April 24, 2020

A table at noma

Markets in Cape Town


Another week’s trials of a cook in captivity.

Today is the day of my much-awaited, bucket-list reservation of a table for two at noma in Copenhagen. Sadly, now a cancellation.

Michelin star


For the uninitiated, this restaurant was opened in 2003 by Claus Meyer, who wanted to work solely with Nordic produce and to restore the harmony between cooking and nature. He employed 25-year-old René Redzepi as head chef and partner. Together these men took the culinary world by storm, and the new Nordic cuisine that has captivated chefs and food lovers globally, was born. Many of our South African chefs have expressed their admiration for this movement in our interviews, which piqued my interest to visit Denmark. My ancestry and a fascination for all things hygge (the Danish concept of well-being), propelled me to book this dream trip. A visit to noma remains the pinnacle of this dream, but meanwhile, we live vicariously. One of the recent additions to our online food-writing course is a chef who lives in Europe, who did an internship at noma. I cannot wait to read her personal account of this real-time learning from a maestro. We are delighted to have had sign-ups from all over the world, and we are all hard at work writing, learning, editing, guiding. Each attendee receives personal guidance every step of the way, and already we are seeing heartwarming and impressive progress in their culinary word-capturing journeys.


We have all learnt many valuable lessons during lockdown, one being that you must make the most of your circumstances, regardless, and another that the last thing to disappear be your sense of humour. It was on Wednesday evening that I turned to my husband and announced that this was the day and time that we should be in the air, en route to Copenhagen. He promptly offered me a drink (with snacks), and I responded by offering him chicken or beef. We were fresh out of beef, so chicken it would be – served in a small quantity, with plastic cutlery!

An evening of hilarity followed. We sat (upright) in our chairs watching movies. A friend, with whom I was in conversation with on Whatsapp, claimed to be on his way with the duty-free trolley (please with whisky). My man dived for the couch, euphoric that there were four seats there free, and I continued to sit upright late into the night. The next morning, I switched my bedside light on, repeatedly, and hey presto, I was brought coffee in bed, much better than on any airline. “How was your flight?”, my man asked. I ignored him, wondering if the airline would accept complaints from a passenger who had a man next to her muttering all night about the mile-high club! Another day down, another day began, yes not in Copenhagen, but in beautiful Cape Town.


The lack of human, face-to-face interaction is hard to get used to. I get excited when the doorbell rings and a stranger says, “Delivery”. One of my favourite weekend rituals is my visit to the Oranjezicht City Farm Market, so to support them, I ordered their vegetarian box, which was delivered by UCOOK. Even the cat was excited when it landed at my door! Overflowing with a diverse array of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, the first treat that caught my eye was the pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts). They were devoured, almost breathed in, before the contents of the box had been unpacked! Dairy products, breads, burger spice, mayo, chocolates and even a little bag of kimchi, were hidden treats. From 25 April, the market will be open on Saturdays for food shopping only, from 9h00 to 14h00, with restrictions – visit their website for details.

Another delivery was my RIO LARGO olive oil. I then started to make a variety of dressings flavoured with tamarind, wasabi and sesame and a full spectrum of herb oils from herbs harvested in my garden. Look at this beautiful packaging of RIO LARGO oils – why not send your mother the best bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day, Sunday 10 May? Visit Olio Design & Co to place your orders.

Olio Design Co

I then devised a quick and easy recipe for kimchi which is absolutely more-ish and alleviates the long wait for the traditional version of this hot Korean fermented dish.

by Gourmet Guide, Jenny Handley

Makes two large jars


1 cabbage

3T sea salt

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3cm ginger, grated

2T fish sauce

2T sambal oelek or chilli paste of your choice

1T honey

3T rice wine vinegar


  1. Slice the washed cabbage into 2cm strips.
  2. Combine with salt in a large bowl, and leave for an hour.
  3. Make the kimchi paste by combining all the other ingredients.
  4. Rinse the cabbage, and dry thoroughly.
  5. Combine with the paste.
  6. Pack tightly into a large jar, seal and leave overnight.
  7. Chill for up to two weeks in the fridge.

VARIATION – you can add radishes, spring onion and carrots, all thinly sliced.


Zoom is one mechanism that ensures our ability to socialise. My story of the week was from a friend, married to a chef, who invited some friends to celebrate her husband’s birthday on Zoom. Each guest received a delivery of a mystery box of ingredients, and they all cooked and then ate dinner, ‘together’, with seven screens showing the activity of each household. Special friendships have a way of strengthening during adversity.


I remain in awe of what people are doing to help one another in desperate circumstances. The restaurant industry is one of the hardest-hit, yet chefs and their teams all over the country are hands-on to ensure that people are fed. I am so impressed by the number of chefs and restaurant teams who have jumped on board as part of BackaBuddy, a proudly SA crowdfunding platform. Visit their website to see how you can help too.

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