Chef Ciska Rossouw has come a long way with her artisanal eatery Loaves on Long on Long Street, which she opened two years ago. This has been an exciting year for her so far, having taken on a new business partner Rickma Coxon, and having got married. A new exciting eatery development lies ahead. 

I had visited Loaves on Long on it opening in April 2015, always being lucky with parking.  I love Ciska’s rye bread, and popped in regularly to buy it. I rarely eat bread now, and hence have not been back to Loaves on Long for a while.

Loaves on Long new Artisan Eatery opens in Cape Town!

PR Consultant Errieda du Toit invited me to visit Loaves on Long, to meet Rickma, and to try some new dishes which Chef Ciska has developed, to reposition Loaves on Long as not only an artisanal bakery, but also as an artisanal eatery. It was lovely to reconnect with Errieda, and her husband Ian joined us, taking photographs too. 

I had bumped into Chef Ciska and Rickma at Harrington’s a week prior, at the Raath Promotions Trade Show, but we did not really talk shop. It was at Loaves at Long that the sparkling personality of Rickma came to the fore, who bought into Loaves on Long with her husband Martin in March. Chef Ciska, her now wife Elnaline, and Rickma all went to school together in Stellenbosch, so have been close friends since then. Rickma is an inspiring and motivating business partner to Chef Ciska, praising her at every turn.

Rickma has a varied background, having studied law, and was a divorce lawyer before she stepped out of her career, to partner with Chef Ciska. Rickma handles everything except the food preparation, but has even learnt to do so when Chef Ciska went on honeymoon in France recently. She also appointed Errieda as the PR Consultant, to lift the media profile of the business, especially in repositioning Loaves on Long as an artisanal eatery. I laughed when Rickma shared that she and Chef Ciska had started their own two-woman band Minora Blade, for which name I did not ask an explanation! Rickma had made it her mission to try the wines of the wine estates in Franschhoek, having grown up in the village, so as to enhance her wine knowledge. She waitered at Le Bon Vivant owned by Chef Pierre Hendriks, creating desserts in addition to waitering. She then worked at Gleneagles, the world famous luxury hotel, spa, and golf resort in Scotland. 

In between our chatting, the dishes started arriving from Chef Ciska’s kitchen. The first course was a platter with three different items:

#   A bresola sandwich with Boerenkaas, onion, picked tomato, and ‘essene‘ bread, a term I had not heard of before, being bread made with wheat sprout. 

#   An aubergine tart made with white bread Pastry, with cooked tomato, sliced aubergine, mozzarella, rocket, and topped with basil. 

#   The cutest mini bunny chows, which were hollowed out and filled with a chicken and mushroom cream ragout. 

I was offered to taste their homemade Kombucha, but declined, sticking to Barista Costa Kondo’s dry cappuccino. The base of the Kombucha is Lady Bonnin Tea, to which the fermenting culture is added. Chef Ciska uses Bio-Wheat Stoneground flour, supplied by a family mill, which gives more flavour, and a denser and fuller baking end-result. 

We were told about the Homegrown Free Range eggs which Chef Ciska uses for the eatery, receiving deliveries from Somerset West. I was impressed that Chef Ciska cures her own Bresola. Meat supplies come from Ryan Boon, Parma Ham comes from Wild Peacock, Vegetables from Raw Vegetables, and coffee beans from Le Gardo. Chef Ciska often forages mushrooms in the forest, having done a mushroom forest walk tour. 

Course number two was a beautiful risotto with sundried tomatoes, saffron, and topped with Parma ham. 

Rickma spoke about the changes made to the menu since she got involved in the business, fine-tuning and simplifying it, and packing more flavours into simpler dishes, and so reducing stock levels. Gluten-free bread has been added. Savoury Churros sounds interesting, and was inspired by a trip by Rickma and her husband to Madrid and Seville in April, to study the tapas market there. This has resulted in the decision by the two business partners to open an upstairs Tapas Bar eatery, which will be separately branded Sentir, the Latin word for ‘enjoying with all my senses’.

Renovations upstairs are currently underway, and the new Tapas eatery is expected to open in
September. Rickma is looking at pairing the food, wines, as well as art, linked to a theme, which will be updated regularly, making it a multi-sensory experience. 

The breakfast menu is a two-sided quality A4 board, neatly laid out. Breakfasts range between R50 and R70 for healthy breakfasts, and R65/R70 for ‘classic breakfast with a twist’. I will be returning to try both the savoury  Churros (served with a creamy cheese sauce) and the classic Churros and chocolate sauce. Eight dishes combine Ciska’s loaves with other items, including pulled pork (R64), Bresola (R65), Croque Madame and Croque Monsieur (R65). Light Lunch offerings are a soup of the day, arancini risotto balls, Waldorf salad, melanzane, ranging in price between R55 and R85, and a charcuterie, bread, and cheese board for two to share at R130. Lady Bonnin’s loose leaf teas (R30) are offered, craft beers are by Woodstock Brewery (R45), and craft cider is by Sxollie (R35). Chef Ciska’s loyalty to her former employer shows through Jordan dominating the wine list, at very reasonable prices per glass (R40) and bottle (R145). 

Rickma showed me the mood board which she has created for Upstairs, in beautiful blues, with a homely and cluttered French-style look, while she has already transformed the downstairs section in shades of beige and brown, with branches hanging from the lamps. 

Rickma told me that on Saturday mornings they host working groups, in which food lovers are taught how to make bakery items such as croissants from scratch, and they are taught how to make the pasta for pasta dishes. 

The third dish we ate, before I had to rush off, was slow-roasted marrow bone, served with mushroom quenelle pâté, mustard aioli, and rye Melba toast. 

I returned on Thursday morning, to complete the interview, and we spent a long time catching up with each other’s careers and lives. Chef Ciska looked back on the past two years, saying it had some highs and lows, but that the lows grew her and the business, with a journey of self-discovery. She loves the freedom of running her own business, having worked at Jordan Bakery before opening Loaves on Long. Chef Ciska expressed her gratitude to Chef George Jardine, her mentor. 

We spoke about the future, and while some expansion is possible, Chef Ciska and Rickma will not create a chain nor open restaurants with the same name. The story of how Loaves on Long opened is almost one of disbelief, and was due to a soufflé, Rickma said, and asked Chef Ciska to tell the story. While Chef Ciska was still at Jordan Restaurant, a British couple Simon and Sue had enjoyed the soufflé, and returned in 2015, requesting Chef Ciska to make it again. It was at this time that Chef Ciska started planning opening her own business. She could not get money from the bank for the rental deposit, and Simon and Sue guaranteed her the money for it. At first Chef Ciska thought that the benefactors may have had too much of the good wines at Jordan, it sounding too good to be true, but Simon called her the following day, confirming the loan. They meet when the couple is in Cape Town, and even met up in Paris when Chef Ciska and Elnaline were on honeymoon.  

It was exciting to observe the camaraderie but also business relationship between Rickma and Chef Ciska, and how the two complement each other. I predict big things ahead for Loaves in Long and its new Tapas Bar Sentir. 

Loaves on Long, 33 Long Street, opposite Merchants on Long, Cape Town. Tel 084 564 0513. www.loavesonlong.co.za Twitter: @LoavesonLong Instagram: @loavesonlong Monday – Friday 6h30 – 18h00, Saturday 8h00 – 16h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @chris_ulmenstein