Classically perfect pasta at Morgenster

I’m taking my job very seriously this month and trying to bring you news and lovely pictures from a range of Cape Winelands eateries. So today we’ve popped in for a casual mid-week lunch at 95 at Morgenster.

Morgenster is a thriving wine and olive farm which dates back to 1711. They are known for their Bourdeaux-style blends and their Italian Collection wines. All of which are fabulous. Plus they offer a  top range of olive oils.

The restaurant 95 at Morgenster is the baby of Italian chef Giorgio Nava, whose lovely original restaurant, 95 Keerom, is in  central Cape Town. The menu is inspired by the food of Milan and there’s a good selection of salads, antipasti, pasta and meat dishes.

Our taste buds got awakened by the sound of all the pasta dishes. My homemade ravioli of slow baked Karoo lamb shoulder was served with sage butter and parmesan. One of those pasta dishes that makes you want to sigh with delight with every mouthful. The richness and softness of the lamb, the flavoursome pasta pillows and that amazingly silken butter sauce. Truly a pasta dish to dream about.

Luscious ravioli in sage butter

You can’t beat a classic Italian dish perfectly done. The handmade tagliatelle came with a slow cooked beef ragu and fresh herbs. You can tell just by looking at this picture that it was a lovingly prepared ragu with great richness and depth.

Rich and tasty ragu with flavoursome fresh pasta

We actually got to Morgenster a bit early for lunch so settled on the restaurant’s lovely verandah overlooking the dam and mountains and enjoyed a pre-lunch coffee. Love the attention to detail here, with footprints in the foam.

Who left their footprints in the coffee?

You eat in dappled sunlight under a slatted roof (as you can see from the pictures of our lovely pasta dishes). And this is the expansive view of water, mountains and azure sky.

Food always tastes better with a view

Morgenster is at Vergelegen Avenue, off Lourensford Road on the outskirts of Somerset West.

Today’s price point

We paid R320 (about £19 at today’s exchange rate) for two delicious pasta dishes and a bottle of Merlot.

Time to celebrate Italian-style

Two birthdays in the family meant the perfect excuse to go somewhere special for dinner. And 95 Keerom is just that, serving proper Italian cuisine in a lovely, historic building (circa 1682) that used to be the stables and slave quarters of the Company Gardens which are nearby.

Chef Giorgio Nava, who was born in Milan, won the World Pasta championships in Parma last year with his recession-inspired recipe using broccoli and oregano flowers. He runs four restaurants in Cape Town and confesses to working 18 hours a day, seven days a week – now that’s passion – a passion that really comes through in the food.

95 Keerom is carpaccio heaven with a wide range of meat and fish dishes served this way. Our family are a bit carpaccio-crazy so another reason this was the perfect restaurant for a birthday celebration. I tucked into the special carpaccio for the day (tuna). Il Carpaccio di Pesce Scottato Alla 95 which was quickly seared in the oven, very thinly sliced and dressed with fresh rocket and tomato. A real melt-in-the-mouth dish.

tuna carpaccio

The tuna carpaccio is one of the ultimate starters

Beef carpaccio is drizzled with homemade mayo sauce and topped with fresh rocket and shaved parmesan.

beef carpaccio

Perfect beefy carpaccio

Next up, another Italian classic that I’ve eaten in dozens of restaurants around the world and never ceases to satisfy. The insalata caprese included Italian tomatoes, fresh basil, chopped capers and creamy burrata mozzarella. Yummy!

caprese

Gotta love a classic caprese

This delicious fishy combo is raw tuna and salmon hand chopped with capers, tomato, onion, parsley and olive oil. Seriously, it’s irresistible, such a simple dish done so perfectly.

salmonandtuna

The softest of tasty starters

I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again, I have serious decision-making problems with menus. If there’s a large table of people I have to order last or I keep changing my mind (I know, very annoying, especially for the waiter). So today I pondered long and hard and went for the rolled pork filled with ricotta and spinach and topped with a mushroom sauce, served with parmesan mash. Such an amazing dish, it definitely was the order of the night (not that it’s a competition…).

pork

This tender and tasty pork dish would win prizes

Grilled Karoo lamb chops were cooked with olive oil and rosemary.

lamb

Italian-style herby lamb chops

The springbok casserole was low cooked in tomato sauce with carrots, celery and onions.

Springbok

Richly satisfying springbok casserole with an Italian twist

Fresh tuna fillet was served New York-style, seared and accompanied by cherry tomatoes, capers and olives.

tuna

Rare tuna with a zesty sauce

The Italian classics keep coming. Tagliata al resmarino – sliced prime beef fillet, grilled with olive oil, garlic and rosemary and served with peppery rocket. And for dessert, a creme brule.

tagliata

The tenderness that is tagliata

brulee

Silken, sweetly satisfying creme brule

If you’re looking for classic Italian dishes that deliver, look no further than 95 Keerom. And it’s a glamorous setting for a celebratory night out, too.

95 Keerom is in 95 Keerom Street in the centre of Cape Town.

Our Italian reunion at 95 Keerom

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you may recall that I went to the Emilia Romagna region of Italy last year with my sister-in-law, Perry, and two friends Christa and Sarah. We had a fabulous time

So when we were all going to be in Cape Town at the same time we simply had to organise a reunion. The perfect opportunity for me to go to one of my favourite Italian restaurants in the city – 95 Keerom. The building originally housed the stables and staff quarters of the Company Gardens, going back to around 1882. Now it’s a stylish, modern restaurant (although some parts of the original building have been retained). We sat upstairs in the smart yet comfortable open plan layout.

Chef Giorgio Nava prides himself in producing authentic Milanese cuisine and is very hands-on in the restaurant. So much so he actually showed me to our table himself – seriously, I felt very special! He also comes to every table to explain the menu and any specials for the day. With his rich Italian accent he makes everything sound so inviting, it’s really hard to choose.

If you love carpaccio, this is the place for you – really, it’s carpaccio heaven with meat and fish served in different ways and a choice of seared or raw. You’ll see three different carpaccio dishes below, two beef served in different ways and the special of the day tuna, which is thinly sliced and briefly warmed in the oven.

I decided to go against the flow and order the caprese salad. Mainly because Giorgio made it sound totally irresistible. And he was right. The softest and creamiest of mozarella, perfect tomatoes and flavourful basil. The rest of the table commented that they could smell the basil when the waiter put my plate on the table. There’s no doubt ingredients are top quality and as fresh as can be here. Caprese is one of my all-time favourite starters and it doesn’t get better than this one.

The most delicious of caprese salads

L’insalata caprese – Italian tomato, fresh basil, chopped capers and creamy burata mozarella. Heaven on a plate!

carpaccio1

Il carpaccio con palmito e parmigiano – beef carpaccio with palm hearts and parmesan

tuna carpaccio

Tuna carpaccio lightly warmed through and served with rocket

carpaccio2

Il carpaccio “95” – beef carpaccio drizzled with homemade mayonnaise sauce and topped with fresh rocket and shaved parmesan

So on to mains. The menu choices delight with pasta dishes, fish and meat to ponder over.

tartare

La tartare – hand-chopped raw prime fillet dressed with olive oil, onion, egg, capers and parsley

There seems to be an abundance of fresh tuna in Cape Town at the moment, so I had to go for this dish. I like my tuna practically raw and always ask for it to be barely cooked. It’s surprising how often it turns out to be overcooked, which does upset me. I know, it’s only a piece of tuna but I can’t eat overcooked tuna (it’s like eating cardboard) so find it so disappointing. Today my plump steak was absolutely perfectly cooked, quickly seared on the outside and beautifully red inside. I ordered soft polenta with parmesan with it, beautifully creamy and indulgent. Such a good combination of flavours and textures, I swear I’ll find it very hard to order anything else next time I go there.

tuna

Il tonno grigliato all newyorkese – New York-style tuna seared and accompanied by cherry tomatoes, capers and olives

linefish2

Il pescato del giorno alla “95” – linefish of the day, our style

Authentic, comforting Northern Italian food made with the freshest and tastiest of ingredients and served in a smart, relaxing space with welcoming service – and great company for dinner. I really couldn’t ask for anything more.