Food with a view

A ROOM WITH A VIEW…OF THE WINELANDS AND SEA

There is something very exciting about making a restaurant reservation well in advance. The anticipation starts from the moment confirmation arrives. I knew, when headed for The Restaurant at Waterkloof, that I was in for a special treat. The restaurant had been closed for a few weeks to accommodate a movie shoot, and I had booked for the first day after re-opening.

I met chef Greg Czarnecki a decade ago when he arrived in South Africa. In those days I ran a PR company, and we had been tasked with launching a restaurant at which he was the chef. His talent was obvious then, and it has been a pleasure to see him take his place on the global platform of lauded SA chefs. His plating is exquisite, his attention to detail superlative. Each course of 13 is perfectly paired with one of the Waterkloof organic wines.

After admiring the spectacular setting and sweeping views of vineyards and sea from the glass promontory I had a quick chat to Greg. Here is a man who knows the value of design and architecture, and sourcing ingredients as locally and sustainably as possible – it is highlighted on each plate. We started with a glass of bubbles with the tandoori and langoustine, the oyster and saffron cauliflower and the vichyssoise with caviar. Only this innovative chef would consider having a mould made of his hands as a serving dish. The tomato, served with their flagship Sauvignon Blanc, was a stand-out – each cherry tomato’s juice had been replaced with a herb – basil, chives, rosemary and verbena – and served inventively in a consommé. When I heard that the snails were served with spinach, mint and blue cheese I did think that the cheese would overpower, but each flavour danced delicately with the others, without one overpowering the other. Forget traditional dousing in garlic – these snails stood their own! We moved our way through many a delectable dish – morels, a dusky kob, poached chicken with local truffles, and Belnori with pear and pistachio. An imaginative version of Crêpes Suzette before milk, milk, milk – a blend of buffalo, cashew, cow, goat’s milks. The dessert presentation takes your breath away in beauty and quantity. My man and I had to admit defeat when we were presented with the chocolate and petit fours, and unashamedly left with these beautifully packaged as a gift! On our way out I quickly snapped a pic of Greg in front of his JHP Gourmet Guide™ two-plate award from 2017. The bon bons were too amazing to refuse, and it was many hours later, firmly ensconced in front of a fire, that we enjoyed each one of them, discussing the stylish, unforgettable experience.

ANOTHER ROOM WITH A VIEW…OF THE MOUNTAIN AND HARBOUR

Den Anker is a must-do for beer-lovers and for visitors to the Mother City – they have the best view of the table in town, Table Mountain. Their winter special, which is running until the end of September, celebrates sharing – two people can have fish (in beer batter of course) and chips, mussels or a sirloin steak – with a glass of Jordan wine or an Anker beer. The price too is palatable and make sure to try their bamboo encrusted prawns – a hot new addition to their wide menu.

Natalie, our Gourmet Guide brand manager and I headed there for a working lunch, and to offer our congratulations to waiter Christiaan Ndaya. Christiaan used to work in our go-to coffee shop, and we were always impressed with his cheery attitude and willingness to please. One needs to acknowledge such talent so we decided to construct a CV for him and help him find a job where he can grow. Our perfect choice – Den Anker. How exciting to see that he has now completed his three-day Jordan’s wine course, and is earnestly increasing his knowledge of, and passion for wine. What next, we asked? “Whisky”, he says, with that characteristic grin. He learnt about coffee first, and has gleaned all he can about beer at Den Anker, and is keen to continue on the journey of taste. Watch this space as we continue to watch him grow.

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Last week the Belgian Beer Company celebrated ‘Art of Glass’, its maiden partnership with an African artist, who has transformed the Duvel tulip-shaped glass into a work of art by Lizette Chirrime. She was born in Maputo and is known for creating large textile-driven art on canvas in abstract form. They are an illustration of her own life stories, told in a colourful and meaningful manner. Fabrics are off-cuts, which she believes demonstrates how we in Africa would use what we have and be inspired to work together in unison. Rejeanne Vlietman, director of Belgian Beer Company, is delighted that they have partnered with a female artist, and said, “Women brewers dominated alcohol production on every occupied continent until commercialization and industrialization of brewing occurred, so to celebrate and keep that history alive we wanted to partner with a female artist.” Duvel glass is known for producing not only great beer, but also bespoke beer glasses. This one, in the shape of Europe’s tulip, holds 330ml beer. Look out for the glass at Lizette’s show at WORLDART Gallery, and in exclusive bars and restaurants. Not sure where to find it – head to Den Anker, enjoy their winter special and ask if you can see one!

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