When the weather is in a decidedly good mood then nothing can go wrong. Case in point, this remarkable lunch in Cape Town where the sun decided it deserved centre stage and rightly so. After trudging through a very cold winter, this drastic, but needed, weather change was definitely a god-send and on a blisteringly hot afternoon we decided to venture into Constantia and have lunch at a restaurant that has become a firm favourite. But, like all things that find a special place in my culinary heart, I am always on the edge of my seat. Will the food live up to the last meal? Will the creations of Glen Williams continue to surprise and confirm the almost cult-status Foxcroft already has?
And it did...and more so. I was so happy with the clever taste combinations, followed by the effortless style in the presentation. Foxcroft provides a wonderful city (no sounds of the city) escape while not being too remote. Add to this mix a tasty vegetarian (or plant-based as the restaurant likes to say) option, interesting events dealing with wine and a professional service team and you had me at hello. I will definitely be back for more.
All photographs appear courtesy of Jürgen Küssow
All photographs appear courtesy of Jürgen Küssow
Offering possibly one of the best views of the famous Table Mountain, De Grendel Wine Estate is in a definite front seat when it comes to ambience. And, if you have the time, then you can definitely go overboard by having a meal with this view...and don't even get me started on the clever decor that incorporates glass, family portraits from the estate and astounding porcelain of the very talented Mervyn Gers.
Ian Bergh is out to impress with fresh produce and plating that makes me smile. I love it when attention is paid to every single detail. Don't get me wrong. Jamie Oliver is great for home cooking, but his plating makes my heart sink. I love the detail some chefs take when serving food and at De Grendel, it is on another level.
We had a fantastic ostrich starter and our mains included beef and fish so fresh, it was the star of the plate. Sadly, the service lacked any interest and maybe it was the other table of businessmen that demanded more attention from our waiter, but either way, it was sad that this soured the mood of what could have been a truly memorable first time meal at De Grendel.
As it is called Lucky Bao, we started off with the dish it is named after. To those who have not tried a bao, it is basically a steamed bun that is then filled with anything from pork to crispy chicken, to soft crab, to tofu. We tried the ramen fried chicken and it was amazing. We skipped the noodles and broth section of the menu and moved on to the 'specialities' which included a Wagyu burger, chicken wings smeared with Gochujang, honey and sesame, seared tuna sandwiches and beef gyoza (which was amazing). We also ordered some nori dusted fries...which was a great side!
With a very cool, dark and yet cozy atmosphere, Lucky Bao manages to bring the food into focus. Sadly, the staff are less attentive, explaining very little of the menu and a long wait meant we had to drink a bit more beer and wine than usual, but blessed with a gorgeous summer evening, this was not exactly torture.
After a long hiatus, Dashing George is back on track with the best from a long, long trip to the sunny climes of South Africa, where the above shot was captured on the famous West Coast. So, with Lana Del Rey singing in the backgound, let's open the chapter from this amazing trip.
We tried the full range here...oyster starters, a creamy soup, raw tuna, chicken, risotto and a wonderful trio of desserts that made me want to sit a bit longer...which we did. After all, with a bottle of MCC accompanying the meal, how could you not?
Back to business as usual and still sorting through the pictures from this amazing holiday...it is useful to have a photographer on hand when there are so many moments that need to be captured and for this, a big thank you to Jürgen who always has the patience to wait while I find the right pose and lighting. The photograph above was taken at Catharina's on the Steenberg Estate in Cape Town. This wonderful restaurant lived up to its good reviews (more about that later). I am sad to be away from sunny South Africa but, this side, spring is starting and that is always a good thing...so, no time to moan...onwards and forwards!
There is only one way to combat a blue Monday and the start of the autumn season...post something fabulous. Thank you Margot for the use of this remarkable image (shot by Mia Truter). It is such a wonderful moment that is perfectly captured...from the ripple in the water, to the far away look in Margot's eyes...just the sort of photograph to either inspire or make you think about your last dream...
When visiting Ryan’s Kitchen in Franschhoek, it feels as though you are being welcomed back after a long journey, thanks to Ryan’s wife, Lana, who is front of house, all pretty and professional. Here, the smile that registers you as a familiar face makes the visit to this restaurant that more special. We have been going to Ryan’s for a good few years and I must still think about our first dinner there where we sat outside, when Ryan’s was still on the main road. Now, the same expertise and passion for food makes us come back each year. It is THAT good.
From the Brut Rosé, to the swordfish starter, to my ‘Koeksuster’, Ryan was up to his usual surprises, playing with texture and ingenuity. We had the springbok main and the line fish, which was perfect. I had no space left, but, Jürgen refused to give up on his tradition at this eatery and ordered the sky-high soufflé. It was amazing. Followed by 2 espressos and a celebrity spotting (Annie Lennox wafted by to say hi to the chef, who was so engrossed in his cooking that she had to wait for him to register her!) our dinner was complete.
All in all, Ryan’ s remains top of my list in Franschhoek, a town known for its (now almost) legendary culinary scene…see you next year, Mr Smith.