Friday, November 16, 2007

Sun and summer at Suncoast




















Less than 10 minutes walk away from Blue Waters Hotel I found Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World, with a hotel, casino, a large number of restaurants and bars and a few very nice and exclusive shops. The great thing about Suncoast is that it is a guarded area, thus safe to visit the night as well as the day.

I do not know whether it had been constructed in the second half of the 20th century, but the area had definitely a pre second world war feeling to it. Built in an art deco style, you got this Miami South Beach area feeling. Minimalist buildings in pastel green, blue or yellow colours, with front gardens and a walkway between the buildings and the coast. Here you could, for 10 ZAR access a private beach and get sun chairs included in this ridiculous price.

As you entered the mall area, you found yourself in a large food court with fast food restaurants, and an impressive staircase up to a mezzanine with restaurants and bars overlooking the hall.

Further in there were large restaurants on each side. To give you an idea on how it looks like, I have taken these two films. First from the outside:

video

Then here you have a film from the front hall of the resort area with restaurants and bars. I do not know whether it was to celebrate the coming Christmas but the trunk of the large palm trees were decorated with Christmas tree lights.

video

I spent much time at the Suncoast, as I discovered relatively few other restaurants along the beach. Suncoast was also, as earlier mentioned, a safer area than elsewhere in the city. And I loved the South Beach feeling.

I enjoyed two delicious meals, had a few good drinks, had some luck in the casino, and made a rather expensive purchase to myself - a gold and diamond ring.

So stay tuned here at Enjoy Food & Travel for more from Suncoast Casino and Entertainment Area.

See the official Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World website here:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Durban - The Blue Waters Hotel experience

The woman in charge at the Aintree Lodge highly recommended the Blue Waters Hotel to stay in Durban, and looking back I am very happy that I listened to her advice. The Blue Waters Hotel experience was awesome, and I paid, by European standards, a ridiculous price for the two nights. A little over €100 is nothing. I would love to go back to Durban, I would gladly have a week by the beach.

Location: BBBBB

The hotel has a superb location, at the Marine Parade, a stones throw from the most beautiful beach. I could sit and watch the beach from my balcony at the 13th floor. Close by you have the Suncoast Casino and entertainment centre with shops, restaurants, bars and a large casino. A safe area, also during nights, as it was a guarded area. You were, however recommended to walk the beach area after dark, so I chose to eat at the restaurant during the evening.

Service: BBBBB

Superb service everyone, in the reception, in bars and restaurants - nothing to put your finger on!!

Maintenance and hygiene: BBBBB

The hotel is extremely well maintained. This is certainly a hotel that would please even the most experienced traveler.

The Room: BBBBB-
This little film shows you room 1315 at the Blue Waters Hotel:
video

Room 1315 was comfortably large, with one queen sized bed. The decor was held in a golden or light beige colored. A little outdated, but pleasant. And fear not for the warm nights ahead - number 1315 had air conditioning, and I used it once as the humid nights were fueled by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

The bathroom were completely covered by white tiles, a little small, but with all necessities and even more - a bath tub!

And room 1315 had a view to die for! I have never ever had and enjoyed such a view before, to wake up in the morning and the see the sun rise, during the day and during the evening. A 180 degree panoramic view covering the whole main beach and the Marine Parade. It was mesmerizing to sit out with a good glass of red wine and see all the lights of Durban.

Breakfast: BBBBB

Breakfast at the Blue Waters in Durban was served at the Versailles Restaurant. It was a self service breakfast buffet, and it was something out of the ordinary.

You could get get a freshly made omelet or a freshly fried egg as you were waiting. I chose scrambled eggs, deliciously crispy bacon and boerwors. You could however choose fresh fruit salad, yogurt and muesli, freshly made sweet pastry, toast with jam or honey, sliced ham or cheese. And lovely fresh pressed juice, and good coffee!!!

This was a selection that would cater to anyone's taste, from the health nut to the cholesterol and carbohydrate junkie. One of my best breakfast experiences ever!

Facilities: BBBBB

This was the full business class hotel. It had a buffet restaurant with an à la carte menu as well. At the mezzanine between the 1st floor and 2nd floor, there was a comfortable salon where you could sit quietly in soft armchairs with your wine and enjoy a good book. At the same level was the entrance to at a large swimming pool area, and a very cozy bar. And this was not all, there was even a sauna, squash court and a rooftop bar.

Price: BBBBB

I paid ZAR 460 a night, meaning less that €50!! The is extremely good value for money!

Rating the Blue Waters Hotel Experience: BBBBB (4,95 points)

A hotel with a superb location, a room with a view to die for, a first class experience at an exceptional price!!

Address:

The Blue Waters Hotel
175 Snell Parade
Marine Parade, Durban
Toll Free Reservation
Phone: 0 800 31 2044 / 031 3683877
See the Blue Waters Hotel official website here

More hotels?

See other hotel reviews here on Enjoy Food & Travel

Durban - a Pearl by the Indian Ocean




















Durban is the second largest city of South Africa and the country's largest port. I left the others to stay here, as the others drove up the coast, closer to Mozambique - to St. Lucia. I did not join them, as I had fallen prey to two to three dozen mosquitoes, and where they went, there would be legions waiting for me. I am kind of a happy hour to the nasty little creatures, and I get the worst reactions to them. Staying in Durban for three days, was not half bad. That was an understatement - it was great!! So here comes the account from the Pearl by the Indian Ocean from October 5th to October 7th 2007.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fluffy Clouds of Mashed Potatoes




















Often less is more, and fluffy white clouds of mashed potatoes are more. So easy, so fabulously easy, so good to eat with so much, fish as well as meat, with a tomato casserole as a crust on the top. The best thing is however that mashed potatoes is so good in its own right.


Still you can do so much more. You can mix the mashed potatoes with fresh spring onions, or pesto, or you can whip it into a creamy consistency or use a fork and crush it roughly.

Or you may get more advanced. Mix in some fresh herbs, cheese and an egg or two, place the mashed potatoes in small oven proof dishes and bake them until they are golden brown and crispy.

This was what I served with a succulent duck breast, with sweet caramelized onion, and a thick red wine gravy.

But the white fluffy white cloud of mashed potato above was served with chicken so mouthwateringly tender that the bones just slipped away from the succulent white breast and thighs.

The chicken had been resting for four hours on a low heat on a bed of Brussels sprouts and cauliflowers, and was served with a good brown gravy.

I know that less is more, and I just want more and more mashed potatoes.

A place to eat plaice - Lizards Rock





















One dark and humid evening in October, we invited Phumzile and her son out for dinner. We went to the the Lizards Rock, the place to eat fish in Pietermaritzburg according to Jan. Very true, indeed, as this was certainly the place to eat plaice.

As that was what I chose, the most expensive variety of plaice, the sole. I would eat another plate of sole during my vacation, at the Blue Water Hotel in Durban, but this was so much better.

It was served with the most delicious creamed sauce topping, a green salad and a large lemon to squeeze. This was certainly the place of the perfect plaice.

Suddenly there was so much on the table, Phumzile ordered the peri-peri chicken livers, a Portuguese recipe with peri-peri or African Red Devil Peppers, making this into an experience hotter than hell. You can find a recipe on how to make this hotter-than-hell experience here.

My friend Jan would rather taste two different dishes, and I was lucky to sit beside him, as I could sneak a taste or two.

First he was served green shells baked in a white sauce (above), and then he ordered large prawns sin a spicy chili sauce (left).

The first mild and aromatic, the second dish nice and hot - two great contrasts.

For those of you visiting Pietermaritzburg - Lizards Rock is a great place to spend a night with good friends. We did not get the full subtropical feeling that evening in October, as we sat outside during a rainy spring evening, but I can certainly imagine how it be there during a nice South African summer night - in January.

Address:

Lizards Rock
51 Warwick Rd, Ferncliffe
Pietermaritzburg 3201

Mahatma Gandhis long march




















June 7th 1893, a young Indian, was forcibly removed from a compartment at the Pietermaritzburg station - and that incident would ignite a fire with him that would change the course of history. This man was Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi.

He was not thrown off for any other reason that he was an Indian. He had a valid ticket and he refused to move to a third class compartment.

You do wonder, what would have happened, if the officials would have known the results of their deeds. Well I am happy that they threw him off, as this incident according to Gandhi that "my active non-violence began from that date."

Today, you can see this beautiful statue outside the courthouse in downtown Pietermaritzburg to mark the city's place in events that would change the world.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Delheim Merlot Simonsberg 2004

























Another merlot, another great South African Wine from Stellenbosch - the heartland of the countrys wine production. And it does not disappoint, as the other South African wines enjoyed on my journey.


Delheim vineyards is located in Simonsberg, between the cities of Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. The vineyard has been owned by the Sperling family since 1951

The Sperlings has created a wine to die for, the most delicious merlot wine, soft like velvet and packed with plum and black cherry aromas. Perfect for red meats or game, and for an evening in the humid darkness of the KwaZulu-Natal area with a good book - and mosquitoes........

Susi's Siamese Summer


















Per and Susanne Koch visited Thailand this summer and I am proud that they have shared their experiences here on Enjoy Food & Travel. Susanne has told of her experience at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts, and she left one of the most popular articles on the site on how to cook with chillies. Per wrote a very instructive article on the contrasts of Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand


See more on from their vacation in Thailand on Susannes blog Sus's Souvenirs

More goodness inside!!




















I decided to take a dinner by myself, as the others were visiting Phumzile that evening. I was in for another treat - more goodness inside. I have not been fond of English pie, but the stuff served at Aintree Lodge was great!!

Let us face it. Many of you would not have considered this a delicacy, and I have to be honest. The times I have tasted beef and kidney pie, I have found it to be a little much. At Aintree Lodge they served a much better variety - a chicken and mushroom pie, and that was completely different. The pie was submerged in a thick brown gravy, and as you cut into it all the goodness inside appeared in its glory.

Inside the flaky crispy cavity the most delicious, delirious, chicken and mushroom stew appeared. Served with good homemade French fries and a light salad it was a delicious meal.

And the name of the beer made it almost feel like home.

Hansa is the name of the brewery in Bergen, as well, named after the Hanseatic League that controlled much of the trade in this city during Medieval times.

This is a relatively new beer variety brewed by SAB Miller in April 2007. It was a delicious fresh lager perfect for a pub meal.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tasty treats for dark fall evenings




















Fall is a gloomy season, with rain and darkness that require comfort food, or comfort treats to chase the darkness away. Small treats, easy to make, and with tons of taste. Here are a few things I may recommend, although some of it may be a little hard to get. Still it may give you some ideas.


Crayfish terrine with a spicy crayfish salad (above)

The idea is something you may play around with. I found this small crayfish terrine in the local delicatessen, and as I was invited to dinner (and was asked to bring an entree), I think that would be a good idea. I bought three, a glass of Baxters seafood sauce, some fresh crayfish marinated in garlic. I mixed the crayfish with some seafood sauce, added some lime, sweet chili sauce, and Cajun spices to add additional heat.

Took three thin slices of fine bread and cut them into roughly the same size as the terrine. Toasted them until crisp. Took the terrines out of their little containers, placed them with the aspic down on the toast. Added the sauce, and presto - tasty October treat. If you do not have crayfish terrine, use lobster or salmon paté. If no Baxter seafood sauce, mix mayonnaise, sour cream, ketchup, chili sauce, lime, salt and pepper.

Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Chip Cookies

Guess whose heart made a jump, as I spotted this package at my local supermarket. PEPPERIDGE FARM CHOCOLATE CHUNK DARK CHOCOLATE NANTUCKET CRISPY COOKIES!!! I have such a madness after this brand, as it is deeply connected with my American past. And here it was in the supermarket shelves.

I think Pepperidge Farm makes the best chocolate chip cookies, except from the homemade, of course. Like the one I crunched at Au Bon Pain at Harvard Square with my friend Joe Cice, with the creamiest chocolate inside and the crispy, crunchy crust outside. These are small memories you feed on until you die.

Until then I now know that I can feast on these delicacies with a hot cup of good coffee.

Cup Cakes from Heaven

I am absolutely not into baking. When I want to make a cake, I buy a mix. Still I like to make my own twist to it. Here I made the mix according to the instructions on the packet, but placed a large chunk of 70% chocolate in the little paper containers before filling them. After baking I added, as a bonus more melted dark chocolate and poured on the top and a few almond flakes as a decoration. Yum!

Cup Cakes reincarnated

This is a delicious way to reincarnate the cup cakes left from you party.

I have the most delicious French strawberry syrup. It has such a pungent fruit flavor. I reincarnated the 4 cup cakes left over from Halloween, removed the paper and soaked them in the syrup. I poured additional syrup on our plates and Laila and I indulged in the soft, sweet, strawberry sirupy, cup cakes. And what to drink. Nespresso espresso and two glasses of Grand Marnier!

Wicked!

Garlic Bread - to keep the Devils away!

I was on a party yesterday, and got back at 2.35 AM. The day after such an experience I crave for strong food.

Today I decided to make garlic bread. Sliced half a baguette in two, mixed butter, minced garlic, and Italian herbs and allowed to infuse. Then I spread the butter on the slices, added a good handful of grated cheese and allowed to bake in the oven until crispy golden.

Eat your heart out Bela Lugosi!

Spanish Langoustines in Garlic

I bought Langostinos Al Ajillo in Barcelona in June. As I opened this packet, I dreamed of the shrimps in garlic eaten at Hotel Santa Maria in Sitges, as the winds were playing with the palm leaves above.

Well the producer, Noly, did not replicate that experience, for sure. The shrimps had a strange consistency, nearly rubbery, and the oil had very little garlic in it. So buy your own shrimps, add garlic to good olive oil, and place in the oven. The result will be much better than this, for sure.

Trees and flowers of South Africa

















As I stayed in the Southern Hemisphere we arrived in spring, and trees and flowers were waking up from hibernation. There was so much to see, and some trees displayed a flowering beauty in such an abundance. Here are some pieces of floral beauty as seen in Pietermaritzburg.

The African Acacia (left and above)

This is a tree many of us remember from Nature programs from Africa. In reality varieties of the Acacia family are found in Africa, America, Asia and Australia.

We saw the Acacia tree everywhere on our trip, from the mountain plateau of Gauteng, to the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northwest province.

The acacia has the most beautiful, fine foliage and long white spikes or thorns that protect it from those who want to feast on its green leaves.

The Jacaranda Tree

If you have seen a Jacaranda tree in bloom, you will never forget it. This large trees have the most magnificent blue flowers that bloom in October.

The Jacaranda tree was a tree also seen everywhere. The most beautiful of them were in Pietermaritzburg, where we drove under trees in bloom planted along the streets. As I went closer, in order to get a photograph of the flowers, I noticed that they had the same shape as our Bell flowers that bloom during spring.

The large tulip tree

This is not its name, but this tree I found in Scottsdale had huge tulip-like flowers all over and it was a wonderful sight.

If anyone knows this plant, please let me know.


The busy climbers

This is something I remember from my summers in the Virginia areas during summer. The sight of flowering climbing plants using trees to growing up in the canopy to get as much light as possible.

Here a lovely climber with large yellow flowers has climbed up in an Acacia i Scottsdale. In fact it had managed to cover more or less the whole tree.