Eat Out recently asked me to contribute my comment on what my most memorable meal of 2011 was and this got my mind jumping. How on earth was I supposed to come up with just the one? I finally settled on the 11 course tasting menu at The Test Kitchen where Luke Dale Roberts, Eben Sadie and Adi Badenhorst joined forces to present a staggering food and wine paired menu that I will never forget. Amongst other things the halva paired with Salmon tataki was a taste sensation and blew my mind.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to eat in so many wonderful restaurants during the past year and its difficult to pull out what I loved the most. There were also so many restaurants that I didn’t get to eat in, so I am looking forward to a few new adventures in 2012. On the top of the list will be the Greenhouse. I have been wanting to eat there since meeting Peter Templehoff at Taste of Cape Town two years ago and eating his salmon sous vide propelled me straight into heaven. I was impressed that he took the time to chat to us and gave me a few tonka beans (which at the time I had never heard of) which I then turned into tonka bean ice cream.
In no particular order here are a few of my other standout meals, restaurants, ingredients and other foodie memories for the year.
Every time I go here its a highlight for me, but at the Foodbarn ‘winter menu paired with Steenberg wines’ dinner,Franck made a chocolate slice with horlicks ice cream that was beyond heavenly. His ‘before the meal demonstration‘ was the best I’ve ever been to, and I adored his yellowtail tartare.
I ate a lot of, and simply love Stefan Marais from Societi Bistro’ s chicken liver parfait with pineapple relish. Its the best chicken liver parfait I have ever eaten. (*PS he also makes some of the best risotto in town).
At the sensational Roundhouse Fine Brandy by Design Dinner two dishes stood out that I haven’t quite recovered from: The cob with charred aubergine, squid, salmon trout roe and sea lettuce and the six textures of Felchlin chocolate with caramelised banana’s and chocolate nibs.
The winter tasting menu’s I enjoyed at La Colombe with Lori were legendary. It remains one of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town. The Scallops and langoustine glazed confit pork belly, smoked parsnip puree, black forest ham veloute, crisp pork crackling, lemon and pea dressing was very memorable.
Very recently I enjoyed a stunning lunch at Delaire Graff . It was my first visit to the estate since its massive renovations and superb food, enjoyed on the patio with one of the best restaurant views in the country made for a very special day.
I met Heston Blumenthal while he was out for the Cape Town Good Food & Wine Show in April this year. Getting the opportunity to not only meet, but to engage in conversation with one of my biggest culinary heroes was a magical moment for me.
Another dinner at Bizerca Bistro reminded me why I love this restaurant so much and found it difficult to resist my favourite dishes. Luckily the owners very willingly allowed me to share one of them: Raw Norwegian salmon salad with goats cheese so I can now make this at home and thereby encouraging me to choose something different off the menu next time.
A had a magical lunch at Mariana’s in Stanford last summer and its one of my all time favourite restaurants. I cant wait to go back.
From a herb perspective it was the year of ‘mint‘ for me. I embraced it bit more wholeheartedly and enjoyed it many of my recipes. I added it to my lamb burger, watermelon sorbet, new potato salad, spinach pies, fruit salad and the watermelon salad with goats cheese, cress and vodka.
I also fell totally in love with goats cheese, chevin, chevre or whatever you want to call it. Creamy and earthy it elevates so many dishes to fabulousness.
I enjoyed a good few meals at my favourite Mexican restaurant El Burro and developed a ‘fondness’ for Mezscal (thanks Nic). I often daydream about their cerviche and its up there amongst my favourite dishes to eat in Cape Town restaurants.
The Gourmet Vegan dinner at Signal restaurant at the Cape Grace inspired me in so many ways. Entirely meat-free dishes were created with such elegance and finesse. This menu or similar vegan dishes can be enjoyed on an ongoing basis in the restaurant, and should be the first port of call for any vegetarian or vegan looking for a very special meal. I definitely want to return to enjoy the salted caramel tartlet with caramalised banana & pecan nut brittle again.
I discovered a lovely country restaurant in Hilda’s Kitchen on Groote Post Wine Estate near Darling that is well worth traveling off the beaten track to get to.
I was lucky enough to enjoy many meals prepared by my friends Elize and Pete Goffe-Wood of KC Canteen this year. They sell their legendary steak sandwiches every Saturday at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill, along with their equally legendary pork belly sandwiches (which sell out pretty quickly each week). I recently enjoyed their pure beef cheese burger, which has the thickest and juiciest patty and definitely one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.
A few memorable evenings (and very long days) were enjoyed at La Mouette in Sea Point. Their croquettes are sublime and very famous.
I loved everything about the incredible lunch cooked by Reuben Riffel at David Walters ceramic studio in Franshhoek which was converted into a ‘pop-up restaurant for the day. It was one of my best lunches of the year.
The Swartland Revolution was without a doubt the best wine event I attended and will become a regular feature in my calendar going forward. The braai (BBQ) on the Friday night cooked by Reuben Riffel and his chefs was the best braai of the year or possibly my life.
The Toffie Food Festival was the other event that was a big highlight for me. Despite quite a lot of controversy over the organisation of it, I personally found it very inspiring and much of what resonated with me there has lingered long after I walked out the City Hall.
SAB invited me to go on their Heritage Tour in March where we immersed ourselves in everything beer. From the growing of the hops through the production process to the consumption part. It was a whole lot of fun and an incredible learning experience.
Nothing beats the high of ‘inventing’ a new dish. And when I say inventing I mean coming up with an idea or concept that you have never seen before, using ingredients that work together in a fresh and innovative way. My favourite of these for the year was my Turkish apricots stuffed with goats cheese and wrapped in bacon. It got picked up internationally and I am even more convinced that as my friend Jane-Anne from Scrumptious has always told me, that developing new and interesting recipe content is the way to stand out from the crowd.
I made a lot of food and enjoyed a lot of deliciousness, but here are a few of MY favourite dishes of 2011. Ones I blogged about and ones I want to make again and again….. and in no particular order:
- Banana & pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting
- Dessert wine jelly paired with the best ever chicken liver pate
- Christmas mince pie frangipane tart
- Banana bread with cranberries and walnuts
- Rosemary & walnut olive oil bread
- Raw Normwegian salmon salad from Bizerca
- summer fruit salad with mint, ginger and lime dressing
- beetroot and barley risotto
- bok choy and mushrooms in a miso dressing
- the best roast chicken with herbs and wine
- beer battered anglefish tacos with a spicy slaw
And then there were all the beetroot recipes……
I have become increasingly more mindful about meat consumption over the past year and the impact it has on our planet, so will continue to encourage a philosophy of eating less meat and where possible when I do eat meat, to source from suppliers of ethically farmed animals.
On the whole 2011 was a roller coaster ride for me with lots of highs and lots of lows. Luckily I end off on a really high note with a few very exciting work projects just around the corner. One of which is Masterchef South Africa where I have been appointed as the food stylist for the production. I am thrilled to be a working on my first food TV series and cant wait to cook with and learn from the amazing chefs in our culinary team
I look forward to a new year where I can cook, bake, share and eat, and with all the wonderful creative learning that comes with it.
As I sit at my desk on Boxing day after a very busy few days of Christmas celebrations, I find myself feeling very happy. I’m doing exactly what I love and want to be doing right now.
Happy New year and may 2012 be brilliant for you.