It was on Twitter that I saw Seline van der Wat, MasterChef SA Season 2 Finalist, request suggestions for food destinations in Cape Town. I had so enjoyed her spunk on MasterChef SA that I invited her to join me in sharing my Foodie Cape Town yesterday.
We met at Melissa’s on Kloof Street, where I had my favourite iced coffee for the day, and Seline gave me some feedback about where she had been in Cape Town relative to my list of favourite food destinations. The Neighbourgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill and Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants were the only two food stops she had been to already.
We talked about MasterChef SA Season 2, and she wore the wooden rabbit brooch which she had worn throughout the show. She wears it every day, and her sister and fellow MasterChef SA Finalist Leandri was given an identical one as a gift. One senses that they are very close, Seline being slightly older, and having an older sister who recently made them aunts, as well as a younger sister who is still at school. She lives in Pretoria, and has resigned her job as an engineer working on renewable energy via Hydropower. From a rigid day job she would escape to the kitchen to express her creativity via cooking, she and Leandri sharing an apartment. Seline could not stop raving about Chef Chris Erasmus at Pierneef à La Motte, loving his passion for food, and his sense of community. She plays the piano, guitar, and cello. They grew up in Mafikeng, and lost their mother about ten years ago, necessitating them to cook for the family of four daughters and their dad. Having such famous daughters has made their dad a celebrity in their home town, and he has met many more of the locals since his daughters were on TV. He himself now hosts Moroccan dinner parties, while the youngest sister is starting to learn to cook and bake as well. Seline said that she and Leandri did not watch soaps on TV as children, but watched every cooking programme, including MasterChef UK, and that when they were preparing food they would act as if they were in a cooking show!
Seline shared that Ozzy Osmond has moved to Cape Town to study at the SA Chef’s’ Academy, and that he is very popular amongst the ladies! I asked her about MasterChef SA Season 3 but she too has not heard anything about it. The only part about MasterChef SA that Seline did not like was feeling ill in Ethiopia, due to the altitude. She was the only contestant suffering from it, but most of the crew did too.
Our first stop was the Oranjezicht City Farm, and for the first time I experienced it without the Saturday market. We were invited to walk through the vegetable and herb garden, to take a basket, and to cut whatever we wanted, to have it weighed, and pay for it. It was a delight for Seline to experience, loving the community project concept, and bringing out the ‘farmgirl’ in her. She was sniffing and tasting, and we were given the head of a fennel flower to eat by some fellow shoppers, who felt embarrassed that it was their first visit to the city farm.
The City Bowl market on Hope Street was a sad contrast, the vegetables and fruit being wilted and of poor quality. The nature of the market has changed, with few supporters, and the only regular we chatted to was Martin Raubenheimer, whose award-winning Bacon Jam was for sale. Martin told us that he was the ghost writer for a number of Justin Bonello’s books.
The Palms Market is a favourite, based in a beautiful building in Woodstock, and giving the Palms Lifestyle Centre such a lift on Saturdays. It was conceptualised by Isabella Niehaus, herself a stallholder, and has a number of stallholders who have become friends. We bought Karen Hart’s home-made marshmallow as well as some calamari to share, as well as far better looking fruit and vegetables. It was the only venue at which a shopper came up to Seline, to ask if she is who she is, and she graciously said yes to a photograph with the children, who were big fans.
We drove to Wynberg to Four & Twenty Café, which is co-owned by Tracy-Leigh Genricks, the girlfriend of fellow MasterChef SA Finalist Jason Steel, and Marijke Duminy. We met Tracy-Leigh’s mom, and Jason’s sister, who work there too, and Jason arrived sometime later, to connect with Seline and Tracy-Leigh. It was the first time that I met him. He still works at The Test Kitchen as a waiter, not wanting to be in the kitchen, working three to six shifts per week. He is still recognised by patrons as a Finalist, and this gets the conversation going, he said. Jason and Tiron Eloff have a TV show with Le Creuset as a sponsor up their sleeve, but are keeping details mum until the show has been filmed. Marijke and Tracy-Leigh both come from Silwood, and bake the most amazing cakes and cup cakes. We tasted their delicious salted butter caramel chocolate mousse ‘Eat and Mess‘ cake. I had asked after their home-made mayonnaise, which they did not have. Tracy-Leigh came up to the table, asking if Marijke could make me some to take along, a fabulous gesture.
Whilst we were in the Southern Suburbs we drove to the Alphen Hotel, where I showed Seline the 5Rooms Restaurant, and the La Belle Café which was jam-packed in the afternoon in a pretty setting under the oak trees. I asked after GM Robert van Gent, who had opened the hotel just over a year ago, and he seems to have been replaced by three other GMs already! La Belle has fabulous pastries and breads, and we couldn’t resist buying a treat to take home.
We returned to town and drove down foodie strip Bree Street, and noticed that the Chef’s Warehouse is looking ready to open in its new location, where Caveau used to be. It will have a Deli and Café as well.
I wanted to show Seline Luvey & Rose on Rose Street, but it was closed at 16h00, as was the new Bree Street branch of I Love my Laundry, so we settled for the Buitengracht Street one. We ended off our foodie trip at Haas, who kindly opened for us even though they had closed at 15h00, so that I could show Seline the art that is sold. Her sister Leandri has started a coffee roasting company with two partners, and she was on the front cover of a coffee magazine which was at the counter of Haas! Seline loved all the rabbits in Haas, completing the circle of our tour!
We ate far too much, and our outing made me realise again how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful city and have such a variety of coffee shops, food markets, and restaurants available to us. Seline did comment that Johannesburg eateries would not close in the afternoon, but would operate until the evening. Seline is a bubbly friendly person, who would be a fabulous asset for any food business specifically, and for Cape Town generally. I am sure that she is keen to move to Cape Town, and to get involved in a food project locally.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage