A fortnight bursting with flavour

GREENHOUSE

A long-awaited dinner at Greenhouse kicked off a fortnight that was bursting with flavour. The Cellars Hohenhort is a favourite haunt of mine for meetings, lunch and tea, followed by a stroll in their beautiful gardens. It is these gardens, nature and trees that inspire Grande Chef Peter Templehoff. Having met, interviewed (and admired) Peter a few years ago when Relais & Châteaux celebrated their 60thanniversary, it was good to catch up quickly before an evening to remember. The tasting menu (at R1100 per person, R1550 with wine pairing) is a culinary adventure. There are two options – one for the hunter, the other for the angler. It keeps everyone on the same mouthwatering track until the main course when it splits into springbok, followed by grass fed beef for carnivores and the Atlantic tuna tataki and roast kabeljou for lovers of the sea. Rather than disclosing every detail and spoiling the surprise, let me say that every dish, from the amuse bouche of abalone (which took me back to the days when perlemoen was aplenty) to ‘life and death of trees’ was sublime. Presentation was imaginative, the cooking a wonderful blend of clever, whimsical yet classical. Even a butcher bird graced our table. Décor is understated and elegant, and the conservatory feel warm and welcoming by day, romantic by night. Service is exemplary, fitting for the level of memorable, impressive cuisine that is on offer.

Chef Peter wants diners to see his cuisine as local as it is. It has a sense of place that allows one to see the region and the best of the Cape on a plate. Here you won’t find scallops or foeie gras, the only sign of imports are flavours like miso and soya sauce, which showcase his admiration for Japanese cuisine. His calling is to cook what he sees and has, and to support local suppliers. Good news for local diners – watch out for winter specials and lunch on Fridays and Saturdays.

TRUE ITALIC  

A casual Saturday evening with special friends at True Italic ticked all the boxes. The warm welcome and ambience encourages lively conversation over good, authentic Italian food crafted from the finest ingredients. My melanzane parmigiana transported me straight back to Italy, and convinced me to make plans to visit Sicily. Chef Luca’s homemade pappardelle made my husband swoon, and we all had order envy when the beef sirloin tagliata-style was served. Plan your visit to Osteria del Capo, one of the Bree Street success stories – soon.

MAKARON 

An invitation to join fellow food writers to sample the new small plates, big flavours menu at Makaron was a treat. Chef Lucas Carstens has devised 18 small plates, a selection of which we devoured appreciatively.  After a quick showing of some of the rooms at Majeka House & Spa in this leafy corner of Stellenbosch we relaxed into the adventure, and realized why his nod to the international trend of tapas-style eating has been well received. The menu is sectioned into ‘suggested start’, ‘followed up by’, ‘the serious choice’ and ‘to finish’, but are all interchangeable and it is fun to design your own sequence. My dish of the day? All of them!

BISTRO SIXTEEN82 

A fun evening with our book designer Barbara and fellow food-lovers Len and Johan of the Ellen-Jay label at the Bistro Sixteen82 was a good way to wind down the working week – starting at 5pm! Good to get there early as the kitchen closes at 8pm. The menu changes regularly to take advantage of what is in season. Kerry Kilpin leads the way with tasty tapas in our town. We each chose one favourite dish off the tapas menu and so started with the patatas bravas, arancino balls with a thyme mayo, the baby Patagonia calamari, fish pot stickers and ponzu napa rolls. Added a few more and then left sated. The Steenberg wines (yes, cheaper at the cellar next door) completed the trio of perfection – good food, wine and company.

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THE SILO 

It is described by hotel doyenne and owner Liz Biden as a “little big hotel” with 28 rooms. The Silo, part of the Royal Portfolio, opened in March 2017 with arresting views of Cape Town. This iconic landmark in the V&A Waterfront with its industrial chic feel and flair will appeal to more than merely art aficionadas when the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art opens in September. Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert has taken the reins in the kitchen creating emphasis on “properly done” and ensuring consistency at The Granary Café, The Willonson Bar and the Rooftop Bar. She took the time and trouble to show us around and I was visually transfixed, tearing myself away from the sights of our city to the bursts of colour and texture in the décor. Veronica’s prowess as a chef impressed me during her seven-plus years at Ellerman House, which is not open to the public, so now many more have the opportunity of experiencing her cuisine. “Working surrounded with so much colour inspires me to do quirky things,” she says.

After being amazed by all that the Silo has to offer, we then settled into our journey which showcased Veronica’s talents on a plate. The steak frites dish is prepared from the best cut of the day, with a ‘proper’ béarnaise sauce, which my colleague loved. If you are looking for quirky then choose what I devoured as a starter – the salmon ceviche with orange and sweet potato. The small, simple menu offers something for everyone, and winter sees a different slant on the original capsule menu. Test your taste buds at the raw bar in the Granary Café (choose from to tartare, carpaccio, vegetarian and ceviche dishes), the Sunday family roast lunch or take in the royal tea. Make a hot date for a sundowner at the Willaston Bar where you can admire the view through the pillowed glass windows, an architectural feat in themselves. The bar is named after first boat to bring grain to SA. This modern city hotel set in the original grain silos (that opened in August 1924 and closed in 2001) is sure to become part of the Mother City’s major attractions.

GRANDE PROVENCE 

#lovemyjob #lovemyjob more and more? When one is invited to enjoy Executive Chef Darren Badenhorst’s brilliance for the second time, you know that this is never going to feel like work. Poetry on a plate accompanied by Grande Provence wines – the combination guarantees a superlative experience. The 300-year old estate combines tradition and trends with aplomb, and the management team overflows with pride and passion. Chef and his team utilize everything on offer on the estate and celebrate the diversity of the fruits from olives to grapes. The winter menu is 100% a reflection of this. Darren’s innovation was well showcased in every dish, but my take-home (other than a bottle of my favourite Grande Provence Zinfandel) was the multi-faceted textures of the pork crackling encased line fish with barrel-smoked pommes, a pea sprout salad, cucumber and pickled seaweed terroir and coastal-foraged samphire. Hmmm….or maybe the slow-cooked (18 hours at 92 C) Karoo lamb? Then the dessert sweetened my resolve to refuse it when I saw the delicate shades of pink on the plate beckoning. It was more than just pretty – an almond and orange calisson with rose water whipped parfait. Whilst I was enjoying my lunch I saw a message requesting a recommendation on where to eat and stay in Franschhoek. And there I was – Grande Provence of course!

THALI

A working gal’s lunch at Thali sharing their butter chicken and fish curry with all the delicious accompaniments reminded me why I waxed lyrical on my first and second visits. Authentic Indian deliciousness at its best. Because of their generosity of flavours and portions and due to limited time, we shared two dishes amongst three of us. Good idea for girls who eat out often! A must-visit if you are a Liam Tomlin fan, love Indian fare or simply want an all-round eating experience.

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