Monday, October 05, 2009

The Taste of Joburg 2009

Well, let me start by saying that we almost didn't go to the Taste of Joburg this year. Last year was disappointing compared to the year before. They changed the venue and it was an absolutely boiling hot day. And while we were umming and ahhing about whether or not to get tickets, I was offered not only free tickets for Varen and myself, but a Press Pass to boot! Chuffed ;)

So on Saturday afternoon off we headed to the Monte monstrosity, it's still at a less than perfect venue, in my opinion ... I so prefered the grass of 2007 to the tar of 2008 & 2009. And we were in for quite a treat ... one I'm certainly glad I didn't miss and one that was made so much sweeter by my Press Pass :)

The most impressive thing they've improved on since last year is the portion sizes. I guess they realised charging R40 for a tiny morsel was a little steep ... and that most people wanted to be sharing these bite-sized samples. This year Varen and I easily managed to share every item we bought. We only bought 2 of a single item and that was because it was the first item we bought and we were used to last year's portion sizes. We didn't bother with 2 of anything again for the entire afternoon and definitely got more out of the tasters because of it!

So where and what did we eat? I was thrilled to discover that with my Press Pass came a few free foods and drinks and I used up almost all of them :) We ate Tea-smoked Warthog with pickled root vegetables and gooseberry sauce from The Attic. As much as we love this restaurant, we weren't especially impressed with this dish. It was chilled and the pickled veggies and the gooseberry sauce made it quite sour all round.

We ate the best spring roll of the day from The Dining Room at the Grace: Guinness braised duck spring roll with milk chocolate dressing. We also had to try their Home-made Amarula ice cream with brandy snaps and caramel sauce. Varen and I decided we definitely have to make a plan to actually have a proper meal at The Grace ... the food has always been delish at the Taste of Joburg.

After my trip to Spain last year, I couldn't pass up Fino's Churros con Chocolate, which were crisper than the ones I remember from Spain, but delish none the less :)

We weren't very impressed by the Masala fried prawns served with a tamarind dip from Karma, I should've choosen their Chicken Tikka Masala rather I think. But we did get a R60 voucher for our next meal with them ... so we'll definitely be going the next time we're craving Indian food ;)

We had some Sesame Crusted seared Tuna served on grilled Vegetables and topped with a Wasabi mayo from Koi. Sadly this was one of our last dishes and I think Varen was a bit full to fully appreciate it. It was quite good, although I think the veggies were quite unnecessary and didn't suit the Tuna at all. Most impressive of all to me was the small additional touch of giving us a book of toothpicks (like those old match books).

Varen has a soft spot for Tiramisu of any sort so we had to try La Cucina di Ciro's White chocolate tiramisu with amaretto & espresso coffee.

My dessert of choice is usually Creme Brulee so I simply couldn't miss Piccolo Mondo at The Michelangelo's Wild Berry Brulee Classical creme served with chocolate almond biscotti, which was absolutely sublime!

The dish we started with, that I mentioned we each had one of, was the Ostrich steak prego roll with mango atchar from the Polo Bar @ The Westcliff. It was yummy, but a bit too over-poweringly spicy in my opinion. I had to also try their Grappa panna cotta with strawberries in black pepper which was delish.

We ate the Spicy Moroccan-style lamb phyllo fingers served with an apricot, apple and cucumber salad and Prawn tempura with ouzo mayonnaise dressing served with a lime and avocado salad from Prosopa. I must say, the nice thing about Taste of Joburg is discovering restaurants I've never heard of (because they're in Pretoria) ... although we'll probably never visit them for a meal (since they are in Pretoria).

The Dark Chocolate and Berry Decadence from Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient was decadent! (Another Pretoria restaurant that I'll probably never get to ...)

Our absolute worst taste of the day was by far the Seasonal Melon soaked in Campari syrup & wrapped in Prosciutto do Parma from Ristrorante Ritrovo. Honestly I should've rather gone with their Vegetable stuffed Conchiglioni roasted in a mozzarella blanket, that looked quite yummy.

From our old favourite, roots @ Forum Homini, we had the Slow roasted springbok loin with a sweet potato puree and beetroot. Yumyum. I'm sad to report however, that I did not win another night at Forum Homini :(

I think Varen's favourite dish of the day was Sel et Poivre's Stuffed pancake with Veal sweet breads and Oyster mushroom sauce. Although it had more mushrooms than I care to think about, I also had a bite (minus mushrooms) and it was definitely quite delish! I will say that it is a huge pity it is so freaking hard to find out where this restaurant actually is in real life online ... the best I can figure (although not from the Quartermain website!) is that they are inside the Quartermain Inn.

And we just couldn't resist trying the Salmon Rose Sushi from Yamato Japanese Restaurant ... I ♥ Salmon Roses!

On top of all that, we hit the Amarula stand again, they didn't have as nice cocktails as last year, but it's still worth it to sit and rest your feet a while. I tried some Vawter, a Red Sarita (and although I'm not much of a Sarita fan, I definitely prefer the Red one) and a cider from Burchell's.

All in all a well spent afternoon.

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Mellisoo said...

All sounds so GOOD!

I regret not going now :(

Oh well.

Happy Tuesday :)

Tamara said...

I enjoyed being able to compare your review with my findings. Thanks again for the tickets ;-)

AngelConradie said...

It sure sounds like a good way to find new restaurants.

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