I’m by no means a dieter, but I’m nevertheless disappointed with myself when I squander calories on mediocre bread, floury chips or gluey pasta. When it comes to eating carbs, one should either go big or go home. Here are five worthy ways to break your low-carb diet. (You’re welcome.)
A good way to maximise the impact of carbicide is to combine your carbs with oil and salt. Our office is dangerously close to Lusitania Fisheries, and colleagues often set in motion a domino effect when they wander in with steaming parcels of slap chips that emit a glorious aroma of salt and vinegar. For my money, these are the best slap chips in Cape Town. The shop has been around for years, and the owners have perfected the texture of their chips, which are simply incredible with lashings of vinegar.
If you’re more of a crispy chips person, however, you need to visit Chippies Prego at the Silwood Centre in Rondebosch. The chips are twice-fried – once to cook them, and once again to create the ultimate crunchy crust and creamy hot insides. Ensure you have plenty of tangy, garlicky Prego sauce for dipping.
I have a slight intolerance to wheat, so when it comes to glutinous treats, I have an extra-strict scale. Bready substances need to qualify above a certain threshold of deliciousness in order to be deemed worth the pain. The dim sum buns at Hallelujah are cut like hamburger rolls, their fillings stuffed inside and spilling out rather than baked inside. The pork belly is glorious in its sticky sweet sauce and the buns soft as clouds. They pass the delicious-enough test with flying colours. (Although they are pretty pricey).
The second time this week I find myself compelled to sample wheat-laden treats is at First Thursdays. I’m out on patrol with Linda, our copy editor, a fellow ginger and my work wife. Having failed to get ourselves a hot dog at the stand outside the Puma store (you had to Instagram something inside the store instead of just paying good money – typical hipsters) we wash up at the Cafeteria food truck parked on Heritage Square off Bree Street. “Pan-fried mac and cheese” reads the blackboard. We watch in anticipation as a large chunk of butter goes on the hot plate. Then two slices of pre-prepped mac and cheese are fried and flipped. It’s all served up with slow-cooked tomato sauce with crispy bacon. The edges are beautifully crispy and caramelised. The tomato sauce is perfection – very slightly smoky, beautifully sweet and slightly tart. I worry that normal mac and cheese will never be enough again. Sure enough, a few days later, I receive a WhatsApp image from my work wife, showing her very own pan-fried mac and cheese. “Oh yes, I did,” she confesses.
I’m hesitant to mention Jason again, as I raved about his burger in my last blog, but the man does have an obnoxious habit of creating delicious once-off pastries and posting them on Instagram. I return to my desk one afternoon to find a rather cryptic email in my inbox. “Peanut butter croissants” reads the subject line (which is why I prioritised opening it over anything else). It turns out the TASTE team are placing an order. Sure enough, the following morning dawns with the arrival of dozens of golden bacon-topped croissants that are promisingly heavy. And inside? A motherload of peanut butter that’s sweet, creamy and unbelievably good with the flaky pastry. “I’m feeling a little overwhelmed,” confesses Annette from the TASTE team, which is something of an understatement.
I might not be a banting devotee, but for the wheat intolerant, the cauliflower pizza base at Forester’s Arms is a stroke of brilliance. Long subjected to gluten-free pizza bases with roughly the texture and flavour of your average cardboard box, I’m relieved to find a cheese-and-topping carrier that has some merit. My particularly delicious cauliflower and parmesan pizza is topped with avo, bacon and feta. (I do steal some chips from my fellow diners, though. The academics seem sceptical about this banting craze, so it seems safer to hedge my bets.)