Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moema's chocolate fudge cake

I don’t really go in for chocolate cake. Or chocolate in general.

I know.

To be a woman and not care about chocolate is tantamount to admitting you don’t like puppies. I mean, what kind of freak doesn’t like chocolate?

It has been my secret shame for so long now. I haven’t deliberately tried to mislead anyone, but the above-mentioned confession has been met with reactions of disbelief, disdain and  deep mistrust so often that I just started keeping it to myself.

And it’s not that I dislike chocolate — I’m just indifferent to it. I’m not generally turned on by sweet stuff. Gimme vinegar crisps, savoury seafood, cheesy crackers, sea-fresh oysters, crispy bacon fat, lemony guacamole, salty, buttery veggies... These are the flavours I dream about. I’ve always felt towards chocolate confections rather the way I feel towards other people’s kids: they seem like a nice enough idea, over there on the other side of the room, but it’s kind of a relief when someone takes them away.

And often I have to wash my hands after handling them.

Well no more. You see, I finally found a chocolate cake that I like. No, scratch that. A chocolate cake I adore. One I could quite happily scoff all on my own, in a dark cupboard. It’s somewhere between a mousse, a sponge cake, and velvety fudge — basically every chocolate fantasy in existence rolled into one.

The view from the Westcliff

A sunny bit of the Westcliff

I tasted it for the first time a few weeks ago at the Westcliff (a friend of a friend’s birthday). One of the guests told me about Moema’s and that was that — I had to have the recipe. As a matter of interest for anyone who is a Yotam Ottolenghi fan (I am his numero uno, and I have the restraining order to prove it), Danielle — one of the owners of Moema’s and the kind lady who provided me with the recipe — worked with the chef in London before moving to our shores.

So, without further ado...

Moema’s chocolate fudge cake
Makes 2

1kg 815 chocolate
200g 70/30 chocolate
870g butter
340g egg yolks
580g sugar (for yolks)
290g sugar (for whites)
530g egg whites
3 double espressos

1. Preheat oven to 155C. Line 2 carrot cake tins with grease-proof paper and grease the sides with butter.
2. Put the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie and heat until melted.
3. Place the yolks and sugar (580g) in a large food mixer and combine until a sabayon is formed (I’m not sure what this is — I just read it as ‘combine well’)
4. Start mixing the egg whites. When they turn white add the sugar.
5. Fold the warm chocolate into the sabayon, along with the espresso.
6. Once combined, pour into each lined tin — 1200g of mixture into each (so you should have some left over).
7. Bake for 1 hour, until the mixture looks cracked and has risen.
8. Take out of the oven and allow to cool.
9. Add the remainder of the mixture to the tins (divided evenly between them, obviously) and return to the oven for about 10 minutes, until the top looks shiny.
10. And that’s that. Try not to eat it all in one sitting.

PS: This would make an excellent addition to your Christmas table — if you live in Joburg and you don’t feel like making one, you could always just pop in to Moema’s...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Eight days in Melbourne

We interrupt this blog to bring you a brief report on some stuff I ate in Melbourne. Okay?

My brother recently got married to a Melbournite (the lovely Bethany), so I got to spend eight days in this beautiful city. I’m not going to blather on about it because, unless you are planning to actually go to Melbourne some day, I don’t see why it should be of any interest to you. But the pics are pretty (I think — I’m not sure I have any objectivity on this matter). And I’m afraid I have to brag a little about getting to eat at two amazing restaurants. I’ve decided to present you with a pictoral essay to keep my bragging (and your yawning) to a minimum.

First stop: the Victoria Market. This is a foodie’s wet dream. This is a cook’s Mecca. This is heaven. In one large roofed area the size of an aircraft hanger, you’ll find isle after isle after isle of tables laden with every fruit, vegetable, leaf or seed your greedy mind can conceive of. All fresh, all beautiful. Next door, there’s a sort of warehouse filled with countless types of fresh seafood, meat and poultry. And I mean fresh. Next door lies yet another warehouse where merchants sell artisanal goods, from cheese to coffee, to wine to sweets, to the most incredible bratwurst-and-sauerkraut-on-a-roll I have ever tasted.

I think my heart might actually still be there, sitting on one of those tables, sulking next to a pile of organic cherries.

My brother, Ian, and Bethany took me to dinner at Attica, voted 73rd best restaurant in the world. The place itself was understated, but the food was unbelievable. We had the tasting menu of five courses. The one that stood out the most for me was the potato cooked in its own soil. It was presented very simply, and the sauce was quite subtle so you could really taste the potato, and although it did pretty much taste like a potato, the flavour was more intense than any I’ve had before, and the texture was waxy and buttery. Plus the goats curd sauce had a sprinkling of coconut husk ash in it. Apparently it’s one of the only types of ash that are not carcinogenic (so the waiter told us). I couldn't really detect any taste though.

Finally, I ate lunch at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen with my parents the day before we left. I had pretty high expectations, and was not disappointed. The food was so simple, imaginative, fresh and flavourful, it is exactly what I had hoped (I’m a big fan). 

To start: Grilled octopus, warm cannellini beans, chilli, mint and lemon. I went for this because I thought the inclusion of mint sounded intriguing — and it works. I’m going to try this at home folks, so I’ll let you know how it works out. Then primi: Gnocchi ripieni with stinging nettles, goats curd and marjoram butter. The flavours in this dish were subtle, but the more I ate the more delicious it became. (The pics are a bit kak as the lighting was inadequate.) 

On the way out, my dad asked if the man himself ever dropped by, and we were told he only visited once a year. And sometimes he skipped a year. Hm. (Obviously he's too busy trying to save America.)

So there you have it.

Normal blogging will resume from the next post. (Don’t miss it — I have an unbelievable chocolate cake/mousse recipe I simply must share, from a patisserie in Joburg who’s owners worked with Yotam Ottolenghi.)

PS: Check out my avocado and endive salad with creamy white wine and rosemary dressing recipe on the Kleine Zalze For the Love of Wine blog.