Jane's Delicious Garden Blog

Cape Town again . . .

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the May 18th, 2010

The Cape winter welcomed me with sideways stinging rain. I arrived at night at the new airport which is very swish but everything has moved and was completely unfamiliar. To get to the car hire you now have to push your trolley down a steep ramp, under the road and then up a steep ramp the other side. I hope they are planning to install an escalator there soon, as it would a mission with a luggage laden trolley.

I was in Cape Town for the Good Food and Wine Show. I hosted the Get Fresh Interactive Theatre, featuring BBC Lifestyle chefs. It was a fantastic experience. I met some inspirational chefs, each with their individual style and character, from Gordon Ramsay to Willie Harcourt Cooze, Reza Mahammad to Giorgio Locatelli. Each celebrity chef cooked on a stage at a central cooking station, with 6 workstations on either side so 12 lucky people cooked along with the chefs. The funniest had to be Reza, who created chaos and laughs with his flamboyant and over the top style. Willie Harcourt Cooze, the chocolate king, arrived back stage looking a little pale and requested a cup of coffee before he went on. He had sampled too many South African wines the night before and had a “babbalanga” which I thought was a great new word!

The very first session was with Hideki Maeda, head chef of the One & Only Nobu. Before I went on I was trying to remember all the info about the chef, the sponsors, products and things I had to mention. Hideki speaks very basic English and speaks very softly and doesn’t speak much. So I had to pick up the ball and keep things rolling. I didn’t have a copy of what recipes he was cooking so I just watched what he did and winged it. I had heard somebody talking about tuna so after glancing at the red cut he had in front of him I started asking him questions about tuna. He wasn’t very animated in his response but it was only after my third tuna related question that he looked up at me and said “Is beef” ! The audience burst out laughing and the cook-along chefs teased me for the whole session. It certainly broke the ice.

On Sunday a friend and I ate at Spier’s fantastic new restaurant, Eight. What a sublime experience. The weather had cleared up and it was a perfect day. We were met by Lorianne Heyns, the head chef who was at Singita before heading up the Eight team. All the food served at Eight is either from Spier’s biodynamic farm or sourced locally. This was at first a challenge for Lorianne, who was used to working with what ever ingredients she wanted. But the limited palette has pushed her imagination and the meal we were served was superb. Our starters were twice baked mushroom souffle and a robust salad with goats cheese. The wild mushrooms with a light yet creamy souffle were perfect for a winter starter. The salad, garnished with pea tendrils and pumpkin seeds was colourful, fresh and delicious. For mains, I had tender chicken pie with crisp tasty pastry served with roast veg (my favourites were the tiny carrots with some of the stem still on). Sue had melt-in-the-mouth lamb shank. After all that we even managed to find room for dessert. One of my favourite flavour combos is one that Keith discovered: cut a date open and pop a block of dark chocolate inside (preferably Lindt salt). Absolutely delicious. Well, one of the desserts on Lorianne’s menu was a date and chocolate tart with a ginger biscuit crust. Served with a lavender cream it was a gorgeous combo of gooey and light and crunchy with dense rich bits. Very moreish.
If you want to find out more – here is a link . . .