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

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Franschhoek Winter Wines

Franschhoek isn’t shy about hosting a wine festival! The little town has dozens sprinkled across its yearly calendar and I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I had never been to a single one…. until this weekend! It may have been small in comparison to the popular Bastille Festival or the Franschhoek Festival of Bubbles but it was fun nonetheless.

Franschhoek Winter Wines focuses on some of the beautiful red wines that emerge from the region’s vineyards. The main attraction however wasn’t the wine, but rather the venue (L’Ormarins), which is home to the Franschhoek Motor Museum. My word! If you are a vintage car enthusiast then this place is your piece of heaven on earth! The museum showcases cars from every era imaginable. A real treat for history buffs too – there are cars there that were produced from as far back as 1904! I’ve been to the museum before with my family (my grandfather used to collect vintage cars so we simply HAD to take him! And I won’t mention how long we ended up staying that day…).


Although Saturday’s weather did its best to discourage us from driving out to Franschhoek in the rain, I’m glad I went. Give me any excuse to visit the winelands! Plus, getting a ride in a cute old Lancia is rather novel if you ask me!

Up next: Franschhoek Uncorked. Who’s going?


Why Watch Rugby When You Can Drink Wine?

Phew!!!

How close was that game this morning???!!!

Don’t know what I’m talking about? (what rock have you been LIVING under?!)

This morning was South Africa’s first official game in the rugby world cup… and I know that pretty much the entire nation was perched, ready and waiting (with breakfast beers, boerie rolls and biltong) for the match to begin.  How typically South African! *smiles*

There are those few however, who tragically have  zero interest in rugga and wouldn’t know better if Pat Lambie were to offer them the window seat on a plane. This post, dear friends, is for you!!

Because while the boys sit glued to the box, you can start planning your summer wardrobe with a glass of this in hand!!!

I present to you … the inaugural, just-released and oh-so lip-smackingly delicious, Constantia Saddle Rose’- produced at Constantia Glen by the fabulous Karl Lambour. I’ve been working at CG since January and this is the first little punt I’ve done (on the blog), so bear with me 😉

The wine is ONLY sold at the farm so no quick trips to the bottle store, I’m afraid. BUT! There is a fantastic special on (R500 for 12 bottles!!) at the moment. Just do yourself a favour ladies and grab some! It’s refreshing, dry (but doesn’t scrape the back of your throat with acidity) and has amazing flavours of strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and a few hints of spice and toffee/caramel.

Trust me… it’ll get you through the next six weeks with a smile on your face!!  🙂

xxx


First Time at Jardine :)

To say that my weekend ended up being rather over-indulgent, is an understatement I think! It kicked off with Margarita’s and spicy deep-fried Mexican on Friday…followed by imbibing 12-year old bottles of Duval-Leroy (amongst others!) on Saturday at the Big Bottle Festival, after which a little Long Street jaunt ensued.

Sunday had me perched at a table at Jardine sipping on yet more wine and ingesting the gastronomic masterpieces that made their way out of George’s kitchen.  I was with my friend, Greg, who used to work for George when he still had Jardine in Bree Street, so it was nice for him to check out his new spot in Stellenbosch!

Is this not picture perfect?!!

Gorgeous view from our table

I just love love love the mountains in and around Stellenbosch. The sun was shining and the weather was warm so all the doors of the restaurant were open leading onto the stone patio that spilled out onto the lawn and dam below. If ever there was a perfect day of food and wine, then this was it.

We arrived a little late but it didn’t appear to be a problem. We were made to feel more than welcome by the maître de. George saw us from the pass so Greg got to chat to him a bit and catch up. (I believe it’s been a while since they’ve seen one another). I’m not going to go into too much detail about the food other than to say it was utterly fabulous.

My starter of Gruyere tart with caramelised onion and pickled baby beetroot was so tasty and it’s at a place like Jardine that one will pick up on small little details that just elevate the dish to another level. In my starter’s case it was definitely the rich but delicate puff pastry that was used; Flaky and crisp, giving the dish just the right texture to contrast the creamy goodness of the Gruyere filling. There was a garnish of apple puree which was just as sublime and added the acidity needed to cut through the richness. Everything was just so well balanced.

I love George's Kitchen

Mains were also brilliant but the piece de résistance was, for me, the chocolate dessert. (I knew from the moment I sat down and saw the menu that it would have to pass my lips. Like, Have to!!). Holy Yum! It was a Valrhona guanaja chocolate terrine with hazelnut ice-cream, and has to be by far the best chocolate dessert I’ve had (ok besides for the chocolate brownie at Cafe Roux but that has a firm place in my heart and always will!). What gave the dessert that extra “wow” factor, was the tiny sprinkling of cacao nibs that lightly blanketed the terrine. It was incredible (Big shout-out to my friend Ross who supplies them with the chocolate!)

The others at the table took “a trip to the cheese room” and returned with delicious-looking local cheeses and preserves. Glad I stuck to my chocolate though!! Greg opted for the honey and poppy-seed soufflé which came with a touch of crème anglaise and ice-cream, served devant vous (at the table) There is nothing more visually appealing than observing a freshly baked soufflé coming out of the kitchen. Even if you’ve made them countless times before (with and without success!), there is that small part of you inside that will always smile and go ‘aaaaaaahhh’ !

Pouring in the Creme Anglaise

I could easily have stayed at Jordan the entire afternoon. Oh wait, I did!

After a round of coffees, and witnessing the sun quietly dip behind the trees, we felt it was probably time we gave the front-of-house staff their Sunday evening. I know only too well what it’s like having to deal with so-called “late stayers”.

So, it was with a satisfied and happy sigh that we made our way to the car. I wonder what next Sunday will bring, after all- I’ll be dining at The Foodbarn. I hope Franck has a chocolate dessert… over-indulgent? Spoiled brat snob? *meekly raises hand*… yip, that’s me.

xxx


My Penchant For Wine…Where Has It Gone??

I’ve just returned back to Cape Town after spending some time at my parents’ farm in the Eastern Cape. It was a lovely 2.5 weeks of total relaxation, and the fact that it was sooooo cold (winter there has a completely different definition!), meant that each night would be spent huddled in front of a crackling wood fire with a glass of rich red wine in hand.

Sound good, doesn’t it? It was! but it seems that I go through stages with wine- one moment I’m all for it, the next I can hardly look at white- only sticking to red, or even worse- just not having a palate for it altogether (Is that sad?). Perhaps my time at The Institute of Culinary Arts has something to do with this. I can remember taking every chance I got to go wine tasting at some of the most beautiful wine farms in and around Stellenbosch. Our wine lecturer constantly encouraged it. And tell me, when was the last time you heard of a student who wasn’t up for a long day of  wine tasting??!

And then of course, there were the lectures- ‘Burgundy’, ‘Bordeaux’, ‘Acid’, ‘Oak’, ‘Dr. Perold’, ‘Dr. Sscchhmerold’… to be honest, I doubt anybody ever used the hundred and ten million spatoons that were provided for spitting- I mean, what student do you know spits at a wine tasting?? I can still remember how people would drive home drunk in rather high spirits after these lectures.

Oh and then there were those five months that I worked at a boutique wine shop in Constantia. Now THAT was fun!! I was the little sales girl who sold R600 bottles of wine to the Bentley owners and their botoxed, leopard-skin-wearing wives. Wine reps would flit in throughout the day leaving bottles and bottles of samples. Oh the samples!

I would also make canape’s for the public wine tasting each Friday evening. It always ended up being such a hoot! My boss and all her wine-drinking friends would come over and often we would sabrage bottles of MCC and champagne with an antique sabre…just for the sake of it. The mood would be so happy and everyone always had that naughty weekend ‘glint’ in their eyes. Of course we never had just one wine at the tasting. Oh no, there would be at least 3 to 5 on offer. So, it was no wonder that when Saturday morning eventually rolled around, my head would feel like it was wedged under the wheel of a ten ton truck.

I now work at a wine farm (just up the road from where the shop used to be, funnily enough!) and my wine consumption has (thankfully) diminished to a more ‘balanced’ level. I still enjoy little wine tasting  jaunts from time to time. In fact I went to the Old Mutual Trophy wine show tasting just last month. It was fun, but I discovered that right now Sauvignon Blanc is a ‘no’ for me.

Oh dear. We can never have it all, can we!

xxx


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!