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)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 lacks unique touch

A review by Brenda Daniels

I loved Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1. The nerdy, fallible hero, Flint, was likeable, and an invention that caused food to rain from the sky was fun and different. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (3D), however, doesn’t maintain the momentum of the first film and I left the theatre feeling a little disappointed.

In this sequel Flint’s old food machine has begun producing rogue foods that are threatening mankind. Called in by his hero, Chester V of The Live Corp Company, Flint is tasked with finding his machine and shutting it down. The food mutants are creatively portrayed – lettuce-spraying tacos and eight-legged, cheese-spinning burgers are great to watch. Even the little innocuous-looking strawberries have character and spunk and young children will love this imaginative aspect. Flint’s friends and his mono-browed father play a big role in this film too, almost outshining the protagonist in fact, and Flint’s attitude towards them forms the moral of the story.

Although full of action, the movie doesn’t reach much of a climax, and in parts is a little boring. A few funny lines, while appealing to little ones, aren’t very memorable or clever and tend to be repetitive. And what really put me off was the obvious likeness to other films, from James Bond to the Matrix, Madagascar to The Lion King and Avatar.

Although not engaging for parents, the film is clean and will prove entertaining for their young children. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 opens at Ster Kinekor Theatres in South Africa on Friday 31 January. It carries an age restriction of PG.

cloudy with a chance of meatballs 2