Reasons to eat at Bistrot Bizerca this Summer

Location
Moving from Jetty street last year to Bree street (or Heritage Square) was possibly the best thing that the restaurant could have done. It’s across the road from my office and a mere km or 2 down the hill from my house. Happiness!

In all seriousness though, the current location makes it a dream for any city dweller or tourist looking for a place that offers quality cuisine in a casual but modern and stylish setting.

If you’re familiar with the general parking situation in Cape Town’s CBD, you’ll know it can often be a soul-destroying nightmare. Luckily though, there is a large parking lot just across the road from Bizerca which makes choosing it as a dining spot just that much more appealing (I loathe searching for parking so this is a big plus for me!)

Can we just take a moment to look at this courtyard?! I’m not going to say anything more other than – it’s utterly charming and definitely a space in which you’re going to want to eat al fresco this season.

Bistrot Bizerca  -  Courtyard - 3

Concise menu
Laurent’s menu doesn’t resemble something from a David Foster Wallace novel. It has enough options to make you feel like you have a wide choice but few enough so as not to overwhelm you in any way. Although signatures like the Norwegian salmon salad, Chalmar beef fillet and Granny Smith apple sorbet with Calvados, will stay put, the new summer menu brings with it a refreshing and “lighter” element. My favourite dish being the duo of gazpacho with broad bean pesto bruschetta. I’m generally quite averse to gazpacho due to the texture but Bizerca’s version is as smooth as silk and served perfectly chilled.

Pork belly fan? You will love the pork belly salad. It comes with beetroot, apple, labneh and a Cabernet Sauvignon vinaigrette. If you’re sensitive to sugar like myself, you may find this dish weighing heavily on the sweeter side of things.

Meat eaters will go mad for the duo of lamb with aubergine fritters and a sweet potato and papaya salsa. An interesting combination but one that’s incredibly tasty – with the fritter batter being delicately crispy and crunchy on the outside – giving way to a rich and creamy aubergine centre. Next time I go, I may even have to order a side dish of these because they are just so moreish!

I haven’t had the pleasure (yet!) of experiencing the apple sorbet with Calvados, but it’s definitely on my bucket list for next time!

Bistrot Bizerca summer menu

Gazpacho, pork belly salad, lamb and apple sorbet.

Wine
Bistrot Bizerca has a carefully selected wine list made up of a few international wines as well as those hailing from our own back yard. I believe that a restaurant in Cape Town with a poor wine list is inexcusable. We live in the Cape for crying out loud! Did I mention that wine is also offered by the carafe? I LOVE having my wine presented in a carafe. It just feels so… French!

Any occasion will do
Whether it’s a Birthday celebration, a family reunion, a romantic date night with your special someone or a formal (and informal!) business lunch, Bistrot Bizerca has that certain vibe and energy that seamlessly “fits” the situation that you’re in.

 It’s season, so don’t leave it too late to make a reservation!

Contact Bistrot Bizerca

Heritage Square, 98 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town.

Tel:  +27 (21) 423 8888.

Email: bizerca@mweb.co.za

Twitter: @BIZERCAbistro


Celebrations at EatOut Awards 2013

 

It’s Monday and I’m exhausted. This weekend was really one for the books!

My beautiful BFF tied the knot on Saturday in the beautiful town of Tulbagh and then preceded to walk away with her first EatOut Award last night.

I am beyond proud of you, Van! Not only do you and Ilze run an amazing restaurant… you kick ass while doing it!

Ness

 

“no one has ever achieved anything from the smallest to the greatest unless the dream was dreamed first.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Van_DearMe

 


Café Blanc de Noir at Brenaissance

The feeling never gets old; shutting down my laptop, hopping in the car and swopping the busy streets of Cape Town for a more relaxed, tranquil environment like the Stellenbosch winelands.

I arrive at Devon Valley’s latest restaurant addition, Café Blanc de Noir – situated on Brenaissance Wine Estate. The restaurant has only been open a few days and already the pace appears to be picking up. I’m scheduled to meet the owner, Hayley Breytenbach, for a chat about her and her husband’s new venture.

It’s a humid, hot day with temperatures soaring above the 30’s and a nasty bout of traffic on the N2 ensures that I’m dishonourably late. My angst soon subsides as I step into the black and white themed café. Greeting me are happy smiles, heady smells and the pleasant feeling of realising I’ve just uncovered a restaurant gem. Before I know it, I have a chilled glass of white wine in my hand. The Lady H Sauvignon Blanc. It’s fruity, fresh and lively and brings me right into the moment. I let out a heavy internal sigh. This is how Summer should be spent.

Gorgeous wine

Hayley comes over to introduce herself and it doesn’t take long for me to see that her passion for the Brenaissance brand runs deep. After she and her husband, Tom, acquired the farm, the pair were married on the estate (which houses a wedding venue, five-star accommodation, and is home to a Boran cattle stud).

As I take in the surroundings – a combination of rustic chic and urban cool, Hayley explains that the café came about organically. “It was supposed to be a tasting room”, she says smiling, but after experiencing her fair share of those, the couple decided to be different and offer something that’s an expression of who they are and what they enjoy as individuals; a place that serves the kind of food and drink that they both relish, in a setting that’s relaxed yet aesthetically inspired.

café blanc de noir

“We aren’t trying to be anything that we’re not”, emphasizes Tom. I don’t need convincing, as it’s clear that the establishment already holds his and Hayley’s bold stamp. Personal touches come in the form of framed photographs on the walls – some of the couple during happy times, and others of the prized cattle stud. Another element that completes the mix is a developing art collection which is already taking shape at the cafe’s entrance where a large sculpture of a fist (inspired by the Brenaissance coat of arms), welcomes visitors.

cafe blanc de noir

After I’ve finished my glass of wine, Hayley brings me some homemade cordial to try. Rose geranium berry bliss and a lemon, lime and mint crush are the two options and I’m immediately struck by how refreshing and delicious they both are. “It’s the best thirst-quencher”, Hayley says. I cannot disagree. Especially when presented in old-school, sturdy glass bottles with cute straws.

My experience reaches a new level when I am asked what I’d like to eat, and even though the menu is focused and small (lunch includes 5 pizza options, 1 sandwich, 4 salads and a meze platter), choices are still difficult. Pizzas are their speciality and so I go for the Cajun Chicken – chorizo, red onion, mushrooms, mixed greens and chilli-infused olive oil (R75). There’s the option to have it “hole-some” – where the centre is removed and replaced with a fresh green salad. “Our pizzas have the thinnest bases you’ll see,” Hayley quips, “and we make them in a rectangular shape”. The slogan? We don’t cut corners. I just love the wit.

pizza

‘Hole-some’ pizza

I later learn that there’s another thing that sets these crispy, cheesy flatbreads apart. They are served with no utensils. It takes a second or two for my mind to process this information and then I realise that this forms part of the Café Blanc de Noir experience. “We recommend that you pick up and eat the pizza with your left hand, and fold it like a calzone, leaving the right hand free to hold your wine glass”.

Why has no-one ever told me this???!!! Genius.

After giving the technique a go, I definitely get the feeling that I’ve been accepted into the Café Blanc de Noir ‘circle of trust’. Just as my buttons are about to pop, Hayley asks, “Now, how about some dessert?” I’m sure she has no idea that dessert is my absolute weakness, but she’s about to find out.

Today’s menu features homemade carrot cake, and being a fan…I don’t decline the offer. The cake, which comes from an old family recipe, is topped with a sweet and tangy cream cheese icing that clings to the cake fork, making it impossible not to lick off.

As if things at this point couldn’t get any better, a cup of freshly made Tribe coffee garnished with a small chocolate-filled wafer biscuit, makes its way to the table. I’m once again reminded of Hayley and Tom’s fervent attention to detail.

“It’s part of our personalities”, Hayley says. “There are no grey areas” (hense the name, Café Blanc de Noir).

Cafe-Blanc-de-Noir

 

cafe blanc de noir

 

Cafe-Blanc-de-Noir

Cafe-Blanc-de-Noir 085

Cafe blanc de no

Contact:

For more information on Café Blanc de Noir, including the menu, prices, and trading hours head to the website. Otherwise Like the Brenaissance Facebook page for regular updates and follow them on Twitter @BrenaissanceSA

Disclaimer: My lunch at Cafe Blanc de Noir was complimentary but all views are my own.


Gourmet Boerie opens in Kloof Street

The moment we’ve been waiting for! Cape Town’s first restaurant dedicated to the iconic boerewors roll.

This is extremely cool. Not because I particularly love boerewors rolls (although I will admit to wolfing down 2 in succession after a long sweaty race). I’m excited about this because it relieves us all a bit from the density of burger joints. Not that there’s much of a difference in ingredients. But it’s nice to have some variety, don’t you think? Plus, boeries are SO South African and after listening to B.O’s speech on Wednesday, I think this is a great step in getting our own patriotic fire burning more boldly. Amandla! (…too much?)

I took a much-needed lunch break with Shaina yesterday and trekked from Adderley to Kloof Street envisaging soft rolls filled with juicy, meaty, tasty sausages and beautiful toppings. What do you think we got when we walked into Gourmet Boerie? Just that.

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street, Cape Town

The menu format is very user-friendly.

Step 1. Choose your meat (they have the option of traditional, lamb, beef, chicken or ostrich)

Step 2. Choose your roll (white, wholegrain,rye)

Step 3. Choose your “flavour” (basically the toppings)

Step 4. Order your sides (shoestring chips, wedges, tempura battered onion rings, coleslaw, garden salad or sweet potato chips)

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof street

There are also vegetarian boeries; ‘The Herbiwors” (gotta love it!) – filled with tzatziki, grated carrot, cucumber, diced tomato, mixed sprouts, fresh mint with baby spinach (R50) and the “Veggie Vibe” – crunchy veggie balls with tomato, cucumber, carrot, red onion and cos lettuce served with basil pesto mayo (R40).

Then there’s also a variety of salads if you aren’t really into boeries. No-one’s judging. Promise!

The space is refreshing, open and airy with long benches dominating the floor, creating a sort of ‘communal’ dining atmosphere. Location is a big factor for any food service establishment and Gourmet Boerie has hit the jack pot if you ask me. It’s situated on the corner of Kloof and Buitensingel so LOADS of foot traffic mean it’s a great place for luring people inside. You can’t really go wrong with Kloof Street though, can you?

Gourmet Boerie

If you’re not hungry but need somewhere to meet for after-work drinks, I suspect Gourmet Boerie will be a safe bet. They have a bar that runs the length of the restaurant stocked with a decent selection of of beverages ranging from Craft beer, wine, bubbly,ciders and spritzers and not to mention the soon-to-be-famous, R10 coffee.

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street

They also have one or two TV screens that appear to be locked on sports channels. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise though. Blow me down with a feather if this place isn’t packed to the rafters for the next 3 Saturdays. We’re South Africa. We love our sport and we love our boeries. Simple.

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street

Why I give it a thumbs up:

  • They offer free WiFi
  • They are active on social media
  • It’s an easy and fuss-free experience (although I suspect if you’re driving there, parking will be a slight nightmare)
  • They cater for vegetarians and have a nice Kiddies special for R25
  • Their coffee is R10 – all day
  • I can walk there from home and work

What I think could be improved:

  • level of service at the table when seated (although I’m confident that it will get better as the restaurant gets into its own “rhythm”).
  • The restrooms – there’s only one toilet per gender and is situated very much in the back-of-house, which could be off-putting for some.
Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street, Cape Town

The “Mexicano” with tomato salsa, sour cream, guacamole, jalapeno chilli and coriander.

Gourmet Boerie, Kloof Street, Cape Town

Service with a smile always gets a tick in my book!

Gourmet Boerie

Like their Facebook page or follow them @GourmetBoerie

or just head straight there:

Buitenkloof Studios
Corner of Buitensingel and Kloof Street

Update – 14 Nov 2012: Gourmet Boerie have since modified its menu (see Facebook page) to include shoestring fries with all boerie rolls. Added value. We like!


Sommelier Shoot-out at Tokara

Recipe: Combine a Friday night with a stylish award-winning restaurant. Stir in 3 top sommeliers, mixing well after each addition. Pour in a few bottles of quality wine. Next, Throw in an unconventional, waggish chef and scatter with a generous dollop of eager guests.

Tokara’s first Sommelier shoot-out is the brain-child of its talented chef, Richard Carstens. After becoming tired of sommeliers asking him to make a dish to go with a certain wine, he decided that it was time he gave them a taste of their own medicine.

So he called upon his resident sommelier, Jaap-Henk Koelewijn, together with Josephine Gotentoft of Makaron and Higgo Jacobs, to find wines to go with with his food. Not just one dish, mind you, but a full 4-course menu. (Richard doesn’t play games). Have a look at the dishes in this gallery.

Each sommelier presented their chosen wine with each course, afterwhich guests were able to sniff, swirl, and sip to their hearts content before scoring which wine was deemed the best pairing for the dish.

1st-course:
Josephine – Stellenrust Barrel-fermented Chenin Blanc 2012
Higgo – Delaire Rosé 2011
Jaap-Henk – *Graham Beck Game Reserve Viognier 2010

2nd-course:
Josephine – Haut Espoir Semillon 2006
Higgo – *Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2011
Jaap-Henk – Tokara Director’s Reserve White

Main:
Josephine – *Pegasus Cinsaut 2011
Higgo – Chrystallum Pinot Noir 2007
Jaap-Henk – Steenberg Nebbiolo

Dessert:
Josephine – Laibach Natural Sweet 2012
Higgo – *Graham Beck Demi-Sec N.V
Jaap-Henk – Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer 2012

Why you should book for the next ‘shoot-out’

Wine pairings like these become so subjective with lots of ‘agreeing to disagree’. But that’s part of the fun. It would be boring if everyone tasted the same thing.

It enables you to expand your knowledge of wine producers in a short space of time. Plus you are exposed to 3 experts who are more than happy to share information and chat about wine-related issues, like the problem with Pinotage or corkage in restaurants.

The winner of the inaugural ‘shoot-out’ was Higgo Jacobs and he graciously accepted a very polished and scholarly-looking trophy.

Whatever your reason for wanting to attend the next Sommelier Shoot-out , one thing’s certain – you can be sure of enjoying only the best wines, served by the most knowledgable people, while delighting in Richard Carstens’ playful and delicious food.

What’s not to like?

Oh, and I haven’t even gotten around to mentioning the quality of jaw-dropping eye-candy provided by Tokara’s waiters. Swoons!

(* indicates wines that – in my opinion, paired the best)


Midnight Baker

Last week I got a tweet from a mysterious ‘someone’ who went by the handle,  @MidnightBakerSA. I had just shared Cath’s post which centered around all the great new food offerings we’ve got going on at the moment. It wasn’t until I took a closer look and realised that this ‘Midnight Baker’ happens to be a girl that I went to school with! It turns out Nadia is a pastry chef and has just started her own gig in Cape Town after working at île de Pain for 2 years. I don’t think I’ve seen her since school so it was really a matter of,  “what are the chances??!”  I’m always game for trying new things and when you are faced with an offer like the one below… you’d be a real idiot to refuse! (Am I right?)

I didn’t think anything of it again until Nadia contacted me this morning and personally came down to our offices in town (where searching for parking is like looking for a black cat in a coal cellar), and delivered the biggest, most beautifully packaged box of fresh, warm, flaky croissants. It was stuff that fantasies are made of… seriously.

Pic: Zayaan Schroeder

With Nadia’s experience working at île de Pain, I knew right away that I was in for something special. I’m happy to report – She’s nailed it! The texture is absolutely perfect and everything that a croissant should be. Her pain au chocolat’s (what else would I pick?!) are phenomenal and I can see why her pastries are being snapped up by the likes of Truth Coffeecult. They’re THAT good.

The only thing that saddens me is that tomorrow marks the start of mine and Pippa‘s 12-week paleo challenge. How will I survive now that I know about Midnight Baker ???!!!

Send Help.


A hot new favourite: DV Chocolates

On Saturday I was introduced to DV Artisan Chocolates.   I immediately recognised the packaging as I’ve seen it on offer at a number of retail outlets. You’ve probably seen it too? It’s beautiful. The actual factory has made its home in the manor house at The Spice Route Winery just outside Paarl.

Unfortunately I’d just eaten half my body weight in food at the farm’s restaurant (more on that soon!)and the thought of forcing myself through a full-on chocolate tasting was just too much! But I did manage to sample a couple of pieces. I mean, really… who was I kidding?

The company is owned by husband and wife, Cornell and Peter De Villiers and what makes their chocolate so unique is that they use single origin beans. So they know exactly which part of the world (specifically Africa) their beans come from. It’s like the concept of terroir in wine, I suppose? This is something I quite like.

‘I’ll have a Madagascar 70% cacao bar please’

There’s no need to persuade me when it comes to buying chocolate. Especially when it’s local. The richer, darker, deeper, smoother the better and I don’t mind paying top dollar for it. (We all have our little indulgences!)

Check out the entire range of DV chocolates here.

I was lucky to snag a small slab of their new Cafe range which comes beautifully packaged. Perfect for gifts!! I’m not going to hype up my experience too much on the blog but really, if you love chocolate and you’re looking for something different and interesting to do on weekends with friends from ‘out-of-town’ … this is definitely something I would recommend! Plus, the venue has a killer view that’s sure to bring a Joburger to tears. Just saying.

Did you know that there’s actually a specific way to ‘taste’ chocolate? Me neither!

The following is taken from DV Chocolates website:

Sight
Look at the chocolate. The surface should be free of blemishes with a radiant sheen and even surface. Also observe the colour as chocolate comes in a rainbow of brown tints from pinks and purples to reds and oranges.

Hearing
Break a piece of chocolate and listen for the sound it makes.  Good quality chocolate should break with a resounding “SNAP” ← (Best sound in the world, am I right chocoholics?!)

Touch
Hold the piece of chocolate between your fingers and allow it to melt. Rub your fingers together to test its smoothness.

Smell
Now smell the chocolate on your fingers, taking in the full aroma. Flavour is the combined sensation of aroma and taste, so inhaling the chocolate’s fragrance and noting its profile will prepare your taste buds. Mass produced chocolate is easily identified by its overpowering smell of vanilla and sugar, whilst good quality chocolate is all about wondrous aromas – woody, spicy, fruity and floral smells.

Taste
Place the chocolate on your tongue and let it begin to melt before chewing a few times. Bitterness and acidity are an integral part of chocolate flavour, but did you find them well balanced? How did you experience the ‘mouth feel’ – was it smooth, velvety, dry, waxy or grainy?

The Finish

After you swallow, you should be left with a long, lingering flavour  – an intense and strong reminder of your taste experience.

*Sighs dreamily*

Thankfully I have some DV stashed away in a secret place for emergencies;) Sadly, I know it shan’t stay there very long…