Winner winner mystery dinner.

This is a true story – the last time I ever got asked to go somewhere with an invitation that was actually on paper, it was an anonymous note written in red fineliner and stuffed under my door by someone who supposedly ‘wanted to meet me by the hockey fields for a good time’.

Because I’m a disgusting coward (I was like 12, okay? Even if I had gone, I wouldn’t have known what the hell to do to have a good time anyway, maybe listen to some Roxette albums? I don’t know…) I didn’t want to go, fearing maybe that it was a trap and that someone was going to try and pull my pants down. Anyway, a friend of mine who had a bicycle said he’d go and check it out, because then at least he’d have the means for a quick getaway if ‘the good time’ was a setup.

After being gone for about an hour, he eventually reported back that he’d snuck up to the hockey fields and seen some dark-haired girl hanging around looking disappointed. To this day I have this faint suspicions that he was either fibbing, or that there really was a ‘good time’ involved, but he’d had it instead of me. The little shit.

So naturally – when I do get invited to things these days, and the invitations are actually printed on paper and the word ‘mystery’ is included and there’s a specific dress-code, my suspicions become immediately awakened. Although, to be fair, it was highly unlikely that the editors of House and Leisure were going to get me all dressed up and to a secret location in Braamfontein just so that they could pull my pants down and have older boys point, laugh and take photographs.

Quite the opposite in fact.

First, they gave me some champagne, then fed me duck, more champagne, some pinot noir (from the excellent Creation – who honestly do make the best Pinot in the country but whose labels look like they’ve been designed by a dolphin in Windows Paint), then salmon, then Chardonnay and pumpkin pie, then asked me to try some artisanal tequila that had been wooded in oak barrels for 5 years.

Our secret knock was defective. Hanging around in minimalist bathrooms is more fun than you think. Configured duck (that's an inside joke for exactly one person, sorry everyone else in the world...)

Godammit. If that stupid mystery girl who left me the note when I was twelve had just said that this was what was going to happen on those hockey fields, I would never had sent Jeff Nathanson instead of going myself.

The purpose of the evening was to have those of us who don’t know about these things (although considering the good looking, well-dressed and high-powered nature of the people in the room, that might have been only me) awakened to the biggest lifestyle trends for the coming year. Mystery Dinners were one of them (which explained a lot), as was ‘things made out of cardboard’. This was a relief to hear, because it means that all the home-made cards I’d given for my family for Christmas instead of presents, could be justified by an apparent and new-found adherence to decor trends.

Jenny Crwys-Williams was a good sport, not so much as blinking an eye when I started to say fuck a lot after dropping most of my fig and yoghurt tart into my artisanal tequila, because no matter how delicious my fig and yoghurt tart might have been, it had certainly not been wooded in oak for five years and kind of diluted the one trend I’d really been looking forward to.

Thanks H&L people, I’m a slightly better person because of you, and the next opportunity I get to have a good time done to me, I’m totally going to be a lot more ready for it.

 

House and Leisure’s trends issue should be everywhere round about now. In it you can learn about how black flowers are cool and that you can apparently serve tea on a Bunsen Burner. 

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Collective Noun: A Harass of Holidays

Niknaks on a roll, *totally* befitting a man who claims to write a food blog.

Holidays have changed over the last couple of years.

These days if you don’t social media the shit out of every mozzarella ball that lands in front of you, there’s this overriding fear that no-one will know you actually had a good time. And in our socially-networked era where pictures of you looking great in a pair of Wayfarers is social currency – its a miracle that any of us get anything done in-between all the instagramming. Fuck you hipsters, you’ve made it impossible to just go and be somewhere without it having to be the Blog Event Of The Year.

It also means that I’ve painted myself into something of a corner, because I’m desperate to tell this story about how a carnivorous bantam stole a piece of ham from a sandwich I happened to be eating at the time, but I can’t now because I’m too busy being righteously indignant.

The second anyone so much as tweets that they’re off to some remote beach in the middle of wherever-the-fuck, it basically means we can all strap ourselves in for an atomic stream of smartphone-snapped cocktails on some seemingly art-directed beach with painstakingly photoshopped de-sat contrast, studiously ‘Oh, what? There’s a camera? Psssh…’ expressions, and a new profile pic that’s been culled from a photo-roll of about a billion, especially chosen to make the person in it look thin.

I was recently stopped at the first Neighbourgoods Market of the year by someone who asked me why I’d gone so quiet over the last couple of weeks. Of course the answer was that I was on fucking holiday and that I was kinda too busy doing that to be preoccupied with how I was going to tweet about it.

Said the guy. With a blog.

Next week I’ll tell unicorns and fairies to go fuck themselves, I promise.

Now of course my hypocrisy-o-meter has totally just gone off the scale, because if I didn’t write about things that happen to me on weekends away and special dinner parties and all that stuff, this little corner of the Internet would suddenly dry up into three mediocre dick jokes and a grainy picture of my cat. Maybe it’s just because there seems to be such a huge amount of hysteria around the end of the year and where you’re going and with who and for how long, that it seems to have become the massive Internet *event* that it is, based on ultimately not much. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just grumpy today. It’s entirely possible that someone messed with my yoghurt this morning and now I just think everything in the world is crap.

I guess my point (such that it is), is that if something fucking insane and unique and wondrous and brilliant happened to you while you were on holiday, then sure … tell me about it. But you know what? That picture of your feet you took in the toilets of that club you went to doesn’t fall into any of those categories. Just the fact that you went on holiday isn’t enough to warrant trying to dress it up as the greatest thing that’s happened to humanity since the invention of the toilets in that club you went to, on every social media platform you can get your hands on.

Okay – enough of that, I’m tired now, and have probably alienated just about everyone who reads this blog. So, here’s the best thing you can do with some cubed kudu. So much so that I think the new collective noun for kudu should be ‘kebab’. To go along with ‘a flange of baboons’ – which is a real thing by the way…

Spicy Kudu Kebabs

If I'd taken this picture on a mountain top, the things in it would still have tasted pretty nice.

Ingredients

1 kg of cubed kudu (or other venison)

 

2 fat cloves of garlic

2 tsp of cumin seeds

2 tsp of coriander seeds

2 tsp of fennel seeds

2 tsp of smoked paprika (if you’re struggling to find any, Woolworths have it in a small red tin in their spices section)

2 tsp of dried thyme

4 tsp of lemon juice

4 tbsp of olive oil

1 large red pepper

Pain Greek yoghurt

Freshly chopper coriander or parsley

Salt

Pepper

12 bamboo kebab skewers

 

What to do

 

Peel the garlic cloves and cover them with some salt, then, using the blade of a flat knife, crush the garlic into the salt so that it absorbs the juices and forms a thickish paste. Mix up the garlic salt paste with the kudu, add a little more salt and a generous twist of freshly-ground black pepper.

Grind the fennel, coriander and coriander seeds into a powder, and in a bowl mix together with the paprika, lemon, olive oil and thyme. Mix this up with the kudu and put in the fridge for a couple of hours to get all intimate and stuff.

Meanwhile, soak the bamboo skewers in water, and slice up the red pepper into thickish chunks. Thread the kudu cubes onto the skewers alternating every now and again with pieces of red pepper, and lay them out on a roasting tray, covering with any remaining marinating juice.

Get the grill in your oven good and hot, pop the tray in and let it brown for about 20 minutes. Turning every seven minutes or so.

Once they’re out, drizzle with Greek yoghurt and sprinkle over the freshly shopped coriander, or parsley if coriander offends you. You can serve it with flatbreads if you like or just eat as they come.