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, August 31, 2009

Slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with roasted garlic and butternut mash

Leg of lamb is soooo last season. Next time you're planning to have people over you should seriously consider a shoulder of lamb. It's cheaper, tastier and a lot more interesting. What I love most about it is that when it's cooked you can easily tear the layer of fat away from the meat and chuck it, making this recipe a lot healthier than most lamb dishes. 

Stuff you'll need to feed 6: 
  • One large shoulder of lamb
  • About 12 cloves of garlic, skin on 
  • 10 - 12 sprigs of rosemary
  • 8 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 1 butternut, peeled and cubed
  • A packet of spinach
Okay, what to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius. Rub the lamb with olive oil and the anchovies. Season all over generously with salt and pepper. 

2. In a large deep baking dish place half the rosemary and garlic and lay the lamb on top. (The layer of fat must face up.) Score the fat in two directions to make a "criss-cross" effect. Place the remaining rosemary and garlic on top of the lamb. Cover tightly with tin foil and bake in the oven for 4 hours. 

3. When the lamb is done, remove from the oven and set aside to rest for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the butternut in boiling water until soft. Drain the butternut, squeeze in the roasted garlic cloves and mash with a fork. 

4. Cook the spinach in boiling water and then plunge it into cold water to stop it cooking. Squeeze dry. 

5. When the meat has rested, remove foil and strip away layer of fat from the meat. Using two forks pull the meat from the bone. If everything has gone according to plan the meat should fall away from the bones easily. 

6. To serve, place shredded meat on a plate alongside butternut and some spinach. I like the rustic approach of presenting this particular meal. It adds to the comfort-food vibe you are going for. 

Obviously because of the long cooking time this meal lends itself to the weekends but what you could do is get everything ready on a weekday, head home from work during lunch and bang it in the oven. Then when you get home later it's done. Leftovers are perfect in a wrap with a chopped salad and some yoghurt, or mixed into a couscous/chickpea salad. 

Jamie Who

Friday, August 28, 2009

Caveau - Happy 5th birthday, I look forward to the next 5!

Lovelies, I write to you today through a hazy headache that could kill a small donkey. The throbbing pain is courtesy of the boys at Caveau and their 5th birthday which they celebrated last night. 

I could not believe the spread that was laid on for us. 20 wineries pouring generously the whole night and buckets of Grolsch wherever you looked. Basically, you couldn't stay sober. Not that we tried. 

And the food! Holy sh*t, the food. Salmon blinis, steamed mussels, sushi, pork belly, chicken satays, prawns, sausages with mustard, chicken wraps, lamb samoosas, spanakopita and of course their famous beef fillet cubes with bearnaise sauce. And desserts. White chocolate and dark chocolate brownies, mini eclairs and Lindt fountains. It was honestly a joke. 

Caveau is one of my favourite restaurants in the country. The food is consistently high, the winelist is the best I have seen anywhere and the hospitality is always amazing. The hosts, Jean and Brendon are always around and aren't shy of getting their hands dirty. (Just allow time for Brendon to roll up his Fabiani sleeves.) The menu changes daily according to what is fresh and there is a separate tapas menu which is perfect to pair up with after-work drinks. 

They are open in Heritage Square (92 Bree Street) in town and Josephine's Mill (13 Boundary Road) in Newlands. Give them a call on (021) 422-1367 and (021) 685-5140 respectively. 

Jamie Who

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The ATE (Avocado, Tomato, Egg) sandwich

Most decent restaurants nowadays have a "healthy" option as part of their breakfast menu. Usually it's muesli (loaded with sugar by the way) and yoghurt. If you're lucky they will throw some fruit salad into the mix but more often than not it's pretty average. Sure, you get the odd exception but generally health breakfasts everywhere are generic and disappointing.

So, while having a business breafast last week at a place called Deano's (previously Nino's) in Newlands, I was pleasantly surprised to find that their version of a health breakfast was actually a cooked one. Two poached eggs, avocado and fresh tomato on toasted rye. Avo and egg sounded a bit strange to me but I gave it a go. And I'm glad I did. The combination worked really well. So well, in fact, that it has become a regular breakfast that I knock up at home. The ATE sandwich I call it. (See what I did there? Because it's Avocado, Tomato and Egg! Get it? Also, it spells the word ATE. Bloody clever...)

It is a killer way to start the day. Protein from the eggs, healthy fats (monounsaturated), vitamin K and antioxidants from the avo and tomatoes which everyone knows are healthy. What's that, you didn't know? Well, not to bore you but tomatoes contain the highest levels of Lycopene of all fruits and vegetables. Lycopene helps prevent cancer. So...you eat this sandwich, you don't get cancer. Basically.

Okay, stuff you'll need to make two ATE sandwiches:
  • 4 organic eggs
  • One avocado
  • One tomato, sliced
  • Two slices of toasted rye/sourdough bread

What to do:

1. To poach your eggs listen carefully and do exactly what I tell you. Bring some water in a pot to the boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Pour in a shot of white wine vinegar. Break eggs one at a time into a shallow dish or teacup. Gently lower eggs into water. Cook for exactly 3 minutes. 3 minutes. Not 3 and-a-half minutes, not 3 minutes and 10 seconds. 3 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, remove stone from avo and use a taspoon to scoop out pieces. This make the avo look cool and is way easier.

3. Lay your avo and tomato on the toast and top with two poached eggs per piece of bread. Season generously with cracked black pepper and sea salt. (I add some freshly chopped chilli, but that's me.)

Aaah, the ATE sandwich. It's good. You know you want it. Have it. Tomorrow.


Jamie Who

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Onion confit with shiraz and prunes

On a recent trip up to the big smoke to visit some old mates I was forced to leave my beloved bulldog behind. Luckily, he moved in with The Pom for a few days where I knew he would be doted on. 

When I got back I wanted to thank The Pom for babysitting with a present but was left feeling pretty uninspired after a trip to the shops. Knowing her love for food, I decided to knock up a little something at home and package it as a gift. I really love giving something handmade as a present - it is way more personal, original and often dirt cheap. I swung past Mr.Price Home and found some glass jars for R9.99. I figured I could work with that. Here's what I filled it with...

Stuff you'll need to fill 2 jam-jars:
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 400g sliced onions
  • A good handful of rosemary or thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons muscovado sugar
  • A good handful of prunes, pitted and chopped
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 3 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. It is worth getting specially aged balsamic. It is a bit more expensive but is totally different to normal balsamic. It is thicker, sweeter and absolutely makes this dish. (And others.)
  • 100ml of shiraz
Okay, what to do:

1. Heat the butter and the oil in a large dish over a low to medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

2. Add the rosemary/thyme, the sugar, and season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes more.

3. Add the prunes, the wine, the orange juice and the balsamic vinegar. Bring liquid to a gentle simmer and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. 

4. When you are happy with the consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool. You want a rich, sticky confit. 

5. If using glass jars, wash thoroughly in warm water before pouring in your confit. 

The toughest part about this recipe is getting your seasoning right so keep tasting while cooking. Add vinegar if you want it sharper, add a bit of sugar if it isn't sweet enough, black pepper for some kick etc. 

The end result is - if I do say so myself - outrageous. Serve it up with strong cheeses like gorgonzola, gouda and stilton. 

That wasn't so hard was it? 

Jamie Who

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

La Boheme Wine Bar & Bistro - I can't wait

As one of the better managers I have ever encountered, Faisal - previously of Caveau - has moved on and has opened his own place in Sea Point. I am ashamed to say I have still not been but the reviews so far are promising.

With his experience at Caveau, it makes sense that his winelist would be impressive and apparently it is. More than 50 types of wine are available by the glass and reports are that there is an impressive range. If Faisal's professionalism at Caveau was anything to go by you can bet on a strong emphasis being placed on service too and with main courses coming in at R70 it sounds like it could be next on my list of restaurants to visit.

The sample menu looks like dressed-up bistro food and sounds delicious. (Oven-roasted duck, Grilled lamb rack with potatoes, Roast pork belly with mustard mash etc.)

A recap: good food, good wine. So...see you there?

Find them at 341 Main Road, Sea Point or call them on (021) 434-8797.

Jamie Who
P.S. Thanks to eatout for the pic

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Opal Lounge - Cape Town's sexiest restaurant

Opal Lounge is sexy, sexy, sexy. The new owners have spared absolutely no expenses in fitting the place out and have created an atmosphere that makes it easy to forget you are a few metres away from the hectic nightlife of Kloof Street. Split into two main eating rooms, the restaurant celebrates the Chinese Revolution, displaying beautiful wooden carvings, ancient weapons, sculptures of warriors and document boxes. Walls are painted striking red and rich blue, with high wingback chairs, couches and console tables staggered throughout. I was blown away.

I arrived early and kicked things off with a dry Martini. Browsing through the bar menu, I was already getting pretty excited. No signs of peanuts or pretzels here! Instead there are things like pea mousse with chorizo crisps and salmon fingers with beetroot jam. The bar had certainly been set high for dinner.

Now, with restaurants as grand as this one my main concern is the food not being able to match expectations that are created by the decor. Too often restaurateurs spend all their money on creating a stunning venue, only to forget about the basics. I'm glad to say that, on my visit, Opal Lounge's food - for the most part - stood up to the challenge.

Things didn't get off to the best start when I ordered a bottle of wine and was told it was unavailable, only to order a starter that was also apparently unavailable. Eventually we got our replacement wine (Groote Post Shiraz, 2004) which was a very capable substitute and my starter of scallops served with a chorizo puree and a mini guava roll. The flavours worked well enough but if I tell you my scallops were the size of a R2 coin that is being generous. In his defense, the chef tried to compensate by giving me more of them however this made presentation look scruffy. The other starter at our table was a mushroom tortellini with a truffle dressing. The menu did say there was a goats cheese stuffing, but I didnt see any. I was actually glad, as the dish was perfect the way it was. The cheese might well have been too much.

For mains I went with almond-crusted venison which, on the night, was springbok. It was sensational, served with braised red cabbage and an apricot chutney. The Princess had a beef fillet with a pumpkin seed crust and the strange-sounding bolognaise jus. It was every bit as good as mine and would not have been out of place at a more celebrated restaurant (La Colombe, Jardine etc). By now we were both full and decided to share a dessert. After eating the tiramisu brulee I was bummed we hadn't each gotten one. It was sublime.

So, there you have it. The food is (perhaps unnecessarily) complex with foams, spooms, bubbles, gels etc. The flavours do deliver however. The bar area is awesome and the cocktail menu better than most. It is definitely worth arriving a bit early to walk around and admire the art (which, by the way, is for sale). There is also a beautiful little courtyard which I can see myself spending a good bit of time in come summer.

Find them at 30 Kloof Street (the old Manolo premises) or call them on (021) 422-4747.

Jamie Who

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ostrich tagliata - easy peezy lemon squeezy

I got an e-mail from Mr.Supersport up in Jozi. He tells me he needs a simple recipe. Well, simple recipes for simple minds I guess. Seriously though, I know there are times when time is tight. There are times when you just don't feel like cooking and take-away is starting to look pretty inviting. Trust me, if you cook this recipe it will take less time, it will be easier and you will be eating one of the healthiest meals around.

Tagliata is not to be confused with tagliatelle. Yes, both are Italian but that's pretty much where the similarities end. One is grilled meat, normally served with a salad and one is the more famous type of pasta. One tastes awesome, is rich in iron and protein and the other will make you fat. My version of a tagliata is done with ostrich so it really is super-healthy. In terms of difficulty to cook, 1 being a retard and 10 being me this one is a 1.5. Give it a shot.

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 2 people:
  • 400g ostrich fillet
  • 200g baby spinach
  • A packet of sundried tomatoes
  • A teaspoon of finely chopped chilli
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

What to do:

1. Rub the meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook in a red-hot pan for three minutes per side and remove. Allow to cool completely and slice into pieces.

2. Reduce the heat in the pan and add the garlic and chilli with a good glug of olive oil. Gently fry for a few minutes and add the sundried tomatoes. Cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the spinach and the meat. You want the spinach to be just-cooked. When it is done and the meat is warmed through, remove from heat and plate it up.

With ostrich, the worst thing you can do is overcook it. It becomes dry and tough really easily. The meat is also darker than beef so don't be scared. Rather undercook it and leave it in the pan a bit longer.

So there you have it. One of the best scorers on the taste:health ratio I have ever seen. Enjoy.


Jamie Who

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sinn's Deli - Wembley Square is still killing it

Remember S-Bar in Wembley Square? Remember a few years ago when the whole of Cape Town used to head there for after work drinks? Fridays were PACKED. You struggled to find parking. That was years ago though. As is always the case in this city, something new popped up and people moved on. I moved on. I figured Wembley Square would fade and tenants would be replaced. It seems the joke was on me.

I was astonished on a recent trip to Wembley Square to find that not only are the restaurants doing ok, but in fact they are absolutely humming. Knead? Packed. Crush? Packed. Vida? Well, obviously that was packed. But what was most interesting was the expansion of the Sinn's brand within Wembley. As well as S-Bar and Sinn's restaurant, Thomas Sinn (the owner) has opened one of his Sinnfull ice-cream shops - albeit a small, portable version - and a brand new deli.

The deli is what interested me. With so many of these kinds of places opening up, I wanted to know what made this one different. And the truth is...not much. There are cold meats, cheeses and pre-cooked meals. There are chocolates, sweets, wraps, sandwiches and much more. Pretty standard stuff. The quality is high though, and the space is sexy. Most impressive though, is their wine selection. It shows a nice range and plenty of variety for such a small shop.

It is interesting. Obviously Thomas has confidence in the deli. He now has control over literally half of Wembley Square and he wouldn't keep expanding if he did not feel there was a demand. Perhaps his deli is a goldmine for those working in the area. Time will tell...

Get hold of them on (021) 465-0967

Jamie Who

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jardine Bakery - Sushi on rye. I like the sound of that.

For those of you who haven't heard of George Jardine, umm...shame. How are you doing? Who tied your shoelaces for you this morning? His restaurant has been number two in Eat Out Magazine's top 10 for the last two years and he was awarded Chef of the year at the 2007 awards. So, the man can cook. 

His restaurant is at 185 Bree Street and is phenomenal, but that deserves a separate review. For now, I'm here to tell you about his bakery which is situated downstairs from the main restaurant. It has been open for roughly a year now and the place heaves. Taking the "hole-in-the-wall" concept to a new level, the vibe here is basically a countertop facing the pavement. Here, they have taken baking and made it funky, as can be seen from the stylised branding and tattoos sticking out from the chef's uniform of the dude serving you. There are a couple of tables and benches where you can enjoy your lunch, otherwise you get it on the run. 

For breakfast there is homemade muesli and croissants and for lunch there are pies, gourmet sandwiches and soups of the day. It's not rocket science but everything they do has quality written all over it. I have been there twice in the past week and have tried the Italian (parma ham, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil) and the Sushi (salmon, pickled ginger, wasabi mayo and cos lettuce). Both were on their 66% sourdough/rye bread and both were beautiful. At R40 each, considering the ingredients, I reckon it's more than worth it. 

I see they are open now on Saturdays too so for those of you who blame work for your reason not to have visited, you now have no excuse.  It's a good one peeps. Do it. 

Jardine Bakery is on the corner of Bree and Bloem. Call them on (021) 424-5644. 

Jamie Who 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Grand - but is it really?

Bloody hell, Saturday was a mess. With Power coming by my place to dazzle us with cocktails and The Big Dog and Pull-up both visiting from out-of-town we all got a bit carried away. I only mention this to explain the kind of state I was in on Sunday morning. I woke up feeling rude and did what anyone in Cape Town does when the weather is amazing and your condition is not. I went to Camps Bay.

My mind was already wrestling with itself over what kind of trip this was going to be. There was the solid but maybe too aggressive option of a Bloody Mary at Caprice, or there was something a bit more civilised. A bit more responsible. Lunch at The Grand.

I am a huge fan of this place and I think its interior might be my favourite in Cape Town. Rich leather couches upstairs, vintage bookshelves, mock-fur throws, and pink walls. Black and white photographs, antlers, hanging lamps, bookshelves. Honestly, one of the most eclectic collections of random things that you could imagine. But they all have one thing in common. They are all beautiful, unashamedly glamorous and 100% in line with the restaurant's name.

Having mostly eaten off the bar menu on previous visits, (an awesome little menu by the way - prego rolls, mussels and frites, and even a toasted crayfish sandwich) I was presented with the lunch menu this time. A step up from the bar menu, the focus is still on cafe food. There are a few salads, pastas, fish cakes etc and even and an intriguing sounding "low carb burger". The Big Dog and I both went for the burger and The Princess chose a linguini with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. Our burgers arrived without a roll. Ok, low carb, now I get it. The patty itself was really good and was definitely made up of more than just minced beef. Perhaps a pork and beef split? The pepper sauce, which arrives standard apparently, was good and the chips were outstanding. The irony for me was that they brought fresh bread rolls to the table while we were eating. So...I ordered a burger, got a burger patty and was then offered a roll. The Princess's pasta was bland and made little impression.

To me, The Grand is an absolute showstopper in terms of location but from past experiences the food can be inconsistent. It is also pretty steep and, while lunch on Sunday was pleasant, the question is: would it have been so enjoyable without the setting and the decor?

Find out yourself by booking a table on (021) 438-4253.

Jamie Who

P.S. Apologies for the lack of photo. The most beautiful restaurant in the country and I forget my camera. Not my best effort but let's blame it on Saturday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Conrad Gallagher - Celebrity chef does not equal success

Yeah, look, things aren't going to well for Connie. His restaurant, Geisha, has been provisionally liquidated.

The restaurant closed its doors on the 9th of August and Gallagher returned to Ireland with his wife and sons. He left behind R985 000 in outstanding rent and, if the rumours are true, he also owes R300 000 to a company called Mac Catering who sold him equipment to set up his kitchen. Gallagher is under even more pressure owing to the fact that he is being investigated by the labour department for failing to register his employees with any unemployment fund. So...basically, he hasn't been paying his staff for the last two months. Not great.

It's probably a good time to tell you what Sun International Hotel Group pay him. R210 000. Yip, per month. He also gets R75 000 every month from various companies for whom he consults, one of which is The Trump Group. Obviously our boy isn't great with money management.

So now we sit back and wait to see what happens. He has until the 23rd of September to explain to the court why the liquidation should not be made final. If it is, there is the chance of the business being sold. The site is awesome and the concept could work with a better operator so it will be interesting to follow. Otherwise, I'm sure there are restaurateurs lining up to take this space and put something fresh in there. Let's see...

Jamie Who

P.S. I felt an authoritive tone coming through in this piece. Did you like that? A bit of journalism coming through there for you? Maybe it's because I got this info from The Cape Times. 

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pinotage on Tap - wait, what did you say?

Take out your pens. Take out your calendar. Turn to the 24th of October and make a big X. Congratulations, you are now going to The Pinotage On Tap Festival at Diemersfontein.

Diemersfontein Pinotage is a little slice of rainbow and this festival basically gives you the opportunity to drink as much of the stuff as you can. "Jamie, Jamie don't you think it tastes like chocolate. And coffee??!!" Yes my luv, calm down. Everybody knows that by now but well done. I'm digging the enthusiasm.

The festival serves up a little bit of live music in the form of aKING, Lonesome Dave Ferguson (the dude who plays at The Woodstock Market with his harmonica) and Haydn Gardner's Swing Band. The event has been pushed out a month so hopefully the weather will play its part. As well as the music, there is a BOTTOMLESS chocolate fountain and loads of strawberries. There are also snack-packs to encourage the picnic vibe. Ok, good.

There are three categories of tickets, check them (and other details) out for yourselves at http://www.diemersfontein.co.za/index.php?pageid=eventpot09&id=POTC09. It's going to be a screaming scream people.

And for those of you up in Jozi, instead of bitching about how Cape Town has all these awesome wine weekends, rather relax and stay posted. Diemersfontein has something planned for you too. Watch this space.

Jamie Who

P.S. I think we should all say a nice big thank you to Hotspur who basically did all my work for me on this article. Last night it was a drunken thought, today it is reality. Nice one.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Grown-up egg and soldiers

We all had "egg and soldiers" growing up. (If you didn't, you're probably weird and God only knows how you found your way onto this site.) There was something pretty cool about breaking open the egg and dipping in the bread, yolk spilling out all over the place. It was fun. And to be honest...I kind-of miss it.  

So I set out the other day to make an adult version. The main difference is that I baked the eggs but I think this makes a lot more sense. You can throw in a couple more ingredients, you get every last bit of the egg, plus it is easier to cook and looks quite funky. I did mine in ramekins that The Big Dog got me for Christmas but if you don't have any just use coffee cups. I also like the idea of using asparagus as well as bread for dipping. Egg and asparagus are best friends and when you put them together you know it's going to be good. Trust me. 

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 2:
  • 2 eggs (I like organic but at the very least use free-range)
  • Two tomatoes, quartered 
  • 2 sausages, sliced (What's that, you didn't think you were allowed sausages? Check out Woolies my luv. Chicken viennas, 80 calories each. It's a pleasure.) 
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • A handful of your favourite mushroom, chopped
  • A pack of asparagus
What to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. In a pan, gently fry the onions and mushrooms for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute more before adding the sausage. Cook for a further minute. Remove from heat. 

2. Spoon your mixture into your ramekins or coffee mugs. Using the back of a spoon, press down on the mixture to create a little dent. (Let's call it a tiny well. Like a well for ants)

3. Crack an egg and carefully pour into well of each ramekin/mug. 

4. Bake in the oven for about 8 - 10 minutes or until done. YOU WANT YOUR EGG TO BE SOFT. The yolk needs to run out when you break it otherwise what's the point? 

5. While you are baking your eggs, cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for a few minutes until done but still firm. Remove from heat and place asparagus in ice-cold water. (This stops them from cooking and keeps them green.) 

6. To serve, place the ramekins/mugs on a plate and pile up the asparagus next to some lightly toasted sourdough bread. 

That's it. Easy. Healthy. Tasty. As it should be. 

Jamie Who 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Red Mango - Welcome

It was good to be back in Jozi this weekend. I got to see some old faces, I got to eat at some cool restaurants, I got to drink Coffee-Patrone and spank the planks a bit. Most of all though, I got to eat Red Mango frozen yoghurt. I don't care how gay this sounds but holy monkey I love frozen yoghurt. Seriously, what's not to love? It's like yoghurt but COLD.

Aaaaanyway...after taking in some shopping and a nice lunch in the new wing of Melrose Arch with Superman and The Goob we came across Red Mango. Those not in the know probably haven't heard of it but let me tell you a little something. Red Mango is massive in the States and is made so much cooler to me by the fact that you can't get it here. I want you to imagine something. Imagine some girls strolling through Melrose Arch and coming across a Zara. Imagine them screaming, clapping and jumping up and down. Imagine the excitement. Now imagine those girls were me and that Zara was Red Mango. That's pretty much what we're dealing with here.

I walked in and took my seat in the white plastic bubble-booths (I made that up. It explains them perfectly and next time you're there use it. Use it like "Hey guys, let's sit in the bubble-booths." Act cool.) Basically, what you do is order some frozen yoghurt and choose from healthy toppings like watermelon, granola, almonds, strawberries etc. If you want them to blend it up into a smoothie they can do that too. They have some salads and wraps too I think, but to be honest I was too focused on the frozen yoghurt. The anticipation was too much.

To cut a long story short it was worth it. Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying it's just the novelty that made it cool. Like when we first had McDonalds, Pepsi or Pringles all those years back. Well, you might be right. But for now, I'm going to eat them like an eskimo until the novelty wears off. At least it's healthy. (Well, sort of. Yes, it is non-fat and natural but there still about 200 calories in a small cup so be careful.)

Red Mango, welcome to SA. Now hurry up and get to Cape Town. CAN YOU IMAGINE ONE ON THE CAMPS BAY STRIP??!!!

If you want to see what I'm talking about check them out on http://www.redmangousa.com/. You could also go to Melrose Arch.

Jamie Who

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Roots - A tough one for me...

This is the most difficult review I have had to write so far in my fledgling career. Having been given the chance to tick off another of Eat Out's top 10 restaurants (Jozi's only one strangely), I found moments of pure class mixed in with moments of amateurism. Brilliant touches with really average ones. If I was asked to mark the experience on a scale of 1 - 10 I really don't know how I would do it. Let me explain why...

On Sunday The Rentals, The Princess and I took a drive to Roots restaurant, which is at The Forum Homini Boutique Hotel. If ever there was a destination restaurant this is it. Arhcitecture combining glass, stone and cement, a sort of African-minimalism decor and a beautiful deck overlooking a small dam. A really good setting. I was happy with the vibe.

We were shown to our seats where we sat down and waited for something to happen. And waited. And waited. Eventually I got up to call someone and ask him to please explain the menu. He was apologetic and took us through the six-course tasting menu that the chef had put together (the menu changes daily). The food is R270 per head and for a further R85 each you can enjoy a wine pairing with each course. After checking out the menu, I was in heaven. Here's a little breakdown of the six courses and how I rated them:

Saffron and potato broth with a fishcake (Glorious start. Subtle saffron)
Cured Scottish Salmon with a pickled fennel salad (Simple. Clean. Delicious) 
Gremolata Kingklip with an oxtail wonton (The winner.)
Braised Pork belly with cider, pak choi and quinoa (Tender. Nice twist by adding quinoa.)
Confit Duck on a mushroom risotto (Duck sensational. Smoked mushrooms a bit overpowering)
Lemon meringue with raspberry, lavender and almonds (My least favourite. Good but not great)

We were feeling good and all went for the wine pairing. This is where things got a bit weird. Firstly, the wine was poured at a table which was in front of the entrance to both bathrooms. Like, right in front of it. There were empty glasses, half-empty glasses, full glasses and dirty glasses. Nobody really seemed to know what they were doing. The wine throughout the meal was brought to us way before the food, so we were left either with warm wine or very little wine by the time the food arrived. There seemed to be two sommeliers, one very good and one hopeless. There was nowhere near enough emphasis placed on the wines which was disappointing.

The food itself, it must be said, was out of this world and was definitley worth the hype. Something else that has to be mentioned is what happened after one of our courses failed to arrive. Philippe Wagenfuhrer, the chef, came to our table to explain the mix-up and apologise. We were then given a top-up of our wine at no charge and a complimentary glass of bubbly each. After the meal, when we were having coffee on the deck outside, he then came to our table again and refused to charge two of us. I have never seen a chef this concerned over a customer and was floored by the generosity and pride in his own abilities. He said it was his mistake, he had high standards and as a result our money was not welcome. There a few chefs with less talent who could learn something from his humility.

So, as I said, how was the experience? Amazing and disappointing at the same time. Yes, they fu*ked up but they dealt with it like true professionals. So, all things considered, I left happy. Take what you can from that.

Jamie Who

Friday, August 7, 2009

Robertson Slow wine festival - be there

Another weekend, another wine festival. (I think I started my last post about a wine weekend like that but it's true...) Me, I'm hopping on a kite and heading up to Jozi but if I were sticking around I would definitely be on my way to this. Let's get straight into it shall we?

The Robertson Slow involves wines from Ashton, Bonnievale and McGregor and will consist of 28 participating wineries. As the name suggests, the vibe here is chilled. Cape Town style. Like, reeeeelaxed. Seriously, take it easy. Wine is obviously the focus but Sunday also sees the Food Market in full swing. Country-styled cooking will be showcased and there will be live music too. (I know the food will be good, I am less sure about the music.) Either way though, with the wine flowing you know you'll have a good time.

The festival kicks off tomorrow (the 7th) and runs through to Monday. If you want to check out a full schedule and a list of the wineries involved go to http://www.robertsonslow.com/pages/content/2009program.pdf

Enjoy that and remember, drinking and driving is for retards. Rather book into one of the (many) guesthouses or B&B's, have that extra glass of red and stay over. What's that? Can I give you some options. Yes I can darlings, here are some: http://www.sa-venues.com/accommodation/robertson.php It's a pleasure.

Jamie Who

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pussy - edgier than the guy who plays guitar with Bono

Jeez, that's a bit hectic hey? I'm all for pushing the envelope a bit but these guys have gone a bit far haven't they? After doing some investigation, apparently not...

You see, it turns out Pussy energy drink is aligned with the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, which was launched in 2005 in an effort to educate the youth about HIV/AIDS. The campaign has raised more than $500 000 worldwide to date, and continues to grow. The Staying Alive brand is respected and champions a good cause so it makes sense for these guys to use the drink to deliver their message to the target audience. With a background in PR and a fascination for branding I find it all extremely interesting but maybe that's for another blogger to write about. I'm here to answer the burning questions that I know you're all thinking.... (1) It tastes awesome. Passion fruit and litchi come through nicely. (2) You can get it at HQ in Heritage Square. It will also soon be stocked at The One & Only Hotel (O&O, I like to call it) and Caprice. (3) My favourite movie is Finding Neverland (4) They cost R25 each (5) Yes, they work. 

The stylish packaging (and places where you can find them) is a clear indication that Pussy wants to position itself alongside premium brands, but what really impressed me was what is inside the can. Milk thistle, guarana, Ginseng and Ginko are just some of the natural "boosters" that are mixed with grape juice and pressed limes to leave you with a drink that really does taste good. 

You can't help but appreciate how ballsy these guys are and I think the drink will smash through stereotypes and break down a lot of misconceptions. People will talk and the power of word-of-mouth will be very evident here. 

I always like backing something where a good cause is involved so hats off to them. And hats off too to the establishments that are going to stock them. 

Jamie Who

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sidedish - Okay, I see what you did there...

There are few things more “Cape Town” than Bo-Kaap. The "smartie-houses" and the general vibe up there is pretty special and it’s awesome to see developers pouring a bit of money into upgrading the area in the form of new buildings. There are new offices popping up, apartments are being built and a particularly funky boutique hotel called Rouge on Rose has opened its doors. Inside the hotel is a gem of a restaurant called Sidedish. Owned by the talented caterers who run Dish Catering (Get it? Dish...Sidedish...Got it? Good), the place is as intimate as you can get with only a handful of tables. The d├ęcor is comfortable and inviting, with the menu scribbled on columns. Adding to the feeling of being in someone’s home, rather than a restaurant, when I visited the waitress was also the chef!

The menu itself is simple, with things like awesome salads (The Princess had one with chicken, roasted butternut, beetroot, pumpkin seeds), pasta specials, a lamb burger and a creamy butter chicken curry. The baked goods look outrageously good too so if you want the time spent in the gym to pay off you’ll do well to stay away from them. Scones, cookies, fudge and more were all very tempting but I stayed strong. Instead, I went for the grilled chicken breast on toasted sourdough. It came on rocket leaves and avocado with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and was a hit. Pafoof had the soup of the day which was the - by now -pretty standard sweet-potato and butternut. A good hit of cumin at least made it good, if not unforgettable. The coffee was particularly good and if you give in and need a sweet fix the hot chocolate is the real deal. As in..the REAL deal. Hot milk with melted chocolate that you pour in yourself. Ya, I know. 

A good place that is a nice change from the regular venues, I really enjoyed my lunch there. An extra waitor or waitress would be a good call but otherwise I left happy. Come to think of it, everyone in the place seemed pretty happy.

Find it at 25 Rose Street or get hold of them on (021) 426-0298. 

Jamie Who

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hudson's Burger Joint - All the cool kids are doing it

The new talk of the town amongst the Cape Town trendy (that's you and me by the way) is Hudson's Burger Joint on Kloof Street. Owned by the same guy who is in charge of Cape Town's beloved Caprice, the place oozes cool. Maybe it's the giant wooden head that dominates the interior, maybe it's the J-BOT ,(Jack Black On Tap - cool abbreviation, I know, use it if you want) maybe it's the trippy upside-down skyline painted in the bathroom or maybe it's the cute waitresses in their fited cowgirl shirts. Oh yeah, maybe it's the burgers...

With a menu that punts designer burgers in 150g or 250g patties there is something for everyone, including two vegetarian options. Every burger comes with chips and a funky name with dishes like The Wiseguy, The Works, and of course the signature Hudson. Toppings include cheddar, avo, bacon, mayo etc. and there also some pretty cool side orders in the form of chilli-poppers, beer-battered onion rings and Jessica Simpson chicken wings. Wash them down with homemade lemonade or some delicious sounding milkshakes, including peanut butter and Horlicks versions.

The burgers themselves are good but not yet the best in Cape Town. (I have a feeling with time they will mount a serious challenge though.) If you want a solid, affordable burger with a side order of people watching then this your spot. Plus, you can keep it tidy by ordering the ostrich burger - ostrich is naturally low in fat and high in protein - and laughing off the chips. The side salad they bring you in their place is impressive. Unlike most places where a side salad often feels like an afterthought and is made up of some limp leaves and stale tomatoes, Hudson's has nailed theirs. Pine nuts, artichokes and fresh greens makes you feel like you aren't really sacrificing that much. And if you're the type who can't say "burger" without immediately following it with "chips" ask them to do a half-half with salad and chips. Yip, you can do that.

Hudson's Burger Joint is at 69A Kloof Street. Call them on (021) 426-5974.

Jamie Who

Monday, August 3, 2009

Five-spice crusted kingklip with crushed sweet potatoes, olives and sundried tomatoes

Another Monday and the work (my other work) seems to have somehow made love to itself, reproduced and tripled in amount. Not ideal. So, a bit pushed for time here. Not to worry though. Last week I also ran out of time and managed to bang out a nice little dish for Pafoof who was down from Jozi. I mixed up a little bit of Asia with flavours of the Med with nice results. It was delicious (obviously, come now) but it was super-healthy too. Give it a stab next time you need something quick.

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 4:
  • 4 x 200g-250g fillets of kingklip (or similar firm, white fish)
  • About 8 small-ish sweet potatoes (work on two per person. If they are big obviously use less. It's not rocket-science)
  • A packet of baby spinach
  • 2 handfuls of black olives, stoned (Not you. The olives)
  • A packet of sundried tomatoes, drained
  • Four tablespoons of five-spice
  • A tablespoon of paprika
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Parsley, for garnishing
Okay, what to do:

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius. In a wide, shallow dish pour in some olive oil and sprinkle in the five-spice and paprika. Roll the fish in the spices so that the fillets are all evenly covered.

2. Boil the potatoes in salted boiling water until they are soft. Remove from heat and squash them with a fork. Do not mash. Add the olives, the sundried tomatoes and some olive oil to loosen everything up.

3. Panfry the spinach until it is wilted but still has some colour. Add to the potatoes and stir everything to combine.

4. Meanwhile, cook the fish for about 12 - 15 minutes or until done. Do not overcook the fish!

5. To serve, spoon the crushed potatoes onto the middle of a large plate. Slice the fish diagonally and place on top of the potatoes. Drizzle over some lemon juice and sprinkle some parsley on top.

Another cracker that isn't difficult at all. The five-spice is a bit exotic but it is worth getting. It is a brilliant combination of the sweet, sour, hot and salty flavours that are the cornerstones of Asian cooking. Get some and start experimenting - you can use it in stir-fries, soups, marinades, curries and more. It's pretty potent stuff with lots of strong flavours though so don't be a cowboy with it...a little goes a long way.

Jamie Who