November 8, 2019

Casual in the Cape, taste the Gourmet Guide’s week

After a whirlwind time, last week it was time to find downtime. Sunday provided free time in which to celebrate a dear friend and fellow scribe’s milestone birthday, Quentin at Oakhurst in Hout Bay gave the perfect platform for a long lunch. A gaggle of highly conversational, stimulating women gathered together in a corner, seeking refuge from the rain. One guest brought her own wine for the girls to enjoy, a great ice-breaker. We worked our way through a multitude of topics, over scrumptious mussels, tasty pumpkin soup and tuna tartare. The buffet catered for everyone’s tastes with their selection of heartwarming, hearty dishes. Home-made desserts turned the dieters around, and all declared elegant sufficiency when we departed.

On Monday we kicked off with a (working!) lunch at Dash Restaurant and Bar at the Queen Victoria Hotel in the V&A Waterfront. I’m sure this is Cape Town’s best-kept secret, tucked away from the hustle and bustle. A flatbread with grilled halloumi, cauliflower, mint and honey and their chef’s butter chicken curry with roti and sambal were relished before the panna cotta of yoghurt, passion fruit and almond. We were delighted to see that all our choices were served on Mervyn Gers Ceramics. A quick garden tour and a nibble of their newly-grown wasabi lettuce before dashing back to work. Look out for their monthly dinners when chef Chris Erasmus of two-plated restaurant Foliage joins Chef Ash of Dash for a memorable evening of foraging flavours. Book through Dineplan.

On Tuesday we met restauranteur friends at The Shop in Green Point for dinner, only a few days shy of their two-year celebration. The gnocchi, chicken Ballantine, Caesar salad and tuna carpaccio were some of the stand-out dishes before we shared the flourless chocolate torte, good enough to stimulate plans for a return.

Riva was next up for a chilled Wednesday night out, catch-up with more good friends (can one have enough, I wonder?). Riva Italian Fish Restaurant in Green Point provided the backdrop for many laughs, but more importantly the most impressive, yet simple, authentic fare. Italians and childhood friends Nico and Fege are engaging, passionate, talented and hardworking. I only saw one other person assisting in the kitchen that night. Our tuna carpaccio with grapefruit and coconut shavings were sublime, as was the seafood platter. Yellowfin tuna, swordfish in a polenta crumb, prawns, octopus vulgaris and their unique, out-of-this-world fish sausage. It was heavenly, so will be leaving the platter to be the star of the show as their fish sausage hot dog! It was pleasing to see that they are ABALOBI supporters, so, in addition to stealing my heart with their Italian flair and fare, we know that their hearts are in the right place.

Good food is always best shared with good friends. Thursday saw a veritable feast for two at home, on Friday we were blessed to enjoy a wind-down, delicious meal at friends. There was nowhere better to support the Bokke in their win than at home. Pre-match breakfast was Champagne, black mushrooms stuffed with brie, rosemary and preserved fig, a pungent and filling shakshuka, homemade courgette bread and the best bacon – Richard Bosman’s of course.

Saturday night was anything but casual, after a well-deserved win and then siesta, we put on our glad rags to witness the wonders of chef Rikku Ò’Donnchü’s one-day old restaurant,

Exhibit A, in Bree Street. His Irish (humour) and Swedish (sophistication) parentage have served him well. With a glass of Moët et Chandon in hand we took in the bright green backdrop and began our 12-course food-and-art adventure. It would be a pity to give the game away but know that you are in for a series of surprises, some memorable dishes and very attentive, informative service. Rikku pulls out all the stops when it comes to theatre and presentation. It is a treat to hear people having a belly laugh in such an opulent, upmarket setting. Read more about this experience in the summer issue of the online Gourmet Guide magazine, to be released on 2 December.

Sunday was the day of giving my digestive system a well-deserved rest, lying on the couch reading – you guessed – cookbooks!