Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oude Cuisine

Every now and then you stumble across a real delight. This unfortunately doesn’t happen as often as you make like, but when it does it is truly memorable!

Given the time of year, many places are fully booked and this can lead to disappointment if you are in search of a spontaneous lunch. This was the exact experience we had on an unplanned trip to Riebeek Kasteel. Being a small village, there are not many options, and as you would expect, the ones worth trying were booked out. Luckily a quick search on the GPS indicated that Wellington was only a short drive away, and referring to our trusty Dine Out, we found Oude Wellington and phoned ahead to see if there was space. We were in luck!

Oude Wellington Restaurant is nestled at the foot of the Bainskloof pass with beautiful forested surroundings. It offers both outdoor and indoor seating, both with their own unique character. As it was a rainy day, we settled on the warm and welcoming interior option. However, outside would be equally inviting on a warm and sunny afternoon.

The menu depends on what is freshly available, and is chalked up just before meals. Our hostess explained to us that they had had a problem with suppliers which was completely understandable given the festive season. All that they had on offer was fillet steak (available in 200g or 300g) with various sauces (Pepper brandy cream, Horse Radish butter, Mushroom and Roquefort), Slow roasted lamb neck with mint yoghurt and Linefish (Red Santa), as well as an anti pasta platter and some salad options. Other regulars on the menu when available which we are eager to return and try are Rabbit with trio of mustard, Linefish with Scallop verloute and Marrow bones on Toast.

We all settled on the 200g fillet, trying the pepper brandy cream (which came highly recommended) and the horse radish butter. These came with fresh vegetables with a twist, julienne sliced potato chips and a delicious red wine jus. Both were absolutely amazing and servings were generous - arguably the best fillet we have ever had! We rounded the meal off with coffee and baked white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake served with vanilla ice cream and fresh passion fruit.

We highly recommend paying Oude wellington a visit, both for the food and the warm and friendly hospitality. Just book beforehand and also check on the menu.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Curry in a hurry

Takeaways definitely have their place, and a good curry ranks high on our list of favourites. This weekend we were on a search for naan bread, and after discovering that our usual source had dried up, we were forced to try something new. Paging through the Dine Out magazine we discovered Bibi’s Kitchen (Awarded Top 10 Everyday Category), and with glowing recommendations we decided to give it a try.

The menu is reasonably extensive and focuses almost entirely on curry, and is split into deluxe curries (think Rogan Josh, Lamb Korma - +/- R70 to R100) and everyday curries (+/- R35). In addition, there is a variety of other baked and cold goods on offer, including fresh and frozen samoosas. As our objective was to find naan bread, we had not intended on getting any curry. However, so enticing was the menu and the warm friendly service that I couldn’t resist trying the Rogan Josh, and I was very pleased that I had!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Alfresco summer

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it” ~ Russel Baker

Down in the Cape the rain and storms have finally retreated and summer is here (and hopefully to stay!). This fine weather needs to be utilised as much as possible, and what better way than a picnic. There are a host of places that offer picnics around the winelands. A recent discovery for us is Jonkershuis Restaurant at Groot Constantia Wine Estate. Overlooking False Bay, it has one of the best views around, and coupled with a plethora of soft grass and shade, it makes for the perfect picnic spot. To avoid disappointment please book in advance.

The picnic basket is priced at R250 and serves 2 people. Inside you will find a fresh baguette, cold meat (comprising smoked salmon trout, gammon and roast beef), pickles, cheese and preserve, baby leaf salad, pates, dessert and fruit salad. It also comes with 2 bottles of water and blankets for you to sit on. The full restaurant wine list is also available for you to enjoy.

Jonkershuis also offers an a la carte menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We recommend anything that includes the salmon trout; from Eggs Florentine to the Salmon Trout Carpaccio (served with cucumber, capers, red onion and horseradish crème fraiche).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Viva Espana

Recently while perusing the foodie literature I have noticed that Spanish food seems to be all the rage. Since there is nothing quite as Spanish as paella I thought I would share this little gem with you just in case you ever find yourself on the L'Albufera de Valencia. This inland lagoon was one of the first places in Europe where rice was farmed and explains the passion that Valencians hold for this now famous dish.

One of the many fishing villages that surrounds the L'Albufera, El Parmar, is home to a number of restaurants. Our trusty travel guide recommended Restaurant Mateu. Being a little dubious about this recommendation, we didn't expect much. However to our satisfaction it was truly a delicious meal.

Due to the high temperature, we both decided on quenching our thirst with beer as well as a starter portion of pescadillos. After some reservation to eating a whole baby fish, I soon realised how delicious they were and tucked in!

For mains we had no option but to go for paella. As we weren't to keen on the idea of rabbit, we avoided the traditional Valencian Paella, and went for paella de marisco (Seafood). This came with a variety of seafood, including eel (which we also weren't to sure about). The meal was absolutely amazing and we can highly recommend the experience!

As a warning, make sure that you place you order early because everything is freshly prepared. Also, each portion is made for two people so you will need to agree on what to have between you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bubble Trouble

After last year, Sash and I were very excited about once again going to the Franschhoek Champagne Festival. Any excuse to visit this lovely town and that coupled with bubbly makes it a very easy decision to make. With such high expectations I guess it is inevitable though that disappointment follows…

With supposed limited tickets available, I was very careful to get our booking a month in advance! However, on the day the event was extremely crowded - apparently limited ticket numbers are more about marketing and not determined by event capacity! This was not aided by 40 degree weather and a complete lack of sufficient shaded seating.

The success of the event and large attendance is testament to the positive word of mouth this festival has generated. Unfortunately it seems that this success has been to its own detriment as indicated by the absence of popular Champagne house who were present last year; i.e. Moët et Chandon, Bollinger and Mumm. This absence is not necessarily a bad thing as the growth in the availability of quality Cap Classiques in SA has been phenomenal, but what really is a Champagne festival without Moët? Clearly only a sparkling wine festival, and lacking a lot of sparkle at that! In addition, we were extremely disappointed by the lack of imagination and innovation with regard to food offerings and was just not up to the standard we have come to expect and love from Franschhoek. Especially sub-standard examples were Tempura Prawns (Haute Cabriere), Bobotie, rice and sambals (Boschendal) and Calamari Spring Rolls. Luckily Bread and Wine put in another stellar performance – although difficult to eat with out a table in front of you, their Smoked salmon trout with scallop brandade on sheet bread was the perfect bubbly accompaniment.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. We first tasted Tanzanite MCC at last year’s festival and were thoroughly impressed. Recently we have been unable to track it down in stores and were starting to think that it had been discontinued. Well, thank goodness that is not true, and Melanie is very much still up and running – relief! Other notables were Delamotte Vintage Blanc de Blanc (oh why do I have to have such an expensive palate???), Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose and Colmant Brut Tradition NV MCC.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The Eat Out awards are over and La Colombe walked away with all the spoils - chef of the year for Luke Dale-Roberts and overall Restaurant of the year. As big fans of Jardine, we were sad to not see George get the award, but they still did well coming in at No.2 overall. It was also interesting to see how much the Tasting Room has dropped down (now No.7).

The top 10:

# 1. La Colombe (Cape Town) - Chef: Luke Dale-Roberts

# 2. Jardine (Cape Town) - Chef: George Jardine

# 3. Terroir (Stellenbosch) – Chef: Michael Broughton

# 4. Overture (Stellenbosch) – Chef: Bertus Basson

# 5. Restaurant Mosaic at the Orient (Pretoria) – Chef: Chantel Dartnall

# 6. Rust en Vrede (Stellenbosch) – Chef: David Higgs

# 7. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français (Franschhoek) - Chef: Margot Janse

# 8. Roots at the Forum Homini Boutique Hotel (Joburg) - Chef: Philippe Wagenfuhrer

# 9. Bizerca (Cape Town) – Chef: Laurent Deslandes

# 10. Hartford House (KwaZulu-Natal Midlands) – Chef: Jackie Cameron

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Good for the Hart

Hartenberg Wine Estate is most certainly aware that science has shown wine to be good for the heart. I am also certain that science has helped them fill their trophy cupboard. However it is the love that fuels their work that puts the heart in their name! This is definitely red wine territory, from cabernet to shiraz, but the chardonnay is also something to behold. As wine farms have grown more commercial, Hartenburg has remained true to itself with a goal of sharing their passion. Tasting is free, and your hostess will make sure that your tasting needs are met.

Guests are free to walk the surrounding grounds. On a sunny day, there is little better than picnicking under the regal oaks (in summer picnic plates are available, and in winter, soup – both come with a carafe of house red or white wine, and coffee with koeksisters for dessert). The freshly baked farm bread is delicious, as is the smoked snoek pate! Once a month a three course lunch is served in the tasting room – a hearty and fresh farm meal served with your choice of red or white wine.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Come rain or sunshine

Kalk Bay is certainly a place for all seasons. However, summer or winter, there is only one clear choice on where to eat, no matter the guise; a ready made sandwich or freshly baked croissant before heading for a walk in the mountains, an early morning breakfast, leisurely lunch or indulgent dinner – Olympia Café, Deli and Bakery!

The atmosphere here is very casual and not to everyone’s taste, but don’t be put off by mix `n match décor and interior as the experience is well worth while and, like us, you will be back! As a warning, there is order to the seeming “chaos”, but ensure that you write your name on the white board so to be seated.

Once seated, you will be given a plate of sliced freshly baked ciabatta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar as appetisers while you make important meal decisions. The menu is chalked up on blackboards just beforehand so what to expect is always a mystery. Regulars on offer are Linguini del mar (linguini pasta with fresh seafood comprising line fish, prawns, calamari and mussels in a tomato and cream sauce) and Fresh west coast mussels in cream and white wine sauce and both come highly recommended. They are also available in half portions as the full portion is hearty. If available, the nicoise salad and penne gorgonzola are both particularly scrumptious, as are the other line fish offerings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


After a hard week of work and toil it is very easy to convince yourself that you are deserving of some reward! For us this means a visit to Caveau at the Mill… This restaurant is most gratifying, and that is not only due to the food. As a suburban oasis with surrounding greenery and location next to a stream, it is idyllic and quickly soothes the weary body (the extensive wine list also helps, of which many are available by the glass). The service is friendly, knowledgeable and efficient, while the restaurant mood is relaxed and comfortable, but classy.

On offer are a range of tapas and mains which are ordered off a chalk board. The menu changes continuously and depends entirely on what is freshly available. Chef Charl’s specialties in our opinion revolve around pork, especially the pork belly satays (served with sweet chilli dipping sauce). These definitely score two thumbs up from us, and one quickly learns why many religions consider eating pork sinful… The crumbed prawns are also highly recommended, as is anything with poached eggs.

Caveau is also open for breakfast. In fact, it is one of the few restaurants that we would be quite happy to do breakfast, lunch and dinner all in the same day. Some memorable and noteworthy dishes have been the Pork belly with dumplings, Fresh poached cob topped with smoked trout mousse and served on mash with a side of green asparagus, Caesar salad, Roast crispy duck with sweet corn bilinis, Lamb steak on herbed mash and tsatsiki sauce! Yum…

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

“F” is for Food

As foodies, there is one place that springs to mind automatically when planning the perfect weekend getaway; Franschhoek! There are few other South African villages where one can drift along decadently from one spectacular meal to another. Ours started with an early lunch at the Salmon Bar. Sash went for the Smolax* with bilins and smoked salmon roes, I decided on Gravadlax, and to drink we had Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose. Our orders came with a side of baby salad leaves and freshly baked bread which was also delicious. The Salmon Bar deli also offers a range of tasty foods to take away with you – the smoked trout pate is a must!

After wine tasting at Haute Cabriere, we had a predinner snack at Le Quartier Francais. The Charcuterie was scrumptious, particularly the deep fried capers. This was washed down with a perfectly chilled Pinehurst Chardonnay. We were due to go to Grande Provence as we have been unable to get a reservation at The Tasting Room, our first choice. However fortune shone upon us – a late cancellation meant that we managed to sneak in. We both decided on the 6 course tasting menu. As expected, the courses were very innovative (think tuna tartar on meringue), intricate and nothing was spared in terms of ingredients. However, as we have heard from others before, dishes seem to be designed to impress the mind rather than please the palate. Overall, we enjoyed the experience, but were not entirely sure about the food as there were some dishes that were rather disappointing (the tomato sabayon with parmesan sorbet and basil comes to mind). As a benchmark, we had Jardine’s tasting menu a month prior, and at half the price the courses were far more synergetic and enjoyable.

After a visit to Rickety Bridge (recommend the Semillon 2006, Cabernet 2003, and Cabernet 2002 – only in Magnum), we paid a final visit to Bread and Wine. The restaurant was fully booked, so we settled with the deli section. Although the deli only has a small offering, everything is fresh and tasty and we soon had a number of appetizing morsels in front of us – fresh west coast oysters, charcuterie (which was once again delicious as Neil Jewell supplies Le Quartier Francais as well), along with freshly baked foccacia filled with basil pesto and peppers. A glass of Môreson Blanc de Blanc rounded it all off very well and left us contemplating the next trip to Franschhoek. Roll on December – the Champagne Festival awaits!

*Smolax is Salmon Bar’s take on smoked trout; a very tasty combination of Gravadlax and normal cold smoking

Monday, November 24, 2008

Root Canal

As all working class people know, Saturday mornings are the only time to perform mundane but necessary household chores. For us this means a visit to Root Canal (aka Canal Walk). Fortuitously there lies some respite and reward for wading through the endless masses – Cape Town Fish Market’s Sushi bar. Now bear with me for a second before dismissing this as I do realise that the Sushi aficionados out there are already preparing our lynch ropes! CTFM has become a refuge within the weekend ruckus; the service is always warm, friendly and efficient (ask for Teddy – he will ensure that your request for a glass of wine becomes a bottle!).

CTFM’s Sushi offering may not appeal to the traditionalist, but it is oh so delicious. Our recommendations are the seared tuna sashimi, the tempura Norwegian salmon fashion sandwiches and to finish off the tempura squid.