The “Taste of Cape Town” is in its third year, and its new location (it has had a different location every year) at the Rhodes High School in Mowbray is the best ever, with parking adjacent to the field on which the stands are set up. It is a wonderfully inexpensive and convenient way to taste one’s way through 19 of Cape Town’s, Franschhoek’s and Stellenbosch’s best (and some lesser good) restaurants.
Delegates at the S A Food Bloggers’ Conference received free entrance tickets to the “Taste of Cape Town” and only had to buy the crowns, which are the wine and food tasting currency. All wines and foods served cost between 4 – 8 crowns (R 20 – R 40).
With 18 restaurants present (as well as Camil’s serving oysters but being such a last minute stand it is not located with the other restaurants), it was not possible to taste all the dishes (each restaurant offered three choices in the main) at all the restaurant stands. My companion was our new Brazilian trainee Muriele Stefani, and we shared portions to allow us to taste a larger variety of foods:
* the highlight was Reuben’s prawn, rocket, yuzu dressing and wasabi cream, a mini-meal in itself, compared to the other stands, which mainly only served a piece of meat or fish without any other accompaniments. Impressively Reuben Riffel was in the makeshift “kitchen”, doing the hands-on preparation.
* Bistro Sixteen82, with chef Brad Ball, served a crispy panko crumbed fried crab, soft shell crab, with dressed pea shoots and smoked paprika aiolli
* Eric Bulpitt at Jardine Restaurant offered two very tasty Kroondal duck leg patties, which also contained pomegranate, celeriac, and walnut
* It was nice to meet hands-on Philip Carmichael from maze, who was taking orders rather than cooking. His peppered biltong consomme was the most attractive of all the dishes eaten, with a fried quail’s egg presented on top of the biltong consomme, with shaved biltong. The taste of the soup was disappointing, having a bean soup taste.
* At Nobu chef Hideki Maeda’s crispy pork belly with spicy miso was simply just that – nothing to distract from the compact dish.
* Grande Provence’s Darren Roberts served a ballantine of Elgin free-range chicken and lobster with white onion risotto. The lobster was nowhere to be seen, and gave the chicken a less-than-nice taste.
* From its name, Overture’s braised pig’s cheek, parsley pomme puree, carrots and gremolata was very popular, served by chef Craig Cormack. It was a very filling tasting portion.
* Overture’s chocolate mille-feuille and raspberry ice cream was a dreamy yet filling sweet end to a lovely tasting.
* A bonus was a chocolate cup filled with Nutella and topped with a cherry at the Southern Sun stand, with The Cullinan pastry chef Jean hand-making the lovely sweet treats at no charge. Macaroons and lemon meringue tartlets were also available for tasting.
Foodlovers will enjoy Pick ‘n Pay’s Fresh Living Chef’s Theatre, at which top chefs, including some of those with stands, do demonstrations, and Jenny Morris, the Giggling Gourmet, at the Checkers’ stand. The wine stands feel like “poor cousins”, receiving less attention than the restaurant stands, despite brands such as Hermanuspietersfontein, Thelema, Boschendal, Steenberg, Spier and many others being present.
What is lovely about the “Taste of Cape Town” is meeting up with other food and wine lovers. Some of the restaurant stands have a table and chairs, at which one can be lucky enough to sit to eat one’s tasting dish, and meet friends and acquaintances coming to the stand in this way. Reubens’ stand had its Franschhoek black-and-white checkered floor replicated as decor on one wall of the stand, and offered very comfortable white leather dining chairs.
Given the cooler weather, being wrapped up in a white blanket by a Heineken hunk at the end of the tasting and washing down all the lovely food with a Heineken was a lovely ending to a special evening.
Taste of Cape Town, Rhodes High School, off Klipfontein Road, Mowbray. Saturday 13h00 – 17h00, 18h30 – 22h30, and Sunday 12h00 – 17h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com