Tag Archives: Cape Herb & Spice

JAN the JOURNAL Vol 2 2018: Honours timelessness, feasting, KZN, and Nice, is more commercial than before!

JAN the JOURNAL has published its second volume of 2018, just before the year closed. It has taken me almost two months to look at it after buying a copy at Woolworths, the 297 page manuscript of The Jan Hendrik Group (PTY) Limited being more than intimidating in thickness, and time required to do it justice in reading it. Despite having an editor for the publication, one wonders how Chef Jan-Hendrik manages to find the time to collate such a heavy-weight Journal in his role as Editor-in-Chief, given his commitment as chef to his one Michelin star restaurant JAN in Nice, and his regular trips to Cape Town and SA.  Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Latitude33 making waves in Cape Town!

I travel along fashionable Bree Street regularly, and noticed the new Latitude33, a mixed venue selling clothing, artwork, some deli items, and is a restaurant.  Its name reflects Cape Town’s geographical location, and its interior is dedicated to the oceans surrounding our city, and surfing in particular.  Its striking ceiling in the coffee preparation area reflects that this new Cape Town eatery is set to make waves!

I found the venue open last week, and was told that they close the kitchen at 15h00, and the venue at 15h30, as they open early in the morning.  I had never driven past Latitude33 before its closing time, and therefore never previously had found it open and operating.  Arriving just at closing time then, I was still made to feel welcome, was served an iced coffee (R25), and co-owner Charles Post came to chat, to share background information.  The venue was previously a nightclub which had burnt down, and the building was extensively renovated.  Charles lived in New Zealand, where he was a rugby player, but not quite at All Black level, he admitted. While he is not a surfer himself, he loves the surfing lifestyle, and that is what they have brought into the venue decor, with big surfing posters from Australia, and surfboards on some of the walls, some painted by Glen Roe, with tributes to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and more.  A sports corner with big leather couches and a flatscreen TV will serve rugby lovers.  The interesting wave-like ceiling, seemingly flowing out of the shelving unit behind the coffee machine, was inspired by photographs which Charles saw on a website for Melbourne-based Baker D Chirico.  Wooden chairs and tables fill the venue, and also are on the pavement, interspersed with wine vats.  The chairs have blue and red stripes on them, almost giving them an Indian touch. Cutlery is by Fortis Hotelware, and blue paper serviettes are offered. Cape Herb & Spice Atlantic Sea Salt and Extra Bold Peppercorn grinders are on the table.  The multi-use venue was inspired by a shop which Charles saw in Bali. His girlfriend Olivia Franklin runs the upstairs section, with clothing for sale, as is her artwork.

The Chef is Gerald Walford, a friend of Charles from Johannesburg, and he said he enjoys the ‘change of pace in Cape Town’, although he expected it to be slower than it is!  He is aware of Cape Town’s reputation for less good service, and they want to ‘bring Johannesburg service flair’ to their restaurant, and have chosen staff to achieve this. Value for money is important, and they are striving to offer the best possible quality. The feedback they have received is that their portions are too big, and they have reduced them.  The menu changes regularly, and is ‘client-friendly‘.  Suppliers have been ‘hit and miss’, Gerald said, but he seems satisfied with them now.  They stock an interesting selection of unusual jam ‘blends’, supplied by Die Ou Pastorie in Pretoria, including Rooibos Sweet Chilli, Balsamic Pinotage Jelly, and Vanilla Plum. Chef Gerald worked with MasterChef SA judge Andrew Atkinson at the Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg, and calls him his mentor.  He also worked with MasterChef SA Culinary Producer Arnold Tanzer during Season 1 last year. His philosophy is to make his customers as happy as possible, and to offer consistency, and therefore he is hands-on in preparing the food.  I was impressed that he came to check on my feedback about the excellent Salmon Eggs Benedict (R65), which I had ordered from their all-day breakfast menu, a good enough reason to go back again.  The bread range which is offered is rye, bagels, sour dough, white, wholewheat and panini, baked in-house. Eggs Benedict is also available with bacon and spinach. A full cooked breakfast costs R65, and a mini breakfast R50. Omelettes start at R20, and one can select sixteen ingredients to add, the price of each specified.  French Toast sounds delicious, at R45, with a choice of bacon and syrup, Nutella and caramelized banana, berry compote and whipped cream, or chorizo and roasted coconut!  Lunch is served from 12h00, and consists simply of salads (cous cous, grilled chicken, and steak, ranging from R55 – R65), burgers (beef, chicken, or ostrich, at R65), sandwiches (with schnitzel, Asian Pork belly or Club, ranging from R50 – R65) and wraps (mushrooms, grilled chicken, and beef, at R35 – R40).

Andrea Maskew is the Pastry Chef, having owned a catering company previously, and has been a freelance food stylist for Woolworths’ Taste magazine, working with Food editor Abigail Donnelly and assistant Hannah Lewry.  She bakes fresh pastries and confectionery every day, including cupcakes, muffins, triple Lindt chocolate cookies, white chocolate mousse cake, and fudge.  She studied at the SA Chefs’ Academy.

Coffee is by Truth, and they have borrowed a barista from the coffee supplier.  Their iced coffee is good and strong.  Service is friendly, but seemed slow, given that I was the only customer eating at the time.  I returned yesterday, to try one of the dishes, and to photograph the interior, the chairs already having been placed on the tables on my previous visit, not making the eating section of Latitude33 photographable then. The food is excellent, but the paper menu, the paper serviettes, the menu offering, and the service all have potential for improvement.  A liquor licence will be applied for, and therefore clients are encouraged to bring their own wine.  No corkage is charged.

Latitude33, 165 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 4249520. www.lat33.co.za Twitter: @Latitude33_Cpt.  Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h30, Saturday 8h30 – 14h00.  Free WiFi.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Restaurant Review: Deli @The Square welcome Paarl addition!

The Deli @ The Square opened on Main Road in Paarl a month ago, in an historic building dating back to 1845, which has been renamed Frater’s Square and has been renovated, with a tenant mix of shops and the Deli. It is a welcome addition to Paarl, not having a Deli, and in that it will be open seven days a week, a rarity in this Boland town.

Frater’s Square has been developed by Gerard and Yvette Frater, and the building was the fruit and farm implement shed of the Hou Moed farm, reported The Month. Primi Piatti has operated from there for a year already, while new tenants are Blanc de Blanc Living, a decor shop all in white, Daffadowndilly, Wild Orchid Boutique, a travel agency, and a few more shops to come.  Andre Smith is the owner of Deli @ The Square, and was in Cape Town to buy provisions on the day I visited. He has no previous experience in owning  a restaurant or deli.

At the entrance to the Deli a red canopy proudly declares what it stands for: ‘The art of flavours’.  The staff wear black with matching red aprons.  Wooden branded tables and chairs are made by Artisan de Barrique.  The interior has raw brick walls, and the upstairs shops look onto the Deli from glass panels.  Tables are set up outside on good weather days, and a small stage has been built in the courtyard, for bands to perform in summer.

The Deli space is large, and shelving houses Pratto Mama Harissa sauce, cherry tomatoes in spicy vinaigrette, honey, Pickled onions, Pickled chillies, capers, anchovies, canned Italian tomatoes, olive oils, peanut oil, olives, soy sauce, Brodies teas, rice sticks, rice vermicelli, and more.  A Cape Herb & Spice stand is filled with ‘freeze dried herbs’, rubs and grinders.  At the deli counter there is a large selection of cold meats, some pre-packed and others available to be sliced. Breads from Backhaus in Brackenfell are delivered daily, and include olive ciabatta, farm loaf with sourdough, Bavarian brown, nutty seed health loaf, white crusty sourdough, 50% rye, macadamia nut and sourdough, and baguettes, costing between R13 –  R19. Cheeses are from Fairview, from Buffalo Mozzarella, and from Truckles. Cupcakes, three cakes available by slice, rusks, biscuits, and sweets are also available.  It is planned to source the cheeses and charcuterie from suppliers closer to Paarl.

Chef Alex Swart came to check on the table, introducing himself as the chef and GM of the restaurant.  He is in charge of the kitchen, but also cuts the Deli meats, which took some time, although it was requested on arrival.  He told me that he has worked as a waiter and a barman at other restaurants, his last employment having been at De Kelder in Paarl. He told me that his menu will evolve, and a blackboard outside advertised specials: chocolate créme brûlée (R30), waterblommetjie bredie (R55), and a 340g beef burger with pepper melt and chips (R65).  He told me that the Deli is planning to stock items not available in the local supermarkets.

Breakfast is served all day, excellent news, and one can order a health breakfast (R28), and various cooked breakfasts, including English, Espresso, scrambled, and omelettes, costing between R25 – R54, as well as French Toast (R35), croissants, and pastries.  I ordered Eggs Benedict, a very generous portion with two eggs, toast, hickory ham, and a delicious and rich golden hollandaise sauce, very good value at R49.  Everything else is good value too, salads costing between R40 – R55; soup or quiche (R35); bangers and mash (R37);  prego roll (R65);  burgers (about R55);  charcuterie, bread and cheese platter (R56); deli sandwiches (about R50); and toasted sandwiches (R18 – R27).  A special kiddies’ menu is also offered.

The liquor licence at the Deli @ The Square is eagerly awaited, not only by Chef Alex, but also by the customers, some of whom I overheard discussing this when I was there on Wednesday.   The waitress Minki who looked after me was charming and proactive, but her colleague less so, not bringing a second glass of water I had requested.  Getting the coppa ham sliced took some time, even though it was requested on arrival.  I was impressed that Chef Alex walked to each table, to connect with his clients.  Being open on Sundays is a huge plus for Paarl, with most restaurants and coffee shops closed on that day.

POSTSCRIPT 8/10: A return visit today was disappointing, in that a simple ham and cheese sandwich became a toasted sandwich (not described on the menu) served with a plateful of chips which was not ordered.  It meant that the order took much longer to get to the table (too long a wait at 20 minutes for what was meant to be a short stop). Chef Alex did come outside, where they have set up tables too, to greet all his clients, some of whom had not even received a menu.  The owner Andre was at the deli, and he shared that they have switched to Deluxe Coffee, to the delight of their customers.

Having been alerted to Volker’s Feinkost in Paarl after writing this blogpost, also open seven days a week, I popped in there too today, and was shocked at the poor service. A take-away slice of Apfelstrudel was accompanied by less than a teaspoonful of cream, in a container that could have taken at least 20 times that amount!  The owner Volker Goetze did not bother to return our call.  His reply to our e-mail was unsatisfactory.

Deli @ The Square, Frater’s Square, 40A Main Road, Paarl.  Tel 082 899 5318 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/deli.square Monday – Saturday 7h30 – 17h00, Sunday 7h30 – 15h00 (winter), closes at 19h00 in summer.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Restaurant Review: New Bistro Cafe Dijon spices up Cape Town!

It is very bold to close down two restaurants in Stellenbosch, and to start from scratch in Cape Town.  This is what Sarah and Dup du Plessis have done, moving their two Café Dijon restaurants on Plein Street and at Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch into a most beautifully decorated space in the Rockwell Centre on Napier Street in Green Point, serving excellent Bistro food, one of the best French style restaurants in Cape Town.

When I first heard that Café Dijon was moving into the Rockwell Centre, my heart sank for the new venture, thinking that they were taking the space of Camil Haas’ Bouillabaisse, which closed down two years ago. But the Rockwell Hotel that operates from the building has made that space its bar, and created a small restaurant in the ex-Crepe Suzette space.

Café Dijon is in a space that once was a decor shop, facing Anatoli’s. Using In House designer Lawrence Holmes, the restaurant sports three ‘palm tree’ wood-cladded pillars, which not only add a most stunning decor imprint, but also hold downlighters, having a functional role too.  The original marble topped bar counter was transported across from the Plein Street branch, as were the bistro-style tables and chairs.  In raised sections near the stackable sliding doors new tables have been added, made from beautiful wood with an extra black section added, to make it look like slate. Here the bistro chairs have red striped or black and white check upholstery. A couch with blue and white striped upholstery provides seating for the tables in the lower section. The tables are allowed to show off their beauty and not hidden by a table cloth, but material serviettes and St Tropez cutlery add quality. Cape Herb & Spice Atlantic Sea Salt and Extra Bold Pepper grinders are on each table.  Laminated floors look like they are made from wine vats, with names of wine varieties.  At the entrance is a wooden structure, partly a ‘canopy’ containing downlighters, as well as a section in which wines can be stored, similar to the racking used to make champagne.  Near the bar small white and black floor tiles give an aged Bistro effect.  Bunches of San Pellegrino bottles with LED bulbs also create lighting, as do wine bottle-shaped lights hanging over the bar counter.  Interesting is a wall with names, which the designers created to honour some of the special people in Dup and Sarah’s life, with some French names added, e.g. Le Roux, Olivier, Du Buisson, and Mouton,  to suit the theme of the restaurant. The wall even contains the Zondernaam name, a brand name which Tokara owner GT Ferreira had to kill because it became more popular than its first brand, Dup told me. The walls have a green paint effect. Black canopies with the Café Dijon branding are due to be erected on the two sides of the restaurant.  I loved the big black table outside, which has been built around a tree.

The owners of Café Dijon are not French at all, but locals.  Johan (’Dup’) du Plessis grew up in the Banhoek valley, and his wife Sarah comes from Somerset West.  Sarah trained at Silwood Kitchen and then worked in Monaco for Sir David Brown of Aston Martin fame.  Dup grew up in a household in ‘which real men don’t cook’, but he did learn to, and they met at Deltacrest outside Franschhoek.   When it burnt down, they decided to open a ‘Thirties style bistro in Stellenbosch, opposite the Town Hall, offering classic French dishes and comfort food, which suited the design of the venue perfectly. Sarah and Dup started Café Dijon four years ago, and chose a cat for their logo, many Bistro’s having an animal name, explained Sarah.  In Stellenbosch an edict had banned cats in restaurants in the 1950’s, and Rose Jordaan’s grandmother had a black cat statue erected in front of the Stellenbosch library.  They live outside Franschhoek, and both are in the restaurant, Sarah looking after the kitchen until after lunch, while Dup stays on until they close in the evening.  Dup had a visitor when I ate there on Thursday, while Sarah was an excellent hostess, checking on her customers regularly.

A blackboard at the door advertised the specials: Angus beef burger R50; seared tuna with basil pesto R120; and the cheese of the day being Dalewood Brie at R60. The menu is printed on cream paper, and one is advised that food allergies should be shared with the waiter, as many dishes contain shellfish, garlic, dairy, or nuts, something one rarely sees on menus of late.  Dup is very proud of the Toulouse sausage which they make themselves from pork shoulder, nutmeg, garlic, and white wine, and he insisted that I try it as a starter. Amazingly, Sarah remembered how much I had enjoyed their duck liver paté at their Zorgvliet restaurant more than a year ago, and sent out a taster of it with home-baked ciabatta.  The sausage has a very mild taste, in contrast to the strong bite of the Dijon mustard. The sausage dish is usually a Bistro main course, two sausages served with pommes frites, a tomato and onion salad, and Dijon mustard, costing R70.  The paté is part of a charcuterie platter, served with parma ham and Felino salami, costing R65.  Other starters range from R55 – R 70, including steak tartare, calamari, trout, tomato tart, and marrow bones. Seven salad options include roasted beetroot, a classic Caesar, poached egg and bacon lardons, pear and Parma ham, grilled steak and rocket, and smoked duck breast, none costing more than R75.

Fish dishes are restricted to squid linguine (R75), and steamed West Coast mussels served with a white wine garlic, cream, and parsley sauce (R95).  For the main course I ordered from the Bistro section, being pork belly with pommes purée, puy lentils, a pork croquette, an apple and grain mustard jus, and pea shoots (R115), which I had not seen for some time.  The Bistro section also offers French onion soup, snails Bordelaise and chicken melanzane (R52 – R76 price range). Duck a L’Orange, served with confit duck leg, cabbage, bacon lardons, and an orange and Van der Hum sauce, sounds delicious, and good value at R120. A number of steak options are also offered, ranging from R115 for 200g Angus beef to R130 for fillet.  One can order sauces, vegetables, and salads as extras.

Desserts are very inexpensive at R35, and include Crème Brûlée, caramelised lemon tart, strawberry meringue (Eton Mess style), and chocolate profiteroles with caramel cream. I had a baked apple tartlet with almonds and honey, with a LavAzza cappuccino.  The cheese of the week costs R60.

The winelist offers three or four options per varietal, and it is disappointing that vintages are not specified on the paper winelist, which can easily be updated should the vintages run out.  Moët et Chandon NV and Veuve Clicquot cost around R550, while Pongracz, Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, and Graham Beck Brut cost R175. Four Shiraz options are offered, ranging from Thelema’s Elgin Sutherland at R150, to Rust en Vrede at R375.  The winelist is dominated by Stellenbosch wines.

Café Dijon will become a welcome stop not only for lunch and dinner, but also in-between meals for a coffee, drinks, and tapas outside, which will be introduced shortly.  Ample parking is available underneath the building, on the opposite side. The service from Eric was very good, and there was not one sign that this restaurant had only been open for one week when I ate there.  The prices are very reasonable, and Dup and Sarah are hands-on, a definite plus.

POSTSCRIPT 5/9:  I popped in for a coffee and a Strawberry Meringue after a concert this evening, and was delighted that the restaurant was so busy. Yet a party of four left angry, saying that the food order was not brought to the table correctly, and that they had been overcharged. The owners had left early, the manager had the night off, and the chef had turned ill, leaving the busy restaurant in the hands of a junior team.  This is the second angry complaint we have received in the past week, in both instances the owners not being there. Best is to check if one or both owners will be there when booking.

Café Dijon, Rockwell Centre, Napier Street, Green Point.  Tel (021) 418-3910. www.cafedijon.co.za Twitter: @CafeDijonCT   Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage