Taste of Cape Town 2011

I don’t know if it’s the ‘done’ thing- but surely event organisers should sort of get together at the beginning of the year and map out their calendars ensuring that some major events don’t clash with others?  Like the Waterfront wine affair and Taste of Cape Town. Both on this weekend and both attract the same audience…I highly doubt many people will have the stamina to attend both. Maybe that’s just me though because I seem to be a lightweight these days.

Anyway, forget about me, let’s get to the foooooooood!

I found myself in front of the entrance to Taste of Cape Town last night at around 6.40pm. Gates opened at 6.30 apparently. Parking was a breeze- although perhaps that was because there was a R20 parking fee.

There was a slight nip in the air as the sun had already gone down (Yes, sad to say that it’s starting to get dark THAT early now in Cape Town!) the ladies at the gate all looked a bit flustered. I’m not sure why as there wasn’t really even a queue yet. I walked through brandishing my ticket and then searching for the swag bag station.  I was rather disappointed at this stage. All the entire bag contained was a handful of useless pamphlets, some Specko rice, and an issue of Food&Home Entertaining. Humph!

It only took a moment for me to get over this, after which I began “The walk” –basically sussing out each and every stand, exhibitor, demonstration kitchen area and media tent WITHOUT tasting anything or talking to anyone…just merely making mental notes and constructing a viable plan of action as to what I was going to eat, from which restaurant, and in what order.. you see this is all enormously important at an event such as Taste of Cape Town…or Johannesburg, or Sydney, or London for that matter- as the choices are  vast and each dish is essentially a highlight off the chefs’ own menu. 

It must be noted that I have still yet to eat at many of the restaurants that were represented and so I was not too aux fair with any of their ‘signatures’.  I worked for Harold Bresselschmidt at the very first Taste of Cape Town at Camps bay High School (was such a great venue overlooking the Atlantic) and knowing his food, I was excited to see what three dishes he was going to showcase. To my disappointment, it seemed that Aubergine was absent from the line-up this year. Oh well… our loss!

I did manage to enjoy the snoek fishcake from Fyndraai (Solms-Delta) that was served in a  Cape snoek veloute’ and came with a cute tub of bokkom mayonnaise, some potato and onion crisps. Although there didn’t seem to be much of a contrast in flavours and the dish was altogether a bit salty, I was so hungry – probably because I hadn’t anticipated how tough it would be and how long it would take me to decide on what I wanted to eat. Decisions like this can be hard!

Once I had lined my stomach, it was onto the next restaurant, or was it the next wine? I don’t remember. But I do remember enjoying a glass of Steenberg Merlot. I’m not much of a Merlot drinker to be honest but wow- can you say eucalyptus!!  Its funny how what one’s palate enjoys, can be different from day to day.

Last night I definitely loved the herbal, medicinal notes in the wine but I know that if you gave the same wine to me next week I would probably turn my nose up at it. Strange huh? I Think it’s all got to do with where you are, who you’re with, what your mood is, what the weather is like etc.

I was lucky enough to be spending the evening with two of my good friends, Dee and Dirk- both of whom have completed the Stellenbosch wine evaluation course- and therefore also love their wine.  I enjoyed the fact that Dirk basically led Dee and my indecisive self from one wine stand to the next. (Always helps having someone ‘in charge’ at things like these!)  we ended up tasting some lovely wines.

Another goodie was the Idiom Rhone blend (Viognier, Grenache and Mouverde). It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed anything ‘Rhone-ish’ and I will say it was a most pleasant welcome to my palate.

Ok, back to the food!  My next course (after yet more mental games of ‘eeni meeni miney mo’!) was the lamb pilau from Bombay Brasserie (Taj hotel).  Warm and comforting with a dose of Indian spices, served alongside a dollop of raitta- a superb compliment.  My belly was now on its way to becoming full and I sensed my sweet tooth would be nagging me in a few moments. Surprisingly, this didn’t happen. I wanted more ‘savouriness’.

This posed more decision-making and consequently more wine drinking. Here are a few estates that featured in my glass (not all at once!) : Thelema, Oak Valley, Rickety Bridge, Solms Delta, Peter Falke and a couple of others. I was still hungry though for some more food.

 By this stage of the evening, most of the restaurants were starting to close their stalls so it felt like a mad dash trying to get another dish. I settled on trying the beef fillet from Planet restaurant but as luck would have it, when we arrived breathless at the stall to place our order, it appeared that one of the components of the dish was finished- the tortellini. Rudi (Liebenberg) insisted that it was worth waiting an extra ten minutes until the newly-made pasta arrived, so that one could enjoy the dish to its fullest.  I was not going to argue with the man but there were other things I wanted to try before the clock hit 10.30pm!

We ended up at Gold restaurant where I quickly ordered some kind of ‘duo of stew’ (that’s the best I can describe it I’m afraid!) It comprised two small pastry shells filled with meat, one a chicken stew and the other a red meat version. It wasn’t very tasty…  or warm for that matter but really, all I needed was just some food to absorb some of the wine that had been imbibed.

By now the wind had begun to pick up heavily – a sign that the evening was nearing a close. It was then that my sweet tooth started hollering. I decided to satisfy it with a scoop of dark chocolate, chilli and cinnamon frozen yoghurt. Quite a plethora of flavour combo’s and I don’t think I would choose it next time… but then again- maybe it was because the weather was cold, I was tired and  had just finished a consecutive tasting of Vodka, Absinthe and organic Brandy at the Jorgenson’s Distillery stand.

All I know is-  I had a great night!


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