Saturday, 9 January 2010

South Africa - eating in

It's kinder really not to mention my cooking over this holiday period. My ability to cook pretty much left and didn't leave a forwarding address. I was all fingers and thumbs and nothing worked out like I wanted it to. Still - by leaving it in the hands of other people we managed to eat pretty well!

Our meals at home were mainly centred on the braai, as South Africans call the barbecue. Paul's parents have this very nifty built-in arrangement, with adjustable racks, a good-sized grate for building your fire (because Real Men cook on wood, don't you know) and an arm that extends to hang your potjie.

We had lamb chops, boerwors, spatchcocked chickens and loads of vegetables. I've had Paul's barbecued lamb chops and spatchcocks before, obviously, and it is always a treat - especially the karoo lamb we were eating. Like Australian saltbush lamb, or the British saltmarsh lamb, the animals graze on wild plants and herbs and end up getting a herbal, seasoned flavour from the fodder. It is particularly succulent and delicious, and Paul's dad had stocked the freezer with it before we arrived. And his prodigious wine cellar is very well stocked with lovely wines that go very well with barbecued lamb. Lucky me!

The one thing that was new to me, in the field of barbecued meat, was the ribbetjie - which is not, as you may guess, frogs legs; the -jie suffix is pronounced "key" and is a diminutive so ribbetjie are "little ribs". Lamb ribs, in fact. Now, I have eaten beef ribs and pork ribs many times, but I can't remember ever even seeing a lamb rib. Which is a crying shame because they are delicious. There is much more meat on them than I would have expected, and for the sort of people who like picking food up in their hands and gnawing on bones they are just superb. We'll have to try to work on our butcher to get us some over here.

There were a couple more traditional dishes that I was pretty keen to try.

Koeksisters are a little cake that seems to polarise South Africans - you either think they are utterly ambrosial or tooth-achingly sweet and cloying. I still haven't formed an opinion, because apparently these ones were stale and not at all as they should be. They should be crisp and dripping with syrup. These weren't. Better luck next time!

Bobotie is a spiced minced beef dish, covered in an egg topping, and Paul has often told me how nice his mum's version is. He's right - it is! It sort of has a meatloaf texture, and you serve it with rice and Mrs Ball's chutney. Very tasty!

14 comments:

Kavey said...

That lamb does sound splendid!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I am loving that grill! And you guys are such adventurous eaters. I always learn about something new here.

A Year on the Grill said...

I have seen my share of grills in my past, but rarely, so rarely do i get such grill envy as i did reading this post. And lamb ribs are impossible to get around here... I have tried

Foodycat said...

Kavey - the lamb is so delicious! Easier to come by than saltmarsh lamb too.

Natashya - It's new to me too! But Paul was raised on that stuff.

AYOTG - isn't it beautiful? Paul and I fantasise about our perfect barbecue arrangement sometimes, and this comes pretty close!

ARLENE said...

What an education! That grill is so special. Wouldn't I love one...along with a brick oven. Dream on!

The Cat's Mother said...

I love the sound of lamb riblets! Must try some Mrs Ball's chutney - the local butcher stocks it.

How is the bobotie seasoned?

Dee said...

Mmm... we have ONE south african restaurant in Malaysia, and I've been going there for years. Their Bobotie is one of my favorites, and they have these amazing soups served in tiny potjie. The lamb sounds delicious... you're a very lucky woman and I am consumed with both greed and envy :)

Foodycat said...

Arlene - oh yes, in my perfect garden there will be a pizza oven as well!

Mother - it is nice, but not the greatest ever chutney. It's quite fruity. Bobotie is a Cape Malay thing, so it is curry spices: ginger, coriander, cumin, garam masala. Some of them mix the chutney into the mixture as well as using it as a garnish.

Dee - I've never even seen a South African restaurant!

kat said...

Wow, my husband has bbq envy now & you have me wanting to try lamb ribs

Dharm said...

Sounds heavenly! I really enjoyed the boerworst when I visited Capetown and Joburg. Also like the potje and off course billtong! I'm hungry now thinking of all that nice food...

Debinhawaii said...

Mmm...I really want something grilled right now. It looks like you ate really well over the holidays!

Foodycat said...

Kat - the lamb ribs are great. If you can convince your butcher, you should try them!

Dharm - it is a meat lover's paradise!

Deb - we did eat pretty well. Lots of grilled meat and veg, so fairly healthy too.

Chef Aimee said...

Ooo - the Koeksisters look like Greek loukoumades- is the syrup made with honey? Too bad they were stale. :(

tamarindandthyme said...

Koeksisters remind me of jalebis! But thicker... are they just as sweet as jalebis?

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