Thursday, July 30, 2015

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Che Argentine Grill

WHERE: 303 fox street, maboneng precinct. Johannesburg.
TEL: 011 614 0264
TYPE: Argentinian fare

A beautiful saturday afternoon spent in Maboneng in the company of great friends whilst eating great food!

I have to say that they had me since the market with the stunning Chimichurri, that's where you can taste the authenticity of their flavour. But then, the restaurant came and I tried their chorizo, served with a parsley sauce, chimichurri and a tomato salsa for a perfect balance.

I had been looking forward to the opening of their restaurant and to my great pleasure I was not disappointed. Both times I have been there, I've seen the hands-on owners around and about, ensuring things are going smoothly and people are happy with their food.
The first time, we went for a friend's  birthday dinner where the food was served in wooden chopping boards  and shared by all, and while I love the idea of sharing... I did want to have a whole plate of Bife (Rib Eye) just  to myself! So we decided to come back and have our own plate each, and this was our experience.
We came in for lunch early, so we got the first order in. With the sun shining through the windows into this farm-stall-like space,  that's made to feel cozy, especially when the chimichurri first made its appearance next to a little basket of bread, to get us started. The empanadas soon followed, with the chicken and beef variants quickly making it to the favourites list... and of course the Chorizo...!  Too small a plate in my opinion, because it's just THAT good. The only thing missing for us at this stage was some good chili sauce,  because even though we don't eat a lot of chili in most places in South America, my hubby and I have certainly gotten used to a nice 'bite' whilst in South Africa.
When we ordered the mains, the pork belly came with a warning: "watch out, it is a fatty pork cut"... and our response: "...and that's why we love it!". Apparently someone did not take well to the concept of a fatty cut previously, but that's why you have to know what you're getting  into, right?

I had a lovely rib eye steak served with the same sides as the chorizo, even though the menu didn't  let on that it came with anything, which is why I also ordered a side salad, something I don't  regret as it was divine: rocket, sundried tomatoes, goats cheese and balsamic vinegar. My friend ordered a side caesar salad, which I wouldn't  recommend until they improve the dressing to carry more anchovies and less mustard.
We all liked our meals and I loved the place, our waitress and the ambiance, it was just something else.
On our previous visit I had been enticed to try the Alfajor ice cream, which I had been looking forward to since, but didn't  get to try as the owner took someone's  unfeathered criticism perhaps too harshly and it came off the menu! Either way, my petition for its return is in and I hope they will reconsider...

Go for curiosity or whatever the case, open up your tastebuds and enjoy!



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Envueltos colombianos de mazorca (Steamed corn parcels)

500gr Fresh corn dough (Azteca products Midrand)
4 sweetcorns (with their wrapping leaves)
3 tbps butter
250gr mozarella cheese grated
3 tbps sugar or fructose
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt or to taste
100gr bocadillo (see recipe here)
Cut corn kernels from the cob and place in food processor, let the blade run until the kernels have blended in well, you can use some of the milk to aid this process. Do not dispose of corn cobs, you will also use these!

Melt the butter in a small container in the microwave, melts in about 15 seconds and let it cool.
Beat two eggs, add the corn mix, cheese, salt, sugar, precooked corn dough, butter and the rest of the milk. Now, wash your hands properly and then stick them into the mix to incorporate, mix well to get a mixture as homogeneous as possible. It needs to be quite a wet, runny dough, so if you need more milk, add a little at a time until you're happy with the texture.

Take the corn wrappers and place about two teaspoons of mix in the broader end of it (the amount depends on the size of the wrapper, but smaller parcels will cook quicker). Then cut off some bocadillo and place into the parcel, close by bringing the filled wrapper end into the other, the shape you should get ressembles a triangle.
Place the corn cobs at the bottom of the pot, choose a medium sized pot which bottom will be completely covered by the cobs. Add enough water to almost cover the cobs and bring to a simmmer, then place all the parcels on top of the cobs, tightly packed standing against each other. Cover with  a lid and let them steam for 20-30 mins,  depending on how big  the parcels are. Check on the water every 5 mins or so, as the cobs will burn if the water dries out and ruin the flavour of the corn parcels.
Corn wrapper alternative: if you can't find corns with the green wrappers still on, you can use heavy duty plastic wrap paper. Just place about 2 tbps of dough in the middle and wrap both ends by twisting and making a knot (like a candy wrapper). The taste or shape won't  be exactly  the same, but it should do the trick.
Cobs steamer alternative: if you opted or had no choice but using the corn kernels prepacked in the frozen section, you will not have the cobs for the steaming. In this case you can always  use a steaming basket (like the one used for dumplings),  a steaming  tray (like the one used for veggies) or a simple strainer held over steaming water.
Serve with a nice cup of coffee or hot chocolate while they're still steaming hot! You can have them for breakfast or as a snack.