South Africa is often called the ‘Rainbow Nation’ because it is a melting pot of many ethnicities and nationalities. The cuisine is just as colorful as the nation is because it borrows flavors and cooking styles from a wide range of nationalities from the indigenous people of Africa to the Malay, the Indians, the Dutch, the English, and many others who have settled there. However, Cape Town, like all other urbanized, cosmopolitan cities, offers fine examples of some of the food that everyone from anywhere can appreciate. I had pizza at Bocca that rivaled those you might find in Italy, fries at Delaire Graff Winery that were crisp, and infused with truffle oil, and gelato at Gelatomania that I couldn’t eat often enough. Cape Town is a dining Mecca, whether you are eating the local rainbow cuisine or any other cuisine that you might crave.
Sitting atop the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), at Columbus Circle in New York City, is the restaurant Robert’s. It is a colorful, brightly lit space, overlooking the southwestern entrance to Central Park. I came here to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. The view from the restaurant is breathtaking and we had the pleasure of watching a snowstorm blow in, which created blizzard-like conditions. I enjoyed my meal but especially loved the artfully crafted desserts.
While I didn’t have a chance to see any exhibits on this visit, I look forward to returning. This museum exhibits a wide range of decorative arts such as textiles, jewelry, home decor and fashion, to name a few. They also have artists’ studios on the premises, where visitors can observe the creative process that artists undertake, as they work with various materials, creating original works of art.
I set out to explore the farm-to-table movement that has been gaining momentum in the New York City restaurant community in recent years. I had heard the catchphrase and it seemed to make sense to me. If you source ingredients closer to home, they would be fresher and retain their nutritional value longer than if they sat on a truck for two weeks. In the process, small, independent farms would benefit from the increased business and the consumer would know the farming practices of those farms. After decades of consuming overly processed foods, America was ready to re-embrace fresh produce.
I did an internet search of farm-to-table restaurants in New York City and the same names kept popping up: Blue Hill, Rosemary’s, ABC Kitchen and others. I selected Roberta’s because of its reasonable prices, its emphasis on pizzas, and its no-reservation policy. I trekked out to Bushwick, Brooklyn, on a Sunday at 4 PM and found myself in an industrial neighborhood that is still on the frontier of gentrification. Roberta’s is housed in a former auto-body shop retrofitted, as basically as you could imagine, as a restaurant. Out back, along with an outdoor eating area and a tented dining room, is a garden. Roberta’s takes farm-to-table right to its own backyard. They have hothouses, which during the course of the year, grow as many as 70 different crops, ranging from strawberries to mustard greens and many hard-to-find herbs and vegetables. These gardens do not provide enough produce to feed all of the diners that pass through this restaurant annually. According to their cookbook, “At best, 10 percent of what’s served at Roberta’s is grown here.” However, it serves as a test garden for some of the interesting, more obscure crops that it hopes to incorporate into its dishes. The chefs source a fair amount of their produce at the Brooklyn Grange in Long Island City and the Brooklyn Navy Yards, which is one of the largest rooftop farms in the world. They cure their own meats, make some of their own cheeses, and continually look for new purveyors of locally sourced ingredients.
I arrived at 4 and unbeknownst to me, the kitchen was closed between the hours of 4 and 5 as they transitioned from lunch to dinner. The only items that they were serving were their renowned brick-oven pizza and their meat plate of prosciuttos and salamis, served with fresh baked bread. There were, perhaps, 10 varieties of pizzas and maybe another 20 toppings to choose from so I was in heaven. I chose a traditional Margherita pizza, which was one of the best that I have tasted in New York City. I know a thing or two about Neapolitan pizza and I can tell you that Roberta’s pizza is a fabulous facsimile of those served in Southern Italy. Made in a wood-burning oven, imported from Italy, the crust is thin in the center but perfectly singed and crispy on the ends. The sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes, which are imported from Italy, not sourced locally but the cheese is made on the premises. I hope to return there soon because I would love to try some of the other dishes on the menu, which I have read, are delicious. The New York Times gave Roberta’s a fabulous review and the Zagat’s guide gives it a 26 out of 30. However, I might opt for the pizzas again because they were that good.
I would consider Roberta’s a hybrid farm-to-table restaurant because, while many items are sourced close to home, several do come from afar. They just utilize the best quality ingredients and they deliver delicious food in a creative way. The ambience at Roberta’s is lively, the wait staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and the experience is worth the trek to the new frontier of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
I love visiting different parts of the world. The architecture, food, people, religion, and so many other facets of culture intrigue me. When traveling, I always like to sample the local cuisine, which is easy to do in Spain because many restaurants serve tapas, which are small-portioned dishes. I discovered that I enjoy photographing food as much as I like eating it! Here are some of the mouthwatering foods that I captured.
When in LA, you can’t miss the famed eatery, The Ivy on Robertson. This West Hollywood institution is surrounded by contemporary, chic shops but, itself, resembles an English country cottage. We sat on the terrace, people-watching and enjoying our al fresco meal. I especially loved my grilled calamari followed by my fresh berries and delicious chocolate chip cookies.
Chocolate covered raspberries… Ok maybe it’s a little more sinful than ‘slightly’. Although, I can guarantee you it’s yummy and easy to make! You can display this dish in any creative way you would like. I chose to arrange it so that each brown chocolate covered raspberry was next to a white chocolate raspberry and vice versa. I placed chocolate chips in between, as a nice touch. Lastly, I added raspberry jam to give an extra sweet taste (and a nice pop of color for the pictures).
Wash raspberries and pat dry.
Melt chocolate chips for about 2 minutes in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds and then coat raspberries with melted chocolate. I used Nestle’s semi sweet chunks and Ghiradelli’s white chocolate chips.
Is your mouth watering? Because mine definitely was while I was making these delicious popcorn-marshmallow pops. Hope you enjoy these photos I took of the final product!
- 12 cups plain popcorn (I used Skinny Pop)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for hands
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 10-oz. bag marshmallows
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup M&Ms
- 10 ice-pop sticks
1. Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in vanilla, marshmallows and salt. Continue to stir until creamy.
2. Place popcorn in a large mixing bowl and pour marshmallow mixture over it. Use a wooden spoon to spread the mixture over the popcorn. Grease your hands with a thin layer of softened butter, then shape popcorn mixture into 10 balls, and place on a piece of waxed paper or in cupcake liners. Grease hands after making each ball to prevent marshmallow mixture from sticking to hands. Press M&Ms into balls so they adhere. Insert 1 ice-pop stick into each ball. (Position in floral foam so that the pops stand upright and then place in flowerpots or any type of container).
This recipe was modified from a recipe found on myrecipes.com