When you’ve had the opportunity that I had to be able to pack up and move to a small town in my favourite part of the country (Klein Karoo), you make an effort to enjoy life a bit more. That is after all one of the reasons for moving from the city. This means, that smelling the roses and looking at the sunset, takes on a complete new meaning. Even though I still have a busy schedule and travel a lot, switching off comes naturally.
Early on in my time in Barrydale I realised things are done differently here. It’s done at a different pace, with a much better quality to life. There are quite a couple of really good restaurants, with a variety of food and where the hospitality will still amaze you. Regardless of this, there remains a tendency to actually arrange dinner together. And with dinner together I am not talking about the lady of the house, spending three days to plan how she will set the table and buying in loads of fresh ingredients and food from a very expensive retailer (some ready-made) or even booking in a chef for the evening.
Here it simply starts as a discussion over a glass of wine in one of the local pubs or at someone’s home. The chat always takes the road to food. And when it’s food, we all tend to get carried away about dishes we love, that reminds you of something, or someone will boast about their crop in their own vegetable patch or rave about an ingredient they’ve just acquired. The result, a casual dinner is planned around what’s available. It’s not about how the table will be set, but it’s all about the food.
Someone will volunteer the house, another the ingredient, cooks will volunteer their time and you have a dinner. With the main dish in the bag and the form or shape the dinner will take on, the rest falls into place as we pass in the village or meet up for a quick coffee when someone pops over. Yes, here you can still go around to someone’s house or business for a quick coffee, without setting up a meeting.
I’ve fondly dubbed this the Barrydale dinner club. And take note, the dinner club is not just for people who cook. In actual fact, some love to cook and others are people who love food and having a good natter over a couple of drinks with the sunset over the mountains in the area. What a joy, as it’s not about the best crystal or whitest table cloth. It is about the love of food.
One such evening and the menu turned out to be:
– fun friends
– a fire
– an ingenious homemade rotisserie
– 2 springbok legs
– sheep’s tails
– broccoli and salad from two gardens
The result, was a springbok leg stuffed with sheep’s tail, a fresh broccoli salad with a cream cheese dressing and a fresh quinoa salad. I am going to share the springbok leg and broccoli salad with you. The quinoa salad I’ll share at a later stage.
Late afternoon came and I could walk over to the allocated dinner home. Those that could be there early, was there. The fire was started, everything was being prepared, the wine chilled and a glass poured. All this while there was talk about food. The veg from the garden was inspected and the freshness marvelled at. Everything was happening, but with a peaceful air about it. This was yet again a realisation for me that the simpler you keep things in life, the more joy you get from it. You don’t need the bells and whistles, but simply a touch of care and love that goes into the food. It gets you to focus on what really matters. And above all, it teaches you every day to be just that touch more thankful and to again walk with your eyes wide open going through life. Everything that surrounds you, stays something to marvel at and truly learn something from.
2 springbok legs (about 1.5 kg each) – have it de-boned if this scares you
1 liter of plain yoghurt
12 sheep’s tails (alternatively you can use thick cut speck)
Salt and pepper to taste
Start the fire – wood preferably. The best is to also have a separate one that you can feed from. So make two fires – enough so you can cook for 2-3 hours on medium heat coals.
Place the de-boned springbok leg in the plain yoghurt and let it marinade for about 7 hours.
(Optional, you can also add some roughly chopped garlic to the marinade.)
Remove the legs from the yoghurt and remove the excess yoghurt.
Take the first leg and make big enough incisions into the meat to fit the sheep’s tail (or speck). Dependent the size of the tail, you can insert about 3-4 of these into the meat.
Salt and pepper the meat on both sides.
Take some more tails (about 3) and when you roll the leg up, place more of the tails inside and roll it up. When you’ve rolled it up, place it onto the rotisserie peg and secure properly. You can also tie it up with string or simply use some sosatie sticks to do the same job (the latter was what I had available). Repeat the process with the second one. Be careful that the legs are well secured on the rotisserie peg.
When the fire is about medium hot, place the rotisserie on the fire.
If you have the cover like the owner of the house in this case, place this over the rotisserie. Otherwise, just keep feeding the rotisserie with the new hot coals.
Let it slowly cook for about 2-3 hours or until it’s cooked to your liking. Keep on basting it with a basting sauce of your liking
My basting sauce – this was a cheat
There was a bottle of Wellington’s steak house sauce that was a gift from them. To this I simply added some red wine (approximately 125ml) and I let it slowly cook down a bit.
Basting brush: bunch of rosemary sprigs
When it’s done, remove it and unroll it. Remove the sheep’s tails and if you like these it a bit more crispy, place on a grid and simply braai (barbecue) it on the remaining coals. Do this while the springbok legs are resting. Serve it alongside the legs.
3 heads of broccoli, broken into small florets or spears
125 g of cream cheese (smooth)
30 ml Balsamic vinegar
1 can of chickpeas
Olive oil to drizzle
Salt and pepper to taste
80 ml sesame seeds, toasted
Simply steam the broccoli until it’s done, but still al dente.
Make the dressing by simply whisking the cream cheese and balsamic vinegar together.
Place the chickpeas onto a plate and drizzle with a touch of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
Place the broccoli on top of the chickpeas, dollop the dressing on top and sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on top.