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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Maze at The One & Only - I'm underwhelmed

The problem with putting a restaurant in the lobby of a hotel...is that it often feels like a restaurant in the lobby of a hotel. And Maze, at The One & Only, is a good example of that. Dark wood, thick carpets with geometric prints and heavy, oversized light-fixtures make it seem impersonal rather than impressive. Of course, the space is made to seem all the more soulless when there are hardly any people there and, after accepting an invitation by management to have lunch there yesterday, the first thing that struck me was how dead the place was. In their defense, they have obviously realised the need to get some local lunchtime trade coming through the doors and have introduced a set lunch menu. At R150 for two courses and R200 for three courses it is extremely good value when compared to (a) The rest of their menu, and (b) Some of the V&A Waterfront restaurant prices. 

The new lunch menu is set to change weekly. Yesterday there were three options as starters, three main dishes and three desserts. After checking with the chef that his meat was strictly free-range, I began with a duck and chicken terrine served with peach chutney. Feeling the long weekend a touch prematurely I also ordered a bottle of Bouchard Finlayson Sans Barrique Chardonnay (What, like you wouldn't have? Grow up.) The Queen ordered quail. I was very impressed with my dish. Beautifully presented, with the subtle chicken and the slightly weightier duck working nicely together. The chutney was a win too and was served as a chunky "Mrs. Balls" style along with a much more elegant puree version. They also brought out some toasted brioche - a nice touch. The Quail was good but nothing special. For mains The Queen ordered kingklip with bourgignon sauce. I was intrigued as I have never seen the sauce served with fish before. The combination didn't work for me - the delicate flavour of fish being totally overpowered. My ribeye was a trainwreck. The first few bites were good enough and the sauce was exceptional. (They had smoked tomatoes and combined them with baby mushrooms and a deliciously silky jus.) After a few mouthfuls I started to panic though. I simply could not chew meat that tough. I tried. And tried. And chewed. And chewed. And chewed. Eventually I just left some of the steak on the plate. Desserts were a lemon meringue cheesecake, which went a little way towards compensating for the steak, and a rooibos panna cotta which was equally good. In an effort to right the earlier mistake we were both given a free glass of Rudera Noble Late Harvest to enjoy with the dessert. I must say, I always enjoy managers admitting they have done something wrong and trying to make amends. Too many are far too arrogant and would rather sulk or make the customer feel like they are actually the one who has done wrong. 

Mention must be made of the awesome service. The waiter and sommelier were friendly and extremely knowledgeable. I loved the layout of the winelist too, which is split into regions rather than grape varieties. An impressive selection of wines by the glass too. 

All in all, I would say the place is underperforming. There is inconsistency and a lack of atmosphere that borders on depressing. But there is definitely potential. Chatting to the manager, he told us the aim is to make Maze less intimidating for Capetonians. They want to get people coming for relaxing after-work drinks, business lunches or just a glass of wine. The problem is...in Cape Town we already have so many other places to do this. So there is a lot of work to do. But they know that. And that, at least, is a good sign.  

Jamie Who

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chicken and Mushroom pie

You know those healthy recipes I love to bang on about on this site? Yeah, well this isn't one of them. In fact, there's pretty much nothing healthy about it. It is high in fat, loaded with calories and the carb count is also up there. But it tastes like it's made from the tail of a unicorn. And on Saturday, after I had squashed a big trail run in the wind and rain with The Gym Nazi, Prego and Long Distance, I wasn't too fussed about what I ate. See...they were all coming for lunch with their lovely wives and I figured we had more than earned it. 

There are plenty of cheats for this recipe. You can buy a whole chicken cooked and shred it yourself. You can buy chicken thighs and fry them. You can buy chicken stock. You can buy puff-pastry instead of making your own. You can buy a white sauce instead of your own. You can blah blah blah blah blah. The recipe below is how to do it if you have the time and are willing. Otherwise, take a little shortcut. 

Stuff you'll need to feed 8:

For the stock and chicken:
  • 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 5 cloves of garlic, cut in half
  • 2 pieces of celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium sized chickens (I used my favourite Spier ones) 
  • 2 teaspoons of thyme
  • A few black peppercorns
For the rest of the filling:
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • 4 big handfuls of mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used shiitake and porcini)
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • A teaspoon of thyme
For the pastry:
  • 2 coffee cups of cake flour
  • Half a teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • A teaspoon of salt
  • 250g of STALK baking margarine, cut into cubes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • A cup of ice cold water (it is essential that the water is cold)
Okay, what to do:

1. Place the carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, peppercorns and celery in a pot of water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and submerge the chicken in the pot. Place a side plate over the chicken to make sure it is covered by the water. 

2. Poach the chicken for approximately 1 hour, or until cooked. Repeat for second chicken. Keep the beautiful stock you have just made. 

3. Once the chicken has cooled, shred the meat and set aside. 

4. Cook the sliced mushrooms and onion in some butter and thyme until softened. Set aside with the chicken. (You might have to do the mushrooms in two batches to avoid them stewing) 

5. Make your pastry. Start by combining all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add STALK margarine and work in with your fingers until combined. Add the egg yolks and a little bit of the water (your dough mustn't be too wet). Work in to create a nice smooth dough. If it is too wet, add a bit more flour. Too dry, throw in a bit more water. When it is a nice ball, cover with clingfilm and place in fridge for 30 minutes. 

5. Make your white sauce by adding some butter and flour to the pan. Using a whisk, combine the two to make sure the butter is coated with the flour. The appearance should be dry, like breadcrumbs. 

6. Skim off any white fat from your chicken stock and start slowly adding it to your flour and butter, continuing to whisk gently. It is important that you never stop whisking. Once your sauce has a good consistency remove from heat. 

7. When your pastry is ready, remove from fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Carefully use it to line two suitable dishes and cut off extra pastry to leave a 'lip" hanging over the edge. Use your fingers to press it down into the bottom of the dishes, being careful not to tear the pastry. 

8. Cut two circles out from the pastry to serve as lids from the pies and pour the filling in to both pies. Place lids on top and using your thumb and index finger pinch the pastry together, moving along the dish as you work. 

9. When you're done place pies in oven pre-set at 220 degrees celsius and bake for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and flaky. 

Jeez, that was a long process! Are you still with me? Look, it is a bit more difficult than my other recipes but as I said you can simplify it by cutting a few corners in the preparation. Even if you do, I guarantee it will taste a whole lot better than anything you buy pre-packaged and bought off the shelf of a supermarket. 

I served this with a simple green salad and on the advice of a fellow blogger and wine ninja some good buttery Chardonnay. It was beautiful. 

Jamie Who 


Monday, March 29, 2010

Carne - Amongst all the controversy, I was impressed. Again.

You might have noticed I am getting pretty particular about where I get my meat from. This comes on the back of finishing a book called Eating Animals which, as you may have figured out by the name, is an extremely hectic read. It basically takes you through the horrors that animals are exposed to in traditional farming methods. I will do a full review of the book soon but for now what you need to know is that I only eat free-range meat, where I can be absolutely sure the animal had a natural, healthy life (without growth hormones and antibiotics) and was treated well. 

This has been quite a process to manage in terms of buying meat for home but when considering restaurants it has been even more difficult. I am at the stage now where I actually e-mail the place before I go. If the meat is from a reputable farm I'm happy but if they give me a bit of a blurred answer I'll go vegetarian. If you had told me three weeks ago that I would go to The Wijhnhuis and have a mushroom linguini with pesto sauce instead of the beef tagliata I would have laughed in your face but I'm afraid that's where I'm at. 

Anyway, last week I went to Carne. It was on the back of some fairly serious accusations made on another blog which brought the restaurant's meat supply source into question. (you can read all about it here). Now...I'm not looking to spark some hectic foodie debate here and get all controversial but what I feel I need to say is that Giorgio Nava (the owner) personally came to my table and explained his side of the story. He was open to the fact that I am now paying close attention to where the meat I'm eating comes from and he sat and politey talked me through the entire process. In a nutshell, he gets beef from his own farm in the Karoo. He gets a lot of it. He uses other butchers to hang and mature the meat. He never wants to use the entire animal so he then buys what he needs from said butchers. He goes through the same process with lamb and game but uses another butcher. Regarding his buying of meat from other suppliers Giorgio was open about the fact that he does this to "compare flavours". He assured me that what I was to be eating was not from any of these suppliers. I do agree with the point that he should remove the word "organic" from his website though. I am speculating but I find it hard to believe all his meat is 100% certified. 

As I said, there was a bit of doubt before I went. I asked the manager, Jamie, about the meat and he gave me a thorough explanation. I asked the chef and he too gave me a satisfactory answer. I know some people may not accept this but I was there to enjoy dinner not deliberately try and expose some meat conspiracy and bring the industry to its knees. I asked a question and got an answer which I believed. Maybe I'm being a bit naiive but that was good enough for me. There has to be room for a bit of trust in the world. 

Jamie Who

P.S. When I reviewed this place I had the hanger steak and chocolate souffle. Guess what I had this time? Yip, I'm afraid so. It's that good. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kwalapa - Three cheers for the little guy

There's a show on BBC Food called Gary Rhodes' Food Heroes. I normally hate Gary Rhodes but after watching this show...well...I hate him less. The vibe is that he has famous guests on the show who nominate people they think need recognition but aren't necessarily getting it. These people are often suppliers or farmers. Sometimes the nominees are owners of delis who only use local produce. The deli owners all stress the importance of sourcing the highest quality ingredients and, more importantly, looking nearby. 

Since watching the show I have often thought about how cool a South African version would be. Not just because I want to be rich.  Not just because I want to be famous. Not just because I know I would look amazing on camera. But rather because I think there is a story to tell. I want people to meet the farmers and I want people to appreciate the difference between small, independent suppliers who care and the mass producers who pump animals full of growth hormones and antibiotics (this is subject of another post though, still to come). Anyway, the reason I'm writing this rather long intro is to tell you about a place that would get Jamie Who's vote for South African Food Heroes. It is a small organic deli/restaurant in Newlands called Kwalapa. Never before have I seen a place that puts so much emphasis on where their food comes from. 

The vibe itself is very rustic - a huge bedouin tent (with a hole in it for a tree) covers most of the restaurant. There are arts and craft stalls and you sit amongst the Newlands trees. I recently met the owner and she explained their deliberate anti-Hippy approach. "One of my partners wanted to call the place Sprout but that wasn't an option" she explained. "We want people to see organic food as normal food but just farmed the right way, without additives and preservatives". Amen. 

To eat I went for their RAW muesli which came with a beautiful, seasonal fruit salad covered in poppy seeds and freshly torn mint. I have since been back for lunch with Long Distance and had a chicken wrap made with my favourite, biodynamically-farmed Spier chickens. Both times my meals were outstanding. There are soups of the days as well as ever-changing, freshly baked pies. The deli section is also really cool and you'll find plenty of gorgeous cheese, fruits and vegetables. 

It might not be the funkiest venue and it might not get the most press. It doesn't have a celebrity chef or a fancy interior. But it has passion. And that's good enough for me. 

Find them at 31 Newlands Avenue or call on (021) 687-9314.

Jamie Who 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Taste Of Cape Town - A review via Twitter

I've said enough about the Taste of Cape Town Festival so I'm not going to do a whole post about what an awesome time I had there last night. Instead let's have a look at my tweets from the event shall we? Things should be pretty obvious. 

5:05pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

2 glasses of Steenberg 1682 Brut and some yellowtail sashimi to kick off @TasteofCT


5:29pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

Salmon in Miso from The Greenhouse and a glass of bush vine Chenin from Bosman Family Vineyards...

5:39pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

Ragu from Il Leone is a showstopper. im definitely tipsy now

5:52pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

soooo...a glass of Mooiplaas chenin and soft shell crab from Bistro Sixteen 82. approaching drunk now

6:18pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

aaaand a glass of Pinot Noir from Elgin Vintners. beautiful and best value for money

6:55pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

okay, truffle burger from the awesome Overture. oh, and a Grolsch

7:36pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

what? have i been to the Patrone stand? yip, had all 4. its heating up

7:40pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

there's always going to be a disappointment on a night like this. and it comes in the form of Myoga's salt & pepper prawns. pathetic.

8:09pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

sho, grande provence shiraz right now. and the duck from Jardine. i wont be driving home. i love you

8:19pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

Heineken. just to mellow for a while


8:45pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

in terms of skill, presentation and execution the chocolate calzone from Grande Provence is leading the pack

8:48pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

the johnnie walker black was probably too soon. some would say

9:02pm, Mar 24 from mobile web

Ended the night with ice cream with the boys from Societi. argument with an old lady. hilarious.

Yeah look, it was good. 

Jamie Who 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Justine Drake Interview

She's gorgeous and funny and her enthusiasm for food is infectious. I recently had the chance to fire a few questions at Justine Drake, the woman behind the Taste of Cape Town Festival which kicks off in about 9 hours. Check it out:

JW: Justine, we've gotten to know you through your work at various magazines and probably most obviously through the awesome Just In Africa show on BBC. You always seem to be busy with something, albeit food styling, recipe development, consulting etc. What I want to know is how - and why - you were crazy enough to take on such a big project?

JD: It involved food and wine which is all the encouragement I needed! Seriously though, it's an incredibly successful festival internationally and the chance to be involved in the LOCAL version was very appealing. I have always flown the 'local is lekker' flag and this is a chance to celebrate our own chefs, restaurants and producers rather than looking overseas for inspiration. It is insulting to me that media showcase international talent when we have fabulous, equally gifted folk right here at home.

JW: I have been to the event the last two years and the growth has been pretty obvious. Tell me a bit about that.

JD: Obviously we aim to improve the event every year. We try and involve new restaurants so people can look forward to it and start planning early as part of their annual social calendar. It is important to us that we always introduce new and exciting things to keep people interested.  

JW: The event is obviously a huge strain on the chefs involved. What considerations are there to keep in mind when you choose chefs and restaurants to approach? 

JD: We want diversity. We want to represent the different tastes of the city so we try and get a wide range of different styles. 

JW: Well, you look like you've nailed it this year. The lineup is ridiculous. Be honest now, are there any personal favourites that you are looking forward to trying?

JD: Honestly, there's something about each and every one of them that I love. 

JW: Other than enjoying some of the best food in Cape Town, what can people expect?

JD: Great wine, wonderful booze, the Pick 'n Pay Fresh Living Theatre where you can attend informal cooking demos, the Grolsch Beer Academy, the Johnnie Walker Whiskey Theatre and the Checkers Wine Route, all of which you can enjoy simultaneously! There is also a small Producers' Market where you're bound to make some foodie discoveries. 

JW: Aaah, so booze will play it's part - good to know! With that in mind, are the evening sessions a bit more of a party than the daytime ones? Or do Capetonians drink regardless of the time of day?!!

JD: I suppose there are less kids during the evening and things are probably a bit sexier at night but, as you say, people let their hair down during the day too!

JW: So are you going to find some time to actually enjoy the event yourself or will you be running around making sure we have a good time? 

JD: No no, I will be enjoying myself. I always do! 

JW: Cool. Well, I know you are hectic at the moment so I won't keep you any longer. Hopefully I'll see you later to buy you a drink?

JD: Thanks hon. See you there. And I'll buy the drink...

So there it is guys and girls. The Taste of Cape Town Festival starting tonight and running through to Sunday. I'm not going to say you're a loser if you don't go but...well...you kind-of are. 

Jamie Who

Hello Sailor - Well played sir

I love getting a heads-up from a reader when a new spot opens up. To me, that's what makes blogs blogs. The interaction. And with the rise of social media it means you can get this kind of feedback pretty much instantly. Like...someone goes for lunch, someone digs lunch, someone tells you about their lunch. It's cool. 

This is exactly how I found out about a gem in Observatory called Hello Sailor. Cut from the same cloth as The Kitchen, Superette and Cheyne's, it is obvious that the owners subscribe to the idea that design and food are interlinked. I say this because the place is flat-out cool. Look, it's not in the best area (it's in quite a shitty area actually) but the decor is awesome. Little trinkets, posters and sailing memorabilia have been collected to form a colour scheme of red, blue and white which acts as the backbone of the place. The room is tiny (I reckon it can seat 20 people) and the menu just as small. Breakfast is the usual stuff with nice additions like a pea and chorizo frittata. Lunch is a collection of sandwiches with interesting fillings and flavour combinations. I went with smoked chicken, sundried tomatoes, pesto and feta while The Queen chose grilled chicken, preserved figs and camembert. I was a bit disappointed at the fact that I could only have ciabatta but the flavours were good, even if the bread was average. 

A drawcard is the fact that they sell Deluxe Coffeeworks, which I'm told by those in the know challenges for the best coffee in town. The guy who served us also explained that they are also open to chat about private dinners which would be a very cool and unique venue. Something to consider for sure. 

They're in Lower Main Road but I couldn't find an address or phone number. Check them out on www.hellosailorbistro.co.za 

Jamie Who 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yuppiechef - Welcome

You'll know (hopefully) by now my stance on "freebies". I hate them. I get loads of brand managers, restaurateurs and even hotel groups calling me up and inviting me for a free stay/meal/product sample in exchange for a positive write-up. To me this is the complete opposite of what this blog is all about. I'm trying to give you honest advice. Sure, it's all just my opinion but at least it is an honest one. My usual answer to these offers is that I'll have a look but if things are shit, I will say they're shit. Surprisingly, this scares quite a few people off. How weird is that? Surely if you have any confidence in your brand/product/service at all you would be happy to stand beside it? Strangely this isn't the case. 

Anyway peeps, the reason I'm writing this entry is to introduce you to the first brand that I am going to endorse. And I feel it is necessary to explain why. Yuppiechef (check them out on the right) is a brand that I love. I always have. I love them so much that we had our wedding gift registry with them. I have always shopped through them. 

They will be sending me various products to review under the strict understanding that everything I write will be nothing but the truth. I won't sugar-coat it and if a product is inferior I will be saying so. (Although I'm fairly confident you - like me - will love their vibe)

What I love about Yuppiechef is the fact that they are selling premium products but doing it in a light-hearted, accessible way. They dig food and they want to make your life easier when preparing it. This goes hand-in-hand with my own philosophy of demystifying food. In addition to essential, practical cooking tools, Yuppiechef has funky, quirky gadgets that can make cooking fun and easy. That's why I picked them and that's why you should check them out. 

I will be endorsing a few other brands to this blog when and if I see fit. I will always write a rationale just like this one. Maintaining my credibility in your eyes is hugely important to me. 

I welcome any of your thoughts on this. 

Jamie Who

Bistro sixteen82 - Breakfast this time. And another tick.

Remember when I wrote that article about the fabulous new Bistro Sixteen82? (If you don't, then shame on you). Well, I was there again last week for breakfast and enjoyed it so much I just had to tell you all about it. 

You will remember how much I enjoyed my first trip (if not just bear in mind that I'm a straight man who used the word "fabulous"  in his opening paragraph) and this time round was no exception. The venue screams out leisurely breakfast but would make a perfect option for a business breakfast too I reckon. The menu might seem pretty standard at first but when you look closer it becomes pretty apparent that you are about to enjoy something special. One of the items is bacon and eggs. Cool, I dig bacon. And eggs. But look closer and you'll see the "bacon" is actually smoked pork belly - a feature which runs throughout the menu. The pork is smoked and cured on site by chef Brad Ball and is a creative and delicious touch. Other details that are worth mentioning are the complimentary honeyed brioche that appears at every table upon arrival and the unusual potato bread that is served with quite a few of the dishes. 

I had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (R58). Brad claims he spent years learning the art of scrambled eggs and I have to admit mine were sensational. The dill hollandaise it was served with was good but I felt maybe it could've done with a touch more vinegar. The rest of the menu is made up of eggs benedict (yip, with smoked pork belly. R55), poached eggs with smoked trout and hollandaise sauce (R58), an omelette with asparagus, basil and cherry tomatoes (R55), berries, yoghurt and toasted almonds (R49) and fresh summer mushrooms (R50). I tasted some of the mushrooms and they were a brilliant combination of shitake, portabello and king oysters. Did I mention they were drizzled with the faintest hint of truffle oil? Yeah, well...

I figured it wouldn't be right not to have little glass of bub so I washed it all down with some of Steenberg's 1682 Chardonnay Brut. Because I'm like that. 

This place has thrown its hat quite definitely into the ring for "best breakfast spots in cape Town" in my book. You should keep them in mind next time you're looking. 

Call them on (021) 713-2211.

Jamie Who

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Chef's Warehouse & Cookery School

Liam Tomlin is Irish. Conrad Gallagher is Irish. Jamie Who is Irish. Two of these people are well respected, highly-acclaimed, famous, handsome, charismatic leaders of their respective fields in the food industry. The other one is Conrad Gallagher.  

After leaving Cape Town in a hail of insults, debt and broken promises the Irish community is looking for something to celebrate (besides St Paddy's Day tomorrow which, by the way, I am looking to enjoy at The Slug & Lettuce.) So it is with a great amount of pleasure that I introduce you to one of the country's most exciting food developments. 

Situated at 50 New Church Street, it's called The Chef's Warehouse & Cookery School and it promises some of the most exciting cooking classes and short-courses you could ever imagine. The main feature is Liam's 20-part course running on alternate Saturdays. He is backed up by a list guest of speakers that reads like The Harlem Globetrotters of the local food scene.  Neil Jewel (Bread & Wine) on the 5th of May, Bruce Robertson on the 6th of May, Alexander Meuller (Pure) on the 24th of May, Luke Dale-Roberts (La Colombe) on the 8th of June. Are you getting this? There is a wine course by Caroline Rillema and a bread-making course by Tim Faull of Knead. Others mentioned are Laurent Deslandes (Bizerca Bistro), Reuben Riffel (Reuben's), Pete Goffe-Wood (Kitchen Cowboys, Wild Woods) Margot Janse (The Tasting Room) and even Richard Corrigan. (You're kidding right? Google him.) 

I had to take a deep breath there, I was getting a bit carried away. But honestly, have you ever seen anything like that? I half expected to see Oprah giving a lecture on how to make a birthday cake. It's mental. 

The first course starts on the 24th of April. For more info e-mail info@chefswarehouse.co.za 

Jamie Who

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Spier Contemporary Art Exhibition

I dusted off my black skinnys and attended the media launch for The Spier Contemporary Art Exhibition last week. It's brought to you by The Africa Centre (www.africacentre.net) and showcases 101 local artists, with 132 stunning pieces having been chosen from more than 2 700 entries. The exhibition features a wide range of skills and techniques, with sculptures, photography, painting, performance art and more all being displayed. 

The exhibition is being held at the City Hall, which itself has been turned from a beautiful space into a breathtaking one. Part of the transformation process has been the creation of a temporary cafe/coffee area catered for by Rotisserie 360. As well as their usual light fare (which is bloody good by the way and I am embarrassed that I haven't reviewed them on this site) they will be serving coffee throughout the day and - to answer the obvious question - yes, they do have a license. 

The exhibition runs until the 14th of May and entry is free. It is something cool and different and it feels hugely satisfying to support the people who have put so much effort into creating the beautiful work. If you are anywhere nearby you should totally check it out. Grab a beer, a chicken sandwich and who knows, maybe even some art? 

For more information, including a list of this year's winners, check out www.spiercontemporary.co.za 

Jamie Who

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hedonist - Watch out

I'm part of a very special club. If you're reading this then so are you...

Foodies. We're quite a strange bunch aren't we? We get genuinely excited when we talk about food. We pick up vegetables and cradle them like they're puppies. We devour cookbooks and grab the latest copy of the Taste magazine as if our favourite celebrity crush is lying naked in the centre-fold. We plan weekends away around restaurants and we list eating out as a necessary item instead of a luxury one when sorting out our finances. We're basically nerds but instead of Dungeons and Dragons we eat and drink. The best part about being a foodie though? Meeting another one...

This happened to me the other day when I bumped into a fellow blogger who is now making his own wine. He left me with a bottle from his first batch and I sat down last night for ONE glass. It was always going to be one glass. I didn't really need it but in the name of research I thought I would just have one. It was raining outside...perfect weather for one glass of wine. ONE. 

45 minutes and an empty bottle later, I was left speechless. What a cracker. Now, it's no secret that I am no wine expert. I don't pretend to be. What I can do though is tell you when something tastes good and when something tastes shit. This one was the former. Strong hints of black pepper and dark cherries were offset beautifully by a smoky aftertaste. The feeling in your mouth was smooth and elegant but the wine held its shape just long enough to coat all the right places before you swallowed. All in all, I found it sexy as hell. 

The wine is an unusual red blend made up of syrah, grenache, carignan and viognier (which I found particularly interesting) grapes from the Swartland area. The end result is fantastic in my opinion and I love the passion these guys have. In a similar vibe to The Real Beer campaign, the focus seems to be on selecting the highest quality grapes and concentrating on smaller volumes. Less clients. More personal attention. Very Jerry Maguire.

The wine is called Hedonist by the way. As far as I know the only place it is available at the moment is &Union. I'm pretty sure that won't be the case for long but next time you're there keep it in the back of your mind. I know it's tough not to order a beer straight away but hey, it's always good to keep your options open. 

Jamie Who

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cookshop - It's a go

If you ever lose your baby/father/grandmother/dog/parrot etc. stop what you're doing and - wherever you are - head to the Engen in Gardens. I promise you they will be there. Honestly, it is the world's busiest petrol station. I don't even like calling it a petrol station. It's got more going on in there than some of the smaller African countries. So...you would be forgiven for thinking that opening a restaurant just around the corner would be a good idea. That's exactly what a few people did a while back when they opened "Sage". It turns out they did everything right except concentrate on food, ambience, service and decor. Basically, the place was a joke. The Queen used to work nearby so we tried it out a few times and I usually got so pissed off with the tree-hugger mentality that I left without even ordering. 

So you can imagine I was intrigued when I heard whisperings that they had been taken over. The place is now called Cookshop and to compare it to Sage would be like comparing Madonna's armpit after a 4 hour gig to Megan Fox's belly button. 

The reason I enjoyed Cookshop so much was because of its fresh, seasonal ingredients and the fact that the whole place had a personality. Similar to The Kitchen in Woodstock, I noticed everyone smiling and genuinely looking to please their customers. It's not rocket science guys but so few places actually do it.   

To eat you choose between gourmet sandwiches and a buffet table. I went for a big plate (R30) from the buffet table and loaded it up with a pomegranate and herb salad, a green-bean-and nectarine one and some sesame-seed-crusted chicken thighs. Power went for roast chicken and homemade mayo on rye. Both our meals were way above average. They also make interesting juices and I threw back one made from apples, ginger and pear. I felt like Superman leaving that place. 

The vibe is simple but nicely done (chalkboard specials, blue feature wall, baked goods on display etc), the clientele is funky, the food is healthy and the atmosphere is laid-back. Honestly, you could do a lot worse. 

Find them at 117 Hatfield Street or call them on (021) 461-7868. 

Jamie Who

P.S. If you do decide to check them out, park in the Jewish Museum's parking across the road. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

10 foods you thought were bad for you that actually aren't

The problem nowadays is that everyone has an opinion. Look, that's just my opinion. I find it's especially true when it comes to health though. You can pick up a magazine one day that tells you what is good/bad for you only to pick up a newspaper the following week with a totally contradictory article. It's tough and confusing. Over the years I have read lots of articles about foods that you thought were healthy but actually aren't. That's fine, but what I always want to tell people is foods that are supposed to be UNHEALTHY but are actually fine in moderation. Recently I was sent an article by The Other Guy Who Can Cook which deals with some of these food types. I think it was published in the UK Style magazine but can't be sure. I'm throwing a lot of my own interpretation in there too so it's not reaaaaaaallly plagerism. More like borrowing and adding. Yes, that's a much better way to put it. 

So here we go peeps, brace yourself for some good news. Here are 10 foods that you always thought were the devil. Turns out, they are actually really good for you. 

1. Cheese. Yes, I know cheese is high in fat. It's also high in calcium and certain proteins that carry amino acids, some of which have been linked to prevention of diseases like cancer. So as long as you don't eat a piece of camembert the size of a hockey puck every night you'll be fine. 

2. Chocolate. The theory behind chocolate being good for you is a little bit of a dangerous one. See...it has recently been argued that chocolate contains high levels of antioxidants which help prevent a number of things from heart disease to premature aging. This is true, but only partly. The antioxidants are really only found in high-quality dark chocolate (70% or more). So if you buy a cheap bar of chocolate and eat it because you read somewhere that it was healthy you're kidding yourself. As with cheese, you should only have a little bit of the good stuff. 

3.  Red meat. Again, it CAN be high in fat. But what is important is that it doesn't have to be. And with red meat it is easy to see when it is. Marbled meat is f-ing delicious but it is also higher in fat so be careful. Eat it sparingly and choose leaner cuts if you are trying to be healthy. 

4. Carbs. Who can honestly tell me they can survive without carbs? (If you answered "me" then piss off. You're lying.) Carbs are actually extremely important. The right type of carbs. It's all about sugar. With processed carbs, like white bread and sugary cereals, there is a surge in sugar levels followed by a very sudden crash which can lead to cravings.  Rather go for wholegrains, quinoa, oats etc. 

5. Dried fruit. Surely by now we all know you are supposed to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Come on, EVERYBODY knows that. The confusion comes with things like tinned fruit, frozen fruit and juices. Well, dried fruit is absolutely fine but because of the fact that it has "shrunk" you should just watch how much you are chowing. Dried fruit can give you fiber and plenty of minerals and vitamins. 

6. Avocadoes. I actually hope you already know these are good for you. Some people steer clear of them because of their high fat content but what they don't know is the fact that the fat in avo's is mono-unsaturated fat which is "the good fat". It helps with cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and on top of that most mono-unsaturated fats are packed with vitamin E. 

7. Butter. Most people think margarine is healthier than butter. Most people are wrong. They both contain similar amounts of fat. As with avo's it is the TYPE of fat that is important. True, most margarines are made from unsaturated fat but some contain transfats which is like the Hitler of fats. Honestly, you don't want to see transfats anywhere on a diet. Basically the deal here is neither butter nor fat is healthy, so use them sparingly. Definitely don't use margarine thinking you are taking the better option - that is not necessarily true. 

8. Coffee. I can't touch it, but research lately seems to be showing that a cup of coffee can speed up the metabolism process as well as the obvious other benefits of increasing endurance, performance and stamina. (sounds like the researchers mixed up their papers with the work they did on viagra)

9. Sugar. This is only healthy when compared to sweeteners. The problem with sweeteners is that when the body takes them in it prepares itself for more calories. If these don't arrive the body then needs more food or burns less energy. Both result in weight being added on, not lost. If you have to get a sweet kick, rather do it naturally.

10. Late-night snacks. For years the argument has been that if you eat late at night your body doesn't have time to burn off the calories. Common sense says that what is way more important is how many calories you eat throughout the day. If you go to bed having eaten less calories than you have burned, you are absolutely fine. So have a little something before you go to bed. Just don't have a big something. Simple, no?

Sho, that was quite a post. Maybe not as funny/interesting as some of my others but definitely something important that I feel strongly about. Food is there to be enjoyed and people need to keep that in mind. You can be health-orientated without deprivation. Just reward yourself with the good-quality products and eat them in moderation. 

Jamie Who

Monday, March 8, 2010

Grilled yellowtail served on fennel gazpacho

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a beautiful, chilled bowl of gazpacho. Except maybe for the fact that it is never really enough for me. It's fine as a starter but as a main I really do need more. So with this in mind I threw together this little dish last night. The plan was to leave the gazpacho very chunky so that it could double-up as a kind-of-sauce. It worked out pretty nicely...

Stuff you'll need to feed 2:
  •  About 450g of any firm white fish (I used yellowtail) 
  • A mixture of mustard seeds, coriander seeds and fennel seeds, all crushed
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • One red onion, quartered
  • A bulb of fennel, quartered (keep the leaves too)
  • A tablepoon of red wine vinegar
  • One chilli, roughly chopped
  • Half a cucumber, peeled
  • About 100ml of water
  • A few tablespoons of olive oil
Okay, what to do:

1. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature. Rub fish in olive oil and cover with mustard seed mixture. 

2. Using a spoon remove the seeds from the cucumber and discard. Add cucumber, along with tomatoes, fennel, onion, olive oil, vinegar, chilli and water to a blender and pulse to form a chunky soup. Place in refrigerator. (The consistency is totally up to you. It can be as smooth or as course as you would like) 

3. Grill fish in oven for 8-10 minutes or until done. 

To serve, spoon gazpacho into bowls and place fish on top. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes and fennel leaves. As a final touch drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil. 

Another healthy dish that's absolutely perfect for the heat we are going through at the moment. It's light and easy and the fennel adds an interesting dimension. Give it a bash. 

Jamie Who

Friday, March 5, 2010

Calamari, mango and coriander salad

Isn't the 1st of March supposed to be the start of Autumn? I thought so, but someone clearly forgot to tell whoever it is up there that controls the weather. You see...Cape Town has been off-the-charts hot this week. On Wednesday Icepick and I set out to do the Men's Health 10km race (cleaned it, obviously) and it was 35.5 degrees. What's the big deal? The race started at 18h15!!! Yeah, that's what we're dealing with down here. 

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not one of those people who moans about the heat. If I do feel the slight pang of "this is just too hot" I do a quick Google search for temperature in London and see how the expats are doing over there. 9 degrees. Yeah...

It's pretty chilly here today too. 28.5 at the moment. Annnnyway, the point is when it gets this hot I turn to light, easy salads for dinners. I keep the flavours clean and try and spend as little time cooking as possible. That was the gameplan last night and this popped out. A lovely little dish. Check it out. 

Stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  •  800g calamari tubes, cut into strips
  • 2 - 3 mielies (cobs of corn)
  • A handful of cashew nuts
  • 2 big handfuls of mixed lettuce (different colours, shapes, textures etc)
  • A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 mangos, peeled and thinly sliced
Okay, what to do:

1. In boiling, salted water cook the corn for a few minutes until done. Slice the corn to remove the kernels.

2. In a dry pan roast the nuts for a few minutes. Be very careful not to burn them. It's quite easy to do so keep an eye on them and shake the pan often. Remove and allow to cool. 

3. Place the lettuce leaves, the coriander, the mango, the nuts and the corn in a bowl.  

4. Heat a wok (or big pan) until smoking hot and cook the calamari in vegetable/avocado/sunflower oil (olive oil won't work here) for 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook it.  Add the calamari to the bowl. 

5. Season with salt and black pepper and serve immediately, before the calamari has a chance to wilt the leaves. 

I didn't make a dressing which was a big a mistake but I just used some soy sauce and honey to drizzle over, which was a pretty good save. If you've got lemons that would be good too. The whole thing took about 10 minutes and was absolutely perfect for a quick, healthy summer dinner. Loving it. 

Jamie Who

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Queen's surprise birthday at Cheyne's

I was recently asked in an interview *ahem what my three favourite Cape Town restaurants were. The reason I'm telling you this is not only to let you know there is a very exciting feature about me coming out soon (including a steamy picture ladies) but also to let you know that one of the three restaurants I chose was Cheyne's, which I had the pleasure of enjoying again last week. See how elegantly and seamlessly I did that? Allowing me to flow into my next paragraph? Yeah, I know...

So last week I threw a surprise birthday party for The Queen. I had told her we were heading out for a quiet dinner and that we just needed to quickly drop something off at Cheyne's on the way. Well...having successfully managed to put together a dream team of 18 people (the whole place only takes 20) including Mouse, Long Distance, Pafoof, Mr & Mrs Awesome, Power, Icepick, Ledgie, Godmother E, Hotspur, The PR Ninja and more, the two of us walked in to find everyone waiting for us. They went bananas and I'm stoked to say my lovely was blown away. I had absolutely nailed it. The best was still to come though. The food...

Cheyne threw out a spread the likes of which must surely rate as some of the best chow I've had. Like...ever. He brought out platters and laid them out in the middle of the table for people to help themselves. To start there was salt-and-chilli squid, deep-red tuna tataki and a watermelon and duck salad. The mains were slow-roasted pork belly served with crackling (why more places don't do this I will never know), fillet with a pesto-style sauce, yellowfish and lamb cutlets. Dessert was the only thing dished up on individual plates but even they were made up of taste-size portions of different types. A delicate pear tarte tartin, cheesecake and airy chocolate mousse. My God. I almost started eating my cellphone halfway through this paragraph. 

The amount of food was actually more than we needed, the quality of EVERY SINGLE DISH was faultless and the style and vibe of the place is something 100% unique. In a nutshell, if you are looking for a place to have a function for up to 20 people you would be a fool not to have it at Cheyne's. Look at me...a fool. 

To get a quote (he can design a menu for whatever you are after) give him a call on (021) 422-3358. 

Jamie Who

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beer, chocolate and music - boom!

My head nearly exploded from pure joy when I read about what's going down at Brewers&Union on Friday night. I'm going to keep this very simple because I feel like if you need me to explain why you should be there then...well...you don't deserve to be there. 

Starting at 8pm there will be a beer and...wait for it...Lindt chocolate pairing. What? I know. It's too much. There's also some awesome live music in the form of Wrestlerish

It pains to me to say I can't be there on Friday but rest assured, I will be thinking of you. Thinking of me. 

Jamie Who

Taste of Cape Town competition winners

It's time children. Time for me to announce the winners of the Taste of Cape Town double-tickets. Let me just say I was pretty overwhelmed by how many entries I got. With this kind of enthusiasm we can safely conclude that the foodie movement is alive and well in Cape Town! That and the fact that people dig free shit. 

The two winners I chose were picked on the basis of one simple thing: their obvious passion towards food. 

So without wasting too much of your time (I know you all have to go and pretend to work) here they are. The winners. Give them a hand...

1. Samantha Bath, for her review on Eight at Spier
2. Jaclyn Van Zyl, for her Moroccan-inspired minty marinade. 

Nice one ladies. Drop me an e-mail to arrange collection of tickets. 

Jamie Who

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Salt Deli & Vodka Bar - Tick

I appreciate anyone who opens a place with "vodka" and "deli' in the name. It's pretty ballsy and, even though the vodka bar hasn't opened yet, the restaurant aspect of the Salt Deli & Vodka Bar seems to be doing nicely. I checked it out for breakfast on Saturday. 

Occupying the space where Carlucci's used to be, Salt is done fairly simply using timber decking, screeded slate floors and an open, supermarket-style shelving layout to showcase the deli items. There is a funky stone bar, glass displays boasting fresh tarts and pastries, mounted bread cages and (the now standard) blackboards listing daily specials.

Having squashed a good trail run with Icepick that morning and with a debaucherous wedding planned that night, I was keen to keep it healthy. Something I was stoked to see was ostrich mince on toast - I went with rye.(R40). I dig mince on toast and the added health benefits of the ostrich sold me. The dish might not have been the prettiest to look at, but the seasoning was good enough and knowing how easy it is to dry out such a lean protein I think the chef did well. Pafoof had a bagel with smoked salmon, cream-cheese and capers (R45). Not exactly culinary genius but something I did enjoy was the fact that each component was brough in separate bowls, allowing a customer to add the amount they like (we all know making a bagel/sandwich is one of the most personal tasks around). The Queen went with an unusually dainty order of two poached eggs and fresh tomato on sourdough (R20 - steal). Again, the presentation impressed me as the eggs were served up in individual saucers. Little details yes, but that's what I love. Service throughout the meal was brilliant and some of the better tea I have recently enjoyed topped off a great breakfast.  

The lunch menu also sounded good with things like chicken and asparagus salad, stuffed aubergine, lamb pita and a game terrine on offer. There's also a nice selection of wines by the glass, suggesting this place could do well during lunchtime trade too. 

Recently chef Jacques de Jager joined the original Salt restaurant (located just across the road in The Ambassador Hotel) and with high expectations, Salt Deli seems to be an extension of the lofty goals the group obviously has. I personally can't wait for the upstairs champagne and oyster bar to open. 

Call them on (021) 439-3354. 

Jamie Who 

Monday, March 1, 2010

TRUTH.coffeecult - Impressive.

I've got a little confession for you guys. Seeing how close we have become, and how our relationship has deepened, (my God I love you) I think it's only fair that I be honest and upfront with you. It's going to be tough but bear with me and please don't judge me for it. Ready? *big breath in through nostrils 





*exhales through mouth

It's a medical condition and one that I carry around with regret. The reason I'm telling you all of this is because last week I attended the official opening of TRUTH.coffeecult and I realised again how much I miss the stuff. The smells of the roasting coffee were unreal, the place was packed with beautiful people, it was a gorgeous Cape Town day and Rus Nerwich was murdering it on the sax. 

Truth is owned by the David Donde (the guy who started Origin) and in only a few weeks it has managed to make a huge impact on the Cape Town coffee scene. Walking around the place it didn't take long for me to understand why. The first thing you notice is the integration of the outside area into the architecture. It is beautifully done and creates a very European/New York vibe, where they often focus on pedestrianising their inner-cities. Inside the shop the emphasis is on clean, simple lines and a vintage coffee roaster which takes pride of place and serves as a stunning feature. The building, it should be pointed out, is pretty special too and is actually a memorial. A perfect, light, airy space to browse and admire while while waiting for your order. 

The philosophy behind Truth is to strip down coffee to its basic form and offer the customer only a handful of options. There is a case to be made for too many varieties being presented lately and it would appear that Truth are going for the "back to basics" angle, which is more often than not a good one. Food-wise there are a few options like wraps, mini-burgers, salads etc. (all priced at R15!!) and if you - like me - can't handle coffee, you will be pleased to know that there is an impressive selection of tea available too. 

No doubt this place will be making the Vida and Origin boys sit up and take notice. It has already drummed up a lot of hype and the fact that you can go to a coffee shop, not drink coffee, and leave impressed says a lot. 

Jamie Who

P.S. I feel better that I have come "out". That secret has been tormenting me and I think you and I will only be closer as a result hey. Kisses.