Home » General » Food Review – Better Prices, Quality, Variety [opinion]

AFTER a hectic weekend in Jo’burg, spoiled for choice with eating out options, it is tempting to jump on the usual bandwagon of prices being so much lower, quality being so much better and variety being so much more. Unfortunately all true. Over one long weekend we had more meals out than we do in a month at home. From a private dinner in a boutique guest house to a birthday celebration on a roof in Sandton and innumerable meals out in between, we realized how it is possible to eat out or take out almost all the time.

When compared to Harare prices, dining out in Jo’burg is positively reasonable. So I was relieved to hear from a friend recently moved to Dar-es-Salaam that after finding Harare expensive, prices in Dar are insane. Wonder if there is some kind of price arc peakng like a line of longitude over the equator… … .?

But back to Jo’burg where eating out is easy. First night out was a private dinner at Zietsies- a stunning glass walled dining room perched on top of an Auckland Park Hill attached to a boutique bed and breakfast owned and run by soap star and entertainer Elsabe Zietsman. Three courses – butternut soup flavoured with cumin and orange, rich eland fillet with wine sauce and roasted vegetables followed by sticky malva pudding – all served in style by Elsabe herself ,in front of a blazing wood stove on an icy highveld night with a starry view over all the lights of northern Gauteng, set us back only ZAR250 per person.

Sometimes if you are lucky – or arrange it in aance – Elsabe will give you a French style cabaret accompanied by her pianist on the grand piano taking up a quarter of the glass salon. Next time!

Breakfast next morning was in ultra trendy Parktown North at the vegan friendly Pudding Shop. Menu was innovative with imaginative but tasty combinations, prettily presented on coloured plates with scattered edible flowers and very good coffee and exotic teas. We enjoyed crispy filo pastry parcels stuffed with scrambled egg and bacon, blueberry pancakes with cashew nut butter and fluffy spiced omelettes with just the right amount of green chillie.

Service was a bit snotty and my soon to be daughter-in-law was chastised for turning up with a reduced party due to the vagaries of Kulula (airline) and her parents still being stuck in Durban. All the same, food was delicious and seemed a bargain at around ZAR60 each.

It does seem possible however to overdo it. After only one home cooked meal in five days it was a relief to arrive home and, rebelling against what seemed to have been non-stop shopping, I decided to produce supper from what was in the garden. It was a delightful challenge and the end result both colourful and tasty.

There is enormous pleasure in coming up with recipes from what is on hand. The garden yielded bright orange carrots and crimson beetroots which I steamed separately till tender and then sauteacuteed in olive oil and butter with cumin, salt and pepper. I harvested swiss chard and spinach and cooked those in a thick white sauce flavoured with nutmeg and cheese.

Final touch was including fresh eggs – luckily the hens had been laying – boiled gently for just over four minutes until yolks were set but still sticky. Made me appreciate the simplicity of good ingredients, free of chemicals, totally fresh from the garden and cooked lightly and fast. It was delicious. Would love to see more homegrown quality out and about in Harare!

Source : Financial Gazette