For the seventh year ‘Taste of Cape Town’ is delighting Capetonians with a feast of delectable food, excellent wines, talks and demonstrations about food and beverages, as well as entertainment, held at the Green Point Cricket Club near the Cape Town Stadium until today.
‘Taste of Cape Town’ has had incredible luck with the weather over the years, and temperatures have been climbing since opening day on Thursday, touching on 30ºC yesterday afternoon, and forecast to exceed this temperature today. Other than the Lindt stand, the ‘Taste of Cape Town’ stands do not have airconditioning, but attendees sought shade on the cricket ground to eat and drink their purchases. Outside each food stand a stand-up table allows one to eat, and to meet other ‘Taste of Cape Town’ attendees and obtain tips from them as to what to try at other stands on the route. The chefs have a challenging time preparing hundreds of portions of three dishes each, with limited space and cooking facilities. There was barely any waiting time at any of the stands, once one had ordered. Payment is in terms of ‘scoins’, vouchers valued at R5 each, available to buy in booklets of 20 at R100. The cost of each dish is priced in scoins, none costing more than 8 scoins (R40). The prices have not been increased in the past six years.
Having been invited by Errieda du Toit PR, we were offered four free dishes from the fourteen restaurants participating this year. The dishes offered are as follows:
* Azure Restaurant at Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa: Using photographs of the view from the hotel onto Lion’s Head, the stand transported one to the Atlantic Seaboard, where Executive Chef Christo Pretorius cooks his own and the owners’ dishes. We tried the generous portion of Char Sui mirin-glazed pork belly with pork popcorn shaped from crackling, bitterballen created from pork shoulder, pea purée, plum chutney, and a cider jus, an amazing feat given the facilities. They also offer cured blesbok rooibos and citrus cured tartare, salt-baked beetroot, pickled onion, and apple gel, served with walnut crumble and labneh. Dessert is a rice pudding recipe of owner Bea Tollman, served with salted caramel and toasted nuts.
* Beefcakes Burger Bar attracted a lot of attention when the four male servers went onto the tiny stage. We saw some entertainment outfits hanging on their stand, but did not see their show. Their offering was a choice of poppers, an ostrich gourmet burger, and a double Lindt chocolate brownie. The stand is identifiably pink.
* Camissa Brasserie at The Table Bay Hotel: this was the largest restaurant stand, the double stand containing tables and chairs too, and replicated aspects of the restaurant, with its brick wall and Cape Town posters. One of the hotel’s PR executives came to welcome us immediately, organised somewhere for us to sit, and took our order and brought it almost instantly. On Twitter the stand had been a talking point, for its stand design and its food. Their starter was an Oscar Lager braised Karan beef short rib, served with an Oscar Lager jus; an excellent herb and macadamia nut-crusted Karoo lamb cutlet with a minted jus; and the highlight in its unusualness was the Rainbow cheesecake served with a mixed berry compote. Chefs Jocelyn Myers-Adams and Jason Franco were in charge of the stand.
* Cosecha Restaurant at Noble Hill: this Franschhoek wine estate has a new Chef Maryna Frederiksen, previously of Holden Manz and Sacred Ground, and its restaurant is Mexican inspired, which the decor reflected, with small pots of cacti on the wall, and larger ones on the counter. The restaurant name means ‘harvest’ in Spanish. I loved the Avocado Gaucamole served with their own Bocadito, which was not on the official menu but was available at the stand. Other options are corn tortillas filled with beer-battered kingklip; Huevos Rancheros; and char-grilled coffee-cocoa pork ribs.
* Il Leone Mastrantonio, with Chef Daniel Toledo: the veal ragu pasta was disappointing and unexciting relative to the food we tried at the other stands. Two other options were seared salmon and a white bean and fennel salad; and mussels in a tomato and white wine concasse.
* Jewel of India with Chef Anil Panwar: they offer home-made cottage cheese cooked in a tomato sauce; chicken tikka, which we heard from others was good; and a Madras fish curry.
* Longridge Restaurant with Chef Bruce von Pressentin: I have not been to the restaurant since Chef Bruce took over, a lovely young man whom I met yesterday. I met his father last year, who has been friends with my parents. It was lovely to see Anne de Jager as well, who previously was a Manager at Pierneef à La Motte. I was impressed with how they brought nature into their restaurant design, with planters of fresh herbs, lettuce, vegetables, and edible flowers. On the counter they used Romanesco broccoli and sprouts, and an orange coloured-cauliflower with carrots, which they had found at Woolworths’ Waterstone branch in Somerset West. They served a blue cheese pannacotta; tempura prawns; and Lindt chocolate tart.
Two pop-up restaurants operated each day, and yesterday it was Ernie Els Winery Restaurant, and Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House, with Chef Tanja Kruger. I didn’t recognise Chef Tanja initially, and she told me proudly that this is the year ‘About Me’, the highlight being her walk of the Camino de Santiago and some spoiling time in Spain to experience their tapas, in May and June. Her dishes were salt-baked potato, porto espuma, ash, trout roe and dill; springbok boerie, with smoked tomato aioli, and chutney; and peanut butter sandwich with peanut streusel, served with apricot jam ice cream. Chef Tanja introduced me to the newly appointed Restaurant Manager Dean Cole, and shared that their new sommelier will be Esmé Groenewald from Terroir, both replacing Josephine Gutentoft, who left a week ago to settle in the USA.
Today Chef Henry Vigar of La Mouette will offer a meze selection; butternut ravioli; and a dessert of ‘Memories of a Sweet Shop‘. Chef Stefan Marais of Societi Bistro and Jonkershuis at Groot Constantia is offering mushroom risotto; smoked salted caramel ice-cream; and a free range Karoo lamb curry. Chef George Jardine of Jordan Restaurant received praise for his pop-up restaurant on Friday evening. 96 Winery Road and Burrata have also popped up at ‘Taste of Cape Town’.
Robertsons is offering food demonstrations in its ‘Butchers Block’ stand, but Reuben Robertsons Riffel is not involved, given that Season 3 of MasterChef SA is being filmed currently; Pick ‘n Pay has a Chefs’ Theatre as well as a Wine & Canapé Theatre; and Consol Glass sponsored the Mixology Theatre. Tsogo Sun also had a massive stand (right); there is a champagne and oyster stand; a Craft Beer stand, a small food producers’ stand; and Lindt has a stand demonstrating how they make their Lindor chocolates. A number of wine estates had stands at the festival, including Hermanuspietersfontein, Waterford, Idiom, Whalehaven, Paul René MCC, Waverley Hills, Signal Gun Wines, Fairtrade, Villiera, Zandvliet, and Welgemeend.
Errieda du Toit is also handling the publicity for the cooking program ‘Kokkedoor’, for which Season 2 starts on Thursday evening at 20h00. Justine Drake is the ‘Taste of Cape Town’ Festival Director.
Taste of Cape Town, Green Point Cricket Club, corner Vlei and Fritz Sonnenberg Roads, Cape Town. www.tasteofcapetown.com Twitter: @TasteofCT 13h00 – 18h00. R100 entrance at the gate or R80 via www.itickets.co.za or www.pnptickets.co.za. Parking is in the Cape Town Stadium.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage