That time at Open Door

Every time the #2015Bride (who’s name is Karen but she changed it to Karin because she lives in the UK permanently and finds most people there called her Caryn, which she hated so by changing the spelling everyone in South African now calls her Caryn and its all quite confusing) and Andy, her now husband (as the nuptials where in January) visit, I like to book a table for four at restaurant in Cape Town. One that impresses without being over the top. One that has a vibe, a good wine list, and great food. Mostly because the rest of our friends live in Somerset West, and that means any other evening meal the Semi-British couple have, is most likely is at the Millhouse. Which isn’t a bad option. Its just the only option. Every time. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Somerset West really should open another restaurant.

A whirlwind visit, longer than some of the previous spontaneous visits of a weekend (where the sms has come as I’ve left work on a Friday night announcing that they’re sitting on a plane about to take off and destined for Cape Town – he works for British Airways. Its not a kak perk to have), this time I booked a table at Open Door, because having a decent restaurant close to home which means no R150 taxi fee is fairly awesome, and also – I was impressed that other time.

Because as it goes, time with friends you only see once every six months, who lead lives distant from your own, and who have accomplished a lot since their wedding in January, including falling pregnant and buying a house (in Windsor) and moving into it (the day before they flew out to SA) – there was a lot to catch up on and no time to take out my phone and start photographing plates of food or bottles of wine. Ah, how a meal out SHOULD be enjoyed.

But because its a place worthy of a few typed lines, possibly more (current word count: 338 – shit, that goes quickly! Also, have never noticed that WP functionality. And now I can’t stop watching it. 356.), I thought about that first time we visited. About six weeks ago.

I never went to the River Cafe, so have no idea what was before. I saw pictures though – and what it was then, it is far from now.

En route – I told Karen (Karin) that Open Door isn’t a ‘wine farm restaurant’. Its much nicer. (Aren’t wine farm restaurants nice? she asked. I suppose they may be, but to me – Open Door feels like a top-class, stylish, modern restaurant that you’d find in a city. Not out in the burbs. Then again, there’s also Beau Constantia… So I guess my theory blows).

Hey, look – its like a door theme

Besides the BMX track that the deck looks out over, where I’m fairly certain there was once a vineyard, everything about Open Door’s decor is elegant, classy and stylish. Pick this here verandah up and insert into Hawkins House, and I’d be happy. The walls are a dark navy, the floors are a mix between beautiful tiling in the bar and bathrooms and wood in the restaurant, and the wall art is groups of locks and handles.

But you don’t go to a restaurant for the decor.

On a wine farm, I assumed it was a day time restaurant, however unless you’re sitting outside, watching your munchkin on a BMX, the restaurant is very much ‘indoors’ and therefore not necessarily only reserved for beautiful days. It also means its a dinner time option, something I’d never have considered it for.

The bonus of day time dining, is the Cafe Menu – which both girls of our lunch time visit ordered from. And won. I had the linefish – pan-roasted kingklip, served with crushed potatoes, cauliflower, mussels, and chili and lime (R135). Oh my actual. Well you know. It was top-shelf. And again, in case you missed it: R135! The other option chosen was the 300 gram Chalmar beef sirloin (R169). Not bad at all. The boys had the Braised lamb neck with butternut, roasted garlic and baby carrots (R169), a recommendation from the Chef’s fiance (who I happen to work with and who probably dines frequently here, so I was guessing he knew). It was good, although they finished it in record time, so it was a bit small – for the boys.

This may look like a chicken breast. It’s actually Kingklip. A lot of it.
Braised Lamb Neck. Deliciousness really.

Evening dining means no cafe menu, much to Mark’s disappointment as his promises to have the sirloin have been heard for 6 weeks, but it does mean the portions seem to be a lot bigger. Karin and I had the braised lamb, and it was phenomenal. I don’t really eat lamb, which is a stupid rule that I made up after my engagement party spit braai, but when I do, I’m sometimes blown away by how amazing it can be (and clearly a spit braai are words never to be ushered again). This, in my non-foodie way of describing things, was out of this world.

The wine list is extensive with plenty of options in all categories (including international), but in my opinion not many to choose from in the ‘reasonably priced’ category. Always a pain-point for me is the inflated prices of wines at restaurants. There’s that whole Porcupine Ridge Beluga priced thing I can’t deal with. But to be honest, these wine list prices aren’t inflated, they just don’t have many cheaper wines.

Our lunch time visit (1 x pregnant person, two bottles between three of us! ouch!) we had the Constantia Uitsig Chardonnay R195 (retails: R95). This time, (1 x pregnant person – a different one (we’re at that age) – and again two bottles between three of us!) we had the TSW Shiraz Grenache (first tried at Chalk and Cork – I think) which was R190 (retails: R80)  followed by the Pinot Noir Fist of Fancy (also tried at Chalk and Cork, that I like. And Mark officially doesn’t) – R160 (retails: R95 – second bottles are allowed to be cheaper. Its a thing).

I am a HUGE eater. No really, I keep going long after I’m full, and mostly because I just love flavours. So while I was so full after my main, both times, I soldiered on to dessert. Because when things like ‘Baked cheesecake with lemongrass foam, coconut soil and sour cream (R54) are on offer, how am I supposed to just say ‘thanks, but really, I’m comfortably full right now’. Why, when I can burst at the seems and try “Dark chocolate torte with grapefruit, dark chocolate crèmeux and meringues” (R62). So we ordered both, with intention to ‘share’. Mark doesn’t really do sweet things, but he was out numbered, and we turned our back on Prof Tim and ate all the sugary goodness that Open Door could serve up. Our evening meal was no different. Except that they’ve taken the cheesecake off the menu (I almost sobbed). Instead all four of us ordered the Chocolate Mousse, with no fake pleasantries of sharing.

Not your ordinary cheesecake.

I strongly believe every single dish on Open Doors’ menu will be incredible, and it is not a place you’ll go to once and tick it off your list (clearly). The small niggles, as if we’re honest – niggles always exist –  waiter knowledge and that service could be a little more attentive – both easy to fix, plus perhaps the introduction of a few more options in the ‘reasonably priced’ category of wine (they have good ones, they just have more in the R400 mark, which is too much for this suburban house-wife wanna be that actually has a career) means this could become a firm Saturday favourite this summer.

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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).

London is…

Cold. And wet. And dark. And pretty miserable, smelly, noisy and busy. Really busy.

London is also spontaneous. And it’s home (at least in a way).

You can call something home when you’ve lived there for 6 and a half years.
But thats not why I do.

They say home is wherever your loved ones are (they!). Well, I have two lifelong friends that are in London, and in one spontaneous evening of a wine bar and curry, those two precious friends made me long to call London home again.

Its only the lifelong friends that can truly arrive at a wine bar in a down duvet with sleeves (and call it a jacket) and then invite themselves along to your dinner for two (and you honestly don’t mind if they do!). They can make you laugh, they can reprimand you, roll their eyes at you, take your shit, treat you like a sister and give you the tightest hug when they say goodbye that makes you want to cancel your flight. Even the flight that takes you back to the sunshine.

London may be pretty kak on the surface to some, but its also pretty damn special.

Kim Hawkins_friends
oh you know… just friends for 30 years.

Ps. Wine Bar amazing! Ok, so we spent about R500 on a bottle of wine, but by this point we’d stopped converting. Well, one of us had. And it was a Nebiola. Which is my favourite. Excuses excuses.

Pps. if you look really closely at the dress I’m wearing you’ll notice that it is not, in fact, Christmas trees, but instead, it is panthers. They sorta look like Tyrannosaurus’ too though. Not awkward at all.

Rome, and it’s wine bars

The same friends that needed tips on Paris, are also going to find themselves in Rome. Having been there too (yes, I do like to reminisce. Really? Have you not realised by now?) I thought I’d share my highlights and tips with them on this fabulous city too. Rome isn’t exactly known for it’s wine, but I did find myself drinking a fair amount while I was there (that shouldn’t really come as a surprise either).

I’m only mentioning the sights that are worth seeing if you’ve never been there before. You can spend days and days in Rome. But here are my highlights. If you’re not interested in sights, make sure you visit Antica Enoteca (near the spanish steps and mentioned below). Amazing!

1. The Collosseum is probably the most impressive ruin you’ll see in Europe. Grand statement – I hope it lives up to it. I was blown away.
The Q’s in Rome are a nightmare though and that especially includes the big attractions. You can get a ticket to the Colloseum at Palantine Hill which allows you entry into both attractions (although don’t bother with Palatine if you have limited time) and there’s hardly a queue at Palatine Hill. So head over there, get your ticket and head back to the Collosseum.

These directions may help to The Palatine Hill ticket office. If you stand with your back to the Colosseum Metro with the Colosseum on your left and the Arch of Constantine in front of you, you will see an old cobbled road (Via Sacra) on your right. Go up there, pass to the left of the Arch of Titus and you will come to the ticket office. Usually there is no queue here. Once you have your ticket, go back to the Colosseum, where you can bypass all the people in the queue (they will be waiting to buy their ticket, not waiting to get in), put your ticket in the turnstile and away you go.

Do an audio tour or an actual tour of the Colloseum if you can – and if you’re into history. If you’re not – skip this tip. Hmm, maybe skip the Colloseum then too.

2. We had the most amazing carpaccio at Cavour 313 (which is close to the Colloseum and obviously why I mention it at this point). In fact, the cover photo of my blog was taken here! It is my idea of heaven. Wine bottles everywhere. When you order your bottle, they reach up into the open rafters above you and bring it down with a long hook type thing. Every wine imagineable. It was awesome. Try the boar carpaccio if you’re daring! Closest station is Colloseo (and address is Via Cavour 313).

3. The Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
The first tip for this attraction if you go, is make sure your knees and your shoulders are properly covered. They won’t let you in at all unless they are!
The second is… well, you’ll get there and realise there’s a HUGE queue (you seeing a trend here?). There will be a few art student type tour guides who walk around and sell their services to guide you through the museums and talk you through all the art. Not only this, but with them – you skip the Q so it’s worth joining one of these tours. Keep your flash off in the Sistine Chapel – and be sneaky as its completely illegal to take photos. Its exquisite though!
At St Peter’s buy the ticket that allows you to climb all the way to the top (550 stairs) but worth it. Also don’t miss the toe on the bronze statue of St Peter – worn down by years of kisses (quote: lonely planet)!
Doing all of this will take a full day!! If you’re going to choose only one of these three, pick St Peter’s.

Us, outside St Peter’s Basilica

4. I loved the Pantheon. And especially as it was also part of the Dan Brown movies, it’s pretty cool to see. But we visited before Dan Brown rocked to superstardom and when Rome was just referred to as ‘not being built in a day’. Visit it if you have time. Architecturally its a goodie.

5. Indulge in the BEST Gelato at Giolitti (Via Uffici del Vicario 40, 00186 Rome) as Audrey Hepburn did in “Roman Holiday”. Try something different here! Everything is sensational. The Q is worth it and it moves quickly don’t worry.
Directions: Follow Via Del Pantheon (right side of Pantheon, facing it from its front), which after 100 m becomes via della Maddalena. About 200m further you will get to Via Degli Uficci del Vicario. Turn right, you’ll find Giolitti on your left.

6. The Spanish steps is an awesome way to people watch in the masses and in the sun. Everyone does it. It’s pretty cool. Also its right at the top of the road that has the best shops. If thats what you fancy doing in Rome (all designer labels).

7. Whats even cooler is this wine bar just down the road from the steps called Antica Enoteca (an enoteca is a wine shop or wine bar. If I ever open a wine bar I’d call it Enoteca).
It’s this gorgoues wine bar with a looooong bar where you can sample wines and get tipsy. Probably the highlight of my trip to Rome.
Via del Corso (metro: Spagna)

8. The best tip we were given about Rome is the “apertivo hour”. Between 6 – 9pm some bars offer buffets free if you order a drink. Yep, have a drink at the bar and you get a whole host of goodies for free. Enough for dinner! We went to Gusto and were impressed (granted at the time we were budget type travellers). It’s up in sort of the same area near the Spanish steps etc.

The address: Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9.

9. Trevi Fountain
You’ve seen it in the movies and also in that cheesey Pizza ad on TV. This is the Fountain that if you toss a coin (backwards over your shoulder just for effect) it ensures a return visit to Rome one day (hmm… hasn’t happened for me yet). Ofcourse, maybe I’m re-visiting Rome just by writing this. Fate, destiny and serendipity are weird like that.
Its a crazy piazza – the fountain is beautiful but there are thousands of people pushing to get their moment (plus photo) with the fountain. Its nice though…

And that’s Rome!

Tour of Italy (‘s varietals)

A little while ago (and I can’t even recall how long as my weeks seem to steam roll into each other) Mark and I went to the Tour of Italy held annually at Societi Bistro. Last year’s was blogged about here (I was going to.. but eh..), and was tweeted about at overcapacity especially as we stayed well into the night (yep last to leave), ordering re-invented meals of the samples we had tried during the day (the boerewors spaghetti combined with that gentle chilli that Stefan does so well).

After a quick show of hands (ok tweets), I realised this year was going to be slightly different (and no doubt less raucous) as the usual suspects didn’t appear to be attending. Maybe a good thing so that this year I could actually make our evening’s plans.

A stunning winter’s afternoon in the Mother City and at my favourite spot beneath the mountain, we sipped our De Grendel Pinot Gris‘s (the  first of many italian varitals made locally) and soaked up some sunshine as other’s mingled and chatted.

Winter sunshine and a Pinot Grigio

Bite sized (well, bite size for a large mouth) portions of some of the incredible dishes that would be on offer in the coming weeks (until 24 July) flowed out of the kitchen and filled us all with taste sensations that we’re so used to having at Societi. Starting with the most amazing bruschetta topped with Caponata (an aubergine based deliciousness that promises to make me into a superstar at my next dinner party).

Ofcourse hands down the favourite in our corner was the flame-grilled T-bone dripping in olive oil, course salt, black pepper and lemon juice. Who would have thought something so simple would bring such joy. Ofcourse I know if I tried to recreate the dish, it would more than likely just flop. That’s why I’d rather just pop in to Societi next week (Region 7: Tuscany & Liguiria – Wed 27 June to Tue 3 July) and let the master make it for me instead.

That would be the master

As always, Societi Bistro partnered with some incredible wine farms to bring us possibly some of the nicest wines I’ve tried in a while. Talk about arm chair travelling – love being able to taste wines without having to drive out to the farms. It’s genius.

Locked into conversation (more about who’s who, website builds and marketing) with Andrew from Anthonij Rupert Wines, he talked us through some of them of which the Terra Del Capo Sangiovese was my favourite, although by this point I was still not 100% sold on Italian wines (to be fair even in Italy I wasn’t a big fan).

Also never a huge fan of Nederberg (without any real grounds in honesty other than either a combination of too many Baronne as a youngster or the fact that I ‘apparently’ prefer a small wine farm), David Wibberley encouraged me to try the Nederburg Ingenuity. An Italian Red blend, and quite simply – a little bit of heaven in a glass. It was the nicest thing I had tried in a while. Well, until I tried the Steenberg Nebbiola. Suprised (pleasantly ofcourse) by this incredible wine that I hadn’t actually even heard of, I tried it again. And then I tried it again. And again.

Nederburg Ingenuity
Steenberg Nebbiola
Tour through wine?

Here’s the Tour of Italy’s itinerary that includes some of the food that really was on the table (they didn’t just serve us wine!)

I can safely say that I still don’t like Pinot Grigio (I tried, I can’t) but that if you fancy buying me a present, I will gladly accept the Steenberg Nebbiola.

My gorgeous husband enjoying the wine too!

Gone fishing

Well, not quite.

Paternoster is a fishing village, but we didn’t really go fishing. We just went to ‘get away from it all’. And by “it all”, I mean work. Which was, ofcourse impossible thanks to the full reception coverage we received on our blackberry’s. (they should really switch off BIS towers anywhere other than in city centres, don’t you agree?).

I’ve wanted to go to Paternoster since, well basically since I couldn’t actually find it on a map. I was told it was a little fishing village on the west coast that was a bit like Greece. Clearly the people who told me that had never been to Greece. Its nothing like Greece. But it is a gorgeous sleepy village adorned with white walled houses and one main road with sea views from every corner. Nothing like late notice I still managed to secure us a lovely little (well not actually so little) cottage with all the necessary luxuries I’ve come to love. You know, the cotton sheet and double vanity basin variety. We stayed at Heaven on a Stick, which offers all the comforts of home except without the rusks, sugar, coffee, matches and showergel (just a tip to self-catering spots – these things go such a long way in making somewhere good to making it awesome). The sea view was just behind the row of houses in front of us, and if it wasn’t for the fact that it was raining for the weekend, our front porch would’ve seen a little more of us.

Paternoster

Arriving at lunchtime, I knew exactly where I wanted to visit for our first stop. The Winkel Op Paternoster and Oep ve Koep and Oep ve Eet. Don’t ask me which is which or what it means, but we rolled into an old farm shop with retro tea garden, ordered a bottle of Darling Cellars Sauvignon Blanc and oohed and aaahed at the fun decor and the old South African memories attached to them. The rain stayed away long enough for us to sit in the garden and absorb a few rays. Lunch, while at first appearing on the small portion side, was very little less than sensational. Even managed a short chinwag with Kobus van der Merwe, the owner, chef and previous editor of Eat Out (although I think he prefers the title and the lifestyle of talented sea-side village chef).
Only three emails checked. Good lunch.

Winkel Op Paternoster

Oep ve Eet

Its as small as it looks. But A-MA-ZING!
Amazing yummy Bobotie

Vredeburg is the little town you hit right before you reach Paternoster and where we stopped to buy our weekend groceries (the expense of which always surprises me!). We were equipped with braai food and wine for afternoons and evenings of relaxation. Our indoor fireplace doubled up as an indoor braai (its supposed to do that!) on our first night and we settled down to a bottle of Laborie Bubbly (still one of my faves) and my Dan Brown book (conveniently purchased at the Kalahari sale! Have to love a R20 paperback).

As with every evening spent on the West Coast, we were spoilt with a stunning sunset. TIA.

What surprised me when we first arrived at our Paternoster cottage was the (poor) introduction we received to the locals. Yes, this isn’t a happy-go-lucky paragraph. Basically we were advised against leaving any windows or doors open, even if we were at the cottage. Quite simply – and after trying to sugar coat it – the locals will take advantage of any opportunity. They apparently pretend to sell crayfish, but in actual fact, they’ll slip in and out with your handbag, laptop or (maybe not a bad thing) blackberry! Let’s be honest, it wasn’t the nicest introduction. As a result, my planned long ‘get back into running’ run the next morning didn’t go so well as I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t being followed (it had nothing to do with the fact that I haven’t exercised in months).

Not to worry – we satisfied our fear (well, my nervousness) with another great meal out. This time at Gaaitjie. I had made a reservation in advance as I know how booked up this place gets – although maybe in the middle of winter it wasn’t entirely necessary. The venue is right on the beach front between the rocks and other fishing cabins. While it is rustic and relaxed, it needs to be noted that the decor wasn’t old or tired, it felt tastefully seen to. I was loving it. We had a great little table in the front room next to the fire place. We had brought our own wine along (at R40 corkage), the fantastic Lammershoek  Chenin, but were impressed to see they stock the Lammershoek LAM which is a must-try wine.

The issue with writing a blog post two months after the event, is trying to remember what exactly it was that you had for lunch. A lunch that accompanied a bottle of wine, and an afternoon of more drinking. I have the photos, and remember that it was incredible. I also recall rating it as one of the best meals I’ve ever had. This I maintain. I expected the food to be comfort food. The type that your mom makes, or your gran. This, was something spectacular (sorry Mom). Out of this world food art. (For choice of an over-dramatic way of explaining good food.) It was creative and involved a little bit of ‘just try it’ on my part, but I’m so glad I did.

Our Starter - err... not sure what it was
My main... I think it was ravioli of some sort!
Mark's main - easy guess is Curry

Day 3 in Paternoster was what God intended Paternoster to always be. Sunny. The light across that endless white beach called for a long walk. Watching seagulls pick up and drop their mussels, looking at crabs and for the perfect abandoned shell (that would consequently become a napkin ring. Gaatjie inspiration) all the while the sun shone – this is what seaside holidays are made of. Just as we were settling in to the beautiful day, the Sharks vs someone game was calling and we had to head back to the bright lights so as not to miss it. That always happens. Not the Sharks game, but rather that just as soon as you finally drift away from real life. You’re back at home. Checking emails. Analytics. And twitter.

Ok, so some deets are always good:

Gaatjie: 022 – 7522 242, Off Sampson Road, Paternoster

Oep ve Koep022-7522105, St. Augustine Road, Paternoster, West Coast

My favourite bistro

I wasn’t a member of any societies in high school. Gawd! Thats a terrible intro isn’t it? I didn’t quite know how to start this, and that, I admit, was a pretty lame attempt. Albeit the truth – I wasn’t in the debating society (shock horror I do have an opinion on most things), wasn’t on the junior town council (yep, both sisters made it – not me!) or a prefect (again, both sisters.. black sheep). However I have found a love for a different Societi recently. That which is on Orange Street. Hmm, this all sounds rather cheesy, but really – this is one of my favourite restaurants in Cape Town and probably the one I’ve seen the inside of the most (not counting Beluga which really doesn’t count at all, its just down the road and really convenient).

I had heard about Societi Bistro as I do most things, on twitter. My faithful companion (I read twitter over books at night. Its a terrible sin. One I’m not proud to admit, but there you have it.) Shit, I’m digressing far too often tonight. And swearing. (Or is that just in my head?) Anyway… I heard about it and, as how I operate, was looking for an excuse to visit, when I was offered one. In the form of invitation to a summer menu tasting. For the life of me I can’t recall the details of how I managed to get an invite, but I’m so glad I did. Lucky for me @wannabebond did the full write up on the food which was quite simply, so enjoyable. After that beautiful summer’s evening with the mountain as our backdrop, I just knew this would become one of my regular spots.

Why do I love this spot? Well, firstly its the food. And simply put, it is divine. Divine without the capetonian accent. Just divine how the dictionary intended. Its unpretentious, wholesome, simple food. You don’t visit Societi for the frills and fancy drizzle. You visit to eat and you know you’ll be getting a whole heap of flavour when you do. I have to be honest and say that besides the night of the tasting, I never get further than the starters and pastas on the menu. Watermelon salad followed by  Prawn Tagliarini. Yes, every time. Pasta is my indulgence, and this is so worth it. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the menu isn’t good. In fact, there’s nothing I’ve tried (at the tasting and at the samples of friends and families meals) that isn’t just delicious. This is mediterranean Italy with all things South African. If that makes sense.

watermelon vodka salad
Food photos by blackberry never work out so well

Besides the food (which really, is reason enough to visit), there’s also the decor, ambiance and my best, al fresco dining. Hot summers nights when the sun sets late and the mountain has a pink back light while sipping chilled white wine (me. Not the mountain). Cooler evenings inside the converted Georgian-style house with its bricked walls and openplan kitchen, cosy and warm with a few fleece blankets just in case. And then there’s the snug. The bar round the corner with the worn leather chairs and pictures on the walls. Any time of day, any time of year. This place oozes with appeal.

Ok, now a real highlight of any visit is their wine list. And these days, one of my deciding factors when it comes to liking a restaurant or not. They take wine seriously and it shows. Not to go off on a tangent about places (and yes, I’m talking about Beluga and Sotano) that have ridiculous mark ups on their otherwise fairly crappy wine selection, Societi has awesome wines, many by the glass and all at a VERY reasonable price. For example, the South Hill Sauvignon Blanc is R30 at Sotano per glass and R19 at Socieiti. Not that I’d order that – there are many others to choose. Point is, well – I think I made it.

Societi Bistro is just a relaxed, easy going place. Pop in at any time grab a table (if they’re not booked up I mean) and chill out. Its easy to stay for hours (erhmm…) or be there twice in one weekend. It has been done before. By me.

ps. Now that summer is over and the watermelon salad is no longer available (sniff sniff), I’m popping back in for a little tour of Italy. I think they read my mind. My second favourite country. Oh, and if you did try the watermelon salad and want to attempt to make it yourself next year when watermelons are back in season, check out the fabulous Stefan Marais’ recipe.