Cape Town Food, Restaurants

What not to miss in Knysna: the forests & ‘ile de pain’

Knysna is a beautiful place, from the surrounding lonesome beaches to the secret mossy forests with their age-old trees (how does one explain the feeling of being close to an 800 year old tree?).  But what would the town itself be without ‘ile de pain’, that bakery come cafe that had me hooked before we even got there…

We stayed on Thesen Island so the hot-spot was just a few hundred metres walk away – and I took that walk just about every day of our week-long stay. If it wasn’t for breakfast then it was for a tea-time pastry treat or for bread to take away with us on some fishing trip. 

If you fall in love with the bread and decide that you want to do an apprenticeship there, the good news is that this is possible. But then you could take the easier route and buy master pastry chef and co-owner Markus Farbinger’s ‘bread’ dvd. The film shares several of his artisan bread recipes. Be warned though, these breads are folded three times and can take up to 5 1/2 hours to produce – including mixing, folding, shaping, resting and baking time.

Many people have described what makes  ‘ile de pain’ such a popular place so I won’t go into the details of the decor and the food – pop across to Jamie Who and read his restaurant review (and yes, the Como breakfast is fantastic, especially for vegetarians). I just want to say that if you are going to Knysna, don’t miss it!

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Journal, Restaurants

Sipping on Sunday outside Knead (Muizenberg, Cape Town)

Firstly, there was no parking outside Knead on Sunday morning so I parked a block away and walked back, barefoot under the clear, blue sky. 

It was a typical day at Surfer’s Corner: surfers, surfers & well, those who were watching the surfers.  But when it came to Knead, everybody was there to eat and oh, my word, was it COOKING! 

I found an open seat outside and ordered coffees while I waited for Ricky.  It was a short-lived experience because next thing I had a couple coming up to me looking rather perplexed.  ‘Um, we’ve been waiting in the queue…’ they said. 

When I saw the queue, I was reminded of the Olympia Cafe in Kalk Bay on a weekend…

Too noisy for me!  I’m into slow and quiet on Sundays.  So I revised my order: two take-away coffees please…

Which we sipped on near the Shark Hut…

Before taking a long, leisurely walk along Muizenberg beach…

Beautiful!

Journal, Restaurants

Posticino Ristorante – Italian in Seapoint, Cape Town

  

Starwalker and I hit the streets of Seapoint the other day.  We were starving and needed a quick snack.  We pulled into a parking bay on the main road, said thanks to the car guard and dashed into Posticino’s where we were met by the smell of fresh Italian pizzas baking in the oven. Starwalker was very patient as I played Goldilocks,  finally deciding to sit as close to the kitchen area as possible.   ‘But the waitrons will be passing us every few seconds!’ he argued.  ‘Exactly!’ I said rather cheekily (I love watching kitchen theatrics). 

The place is colourful, from the eclectic decor to the thin based Italian pizzas & the fruity Sangria (which we ate and drank with wild abandon).  Then there are the colourful characters who add that particular Italian flavour that makes Posticino’s such a hot spot: pictured below are the owner Gioacchino and his partner’s nephew ‘The Poet’…

Gioacchino joined us for a chat while we waited for dessert.  He told us that he was a tool maker once upon a time but that his passion was cooking.   He started selling his home-made pastas to a local Italian restaurant in Johannesburg and eventually decided to buy his own place, that place being Posticino in Cape Town.

‘What made you start making pastas when you were a tool maker?  I mean what was it that got you into cooking?’ I asked him.  Gioacchino paused for a moment before looking straight into my eyes with a mean-looking look: ‘Because,’ he said, ‘…….I am ITALIAN!’

‘Ooooooooh, I SEE,’ I said, taking a rather large gulp of Sangria!

‘Say no more!’ said Starwalker as he tasted the Tiramisu that had just arrived. 

We left fulfilled, inspired and holding a copy of  ‘Posticino Ten Years On – Ten Kilos On’, a dvd celebrating the first ten years of Posticino.  For more info visit http://www.posticino.co.za/ 

Journal, Restaurants

Eating Flowers at Bar Bar Black Sheep in Riebeek Kasteel

After exploring Riebeek Kasteel in the heat of the day, my friend Buzzy and I headed off to The Royal Hotel for a Gin & Tonic where I remembered Raggamuffin’s words: you HAVE to eat at Bar Bar Black Sheep. 

So after taking some photos and picking & eating mulberries in the back garden, we headed off in the direction of Short Street, passing photo opportunities every step of the way…

We were met by the chef and our friendly waiter who said, ‘it’s my pleasure,’ every time we thanked him… which was often because we ordered so many sumptuous dishes…

The MOST exciting dish?  The battered courgette flowers, yes FLOWERS, which were served with garlic infused olive oil and parmesan (we ordered more after tasting our first dish).  Buzzy chose not to dip the deep fried flowers into the oil because he preferred the subtle taste.  I, on the other hand, delighted in the dipping!

We had all the time in the world to notice the interesting detail scattered around the rustic restaurant…

And to sip on the local wines…

And finally order dessert (um, perhaps this particular photo reflects something more than just camera shake ie. the double Bar of the restaurant in question!)…

Visit Bar Bar Black Sheep at http://www.bbbs.co.za/  if you’re keen to find out more!

Journal, Restaurants

The Best Little Fish Shop in… die hele blerrie plek!

 

Well, it was quite by chance that I discovered Mimo’s on the main road of Betty’s Bay.  I’d gone to visit John The Potter, only to find myself wondering why on earth the lights were all out.  I thought that perhaps I was at the wrong entrance and was looking at all the mosaic work in the garden when a woman suddenly opened the door: ‘Hello, do you want to come in?  Sorry we normally close at 5pm.’ 

I stepped back, while checking the time on my cell phone: 5.30 pm.  ‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry, I totally lost track of the time.  In fact, I’m even losing track of the days since I’ve been here in Betty’s!  No, don’t worry, I’ll come back another day.’  We exchanged a few more words and then I hopped over the little gate and crossed the road, my stomach leading me in the direction of a little fish and chip shop… 

I ordered hake and chips from the pretty lady with bright brown eyes and the guy standing next to me said, ‘oh, that’s exactly what I’m having.  I tell you, this place makes the BEST fish and chips in this whole area, there’s no place better between Gordon’s Bay and Hermanus.  I get my fish and chips here two or three times a week.’ 

 

It turned out I was talking to the Baker from the Deli where we bought beautiful brie and preserved figs on Saturday.  He used to be a fitter and turner and took over the baking job from his niece six months ago.  While we were chatting about the joys of making bread,  I noticed how gently the lady behind the counter handled the fish.  She lay it out on the table and carefully patted it dry.   ‘Oh, PLEASE may I photograph you and put you on my blog!’ I asked. 

Next thing we were doing an impromptu shoot and Louise was saying that her and her husband had moved to Betty’s from Kwazulu Natal and that she was really a book keeper.  ‘This is my husband’s business, it’s his day off today.  I much prefer working with my books – I don’t know what it is but figures send me off into a peaceful place… almost into a state of meditation!’   

She dipped the fish into a thick batter and held it upright whilst gently easing the excess batter off the flesh.  

 

And then she attended to the frying of the chips… 

 

While I took some shots of the shop… 

 

 

I was just in time to see Louise add a fresh slice of lemon to the hake and chips before she wrapped it all up in paper.    

 

 

After taking a couple of bites,  I thought that perhaps it wasn’t quite right to post Mimo’s batter recipe.  

It really should remain a trade secret!

Journal, Restaurants

Tasting Four(ty!): Champagne for breakfast, La Colombe for lunch, Nobu for dinner & Vivienne Westwood shoes as a midnight snack…

Choux Girl
I spent the last hours of my 39th year on this little blue planet rolling out sweet pastry, piping profiteroles, making Saint Hanore cream and whipping up some tantalizing tarts. All this while the rain came thundering down and a cool breeze (from the open stable door) tangoed with the heat in the kitchen.
 
And then (suddenly!) my fairy godmother waved her magic wand and *swoooosh*, I was four (oh)! and sipping champagne with my family…

My Fourtieth Bday

Then it was off to La Colombe for lunch with a few special friends…

La Colombe Birthday 'Cake'

Mariana's Incredible Handmade Card

Followed by Nobu for dinner with StarWalker…

Nobu 'Birthday Cake'

Impeccable, as always.

Talk about a phenomenal day, hip, hip, hooray!

x

PS.  As for the Vivienne Westwood shoes… being forty, this choux girl got wise… she put her glass slippers on AFTER midnight 😉

Restaurants

Societi Bistro, Cape Town

Societi lies just beyond a lavender lined pathway (and a large wooden door)…

Where rustic red brick walls frame fireplaces and chalkboard menus…

Where waiters, dressed in tight black vests, pour wine into generous glasses (and explain one’s options as if they have all the time in the world – apologies, apologies!)…

Where chefs sweat in the kitchen preparing dishes that take you to Italy and France… and back …

I could have ordered rabbit or bone marrow (or pork belly) but being the (boring! I am told) vegetarian (pesco-vegetarian actually!) that I am, I ordered the Prima Vera Gnocchi. It arrived alive with the spring green of spinach, garden peas and asparagus tossed in pesto. Absolutely delicious and not at all heavy (as gnocchi often is).

J ordered the Mushroom Risotto, a house speciality, but my dish (awash with charm) remained the centre of attention. That is until dessert arrived… apple and pear strudel with caramel crunch ice-cream (think Crème Brule caramel).

Pop in virtually: http://www.societi.co.za

Or for real: 50 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town (021 424 2100 for bookings).

Societi is just down the road from The Mount Nelson Hotel. Don’t miss it if you’re in Cape Town!