Friday, 17 November 2006

Ma’m, freshly ground pepper?

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes, I ended up having a whole week of celebrations. Okay, not all the dinners out were to congratulate me on surviving 24 years, but that didn’t stop me pretending.

I’m going to try my hand at a small critique of the restaurants I visited last week:

Tuesday Night – Wafu, Mouille Point, Cape Town

Yuppie without the pretentiousness of Camps Bay, this sushi restaurant and bar is on the 3rd floor about the Mouille Point Deli which featured in our lives so much back in 2003 when B & I lived.

As B would say, this place has inherent value: 225 degree ocean views, no glitzy white sand and waves, this view is of relaxing swells and the waltz of seaweed disappearing into a sun setting horizon.

Cane and white cushion couches fill the outside deck where after work cocktails are sipped by 30 somethings. The cocktail menu is pretty standard but if you look hard there are one or two interesting temptations. I tried a Chili Cucumber Martini which was blended to perfection.

For some of our guests it was their first exploration of the Japanese and now Californian art of sushi. I thought I’d start them off with something ‘safe’; Salmon & Pineapple sandwiches which were presented on a wooden block for the table. These disappeared quickly and we followed with some excellent recommendations by our waiter.

For mains four of us ordered the Fried Calamari, which is famous in Wakame (the fancier restaurant on the second level, owner by the same people). I have to say that I wasn’t overly impressed, the texture of the batter seemed a little floury and its oiliness was enhanced by the absence of any side salad or dipping sauce. That said, someone ordered the Tuna Kebab which had delicious melt in the mouth qualities.

Wafu has a stylish, laidback (but sexy) vibe. I highly recommend it as the place to go for sundowners and while it’s too busy and stark to entice a romantic dinner, it was the perfect entertaining venue for a group of friends.

Wednesday Night – Baia, Waterfront, Cape Town

Held in exultation by Aunty Line and Uncle Paul, we took a business rep from Malaysia here to enjoy the infamous view of the Waterfront harbour and Table Mountain with it’s rolling table cloth of cloud at sunset.

Baia is a well oiled machine, easily doing 500 covers a night, 7 days a week. The staff are of Olympic Gold standard and as we were guided to our outside table even I (the seasoned SA tourist) had my breath taken away – the outdoor sitting area with windows to reduce the wind, had framed the view like a Monet.

Chef (B.Basson of Cuban fame), provides consulting to the Baia kitchens and on his recommendation I requested the Kingklip (fish) and Chorizo. Sorry Chef, but it didn’t do it for me. The local Chorizo tasted like Kabana (the pink Aussie type with fine mince and pepper spices which always seemed to be served with Chedder cubes in suburban backyard barbies). Luckily the evening was rectified once I tried some of the Tomato Sauce served with Uncle Paul’s divine seafood platter. The potency of the garlic had me hooked. I spoke to Chef about this later, and my learned friend told me that Chorizo is meant to me spicy and looked at me like I was daft when I tried to explain intriguing similarities to Woolies Sausages, and also, that no, he wasn’t going to give me that sauce recipe because it’s shite. Oh.

Overall the meals were good, the service excellent and the view spectacular. I would definitely take my international guests here, but I wouldn’t bother going with just B and myself.

Thursday Night – Saigon, Kloof Street, Cape Town

I’ll admit I was a little dubious when we drove past the flashing neon tube sighs. But once inside, standing on the dark wood floors – looking out the curved wall of windows which took in the length of Kloof Street and a perfect side profile of The Mountain – I understood why Saigon has been an institution in Vietnamese cuisine for nearly 30 years.

Actually, 29 years ago exactly, Uncle Paul took Aunty Line here for her 21st birthday and promptly surprised her with an engagement ring.

It was decided that ordering for the table was mandatory. A lengthy recited specials menu would quickly put anyone other than a foodie to sleep, but with a table party including 2 chefs, mouths were watering and we ordered each of the 10 specials plus (at my insistence) the coconut prawns.

By the time dinner had arrived we’d already worked our way through the drinks menu: a highlight being an unusual Strawberry & Basil Vodka Martin, sheer bliss. So my recollection of the dinner is a fury of flying chopsticks as everyone jostled to taste each delicate dish.

I don’t think we had dessert. Better go back another time.

Sunday Lunch – Avontuur, Somerset West

For the past 5 years we have been driving past this Vineyard and Horse Stud, with it’s perfect rolling green hills and traditional white log fences. Horses and foals prance around in the sunshine. Life is perfect.

We drove into the estate feeling rather elite – wind in the hair (SLK 500 convertible) the scent of horses and freshly mown grass.

We gathered at the Welcome Table outside the restaurant waiting for Aunty Line’s friends to arrive we sipped on champagne and had the gaul to complain about the heat.

Once seated inside, the long lunch official began. The décor was warm and friendly, the bathrooms spotless with little touches like individual hand towels. On the walls hung photos of the estate’s horses and I even spotted a picture of a man sitting with a lion (was it Tana of the Lion in the Bedroom fame?). From my seat I could see out through the main doors, over the hills, there was that damn mountain again, and I could see the sea and we all relished in its fresh cool breeze.

After a week of dinning, was it possible that the best was yet to come? A perfectly moist Kingklip fillet topped with both avocado and smoked oysters (I couldn’t choose, so begged for both) and set on a bed of roasted vegetables and Cajun fries. Hallelujah.

While conversation turned to the inevitable crime and corruption topics it didn’t upset us enough to dismiss dessert. We’d all seen out of the corners of our eyes, bright dishes of sorbets and cakes and tarts with towers of harden caramel and pools of rich sauces pass by our table. I had a delicious cinnamon and almond torte and from across the table I could see B ingrossed in his crème brulle – the richest yet, I found out later.

Amazing. Amazing. Ama –zing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, after reading all the above, I think I will just go and have a cup of tea as I doubt I could fit another morsel...ha,ha! L, D