The sixth Taste of Cape Town, to be held at the Green Point Cricket Club from today until Sunday, promises to be a feast of food and beverages, prepared by some of the Cape’s leading chefs, and offered for tasting by top wine estates and beverage houses.
A pop-up restaurant will feature some of our region’s best chefs, hosted by a different chef each day:
* Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, representing The Pot Luck Club, offering Miso-glazed short rib with kimchi, pork belly with XO and red cabbage slaw, and Thai-style prawns with Tom Yum butter on Friday.
* Chef Bruce Robertson, past owner of award-winning The Showroom, and now running The Boathouse from his home in Scarborough, will dish up snot vis (photograph) and sea cucumber, ‘Viss ‘n Tjips’, and Lucky Star pie on Saturday.
* Chef Scot Kirton of La Colombe will offer Lemon verbena cured trout, ostrich tataki, and rose and coconut pannacotta on Thursday.
* Chef Tanja Kruger of Makaron Restaurant, and member of the SA Culinary team, will serve Nigiri sustainable fish, smoked lamb belly, and a rum, caramel and banana dessert on Sunday.
Eleven restaurant stands will offer food to taste, in exchange for crowns (R5 per crown, and dish prices range from 4 – 8 crowns each, as a means of payment:
* Azure Restaurant at the Twelve Apostles hotel, with Chef Henrico Grobbelaar at the helm, serving duck liver cream, Chalmar beef fillet, and Bea Tollman’s rice pudding
* 96 Winery Road in Stellenbosch, led by Chef Natasha Wray, serving crispy pork belly strips, line fish Nobu style, and parmesan and chorizo risotto
* De Grendel Restaurant, which opened a year ago, with Chef Ian Bergh, serving duck and risotto, braised beef, and quail.
* Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta, with Chef Shaun Schoeman, offering Tiger prwan and calamari breyani, Karoo ‘lamsoutribbetjie‘, and venison wild rosemary pie
* Signal Restaurant at the Cape Grace, with Chef Malika van Reenen, serving prawn salad, beef short rib, and pear dessert
* Savour at 15 on Orange, headed by Chef Sanel Esterhuyse, offering Norwegian salmon and avocado tartare (photograph), quail curry, and seared scallops
* Jewel of India, now located in Bo-Kaap, with Chef Dayanand Shankar Poojary, serving Chicken Tikka, Paneer Makhani, and Madras fish curry
* Beefcakes Burger Bar, based in Green Point, with Chef Wonderful Ndhlovu offering poppers, gourmet ostrich burge, and chocolate brownie.
* Dash Restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, with Chef Craig Paterson, serving fish rillettes, braised lamb breast, and ‘Go Bananas’ dessert
* The Brasserie (sister restaurant to Societi Bistro) with Chef Stefan Marais, offering West Coast mussels, Brasserie Scotch egg, and French onion soup
* Il Leone Mastrantonio with Chef Daniel Toledo, serving Linguine ai Gamberetti (prawns), flash-fried calamari, and coffee-flavoured panacotta.
Top chefs will do demonstrations in the Pick ‘n Pay Chef’s Theatre, while the Pick ‘n Pay Wine and Canapé Experience will teach Festival goers how to pair wines and canapés. Lindt’s Master Chocolatiers will demonstrate making Lindor truffles and pralines and chocolate sculpturing, with their Excellence and Creation ranges available for sale. A special focus on Thai foods will be offered via cooking demonstrations by Thai chefs, organised by the Royal Thai Embassy. A Food Market will not only offer artisanal foods for sale, but also beverages such as the new award-winning Bains Cape Mountain whisky from Wellington, the best single grain whisky in the world, as well as Fairtrade wines.
The Taste of Cape Town is one of 18 Taste festivals hosted around the world. Taste of Durban will be held in July and Taste of Joburg in September. Taste of Cape Town is environmentally friendly, with Interwaste recycling at the festival, and biodegradable eating utensils and bowls made by Green Home Products will be used.
POSTSCRIPT 12/4: Parking is in short supply, and traffic cops are all around the venue, to frighten anyone off parking anywhere else except inside the Cape Town Stadium, at a reasonable charge of R20. The evening was wonderful, mild weather wise, lots of attendees but it never felt crowded. The pop-up restaurant (Pot Luck Club this evening, but without Luke Dale-Roberts, as advertised on the program) had the longest queue, so one should go there first. Tweeting is difficult, almost impossible from the festival, given the network overload. Signal Restaurant of the Cape Grace hotel was the ‘best dressed’ restaurant, in giving one a feel of its real counterpart. It is difficult to present one’s dishes under such trying conditions, and there can be little talk of ‘plating’ on a small recycled plate, but the best looking dish was Savour’s Norwegian salmon and avocado tartare with parmesan galette, Ikura caviar, soy-lime broth (this detracted from the dish) and micro-herbs (right). The best tasting dish was the Twelve Apostles’ Azure starter of Duck liver cream, pickled red apple, and lentil leek mignonette (left). I enjoyed sitting at the tables spread around the grounds, just chatting about the dishes and the restaurants they came from. There are a lot of Capetonians interested in our Cape Town restaurants. I heard a lot of Afrikaans spoken, and the PR representative Errieda du Toit told me that Afrikaans media had covered the festival for the first time. Lindt impressed with its shop and demonstration area, the making of pralines and Lindor being demonstrated. One should go here at the beginning or end, as it became very full.
Taste of Cape Town, 11 and 12 April 18h30 – 22h30, 13 April 13h00 – 17h00 and 18h30 – 22h30, 14 April 12h00 – 17h00, www.tasteofcapetown.com Twitter: @Taste Taste Fest app available for free for Apple, Blackberry, and Android devices. R80 entrance and tasting glass, R180 includes R100 tasting crowns.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The Sweet Service Award goes to Pick ‘n Pay, for its use of Twitter to communicate with and provide a service to its customers. While not always able to resolve issues satisfactorily, the recent withdrawal of its Greek yoghurt due its packaging not meeting the new pack labelling legislation taking longer than predicted by the stores, led to us asking via Twitter when it would be re-introduced. We were asked to e-mail the head office with the name of the closest Pick ‘n Pay branch. Two days later a manager of the Camps Bay branch called to say that the yoghurt had arrived, and that he would keep us some for collection.
The Sour Service Award goes to Societi Bistro and Food24, and was nominated by Butch Rice: “I have a very definite snarl at Food24 and Stefan Marais of Societi Bistro. I posted a negative review on Food24, got a phone call from Stefan, and had what I thought was a constructive chat. Until I saw his response on Food24 in which he lied blatantly, claiming I had expressed a preference for frozen chips, which I do not have, and which was never discussed. He also claimed his manager had approached every table during the evening to ensure people were happy. This after I told him that the major problem he had was that nobody had checked with us about what we thought of the meal or anything else. I also see that Food24 gave him a lot more space for his response than usually allowed. It does not do him or Food24 any credit. He had no need to lie, other than to make it appear that his restaurant was beyond reproach in any way. Most disappointing. A postscript to this affair. I tweeted Stefan pointing out that I had never expressed a preference for frozen chips. He replied that I had said I preferred the chips at another restaurant, and that he knew they used frozen chips, hence his conclusion. I have pointed out to him that I had only referred to the other restaurant as an example of thicker sauces, not their chips. I have also attempted to comment on the story on Food24, twice, but they have not used my reply. I wonder why?”
The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website
Neil Pendock, writing on his blog yesterday, knocked bloggers and food writers by applauding their absence at the inaugural Fleur du Cap 100 Places to Eat Cape Town 2011: “What made the awards cocktail party unusual was that the usual cast of thousands – journos, hacks, bloggers, twits and hangers on – was conspicuous by its absence..” Yet the ‘Awards’ were organised by ‘little Irish devil‘ (his words) blogger Clare (‘Mack’) McKeon-McLoughlin! How embarassing for sponsor Fleur du Cap, wishing to gain support from the media and bloggers for its brands, given that Pendock no doubt had an organising hand in the ‘Awards’!
Neil Pendock can be a really nice guy, as I experienced at the Compass Box Whisky Co tasting and blending afternoon a week ago. But he has a nasty side too, as poor Su Birch of WOSA well knows, being the target of regular attacks in his Pendock Uncorked Sunday Times blog. We can attest to his fierce loyalty to McKeon-McLoughlin, as he has blocked us on Twitter, due to our criticism of Cape Town Tourism’s involvement in his and McKeon-McLoughlin’s organisation of the frivolous ’100 Women 100 Wines’ in August.
Now poor Abigail Donnelly is the next target, being the sole judge and editor of the Eat Out DStv Food Network Top 10 Restaurant Awards for the first time. This year the judging committee of Pete Goffe-Wood, Anna Trapido and Arnold Tanzer, who received a substantial remuneration, it is said, fell away, and whilst there has been some muttering about this, I have not heard any chef denigrate Mrs Donnelly because of the organisational change. The Top 20 Eat Out finalist list has been announced, and the only rumblings about it is that Rust en Vrede is not on the list, having been the winning restaurant on the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list last year, but its Chef David Higgs left mid-year, and that Chef Henrico Grobbelaar has not been at Azure Restaurant of the Twelve Apostles Hotel for a full twelve months, which is what the Eat Out rules dictate.
On Sunday McKeon-McLoughlin had invited some of the Fleur du Cap ‘Top 100′ restaurants and announced the following (alphabetically listed) restaurants to be the Top 10 Restaurants in Cape Town, out of an initial list of 100:
95 Keerom – Giorgio Nava.
Aubergine – Harald Bresselschmidt
Bizerca – Laurent Deslandes
Dear Me – Vanessa Marx
The Foodbarn – Franck Dangereux
The Greenhouse – Peter Templehoff
Hemelhuijs – Jacques Erasmus
Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson – Rudi Liebenberg
Societi Bistro – Stefan Marais
The Test Kitchen – Luke Dale Roberts
If one compares the list to the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Top 20 Finalist list, Azure at the Twelve Apostles Hotel, The Round House, and Nobu at the One&Only Cape Town are obvious exclusions, while The Test Kitchen, The Greenhouse, and Planet Restaurant also feature on the Eat Out Top 20 list. What makes the list above lose all credibility is the inclusion of Societi Bistro – whilst very popular amongst bloggers, who are regularly invited for lunch or dinner, and appears to be the McKeon-McLoughlin’s permanent dining room, it certainly does not feature on anyone’s top restaurant list for Cape Town! Amusing is that Aubergine fell off the Eat Out Top 20 Finalist list, whilst having been an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant last year, and appears on the above list! A number of restaurant lovers queried its Eat Out inclusion last year. Hemelhuijs and Dear Me Foodworld are great lunch venues, but only open in the evening once a week, and therefore are not in the same league as the other restaurants on the list, which serve lunch and dinner.
Ironic too is that Cape Town has lost its reputation as a top restaurant city, this accolade now having moved to the Winelands, Stellenbosch in particular, and therefore a list focusing on Cape Town only is like only handing out a second prize! Pendock writes about the judges Bianca Coleman, Jos Baker and Anna Trapido that they are the ‘biggest culinary cannons’, an extreme exaggeration! Trapido lives in Johannesburg, and hardly would have been able to judge all 100 Cape Town restaurants, especially given the short time between conceptualisation and execution of the Fleur du Cap Restaurant list.
A request sent to Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly for a list of the finalists in the new categories of the Eat Out Awards has surprisingly been declined, even though some restaurants on the list are ‘bragging’ about their inclusion. All eyes will be on Eat Out and Abigail Donnelly on 20 November, when the country’s Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants will be announced, in ranked order!
POSTSCRIPT 8/11: Interestingly, the Fleur du Cap website has no reference to the Top 100 Cape Town Restaurants list, nor to the Top 10 Cape Town Restaurants. The media release issued by the Fleur du Cap PR consultancy GC Communications oddly does not provide any quotes by nor contact details for the Fleur du Cap Brand Manager Danelle Kietzmann!
POSTSCRIPT 8/11: This evening I chatted to Jos Baker, one of the four judges of the Fleur du Cap Top 100 and Top 10 Places to Eat Cape Town 2011, at the Platter’s launch. I asked what the criteria for inclusion were, and she said it was to find restaurants that would ‘not be intimidating‘, ranging from the top-end to the ‘hole-in-the-wall’, to give a good spread! She told me that most of the judges’ deliberations were done via e-mail. When I asked her about Eat Out having one judge only, she said ‘no comment’. When I asked her if further regional lists would be published, she gave me a look that confirmed this, without answering directly.
POSTSCRIPT 9/11: One would have thought that the Mount Nelson Hotel’s marketing department would have known better than to have described their inclusion in the Fleur du Cap Top 10 Places to eat list as ‘a most sought after achievement’ in their November newsletter today!
POSTSCRIPT 10/11: Food24 has included a link to this blogpost in its newsletter today.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage