Home (again).

I am a terrible food blogger.

I have not blogged once since my trip to Boston last weekend.  And now, here I am, returned from another trip to Boston (well, Nantucket)…with zero plans to cook even one thing this week..or this weekend, when Husband and I travel to New York. (How is it possible to have SO MUCH insanity in five short days!?  Answer: Work.  And also it must be wedding season.)

If I could be fired from my own blog, I would be.

Don’t worry, though – there’s no shortage of food in my life.  Just a shortage of food I’ve prepared for myself.

On an unrelated note, here are 5 things I learned this weekend, when we celebrated my friend Emily’s bachelorette.

  1. The Skittles in the purple bag: not a bad flavor in the bunch!
  2. There are grown men who un-ironically sport lime green pants with pink lobsters and a coral belt.
  3. Get thee to Cisco Brewery.  Now.  Between the dogs running about, the beer, the bluegrass – it’s just an awesome time.
  4. Barre class is the worst.
  5. My high school friends are the best.
  6. This is a real place.
    This is a real place.

Welcome (back from) Miami.

Husband and I spent the past weekend livin’ la vida loca being responsible 30-somethings in Miami.  It was, in a word, amazing.  There is something about hanging out full-time in the sunshine that makes your whole body happy (if a bit lobster-y. I’m packing serious aloe today).  We ate, drank, sat by the beach, ate some more, sat by the pool, and drank some more.  (Tip: if anyone is looking for the best fried chicken and waffles in Miami, Yardbird is the place to go.  And if anyone is looking for the best beer you’ve ever had, Box Elder is your new jam.)  The trip was made all the better by the fact that the Husband’s firm picked up the hotel tab, as this was a work-related trip.  Thank you, Husband’s firm!

I think I’m also probably the only woman in the world who comes back from Miami – land of the ridiculous and beautiful bodies – and thinks, it’s definitely time to eat lots and lots of pasta.  Don’t forget the cheese.

The Menu

Monday/tonight – rigatoni bake with ground turkey

Tuesday – roasted chicken and potatoes, a la NYT (h/t to my mom!)

Wednesday – out

Thursday – leftovers

Friday – some sort of farro salad – we’ll see what looks good in the fruit aisle!

very apt description.
very apt description.

The Carnivore’s Guide to South Africa.

I love to travel.  Despite struggling mightily with jet lag wherever I go, I love the guidebooks; I love wandering into small shops; I love walking the entire city and strolling through museums, and I love perusing Trip Advisor for the latest news on the restaurant scene.  In part, I love traveling because it reminds me of how far my own palate has traveled.  More than 18 years of eating only butter, cheese and pasta gradually segued into actively seeking out new things. And South Africa is foodie heaven.  It boasts fantastic restaurants, a great wine culture, and to be frank, the dollar buys a lot more Rand than Euro or Sterling.  The country’s history and multitude of people – African, British, Dutch, French, Malay, Italian – mean that there is no one “South African cuisine” so much as a mishmosh of incredible flavors…and lots of meat.  Because the one thing all of these cuisines seemed to have in common was an appreciation for the braai: a traditional barbecue with lots of steak. Which brings me to this post – an attempt to categorize and describe the new types of meat we tried over the past two weeks.  And while we have no pictures of our actual meals, at the risk of truly offending some, I am including some pictures of  actual animals in the flesh (yikes, there’s a bad pun).  I know – terrible.  But also incredible, in that unlike at home, we actually saw these animals as they were supposed to be – wild.

  • Springbok: The national animal of South Africa, the springbok is a small type of antelope.  As the bartender said to us, it’s sort of like an American eating a bald eagle, except for that the springbok has never been (at least to my knowledge and a quick Wikipedia scan) on the endangered or threatened species list.  We ate this at The Black Sheep – and it was possibly the tastiest meal we had the entire trip.  Leaner than beef, served medium rare, with a thick pepper crust – the springbok was delicious.  A must try.
  • Ostrich: There are quite a few ostrich farms in South Africa, to say nothing of the wild ostrich.  Although it is bred for its leather and feathers as much as its meat, the ostrich industry never took off the way it was hoped.  We tried ostrich in multiple forms: fillet, sausage and biltong.  The fillet is incredibly lean and served rare – anything more and it would be too tough.  The sausage was heavily flavored with fennel, and the biltong – ie dried jerky – somewhat tough and hard to get a true sense of flavor.  A try for the novelty factor.
female ostrich hanging out at cape of good hope
female ostrich hanging out at cape of good hope
  • Warthog: I felt especially badly eating the warthog, as it’s a quirky, funny animal that’s so ugly it’s cute.  A troop of six warthog siblings liked to roam the lodge where we stayed, giving us an up close feel for their skittish and curious personalities.  Also, who didn’t love Pumba?  Served as a loin (with a delicious tomato chutney sauce), the warthog tastes exactly like pork.  Which makes sense, as it’s in the same family.  Tasty, but the cute factor would probably deter my future consumption.
not pictured: funny little tail
not pictured: funny little tail
  • Kudu: A large, almost elk-looking creature with a beautiful striped body.  The males’ horns twist every year they’re alive, making it easy to tell how old they are.  The meat is very lean and tastes somewhat gamey.  The loin I had (on the last day of our trip) was delicious, although again, there is a serious cute factor.
a young male trying to impress his female companions
a young male trying to impress his female companions
  • Kingklip: Not a meat but a fish, and a novelty factor all the same.  The kingklip is a white fish that actually resembles an eel, and is very popular in South Africa.  Low in fat, with a very delicate (non-fishy) flavor, I had it served the way any fish tastes best: with lemon and butter.  YUM.
  • Impala: Just kidding.  We didn’t eat this, but our guide told us that impala are the “McDonald’s” of the African bush.  According to Elliot, this is because “they’re everywhere and everybody eats them.”  To make matters worse, they have a little “M” outlines on their behinds.
M formation
M formation

Suffice to say, we’ll be eating lots of veggies this month…

The End of the Honeymoon…

The Husband and I are just returning from an epic food, drink and animal-filled adventure in South Africa.  A huge thanks to Tammy and Kathryn for inspiring some new cooking ideas – can’t wait to try some of those!

Our two week honeymoon took us from the colorful streets of Cape Town, to the barren prison of Robben Island, from the windswept cliffs of whale country to the lush valleys of wine country, and finally, to the dry African bush, where we finished our last few days surrounded by animals and plants we could only have ever imaged seeing in a zoo or a botanical garden.  We met some absolutely fabulous people, not only from South Africa, but from the UK and from Australia.  And throughout it all, we ate and drank like royalty…and then ate and drank some more.  It. Was. Delicious.

cape town and the surrounding areas: straight up gorgeous
cape town and the surrounding areas: straight up gorgeous

We ate at one of the best restaurants in the world and at a pub where we were the only two non-locals.  We celebrated at one of the newest and most fabulous restaurants in the culinary capital of South Africa, and sampled bread and cheese from a local farm.  We ate so much that we actually sought out a night of food simplicity: pizza and salad from a South African chain restaurant.

lunch in stellenbosch
lunch in stellenbosch

With each meal, of course, we had to try the South African wine – rose, sauvignon blanc, merlot, cabernet franc, and pinotage (they love red blends).  We poured amarula liqueur in our hot chocolate (YUM) and the Husband ordered plenty of Castle, the South African national beer.  And, of course, it wouldn’t be a honeymoon without champagne (well, sparkling wine, at least).  Even when we promised ourselves a night of alcohol abstinence, a wonderful waiter would bring us two glasses of bubbly…which would lead to more eating and drinking.

wine tasting at la bri, franschhoek
wine tasting at la bri, franschhoek

Suffice to say, we’re eating (lots of vegetables) at home the rest of this month.  Well, at least until Thanksgiving!

PS: I plan on writing up a bit more on some of the weird and wonderful meals we had – spoiler alert: not for the practicing vegetarian…