Monday, May 31, 2010

The Origins of the Love Sandwich

When I used to run my catering company from my home in Woodstock, there were always people dropping in: friends, suppliers, family, clients collecting their dinner party food.  Quite often, people would linger to watch and chat, sometimes even participate.  Because it was a working kitchen.  And there was Industry.  We were in the process of creating something delicious, something good.  Having a restaurant?  That is quite beyond me.  Just terrifying!  But having a kitchen and sharing our work – now this we could do!

Now when friends would visit, I would offer a Love Sandwich.  A brief discussion would follow for me to ascertain my friend’s state of mind or heart.  What was needed here?  A Sandwich of comfort?  A Sandwich of inspiration?  A Sandwich to nurture?  A Sandwich to woo?  A Sandwich to nourish?  A Sandwich for some grounding?  Another brief discussion would ensue:  is there anything that the friend could just not abide?!  Now we were getting somewhere and we were almost ready for execution.  Warm or Cold?  Crunchy or Smooth?  Fortunately, we would always have some lovely ingredients to hand which could make a sandwich quite exceptional.  But the Love that was needed could well be a Peanut Butter Sandwich on fresh seeded bread.  Or the plainest plainest cheddar sandwich on a crispy roll.  Butter and Bovril Sandwich with the crusts cut off.  It was all about the attention and listening with which the Sandwich was assembled. 

Nowadays at The Kitchen, I have a full arsenal of delicious things with which to make a Love Sandwich.  Sometimes we may be guilty of giving a bit too much love.  Perhaps a little more restraint is in order!  But for myself, making the Love Sandwich is a privilege and it gives me immense pleasure.

Here’s how a make my own favourite Love Sandwich:  
Anchovy Tomato Toast
2 Slices of Duen’s Dumpy Wholewheat Bread (not pre-sliced – you need to be able to slice it a bit thinner than that with your own long serrated bread knife)
Toast these in your toaster.
Once toasted, butter lightly and add a drizzle of Love Potion or your favourite Salad Dressing.
Then layer: a few Anchovy fillets, fresh Tomato (not wimpy slices), a good splash of Olive Oil, Maldon Salt and Black Pepper.
Stick your 2 slices of toast under a hot grill till the tomatoes are a bit grilled.
Remove from the grill, put on a big plate (it will get messy) and add a splash more Love Potion (dressing or vinaigrette) and torn fresh Basil leaves.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The New York Times, ek sê!

This week, friends from all over the world mailed to say, “The Kitchen has been reviewed in the New York Times!”  And we have been savouring a little of our moment of glory!  The New York Times

In this world of smooth slick veneers and glam establishments that have loads of money to throw at appearances (nice as they may be!), readers of the New York Times are celebrating the honesty and authenticity of our humble establishment in Woodstock!  Hooray for the Love Sandwich!  Hooray for the Almond Croissants!  Smell the Honey Mustard Sausages straight out of the oven!  Yes to local produce!  We love Woodstock!  And a big thank you to the wonderful community of people who gather in The Kitchen daily for lunch and treats and friendship!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hippie Salads

When I was young, my parents sent me to a little art studio called Mud Pottery Studio in the Main Road, Diep River, for art classes.  They suspected (quite rightly) that we were not getting much by way of creative outlet at the quite decent “coloured” government school my brother and I were going to at the time (the mid-70’s).  It was here, I think, that I was exposed to a bit of the hippie culture of the time… art teachers with shawls and long petticoat skirts and loose Indian florals and those leather sandals and lots of stuff with mushrooms and brown rice.  I was bewitched!

In my constant quest to find new and arresting flavours for salads and accompaniments at The Kitchen, I pulled out an old hippie classic, The Moosewood Cookbook sister to another favourite, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  Mollie Katzen, was a pioneer of healthy, green and sustainable cooking at the time and the fact that I find her recipes so amazingly contemporary and enduring, is testament to her passion and their honesty.  And there is a treasure trove of them.  Some are a tad too healthy and granola-y/mung bean sprouty for me but I have selected a few (with our spin on them, of course) for The Kitchen and they are delicious!  Today, we want to trim down the number of ingredients.  We are looking to show off the integrity of each vegetable.  We want to cut our vegetables a bit chunkier.  And as always, we are looking for clean, interesting flavours.

Mollie’s books are all beautiful “hand lettered” quirkily illustrated works.  They are classics.  And an indulgent celebration of vegetables!

We make her Indonesian Rice Salad with Brown, Fragrant and Black Rice (for interest and colour). The salad involves tossing the warm rice in the cold dressing so that it takes on all the delicious flavours (a good tip).  And we make her Thai Salad with a nice peanut dressing.  Her Lentil Bulgar (tabbouleh – like) Salad is another goodie. So fresh.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Autumn day at Tokara's Deli-CAT-essen

There really is a slip of autumn in Cape Town.  Today we saw some autumn… We chose the N1 to reach Helshoogte (I love saying that name almost as much as I like saying “Gratin Dauphinoise”  and “Vichysoisse” – also great autumnal exploits) and then Tokara and Tokara’s Deli-CAT-essen: a truly beautiful celebration of contemporary winelands architecture.  It was a wonderful place to be today, bathed in that lovely autumn light…. Look kids!  See the colours of the trees: red and gold and brown and orange and olive!

People often say, “Don’t you find it very hard as a food person to go out to other establishments?”  I think they assume that I would be terribly picky and persnickerty.  In the same way, people say, (especially when I am secretly angling for a dinner invite) “You are such a good cook, I would be terrified of inviting you to dinner!”

And here is my answer:  I love going out and eating out!  My only thing is that I abhor pretentiousness or situations that are overly contrived.  Places that have great promise but disappoint…  Most often, I think, as in our visit today to Tokara’s Deli-CAT-essen, it is the general sense that attention has been paid that wins me over.  I love the experience of simplicity and the sense that the experience was good value.  And then, of course, what parent is not wow-ed by people who really have thought out the children’s experience of the visit to their restaurant.  We all want our children to enjoy the experience of eating out and eating well.  What a treat: really good children’s food and a great safe space for children to run around in.  Joy!  David and I ate boards of Antipasto and Cheese and Charcuterie.  I was eating shamelessly.  Like the foxes in Fantastic Mr Fox  This was on account of drinking most of my delicious glass of wine and getting slightly tipsy! (Yes.  On one glass. Cheap date, says my Sweetheart.  We don’t get out much!).  All that delicious olive oil and marvellous bread, still warm from the oven…