In this regular column, we chat to some of SA’s premier personalities about their travel experiences and favourite local pastimes and haunts.
This week we catch up with seasoned traveller and celebrity chef DAVID GRIER.
What is your favourite travel destination, and why?
I would rate Asia as a general top go-to destination. It suits the Rand, has a very different culture, cuisine and just the way daily life unravels around you. There is always something different every day that just draws you into the intriguing lifestyle that they have.
What was your first international trip, and what do you remember most vividly about the experience?
I remember landing in Mauritius and getting pulled over at customs for having an agricultural product in my hand luggage – an avocado pear. I sat at immigration for over an hour like a bandit, waiting for the agricultural ministry to come and interrogate me. Eventually after having to take a bite out (I think it was the pear bit that caused the confusion) of it I was released to continue to my hotel and first island holiday.
What is the first thing you usually do when you arrive at your destination and you’re trying to get acclimated?
I find a cab, preferably a dodgy looking one and ask for them to take me on a drive to where the locals hang out, (whereby I proceed to) ask lots of questions – this way one gets a real feel for the vibe of the place. Most importantly, get the cab driver to take you into a neighbourhood restaurant and you quickly get a feel of the real prices.
What for you is usually the best way to soak up the culture you’re in?
Steer away from anything to do with tourist sites and eat in neighbourhood restaurants. Here you quickly get the real side to life.
Flying – love it, or hate it?
Going there is always so exciting. All you have is the trip in your mind, and the flight just evaporates. It’s the coming back that’s the drag – there is nothing like a business class ticket thrown in to ease the pain. Give me one and I will fly tomorrow.
What has been your favourite cuisine that you have discovered on your travels?
The food in China just rocks. I have been to the deep rural areas in the Northwest, as well as the mega cities – it’s always fantastic. There are also so many variations and so much to choose from, but you need to know what you are ordering. Give me a Peking duck in a packed street restaurant and a few local beers.
You’ve got exactly R48 in your wallet. Where do you go for lunch in Jozi, and what do you have?
I don’t know the Jozi streets well, but here in Cape Town, if you want lunch with a difference, I would go to Mphindi in Gugulethu, get a spiced pork chop, a piece of sausage and hand it over to the griller to slop it on the coals – 10 minutes later, sit back and enjoy it amongst the craziness going on around you.
What is your speciality in the kitchen?
If it’s weekend, it’s got to be my Picanha cut rump steak, slow cooked on the side of the fire with a rich mushroom ragout – If I have time, slow roast duck with all that goes with it.
Describe your ideal night in, and out.
Good comfort food at a Local joint, like the Mozambique restaurant around the corner, or the Italian family spot.
What makes life worth living?
Getting up every day and finding that little positive thing happening out there and believe it, it is out there.
* To keep up to date with Grier and his doings, visit davidgrier.co.za.