Jamie Who is a blog about everything. Except current affairs. And politics. Also science, sport, religion, celebrities, movies, media and marketing, technology, business and design. So...basically Jamie Who is a blog about food. All things food.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Grilled apricot, smoked pork loin and mozzarella salad

So, as I mentioned before, I was in Riebeek Kasteel last weekend. I have a massive soft spot for that place. It has some incredible restaurants (real farm-style, old-school stuff), quirky pubs, wine farms, olive farms and fresh produce so good it will melt your face. We spent the weekend with Mr. & Mrs. Awesome, Power and Mama Kee. Mrs Awesome - being a professional photographer - took some beautiful shots of the food I made for lunch on Saturday. The photos are so good that I'm going to stretch them out over a few entries. Power was doing what he does best (slinging cocktails our way) and I was struck with the idea of adding a "cocktails" tag to the blog so watch out for that. I thought it was only fair with summer coming up. It's a pleasure. 

Annnnyway, the picture above is of a little salad that I knocked up. It is perfect for a hot day (it was 35 degrees in Riebeek by the way), takes no time and looks seriously impressive. It's healthy, fresh, colourful blah blah blah. Basically, I'm telling you to make it. 

Stuff you'll need to feed 6:
  • About 8 baby apricots, halved and stoned. (The apricots. Not you)
  • Two handfuls of mixed salad leaves (Look for different colours, shapes, sizes etc)
  • A handful of pumpkin seeds
  • Two fist-sized pieces of buffalo milk mozzarella
  • A few slices of your favourite, salty meat (I used pork loin because it is very lean but other options would be parma ham, pancetta, chorizo etc.) 
Okay, what to do:

1. Heat a griddle pan until it is smoking hot. Place the apricot halves in the pan with the freshly cut flesh facing down. Let them form charred lines on the flesh. Remove and set aside. You will probably have to do this in a few batches. The lines are a sign that the natural sugar in the fruit has been caramelised. It looks and tastes awesome and is important for this dish. 

2. On a large platter, scatter the mixed leaves. Throw in the apricots. You don't want it to look too staged. Rip the mozzarella up into chunks and throw them in. Tear the meat into strips and add it. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top. 

I dressed this with the best olive oil I could find. I think the flavours are so good you don't actually want to use a vinegar dressing. I almost feel embarrassed at how easy it was. 2 steps guys. 2 steps. It probably took less than 10 minutes. But it was pretty awesome. You should give it a go. 

Jamie Who 

Friday, November 27, 2009

La Boheme - Best value for money in Cape Town. Fact.

I wrote a nice little entry here about my review for La Boheme that made its way into Men's Health. They asked me to write 100 words on "The best restaurant in Cape Town if you didn't receive a Christmas bonus." I chose La Boheme. Anyway, I scanned the article and tried to drop it in but I was having no joy. (My technical skills - unlike my palette and my eyes - are unimpressive.) So....I'm going to have to re-write it. The whole thing. All 100 words. That's going to take like...7 minutes. I swear the sacrifices I make for you guys... 

Okay, without any more waffling, here it is: my take on La Boheme, word-for-word as it appears in this month's Men's Health. 

What makes La Boheme so cool is that it they aren't trying too hard. With an open-plan kitchen, a couple of black-and-white prints hanging on the wall, cases of microbrewery-style Brewers & Union beer as decor and bistro-styled food packed with flavour, they've got a good vibe going. Expect stuff like slow-roasted, pork belly, fillet with mushrooms risotto and beef carpaccio with caperberries. It's simple, honest food. And did I mention more than 60 wines available by the glass? Yes please. With pavement seating perfect for people watching and an owner who oozes pride for his restaurant you'd be a fool not to check it out. R85 gets you two courses and R105 gets you three. An absolute steal. 

So there it is dudes. I went and had a good night. So should you. 

Jamie Who

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chunky chocolate and nut cookies

I've written before (here and here) that I dig making food stuff and giving it away as presents. After coming back from Riebeek Kasteel this weekend (more to come on that by the way) I went to pick up Elvis. The Pom had been looking after him for the weekend. Well, she proceeded to tell me that my little guy had taken ownership of her and chased her puppy out the house. Her house. The poor thing had to stay somewhere else for two nights! Jeez, I had a good giraffe (laugh) at that. I did feel a bit bad though so I knocked up a little something as a thank you gift. Let's dive straight in...

Stuff you'll need to make about 12 big cookies:
  • 200g of really good quality dark chocolate (nothing less than 70% please)
  • 1oog of mixed, dried fruit roughly chopped. (Just use your favourite here. I went for cranberries, crimson raisins and mango)
  • 100g - 120g of mixed nuts (Again, use what you like. For me it was pistachios and cashews)
  • A red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped  
Okay, what to do:

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius. Meanwhile, break up your chocolate and place in a bowl that will fit on top of your smallest pot. 

2. Pour some water (not much) in the pot, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Place bowl of chocolate on top of pot, being careful not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Slowly melt the chocolate until it looks shiny and is completely smooth. I should mention now that you will be tasting the chocolate. It just looks so ridiculously good. 

3. Meanwhile, place your nuts and chilli in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Once they are cooled, chop roughly and mix with fruit. 

4. Remove one handful of fruit and nut mixture and put aside. Pour the chocolate into the rest of the fruit and nuts and stir to combine. 

5. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper and pour on the chocolate mix. Use a spoon to spread it out sprinkle on the remaining nuts and fruit. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight if possible. 

6. Remove from fridge and break into chunky pieces. You want this to look rustic guys. 

To package this I bought a cardboard box and some ribbon. I lined the inside with tissue paper and wrapped up the chocolate pieces. I reckon the whole thing cost about R5. How cool is that as a gift idea? Personal. Funky. Easy. Cheap. Winner. Look, they're not going to feature on too many diets but bloody hell they taste good. Eat them as they are or break them over some ice cream. 

Jamie Who

P.S. If you - like me - love chilli, split the 200g chocolate into 100g dark Lindt and 100 dark Lindt with chilli ALREADY IN IT. See what I did there? Yip, that's for you. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bistro sixteen82 - Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

A while ago I wrote about the new restaurant - called Bistro sixteen82 - that was due to open on Steenberg wine estate. Last week I attended the launch and unfortunately had to leave very suddenly due to an emergency. I had to set down my second glass of their 1682 Brut MCC without even taking a sip so you must understand it really was an emergency. Anyway, before I left I did have time for a quick walk through and was extremely impressed with the vibe. The vibe is my sort of vibe. It's your sort of vibe. Hell, it's our sort of vibe. So I thought it was only fair that I cruised in for lunch on Sunday. Just to let you guys know what it was like. As I sat there, sipping a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc and taking in the view I realised how much I do for you guys. 

They have spared no expense with the decor. Harsh materials like glass, steel, aluminium and concrete are contrasted with natural, raw textures like driftwood, stone and timber. There are massive glass doors which fold and stack away to reveal what is surely one of the best settings in the whole of Cape Town. Rim-flow pools, with tables that are actually cut into the water features, really do make for a pretty special place. There is a path that guests can walk on to appreciate different viewpoints of the vineyards. The feature piece of the restaurant though is surely the massive lighting fixture hanging above their main bar. Loads - and I mean LOADS - of individually made glass balls have been painted in the colours to reflect grapes (that's red and green guys) and hang above a stark white bar which stands out beautifully against the dark colours of the rest of the restaurant. This place also has the best bathrooms I've seen in a while. Funky prints of close-up vineyards serve as wallpaper, the finishes are modern and clean and there are fresh, individual hand-towels. Do you guys also judge a place by its bathrooms? You should. 

What's that? Do they serve food? Very funny. Now go make me a smoothie. 

The restaurant is not open for dinners and closes at 8pm. As well as breakfast and lunch they will serve tapas from 5 - 7:30. They look pretty good with things like grilled octopus, whitebait and chorizo featuring. A little taste of Spain coming through nicely. Another cool feature is their Raw Bar where they will be serving...say it with me guys...raw stuff. So expect delicious charcuterie boards, cured salmon, ceviche, tartare, carpaccios, gravadlax, oysters, sashimi etc.

Back to the lunch I had there with The Bear and The Princess. I ordered the seared scallops with asparagus as a starter while the other two shared a duck salad. My starter was light and clean with the plumpest scallops I have eaten for a while. The duck salad was good too, with a nice smokiness. For mains The Bear enjoyed a steak roll and chips. This might sound like pub food, but the bowl of deliciously rich jus that it was served with made it far more advanced than that. The Princess enjoyed her main of mussels in a saffron cream but mentioned the actual amount of meat in the mussels was a bit disappointing. (I told you, she's a bit fussy). My main of beef tataki was incredible but absolutely tiny. Like, teeny tiny. I honestly reckon it should be twice the size to be considered a main. Dressed with ginger, radish, chilli and soy it was brilliantly seasoned but just not enough! We also nailed a bottle of Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc for only R50. Bloody hell. I though they were taking the piss. Luckily I had to get going because if I sat there all day paying cellar prices things could've gone wrong quite quickly...

All things considered Bistro sixteen82 is a show-stopper. Phenomenal views. Spectacular setting. A great menu. A talented chef (Brad Ball, previously of Olympia Cafe and The River Cafe). My only concern is that it becomes too touristy. But hey, if that's the biggest fault I could find with the place it must be a pretty good spot. Look, it helps that I can get hammered and stumble down the road to our house, but I would recommend this to anyone looking to enjoy a long, lazy, boozy lunch.  

Phone them to book a table on (021) 713-2211.

Jamie Who

P.S. How cool is it to write an article, and then tag it Cape Town AND winelands? Hey? Jeez I love this city. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Voila - Undecided

You're going to have to make up your own minds on this one guys. Because I can't work out if I enjoyed my lunch or not...

You'll remember last time I visited the new Cape Quarter Extension and had a bite at Lazari. I left feeling distinctly underwhelmed. Today I chose Voila. So-So, The Bear and I had finished up a meeting in town and were looking for something light but not boring. That is exactly what the Voila menu promised. Firstly, I was very bummed it wasn't an early meeting because their breakfasts looked more than impressive. You know how much I dig a breakfast. Come on, you know that. I'm not shy of a brekkie. It's my favourite meal of the day to go out for I reckon. Anyway, Voila had me making a definite note to come back. They had all kinds of variations of the Jamie Who-favourite Bircher muesli, they had pancakes, smoothies, french toasts, several different scrambled egg dishes, potato rostis and more. I was feeling the vibe. We were there for lunch though so let's rather get into that. As well as salads and gourmet sandwiches, they have a couple of more substantial things like grilled linefish, calamari, lamb burgers, seafood pasta etc. 

I went for the seared tuna salad with green-beans and was very, very impressed. The mustard dressing was overpowering but luckily there wasn't too much of it. What did bother me was the service. Or lack of it. I had waited way too long to have to order and once I had finally made an order I didn't see out waiter again. Like, literally. I still don't know where he went. Have you seen him? About 5ft 11inches, shaved head, gold earring, carrying a tray. No? 

While I was eating I noticed a note on the menu saying there was a separate tea menu. I even saw some of the breakfast dishes were paired with suggested tea varieties. This - to me - was like waving a massive red flag in front of a bull. I (obviously) asked to see the teas. The second waiter brought me a tea menu as well as a few tiny pots of tea leaves which So-So correctly (and suspiciously) pointed out looked exactly like weed. I explained that I did not think it was that kind of place. I smelt a couple of teas and chose a particular variety to order. The only problem is, I never got the chance. The only time I saw our (second) waiter again was when I asked for the bill. It was a real pity. The whole tea thing has loads of potential but the way it was done was a little bit "amateur-hour" for me. A wasted opportunity. 

So, in a nutshell. Food: Very good. Service: Very bad. Price: Medium to long. Decor: Uninspired. (I know they think they have done something funky but the bright-colours-and-white thing is done now. Done.) 

Worth a visit? Umm...I think so. Maybe just to see if my experience was a once-off bad day. 

If you're thinking of checking it out call them on (021) 421-1237. 

Jamie Who

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eatout 2009 Restaurant Awards - And the winners are...

A mate of mine and I were talking about weddings this weekend. We were saying how awesome it is when you can actually feel the love in the room. Everyone feeds off it and there is an amazing vibe as a result. On Sunday night I attended the Eatout Restaurant Awards 2009 and I got the same feeling. This time the love was for food.

The event was held in the ballroom of the Westin Grand Hotel, and was beautiful. Being a black-tie event, the guys had gone all out and were looking pretty shmancy. The women were gorgeous, none more so than The Princess who was rocking a black Country Road vibe for the evening. I swear, no matter how old I get I still love putting on a suit and drinking some bubbly. Is it just me? Annnnyway, we took our seats and enjoyed some phenomenal food. I didn't get a menu at the end of the night but things that stand out are a raw salmon dish with goat's cheese and a soya dressing from Bizerca Bistro's Laurent Deslandes, smoked duck served with a foie gras and artichoke terrine and an espresso reduction, made by Luke Dale-Roberts of La Colombe and a rosewater dessert that included a sorbet, a gel and marshmallows. This was created by Richard Carstens. The dessert in particular was unforgettable. It was one of the most elegantly plated dishes I have seen this year and the fact that he got the variety of textures so perfect for 360 people is mind-blowing. Each time a dish was being plated we were shown a live streaming video feed of the chefs in the kitchen. They talked us through their concept for each dish and it was all fascinating stuff. To sit and eat food of that quality surrounded by similar-minded people was special and defintely not something you get to do every day. 

The climax of the evening arrived when Mark Bayly, the night's MC, (who was brilliant by the way. Who knew the dude was that funny?) called up Abigail Donnelly to announce to country's top 10 restaurants. I guess you want to know who they are? Fair enough. Let's get straight into it...

1. La Colombe, Cape Town
2. Mosaic Restaurant, Pretoria
3. Rust en Vrede Restaurant, Stellenbosch
4. Terroir, Stellenbosch
5. The Roundhouse, Cape Town
6. The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Franschhoek
7. The Greenhouse at The Cellars, Cape Town
8. Roots, Johannesburg
9. 9th Avenue Bistro, Durban
10. (In joint position) The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais, Fanschhoek & Overture, Stellenbosch 

There was also an Editor's Choice Award this year for two separate categories, best bistro and best country kitchen. Jamie Who-favourite Bizerca Bistro took home best bistro and Mariana's Home Deli (in Stanford) took home the other award. 

So there it is peeps. A few surprises. Most notably the absence of Jardine. Personally I would've loved to have seen The Foodbarn back up there. I think Franck is doing good things there and the decor is a huge improvement. Maybe next year. I am also particularly stoked to see The Roundhouse getting the recognition they deserve. Jeez, I love the Roundhouse. *stares out window and leans chin on palm of hand. Sorry, I got a bit distracted there. Chef of the year was won by Chantel Dartnall of Mosaic Restaurant in Pretoria and the other big award (the service award) was won by Rust en Vrede Restaurant. 

To see the appreciation and respect that the chefs had for each other was amazing, and to watch how closely-knit each team from each restaurant was left me feeling pretty confident that we are in good hands when it comes to the future of eating out. The standards are world class, the venues are breathtaking and the chefs continue to strive for innovation. As foodies, we are spoilt for choice in this country. Long may it continue! 

Jamie Who

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The new, improved sidewalk cafe - I will take our reader's word for it

A while back I posted the first entry inspired by a reader. Well, The Brother of The Other Guy Who Can Cook is at it again. This time he e-mailed me an emotional roller-coaster of a letter swinging from disgust ("How can you have the logo of Ocean Basket on such a beautiful site?") to excitement ("I discovered a place serving the best R20 breakfast in Cape Town") to desperation ("Where can I get meat aged for more than 25 days?"). Yeah look, our boy covered quite a wide range of things in one e-mail!

I will break it down for you though. A few years back when I was living nearby, I used to go and have a couple of glasses of wine pretty often at a little place in Vredehoek called The Sidewalk Cafe. Location-wise it was a cracker but the food was AVERAGE AT BEST. The whole place was tired and in need of a makeover. I drove past a few weeks ago and saw that there was an entirely different vibe going on. A good vibe. The type of vibe I wanted to be part of. The type of vibe I want you to be part of. So, after getting some heads-up from a few people I was intrigued. The fact that The Brother of The Other Guy Who Can Cook gives it the thumbs up is all I need. R20. For a full-on breakfast with egg, crispy bacon, proper tomatoes and toasted sourdough. Yes please. He goes on to tell me the new owners are the same team behind Bombay Bicycle Club. Interesting. Apparently they do a good lunch too. Definitely add it to your list of places to visit. I am.

So guys, as I've said before, please write in and tell me about cool places to go, restaurants you have had amazing times at, restaurants that were fu*king horrible, new recipes you have tried out etc. I'm not saying The Brother of The Other Guy Who Can Cook is making you look bad...but...well...he kind of is. If you're on this blog then you already have an interest in food. Let's share the love.
Jamie Who

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rustic salad of cannellini beans, seared tuna and six herbs

With summer (finally) seemingly here it's time to put away the curries, stews and soups as salads and lighter meals take to the stage. I dig salads. The cool thing for me is the diversity that they offer. They can be light and elegant or they can be a beefed up to make something a bit more substantial. That's what we're going for with this recipe. Something ballsy. The flavours are strong, the presentation is rustic and anyone - even that distant cousin who looks at you funny and people call "special" - can make it. It's so, so simple.

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • About 800g of the best tuna you can find
  • A handful of basil, torn
  • A handful of mint, torn
  • A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • A handful of chives, roughly chopped
  • A handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • Two handfulls of wild rocket
  • A big bunch of asparagus
  • Two packets of Ina Paarman sundried tomatoes in vinaigrette
  • A handful of caperberries
  • Two tins of cannellini beans, drained (Just use your favourite beans here. Butter beans, red kidney, borlotti etc.)
  • Juice of three lemons
  • 4 radishes, very finely finely sliced

Okay, what to do:

1. In boiling, salted water cook the asparagus for a few minutes. When done, remove and plunge into ice cold water. You want the asparagus to still have a bit of a bite.

2. In a large bowl combine all the herbs. Pour in both packets of sundried tomatoes, the radishes, the beans and the caperberries.

3. Heat a pan until smoking hot. Rub tuna steaks with olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper and cook for 1 and a half minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE TUNA. I swear, you will want to cook it longer. If you do, I hate you.

4. Remove tuna and tear into rough chunks. Throw tuna, asparagus and lemon juice into a bowl and using your hands gently mix it to make sure everything is coated. Add a good glug of olive oil and repeat.

To serve, place in the middle of a deep bowl. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil if necessary.

This salad is absolutely beautiful to look at and eat. The colours are bright and fresh, the flavours are layered to allow every single element to be appreciated and the textures compliment each other. Creamy beans, rich tuna, sharp caperberries, a bit of acidity from the lemon, perry radishes. It is all good. The vinaigrette from the sundried tomatoes is surprisingly good and works well as a dressing. (sometimes being lazy is FINE!) Oh yeah, it's also packed with nutrients, loaded with protein, low in fat and has basically no calories. Did I mention that? No? Well there you go. Healthy food that will make you weak at the knees. That's how we roll.


Jamie Who

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mezzaluna - Host of the year. By far.

You should be familiar by now with my philosopy of "earning" your dinner. Basically, the theory here is that if I know I'm eating out - and I want to really chuck health out the window for the night - I train extra-hard that day. This leaves me without any guilt and I tuck into whatever I want. Sometimes dinner is disappointing and I am left pretty pissed off for having trained so hard! Sometimes it is well worth it though and I can go completely overboard. It's like an eating frenzy. Not pretty. I order more than I actually need and I end up trying everyone else's food. A recent trip to Mezzaluna with The Gym Nazi and The Pilates Pirate was one of those nights. There was a lot of food. Let's see what it involved.

Firstly, let's get into authentic Italian food. In South Africa we have a perception that an Italian restaurant must be red-and-white tablecloths and tomato sauce pastas. Not so. Proper Italian cooking is rustic and simple with most dishes only using two or three ingredients. The Italians love to let ingredients speak for themselves and don't put too much focus on presentation. A few chopped herbs scattered over a dish is pretty much it. The food at Mezzaluna is definitely in this category. No little bowls of garlic. No spaghetti and meatballs. No Italian flags or Juventus jerseys and absolutely no sign of Ferrari memorabilia. Thank goodness.

The decor is simple. Picture windows are cut into stone and facebrick walls and there are a few black-and-white prints. There really isn't any need for decor though because the host and owner, Jimmy, doesn't give you much time to look around. We were whisked off to our table and immediately brought some food "jut to try and see if you like it." Veal with lemon and vinegar, grilled marrows, eggplant lasagne, a mixed salad. It just kept on coming. Finally we were able to order starters and I went with a smoked tuna carpaccio which was superb. Delicate, clean flavours offset by quite strong, smoky fish. Beautiful. The others went for melon and parma ham which, although not winning any creativity prizes, definitely would've been in the running for an award for portion size.

By now, Jimmy was sitting at our table and the wine was flowing like...well...wine. He noticed my camera and by the number of questions assumed I was a food writer. I said I was 'dabbling'. Well, f*ck me, before I could say crazy Italian he had me in his kitchen photographing his chefs in action. What followed in the next few minutes was a series of the worst photogrpahs ever taken. By anyone. Anywhere. Of anything. The guys were having a good time though and I obliged, snapping away. Jimmy hand-fed me some more tuna which is about as sexy as it sounds. He seemed to have forgotten the fact that I just had it.

Annnnyway, I was eventually allowed back to my table in time for our mains. This is what I had been waiting for. Jimmy's signature dish. Sea-urchin pasta. Not since the first days of Madame Zingara's chocolate-chilli steak have I looked forward to a specific dish like this one. I must say, the flavours were memorable. Intense. Salty. Gutsy. Maybe too rich? I could've done with a squeeze of lemon or some chopped parsley to lighten it a touch. The pasta itself was delicious and clearly handmade. (All the pasta served at Mezzaluna is). The Gym Nazi seemed less convinced and it is definitely a dish that some people will love, while others hate. The Princess and The Pilates Pirate both had ravioli stuffed with a mixture of beef, pork and lamb. It came with a basil sauce and was good but not amazing. For me it was a touch under-seasoned.

Dessert time is when the wheels came off. It was a blur but I remember a baked ricotta cheesecake with chocolate bits (Perfectly cooked with a golden crust). There was a flash of tiramisu (outstanding texture) and also a chocolate tart in there somewhere. Look, the plates were clean when we were done. I have a feeling the coffee would've been the real deal but honestly by that stage we were way too full.

Mezzaluna is popular with the lunchtime crowd and has only recently opened its doors for dinner. Jimmy explained that he now "has no life". He better get used to it because this place is way too good to stay under the radar for long.

Check it out for yourselves at 16 Loop Street or call them on (021) 421-6391.


Jamie Who

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ocean Basket (Claremont) - Aaaaand...never again

Let's get one thing straight: I am not a food snob. Great food experiences don't need to be expensive. A boerewors roll on the side of a rugby field can be just as rewarding as oysters and champagne. It's all about the timing. What you feel like. What you crave. Sushi. Dark chocolate. A fruit platter. An ice cold Jack Black. Mom's potato salad that doesn't quite taste the same when you make it. These are taste sensations that you need to fulfill expectations. On Saturday, after a solid run in the mountains, I felt like a nice piece of grilled fish and a salad. These were my expectations. The sun was out, I was feeling the summer vibe and I wanted to keep things healthy. After hearing from a sh*tload of people about what "good value"the Ocean Basket is, I stopped by for lunch. What a mistake. What a horrible, horrible mistake. 

I had only ever been to the Kloof Street branch before (years ago) and wasn't bowled over, but let me tell you, the Claremont restaurant - and I use the word loosely - is a shocker. The Princess and I both ordered the catch of the day, Yellow Tail. I specifically asked for mine grilled but when it arrived fried and swimming in butter things were off to a shaky start. The side salad of chunky tomatoes, two olives, some feta and lettuce was tiny. I would later discover that it was the best part of the meal. My fish - despite the enormous amount of butter - was dry. There had been absolutely no effort made to fillet the fish and I literally had a bone in every bite. The Princess's fish was exactly the same. After a few bites I left mine and watched her soldier on. As she picked bones out of her mouth I assumed a crouching position, ready to leap up and apply the heimlich maneuver should she miss one of the smaller guys. 

The meal was woeful. At R70 for a small fillet of fish I wouldn't say it was cheap either. A massive, uncompromising, read-it-and-listen-to-me piece of advice. Give Ocean Basket in Claremont a skip. 

I was going to call Ocean Basket "The Fish Spur" in my heading when I started writing this piece but, thinking about it now, that would be a huge injustice to Spur. 

If (for some reason) you want to check it out, it is at the entrance to to The Cavendish Link. Opposite Sumo...where I had to stop to get a smoothie on the way home. 

Jamie Who

Friday, November 13, 2009

Five-spice crusted pork fillet with braised cabbage and roasted shitake mushrooms

It's been seriously amazing watching The Princess fall in love with food. Having her so interested in what has - until now -  been my passion has just given us something extra that we have in common. It's awesome. The only downside is that...how do I say this nicely....well... she's kind-of-a-little-bit fussy. Average meals that I used to knock up, and secretly not be overly-impressed with, are now being called out! So when I make something and she gives it the thumbs up it actually means something because I know she can now tell the difference. This is one of those meals...

What you'll need to feed 4:
  • 800g pork fillet
  • 3 baby cabbages
  • Two tablespoons of paprika
  • Two tablespoons of five-spice-powder
  • About half a glass of good-quality, aged balsamic vinegar
  • A handful or two of shitake mushrooms
Okay, what to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. In an ovenproof dish pour in some olive oil and throw in the paprika and five spice. Place the pork in the dish and rub to coat properly. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place in the oven. 

2. Meanwhile, cut the cabbage into ribbons and cook gently in a deep pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the balsamic and some water. Cook gently for about 30minutes, stirring often and adding water if necessary to prevent the cabbage from burning. Cooking it like this will give you a thick, sticky sauce and will soften the cabbage but not leave it limp. 

3. After 10 minutes, remove the pork and add the mushrooms to the dish. Give it a bit of a shake to coat the shrooms, and place back in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes more, remove and cover the meat with tinfoil. Allow to rest for 5-7 minutes. 

4. To serve, slice the meat diagonally. Spoon some cabbage into the middle of the plate and flatten it. Carefully place your pork on top and spoon over the mushrooms and some of the juices from the dish. Drizzle more juice around the plate. 

Pork is such an underrated meat. The fillet is super-lean and healthy. When cooked this way it is still moist and with the cabbage you've got an absolute winner. I think The Princess used the words "fu*king incredible" after her first bite. You probably will too. 

Jamie Who

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Depasco - The forgotten deli

I remember being pretty impressed when Depasco opened up. I used to go there all the time. Like two friends who grow apart for no reason, I kind of lost touch with it. I haven't been there for ages. As I sat there having lunch earlier today I kept asking myself the same question: Why not?

If you had to categorise the place it would fall into the deli/bakery group but the decor almost makes it something more substantial. Huge columns are tiled with tiny mirrored mosaics (a look that I loved so much I used when renovating my own house), there is a tropical-kind-of-vibe wallpaper that is prominent behind the counter where the food is on display and there are vintage couches and leather chairs to chill on if you want. Otherwise there are some communal tables and a few smaller ones. 

The range of products on display at the counter is pretty impressive. They seem to enjoy showcasing stuff that has been packaged beautifully. When you put it all together it becomes pretty awesome and a feature in itself. And then there are the baked goods. Bloody hell. Loads of breads, croissants, pastries, muffins blah blah blah. This place actually made its name serving soup in bread bowls that you ate afterwards so they clearly are aware that they need to try a few different things. 

Anyway, I was there for lunch so maybe we should talk about that. I nailed a balsamic-chicken sandwich on rye (obviously I told them to hold the mayo) and a smoothie made from strawberry juice, bananas  and mixed berries. Both sound pretty boring on paper - and maybe they are - but they were done really well. Really well. Fresh. Tasty. How many times do I need to say it. If you have the best quality, seasonal ingredients you're halfway there.  

The meal, with a bottle of sparkling water, cost sixty bucks. That's cheaper than Kauai. Really, do I need to write any more? 

For those of you who don't know (I'm not judging but HONESTLY, where have you been?) Depasco is at the bottom of Kloof Street. Number 8 I think. They might not be the flavour of the month at the moment but they're still around, and they're still busy. In these times, that's a very, very good sign. 

Jamie Who. 

P.S. I left my camera at home so I'm afraid this becomes my first post without an image. Sorry peeps. The irony is, this was the type of place that I really would've liked to have shot. Next time, I promise...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bramon bubbly -Why the hell not?

When I'm not in my adopted home city of Cape Town, or visiting old friends and family in Jozi, chances are you'll find me knocking around the Garden Route. I've been going to Plett for about 12 years now and consider it a little "home away from home". Knysna is another favourite part of the country to spend some time in, and with The Princess's folks based in Wilderness we stop in there occasionally too. Basically...The Garden Route is tough to beat. You can swing a golf club, suck back on a cold beer at The Deck, enjoy some beautiful beaches, eat at amazing restaurants, waterski, throw down some oysters and go to a wine farm. Huh? Yip, you heard me. You can go wine tasting 10minutes outside of Plett. Allow me...

A few months ago I heard a little whispering rumour that there was a farm outside of Plett that made Cap Classique as a speciality. Well, by the time I headed down there last weekend the whispering had turned into a "Kaizer Chiefs supporter with a vuvuzela" kind of rumour. I was intrigued to say the least. The Princess and I pulled in there looking for a taste.  

Without getting too technical about the qualities of the bubbly, let me say this: It was f-ing delicious. The packaging is beautiful too. The fact that it was 11h00 seemed insignificant as we enjoyed a few glasses. To cut a long story short, we ended up getting it for our wedding. How cool is it that we can support a local initiative and chalk one up for the little guy at the same time? Very cool is the right answer. 

Chatting to Lacey (great name) - the marketing manager - about Bramon we discovered that they also have a BEE label called Vukani. The deal here is that 5% of the profits are pumped back into the local community. This money is then spent on educating the staff on wine manufacturing, soil conditions etc. Some of the money is also spent on housing projects for the staff and their families. How awesome? Very awesome is the right answer. 

It gets better. It turns out Bramon have a restaurant on the farm. We took a drive and although we didn't eat there I can safely I say I will be spending a bit of time there in December. The vibe is good. Like...really good. A black and white, modern building offers a funky shell, and tables are literally amongst the vines. It is quality guys. The food could taste like feet and I'm pretty sure I would go back. 

So there you go my lovelies. Something a bit different to check out next time you're in the Plett/Knysna area. Maybe I'll see you there? I'll be the guy in the straw hat, above-the-knee swim shorts and white vest (Country Road). Tom Ford shades. What? 

Jamie Who

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sedgefield Wild Oats Farmers' Market - We have a winner

You should know by now how excited I get at food markets. I've written about a couple before and what I love about them is that while they might all look the same, they are definitely not. Each market has a personality and each market has slight variations on what they are selling. The people behind the stalls make the biggest difference though. And of course, the actual quality of food. Let me say this out loud (you can read it and then say it out loud too): The Sedgefield Wild Oats Farmers' Market is the best I have ever seen. Let's skip past the fact that it's in Sedgefield. Everything else about it is awesome. 

We arrived there at 08h15 on Saturday morning. After getting up ridiculously early for a little trot I was pretty sure we had beaten the rush. I was horribly wrong. The place was already crawling with Sedgies (do you like that word? Sedgies? I quite like it. You can use it if you want). We took a stroll through the place and I was blown away. More than once I had to check that the prices were in fact correct. I bought a tub of beautifully thick sugar-and-fat-free yoghurt for five rand. Five rand?!! That's normally what I tip the car-guard OUTSIDE the market. I couldn't believe it. Nevermind the fact that it was delicious, organic and topped with sweet strawberries that almost made me cry they were so good. Another stall was selling organic duck portions and free-range chickens bigger than some Japanese cars. There were oysters, mushrooms, cured hams and meats, biltong, vegetables, breads, blocks of cheese like I have never ever seen, fresh fish, chocolate and a lot more. The amazing this was the standard of food. Basically every stall was the best of it's kind. The people were friendly, authentic farmers. And the pride they had in their produce was almost as obvious as the hunger I had for it. 

I left with bags full of stuff. I could have stayed there for hours. Luckily we had other things to do or I probably would have. If ever you are passing by on a Saturday trust me, pull in. You will be amazed. They are open from 08h00 - 11h30.

Jamie Who 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Serendipity - Almost, almost there.

So close. So damn close. That's how I would sum up my experience at Serendipity when I pulled in for dinner on Friday night. I was in Wilderness on a much-needed break and stopped by. I had heard LOADS about this place and was super-excited to check it out. Did it live up to expectations? Well...it's hard to say. At times I was left disappointed, while other parts of the night were unforgettable. Let's break it down.

Firstly, the setting. Driving past the other restaurants in the thriving metropolis of Wilderness I was feeling more than a bit sceptical. Bongo's pizzeria. A place called "The Girls".  The Blue Olive. Monk's. Mmmm...I see. We drove on and found the place. Well, fu*k me. That will teach me to judge a book by it's cover. The setting for Serendipity was probably the most beautiful I have seen anywhere in the country...

A beautiful boutique hotel on the banks of The Touw River is where you'll find it. We were shown to the balcony and while taking in the views of the river, over a beautifully manicured garden and lawns, we ordered drinks. The host then took whoever had arrived (about 8 people) through the menu. He did it with an amazing passion and sincerity and made the whole thing quite theatrical. When he was done we were shown to our table and wasted no time in getting stuck into the 5-course tasting menu. I will take you through some highs and lows. 

  1. A starter of Blaauwkranz cheese and preserved fig brulee. A nomination for best starter of the year?
  2. The trio of kudu. (Bobotie, tartar, carpaccio.) A nice celebration of game. Unusual to see it in a bobotie but surprisingly moist. 
  3. A cape brandy pudding. The description of this dish really doesn't do it any justice. The dish was apparently doused in brandy after cooking and therefore sucked up some extra flavours. Phenomenal. Simple, classic but tasted like no brandy pudding I have ever come across. 
  4. A chocolate tart with rooibos ice cream and rosewater jellies. Brilliant use of textures. The subtlety of the cubes of jelly was an inspirational touch.
  5. An amouse bouche in the form of a tempura mussel with chilli. 
  1. A cauliflower soup. Wow. Where did this come from? It was the wrong consistency, an uninspiring colour and way too bland. 
  2. A palette cleanser called a slurpie. When I saw this on the menu I thought it was quite funky and quirky and was quite looking forward to it. I didn't enjoy the texture at all though. The presentation was clumsy and the brain freeze that I ended up with brought back slush-puppy memories but not in a good way. That said, the combination of flavours (buchu and honeybush) had the potential to be amazing. 
You'll see the highs beat the lows and there's no doubt that all things considered I had an amazing night. I guess I was just frustrated because with a bit of tweaking I really believe this place could be one of South Africa's finest. That's what separates places like Bizerca Bistro and La Columbe from the rest. You just know every dish is going to be world-class. Serendipity isn't quite in that league but is still worth a visit. 

It's worth mentioning that in a place that seats 26 there were only two empty seats. That's not bad for the first week of November. Most of the tables (all of them except ours and one other) were foreigners and it was obvious that they were digging their night out. Listening to them going on about the food, the staff and the views made me realise (again) what a special country we live in. Maybe I was being a bit harsh? Maybe the slurpie wasn't so bad after all? Maybe...

If you're interested, Serendipity has won bucketloads of awards. If you're feeling the vibe, and you're in the area check it for yourselves by calling 044 877 0433 and booking a spot. 

Jamie Who

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pan-roasted salmon with anchovy and rosemary sauce.

Those of you who know me will be able to vouch I'm not the most modest cook in the world. If something turns out really nicely, well...I let everyone know about it. But that's the point isn't it? That's why I called this blog Jamie Who. To celebrate the fact that anyone can cook these dishes. So I'll tell you what; this dish was one that I made and was actually giving myself compliments as I ate! Make it yourself and you'll see what all the fuss is about. 

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • 4 x 200g salmon fillets, skin on
  • A handful of fresh rosemary, as finely chopped as possible
  • 10 anchovies in oil, drained and roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • Two handfuls of asparagus, washed
What to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. 

2. In a pestle and mortar pound your rosemary until it is a paste. Add the anchovies and pound some more. Add the lemon juice and a few glugs of olive oil. Season generously with black pepper and mix it all up. (If you don't have a pestle and mortar just chop the stuff up as finely as possible and mix it in a bowl)

3. Place a non-stick frying pan on the stove and heat it until it is smoking hot. Rub the salmon fillets in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Score the skin of the salmon and cook in the pan - skin side down - for 2 minutes. Turn them over and remove pan. Place pan in the oven for 3 more minutes and remove. 

4. As the salmon goes into the oven cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for 3 - 4 minutes. Drain. Mix some of the anchovy sauce into the asparagus and toss to coat. 

5. To serve, place a handful of the asparagus in the middle of a plate. Carefully place a salmon fillet skin side up on the asparagus. Spoon more sauce over the fish and drizzle around the plate. 

Yeah, as I said, this dish is one of the best I have made. Like...ever. It's a strange combination for salmon which is normally associated with Asian flavours. Sometimes it gets the Mediterranean treatment but I have never tried such strong flavours. A few points: DON'T BE SCARED OF ANCHOVIES HERE. All they do is provide a saltiness and depth of flavour that will blow your mind. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE SALMON. Cooking it this way will leave the middle moist and pink and the outside will be crispy. 

Did I mention the entire process takes less than 10 minutes? How great? Try it peeps. It's a good thing. 

Jamie Who

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lazari - That's it? Really?

This review is basically one of those where I hang my balls out and wait for someone to kick them. Because...I really didn't see what the big deal was when I had lunch at Lazari with Squeeze and The Princess

Let's start with the new Cape Quarter extension generally. It's f-ing huge! I really wasn't expecting that. The piazza area screams of Joburg and reminds me of something like Melrose Arch or Sandton Square. There are a whole bunch of funky eating options including The Cru Cafe, Viola, Vanilla, Andiamo and more. Let's just say it's impressive. 

But back to Lazari. The decor was pretty cool - bold colours and industrial finishes offset by bright white. The menu itself was good but not overly-inspiring. I went for the Moroccan chicken on couscous. Well...the couscous was Moroccan but that was about it. The rest was more Mediterranean than anything and consisted of tomatoes, feta and rocket. It was good but hardly memorable. Squeeze ordered the Haloumi and avo salad. Fine, except they forgot the avo. The Princess had a Thai Chicken wrap that was tasty but heavy on cumin. Green curry wrap would've been a better description. The garnish (afterthought) on all three plates was a handful of rocket that had been sloppily thrown on. 

We were in and out for a quick lunch and maybe it was the horsesh*t morning I had to endure, but I left really disappointed. As I say, loads of people love the store in Gardens but I can think of plenty of places I would rather go. 

Jamie Who

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cafe Dijon - I'll have some of that

So I was Stellies (you said it was fine if I called it that) the other day doing some work with The Pom. When we were done I was pretty hot - it was 33 degrees that day - and generally a bit pissed off so we thought we would ease into a lunch to calm down. We walked past a place called Cafe Dijon which I remembered a reader recommending. I think his name was Michael. Well, Michael...bravo. You did well. I think I'll call you Mikey from now on. Or M-Tits. Annnnnyway, let's see what all the fuss was about.

As the brighter of you might have already guessed Cafe Dijon is French. I've never been to France but I've eaten French toast and... well...that's basically the same thing. Seriously though, this place is exactly what I would imagine little bistro on a Paris street to look like: leather banquettes, marble-topped bar, black and white vintage prints, a checked mosaic floor, dark wood, chalkboards etc. We sat outside on the pavement which added to the European vibe.

The menu itself celebrates authentic French dishes with things like Sole Meuniere, Coq au Vin and Blanquette de Veau. But the important thing is they do it in a chilled, unpretentious way. We were there for a light unch so I went with the salad of the day which was seared tuna, butter-beans and green beans. It was perfection. Simple, fresh and prepared exactly the way I wanted it. The Pom ordered a baguette stuffed with brie and caramelised onions, which also looked amazing.

Service, you ask? Well...our waiter was surprisingly good for a stoner. The guy definitely knew his food and had just the right amount of personality. I was impressed.

I'm happy with this one guys. Another one to add to Nook in terms of places to eat when in the area. I would have enjoyed a dinner there with a few bottles of wine. Aaah well, next time.

Find them at 35 Plein Street, or call them on (021) 886-7023.

Jamie Who

Monday, November 2, 2009

Roast beetroot, orange and mozzarella salad

Things are a bit hectic here at work today so apologies if this seems quick. I was checking out my photo library this morning and found some shots of the salad I knocked up when The Greeks came round last week.  Now, let's make one thing clear: Posting about this salad is not a cop out. This salad deserves its own blog entry. It's that good. Let's take a look...

Stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • 6 - 8 baby beets
  • A handful of rocket
  • A ball of buffalo milk mozzarella
  • 2 - 3 oranges
  • Juice of 3 extra oranges
  • A tablespoon or two of wholegrain mustard
Okay, what to do:

1. Rub the beets in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in an oven at 200 degrees celsius for about 5o minutes to an hour, or until done. You want these guys to be cooked but still have a bit of texture. Don't let them get "mushy". Allow to cool, and then cut into wedges.

2. Meanwhile, bring the orange juice to the boil. Add the mustard and a few peppercorns. Reduce the heat and let the juice reduce slowly until it becomes a thick syrup. Strain the peppercorns. 

3. Peel the oranges and carefully cut them into segments. 

4. To serve, scatter the rocket on a large platter. Tear up the mozzarella and throw it on. Add the orange slices but don't make it look too staged. Chuck them on, don't place them all carefully. Same with the beets. Finally, take a spoon and drizzle over the beautiful dressing. 

Another dish that a ritard (I did that on purpose. Watch The Hangover please) could make. It's a killer salad that ticks all the right boxes ; Healthy, seasonal, easy, delicious, beautiful. 

Jamie Who

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Roundhouse breakfast/lunch menu - A huge hit

I know I've written about The Roundhouse before but my visit on Saturday was basically like going to a different restaurant so I don't feel bad about throwing in a second review. Last time I went with Long Distance and Mouse and enjoyed a beautiful dinner. Coincidentally it was the same two who joined me for breakfast this time round.

Every now and then I have one of those "I'm so lucky to be living in Cape Town" moments. Sometimes the moment comes when I'm running on a dirt-track way above Kirstenbosch and I look down at the world's most beautiful city. Sometimes it comes when I drive over Kloof Neck and get the first glimpse of Camps Bay. The moment can come walking Elvis through the leafy southern suburbs, or it can come driving past the winefarms in Stellenbosch. On Saturday, when I sat down at a table on The Roundhouse's terrace, I had one of those moments.

The view is ridiculous.

Let's get into the food quickly before I get a bit carried away with how amazing the setting is. The vibe here is that they bring you a "checklist" as a menu. You then just tick the box next to what you want and write down how many of that item you fancy. Cutlery and crockery are in a picnic basket next to you for when you need them. I spoke to the host and he explained the idea was that he didn't want waitors and waitresses bothering people every few seconds. He just wanted guests to relax. That said, the service was incredible. I wrote last time I was here that I thought it was the best in the country and I'm sticking with that. If you need anything, you just wave your hand and someone comes immediately.

To eat, I had scrambled eggs with smoked trout. Delicious. Others had french toast with a berry compote (real, fresh berries) and the eggs benedict. After a morning of exercise we weren't quite done, so we shared a sticky bun and a walnut-and-banana muffin from the table of baked goods. I rounded things off wih a virgin mary that was perfectly seasoned and balanced. Teas and coffees are from Origin, which is also worth mentioning.

I've got to say, this meal was one of my best of the year. Super-chilled vibe, incredible food and something a bit different. I will be back very soon I reckon.

And get this, they also have breakfast and picninc hampers for R500. They serve 4 people and include a bottle of bubbly. I promise you, next time it's a nice day you should get involved. Either sit on the teraace like we did or enjoy a little boozy picnic. It could be worse. In fact, I'm willing to bet you'll have one of those Cape Town moments.

Jamie Who