Steampunk & Salvation

Things have been hectic the last few weeks and I have been a bit slow with blogging. It is ramping up to the end of year craziness!

My regular readers may remember the previous blogs about the Hout Bay venue ‘Pescarne’, the 1st visit there was amazing! Really enjoyed the entire experience. The subsequent visits were of varied results and the last experience was vowed to be our last as it seemed to be depreciating rather than improving. However we were invited to go back with our friends Retha and Pierre and as it was Restaurant Week (www.restaurantweek.co.za) in South Africa there was an offer on which was too good to pass up so we decided to give them one more chance.

The booking was made for a Wednesday and I was worried we might be the only people there but by the time we left at the end of the evening it was pretty much full and had a great buzz, that was one of our issues previously was the lack of vibe as it has been empty too often.

If you ask my opinion (or even if you don’t actually you are gonna get it unless you stop reading) their issue has been their prices. A restaurant can only expect people to pay what they pay at the restaurant next door unless it is an exceptional experience.

A bottle of Warwick Estate Sauvignon Blanc Professor Black cost us R235 which seemed a bit high. But as the meal was on special it was not an issue. But if my meal had been full price it would have been a very expensive meal. However it was indeed exceptional this evening.

The special was a 2 course Dinner for R175.00

Choice of one starter:
-Smoked salmon and strawberry
– Steak tartar
-Scallop and prawn garlic pot
-Prawn and avocado cocktail

Choice of one main course:
-Pan fried pepper fillet steak
-Grilled ostrich with fig and gorgonzola
-Seared fresh Norwegian salmon
-Stuffed chicken supreme

I had the scallop and prawn garlic pot, it was 4 prawns and 3 scallops, but not what I would call a scallop but someone said to me that they are not native to South African coasts so who knows where these came from. They were quite clamish to me, sort of like a European scallop and a clam had a baby.
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Either way, the prawns were tender yet firm, perfectly prepared and nicely drenched in hot melted butter and tons of garlic. The wee scallopettes were ok. Just not a scallop by my experience. It was a perfect size, just a wee taste. I enjoyed it.

For my main I ordered the fillet steak. It was served with a delicious light creamy pepper sauce, no giant peppercorns lurking to break one of my dodgy teeth, no painful overpepperination. That’s a word. You have just never heard it before. Um. It’s American. (that only works with non-Americans of course haha)

It was undoubtedly one of the best steaks I have had, it was perfectly cooked. pink but not overly bloody. It was so tender and just really melted in your mouth.
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I ordered fries for the table having learned my lesson at Bistro 1682 this time I asked what came with the steak. The veggies which did come with it were perfectly al dente.

Norm and Retha both had the Smoked salmon and strawberry salad to start which looked nicer than this pic does.
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For his main he had the Stuffed chicken supreme on a bed of cous cous, he said it was good.
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We had a nice relaxing evening.
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We decided to push the boat out and have dessert, mainly as I knew they have a divine chocolate fondant, one of my faves. As usual it was perfectly moist and full of warmly melting chocolate. It was rather exceptional.
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Norm had the apple crumble. He enjoyed it.
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I left feeling like they had undergone some sort of salvation, that they had risen from whatever it was that had caused their slump and were finding their feet again. If you make it through the winter in Hout Bay you are often over the main hurdle and they will do very well in season with the tourists. It is a summer sort of place with the glass doors all pushed wide open and the sun slanting in as it will be staying up so late in the evenings. Tables set up on the balcony – I do wish them well.

As we were leaving we were stopped by the owner who thanked us for coming and after a bit of a chat invited us to pop back in for a whisky. But it was a weeknight and I had meetings the next day so we toddled off home.

My opinion has changed again and we will go back.

The rest of the week flew by with me managing to sell my Peugeot. It was a really low offer but I just wanted to be rid of it and move on with my new Juke. So it is goodbye to my lovely baby girl. We had a lot of fun.
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She was such a sexy thing. She is off to be the guest hire car for a local guesthouse, so she will have hot young things writhing round her leather seats, sticky hot from the beach. I am glad, that is what she is meant for, not every day slogging up the mountain, she deserves a rest.

Saturday was the day of our Steampunk Halloween party. We had such fun. It was booked at Spiro’s for the first time, it was such a pleasure to just arrive and party and go home to a clean house at the end of the night. We had a shared party with Lee who was having a birthday party and provided the DJ. We provided platters for all of the tables, tapas which are always divine and perfect for a shared setting like that.

The family snapped a pic or two before people started arriving.
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How stunning are my baby girls? They take my breath away sometimes they are so pretty.

Everyone made such an effort, we really had fun.
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I was on the cocktails and Norm was on the wine, but at some stage we ended up doing shots, that was the end of me. I had a lotta lotta cocktails though, I was hot. And thirsty.

Anyway, after midnight we decided we were heading to Pirates to carry on and I couldn’t find Norm anywhere. So we went outside and found him sprawled across a picnic table in a stupor, about the same time I heard shouting and yelling and looked up to see a huge crowd of about 20 people spilling into the road like some beach version of West Side Story, fighting and rolling about strangling each other. My friend Michelle offered to help me get Norm home as Home Heroes were unable to arrive for an hour. I wonder why I am a member if that is specialised service. Anyway Norm was in no state to wait an hour and Michelle ran off to get her car, meanwhile the fight had reached where we were and she had to drive through the people to stop. I had to run the gauntlet, Norm slung over my shoulder Private Ryan style, the sound of imaginary machine gun fire echoing in my ears….oh wait, sorry I got carried away. Seriously it was very stressful, people rolling round our feet pummelling three shades of shite out of each other and an immobile large drunk man periodically heaving. Lovely.

Michelle got us home and we had no keys to get in, I rang the bell (a million times according to Lily) and we managed to get Norm up the steps and into bed, Caitlin and Vic arrived just after us and Victor had to help get him undressed. It was rather challenging. I have seen him like that maybe 3 times in our 18 years together.

Our bar bill was almost R4000 so I guess we did a bit of drinking. I thought I broke my liver as I was unable to function for a day. I had left my glasses in Norm’s car (which was at Spiro’s and we had lost the keys to) therefore I had to roam around the house by feel like a mole. I found some old glasses but they made me nauseous so I didn’t wear them unless I was walking.

Eventually Michelle found our keys under her car seat and we found Norm’s phone as well as his wallet. It was a hectic evening but we had a lot of laughs and I probably embarrassed myself a wee bit, but what is life if you can’t have a giggle.
annie

A Near Miss

There are both advantages and disadvantages to living in a tourist destination. Luckily the influx of tourists in Cape Town are seasonal and not year round, but we locals definitely see a change once the visitors start arriving.

One of the biggest impacts is to restaurants, due to being so busy the service takes a knock. Many venues have to bring in extra staff to assist over these periods and the staff do not always get the benefit of proper training.

As our season is just now starting, we locals have forgotten what it is like but I got a bit of a taste of that last weekend.

On Sunday we went to a venue we have visited many times previously, Bistro 1682 at Steenberg Vineyards. It is always busy there and we struggled to get a booking, even more than a few weeks in advance. The service is often a bit slow when they are busy but Sunday was the worst experience I have had in a restaurant in quite a long time. No one thing was remarkable, but strung together it was a cacophony of chaotic clusterfuckedness.

Norm and I were the first of our party of 9 people to arrive. We ordered a bottle of water for the table and I chose one of their own bottles of Sauvignon Blanc at R110 per bottle. Unfortunately I cannot find anywhere to download their wine menu, only a PDF blurb on the various bottles they ‘offer’. On Sunday they did not offer a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for less than R175 per bottle! That is a big difference per bottle when you are such a large group and the potential is there to drink quite a few bottles, that can bump the bill up an extra grand. I was highly annoyed with the ‘take it or leave it I could give a damn either way attitude’ from the waiter. Needless to say we had to accept the expensive wine or else spend the day drinking a wine I don’t like. How does a wine farm run out of bloody wine I ask??

So the rest of the group arrived and we all decided what we wanted to order and put in our food order. The food took a very long time, we eventually had to ask what was the problem when we had been there for an hour and a half and no food yet. We kept busy talking nonsense, taking selfies and acting silly.

silly girls

Tony

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I had ordered the baked camembert for starters. Almond crusted, green fig syrup, sweet seracha, parsley oil for R68. The cheese was the perfect temperature and consistency. (Take note Pastis!)

melty cheese

I do not think that the parsley oil added one iota of anything to the overall dish and I think it is rather unnecessary, but that is just my personal opinion.

Tony had the mussels to start as did Elmari and they both said they were lovely, the mussels were fat and plump and looked very fresh.
Fresh Black Mussels starter portion at R65 or the main portion at R120, described as Onion, garlic, Steenberg sauvignon blanc, cream, chives. (Maybe that is where all the affordable wine went?)
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Some of the other starters were the Beef Tataki: seared beef, chilli, ginger, lime, coriander which was from the Tapas menu and cost R55.

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There was also a salad dish…..with an egg. I am guessing it might have been this:
House Salad starter portion at R42 which consists of Baby cos, day lilies, nasturtium, sugar snaps,
tomatoes, quail eggs & radish, but I am not sure and I can’t remember who ate it! (I have flu so am mentally challenged today).
salad

For mains we had a variety of dishes. Mrs S had the steak sandwich which she said was OK but the chips were overcooked and she did not eat them. Norm and a few others ordered the line fish which Norm said was delicious.
angelfish

I had a hard time choosing between the pork roast and the Beef bourguignon, but the deciding factor was the rosemary in the potatoes which came with the pork. I detest rosemary so opted for the beef. I did notice that there was no mention of a starch, but just assumed something would come with it, especially as the waiter did not stress that chips or sides would have to be ordered separately. It was only when I was presented with this plate that I got a bit worried:
bacon
ok then….and then they delivered this wee pot of beef.
beef
I then added it to the bacon and voila! beef b comp

I also noted that Norm’s soup starter came as a bowl of bacon and a separate little jug of soup. I felt like I was back fake baking in the Easy Bake Kitchen of my childhood. Why make me prep my own food before I eat it? Did the assistant chef phone in sick? Is that who drank all that bloody wine? One of the things I enjoy about La Mouette or Cheyne’s is that the arrival of the food usually heralds a series of ooohs and aaahs from the beauty and creativity of the presentation of the food. These deliveries just received looks of confusion – I mean when one gets a plate of bacon bits when one has ordered soup?

I found it all rather pretentious and annoying. But I am menopausal and find life annoying in general, so don’t mind me.

The beef was full of flavour and very tender, the sauce was just divine and begged for a big plate of starchy goodness to soak it up. So when I realised my food was just a bowl of beef (tasty and yummy beef but a bowl of beef all the same) I asked to order 3 plates of chips for the table. The waiter said ok, went off to the kitchen and then reappeared to say that the chef had whinged (my word not his) about the fact he had to blanch the chips and then fry them and it would take a few minutes. I said that is OK as we want chips. So off he went, came back yet again to try and dissuade us from ordering chips and when we insisted he wandered off again.
The chips arrived after most people had finished their food, but everyone seemed to still be hungry and wolfed down all 3 bowls of chips, which told me I made the right decision.

We all were still not full and so we ordered desserts. Several of us opted for the Chocolate Streusel at R64 per serving. It consisted of Salted caramel, vanilla crème, chocolate cremeux, cookies and cream ice cream.
desser
Several of the group had ordered the apple pie which was on the blackboard nearby rather than on the menu we were handed. The waiter went off and came back a bit later to say the apple pie was only part of the tapas menu which is served from 4.30pm and therefore was not available. It was 4.20 pm! So if the pie has not been put in to the oven yet then rather come and give us the option – do we want to wait half an hour for the pie to bake? Or do we want to order an alternative? Not just ‘No’. Why have the menu propped up and visible if it is not on offer?

The final straw for me was when I found a large piece of paper in my dessert. There is no excuse for serving someone a large sheet of plasticky paper. They took it off the bill and offered an alternative, but by now they had their 3rd strike and they had certainly not met my expectations. The sour taste in my mouth may have been improved by another sweet but I was just over it.

We ordered coffees and the coffee was actually burnt. Not the best ending to the meal, El sent back her espresso as it was really foul.

We had a lovely day but that was down to the beautiful setting and the joy of my friends’ company. I think in future we will stick to brunch at Bistro 1682 as I have always enjoyed the food and it seemed as if the patrons were less of an inconvenience. Maybe they are morning people? 🙂

The total cost of mine and Norm’s portion of lunch was R877 for both of us for 3 courses with wine.

Their website is http://www.steenbergfarm.com/bistro1682 but if you go, make sure you order chips and maybe find out the corkage fee in case they run out of wine again.

Thailand and France

My friend Retha and I normally attend the Cape Town Girl Geek Dinners but this month we decided to give it a miss and instead go for cocktails and dim sum at Kitima which is a fab venue. We booked seats in the bar and proceeded to sample the cocktail menu.

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IMG_7218.JPG we ordered the starter platter and the prawn and mozzarella balls to share.

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The chicken satay was tender, the sushi fresh and firm, the spring rolls crisp. I love that you get a variety of sauces. The prawn balls were on a bed of wasabi mousse and sweet chili sauce. They were little balls of heaven. Really divine and my fave of the items ordered.

I stuck with my fave of their cocktails, kiwi and passion fruit over ice with vodka. Really refreshing. Retha had a chili margarita and a chili chocolate one as well.

For dessert we both had the chocolate fondant with pineapple sorbet.

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The chocolate fondant was perfect, oozing chocolate. Rich and moist. The pineapple sorbet tasted stale. I didn’t enjoy it at all, but luckily it it wasn’t needed in order to enjoy the fondant.

It is a beautiful venue with very attentive service. It is an old listed historic building lovingly renovated. I love the contrast of old Cape Dutch architecture and modern interior.

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The legend is that there was a young Afrikaans girl who lived there many years ago and she fell in love with an English soldier and their love was thwarted by her father. I can’t remember how she died but the heartbroken young soldier hung himself from the tree across the road, over by what is now the football grounds. The restaurant owner lays a table for the young lovers every night.

The rest of the week limped along, the weather finally turning to summer and it feeling very hot. I did discover a new lunch venue. A little Mexican take away called Tortilla Modern Mexican, you choose a meal of burrito or taco etc, then choose a filling of chicken, meat, veg etc and the toppings. I had tacos and they really were exceptional. If you want a quick bite in Cape Town it is definitely to be recommended.

Saturday I had another expensive torture session at the lazer clinic. My body is getting so smooth! It’s painful and expensive but so worth it.

We popped into Gabriella’s for a quick bite as I was meeting Retha for a debrief of my Enneagram test which I had done. It assesses your personality and recommends ways to become a more balanced person.

The eggs Benedict were perfect and the chips we shared were homemade, handcut and really gorgeous. I’m a bit of a chip connoisseur.

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We did the debrief at Riverside Estates which is such a stunning venue. I had my 50th birthday party there.

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They do weddings and all manner of things. It’s very peaceful feeling there.
We spent hours talking and I was given a report to read which has life coach type suggestions about becoming a more rounded person.

Last night we decided to go somewhere different and headed up toward Constantia. We saw a vibe at Greens and stopped there, but when we got out of the car we heard a guy singing live. It drew us over towards him, we decided to stay for dinner at Pastis. The singer was down in the lower courtyard and we chose the upper courtyard where we could hear the music but also hear each other. We were all alone in the section, surrounded by greenery and with heaters to keep the chill off.

We had the deep fried Camembert to share as a starter. It was cut into 5 wedges each with batter right round the wedge, so with more breading than when fried as a whole cheese. The cheese wasn’t fried long enough unfortunately so instead of cutting into a melting, oozing center it was more like you had simply left your picnic basket in the sun. The small bowl of sauce was nice and sweetly tart but in all it would be better with Melba toast and the cheese to be fried for several more minutes.

For my main I had a pork fillet stuffed with mozzarella and ham and Norm had the fillet steak.

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The chips were below average, quite greasy. The green beans were al dente the way I prefer them. The pork was ok, I had expected a rolled fillet, not a flattened schnitzel like dish. But if I think of it as a schnitzel it was nice and crispy and the coating stayed put. Norm said his steak was amazing. Tender and perfectly cooked.

For dessert I had the creme brûlée and Norm had the chocolate mousse. I tasted his mousse, it was dark chocolate layered with white chocolate. Nice and creamy with a lovely rich texture, Norm really enjoyed it. My brûlée was the perfect consistency, nicely set and with a thin solid sugar glaze topping.

We really enjoyed the singer, he sounded a bit like Neal Young. Or David Crosby. One of those dudes anyway. He was good entertainment, with a rough and gravelly voice and his unplugged unobtrusive guitar accompanying him. We sat out in the night air surrounded by the vineyards, music wafting over the hot summer air, our 1st night this year to eat outside in the evening without blankets. We shared a lovely bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and enjoyed a night out on our own.

It was a fabulous evening. We will give Pasti’s another go, especially if the same guy is playing.

Today it was incredibly hot. I spent the day by the pool, sitting in the shade.

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Norm popped to the shop and then cooked some sausages and kebabs on the braai and I made salads for us and the girls.

All in all it has been a busy weekend but I’ve enjoyed it. It’s wonderful that it is warming up a bit, summer is here to stay I hope!