Eating Out

 

The first part of July was marked by three moments: 1) Upon diver JP’s arrival, after finally completing his platform firefighter basic training, we celebrated with feijoada and banana sponge cake. 2) We went to Nelspruit to get spare parts for JP’s car, swapping a game reserve for shopping and Japanese food, just to learn that one of the worst experiences in terms of eating out can be a bad day Japanese restaurant. 3) We closed the first tae bo semester with a very nice Costa do Sol lunch. It was blue and sunny, and it has been like this ever since.

 

Once again I ended up thinking how people like to celebrate around food and especially in restaurants. We also used to eat out once a week, but lately we changed to once a fortnight. We have two reasons: 1) We want to intercalate beaches. 2) There’s no place like home.

 

We know all the good restaurants and hotels, still we couldn’t find a single one offering consistent quality and challenging diversity. When we compare eating out and home, the last one wins with a large vantage. Millions have to trust in alien kitchens to celebrate or survive, but they do miss a good thing. Home cooking is far better and tastier than what most restaurants are able to offer.

 

Nevertheless, I have to say that there are some positive aspects. The number of restaurants available represents a good sign. Service has been improving sensibly. Someone who doesn’t live here commented: “Service improved notoriously since my last visit. Before it was impossible to find a waiter or waitress prepared for the job. Today, it’s a completely different situation. It’s more professional.” Despite all the negativity we have been finding, there’s no doubt that a large effort has been made by the sector.

 

Finally, I am glad to say that we are surviving quite well without chef Tieta. Ironing is a job gentle Elisa does with efficiency and cooking is shared. The other day I found Andy explaining why pasta should be cooked with lots of water to a listening audience. Tieta’s absence is always an opportunity for us to realize that there’s no such thing called indispensable people.

Advertisements

Under a Tree

 

Since a week ago, I swapped my healthy eating habits for just eating. Why? Because the equation traveling with Paul and Andy equals eating non-stop is becoming sort of a pattern. In the end, Paul always complains: “We eat too much… We spend too much in food…” Needless to say he is the first to say “let’s” when the opportunity comes.

 

The owner of the place where we stayed suggested the first restaurant. We had stopped on the road for lunch and, as the meat portions in South Africa are gigantic, we weren’t really hungry. We craved fish to level the appetite.

 

The restaurant was a small, unpretentious place, yet the chef keeps the tables busy. We all ordered fish. I found the grilled sole I picked very okay, yet far from extraordinaire.

 

The next day we had beef fillet with spinach mash (Andy actual favorite food) and fries. We usually select the same mid-shopping place: nice, busy, but not extraordinaire.

 

Thursday night we went to an emblematic seafront restaurant where we regularly eat when in Duban. Finally, we had an almost extraordinaire moment. Extraordinaire was discovering that the main chef and manager is, in reality, a Mozambican character named Luís (Louis, as he is called). He cooks and performs. To be precise, he performs while cooking Japanese. Between other things, he can joggle pepper and salt mills, he can build an egg tower or make hearts out of fried rice.

 

The next day we had just a light meal before heading back to Maputo, a 560km ride. Saturday we returned to Tieta’s diet, whose highlight was a peanut curry.

 

Sunday I backed a honey cake, a recipe I really wanted to try and couldn’t just because there’s no honey available here. I brought it from South Africa, evidently. The cake is good, but not extraordinaire. Cakes involving liquid ingredients are a bit tricky to bake. I suppose it’s due to the existing high level of humidity.

 

We have an agreement in terms of Sunday lunch. The weeks we manage to visit a beach, we stay home. The remaining weeks we lunch out. No beach this week, so we went out for lunch.

 

The hotel where Jo once worked as a chef has occupied one of the too many beautiful and neglected areas of this town. It’s now a café, a small garden, an event space and a very small open theater. The food is simple, nothing extraordinaire about it, but the weather has been fantastic and we had lunch under a very old acacia tree. And that is, admittedly, extraordinaire.

Two Restaurants and One Week

 

As Sunday is the first day of the week, I can say I started mine with a visit to a new restaurant. The distance between wakening and finding myself at the restaurant door felt like a morning sigh.

 

I was positively surprised by the spaciousness and bold décor of that new space. I was expecting creative food. My taste buds were begging for something different, maybe modern with an African twist. Instead they were terribly frustrated with an uninspired, standardized cuisine. We left the restaurant under pouring disappointment. And rain.

 

Monday? In my mind Monday represents the day the pain in my sneakers injured legs decided to give me a first break. Yes, I still can remember the relief of pain free breathing.

 

Tuesday I had a set back. Fear. Could the pain return with the tae bo? Nevertheless, it never crossed my mind to skip the class. Besides I am this close to convince Paul to participate and decide if he has the wisdom to swap the computer screen for a few kicks. It might be fun…

 

I was out part of Wednesday and, as usual, I’ve spent a good deal of the afternoon taking care of my dogs, Thoth and Keket.

 

Thursday I was up around 6am and even before that morning sigh I found myself on the road to Nelspruit. We only go there if the reasons are enough for the trouble of 440km and the usual mess at the border.

 

Let’s see. Paul wanted supplements. I wouldn’t mind to buy a couple of shampoos. Andy needed to order a few spare parts for a friend. Stuff for dogs was a priority, mainly: 1) Pick a new bed for Thoth. 2) Register our dogs.

 

I never felt the urgency of certifying Thoth’s pedigree. Certified or not, he is exceptional. We have Thoth’s documentation but not yet the certificate. For us he is only Thoth, but after the registration he is going to be Richmax Magical Thoth (family, mother’s name and his own name).

 

Keket is the one worrying us because she is already certified as Snowwhite, and such a name, knowing what we know about her, sounds like a joke. Richmax Queen Snowwhite? I don’t think so. Queen Keket she is. We have to change that certificate. Both our dogs belong to the same family. They are distantly related.

 

Back to Thursday. Supplements? Checked. Shampoos? Checked. Spare parts? Checked. Thoth’s new bed? Checked. Registration? Oops. It’s unbelievable how we could forget one of the main reasons for the trip! I think a nice sushi platter erased what we were supposed to do next. Andy picked fish and ships, but he wasn’t happy (We are constantly forced to realize why so many restaurants don’t figure in the best hundred list.) and for the first time he showed interest in our sushi. He will get there. Andy was driving. We arrived earlier and feeling so fresh that I went to the tae class, as usual. No pain. Only gain.

 

I’ve spent Friday trying to create room for Paul in our main drawer. Theoretically, I should achieve that by organizing my own armoire. Theoretically. I just underestimated the space winter stuff occupies. I changed everything I could, only creating a small compartment. I also felt like embarking in a lace and ribbons extravaganza for my own armoire, but then I remembered that when we share space with someone we have to give a little. In the end, Paul was happy with his new conquest and I was am completely in love with the organization of my armoire. Can hardly be far from it!

 

Tieta became our Saturday star with a rice with clams and coriender, good enough for gods. Paul commented that a restaurant better than home is still to be invented. Another high moment was Keket’s first promenade. Unless I moved a few steps ahead and called her, she squeezed her belly against the ground and simply forgot she has four useful legs. Outside was very summery. Today I heard the temperatures have been oscillating between 10ºC and 30ºC. In a single day! “Almost desert amplitudes,” Paul remarked. If by chance you plan a visit right now and are sensitive to weather extremes, maybe you should think twice.

Surviving a Storm

 

After the storms that from time to time wreck our lives, we always learn a precious truth: life goes on. Semper.

 

Friday, 11pm – It has been a hard, tiring day. We usually ignore how our own dramas affect other people around us. I just hope a quieter tomorrow.

 

Saturday, 11am – Lunch is almost ready. Cook Tieta is off due to her annual malaria spell. It came a little late this year. There’s a thing we women instinctively know: food can comfort us throughout crises. I went for a divers’ favorite: Brazilian feijoada with sun dried meat. Andy and two friends are already waiting…

 

Saturday, 4pm – I convinced Paul to came with me to a craft exhibition. I think the idea of showing the work of a few special local artists is great, but is should be taken more seriously and maybe include Mozambican (or even African) gastronomy. There I met a friend I didn’t see for a long time. “I checked on you and someone told me you have been dancing flamenco,” she said. (Kind of funny this connection with something I am not doing so regularly these days.)

 

Saturday, 11pm – I am t-o-t-a-l-l-y in the mood for movies and biting my nails (unmistakable sign of fighting the exhaustion I feel, I need to sleep and at the same time I want to stay awaken), but the movies available are serious crap. I decide to watch 10 minutes of the beginning and 10 of the end of each, so that I don’t have to lose time with things that add nothing to the quality of my life. This if I didn’t fall asleep during the first five minutes!

 

Sunday, 1pm – Costa do Sol restaurant with its coriander clams is still here, as a living proof that it’s possible to survive numerous storms. A sunny day put us chatting about Xai-Xai and Inhambane beaches. When I am starting to believe I am almost there, Paul remembers: “What about Keket?” Icy shower over my enthusiasm. For now puppy Keket is too small to be left alone. “Maybe Marracuene…” I conveyed. Sometimes dreams have to give space to reality.

“Curtir”

______________________________________________________________

My weekend was mostly running-walking-running-walking. Seabell and her shinny dog Thoth are starting to be cardio fit. Seabell does 6km and Thoth is getting there. Walking in a beautiful place with a descent to the sea is pleasant and offers each day different perspectives.

 

I wish I could tell you that my weekend was all walking and running! Unfortunately, one of us had this urgent clam appetite and because of it we had to face a real adventure. It all started with an amazing crowd at Costa do Sol. It took us hours to get there, so we had ample opportunity to witness the major concentration of beer drinkers in the world. I have seen people go to the beach for various reasons, here there is only one: curtir. In order to curtir (enjoy) people of all ages have to drink a lot of beer. It is a huge crowd drinking almost in the middle of the street, without a single inhibition.

 

Finally arrived at the restaurant, we order the clams. Halfway our snack of clams and prawns, we start to worry about driving back home because it is already dark and the road is full of drunken people. Meanwhile, resigned owner Emmanuele inform us that sometimes it is even worse and can go on and on until daylight. Hearing this, Seabell suggests pouring rain as a possible solution to open a way out for us.

 

But rain is not happening and we have to opt for a secondary way to return using a dirt road that crosses a farm area around Maputo called Mahotas. The road is closed in the middle for works, and again we have to use a provisory via in the middle of a quarry and other strange places that with the settled night we cannot see. It was an unexpected form to end a very hot summer day. The rain started to fall moments after we crossed our house entrance door.

 

Sunsets (III)

______________________________________________________________

 

I am in front of my computer. An hour ago I was very happy, comfortably sitting at some esplanada watching the sunset. It was windy and busy, yet nature was perfect as always.

 

People occupying seven or eight other tables shared with me the pleasure of witnessing the quiet moment when the sun seems to whisper: “It’s the time to go now!”

 

We never try to stop that moment because the night is also full of promises and I won’t stop any one of you with reasons to envy me: walk, sunset, seaside, prawns, Brazilian music and a fresh breeze messing my hair and cooling down my skin. Do I have to ask more than that from life?

 

Rain, Fun and Dance

______________________________________________________________

 

Rain
Year 2006 said goodbye with sadness. Here, where we live, the last day of the now gone year was so strikingly sad that I could even say painfully sad. The first day of 2007 was a little brighter, animated by periods of rain showers and good Brazilian music.

 

Yes, it rained on me when 2006 turned into 2007 and I was glad for not putting a lot of energy on my hair for the evening. I wasn’t so happy with people dancing with glasses on their hands because at least the content of one ended up on my Weitzaman dancing shoes and American hand embroidery nightgown. If we go to the same place next year I have to be prepared for this kind of incidents and for “serious dancing”.

 

Fun
There is no better way to start a new year than having fun. Despite the fact that I was going to the Réveillon with three guys (Paul, Andy and KT), I wasn’t sure I would have fun. But I did!

 

Our New Years Eve was at Dock’s, the restaurant situated at Clube Naval. The menu was tempting and I was even afraid all we could do was eating the wonderful food Pedro prepared for his guests. I was wrong.

 

Dance
We were lucky to have a good DJ, a band with an amazing maestro playing American and African tunes, the nice entertainer and special friend Milla, and above all Maria Sacoor, the sultry dance coreographer who kept us motivated on the dance floor. I danced alone, I danced with ladies, I danced with girls, I danced with Andy, I danced with KT and I even danced with Paul. As a matter of fact, I could be dancing until 2008.

 

I watched the fireworks, I had wine on my shoes, I had no battery on my camera to take decent photos and… I’ve lost another ring. Welcome 2007!