I'm convinced that South Africa has some of the tastiest veggies in the world. I happened across a super-cute little restaurant while there called Scoosi that made the most intensely delish vegetable plate. Everything was cooked so perfectly and all the flavors melded together so well---soft chickpeas, roasted zucchini, dense mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh pesto, olive oil, a tiny hit of sweet balsamic and the creamiest feta cheese ever---and then when you get tot he middle, there is a fantastic little surprise of caramelized onions. It was so stunning, it just made me think again how meat was just a nuisance. Since moving last week into my new home in Chi, I was thinking I'd have a minute to try to recreate the dish in my cozy little kitchen. Ahhh, to no avail. I've been working like mad trying to get out the door to South Africa (yes, going again for 5 weeks-- YEAH!!!!) and I've eaten out multiple times at Hai Yen (awesome Vietnamese) and La Unica-you must have the Cuban tamale (those two are 100% my new favorite restaurants right now). Good thing is, I will be back to S. Africa in a few days, so I can have the dish firsthand...but I can't wait to come home in Jan. and give this one a go. So much to cook, explore and write about within my new digs. It's just good stuff, you know?
I waffle between being a vegetarian and being a carnivore. There are times when I cannot stomach the idea of another meat-free meal—bring on the lamb, goat, beef, fish and chicken, and make sure to char-grill it while you're at it. Then come the times when the idea that a poor little animal lost its life just to fill my greedy belly makes me wanna gag.
When I can't seem to decide one way or another, I always opt for Greek food. Something about the hearty cuisine makes me feel like I'm getting the very best of both worlds. Maybe because I can go halfway every time; blissful Greek fries drowning in lamb gravy and feta cheese being a prime example of how the Greeks manage to make me feel like I'm eating veggie style, but give me the flavor of meat that my body sometimes madly craves.
One of the most stunning landscapes I've ever seen is dead in the center of South Africa near a tiny town called Harrismith. When you drive thru the village, you'd think you were in a perfect town in Vermont on a hot summer day. If you head off of Route 74, though, you will come upon an area that brings to life The Land of the Lost. Rolling hills, green pastures, mammoth lakes, and magnificent sunsets. Twisting thru the winding roads feels like stepping back into history and when our crew stopped to shoot the brilliant orange sunset, we were totally alone. No better time to blast the radio (ironically, the song "Tennessee" came on) and dance silly in the back valleys of South Africa. Life does not get any lovelier and I cannot wait to head back over there next week. Bye-bye winter, hello summer~~