The pocket emptying stomach filling Taste of Cape Town was held over the weekend and I popped down for a quick nibble and slurp.
First things first. If I didn’t get complimentary tickets I would simply not go (Oh, and that doesn’t make me a special little snowflake. If you paid to get in this year you were in the minority). If I am going to end up spending R300 plus on food and wine, I would prefer to do it at a table where I can relax over my starter, have time to ponder as I sip my Chenin, not having to worry about it being bashed from my hands by some over weight, sorry, over eager house-wife. People who think they are getting a deal by ‘eating at’ all the restaurants they are either to poor (or tight arsed) to normally frequent are misled; you are not getting a deal, you are just getting fat.
So in search of a good time we battled through the Sunday crowds – less than last year it felt – to taste some of Cape Town’s finer foods. I am not going to review the restaurants because that would be like reviewing a new Ferrari after driving it blind-folded with the handbrake on. Taste of Cape Town is about having a fun day out – take it seriously and you’ve missed the point.
We started our day with a glass or two of Steenberg’s 1682 Brut, whose appley fresh biscuit flavour was a perfect start and palate cleanser. This year I decided to bring my own glasses. Does that make me a snob? Yes you say? Well fuck it, I was far happier being the snob with a decent glass than having to drink out of those pissy little tasting glasses.
Our first bite was pan seared scallop on saffron risotto from Signal which had great texture and subtlety. I had Steenberg’s Semillon in the glass; an OK pairing, but I think something like the Ataraxia Chardonnay 2008 would have been better.
Next up was some crispy porky belly with spicy miso from Nobu which was decent, although I’ve had better pork belly. Hermanspietersfontein’s Die Bartho was swirling around in my glass (which was by this time attracting stares and hushed whispers: “Wonder where they got those glasses? They must be VIPs.”) An interesting pairing, but the wine was better than the pork, and cheaper.
Keeping with pigs we ambled down to Overture for some cheek. It was disappointing. Tasted like packet gravy, no defined flavours, and a goupy texture. The only dish I didn’t want to finish. Which was a let down as I have heard such good things about the place.
Took a break against a fence with some Kleine Zalze Chenin that I had brought a long as part of an attempted video blog post for them. I say attempted because I cocked up the audio terribly. After a glass I looked up and saw that Ken Forrester was right in of us at the huge Meridian stand. I turned to Mida, “Some FMC dear?” (I can talk in bold). Her response was a quick nod, the only response really. Let me tell you the best bargain of the whole damn place was a glass of FMC for R30. See, I told you Chenin always brings the value.
Happily sozzled on fantastic Chenin Blanc our way was made to the Societi stall where I took up residence in a leather winged back chair and hatched my plan to get free food.
It was simple: I walked up to a stall and told them that I was making a video for Kleine Zalze trying to find the best food to pair with their bush vine Chenin, and would they care to join me on a couch while we taste the dish with the wine. They all loved it and plied me with much food.
So instead of video I give you some shots of us tasting a few of the foods on offer with the Kleine Zalze 2009 Bush Vines Chenin Blanc
This is Yurin (spelling is guesswork here ) he is from Nobu. We were tasting their Yellowtail sahimi with jalapeno. This was easily my favourite dish of the day. Delicate, but with solid flavours from the jalapeños and coriander which elevated the Yellowtail cleverly. The pairing was spot on. From the flavours of the wine and food there emerged a dollop citrus fruits. This is what food and wine pairings are all about: a melody of tastes and textures that balance and enhance each other. Basically a mouthgasm.
Mida – town-planner, wine lover, and coffee expert (although she prefers ‘coffee snob) – joined me to taste the Chenin with Societi’s West Coast oyster with cucumber and ginger bubbles. A lovely dish, I enjoyed the sweetness of the ginger bubbles. Unfortunately not a great pairing. All out of joint.
Meet Stéfan, Societi’s head chef. We tasted a couple dishes together. This one was the Kentucky fried quail, sour cream coleslaw and mini corn cob from Maze by Gordon Ramsey (pretty damn lame to attach your name like that. It’s a restaurant, not a book). Pairing was average, but the dish good. The quail was rich and delicious. If only KFC served quail this good for the price of their chicken strips. This would go along way to broadening the palates of our police force.
Finally we have Ed, another Chef from Societi. Ed loved the sahimi and Chenin pairing, especially the lemon flavour that resonated on the back of the palate. Good times.
I left the festival with empty pockets, a big grin, and a bit of a wobble. As much fun as a day out wandering from stall to stall sampling all the foodie fare is, I’ll take my dinner sitting down thanks.