchup burps. And really I don't care what kind of day I am having, I will never want to sit down and eat chips that taste like burped up bacon and ketchup. NEVER. If that sounds like a treat to you, see if you can get these. I wished I had bought the cajun squirrel chips instead.

Now on to something completely different.

Today is a new experiment with the old HOT blog. I am going to leave the sunny shores of South Africa and start blogging about some things that have happened since I've been home (which we've been home now for TWO months!). Also, this is my first post from new netbook. I am giving the netbook a go, I bought a pretty solid one (I think) from tigerdirect.ca in order to have a computer that is even more portable than my mac (which is about to go into the shop) and that is lighter and easier to carry around with me. So far, so good, but I haven't made a blogpost yet using it and the photo editor program I downloaded, so bear with me while I get used to a) blogging from windows and b) blogging from my teensy 8.9 inch netbook. DISCLAIMER OVER AND OUT!

When we returned from vacation, we both had a craving for Greek food. The weather was crap and we didn't want to go out so we found a place that delivers and made a big order. Kalyvia is a Greek restaurant on the Danforth that also has pizza. We've been there a few times now because they are one of the restaurants in our coupon book (we're such grannies) and the food is really solid. We'd never done delivery before so we gave it a go.

First up... massive Greek salads...

This came with the dinner and we each got one this size. It looks from the photo like the small styro container, but it's not at all. The Greek salad is good, really astringenty with lots of lemon and oregano. The feta they use is really nice and creamy and not too salty.

I ordered the beef kebab which comes with rice and potatoes.

Lots of meat, really nice rice with mushrooms, and the most amazing potatoes. I don't know how they cook theirs, but they have so much amazing flavour and they are unbelievably soft and fluffy. Really tops.

I also ordered a side of the gigantes, which is probably my favorite Greek menu item...

Oh yeah. These were amazing. It's crazy how much I crave these beans!!! They are tender to eat, with a rich tomato and onion sauce. I could eat rice and these beans for dinner every night of the week and not be at all sad.

All in all it was a very good dinner. We couldn't eat all the food that was delivered, so we made little lunch packages for the next day and felt pretty smug about the whole affair! If you are in Toronto, give it a try. We've eaten in the restaurant a few times and it's always got people in it and the food is solid. And if you've had the pizza, send me an email and let me know how it is.

18 April 2009

Breakfast is Delicious.

And so it went... another morning, another extremely filling breakfast!

Our third morning there, breakfast had an unusual element. It was an almost Manwich tasting ground beef! I asked Geoff what it was and he said, "I don't know exactly, and it looks weird, but it's terribly addictive." So of course, I had to try a big spoonsful...

The plate as it was at the moment I sat down to eat:

I didn't take pictures of everything, because as you can see, some things were repeats such as the eggs, bacon and beans. But, on this morning, there were some lovely grilled tomatoes...

And the aforementioned meat...

Which was addictive.

I also thought I would add a picture of the fire pit area of the lodge for you to see. It was so beautiful, we had such a lovely time.

I highly recommend Lalibela for anyone thinking of going on a safari close to Cape Town. It was so lovely, and they make you feel very special when you are there. The rooms are quite deluxe and the scenery is unbelievable. The animals just do their thing, and you just do your thing, and it all works around you. Really nice.

This is our room from the walkway...

And the inside... it was absolutely gigantic and the bathroom was right behind the bedroom so you can't see it...

Wow. It is such an amazing place. I highly recommend it.

Dinner at the Lodge -- I do Kudu.

The second night was crazy! Our safari drive was cut short by a monstrous rain storm that was beautiful while it was approaching, and frightening when it hit! Our drive Geoff raced through the range to get us to the lodge safely, but early. The rain was pouring and we all sat in the lounge and had a drumming lesson while the kitchen staff prepared us a lovely dinner.

Here's my first plate...

The game on the menu the second night was kudu. It was basically a tenderloin of kudu that had been grilled on the bbq and was all smokey tasting from the rain. It was absolutely and without question one of the most delightful things I had ever tasted!

Wow. It was just amazing. Kudu rules all the way 'round. It was one of my favorite meats that we tasted AND I bought a beautiful kudu purse while staying in Cape Town. God Bless the mighty kudu!

And for those among us not ready to taste the beloved kudu, there was a lamb roast...

It was very lamb-y, and a bit outside my lamb comfort zone. More kudu, please!

There were also some very lovely hassleback potatoes...

And rice! I love rice and potatoes. Bring on the carbs!

There was also a big bowl of cheesey cauliflower and broccoli...

And there was a giant helping of mixed veggies.

Eh. Not my cup of tea, but so be it really.

And then came the showstopper. After wine and food and stories of the rain, we were served a delightful dessert...

Banana crepe with cream and little cocoa pawprints. TOOOOOO FREAKING CUTE!!!!! I loved it! Everyone oohed and ahhhed and dug into their dessert. It was delicious.

It's amazing how hungry and tired you can be when all you do is eat and relax! We went back to our canvas tree top room (which was gorgeous and very sturdy) and crawled into our gigantic bed and fell straight to sleep. It was a good day.

Safari Breakfast -- Not for the not very hungry...

Breakfast had even MORE options then dinner, if you can believe it... Very recognizable breakfast fare for the most part, and pretty hearty. It makes sense. You are woken up at around 5am to go on the morning safari. You don't have proper breakfast until you return and wash up, about 9:30 or 10:00. By then, you're starving from having been outside and enjoying seeing the animals...

My plate is not appetizing again, but the plates were HUGE so it's a weird plate to photograph...

And with the indulgence of the other guests, I took pics of each of the hot dishes, skipping the cold ones in the interest of everyone getting to their food more quickly!

First up, eggs either scrambled or fried:

The eggs look weird but they were amazing. They have the darkest yolks and the flavour is unbelievable.

Potato patties were crazy delicious with the tomato sauce...

The tomato stew/sauce was quite delicious. It seemed sort of random, but it really complemented the breakfast. It was basically slow cooked tomato and onion.

There were also beans...

And bacon...

And a boerwoers type sausage...

AND... creamed corn.

Hunh? Creamed corn? Okay. I had a little bit of it, didn't quite get it's breakfast appeal, and filled up on the copious offerings presented to us. There was also toast, veggies, cheeses, deli meats, and fruits. It was certainly a breakfast that was satisfying enough to see you through until the "light" lunch at 1:30pm.

Safari Grub.

With heavy hearts, we left Cape Town. We'd had such an amazing time and really enjoyed being in Cape Tow, but were definitely looking forward to the safari part of our vacation!

Off we went, a short flight on a very small plane to Port Elizabeth and then an hour or so drive to the Lalibela Game Reserve. Wow! We couldn't believe how beautiful the grounds were and how amazingly nice the people were when we arrived. We checked in and then headed off in a van to our Tree Tops lodge which was about 15-20 minutes away.

What a beautiful lodge! We arrived just in time to have a brief tour of the lodge and our rooms, and the off to a light lunch. Which was just what we wanted.

The spread was amazing. Meats, cheeses, salads, eggs, tomatoes, breads, etc. It was delicious. It wasn't too filling (and little did we know that the meals were just going to get bigger from there!!!), and after our lunch, we ordered some drinks and went to sit by the pool.

After a brief afternoon tea, we headed off on our first safari. I won't go into too much detail, but it was absolutely spectacular. The night got very cold, but the stars were awe-inspiring and a night sky that I will never ever forget. As we huddled in our blankets, we made our way back to the lodge to be greeted with steaming cups of coffee and Amarula. Yum!!!

Then off to dinner... my plate looks unappetizing (as buffet plates often do, I think), but the food was amazing...

Here are the individual things... First up, the cold dishes!

Beets. I didn't try these but heard they were delicious...

Very creamy potato salad.

Veggies, olives and a little sharp cheese.

Bread, which was unbelievably good.

Then the hot dishes...

Zukes! (The ranger told us that they get lots of squash for free, so there's always a ton of squash on the menu at Lalibela!)

And absolutely fantastic oven roasted squash. It was really really amazing.

And peppery potatoes.

And a beautiful chicken pot pie. This is the white blob on the edge of my completed plate...

And that is impala cooked in a style very very similar to chicken fried steak! The sauce in the middle was a very thick caramelized onion sauce. It was really delicious but not photogenic in the slightest!

All in all, and amazing first full dinner. The lodge is incredibly relaxing. It's eat, relax, look at animals, relax, eat, relax, eat, look at animals, and so on and so on. Over the course of a couple of days, you definitely chill out. And gain a few pounds. But it's so worth it!

10 April 2009

Stellenbosch -- the wine blurs my memory.

Just kidding!

Stellenbosch is a beautiful mountain wine area around Cape Town. S and L, our lovely hosts, had planned a beautiful day in the Stellenbosch area, starting with a trip to the Slow Food Outdoor Market.


It was huge. It was lovely. The food was different, amazing, and distinct. There was cheese, meat, biltong, curry, pasta, more cheese, fish, chutney and jams, and just an amazing array of things to taste!

That's G talking to the ladies about the different curries for sale. We bought a beautiful curry that was double wrapped and STILL made my new kudu purse smell like curry! We also snuck away with a couple of samosas that we ate as we walked around. S and L bought some beautiful sausages and cheese I am not certain how this market is affiliated with the Slow Food Movement, but it apparently is. It's really nice and in the middle of a bunch of apartments. I imagine living in those apartments is a bit of a blessing and a curse.

I also bought a lovely plum and onion preserve from the Chaloner booth. It is amazing. (I bought quite a few chutney's and pickles while I was there. Ever since I developed the love for the Baxter's tomato chutney, I have been branching into the sauces. I think it's a Nigella Lawson influence, but whatever it is, it's delicious!)

From there we took off for some wine tasting...

First up, G wanted to go to JC Leroux for champers.

The tasting there is strange. It was 22RND each (or thereabouts), and you got to sit down and have a taste of about 5 champagnes made there. They started out very dry and lovely and then just got far too sweet for my liking. But it was actually a very nice way to taste because it was basically a table service. The wine chick would come over with the bottle, give you a little talk about it, pour VERY generous servings, and then walk away while we all got to chitchat.

From there we went to Beyerskloof. I would love to have spent even MORE time at this winery because it was just so amazing. The tasting room is lovely...

And they serve this amazing salami while you taste their absolutely fantastic pinotage wines. The wine here was fantastic, but alas, we were not allowed to bring it back to Canada because security at London Heathrow makes you get rid of all liquids when you go through security AGAIN for your connecting flight. Grrr.

Regardless, that was an amazing time. We all bought salami that I oddly put in my aforementioned kudo purse and forgot it was there until I arrived home in Canada a week later! It was so relaxing and enjoyable. Another home run outta the park plan by S and L. So appreciated!

From there, we went off to lunch at one of S and L's fave spots...

The Buena Vista Social Cafe. Here's where the tastes get tested. Mexican-y food. In SOUTH AFRICA for someone from OKLAHOMA who pretty much has a lock on good Mexican food. And how did it compare? DELISH!

First up, S had raved about the jalapeno poppers called FLAMING DIABLOS that are wrapped in bacon, stuffed with cheese and fried. So I had to order them because to do otherwise would have been too rude (and with a name like Flaming Diablos, you gotta order it!).

WOW! Two of these are more than enough to share because they are MASSIVE. They were perfectly fried, spicy hot without being about to kill you with heat, super cheesey and the bacon was really smokey and lush. But MAN ALIVE, two is a lot to eat for one girl who's had half a salami and about a bottle of wine.

Especially when coming up is a GINORMOUS plate of nachos...

These were stacked nachos. Chicken, peppers, sour cream, avocado pear, cheese, salsa, chili, and chips. Now the weird thing about this dish were the chips. They tasted like ketchup doritos. It wasn't bad, it was just such a surprise! I must confess that I did eat the majority of these nachos, and they were the perfect counter to my wine soaked afternoon.

The portions here were huge, though. G ordered the HALF order of quesadillas...(editor's note...G informs me that I had a half order of nachos and she had a whole order of quesadillas. I can't imagine my ordering a half order of ANYTHING, but who knows...)

I mean, that's a half order. That's completely insane.

We had a great time, though, and really enjoyed the day thoroughly. For dinner, we had Nando's, which G speaks of fondly (as does the Food Pornographer!), so it was a must have while we were visiting Cape Town...

We only took a pic of the bag...

because G said that, "nothing says happiness like a big sack of Nando's." So look at the bag and be happy. And when the bag makes you that happy, there's no reason to discuss the delicious chicken inside.


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