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(review) Chef’s Table at The Twelve Apostles

20 Apr

The view to the right from the Leopard Bar at The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

Two weeks ago I have the pleasure of attending the first degustation dinner at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa – a new and exclusive “secret menu” chef’s table experience that will be available once a month for a limited number of people all sharing a long table adjacent to the Azure restaurant kitchen.

Chef Christo Pretorius ready for action.

Chef Christo Pretorius and head sommelier Gregory Mutambe welcomed us at 18h30 in their restaurant, against an awe inspiring backdrop of ocean, mountains and sunset. The award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is part of the family-run Red Carnation Hotel Collection and is situated on Cape Town’s most scenic Victoria Road in Camps Bay. Poised above the Atlantic Ocean, the 5-star boutique hotel is flanked by the majestic Table Mountain National Park, a World Heritage Site, and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. The hotel offers 70 guest rooms, with unique features that include a holistic spa, private cinema, and breathtaking views from the legendary Azure Restaurant and The Leopard Bar.

A quick pic with award winning sommelier Gregory Mutambe, before the start of our dinner.

The sunset view from the Leopard Bar at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

For the chef’s table dinner, you can enjoy a surprise six course degustation menu designed by chef Christo Pretorius – a menu that will change with every occasion. Starting on the 5th of May 2017, the hotel will be hosting these dinners on the first Friday of every month.
The recommended wine pairings with each course, featuring an exclusive selection hand-picked by acclaimed sommelier Greg Mutambe, is one of the highlights of the experience. Chef Christo and Greg will be on hand to guide you through the menu and the wines, but a screen with some footage of the action in the kitchen is a welcome addition (their kitchen space do not allow the chef’s table to actually be inside the kitchen).

Azure Restaurant reception area.

The interior of Azure Restaurant at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa (picture supplied by The Twelve Apostles)

Take a look at my experience at The Twelve Apostles’s first degustation dinner in photographs. I shared the table with a few other digital media guests and their partners, as well as the GM Michael Nel and PR host Joanne Hayes from Tumbleweed Communications. I can honestly say that this dinner was one of the most welcoming, enjoyable, relaxing, luxurious experiences of my life. The unsurpassed views, the incredibly professional and friendly staff, the thoughtful interior, the absolute attention to detail, the magnificent selection of wines expertly paired with the food, the faultless service and of course the selection of scrumptious and inventive dishes from the kitchen – it was a unique all-round experience of the highest quality, one that I would certainly remember for a lifetime.

Amuse-bouche: 60 °c Saldanha Bay Oyster – oyster mayo | miso caramel | compressed cucumber ǀ passionfruit | wild rice puffs

First course: Chicken and Ham Terrine – pickled shitake mushrooms ǀ tarragon mayo ǀ honey mustard emulsion ǀ baby micro salad ǀ compressed granny smith ǀ cured egg yolk

Second course: Roast Cauliflower – cauliflower crème ǀ pickled sultanas ǀ Malay spice dressing ǀ onion dhaltjies ǀ aged parmesan

Third course: Citrus Cured Salmon – molasses curd ǀ hazelnuts ǀ pickled beetroot ǀ stem ginger ǀ fennel fronds

Fourth course: Loin of Venison – venison osso buco ǀ parmesan gnocchi ǀ roast butternut puree ǀ squash custard ǀ confit baby leeks ǀ seed crumble ǀ maple and coffee jus

Fifth course: Boerenkaas Biscuit – pickled plum ǀ plum gel ǀ watercress ǀ toasted macadamia mousse

Sixth course: Valrhona Manjari – crémeux ǀ macerated berries ǀ gingerbread ǀ vanilla meringue ǀ dulcey crème

Mignardises, served with coffee and tea.

This degustation dinner experience is limited to 6-12 guests per event and comes with a price tag of R2150/person for six courses (includes wine, water and gratuity). With 10 days notice, they can do this Chef’s Table on any date (other than advertised) for private bookings. The experience is certainly not for the budget conscious, but fits perfectly in line with The Twelve Apostles’s high end / luxury offerings. Do browse their website for other services, including spa packages, romantic getaways and even an option where kids stay free. And did you know they were pet friendly?

Contact The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa for your reservation:

Telephone: +27 21 4379000
Email: reservations1@12apostles.co.za
Address: Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
GPS Coordinates: 33º58’59.37” S ,  18º21’31.43” E











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Review: Lunch at FABER

1 Mar

The magnificent mountain and garden view from the front porch at FABER, Avondale.

I was recently invited to visit FABER – a new restaurant at Avondale Farm in the Paarl wine district. Avondale is a 300 year old, family-run farm that is situated on Lustigan Road, Klein Drakenstein, on the slopes of the Klein Drakenstein Mountains.

FABER marks the meeting of minds and passions between a chef and a winemaker, paying tribute to the craftsmanship in both the kitchen and the Avondale cellar. With a shared commitment to sustainability, it’s no surprise that acclaimed chef Eric Bulpitt and Avondale proprietor Johnathan Grieve decided to collaborate.

Proprietor Johnathan Grieve and chef Eric Bulpitt welcoming the crowd.

“I’ve always believed that we as chefs are craftsmen,” says Bulpitt, explaining the meaning behind FABER, the Latin word for artisan, or craftsman. “We work with our hands, using produce from the land. It’s the perfect way to capture who we are and what we do.”

“It’s always been a goal of ours to open a restaurant on Avondale. We’ve looked at it for over 10 years, but never really found the right chef,” explains Grieve. “I’m a firm believer that when the energies are correct the partnership will happen, but up until now that hasn’t happened. When we met Eric we knew we’d found the perfect partner.”

“We have very similar belief systems in our respect for nature and a natural approach,” adds Bulpitt. “We’ll be working hand in hand together in telling the story of Avondale through the food at FABER. Whatever’s in season on the day (from the fields or the vegetable garden), we’ll bring that onto the plate and tell the story of where it comes from. It’s a dish that sums up exactly what FABER stands for.”

Chef Eric Bulpitt and team getting ready to plate our pastrami course.

Our lunch menu. I love FABER’s logo.

Avondale’s organic and biodynamic food garden has already been extended to produce fresh vegetables and herbs for the restaurant, while stone fruits and citrus from the farm’s orchards arrive with the changing seasons. Eggs are harvested daily from the eco-friendly egg-mobile housing Avondale’s free range chickens, and in time the farm will provide a steady march of broiler chickens and pasture-reared organic beef to the kitchen.

The restaurant interior at FABER.

The décor inside the renovated dining space is a blend of country-style comfort and relaxed elegance. Interior designer Annie Dower helped to infuse the Old Cape-style space with a bright modern country edge. Crockery was handcrafted at the Potters Gallery in Kleinmond, while crystal stemware from Schott Zwiesel showcases the terroir-driven wines from Avondale. Artworks by local painter Scats Esterhuyse are seen on the walls along with delicate botanical prints, echoing the landscape seen from the terrace. Keeping in line with their sustainability theme, the table tops, bar counters and wooden planter boxes are all crafted from stone pines on the estate that were felled when a fire swept Avondale a decade ago.

One of the planter boxes at FABER.

FABER is a new gem on the culinary Winelands landscape. With exceptional views, wines and food, they are sure to become a hot favourite. Here are some of the dishes that I tried at my visit:

Amuse bouche.

Black Angus pastrami, mustard, mustard chantilly and fried celery leaf, to be topped off with a celeriac veloute (which was poured over directly after I took this picture.)

Avondale happy chicken, garlic maize rice, crispy cauliflower, radish and mustard flowers.

Lemon verbena infused watermelon carpaccio, watermelon and basil sorbet, consommé and jellies. The sorbet was one of the best things that I had tasted on the menu – just brilliant.

A box of truffles and coffee for the road.

  • 5-course lunch menu: R535
  • 5 course dinner menu with Avondale wine pairings: R825
  • (Note: Prices subject to change, please check website for more info.)

The restaurant is open for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday from 12h00 – 15h00 and for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday from 18H30 – 21h00. Reservations recommended. For bookings and more information phone 021-202 1219 or email faber@avondalewine.co.za. Visit FABER on Facebook and follow faber_sa on Instagram.

Thank you to Manley Communications and Avondale for the opportunity to visit FABER.


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Feature: A timeless watch from Daniel Wellington

3 Jun

My brand new DW watch, fastened onto my wrist with an Italian calf leather strap.

My brand new DW watch, fastened onto my wrist with an Italian calf leather strap.

The last time I bought a watch was in 1995 – 21 years ago. It seems fair that I needed an upgrade. The team from Daniel Wellington sent me this beautiful Classic Sheffield watch yesterday and I feel like royalty wearing it. It is timeless (a little ironic for a time telling instrument, I know) and so elegantly minimalistic with a round white face, beautiful rose gold trimmings and a black Italian calf leather strap to match my daily black leather jacket “uniform”.

So it’s only apt to consider time at this point in my life, without being too sentimental. Apart from running a tight ship with my daily schedule from hour to hour – especially when I’m prepping for shoots and dinners, I’ve made an effort to make more time for myself and for the people around me since the beginning of the year. A month ago, I’ve started to make time for reading at night before I go to bed – a few minutes of silent page-turning me-time each day – no smart phones or laptops in sight. I read The Alchemist again, reminding me that life can take you on many different roads and that you should always trust your instincts.

It was time to simplify my life – we moved into a smaller space in the heart of town a few weeks ago and got rid of all the things that gathered dust in our garage. Because of our new location, I now have more time in the morning to spend with my family. I traded rushed mornings and sticky traffic for slower breakfasts and swift commutes.

It is already the beginning of June and soon we’ll reach the shortest day of the year. Winter is upon us and I cannot wait to embrace the dark and dreary comfort of an old friend: the cold and wet winter season in Stellenbosch. If I’m lucky, I’ll still be around in November to celebrate my crazy 39 years on planet earth before hitting the big four-oh in 2017.

2017? Really? Where has the time gone? Nowhere. We’re in it. We’re here. We’re doing this.

They say the only two luxuries in life are time and silence. As I’m writing, I realize I have both in this moment. Smiling. Thankful.

Note: The friendly people from Daniel Wellington are offering you a fabulous 15% discount on your next purchase. Go to www.danielwellington.com and use this code: thefoodfoxDW

Al fresco with Daniel Wellington. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Al fresco with Daniel Wellington. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Dining with Daniel Wellington. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Dining with Daniel Wellington. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Wearing your DW with style. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

Wearing your DW with style. Image from www.danielwellington.com.

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Review: Philips Saeco Poemia Manual Espresso Machine

30 May

I had the opportunity to test the Philips Saeco Poemia Manual Espresso machine over the past few weeks. I’m a dedicated coffee lover by nature, so the idea of making my very own espressos, Americanos and cappuccinos at home was just thrilling.

The machine is compact and easy to use. With its sleek black face it slotted nicely into my food prop cupboard. I love design elements that are slightly more masculine.

You can make an espresso in one minute from scratch. The crema that the machine produces is really superior to anything that you can create with a plunger or filter machine and the closest that I’ve been able to get to a professional barista-made coffee.  I struggled a little to make two similar coffees at once as the machine filled up the one cup faster than the other – seems like this is quite a common thing when I discussed it with other coffee machine owners. It wasn’t a big problem, as my husband and I prefer our coffees differently anyway, so we made our separate ones as a rule.

I now want one of these for my home and can really recommend it to anyone who is serious about making and drinking good coffee. We tested it with three different brands of ground coffee and the taste differences were pronounced and easy to identify. Our favourite coffee brand tasted even more delicious with the Seaco machine.

The Philips Saeco Poemia Manual Espresso machine is available from Pick ‘n Pay Hypermarkets, Yuppiechef, Takealot, Hirsh and other selected independent outlets at a recommended retail price of R2,499.

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Dinner at Makaron Restaurant with new chef Lucas Carstens

5 Mar

Chef Lucas Carstens with consultant Pete Goffe-Wood and sommelier EsméGroenewald

Chef Lucas Carstens with consultant Pete Goffe-Wood and sommelier EsméGroenewald (picture supplied by Majeka House)

After a magnificent era with head chef Tanja Kruger at Majeka House‘s Makaron Restaurant, chef Lucas Carstens took over the reigns in November 2015. Under the guidance of Pete Goffe-Wood as their consultant, the Makaron team is now presenting a lunch and dinner menu that is more focused on ‘special’ rather than ‘special occasion’ dining.

“We’re into food that’s more about ‘origin’ rather than ‘process’. If you take a beautiful braised shoulder of lamb as an example, it definitely won’t be manipulated in seven different ways. The aim is not to dazzle or intimidate diners,” says Pete, “but to create a relaxed, inviting environment in which to enjoy a delicious plate of food that relies on excellent sourcing.”

I was invited by the Makaron team to experience their new offering earlier in February this year as a three course dinner with wine pairings. As all of my previous experiences at Makaron were superb, I was interested to see what the new team had up their sleeves.

Majeka House & Spa is situated in Paradyskloof, a quiet leafy suburb in Stellenbosch. Tranquil surrounds have always been a great backdrop for luxurious hospitality experiences, and if you take a look at the nearby majestic mountains and adjacent vineyards you’ll know that you’re in the centre of the glorious Winelands.

We kicked off the evening with cocktails next to the pool, then moved into the dining area where we were seated outside on the terrace. It was a perfect evening in Stellenbosch. We scanned the menu and asked for recommendations from our very well-informed waiter. Here is our dinner in pictures, each accompanied by sommelier Esmé Groenewald’s suggested wine pairings.

Cocktails next to the pool at Majeka House & Spa.

Cocktails next to the pool at Majeka House & Spa.

The brand new menu at Macaron Restaurant.

The brand new dinner menu at Makaron Restaurant.

Bread board at Macaron.

Bread board at Makaron.

Amuse bouche from chef Lucas Carstens.

Amuse bouche from chef Lucas Carstens.

Trout ceviche, melon, sea lettuce - served with Thelema Verdelho 2015

Trout ceviche, melon, sea lettuce – served with Thelema Verdelho 2015.

Steak tartare, onions, horseradish - served with Sutherland Pinot Noir 2014

Steak tartare, onions, horseradish – served with Sutherland Pinot Noir 2014.


Springbok, butternut ravioli, spiced jus – served with Longridge Pinotage 2013.


Pork belly, celeriac, apple – served with Super Single Vinyards “Pella” Malbec 2013.


Caramel bar – served with Blaauwklippen Noble Late Harvest Viognier 2012.

Schalk had the Sesame Panna Cotta for dessert, but the light did not allow me to take a deserving photograph.

It would be my absolute recommendation that you take the wine pairing option with your choice of dishes as it elevates the dining experience to new heights. I especially loved the Blaauwklippen Noble Late, the Pella Malbec and the Longridge Pinotage pairings – superb suggestions.

My favourite from this dinner was the Springbok main course – meltingly soft meat, beautifully presented, perfectly seasoned. The Sesame Panna Cotta with nectarines and miso was also a total hit, served with Signal Hill Straw Wine 2011.

Makaron Restaurant continues to deliver invigorating and stylish food with their new menu and new team, although it is uncomplicated and truly accessible. I specifically enjoy their attention to detail when it comes to service – friendly, informed, attentive, knowledgeable staff. They are comfortably situated on the outskirts of town, close enough to make your journey just a handful of minutes from the centre of Stellenbosch.

Majeka House & Spa: 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch.

Lunch: 11:00 – 21:30

Dinner: 18:30 – 20:30

For bookings call +27 21 880 1549 or e-mail reservations@majekahouse.co.za.

For more information, visit www.majekahouse.co.za

For press assistance contact Ian or Lise Manley of Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539), email to premierbrands@publicity.co.za or visit the Press Room of Manley Communications at www.manleycommunications.co.za.

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Bistro 13’s Summer Menu Preview

30 Nov

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the first birthday celebration of Bistro 13 just outside Stellenbosch, owned by chef Nick van Wyk and cricketer Faf du Plessis. Nick and multitasking PR/marketing/front-of-house powerhouse Roxy Laker received us in style with bubbly and gave us a preview of their upcoming summer menu.

Nic was recently seen on tv as judge and mentor in Kyknet’s Kokkedoor, a popular Afrikaans reality cooking show. His love of robus flavours from France and North Africa is combined with a love of nostalgic South African favourites.

Here’s Bistro 13’s summer menu preview in pictures, as I ate my way through it:

Roxy Laker & Nic van Wyk – the dynamic team from Bistro 13.

The Bistro 13 summer menu preview with wine pairings.

Crumbed goats cheese, summer salsa, olive oil and honey vinaigrette

Bistro 13 Bread board, before we start. How I love a good bread board!

Smoked paprika dusted calamari, vinaigrette baby potatoes, avocade, pickled cucumber, rouille. The pickled cucumber was one of the favourites for the day.

Monkfish, green herb crust, tomato sauce (black and red), crispy potatoes.

Crispy sweetbreads, carrot puree, brown caper butter. This is one of their signature dishes and you are going to LOVE it.

Braised lamb shoulder and rib, asparagus barley, thyme & garlic sauce, broad beans.

Three chocolate terrine with caramel sauce and praline. This is a 5 star stunning dessert and I’ll totally be back for more.

If you love discovering the best of local Stellenbosch cuisine in an unpretentious, bold, yet relaxing package, you will fall in love with Bistro 13 and the team that keeps this place buzzing. I look forward to spending many more lunch and dinner hours here.

Bistro 13 has new opening hours:

Breakfast: Sat & Sun 08h00-10h15

Lunch: Mon-Sun 12h00-15h00

Dinner: Mon-Sun 18h30-21h30

Starters range from R70-75, main courses from R120-R160 (sides charged extra) and desserts from R50-85. Tasting menu options also available, and they are kid-friendly with a lush lawn outside.

Contact them on reservations@bistro13.co.za or 021-8813044.

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Celebrating 250 years with Hennessy at La Colombe

6 Jul


Hennessy Paradis (picutre courtesy of Hennessy).

I was recently invited to celebrate the 250 year anniversary of Hennessy cognac at the “new” La Colombe restaurant at Silvermist organic wine estate in Constantia, headed by Chef Scot Kirton.

Most cognac lovers will know that Hennessy is the largest producer of cognac in the world – the brand sells more than 50 million bottles a year, making up 40% of cognac sales globally. Hennessy was founded in 1765 by Irish officer Richard Hennessy who was serving in the army of King Louix XV. Eight generations later, Maurice Richard Hennessy (great-great-great grandson of Richard Hennessy) is still actively involved with the brand.

Hennessy blends more than 100 vintage eaux-de-vie (spirit before it’s aged into cognac) for its special blends. The creators believe that an excellent cognac starts with the wood barrels. Therefore, they only use barrels that are made from oak from the Limousin region and from (sustainably managed) trees that are between 100 and 150 years old – these add the rich vanilla and toast aromas to the brand’s cognac.

Pascal Asin, MD of Africa and Middle East at Moët Hennessy, who has been supervising the Hennessy brand in Africa for more than a decade, says: “Hennessy and the consumer in Africa have a very special relationship: there is a strong emotional connection between the two, and the significance of the brand here is unlike elsewhere in the world. In many countries, cognac is still seen as the old-fashioned drink favoured by an older, affluent generation who enjoys it as an after-dinner toast near a cosy fire while puffing on a cigar. The typical consumer in Africa, however, is young, aspirational and middle-class: the man whose ambition and inner drive will steer him to realise his full potential. It’s customary for him to meet his friends and colleagues in their favourite club or pub at the end of the day or week to celebrate their journey to success. They will also, most likely, drink Hennessy from a balloon glass – a ritual that is often viewed as archaic in other parts of the world. Yet, in Africa, the balloon glass differentiates the Hennessy drinker from the rest of the crowd: it’s the symbol of the relentless African spirit of conquest.”

To celebrate its 250th birthday this year in Cape Town, the brand invited a handful of female media representatives to experience Hennessy Paradis at La Colombe with a foie gras inspired pairing menu. Paradis is the result of successive blends that combine several hundred exceptional eaux-de-vie aged from 25 to 130 years. It has a splendid coppery gold colour and a velvety texture, richly fragrant with spices like cardamom and cinnamon as well as sensual floral scents. This cognac reveals itself masterfully and gradually, like a mysterious lover, and is surprisingly accessible to women – a market that is traditionally not familiar with cognac.

Chef Scot Kirton treated us to a personal demonstration inside his La Colombe kitchen of some of the food that we were about to enjoy – such a privilege to see a master at work. It was a first for me to drink cognac with lunch, and made me rethink my preconceived ideas about this premium amber liquid and the versatility of how to enjoy it. Take a look at my pictures from this unique lunch experience:

Guests are keen to learn more from Chef Scot Kirton.

Guests are keen to learn more from Chef Scot Kirton.

Chef Scot Kirton frying a slab of fois gras to perfection.

Chef Scot Kirton frying a slab of foie gras to perfection.

My first taste of Hennessy Paradis.

My first taste of Hennessy Paradis.

Our fabulous lunch menu at La Colombe, paired with Hennessy Paradis.

Our fabulous lunch menu at La Colombe, paired with Hennessy Paradis.

Bread board at La Colombe.

Bread board at La Colombe.

Amuse bouche at La Colombe. Delightful little surprise!

Amuse bouche at La Colombe. Delightful little surprise!

Pan-fried foie gras, jasmine & Paradis broth, snow crab, citrus marmalade, hazelnut and endive.

Pan-fried foie gras, jasmine & Paradis broth, snow crab, citrus marmalade, hazelnut and endive.

Pouring over some jasmine Paradis broth...

Pouring over some jasmine Paradis broth…

Palate cleanser: melting citrus balls.

Palate cleanser: melting citrus balls.

Confit pork belly & shoulder, sous-vide loin, smoked apple puree, pomme anna, apple & Paradis jus

Confit pork belly & shoulder, sous-vide loin, smoked apple puree, pomme anna, apple & Paradis jus

Gorgonzola, creamed fynbos honey, walnut cake, Paradis pickles apricots, honeyed oats, spelt croute.

Gorgonzola, creamed fynbos honey, walnut cake, Paradis pickles apricots, honeyed oats, spelt croute.

Bitter chocolate & Paradis cremeux, foie gras gelato, toasted kumquat cake, naartjie, foie gras caramel.

Bitter chocolate & Paradis cremeux, foie gras gelato, toasted kumquat cake, naartjie, foie gras caramel.

The bottle of Hennessy Paradis that we had the privilege of enjoying with our lunch, finished. It currently retails for R18 000-R19 000 per 750 ml.

The empty bottle of Hennessy Paradis that we had the privilege of enjoying with our lunch. It currently retails for about R9 000 per 750 ml.

The exclusive Hennessy Paradis Food-Creation Experience will be available from 8 July to 31 July for lunch daily from 12pm and dinner daily from 8pm at R1350 per person. For more information or to make a reservation, please contact La Colombe on 021-795-0125 – please reference ‘Hennessy Paradis Food-Creation Experience’ when making reservation.

For more information on Hennessy and its 250th anniversary celebration, please visit www.hennessy.com/en-africa and join the conversation on Facebook (HennessySA) and Instagram (HennessySA).

Thank you to Hennessy, La Colombe and OFyt for this magnificent experience and the beautiful leather gift bag.

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Review: Lunch at Ryan’s Kitchen, Franschhoek

30 Apr

Ryan's Kitchen interior

Panoramic view of the interior at Ryan’s Kitchen, Franschhoek

I was recently invited to experience the “new” Ryan’s Kitchen  – a recent move to a new location on Main Road gave this restaurant room to grow on the competitive and established Franschhoek culinary scene.

Given their reputation for excelling in modern South African cuisine, I was quite intrigued as to how they would present this to the market keeping in mind that they will be serving a discerning crowd of locals as well as international guests. So on Friday the 30th of January I took my husband and daughter along for a lunch trip to Franschhoek.

Chef Ryan Smith and his wife Lana make a strong team in this relatively new space. Ryan, who has worked in numerous Michelen-starred restaurants and schools across the world, heads up the kitchen while Lana commands the front of house. Their modern and fresh interior lended a clean slate for what was to come, as we took our seats inside the restaurant (we later moved to the terrace outside, as the gentle breeze started to cool down a scorching hot day).

The menu is divided into four sections: 1) salads & vegetables, 2) fish and shellfish, 3) meat and poultry and 4) dessert. Guests are encouraged to see the lists as grouped smaller dishes (like tapas) and not as “starters”, “mains” etc. Lana explained that we should order a few dishes and share, as they “love seeing the often lost art of social dining” – something that really resonated with me.

We proceeded to try quite a few dishes, and here are some of the pictures:

Bread box

Artisanal bread box with rotis and flavoured butters

Seared tuna

Seared tuna slices, pepper-pineapple and cucumber atchar.

Cape salmon

Tandoori cured Cape salmon, tomato and chilli “snow eggs”.

Brinjal dumplings

Smoked brinjal dumplings, basil and pine-nut dressing. This was one of my favourite dishes of the day.


Mushroom tapioca “pudding”, sautéed exotic mushrooms.

Seafood parcel

Cape Malay pickled seafood, cooked in a bag (before opening).

Seafood parcel open

Cape Malay pickled seafood, after opening the parcel. The simplicity of the presentation deceives the flavours that come out of this parcel.


Sitting outside in the sunny courtyard at Ryan’s Kitchen.

Duck parfait

Duck parfait per-peri, lemon jelly & green bean chutney.


Granadilla soufflé, mango ice-cream. This exquisite dish was the winner of the day.

Chef Ryan Smith

Owner/chef Ryan Smith at Ryan’s Kitchen, Franschhoek.

Some of my highlights were the beautifully presented bread box and the smoked brinjal dumplings. But the dish of the day was the absolutely breathtaking granadilla soufflé – the best soufflé I’ve ever had – perfect in every way. The soufflé cost R85, but is a massive portion and great to share.

I will recommend Ryan’s Kitchen to anyone who would love to experience a fresh and modern take on classic South African cuisine – you’ll find no clichés here. Every single dish was meticulously prepared and masterfully presented. The service was personal, attentive and very professional. This is one of my favourite new restaurants of 2015 and I cannot wait to see what the menu will bring later in the year.

Ryan’s Kitchen is open for lunch (12h30-14h30) and dinner (18h30-21h30), Monday to Saturday.

Prices vary from R40-R115 per dish.

Bookings are advised: info@ryanskitchen.co.za / 021-876 4598.

Thank you to Ryan’s Kitchen and Manley Communications for the opportunity to discover this gem of a restaurant.

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Dinner at the Kitchen Table, Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House

17 Nov

With chef Tanja Kruger at the Kitchen Table, Macaron Restaurant

With chef Tanja Kruger at the Kitchen Table, Macaron Restaurant

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to experience the newly renovated “Kitchen Table” at Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House, Stellenbosch. I was over the moon, because for years I have been supplying these guys with trout via my brother-in-law’s trout farm on Lourensford. I’ve seen their hotel and restaurant, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to experience their newly renovated kitchen and exclusive Kitchen Table. The invitation also included accommodation at Majeka House and breakfast the next morning, so I grabbed my husband and fellow food enthusiast Schalk to join me on this journey on the 2nd of November. It was his birthday two days after, so we had a big reason to celebrate.

The beautiful view from our balcony.

The beautiful view from our balcony.The kitchen table at Makaron Restaurant is a brand new experience: after recently renovating the kitchen at Majeka house, two guests at a time can now experience an exclusive food and wine adventure every night directly from the head chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier ……. inside the kitchen. Yes, inside the actual working kitchen. For food novices this might be a foreign concept, but for food lovers it is an absolute must food adventure.

Majeka House is situated on the edge of Stellenbosch’s residential Paradyskloof suburb, almost hidden beneath the lush trees with a strong feeling of privacy. We were ushered to our “mountain view room” which was situated on the first floor and had a magnificent view of the majestic Stellenbosch mountain. The room was spacious and luxurious with the most beautiful wall paper, free wi-fi, private balcony and a freestanding victorian bath. We opted for a swim in one of the private pools with sundowner drinks to soak up the tranquility and the beautiful weather. After a quick freshening up we were ready to clock in at the Kitchen Table at the restaurant.

A selection of cookbooks next to the Kitchen Table.

Chef Tanja Kruger’s photo album from her recent trip to Spain where she walked the legendary Camino.

In the middle of the action: a view from our table.

There is only one two-seater table inside the kitchen, which makes this experience quite unique and exclusive. We were greeted by head chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier Esmé Groenewald, who proceeded to tell us more about what we could expect on the evening. We were in for a 5-course tasting menu that came with many surprises – a night of excitement, laughter and loads of food fun.

Chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier Esmé Groenewald.

Chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier Esmé Groenewald.

Chef Tanja explains her elaborate bread board with different butters.

Chef Tanja explains her elaborate bread board with different butters.

Tanja and Esmé make a great team in letting the food and wine shine along one another, and Tanja’s inventive mind along with her well-traveled soul makes for some very creative and forward-thinking dishes. We were taken on a journey that included “ancient grains”, pink vienna sausages, chicken and corn, sea bass  and even dried milk skins. There was no red meat to be seen – such a fresh take on the usual fine dining menu. Here’s a look at our 5-course menu with wine pairings that evening:

2010 Villiera “Natural”

Ancient grains, cauliflower velouté, courgette, romanesco (2012 Nivo van der Merwe White)

Mauritian Seabass, Laksa Foam, Carrots, Cashew, Coconut (2014 Paul Cluver “Close Encounter” Riesling)

Pork Belly and fillet, jewel sweet potato, apple, mebos (2014 Neetholingshof Gewurztraminer)

Free range chicken, dumplings, corn, buttermilk, chive (2011 Vriesenhof Grenache)

Milk mousse, salted caramel popcorn (2010 Lammershoek “Cellarfoot”)

(PS: After our first course, we were served a surprise extra course that was not on our menu. It was a small tin filled with something pink, and next to it a bite of real pink vienna on a fork. Around the tin, there was a printed label that read: “Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Mine is viennas, the nasty pink ones just to clarify if there were any confusion. My grandfather used to call them “gwapse” because of the sounds they make when you bite into them. I think I like them so much because of the memories of going to the butcher as a big shopping day once a month. We would buy loads of these viennas and sit around the table and eat them as a simple supper the same evening – just like that, no mustard of bread or tomato sauce. So I hope tonight you feel like you are sitting around my table and enjoying a meal with my Makaron family.” What a joy!)

Ancient grains (quinoa ring) cauliflower velouté, courgette, romanesco)

Mauritian seabass, laksa foam, carrots, cashew, coconut

Free range chicken, dumplings, corn, buttermilk, chive.

Pork belly and fillet, jewel sweet potato, apple, mebos.

The "surprise" second course of pink viennas.

The “surprise” second course of pink viennas.

Milk mousse, salted caramel popcorn.

The experience as a whole was one of my favourites of 2014 so far – a total must if you consider yourself a fine dining lover and an adventurous eater. The service was impeccable, yet friendly and relaxed.

Our king size bed for the night, inside a mountain view room.

Our king size bed for the night, inside a mountain view room.

The breakfast buffet spread at Majeka House.

The pastry section at breakfast.

Our stay at Majeka House was top quality and I can certainly recommend the hotel to anyone who loves a luxury boutique accommodation experience. Their attention to detail is commendable. The next morning, we were treated to probably the best breakfast spread in town –  French pastries (I think I had about 8), homemade yoghurt, beautiufl charcuterie and smoked fish, fresh fruit, veggie juice to nurse the indulgence of the night before, great coffee and a great selection of hot breakfast options.

Majeka House is a great example of how a hotel should be run in a highly competitive environment like Stellenbosch. The owners are hands-on, their staff have a strong sense of “family”, and they do everything properly. The restaurant can hold its own against any of the best restaurants in South Africa, and there is a reason why they currently feature on the top 20 nominated restaurants for the Eat Out Awards 2014.

Thank you Majeka House and Manley Communications for the opportunity to experience this.

Contact Majeka House:

Tel: 021-8801549

Email: reservations@majekahouse.co.za

26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch


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Review: Dinner at Bistrot Bizerca

19 Jun

The interior at Bizerca, with their signature exposed brick wall and butterfly details.

The interior at Bizerca, with their signature exposed brick wall and butterfly details.

I was invited to Bistrot Bizerca in November last year for a preview of their summer menu for 2013/2014.  I couldn’t attend on the planned date and sadly had to decline the invitation.

The kind people at Bistrot Bizerca and Manley Communications then extended the invitation to a time that would suit me, and a whopping 6 months later I could finally confirm our booking. It took me a long time to get here, but it certainly won’t take me that long to be back. So let’s forget about the summer menu and focus on their hearty winter fare.

The beautiful butterfly detail on the brick wall at Bizerca.

The beautiful butterfly detail on the brick wall at Bizerca.

The courtyard at Bizerca, perfect for warmer weather.

The courtyard at Bizerca, perfect for warmer weather.

Bizerca is situated on Heritage Square  in the center of Cape Town (they moved from the Foreshore to the CBD five years ago). The square is a charming renovated block of restaurants and shops that form part of the Cape Heritage Hotel. As the weather played along nicely that night, we had the option to dine outside in the courtyard or inside in the cosy restaurant. We opted for inside amongst the bustling tables filled with other dinner quests. Bizerca had a full house that Friday night – a great testament to their popularity, and a chance to see how they handled their restaurant at full capacity.

Chef-owner Laurent at work in the Bizerca kitchen.

Chef-owner Laurent at work in the Bizerca kitchen.

Owners and husband & wife team Laurent Deslandes and Cyrillia van der Merwe classify their restaurant as a bistro, although Laurent’s skill and execution might easily be mistaken for fine dining cuisine. There are only six permanent dishes on their menu, with a daily chalk board for seasonal additions. For starters I ordered one of Bizerca’s signature dishes: Saldanha oysters with Cape gooseberry dressing. It was clear why this dish remains such a favourite –  a slightly sweet yet refreshing spin on a classic French favourite. I could have finished buckets full of these oysters. Schalk ordered the trio of cured fish from the chalk board menu, and it was one of the best dishes of the night – absolutely spectacular flavours, light yet intense.

Oysters with Cape gooseberry dressing.

Oysters with Cape gooseberry dressing.

For a main course, I chose the butternut gnocchi with roasted vegetables, tomato coulis & parmesan cheese. The gnocchi were large orange-coloured pillows, beautifully smooth and light, and they worked well with the peppery rocket leaves on top. I also loved the pan-fried texture on the sides of the gnocchi. Schalk had the beef fillet with stuffed mushroom and marrow and echalotte crust. It was perfectly prepared and a great option if you’re a meat lover.

Schalk's beef fillet with stuffed mushroom and marrow and echalotte crust.

Schalk’s beef fillet with stuffed mushroom and marrow and echalotte crust.

For dessert, I chose one of the most popular items on the menu: Valrhona soft centre chocolate pudding, white chocolate creme brulee and raspberry sorbet. It was generously portioned, and absolutely delicious. I also tasted Schalk’s choice of Granny Smith apple sorbet with calvados – simply delightful and so very refreshing!

Valrhona soft centre chocolate pudding, white chocolate creme brulee and raspberry sorbet.

Valrhona soft centre chocolate pudding, white chocolate creme brulee and raspberry sorbet.

Granny Smith Apple Sorbet with Calvados

The wine list at Bistrot Bizerca is hand selected by Laurent & Cyrillia, with beautiful items that I’ve never seen before. We had a bottle of Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir – a gem of a wine, made in Elgin. We had outstanding service the whole night, and our waiter had an exceptional grasp of the menu and wine list.

Bistro Bizerca seems to be firmly settled as one of Cape Town’s favourite bistro restaurants in the CBD. With their unpretentious menu, brilliant flavours and great service, they can certainly be recommended as a must-visit eatery for lunch, dinner or bites. Prices range from R80-R85 for starters, R135-R145 for mains, and R55-R75 for dessert.

Bistrot Bizerca operating hours: (Reservations: 021-423 8888)

Lunch: Mon-Fri, 12pm-3pm
Afternoon bites: Mon-Sat, 2:30pm-6pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat, 6:30pm-10pm
Late night bites: Mon-Sat, 9:30pm-10:30pm
Thank you Manley Communications and the whole team of Bistrot Bizerca for the experience, and for the use of their images due to low light restrictions on the night.
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