Saturday, September 22, 2012

Catching up, and Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges with Cherry Pecan Salsa

Too long since the last blog update...

In the past few months visiting friends, business travel, and family gatherings have filled up free moments.  I've eaten some amazing meals with great company and in fabulous locations (Perth, Cape Town, London)-- just haven't set aside the time to write about them!  I tried ostrich steak for the first time while in Cape Town (superb), and enjoyed fabulous wine in Stellenbosch and the surrounding vineyard-covered region.  The Dutch colonial-style hotel where I stayed near the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town made a mean pumpkin soup topped with coriander-infused popcorn.  The head chef visited my table to ask what I thought.  The recipe was the creation of one of his young, eager chefs, and they had been experimenting with the best herb for the popcorn.  The soup itself was velvety with a spicy kick, and the popcorn lent a bold herb flavor and pleasing crunch-- a winner in my books, and so I told the chef.  

Discovered adorable Bea's of Bloomsbury when meeting a friend for coffee in London.  I had a homey bowl of fresh fruit, muesli, yogurt, and honey to accompany my strong flat white, but I coveted my friend's thick-sliced whole wheat walnut toast spread thinly with butter and marmite.  I enjoyed a blissful dinner-for-one at Kitchen W8 the evening of our wedding anniversary, the only drawback being that the hubs was in the opposite hemisphere!  The informative servers made excellent wine recommendations for my meal choices.  An incredible starter of roasted beet, fig, microgreens, goat's cheese, and olive oil and chestnut purée drizzled salad was followed by pan fried sea bream fillet with garlic purée over a ragout of chickpeas, roasted peppers, and chorizo.  To finish, a bitter chocolate pavé garnished with new season's cherries, toasted buckwheat, and a cabernet sauvignon strawberry sorbet: divine.  

I had a nice and fresh quinoa vegetable salad with roasted eggplant dip (and a pecan-covered brownie) at Gail's Artisan Bakery, and a well-balanced fillet of herb-crusted sea bass with olive risotto, roasted tomatoes, and asparagus at Le Pain Quotidien.  Shared meals outdoors in relatives' gardens, soaking up the last warm rays of English sun, and even helped my cousin-in-law's husband create a side of grits for his slow-cooked lamb shanks (I'd gifted him the Texan grits when I moved to Sydney, fearful of the strict import laws for Australia).  A thoroughly enjoyable visit back to Blighty.    

As for recipes, I'll backtrack to the delicious grilled sweet potato wedges with cherry pecan salsa that I made to accompany our all-American hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob for July 4th.  The recipe can be found here at one of my favorite food blogs, The First Mess.  
Southern Spoon Blog: grilled sweet potato wedges with cherry pecan salsa, from The First Mess
grilled sweet potato wedges with cherry pecan salsa
Fourth of July was mid-winter in Australia, so while we hung the stars and stripes from our balcony, we didn't fire up the barbie for these.  Rather, I steamed them as per the recipe and grilled them on our indoor griddle set over the stovetop.  As a result, a few of the wedges were still a little firm in the centre.  I probably should have steamed them a little longer beforehand since the indoor griddle wasn't as hot as a bar-b-que would have been.  They were very tasty, though, and the cherry pecan salsa was a bright accompaniment to the spicy-sweet wedges.  

Highly recommended as a fun alternative to potato salad, baked beans, or whatever you traditionally serve with burgers.  The salsa would also be perfect over veggie burgers, pork tenderloin, or chicken.  I'll try this recipe again when we enter bar-b-que season (soon)!  More recipes to come... 

Southern Spoon Blog: grilled sweet potato wedges with cherry pecan salsa, from The First Mess

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