Tag Archives: cupcakes

Crunch:The Pastry Shop an excellent antidote to credit crunch!

I popped in at Crunch:The Pastry Shop in Paarl yesterday, which opened in April. Crunch is a small bakery, shop and restaurant offering excellent low-cost breads, pastries, cakes, muffins, cupcakes, and light meals.

Crunch belongs to Gerard van Staden, previously Chef at the Beverly Hills and Le Franschhoek Hotels, and was the right hand of Mr Maingard in overseeing his restaurant interests in Franschhoek.  Half the space is the bakery, not much of it visible to customers.   The front end has a display cabinet for cupcakes and some cakes, while a shelving unit displays biscuits, and has baskets of attractive and more unusual muffins, including raisins, chocolate chip, and poppyseed, at R5 each.    At the entrance are bread baskets with 20 % rye Baguettes, Chiapatta, and 50 % rye breads.  Potato bread, Olive Chiapatta, Sour dough, and Seed loaf can also be ordered.  There are only three sit-down wooden tables and red chairs inside the small space, with a counter and bar chairs outside.

Gerard told me that while he is a trained chef, he learnt to bake breads on the Radisson Seven Seas Voyager cruise ship from a fellow Austrian pastry chef.  He is assisted by Jason, previously at Huguenot Fine Chocolates in Franschhoek, and Ernestine.  I was impressed to see how much time Gerard spent on neatly placing newly baked cupcakes in the display cabinet, to make them look perfect.  He says that he learnt this whilst training in France.  The Crunch price lists says: “Good food is lots of little things done well”, and I could see Gerard practicing this while I was there.

The menu is printed on recycled paper, and offers a variety of Breakfast options, including English breakfast (R35), Croissant (R22), Baker’s Basket of scone and croissant (R25), Health Breakfast with muesli and fruit (R25), and a Get up and Go breakfast with a single egg and bacon at a mere R18.  With excellent LavAzza coffee one can enjoy a slice of cake (chocolate fudge, carrot, berry marshmallow, pecan nut, chocolate truffle) and cupcakes, all costing R15.  Soup choices are Chicken and mushroom (R15,) and Leek and potato (R12).   Pancakes can be ordered in sweet or savory style, and the offering reminded me of that at Crepe et Cidre in Franschhoek, which Gerard had set up for Mr Maingard.  Savory pancakes cost R35 for Chicken and mushroom, and Lamb curry, as well as R65 for Smoked salmon. A Breakfast pancake with fried egg and bacon can also be ordered, at R18!  Sweet pancake options cost R10 – R20, ranging from cinnamon and lemon, to strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, apple cinnamon, and banana and caramel.  Cappuccino costs R15, and smoothies R25.

One can also buy biscuits (e.g. Speculaas, macaroon, meringues), fudge, shortbread, Pavlova and Vol au Vent bases, pies (steak and kidney, tomato bredie, cornish pasty, chicken and mushroom, lamb curry, and steak), hand-made chocolate, and cakes (including Chocolate bubble, cherry streussel, apple streussel, carrot cake, pecan pie, wildberry mousse, baked cheese cake, and wild chocolate cake with lemon and orange curd), at R15 – R26 a slice. 

Crunch:The Pastry Shop offers excellent value for money, and with Chef Gerard at the helm, one can be assured of excellent quality too. 

Disclosure: Gerard gave me a loaf of 50 % rye bread to take home.

Crunch: The Pastry Shop, 7 Jan Phillips Square, Paarl.  Tel (021) 871-1335.  No website.  Monday – Saturday, 7h00 – 17h00.

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

Restaurant Review: Oskar’s Delikatessen will not win an Oscar!

Oskar’s Delikatessen (their spelling, and comes from the name the co-owner wants to call her son one day, and is a play on words with “Os-kar”, or “ossewa”, as ox wagons were used as there never was a railway line in Hermanus, but it had a railway station) opened in Hermanus about a year ago, on a site that was previously the public library, in the new Quarters Hotel building.  It is a cosy and homely eatery, but has a most unwelcoming co-owner and incompetent service, which will not stand it in good stead to develop a loyal custom.

I arrived whilst the young co-owner was on the phone, chewing gum (an absolute no-no in my book).    She ignored me completely, as did the waitress.   While I waited I took some interior shots, and that made the waitress bring a menu.  I ordered a cappuccino, water and a scrambled egg and bacon, requesting a pumpkin seed roll to be replaced with a rye bread toast, and the exclusion of creme fraiche (R38).   The water was brought in an unusual Oskar’s-branded water bottle, with a straw, a nice touch, except that the bottle’s head is too narrow to take ice, so it was not served cold, as requested.  The cappuccino was very milky and weak.

The preparation area is open to the seating section, which is not very large, with a central wooden table seating about eight, and wooden tables against the window to the street, and the back wall.  My table was against the back wall, with a mirror above it, which had not been cleaned for a while.  Sweet treats are displayed in bell jars on counters separating the seating and food preparation areas, and the cupcakes, rusks, feta and apple tarts, and the other treats, were beautifully presented.  I noticed that each of the seven ceiling lamps was different, a design quirk.  Orchid stems in little glass containers are on the tables.

While waiting for the egg, I asked the co-owner for some take-aways for my staff, specifying what I wanted and the quantity.  She could not remember any of what I asked her, partly due to the loud music in the Deli.  I must have shown my irritation with the poor service, because Illana, the co-owner, came to sit with me, giving me the third degree, as to who I am, why I was there, who I write for and why I was taking photographs – “I am not looking for a headmaster’s report and to be critiqued” she told me.   She felt that I should have asked her permission to write a review and to take photographs.   I know her mother Sanmarie, a fellow guest house owner in Hermanus, and I have been to Oskar’s before.  She then asked me where she would be able to read my “horrible” review.

My first egg dish arrived with the pumpkin seed roll, the second came with the rye bread toast but was served cold, probably not re-made when the bread was changed (I was asked by the co-owner “So how warm did you want the egg to be?!”), and the third attempt was fine in that the bread was correct and the egg was warm, but it was a very disappointing runny egg.  I liked the sprinkling of poppy seed over the scrambled egg, but could not taste it.

One can order nine shakes, with some creative creations available – Lindt Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookie – ranging in price from R 25 – R 30. What I loved about the Oskar’s Deli menu is the ability for one to tailor-make one’s meal, in terms of choices offered, and also saving on costs if one does not like a particular item or ingredient.  For example, one can order a muffin for R15, and pay R5 for butter, R3 for strawberry jam, R5 for cream and R7 for cheese.   Pies (spinach and Danish feta, and Chicken, cost R 15, and Lamb and rosemary R20) can be ordered as is, or with a side salad at R15, gravy (R8) and/or roasted vegetables (R15).   Salads cost R 40 for a basic fruit, feta, pecan nuts, onion, tomato, rocket, baby spinach, seeds and sprouts, and to this can be added extras such as avocado (R6) or black forest ham, salmon or roasted vegetables, each costing R15.  The base pasta is tagliatelle, basil pesto, lemon, Danish feta and pumpkin seeds, to which salmon, black forest ham and/or roasted vegetables can be added, at R15 each. 

But it is the sandwich list that looks most interesting, the base being baguettes, seed rolls, bagels, rye bread etc, on which wonderful fillings are served – e.g. Danish feta, Italian salami, sundried tomato and basil pesto; Haloumi cheese and rocket; smoked salmon, cream cheese, lemon juice and rocket; bacon, Brie and rocket; Emmental cheese, Gypsy ham, basil pesto, mayonnaise, seeds and sprouts – each costing around R35.

I won’t be back at Oskar’s Delikatessen in a great hurry – at least not for a cooked meal.  Perhaps they are best at sandwiches and sweet treats.  The young co-owner needs to learn how to deal with customers, and to bite her tongue.

Oskar’s Delikatessen, 5 Harbour Road, Hermanus.  Tel (028) 313-0629.  No website, Monday – Saturday

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