Chalk & Cork – wine & tiny (big) plates of food

I have this obsession with owning a little wine bar one day. I fell in love with the idea in Italy and visiting many little enoteca. When Publik opened, I thought my dream of Cape Town’s own enoteca was realised – but it wasn’t quite it.

When Chalk & Cork opened, I was convinced that this was it. I visited the spot at last (yes, I know its been open for forever and I’m soooo slow to new places) and while it’s not the enoteca that I want Cape Town to have, it is something very cool. (It also makes me happy that my dream shop hasn’t been done by anyone else just yet, I’m just saying).

Wine by the glass makes me exceptionally happy and its (one of) the reasons that I always visit La Boheme and Socieiti – so its really awesome to see so many interesting nice wines by the glass somewhere else. So interesting in fact, it lists Craven (a young gun wine I was lucky to taste at the Hawkins wedding recently, while I sat next to Mr & Mrs Craven themselves. It makes for a special, albeit somewhat polite, tasting experience while sitting next to the winemakers that are from the secret underground world of rule-breaking winemaking – also known as the revolution in some areas. A blog post I’ll never write as I’ll never be able to wordify tasting those wines). Anyway.

I had the Chardonnay from Arendsig. Their Shiraz is my best, so as a devoted Chardonnay drinker, I was keen to try the Chardonnay too. It was a good choice – at R54 a glass. I also had a McGregor Pinot Noir. A risky choice as I had no idea if
a) that valley is any good at a Pinot Noir  (as the first time I had attempted to ‘understand this varietal’ – I was running around Wine on the River festival in the same valley and woke up very confused after 6 gallons of redbull) and if
b) something named Fits of Fancy should be taken seriously – at R43 a glass – I didn’t choose badly.

Onto the Chalk part of their name: The Tapas. I’ve firmly established I’m no foodie blogger, so descriptive paragraphs accompanid by the fujifilm standard of photos of food aren’t my thing. Certainly the embarrassment on Hawks face when I photograph every plate of food (with the flash OFF – heaven forbid!) on my iPhone is bad enough, I couldn’t subject the poor man to actual photo taking because “Lets just eat the damn food” has been uttered a few times.
But part of the intrigue of visiting Chalk and Cork, after their interesting wine by the glass selection, is certainly the number of hearts I’ve dished out on their instagram account. The food.

“Little plates of heaven” I think I used to describe them (drunk on the wine by the glass and full-bellied in bed after we got home on Saturday).

While their instagram photos are definitely taken by someone who must be a food blogger, which means my pics hardly do the food justice to the taste (because you can SEE taste in a styled photo), let me assure you dear reader of this confusing and somewhat emotional except when I talk about food blog, that the taste was incredible. We ordered our tapas, with my phone in hand (and I wonder where all my flipping data goes) based on their instagram feed. A next level visual menu (there could be a market in this).

Because its tapas, you order and hope for the best. By hope for the best, of course I mean you have no idea how hungry you are until you start eating. You don’t want to go too large, but also – you know this may end badly. When have you ever gone for tapas and been surprised by ‘how little we had’. Ya. Never. Exactly.

We started with three:

Seared salmon, burnt babaghannouj, spicy soy sauce, cucumber- R70
Salt & pepper squid, hummus, radish – R55
Aged sirloin, chimmichurri, whey-pickled baby beets – R70

(I steal names and prices off websites. These may have changed)

Seared Salmon
Seared Salmon – as stolen from their instagram account
This is a picture of my seared Salmon. With some Chardonnay.
This here is calamari, that prompted Kamini (yes, the masterchef one) to tweet (and I quote) #dickmove after I tweeted her a picture.  *reads mean tweet* – that wasn’t very nice, Kamini
Aged Sirloin
An example of great photography of Aged Sirloin
Our sirloin. With chimichurri sauce that took us to a discussion of Buenos Aires. Needless to mention Hawk doesn’t recall chimichurri in Argentina.

We hadn’t even got all three of these, when we put in our second order because this food was great, but on tiny plates.

Slow-roasted pork belly, kimchi, cauliflower puree, mustard – R65
Grilled lamb rump, fresh peas, labneh cheese – R75

Pork Belly
Sold me on the Pork Belly, as Instagram sells me on most things that aren’t in my life.
Our pork belly. I mean ‘ours’ vs the picture of theirs. It was still theirs.
Lamb & Peas. Not sure I recall ordering or eating this one. I’m full just looking at all this food again.

Gnocchi – not on their online menu, so have no idea what was in or on the plate but it was the most phenomenal thing in the world ever ever. Really. Price: Who cares, because you MUST have it.

Potato pasta heaven. The gnocchi. And proof that I also sometimes drink water.

We ended off with a Chocolate Hot Pot, yadda yadda, I’m drunk. It was amazing. Delicious.

Chocolate amazingness. To share. Of course. Because.. banting.

I had had only two glasses of wine, but I was in fact drunk. Drunk on delicious food and special wines. Mostly I was drunk on this place though. It is romantic, special, tastefully decorated and is filled with special charm in all its corners (including Dr Seuss messages in the bathroom).

Its not an Italian Enoteca, but it doesn’t need to be. It gets my vote and I can’t wait to be a cool kid in the summer eating cauliflower pizza in its streetside courtyard. (as long as its non-smoking).