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Taste of Cape Town 2011

May 15, 2011

As this years Taste of Cape Town festival fell on the 8th May which just happens to be Bens birthday, I had no excuse not to go. I missed the cheese festival for Afrika Burn so I was hoping this would make up for that.

Held at the Green Point cricket club, this event gathers restauranteurs, vineyards, local producers and foodies from all around this great city. For a ticket price of R160, you got given a wine tasting glass and R100 worth of vouchers for tasting.

First stop of the day for us was the PnP Chefs theatre where we learnt how to make spring rolls and thai beef salad courtesy of the chefs from Wang Thai. The set up for this was great, the commentary from the hosts amusing, we got to try the food they cooked and walked off with free recipes from PnP. We later returned to this tent to watch Rudi Liebenberg of Planet Restaurant destroy Daniel Toledo (Il leone mastrantonio) at a 5 dish cook off – inspiring us to go to his stall to try the restaurants offering. The theatre was a great (and free) part of the festival and during previous days had played host to SASSI talks and a variety of instructive cooking sessions.

Upon first seeing the menu for the restaurant tastings, I knew immediately what my first dish of the day would be. Lured in by their dedication to decent meat, I opted for Bistro Sixteen82’s sticky five-spiced free-range pork belly with salted caramel and apple celeriac espuma. Honestly I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted anything more delicious. This dish was perfect in both texture and taste with the pork belly cooked to perfection – crispy on top with soft fat and meaty pork underneath. This was perfectly complemented by the sweet accompaniements – I had to try hard to save my vouchers and not to go back for a second portion!

After our delicious first dish we wandered around to see what else was on offer. Spotting our firm favourite vineyard and producer of fabulous chutneys and vinegarettes “Rickety Bridge”, I wondered if my favourite biscuit mill stall holder may be there, alas no, we were greeted by a smiley lady but no infamous “Rickety Bridge Man”. We were then drawn in by the idea of African cuisine by the restaurant “Gold”, low and behold who is dressed in African gear taking orders in a flamboyant manner? None other than “Rickety Bridge Man” himself – whose name I still don’t know! I digress, we ordered the Duo of Patu Pap pots with succulent springbok pie and Cape Malay chicken. I steered clear of the chicken – unimpressed with the sauce flavour (too bland) and doubtful of its origins – but the springbok pie was utterly delicious with a wonderful, rich gravy and perfectly complemented by the stodgy pap pot – like an African version of beef, gravy and mash. Gold appears to have an exciting menu and offers a more interactive dining experience involving various musical performances – perhaps one to check out soon.

Feeling slightly parched we decided to grab a glass of wine. Passing the Noble Hill stand, our eyes were caught by large jugs of Sangria and Sangrita – after trialing both we opted for the white sangrita – made with sauvignon blanc, lemonade, orange, lemon, mango, papaya, strawberries, mint and cointreau. This was a very refreshing and light take on the traditional sangria and I have saved the recipe for next summer!

Following our wine cocktail indulgences, we tried to get a space in the PnP wine and canape experience, however this had been fully booked out – I maintain I can probably make decent enough canape’s anyway *grumble*

Wandering around the small producers market we tried lots of very nice produce including organic vegetables from The Drift, amazing mozzarella from Buffalo Ridge farm and great smoothies and chocolates from Totally Wild Aloe products. The small producers market was a nice addition although there were a lot of familiar faces from the various food markets I already attend.

After watching the aforementioned cook off (and receiving free bottles of Stella Artois – win!), we tried the mustard marinated beef fillet served with short rib tortellini, roasted onion, cauliflower puree and tomato chutney. I thought this was delicious, the beef was a great cut and the tortellini was both a unique cut and rich and flavoursome. Ben however was unimpressed – perhaps the result of far too much good eating in Cape Town, I think it says a lot about the quality of everything else when beef fillet fails to impress!

Moving on we felt it necessary to try some fish. Seeing as I had tried its components in Elands Bay, I urged Ben to taste Fyndraai Restaurants Cape snoek veloute, bokkom mayonnaise and snoek fish cakes served with potato and onion crisps. The flavours in this dish were typical of the rich snoek we get around here (a fantastic fish and SASSI green listed – :D) and the dried and salted bokkom, the veloute and mayonnaise offered acompanying creamy tastes. But I was left a little disappointed with the overall construction of the dish. The veloute, although tasty, made the fish cakes and crisps really soggy, losing the texture that would have been so nice. Similarly the bokkom mayonnaise was amazing but without the crispy potatoes/fish cakes to smother it in, it was left over. Conceptually the flavours were fantastic but I think the construction of the dish could be vastly improved. Fyndraai also offered a cured venison loin, balsamic and pumpkin seeds vinaigrette with shaved parmesan and caramelised tomato dressing. This was very good and I think would make a great starter with a nice green salad or some crusty, white bread.

By this point I’d found another dish on the menu that I simply had to taste. I have visited the vineyard at La Motte but not eaten at their restaurant – Pierneef. On their menu for the festival was a Lacquered pickled lambs rib with pickled tongue and dried pear dumplings and verjuice poached pear. Lamb is a fairly new and unexplored meat for me so the chance to try rib and tongue along with pear, my favourite fruit, was not one to pass up. This was a truly stunning dish, with really unique flavours and the dumplings added an unusual textural component – in similarity to Planets tortellini accompanying the beef.

Craving something sweet to finish off our day, we checked out the stall run by Signal at the Cape Grace who we knew were offering a delicious looking chocolate dessert we had seen earlier. The dark chocolate and toasted coriander seed croustillant tart did not disappoint. The chocolate was dark and rich and the tart contained both silky smooth chocolate sauce and filling and crispy layers.

Only having 4 vouchers left and being unwilling to spend these at Nobu (we have boycotted them since their involvement in blue fin tuna sales), we decided to donate our vouchers to the Peninsula School Feeding Association. This is great charity, working on the motto that “you can’t teach a hungry child” and providing meals for children at schools who may not otherwise get regular food.

All in all a fantastic day, definitely worth the cost and we now have several restaurants lined up to visit.


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