Colorful South Africa

This year has been a very interesting gastronomic year for me!

I am blessed to be able to allow my palate to go all around the world. From my very Korean lunch, I went to Bangkok, Thailand and loved their Pad Thai and quickly jetted off to Greece and shouted OPA! with glee.

Finally, I came back to Asia and indulged in something very familiar, my taste buds flew off again to another food destination and this time it's somewhere I have very little knowledge of.

I was told that they are known for their wine and cheese selection. To be honest, the only two things I know about this country are of two icons: Nelson Mandela and Charlize Theron. Thus, how can I say no to an invite to acquaint myself with what South Africa is all about and most importantly, what are the dishes that they are most proud of.

Hosted by Chef Susina Jooste in Restaurant 9501 in ABS-CBN, my colleagues and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Sure, I did a little bit of research by familiarizing myself with common African food terms such as Biltong (salty, spicy dried meat), Snoek (a type of fish) and Boerewors (homemade barbecued sausages) just to make sure that I won't eat anything beyond the usual types of meat.

While waiting for the event to begin, we were served with a glass of bubbly champagne. I took a small sip and I enjoyed the lightness of my first drink. It's actually a perfect meal starter.

Finally, we were led to the buffet table. Surveying the line up, I particularly grew interested on the first table which displays an array of cheese. If only my friend K were able to join us, she would probably consider this heaven. There were about 6 different types of cheeses which we enjoyed trying together with a handful of crostinis.

Moving on with our South African lunch, we can't help but take tiny servings of each dish. Everything looks so appetizing and very interesting at the same time. Needless to say, my colleague Isa and I laughed as we guiltily carried our heavy, filled to the brim plates back to the table.

Let me know you some of the dishes that were served to us...

Snoek Sambal
Appetizer of African fish mixed with onions, pepper and vinegar

Very much similar to a Chicken Kebab. Yummy!

Baked Butternut
Oh this is my favorite dish! I love how creamy the pumpkins were and it was so tasteful too!

This is the African's version of Barbecued Sausages. Though I find this a bit hard and challenging to munch on. Guess it's not my type of sausage :-/

Everything was really good and filling that I had to let go of my initial plan to grab a cup of coffee after. All I just requested for was a cup of African tea which I felt was a perfect way to end my meal.

After everyone was happily fed, Chef Susina Jooste gave a very short presentation of her hometown. I hope someday I can visit South Africa and enjoy being so close to nature where I can gaze at the sky and watch millions of stars twinkling by while enjoying a cold glass of wine and some crispy Biltong.

Here's a good news! You can still enjoy some of Chef Susina's South African dishes at Restaurant 9501 until tomorrow, November 14! Note that the restaurant is exclusive only to ABS-CBN employees but may accomodate outsider upon reservation.

Contact Restaurant 9501 at (02) 415-2272, (02) 411-1564.

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