Rust en Vrede

I’m not sure that waking up, in eager anticipation of dinner that night, is normal? Chef Fabio Daniel at Rust en Vrede made every moment of my day worthwhile. Over a glass of Champagne we chatted about his menu and inspiration. The amuse bouche of Italian sausage served hamburger-style, alongside a carrot macaron was enjoyed whilst he shared some insights into how his style has evolved. Having taken over from the lauded chefs he had worked under, he has defined his craft into his own unique cuisine with a French foundation, elevated by his heritage from Italy and Brazil, using South African ingredients. This he has done with aplomb and a sense of playfulness, perfectly. Fabio grew up in the citrus region of Sao Paulo, his wife is from Citrusdal. “We are united by the orange,” he laughs, so do not be surprised to see a touch of citrus. He loves to cook what he eats, and the philosophy of the farm is to share what they love eating and drinking. Be assured that your main course will be paired with one of the superlative (red) wines from Rust en Vrede.

My smoked tuna with miso, asparagus and peanut brittle was as well appreciated as my man’s cured venison with avocado, Rooibos and mushroom. I savoured the scallop with pork belly, cauliflower and lemon pepper pearls whilst enduring just a touch of order envy for the pan-seared langoustine with pickled turnip and fennel. The lamb loin with tamarind, white beans and tomato chutney was a robust dish served with restraint, as was the picanha with pineapple and black bean farofa. The pre-dessert of Doce De Queijo which exquisitely combines Fabio’s Italian and Brazilian roots – cheese and butterscotch – a tribute to a memory of the cheese and coffee shared in his grandmother’s house. It was sublime in its simplicity.

I indulged in the chocolate dessert with pistachio, citrus and brandy, plus managed to sneak in a taste of the Dulcey cheesecake with apple sorbet, marshmallow and ginger. Both heavenly. It was an evening to remember, each interaction impressive, from the warm welcome to the last bites of chocolate served in a beautiful wooden box.

Congratulations and thank you to Rust en Vrede for being a StreetSmart supporter for a decade.

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Showcasing Mother Nature at her best

At Avondale in Paarl there is sincere synchronicity between what is happening in the seasons, in the soil, and on the plate at Faber restaurant. Simplicity is the order of the day for chef Dale Stevens, who, when asked about his cuisine, says he is, “Showcasing Mother Nature”. He is, beautifully. Ingredients are sourced mainly on the farm, which is a challenge. “Today we have mushrooms, tomorrow we may not. The squirrels eat what we are about to harvest, so supply in inconsistent. I forage daily, and have taught the chefs to do the same,” says Dale. Hard when your aim is ultimately to achieve consistency.

I was delighted to come in from the cold to be greeted with a roaring fire, joined by a fellow food-loving, writing globe-trotting colleague who was equally entranced by the setting and ethos of the estate. Having recently launched their Quevri wines, there was much fuel for lively conversation, and we were delighted to taste both these wines, the Chenin Blanc, and a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

A board of large porcini mushrooms foraged that morning by chef Dale was converted into a light pasta dish, enjoyed after a delicious celeriac tagliatelle served with a 64°C egg and pickled garlic. Interesting to note that 90 eggs are harvested daily. The free-range duck breast was cooked to perfection with preserved quince, wilted Swiss chard and Jerusalem artichokes. The dessert provided a fitting grande finale, prepared and served by pastry chef Amone Jacobs. A thin slice of roasted apple with pear puree, toasted pecan nut and yoghurt ice cream. Yum.

Head there for a delightful Winter experience with warm and engaging service in the most authentic, biodynamic setting.

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Sandwiched between the covers…

This week we celebrated the start of Winter and the downpours that are filling our dams in the Cape. We also patted some winners on the back and rejoiced at the launch of our Secret Season online Gourmet Guide magazine. Whilst we sip hot drinks and stay warm, I always think of those who do not share the same comforts. I applaud people who do something to make a change.

Talking of change, we will be slowly but surely moving our blog onto our website www.gourmetguide.co.za. We don’t want to lose you, join and journey with us.

STREETSMART

Loud applause from the Gourmet Guide team for Melanie Burke, chairman and original member of StreetSmart, for putting her feet ‘where her mouth is’! She is walking 120 km of the Camino in Spain in June to raise funds and awareness. Join her. StreetSmart SA is a registered Public Benefit and non-profit organisation. It funds education, skills training and programmes that reunite families. It is predominantly restaurants all over South Africa that contribute to the funds by putting a voluntary donation of R5 onto the bill. Please donate to this cause. A donation pledge form is available online on our website: http://www.streetsmartsa.org.za/donation-form

SHORTMARKET CLUB

It was a treat to dine at one-plated Shortmarket Club, where chef Wes Randles gives discerning diners exactly what they desire. The décor is dramatic yet not detracting from the classical cuisine served in simple, contemporary style. The New York, clubby feel with waiters in white jackets, some executing tableside service, is what has cemented this restaurant in the hearts of locals and visitors alike, with his cuisine. As a chef Wes has walked a classical French path, and his menu is a current take on classical food. He is celebrating his history as a chef by cooking old recipes with imagination. Sleek, stylish, uncontrived – like the setting.

The tuna tartare competed with the roasted quail for my delight-of-the-night award, but my man sang the praises of the duck liver and foie gras parfait. Plating is simple, predominantly on black plates, but the flavours and techniques are not. If it is more Asian-style and casual that you are seeking, then slip next door to The Commissary.

Having recently returned from an eye-opening trip to Japan, Wes is as enthusiastic as ever, and shared his enlighted perspective on running a business, “In Japan they have less staff, with more skills, which means that there are fewer hands on the food. We are, after all, in the people business.” It is this level of wisdom that will stand Wes in good stead in his new role, that of dad to baby Jack, who arrived just hours after our meal. Thank you Jack for ensuring that it did not disturb a delightful dinner, and welcome to our wonderful world! Watch out for their amazing Prix Fixe lunch Winter special, three courses for R320. We hope that sons and daughters all over SA will be looking at the Gourmet Guide magazine (www.gourmetguide.co.za/gourmetguide/) for winter specials. Unsure of how to treat Dad? Buy him one of the last issues of the printed guide in Woolworths, or simply spoil him with the link to the online magazine.

GREENHOUSE

Another Green Season special to take advantage of is at Greenhouse restaurant at Cellars Hohenhort, a beautiful Relais & Châteaux property that nestles in green, leafy Constantia. Here chef Farrel Hirsch has settled into the big footprints and legacy of Peter Tempelhoff, admirably. The reminders are the butcher bird serving of canapés, and the respect of terroir. South African flavours abound, and service is sterling from start to finish – warm, friendly and very informative. Fellow writers (and some impressive wines) were good company as we sped our way through an efficiently, yet not rushed, service of some superlative dishes. A touch of theatre added to the fun, but even without it, each dish was memorable. Prawns were cooked on a hot rock under a glass dome. Each dish made its mark, but the one that gave such a sense of place was the beetroot dessert – appearing to be so fresh that they are still ‘growing’ in a terracotta pot.

Congrats to the winners who will be receiving the fabulous prizes that were featured in our Autumn issue from Deep South Distillery, Karen Dudley (Jacana Media) and wines from Great Domaines. Ailene de Villiers, Tania van Zyl, Jamie de Wet, Di Paterson, Jurie Venter, Anne Hoffman and David Starley.

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to write I go. Whilst you are taking advantage of dining out in all the top restaurants, I will be writing about them, safely ensconced on an island where there are no distractions other than blazing sunshine. I will have plenty to share upon my return. Meanwhile, stay warm, and eat up a storm.

The gourmet journey from town to country, nutrition to sustainability

COUNTRY LIFE features fine country chefs in each issue, what a treat to meet up with two chefs who will be highlighted in future editions. Mynhardt Joubert’s kitchen in Paarl is a warm, eclectic, intimate environment in which he entertains between 10 and 30 guests with enviable bon viveur. The shoot was a visual explosion of colourful splendour at which photographer Francois Pistorius seamlessly and creatively captured each nuance of the setting, the delicious dishes and Mynhardt’s generous and warm personality. The next day it was off to one-plated Chef’s Warehouse at Maison to shoot talented chef and co-owner David Schneider, to capture the clucking chickens and friendly pig – before an array of beautiful, innovative dishes came out of the kitchen with skill and dexterity. Perfectly sourced, seasoned and presented, each one worthy of oohs and aahs. I managed the treat of reviewing the restaurant last week, and the tasty snapshots will remain etched in my memory until the mag hits the street. The ultimate treat for me is always to reflect and write about the experiences and the people who make them stand-outs.

Chefs Warehouse Maison

Sustainability is one of the many criteria carefully considered when evaluating restaurants for plate ratings and awards in the JHP Gourmet Guide. Iconic chef Luke Dale Roberts of three-plated restaurant The Test Kitchen and winner of the 2019 SWISS Culinary Innovation Award joined the ‘Chefs for Change’ initiative in Kenya this week. Their aim? To protect the planet and its people by transforming lives through the provision of sustainable sources of protein and providing local fish farmers with access to high-value markets to increase their incomes. We applaud Luke for joining other respected chefs in highlighting the need for ethical sourcing and responsible practices.

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At a farm much closer to home, boasting acres of beauty, is Stanford Valley Guest Farm. Chef Marc Robert is teaming up with Giant Periwinkle wine maker, Pierre-Jacques Rabie, to bring you the ultimate seven-course tasting menu experience. Head to the valley on Saturday 8 June to experience true tranquillity before enjoying an evening of superb country food, wine and art, at R695 per person.

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Nourish at Santé Wellness Retreat and Spa has launched a five-course lunch inspired by the seasons. Using fresh ingredients sourced from their estate, the menu offers a guilt-free eating-experience that is nutritional and preservative free. Stay healthy. Book for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays, at a cost of R395.

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Be sure to relax this weekend before Monday…when you can devour our Winter issue of the Gourmet Guide online magazine, free for you to read, download, print and share.

Salsify for a special occasion

History is visible in visual splendour at Salsify at the Roundhouse, so let me first share a little of my personal history before we celebrate theirs.

My introduction to my mother-in-law was at the age of 13 years, and she has been an enduring inspiration in my culinary journey. We share recipes, recipe books (and of course, love the same man!) In early days, she would expose me to ingredients that I had never heard of, and in her quest to perfect a dish, like a flan, was known to make a few dozen and top them with outlandish combinations. Combinations which now are the norm. While her family groaned, I was intrigued. Her avocado ice cream was new and novel in the 70s, ice cold it was heavenly and different, but as it melted it was hideous, so yes, I too suffered along the way. I am grateful that she raised a son who has the love of food and wine flowing in his veins. For her birthdays we take her somewhere special for lunch where her taste buds will be teased with inventive flavour and texture combinations. This year? Salsify.

The current seven-course tasting menu offers a broad spectrum of ingredients and dishes that showcase the season well. We opted for the lighter four-course option (excellent value at R395) starting with a 63-degree hen’s egg with chestnut, and a sherry and red onion cream – delightful in its texture contrast. For starters, the older, yet more adventurous Mrs Handley, opted for the sashimi with tamarind and yuzu dressing, nettle and ginger. She is still talking about it…before she devoured the miso-grilled octopus with fennel and white grape, cured tofu and jellied aubergine – equally delicious. The lamb rib and loin with toasted garlic dauphinoise, burnt and braised leek, boasted pungent flavour, contrasting with gentle presentation. The delicate portions of both desserts, the satsuma ice with tonka bean panna cotta, granadilla curd and lemongrass sorbet and the quince caramel tart with rhubarb, hibiscus and brown-butter ice cream, were superb.  Humble, yet accomplished chef Ryan Cole needed to be lured out of the kitchen to accept our lavish compliments. It was as he was getting used to the limelight in the openness of The Test Kitchen that he and Luke Dale Roberts opened this gem.

After enjoying sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean during our meal, despite cloud cover, we took a moment to absorb and appreciate the innovative style in the former hunting lodge of Sir Charles Somerset. Take time to explore the inventive decor, conceptualized and crafted by Sandalene Dale Roberts, like bold graffiti that exposes more about the infamous Dr James Barry, who posed as a man. Whilst admiring the sculpture in reception by Otto du Plessis, the very attentive staff shared the vision behind this masterpiece.

Allow me to leave you with a taste of intrigue so you put Salsify on your secret-season must-dine-at list.

THE COMMISSARY POP-UP

If you are Jo’burg-based and have heard all the ooh’s and ahhh’s about Cape Town’s street-food king, The Commissary, you are in for a pleasant awakening. Popping up in Rosebank at Publik Wine Bar for just five days, chef Wes Randles and Simon Widdison will shake the Jo’burg food scene. Keeping their globally-influenced concept of transformative and delicious street food (NO FRILLS) they’ll be showcasing their talents from Tuesday 28 May to Saturday 1 June from 18h00. There are no bookings, the demand will be high, so get there early to avoid missing the pop.

SEASONS TO CELEBRATE…COMING UP…

It was in good company that I discovered more about The Four Seasons properties in Seychelles and at The Westcliff in Jozi. A group of inquisitive journalists met the dynamic management team of this prestigious group over dinner at The Stack in Cape Town, whilst sipping superb Cavalli wines. Over dinner they shared their passion for these unique, drawcard destinations. My love affair with the beautiful island has been re-awakened as our Gourmet Guide online magazine team starts preparing for a future island-style edition…

I’m still celebrating the sightings of cherry blossoms in my sleep before I dream of Japanese cuisine! One of my pleasures is sharing my tastes and travels with you…watch out for my account of a bucket-list trip in the Winter Gourmet Guide magazine, to be released on 1 June.

Tokara

As the vineyards of Stellenbosch change their colours from green to orange and yellow, there is a young chef who is embracing this quiet season to define her craft. Trips to New York and Spain are sure to broaden the horizons of Carolize Coetzee. Her skill is obvious, demonstrated on every plate, her heritage forged with heirloom recipes from her mother and gran. ‘Plaas kos’ and foods that evoke memories and nostalgia are her trademark. This cuisine is different from the legacy left by chef Richard Carstens, from whom she took over at the end of 2018. He favoured Asian-inspired, gastronomy-influenced cuisine, Carolize favours whatever is growing in front of her eyes in the garden at Tokara.

We arrived at the estate allowing enough time to enjoy the setting, a wine tasting and to drink in the view. Tokara commands the best views of the valley, and with award-winning wines, Carolize has been given a great stage on which to perform. “Here we serve fresh, local produce, and every recipe and ingredient means something. New ideas come from the garden, old memories come to the fore. I remember my gran making biscuits and vetkoek whilst we were stealing raw dough and her hitting us on our hands,” Carolize reminisces.

Her first-choice ingredient is fish, which she sources from ABALOBI. “You can play it up, play it down, it is simple and versatile.” The Mauritian sea bass, farmed, is flown in daily.

It was the sea bass which she prepared with to perfection, served with fennel and pancetta (accompanied by Tokara’s Director’s White Reserve). My man had the lamb with ratatouille-style veg and smoked tomato paste, generous in portion and flavour, perfectly paired with Tokara’s Syrah.

Our starters too were generous, the beetroot and pea mousse for me, the parsnip with bacon dust and brioche for my man. Our desserts deserved applause and again, substantial yet delicately served. Gooseberry clafoutis with gingerbread crumb and basil ice cream was as delicious and rich as the chocolate fondant with coconut ice cream and passion fruit.

As I complimented Carolize on an impressive lunch I asked how she defines her cooking style. “You take a little piece of everyone, all the chefs you have worked with, to shape yourself. Some inspire, some show you what you don’t want to be, but everyone has shaped me.”

The Pot Luck Club and KLEIN JAN

THE POT LUCK CLUB

Elevating yourself to six stories above ground level to lunch at the Pot Luck Club is a treat. By reputation you know that this two-plated restaurant will exceed expectations. Chef Jason Kosmas has worthy credentials and skills gleaned during his Chef’s Warehouse days and is now embracing the opportunity of working alongside Luke Dale Roberts. It is a delight to see him rise to this challenge with aplomb. Chatting before lunch was almost as good as the grub! In addition to his experience he has good genes, given by a Greek dad and Italian mother, “Eating is all about being around a table together,” he says of his heritage. “It is amazing to walk in here and not have to fix anything, it works well. I have slotted in to run it as it should be.” Having applied for the senior sous chef position at The Test Kitchen, he then got a call offering him the change of leading the Pot Luck team. And true pot luck, with regular changes and surprises, is part of the plan.

The menu is divided into Pot Luck Family Favourites, Salty, Sour, Umami, Bitter and Sweet ending. His dishes are perfectly plated without being fussy, flavours are robust and harmoniously combined, with the result that one struggles to say no to another, and then another, tantalizing dish. He insisted that I, and my guest, should try all the new dishes. Who am I to complain, I love being told what to do…

The Doenang-glazed tuna with kimchi cabbage, ssamjang and tofu purée, fabulous. My food-muscle memory was woken with the fish sliders and peri-peri chicken, as good as in the past.  He highly recommended the venison. The springbok loin with sauce vierge, fermented black bean jalapeno crispy vermicelli noodles and shaved walnuts is piquant and robust, creating its own umami. The truffle and asparagus tart fine with porcini hollandaise and poached quail eggs, delicate – a lovely contrast in the umami section. The sweet ending was superb for someone who boasts not to have a sweet tooth – try the raspberry curd with burnt Swiss meringue, citrus shortbread and pistachio – or better still, wait until the delectable olive oil cake makes its appearance on the menu – I will be there.

KLEIN JAN

Marlene van der Westhuizen, the newest member of the Gourmet Guide team, caught up with Jan Hendrick van der Westhuizen this week to find out more about his forthcoming venture of opening Klein JAN in 2020. All will be revealed in our Winter Gourmet Guide online magazine, to be released on 1 June.

If you haven’t already read the Autumn issue, visit www.gourmetguide.co.za/gourmetguide, free for you to read, download and print.

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Move into autumn with the Gourmet Guide

INDOCHINE

There can be nowhere more beautiful to witness the changing colours of this season than on the luxurious Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch. Boasting sweeping views, indescribable art and exemplary cuisine, this jewel of the Relais & Châteaux collection demands more than a cursory visit. Take your time to enjoy a wine tasting, lunch at the Delaire Graff Restaurant, some relaxation at the spa or tempt your appetite with lunch at Indochine. I was spoilt to be in the company of both the Relais & Châteaux and Delaire Graff marketing teams, so in addition to sublime epicurean delights crafted by two-plated chef Virgil Kahn, the conversation was lively and peppered with interesting insights into the hospitality industry. After a glass of the Delaire Graff Sunrise, I savoured the squid with peanuts, lime, coconut, grapefruit, caramelized onion and garlic topped with kale meringue. The piquant fragrance of my neighbour’s Tom Yum Goong bore testament to Virgil’s recent visit to the east. As order envy was about to set in, I tucked into the sea bass, cooked to perfection with imagination yet elegant simplicity. Virgil has a true talent for fusing flavours and perfect plating. The afternoon drew to an enviable close with a quick visit to see some famous Graff diamonds, and a sneak peak of their world-class villa, soon to be unveiled.

CHEF’S WAREHOUSE BEAU CONSTANTIA

The vineyards below Beau Constantia too are a sight for autumn eyes. Meeting restaurateur friends for an early start to the weekend was bliss, from the first bite to the last fulfilling mouthful. With one being a pescatarian I offered to team up with him, sharing a medley of dishes that seemed to move from excellent to exceptional. Chef Ivor Jones and his team in the open kitchen make it look effortless. Our foursome spent some time after the meal hotly debating which had been a favourite dish. All, I say. Or maybe the coal-seared tuna, the linefish sashimi, or Vietnamese rice roll. Oh hang on, the Parmesan risotto was superb too. Who says missing meat means that you are missing the best? My carnivore friends waxed lyrical about their venison, and the other meat dishes too. All were united in their love of the fried polenta – Ivor, please may we have that recipe? Or please sir, may we have some more?

ELGIN RAILWAY MARKET

During the initial part of the trip on the steam train to Elgin, from the Royal Cape Yacht Club, one sadly passes a lot of litter. As you chug into the winelands the views improve, and after nearly three hours, you arrive at Elgin station. The carefully curated market in the former packing shed at the station has been renovated with a generous budget and great attention to detail. It is a delightful setting in which to enjoy some delicious grub, wine, a little retail therapy and foot-tapping live music. The gin bar is a welcome addition. Three hours later and you are back on the train, heading home.

SENSE OF TASTE

Sharing snippets of my career and journey in the food industry with the first and second-year students at the Sense of Taste school was a worthy start to the short working week. They were most appreciative of their copies of the JHP Gourmet Guide, and who knows, maybe some of them will be plated in the future! Hats off to Peter and Deb Ayub, and Byron Thebus for motivating and inspiring the next generation of talented chefs in our country.

PERSIAN COOKERY

Aliya Ferguson welcomed a gaggle of eight food-loving gals into her home in Tamboerskloof where she offers an intimate Persian cookery course. Whilst demonstrating a delectable array of tasty, traditional Persian dishes she shared the interesting tale of her life and culture. The afternoon sped by, and soon we were firmly ensconced in her dining room to enjoy the fruits of her labour and love of cooking.

CAPE POINT VINEYARDS

We spent the morning at Deep South Distillery enjoying a tour and sipping gin cocktails (put it on your to-do list), and tasting Pepe Charlot’s amazing French-style cheese. We then settled in on the deck at Cape Point Vineyards, a gorgeous setting where one can work up an appetite for good food and wine. The tuna steak hit a high note for me, the gin & tonic oysters, the Caesar salad and crispy calamari sang loudly for my friends. The weekly food market on Thursdays is a drawcard too.

THE FOODBARN RESTAURANT

The welcome at the Foodbarn is warm, the service friendly and informative, and the menu bulging with must-have options. It is hard to decide, and our waiter Jaryd, was patient as we merrily vacillated. Hot asparagus for husband and I, crispy calamari for our friends, followed by a perfect prawn risotto for two, the lamb chops succulent and tender, and my prawn with slender rings of pineapple, sublime. A watermelon and gin palate cleanser between courses, a cheese course after, and we were sated. Chef Franck Dangereux is undisputably the shining star of the deep south.

GOURMET GUIDE

If you have not already devoured the information about SA’s plated and rated restaurants on our website www.gourmetguide.co.za, then visit it now. Book at all your favourite restaurants while scrolling through the options. Savour the autumn issue of the Gourmet Guide magazine. It’s free to download and print. This one-stop dining stop is all yours.cover1

Hello autumn

The leaves are slowly turning yellow and the days are getting light later – good for early-morning writing. We are delighted with our writing win, having received the ‘Best Food Column’ award bestowed by Cape Town Experiences. How delightful to be in such esteemed company – our partners Dineplan won ‘Most Innovative Tech Solution in the FBI’ award.

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Talking of writing, March is a month that showcases exactly what I love doing – writing – after eating and interviewing. Grab the March editions of Country Life to read about Franschhoek’s Chefs of the Round Table, Food & Home to be tempted to the Oranjezicht City Farm Market and Woman & Home to find out how I feel about parenting a strong son!

This is the son who left for NYC this week, and I am seriously suffering from envy. New York is where I want to be, it’s where three-plated chef Luke Dale Roberts will be cooking on 10 March at Restaurant DANIEL. Luke, our winner of the SWISS Culinary Innovation Award in the 2019 guide, has been invited to collaborate this year with Chef Daniel Boulud of New York City’s famed Restaurant DANIEL. Now in its 22nd year, Chef Daniel will host “Citymeals on Wheels Sunday Supper”, on Sunday 10 March, which brings together leading chefs from around the globe for an evening of cooking, laughing and fundraising.

Since its founding in 1981, Citymeals on Wheels has delivered 56 million meals throughout New York City’s five boroughs. Each year, the organization prepares and delivers over 2 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals for more than 18,000 frail aged New Yorkers. 100% of the proceeds raised from the Sunday Supper go directly to the preparation and delivery of meals. Luke has created a new dish for the occasion featuring butter roasted langoustine, snoek brandade, lightly smoked snoek extraction, mushroom jam, black truffle and savoy cabbage.

MACAU ASIAN TAVERN

Macau in China is where this year’s international Gourmand World Cookbook Awards will take place, so the name of this restaurant, and the fact that this is where one can find the former chef of Kitima, Li Kuan Geo. We had a delightful early dinner there, intrigued by how the cuisines of China and Portugal can collide without hitting heads. My dishes of choice were the cream cheese and spinach bao, and the chicken pot stickers.

NOBU

A long-awaited career highlight was meeting Nobu Matsuhisa in Cape Town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Nobu at the One&Only in the V&A Waterfront. What an honour. Ever the interviewer, I had quietly prepared a few leading questions on the way there, but was charmed into answering many of his questions about Cape Town, our restaurants and fresh produce. The omakase and sake pairing was out of this world, ably prepared by two-plated chef Harold Hurtada and his team. Each course, each nuance and each taste of sake were out of this world. The first sake, the Hokusetsu Sado No Jyunmai, is well suited to the uninitiated, and after a few courses and more sake, I realised that I may have found a new drink of choice. All dishes were sublime, but the Chilean sea bass with pomegranate miso really hit a high note for me, and the sushi, of course, too. Having mentioned that we were celebrating a family farewell and birthday, the sterling service team pulled out all the stops to make the celebration a memorable one. Our final sake was a fruit sake with litchi and cucumber, piquant and a fitting finale to a fantastic evening.

CONSTANTIA GLEN

The launch of the Constantia Glen coffee table book, produced by Quivertree and beautifully written by Clare O’Donoghue, was an intimate affair. The spectacular vineyard views were a fitting backdrop for some networking, and of course, glasses of Constantia Glen wines were raised to toast this chronicle that pays tribute to the where the land tells the time. The timeless vision of the family-owned estate makes for enlightening reading. Alexander Waibel, owner, paid tribute to the value of people. In the mid-90s there were a handful of people working on this estate, and now they employ a large team in the vineyards, the wine tasting room, cellar and restaurant.

Let’s travel together, home and away. Visit our autumn edition of the Gourmet Guide magazine to read all about the fabulous new restaurant FYN, Mauritius, Durban and Switzerland, the land of cheese and chocolate. www.gourmetguide.co.za

Applause all the way

WOLFGAT

With the rest of South Africa we are proudly celebrating the success of Kobus van der Merwe of Wolfgat, deservedly named Restaurant of the Year and the title of best ‘Off Map Destination’ restaurant at the World Restaurant Awards in Paris this week.

Kobus is also the winner of the first JHP Gourmet Guide™ Haute Provenance award, sponsored by KitchenAid and Mervyn Gers Ceramics. These Haute Performance awards inspire chefs and stimulate higher performance. The Provenance award is part of the growing movement of acknowledging and celebrating the origin of ingredients, making the most of what is available – local, organic and original. This trailblazer takes responsibility for developing what is on his doorstep, in the sea and veld. He offers an epicurean adventure at Wolfgat for the adventurous. His focus is on wild, it is cutting edge, admirable and in the opinion of fellow chefs, the way of the future.

Visit www.gourmetguide.co.za, click on awarded restaurants and read all about Kobus and the Wolfgat experience. Simply push the Dineplan button on their page and make your reservation.

STREETSMART

Best way of starting a working week? Applauding restaurants. The Gourmet Guide team was invited to Gold restaurant in Green Point to celebrate StreetSmart’s top restaurants. It was a small intimate affair, with restaurants, media and ambassadors coming together to thank and congratulate these restaurants. We gathered in the colourful, African-styled bar of the restaurant, sipping bubbly, while getting our faces painted.

After catching up with friends in the restaurant industry, vivacious Melanie Burke, Chairperson of StreetSmart, welcomed everyone. The top 20 supporters were announced, and the top five restaurants awarded with a certificate and their unique aprons. Cindy Muller of Gold, number one supporter, attributed their generous support to her team who tell diners about the wonderful work StreetSmart is doing. Canapes were served as we ended the perfect morning of celebrations.

Throughout the years of owning my business I have always highlighted the importance of supporting a charity. Even in a small way. I am proud to be an ambassador of such a heart-warming, community-driven organisation. Thank you StreetSmart for all the hard work that you do in making a difference, R5 at a time.