Melanzane pops up as quite delicious

A review by Brenda Daniels

Do you know what Melanzane is? I didn’t until a recent lunch with two friends at a lovely home restaurant in Durban North. The eatery we visited was a “pop-up restaurant” run by MasterChef S.A., Joani Mitchell. It is held on select days during the month of April at a beautiful big house in Old Mill Way.

Our little round table was set for three with unmatched crockery, ivory-handled knives and an embroidered tablecloth. It was peaceful while gazing across the wooded, coloured-leaf garden, filled with plants well suited to tropical KwaZulu-Natal. And lavishly decorated as it was, even a visit to the loo didn’t diminish the charming ambience.

Back to the Melanzane; after some enquiry and a quick Google search I learnt that this Italian dish is made with brinjal (aubergine) and layered with tomato in a cheese sauce before being baked like lasagne. Yum!

And yummy it turned out to be. I vowed right away to look up the recipe when I got home so I could make it for myself. While we were enjoying our meal, the chef visited our table and explained that she used a combination of haloumi, mozzarella and cheddar cheese to make the dish more tasty.

But even more interesting was her reason for including this dish on her menu. Many patrons had asked Joani to offer meals and snacks that fitted with the new Tim Noakes diet (the controversial new one advocating high fat and protein with low carbohydrates). She obliged with the Melanzane, using rice flour instead of wheat flour to exclude the use of refined carbs.

Whether I support Noakes’ “caveman” diet or not is beside the point here. Our enjoyable luncheon, finished off with Rooibos tea in dainty china cups, was delicious, elegant and relaxing. I didn’t feel like a caveman at all.

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(Left to right) Isabelle Luker, Lee Currie, Brenda Daniels (all freelance journalists) enjoy a lovely luncheon. (Photo: Waitress Akhona)

(Left to right) Isabelle Luker, Lee Currie, Brenda Daniels (all freelance journalists) enjoy a lovely luncheon. (Photo: Waitress Akhona)


In the beginning Adam was dumb…

A review by Brenda Daniels

Drawn by the description (whimsical) and the author (Mark Twain) of The Diary of Adam and Eve, I attended opening night of this short play on 1 May. Whimsical means “playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way”.

The character of Eve could certainly be described as whimsical, as could the language, and the use of the story of Adam and Eve to depict the frustrating, but tender relationship between men and women.

In this story, Adam and Eve each keep a diary, recording their observations and “experiments” as they progress. And progress they do, going from awkward and amusing attraction, to sweet, understanding family life.

Eve is the chatty one (to the annoyance of Adam), and seems instantly in tune with her intuitions about life and to a lesser extent love. Adam is altogether slow; in fact, the play could be called “In the beginning Adam was dumb…”

Despite the characters’ foibles, their humanness and inexplicable and growing fondness for each other is endearing. At one point Eve ponders why she loves Adam, listing his dubious qualities as she does so. She concludes that she loves him just “because he’s mine”. What a touching and enduring quality this is for relationships.

The Diary of Adam and Eve is short – only one hour – and light, something I particularly appreciated. If there were more pithy plays on offer I think I might go to one every night. Opening night of this play did reveal some shortcomings – a forgotten line, a few fumbled words, a video scene in the “garden of Eden” with an obvious jet aeroplane engine in the background! But I’m sure these can be ironed out with time.

The Diary of Adam and Eve is on at 7.30pm at Seabrooke’s Theatre, DHS, Durban until 3 May. It features Catarina Morgado as Eve, Jonathan Cohen as Adam and Mthokozisi Zulu as the Snake. Booking (tickets are R100) is through Computicket (0861 915 8000).

Tableau from the play; The Diary of Adam and Eve.

Eve, the Devil and Adam in the play, The Diary of Adam and Eve. (Photo: Val Adamson )