Deep Fried Tequila Bites

Recently, we had a team building getaway, where we had a cook off between two teams – Boys vs Girls. Obviously, us girls won! (It was to be expected, and very unsurprising, really) It was such a fun night, filled with seductively flirty bubbles from the champagne to the absolute worst grimacing from the Jagermeister. We played with our colleague’s gorgeous little girl, we played with dolls on our own (don’t ask), ate amazing food and tried to play 30 Seconds, but couldn’t get far… Our boss is a cheat!

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We decided that since we would win anyway, we would take care of dessert. We found a new recipe that’s been making the rounds on the internet recently, and decided we would give it a try. Deep Fried Tequila Bites. What’s not to love, right? It’s really simple if you don’t make the cake. We bought some Madeira cake – which is just a traditional English sponge cake. We cut the cake into big cubes, soaked them in tequila and deep-fried them in canola oil. Just dust them with some icing sugar when they come out, and you’re done! We also got some Cloudy Lemonade Lollies to serve with these boozy little morsels.

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The reception to them was not so good. But the concept is. They were just VERY Tequila. So here’s what we learnt: Don’t soak the cubes. The longer you soak them, the stronger they get. We used an entire bottle of gold Tequila, which should have been an indication for us that we might have been too heavy-handed. Next time, I’ll just brush the cubes with Tequila with a pastry brush. I also think that I’ll try to use lemon sponge cake, to tie the concept together. Also, make sure your oil is hot enough, so the cubes will brown and crisp up quickly and evenly. Our oil started out too cold, but very quickly turned to too hot. If we could have just evened out the temperature at that sweet spot, it would have gone great. We would have liked to serve it with Lemon Sorbet, but couldn’t find any. The lollies were great though, but the sorbet would have been the perfect smack in the face for this dessert.

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Give it a try if you’re brave enough! I think it would work really well with a Mexican themed dinner party, but really, who needs an excuse for anything Tequila??

Book Review: Invisible Monsters

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Continuing on my Summer Reading List, I read Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. I actually finished it two weeks ago, but I’ve been having the hardest time formulating my thoughts to review this novel. Which, I guess, is a reflection of the novel itself. It is an intensely disturbing yet captivating story. I read in in two days or so, yet I found myself speechless by the end of it. I tried to explain the story to my beau, but it left me (and him) even more confused and dazed.

The novel is based around self-loathing models and secretive, boisterous drag queens, on a cross-country road trip trying to find themselves while scamming innocent random bystanders to fuel their addictions. It is a sad, violent, disgusting, profound story, and it surely will make you think. It is a bit hard to read, like a Schizophrenic with ADD trying to tell you story. It jumps around quite a bit, and interrupts itself many times, playing off like a film of the mind.

The themes of the novel however, are relevant to every reader. Attention – the desperation to get it, the anguish of not wanting it; self-loathing; jealousy; hatred mixed with love and the blurry lines in between; addiction; self-mutilation; struggling with identity; the sham that very often is veiled as family values and the constant search for meaning and acceptance.

It is a rollercoaster ride of anguish, disgust, sadness and absurdity so intense – it becomes funny. If you can stick to it, you’ll find an amazing plot twist, and you’ll be sucker punched by the culmination of the novel. It assaults your mind like few novels can.

There was a profound quote in the book that has stuck with me: “When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.” I find it very accurate, completely true and utterly crushing.

Next up on the list is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Now go, get your geek on and read a book!

Book Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey

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Just in time for the release of the film adaptation (opening in South Africa on 22 August), I’ve read The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais. This is the best book I’ve read this year… Okay, maybe alongside The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. But they’re in totally different categories. So I can’t give either top prize. I loved them both.

I read this lovely book on recommendation of my dear friend Ernest. We have a very special bond, him and I, and our deepest mutual interest is food. You’ll recall I went to the Taste of Cape Town? I went with him. He told me a couple of weeks ago about a film being released soon that he really wanted to go see. So I watched the trailer. And I was excited. But then I found out it is based on a book, and as per my rule, I HAD to read it first. So I got my grubby little paws on it, and started reading.

I was hooked from the first page, and I read it in a day. I adore this book. It is so well written, and it demonstrates how an author can create powerful and effective imagery with just his words. This author in particular, does so excellently. The book follows a typical Indian family from their humble beginnings in Mumbai, working as a family to reach success through their food. However, before long tragedy strikes, and the family has to leave their home. Their Mumbai. They end up in London, trying to rebuild. Language and culture differences obviously plays a big role, and it is a theme throughout the book. After some time, the family once again, finds themselves having to leave their home. They travel across Europe, experiencing the culture and cuisine offered by each region they stop, when they finally end up in a small village deep in France. It is here where they settle and find themselves again. They delve back into their own culture and food again after a very long time of feeling alienated and lost. Then they meet their neighbour, Madame Mallory, a difficult and stern French chef who runs a Michelin starred inn.

I am so afraid to give too much away, I just want to stop myself. It is an incredible story of culture, food, traveling, family, friendship, heartache, conflict and ultimately, the strive to follow one’s passion.

Having been to India myself, I can tell you that I was there again while reading this. The smells, the tastes, the people and the sounds, all of it, was so accurately described by Mr Morais, that I was instantly there again. It is fantastic, and it reaffirmed the desire in me to go back again. And France, oh France, the darling of my foodie heart. I want to go back. And eat. And learn.

If you love food, and culture, and traveling, and a good read, this book is for you. If you haven’t seen the film, read it first. I promise, it will be worth it.