Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Taste of Joburg 2014

So we almost missed Taste again this year (I missed it for the first time last year when we were in USA & Bermuda) ... we were due to arrive back from Turkey at around 10am and I doubt after a lengthy flight either of us would've been up for it. But this is one of the things I'm considering a perk of us having had to postpone our trip.

Although I'll be honest when we arrived at Monte it certainly did not start out feeling that way. When we headed thru the casino to the "entrance", we saw the queue ... and we walked and walked, following it, trying to find a place at the end. The queue wound it's way around Monte and we eventually found the end at the entrance to the movies. OMG. We did consider turning around right there!

Luckily we waited around to see how fast the queue would move and were pleasantly surprised. 15 minutes after we took our place at the end of the queue we were out the Monte doors and into the sunshine and it wasn't too long after that that we got thru the entrance gates to Taste. Moods sufficiently soothed we'd had sufficient time while queuing to decide on what we wanted to eat and the next move was acquiring our scoins (wonder how much the South African Coin Exchange paid for that priviledge?).

So originally neither of us had circled that much, but I feel we tasted quite a lot by the time we left (2 hours later). I was certainly feeling quite stuffed and we blew the last of our scoins on Lindt truffles ;)

Our first stop was The Blackanese Sushi Bar (a place on my "to go" list), but sadly they seem to have removed the Spinach & Cream Cheese, Beef & Ginger Dim Sum that we both wanted to try off their menu. Pity.

Not to be deterred, Le Sel @ The Cradle was next door and we had each circled an item to try there :) I had my eye on their Lamb Tagine Rolled in aubergine & served with babaganoush (ah, I have such memories of the babaganoush I had on my holiday in Egypt. I can only hope to find some in Turkey!). Let me just say, that to start, this was a superb decision. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And even The Trucker, who isn't as much a fan of aubergine as I am, wolfed down his half!

He ordered their Chai tea infused Creme Brulee. Very tasty!

From there we headed to Sprout360 and shared their Leek & Spring Onion Risotto Balls with coriander pesto and black olive sand. I made sure my Ball did not touch any sand :/ Quite nice, but a very mild flavour from where we'd come.

Then we wandered some of the little stalls and discovered Fruize Gourmet Ice Pops. We tried their Apple, Cucumber & Mint (yes!) and then before we left we went back and tried their Strawberry & Balsamic (not quite as good, or maybe I was too full by this point). I would definitely get some of those Apple, Cucumber & Mint ones for my freezer this summer!

Across from here, we spotted the Liquid Smoke stand. We've been on the hunt for this stuff ever since we saw it in an Indian Curry recipe (apparently the very reason they were importing it themselves!). I'd seen the website which said you could get it from some Spars, but have never actually found it. So we got ourselves a bottle of the European Beech. Yay.

I think at this point I was very thirsty ... and, as far as the eye could see, there were only alcohol brands. When that's what they're promoting, I suspect they don't take kindly to someone asking for a "Virgin". But, luckily I came across something I have been dying to try! Happy Me's Bubble Tea. We tried a Berry one with Yoghurt bubbles (twice). I like it :) But it is a very weird sensation the first time!

Then it was definitely time for more food! I think I hit Roots@Forum Homini for their dessert, Lemon Tart served with Almond ice cream, verbena & dehydrated citrus while The Trucker got the Nkomazi Chicken Curry Bunny Chow with butternut atchar & brinjal chutney from Licorish next door.

Both were superb! The lemon tart was divine, I could definitely have done with a larger portion. And the bunny was very tasty and so cute in the little roll!

Then I stopped at Gwefey (which I'm dying to go back to, if only they'd open one closer than Sandton!) for their Hong Kong Sweet Chicken Pies (Hong Kong pastry stuffed with chicken in char siu sauce). When I saw them, I knew I'd had them previously at their restaurant and how divine they were! So so good. The Trucker barely got a taste, I wolfed them down before he realised how good they were - haha.

After that I got my Spicy peanut calamari from Beluga which wasn't quite what I was expecting. But it was nice :) And The Trucker who has a complete aversion to all things "fishy" even tried it and liked it. While eating it, I noticed that That's Amore was next door. It's been on my list of restaurants to try for a while so I was disappointed to realise I had nothing circled ...

But, I noticed they had a Melanzane special which wasn't on the printed menu! My fave. I penned it in for later because The Trucker was dragging me off  to the Woodview Beef stall for the Wagyu Beef Slider he'd been waiting for all afternoon.

Okay, so this was the only stall with a significant queue that never seemed to dissipate, but it moved quickly enough and this was the one thing we both ordered. Yum!

Then we bumped into @clairam and some other friends and went and hung out with them in the Castle Milk Stout tent. The Trucker had a beer and I stood around bemoaning the sheer lack of non-alcoholic beverage options ... and eventually went to get myself a 2nd Bubble Tea from Happy Me.

After a catch-up drink, The Trucker headed for the Vivace at The Radisson Blu, Sandton's Mini vetkoek filled with curried lamb mince & peach mint chutney. I'm not sure if he really wasn't that impressed with it or just didn't want to share ... haha, either way I didn't get a look in.

Which was fine by me, at the same time I was eating a very ordinary Traditional Crepes with Strawberry & cream from Food Ink.

After that we were really feeling the need to sit and find some shade ... but in lieu of that, we got ourselves a Peanut Butter Las Paletas ice cream instead :) Brought back memories of New York's High Line!

After that everything was ticked off so we headed to get my Melanzane from That's Amore as our last dish. And on our way there we found the actual Woodview stall selling Wagyu meat, which I reckon pretty much made the entire afternoon for The Trucker! He promptly bought us a rump, which he cooked for us on Sunday evening. It was delish :)

Anyway, The Trucker didn't bother to taste my melanzane since he isn't much of a fan of aubergine. It didn't look that impressive, but it tasted good. I was very happy I'd spotted it on their specials board!

But now I was really struggling and full and hot so we decided it was time to leave, after one last stop at Lindt ;)

All in all, yet another wonderful afternoon spent enjoying fabulous flavours ... but who knows if we'll still be in Joburg for next year's one? Perhaps we'll be in time for Taste of Cape Town next year instead ;) Although it looks like it is in April, and we'll be otherwise occupied (!) and won't have moved yet back, so probably we'll only see you again in 2016.

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