A Walk On The Wild Side With Ben Trovato and some White South Africans

Let’s go on another walk on the wild side with Ben Trovato, shall we?

White South Africans, much like white sharks, are one of the most misunderstood animals on the planet. They have a reputation for unpredictable behaviour and non-Caucasians are often afraid to venture into their territory for fear of being attacked.

Some, however, are merely inquisitive and will circle warily before racing off in their Volvos. Others, perhaps sensing their way of life is under threat, might go on the offensive. A lot of the time, though, this will be nothing more serious than a mock charge. Stand your ground and they will more often than not back off.

White people, particularly alpha males, are easily enraged. They have been bumped from their slot at the top of the food chain and are struggling to adapt to their new position.

In many instances, they can be calmed down with offers of raw meat and brandy. There is nothing a white South African likes more than a chunk of charred cow and a bottle of cheap liquor. If he has just eaten and is already drunk, he might show no interest in your offer. This is when he is at his most dangerous.

The best way to ward off an attack, verbal or physical, is to threaten him with charges of racism. He will retreat faster than Khulubuse Zuma confronted with a salad.

When the EFF says whites need to come to the party or their land will be confiscated, they are forgetting one thing. White people don’t just rock up at a party. They need an invitation. They also need directions. And even then, they are going to want to know who else will be there. I think if the EFF had to put white people on the guest list and tell them there would be snacks, spare girls, a free shooter at the door and a DJ playing hits from the 80s, they would almost certainly come to the party. Unless it was raining, in which case they wouldn’t.

We already have a fairly good idea of what white people don’t like. In the interests of fostering better race relations, let’s take a look at some of the things they do like.

Queues

White people like nothing more than an orderly queue. There are two rules governing the queue: no eye contact and no talking. Do not be alarmed if you are standing somewhere with your hands in your pockets idly wondering what to do with your day and white people spontaneously begin forming a line behind you. They will be too polite to ask if you are in the queue and will happily stand there for hours waiting for some of whatever it is they think you are waiting for.

Hiking/jogging/cycling

Even though every white person owns at least three cars, a boat and a private plane, they rarely use them for transport, preferring instead to get something they call exercise. If you see a white person running, do not assume he has been hijacked. Your offer of a lift to the police station will be misconstrued and things could end badly.

4x4s

Now that sjambokking the staff is frowned upon, white people have to get their jollies elsewhere. Riding roughshod over the environment has become the new urban aphrodisiac. White people also enjoy taking their 4×4 to the carwash, even though the trophy wife has only ever used it to drop her Aryan offspring at the private school on the corner. Don’t bother asking for a lift. There is never room because the back seat is for the Borzois. You would be missing the point if you mentioned that the dogs aren’t even in the car.

Sea views

White people have such a yearning for sea views you could be forgiven for thinking that if some of them were a bit brighter, they could be related to dolphins. But with burglaries and rates and taxes on the increase, second homes at the coast are becoming, much like the South African passport, a crushing liability.

Classical music

Apart from sausages, Vienna – the home of classical music – has little in common with Africa. White people are drawn to classical music for two reasons. It places them above the middle class – who spend their evenings listening not so much to the sound of Mozart as they do to the sound of gunshots and screaming – and it places them under no pressure to get up and dance.

Horse riding

Although horses are useful only for transporting marijuana out of Lesotho, many white families keep race horses as a means of getting to the nearest airport in a hurry when the ANC Youth League take over the country and nationalise all private vehicles. In white culture, a pony for the youngest daughter is often a traditional gift. If you encounter a lady of the manor astride her mount down a leafy lane in, say, Noordhoek, doff your cap and fall to one knee. As they pass, you may want to whisper: “Neigh, my bru.” Unlike dogs, horses owned by white people have a fine sense of humour.

Wine

Wine was invented by white people for white people. They have much in common – both can be petulant, bitter and easily spoiled. And the cheap, nasty ones always worsen with age. If you find yourself at a wine-tasting on a farm in Franschhoek and a foreigner mistakes you for the sommelier, you might say: “I would recommend the Augusto Pinochet, madam.” Alternatively, you might want to say: “Go fuck yourself, madam.” Your call.

Complaining

We live in a country run by a government that makes it exceptionally difficult for those who don’t wish to complain. Over the past 25-odd years, complaining has developed into a lifestyle. White people love complaining almost as much as they love rugby and Woolworths. If you find yourself pinned down by a complainer, don’t be reckless and say something like, “So what are you doing to change the situation?” Rather smile, nod and back away slowly.

Weather

You might think they would be used to it by now, but white people spend much of their time talking about it. Being born in Africa with European genes plays havoc with their internal barometers. Deeply conflicted, they complain endlessly about the heat, the cold, the wet and the dry.

Pets

Because their families are frequently dysfunctional, white people collect cats and dogs and treat them as if they were the fruit of their own loins. Many white people even train their dogs not to attack strangers, but to rather sit at the table and eat with a spoon. Cats don’t care much for table manners, let alone white people, and they may well be the downfall of this great nation. If a white person’s dog goes for you in the street, tell him the animal has character and he might pay your medical bills.

Schedules

The only reason World War II was a success was because Germany invaded Poland on schedule. One of the reasons an African country has never tried to colonise the world is because most people don’t have watches and it would be impossible to coordinate anything. White people grow restless when things don’t happen on time, such as government programmes to house, educate and employ millions of people who might otherwise start blaming white people.

Minimalism

When Robert Browning wrote the immortal lines, “Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged” in his poem Andrea del Sarto, he wasn’t to know that 150 years later, pseudo-Italian architects with Arabian catamites and coke-encrusted nostrils would use it as a haute monde design philosophy. If you visit a white person’s home and they have very little in it, compliment them on their interesting use of space. If they say they have nothing because they’re poor, you should leave.

Antiques

White people like old things more than they like old people. They spend a fortune putting their parents in old age homes and then spend a bigger fortune putting old stuff in their houses. They think that having a 17th Century Parisian douche bag on a pedestal would be more rewarding than a father who can’t remember his name. If white people visit your home and take an interest in your furniture, tell them the chairs were carved by Taharka, King of Kush. They will probably think this is a drug reference and try to buy weed from you. Add on 25% and give them whatever they want.

Eating out

White people go to restaurants even when they have food in the house. This is because an entire generation of white mothers failed to teach their daughters to cook. The daughters don’t see this as a failure. They see it as a step towards the total emancipation of women. Really, darling? You won’t cook and you want to be free? Fine. See ya. Have a nice life. Hello, Mr Delivery?

—-

See you around

– Ben Trovato

• Ben Trovato is the author of thirteen books, although you wouldn’t think so if you had to see his living conditions. With a background in print and television journalism, Trovato’s popular newspaper columns have earned him a wicked reputation and a fatty liver. He can often be found surfing instead of meeting his deadlines. Trovato lives alone with two regrets and a hangover.

Trovato takes on JBay…

Trovato takes on St Francis…

Trovato on drugs washing up in JBay

Trovato and surfer’s ear

The Italian Job Restaurant Review

The Italian Job

A busy afternoon in St Francis Bay saw us head to the new Italian Job Restaurant for a few quest drinks and some time to chill. A few seats were around in the early evening, and the proprietors welcomed us with open arms.

They quickly recognised us as locals and showed us around their multi-roomed restaurant before choosing the front area inside. Right next to the live music, but sheltered from the weather. It was a chilly late afternoon, as most of the summer has been, and we were all under-dressed, so it suited us perfectly.

I needed a drink after hearing some tragic C-19 related news, and my Scotch and Soda quickly took that edge off. My wife chose an Aperol Spritz cocktail, and it was perfect to her liking.

The 13-year-old decided that he was ravenous, and although ravenous and fussy are a complex combination, he ordered a margarita pizza. My daughter, at 9-years old, decided that she needed cheese. Being an Italian restaurant, cheese was easy to find, and she ordered the delicious Bastoncini Mozzarella sticks.

The second Scotch seemed to open up my hunger, and I followed the same suit and ordered the Polpette meatball starter. Unfortunately, while the first two food items’ delivery was quick and impressive, the meatball order was slow. I didn’t notice until the waitress apologised and explained the tardy service resulting from shift change. She was so gentle and apologetic that I didn’t register anything close to irritation and told her not to apologise.

There were four meatballs and four of us, but the coincidence stopped there. I ate three of them – delicious – and the rest of the family were allowed to sample the final one.

Then a crew of locals arrived, and a small chunk of hell broke loose. Boisterous and in excellent spirits, they chose vodka bevvies to set the tone, and it’s not entirely impossible that a few shooters went down while their vodkas were being poured. But, being the dignified family man that I am, I stood back and shook my head in disappointment and ordered another double Scotch.

Then another family of locals arrived and came over to say hello, before heading over to their booked table. It was filling up for the first sitting of the evening.

Finally, as we were getting ready to leave, a family of 12 arrived. There were grannies and grandpas, young parents, older parents, a punk rock teenager with spiked hair, and a few younger nerdish kids. However, they were combined in their familiarity with the joint and the owners, who greeted them all.

It’s nice to have such a warm and friendly place in St Francis. A few restaurants tend to develop a slightly less-warm approach to patrons over the season.

The light meal and drinks came to R750,00, including a fairly generous tip to show our appreciation.

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – Could This Be The Best Burger Of Your Life?

Cooking With Conrad Gallagher – Could This Be The Best Burger Of Your Life?

Could This Be The Best Burger Of Your Life?

The Best Hamburger Of Your Life

Fridays are Wagyu Burger Night at Off the Menu Food Emporium in Port Elizabeth and St Francis Bay. Our patrons love this treat cooked on our Big Green Egg, and we invited local wine writer and food aficionado Sam Venter to try out the experience and report back on what could possibly be the best hamburger of her life.

A Friday night invitation to sample the signature Wagyu burger at Off the Menu in Walmer, Port Elizabeth. Gleefully accepted.

First, of course, there’s the promise of Wagyu – with that marbled fat, glorious fat, that melts into the meat for a rich, buttery, tender and intensely meaty bite. And the promise of the previously-unknown delights of “Sumo fries” alongside.

Then there’s the elegant charcoal and pale wood interior with its warm lighting and chilled music, where you feel cocooned from the outside world. You can shop shelves laden with local and global deli delights, speciality ingredients from across the globe and premium South African wines while you await your meal.

Michelin Star

A kitchen designed, and the kitchen brigade and front-of-house trained, to the exacting standards of a Michelin-starred chef in food preparation and service.

The Wagyu burger patty is cooked outdoors on a Big Green Egg, that wonder of a ceramic-encased charcoal grilling machine that delights both high-end chefs and home barbecue enthusiasts.
The attention to each and every detail of building up the layers and serving of this extraordinary hamburger is phenomenal.

The brioche bun – crisp, egg-polished exterior holding a soft buttery crumb that soaks up the meat juices – is lightly toasted on the Big Green Egg, then drizzled with a perfect swirl of truffle aioli to await its meaty companion.No fridge-hard tomatoes and soggy lettuce here.

A tomato slice is given a light grilling to warm and soften it, releasing its sweetness that complements the crisp freshness and slight bitterness of a handful of micro herbs and salad leaves.You are asked how you would like your burger patty done (don’t even think of asking for well-done).

Raclette Cheese

As the burger patty nears the desired state of done-ness – the exterior perfectly charred and crisp, the interior melt-in-the-mouth umami meat deliciousness – a slice of raclette cheese is applied to add its earthy savoury-sweetness in a slow, oozy melt. Meanwhile, indoors, the finishing touches are added one plate at a time.

Duck eggs, locally reared, richly flavoured, are fried to your specification in perfect one-egg-size pans and added atop the melty raclette cheese.

Could This Be The Best Burger Of Your Life?

The Sumo fries – perfectly even, thick batons of potato have already had their first fry in hot oil. Now they are ready to be twice-fried to order. Just six or eight stacked in a neat block next to the burger. Crisp outside, meltingly fluffy inside, deeply flavourful with their drizzle of more truffle aioli and soft drifts of grated Parmesan, they are potentially addictive.

Miraculously, with all the components and the singular efforts to get it to your plate, it is a burger so perfectly layered and contained within its bun that you can actually hold it in your hands and eat it as a burger should be eaten. No bits oozing messily out of bun-containment, dripping down your chin and having you leave the restaurant wearing your dinner down your front.
Although, for a burger like this, it would be a badge of pride.

Classiness

As a diner with a deep distrust of the current trend of food being presented on wooden boards topped with some form of greaseproof or wax paper that turns instantly soggy with the addition of food and gets torn to shreds by a steak knife, with the shreds then incorporated in your next mouthful – the presentation at Off the Menu bears mentioning.

Because, yes, I did use my steak knife to cut my burger into more manageable handheld portions in an attempt to match the classiness of the surroundings.

Presented on a thick wooden board, like a smoothed-down and sealed piece of a tree trunk that had been topped with the dreaded paper stuff, this was a different experience entirely – no sogginess, no tearing, no paper clinging to the food. In fact, by the end of the meal, the paper looked almost as good as it did at the start.

Clearly, this is the real deal of restaurant-quality greaseproof paper and another illustration of the restaurant’s fine attention to detail.

Off the Menu has an exceptional offering of wines to accompany your Wagyu burger, either by the bottle or the glass, selected from boutique wineries and estates and independent producers that you’re unlikely to find in your local liquor store.

Savoury, hearty, layered flavours

By the glass, a Raats Family Wines Red Jasper, AA Badenhorst Secateurs Red, Ken Forrester The Gypsy, or a Van Loggerenberg Break a Leg Rosé would make great companions to the deeply savoury, hearty, layered flavours of the OTM Wagyu burger.

At R185 for a burger ‘n chips, this is not what you might call a cheap date. But, then again, this is definitely no ordinary burger, and when you consider some other options, it’s actually great value.
In South Africa, the top-end burger at a steakhouse chain will cost you only about R40 less (ordinary beef, mind you, no mention of grass-fed, let alone Wagyu, and probably slathered in an in-house BBQ basting sauce to cover up tasteless meat).

Port Elizabeth tends to be a less expensive city than Cape Town or Jo’burg for eating out. A quick look at some of Cape Town’s fashionable specialist gourmet burger eateries finds prices between R160 and R190 for a burger from grass-fed beef (again, not Wagyu) or R250 for a Wagyu burger takeout from a mid-range Jo’burg restaurant.

unnecessary foie gras

For those with international price ranges in mind, the Off the Menu Wagyu burger comes in at around $12. My sources in the US tell me that diners in cities like New York, Boston and Chicago would not blink at paying $30 for a Wagyu burger. Similarly, at seriously/ridiculously high-end spots in NYC, you could pay $85, admittedly with some unnecessary foie gras added.

A Wagyu burger in London is likely to set you back around £14, compared to around £8.80 for UK holidaymakers landing at Off the Menu in Port Elizabeth or St Francis.
Yet another excellent reason for international travellers to visit South Africa and for locals to step out of their comfort zones and experience the fine cuisine we are spoilt with on our doorsteps.

Was it the best burger of my life? Hell, yes.

Notes From The Editor: Local Bars and Restaurants, A Local’s Perspective

Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine

There is a strange phenomenon at a few bars/restaurants in and around St Francis Bay this season. It has become apparent that if you’re not booked to have a meal, you can’t go in and have a quick drink at the bar at a few of these establishments, even if they’re empty at the time.

With respect, I would like to suggest that restaurants with these ‘dinner bookings to drink’ policies at least explain them carefully. It needs to be as clear as day why locals/regulars can’t come in and have a quick beer at an empty bar at 6pm if they haven’t booked dinner at the same establishment.

To be clear, we’re talking about the same establishments that welcome us locals to have a beer at the bar all year. Turning away locals might seem like an easy fix when it’s a bit crowded, but before you know it, it will be winter again. Then what?

Sorry. we’re full etc etc

There are also reasons to celebrate.

Date: Christmas Day, 2021.
Time: Lunchtime

Venue: The Quays

Setting The Scene: 21 people, comprising young kids, grandparents, four sets of parents, for Christmas lunch. Most adults drinking wine, kids all hungry. One or two early tequilas to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus,

What seemed like an easy choice of one out of two Christmas meals soon descended into chaos. Five family groups with different drinks orders and other meal specs for their kids quickly muddied the water. Teenagers wanting Savannahs, pre-teens wanting to go to Billy’s etc.

It took a while to settle, and at the end of the day, everyone had a wonderful meal, was satisfied. We all had full stomachs even though the salads arrived simultaneously as the dessert, which was delicious. What salvaged the day was the great staff, their friendly and apologetic approach, and the fact that they corrected every mistake as soon as it happened. Excellent food, loads of fun, great, if somewhat chaotic experience.
Quick Rating 7/10

Date: 28 December
Time: 6:30 pm

Venue: The Italian Job

We were welcomed like old friends. Even though we didn’t know anyone, we were soon made to feel comfortable and have a drink. We celebrated the life of a recently departed dear friend, Derek Watson, RIP, who succumbed to Covid this week. I chose a double Scotch and Soda.

There was some live music, with a guy singing his best versions of Tracy Chapman. We had a couple of drinks, and a few locals joined us for some laughs and good times. Seen as it was a bit later than expected, the kids sampled a few of the starters and shared a margarita pizza. It was all too good. Warm vibes, friendly people, loads of locals recognizing it for the good vibes. For the full review, see here:
Quick Rating: 7/10.