What to do in the middle of winter when you have the day off, the sky is deep blue and the sun just won’t quit? You take a quiet drive along the coast to remind yourself that you live at the ocean, with all it has to offer.
It’s easy to become complacent in the cold, to embrace the rut and cuddle up in your comfort zone, but when Mother Nature gives you a sneak peak at spring, you ditch the woolly mittens and grab it with both hands. The perfect opportunity to take advantage of the Cape’s bounty sans the usual tourists, traffic and torrential downpour.
There’s a lot of hoopla on social media at the moment regarding Woolworths and their ethical and sustainability claims. I often shop at Woolies as it’s convenient, fits in with my busy work schedule and provides me with my butternut ready chopped – just the way I like it (although I wouldn’t mind if the pieces were halved again). Still, there’s no denying they’re a large corporation with a serious bottom line, so if it’s a guarantee you’re after, then you need to remove a few links from the supply chain.
When I found myself cooking for my Cape Town Clan last Sunday, I made sure to source my lamb from the one place I do trust implicitly with my carnivorous needs: Gogo’s Meat & Biltong Deli in Newlands.
These days it’s safer to venture an opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict than it is to support Banting. I don’t know who’s annoying me more at the moment: the fence sitting foodies, the ill informed, yet exceedingly vocal skeptics or the Banting Bashers who think LCHF (Low Carbohydrate, High Fat) is KFC without the bun. What I don’t understand is, why all the drama?
I bought The Book earlier this year and it said I could still use cream, butter and olive oil in cooking and eat bacon, avocado and cheese. It also said to avoid sugar and foods high in carbohydrates — which include seed and vegetable oils. That’s it. It never said to eat any of the permissible foods in abundance and it clearly advises against too much protein.
For the past few Sundays I’ve found myself at The Creamery soaking up the clean, crisp interior, the salted caramel sauce and the overwhelmingly cheerful sense of community. I’ve queued with the kids, grans and couples for my favourite flavour and sat outside watching the side streets ooze families from their depths, sending them streaming into the cafe. Kate Scheirer’s dessert cafe is a hive of activity, drawing people in with its promise of nostalgic bonhomie and delectable classics.
James Taylor – the original Taylor ice cream churn (he now has a sibling, Taylor Swift)
The Creamery serves, in its own words: “honest-to-goodness, made-from-scratch, not-your-average ice cream”. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible and where not, they support local, artisanal businesses. They buy chocolate from CocoaFair and coffee from Rosetta Roastery, both of whom process imported beans with home-grown flair.
Food Barn’s winter special*
I’d grown tired of hearing about The Foodbarn without having experienced it myself. My friend Julie Carter once invited me to join her there for lunch – then took her husband instead. A year on and I’d arranged to meet another friend, Clare Yeowell, for lunch in Noordhoek. I was finally going to try Franck Dangereux’s famous food and at half the price, no less. Cape Town winter specials are a beautiful thing, they’re the local’s reward for sharing the city with tourists for the other 8 months of the year.
Clare Yeowell from Classic Marmalade
As with most of my Cape Town friends, I’d met Clare via the food markets, City Bowl Market on Hope to be exact, where I regularly buy her delectable Classic marmalade, jams and preserves. Back then she’d agreed to let me spend a day with her to write about her product (which I did here) and that was all the time it took for the two of us to click. We’ve been buds ever since, despite her transcendence to the giddy heights of international acclaim for her marmalade. Clare has a palate of note and I knew she’d be the perfect companion on my maiden Foodbarn voyage.
The cosy interior
The Fish Lady from the Biscuit Mill
Julie Carter has had her Ocean Jewels stand at the Neighbourgoods market every Saturday since it first opened 7 years ago. It’s a foodie landmark and you’d be hard pressed to find someone in Cape Town who doesn’t know about her famous Tuna burger. She also does beautifully fresh things with Salmon and makes a Yellowtail spring roll that’s nigh on impossible to resist. All this, with her bubbly personality thrown in for good measure.
No introduction required
Jules sources her fish locally from around the peninsula with a guy in every port (her dad’s a commercial fisherman) and don’t try visiting Kalkbay harbour with her as you’ll never get away! Julie knows everyone in the industry, from fishermen to award winning chefs and is the tie that binds local, sustainable fishing with conscientious consumerism.
Tuna sashimi salad
This may not be about food, but it’s local and it’s food related. Pottery and ceramics play a vital role in presentation and deserve their share of the foodie spotlight.
Potters Market, Rondebosch Park
Twice a year, in early autumn and late spring, the Western Cape branch of Ceramics Southern Africa hosts the Potters Market in Rondebosch park. I’d been warned to get there early and I did – just after 8 – and already the place was filling up fast.
OURS, 48 Main Road, Kalk Bay
Yesterday I met my friend Clare for lunch at OURS Cafe in Kalk Bay – simple fare, good company and the best coffee in Cape Town.
Dave Coleman from OURS
OURS is run by a group of surfer dudes/ coffee aficionados. They’re not trying to be the next Big Food Fad in Cape Town, they’re just keeping it real. The cafe has evolved from the original hole in the wall serving coffee and pastries to incorporate a beautiful courtyard area overlooking the ocean with lunch and dinner thrown in for good measure.
A few weeks ago I was privileged to be invited to the launch of Jane-Anne Hobbs’s new recipe book ‘Scrumptious: Food for Family and Friends’. I’ve long been a fan of her Scrumptious food blog, where she shares her triple tested recipes and appetising anecdotes. Online she’s larger than life, in person she’s about two bricks and a tickey high but with a personality that fills the room. The woman has a way with people, words and food and the combination is quite delectable. This was a recipe book I had been keenly anticipating.
With Penny Haw at the Scrumptious launch. (Photo: Liesl Jobson, Random House Struik)
Back home it was time to don my apron and give these recipes a run for their money. I chose the beef fillet and potato salad with green goddess dressing with a purpose – for years I’ve been trying to replicate one of my favourite meals from the eighties: a green goddess salad from the Front Page restaurant in Melville (Jhb). This recipe had all the elements and the sight of Tarragon in the ingredients gave me a thrill of hope.
“I’m out to cure the ills, not cause them.” – Martin Raubenheimer finds himself in a pickle…
“During my formative years I linked the meat that I love so much to the contented animals that I saw grazing in the veld and scratching around on the “werf” of family farms. This led me to believe that the world was filled with caring carnivores. Then I grew up and reality bit. I got a job which took me to factory farms owned by “big business brains”. I know it’s claimed that feeding on the flesh of animals for well over 2 million years has increased the size of our brain but in recent times it certainly seems to have done the exact opposite to our hearts.
On these industrial size enterprises I witnessed how the wholesale production of cheap commercial meat in the pursuit of maximum profits has become, in the words of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, nothing short of “an ignominious expression of greed, indifference and heartlessness.” It was time to take a good hard look at my purchasing habits and focus on a more thoughtful, ethical and holistic way of life. No more “dirty meat” for me. It became my mission to seek out and support small local producers and hunt down naturally reared animals for the pot.
I found a group of genuinely ethical farmers who were more than happy to open their hearts and homes and allow me to experience first-hand how their pasture-based healthy meat is produced, slaughtered, processed and sold. Now I could sleep easily when it came to the welfare of the animals and just as importantly, because they don’t stuff them full of growth hormones or antibiotics, these suppliers can vouch for the wholesomeness of the meat.
Mission accomplished and fired up with enthusiasm, I signed on for a charcuterie course, built a smoker, got hold of some lovely “clean” pork and started makin’ bacon. My instructor, a highly respected local charcutier’s dry cure recipe called for a small quantity of pink salt (sodium nitrite) but I wasn’t keen to add this. My meat was pure and I wanted everything I made to be as natural as possible. So I consulted my hero Hugh’s book and was pleased to see that according to him all you really need for curing, whether you’re smoking or not, is coarse sea salt, brown sugar and a couple of herbs and spices, exactly what I wanted to hear.