Bakery, Cape Town Food

C’est La Vie in Kalk Bay (has since moved)

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Off to C’est La Vie early this morning (after a walk to Kalk Bay harbour where there were three lone fishermen) to get some fresh bread…

And there’s our neighbour Josh, taking orders in his notepad with a red pen. A gentle hug hello and a quick catch up. Zack doesn’t look up as he finishes off the heart and leaf-shape patterns on his cuppachinos.

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Choosing bread and there is Zaida, another neighbour. She’s one of the bakers, and she’s busy listening to the baguette’s ‘sing’ as they come out of the oven. ‘They sing… no, really they do… listen…’ Josh and I put our ears to the hot pile of baguettes and sure enough, there’s the sound of crackling fire inside. ‘Wow, I’ve never heard that before,’ says Josh as he dashes off in slow-motion with a breadboard piled up high.

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‘I didn’t know you worked here,’ I say to Zaida.

‘It’s my passion,’ she says. ‘I hounded the owner for a job here for six months. After seeing their croissants, I knew I had to learn how to do it myself. Eventually the owner got tired of me asking and said, ‘okay, come around tomorrow morning at 5 am.” She checks the oven. ‘I’ve been here at five in the morning ever since. This kitchen is my favourite place… working with dough and bread is my meditation time.’

When she’s finished baking in the early morning, Zaida hangs up her apron and heads off to work at her shoe shop. She suggests I try the ciabatta loaf: ‘it’s made with a poolish ferment’. She wraps it up with paper and string.

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A little later, Candice explains why she loves baking. ‘There’s something about waking up in the early morning when the world is so quiet. I love it. Baking is such a gift.’ Then she reads Markus Farbinger’s poem:

Bread Monk

In the first hour of this morning

I ‘saw’ myself work for the first time.

I understood that this has become

my study, my meditation,

my religion, my life,

my connection to the universe.

The notion of work,

commercial benefit,

a safe occupation

to relieve my fear –

has turned

into an act of love

towards myself..

the person next to me..


the entire universe.

Her sister, Rachel buzzes by to pick up some coffees.

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Why do people adore this place? ‘The coffee is good. The prices are good and it’s chilled,’ says Josh.

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I hand him twenty bucks for the ciabatta and he mentions that he’s hitchhiking up the East coast next week. I suddenly feel the need to put a GPS tracking device on him. But he adds that he’s (definitely) coming back coz he’s studying philosophy, politics and economics at university next year.

Au revoir, for now…

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And a quick trip down to the market where the traders are still unpacking. Crossing the road, I bump into an ex-Kalk Bay local. He’s putting on his helmet. I tell him we’re staying here until the end of January to check it out. ‘You know who’s buying up Kalk Bay these days?’ he asks. ‘The whole of bloody Rondebosch! What for? To come here to their hippy weekend homes and drive around in their monster four by fours. It makes me sick.’ And off he goes on his black Japanese soul-machine.

Home with Zaida’s bread still warm under my arm, a takeaway cuppachino in hand, waving to le neighbours as I open the door. That’s the thing about living in Kalk Bay: everybody gets to be your neighbour.

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12 thoughts on “C’est La Vie in Kalk Bay (has since moved)”

  1. Stunning. Is there any chance you can put little captions on each of the photos so we know who’s who that you’re referring to. Everybody looks happy. I love their comments, “Baking is my meditation.” A truly wonderful read. Thank you.

    1. Forever faithful to my iPad, Blades… even if the photos aren’t great quality… merci bouquet!

  2. Ciabatta that’s an act of love, baguettes that sing and neighbours with Japanese soul-machines. You know you’re in the right part of the world when… This was a really stunning read, loved your pics too.

  3. HI! Love your blog! Please help! I’m looking for a fairly easy (is there easy?) macaroon recipe for my daughter.

    1. Hi Tana and thank you!

      I haven’t braved making macaroons yet but Patrick (owner of Casis) told me that his trick is to grind the almonds really, really finely. Others say it’s about leaving the egg whites overnight (be sure that they are perfectly clean). David Lebovitz says it’s all about technique (not only recipe) and has several further tips here

      It’s all rather mind-boggling when one starts deep diving the subject. For a simple take on making macaroons (by a local, lovely ‘normal’ person who recently got over her ‘macaroon-making-block’), have a look at fellow blogger, Colleen’s post:

      Hope it goes well!


      PS. If your daughter wants to learn how to make professional macaroons, there’s always the option of an apprenticeship at The French Oven – it’s about 5 months or so.

  4. Hi,

    Living in Melbourne with an Australian husband I have promised him I would make something South African today and I decided that a good lemon meringue pie would be yummy not the way they make here but the South African way tennis biscuits from the local South African shop and all . Came across your wonderful site and I am hooked. Just picturing you in Cape Town with all the sights and sounds of home making me very homesick.Cannot wait to get home Dec 2012 and do some exploring you make it sound so inviting. Going to try a tea party to and invite some Aussies and South Africans . Malva pudding has been requested and melktert LOL LOL .Will see what other recipes you have available. Cheers Mel

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