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