Peninsular touring and seafood at Live Bait

Cape Town is frequently ranked one of the most beautiful cities in the world in those never-ending Best of… lists that pop up everywhere. I’ve spent a lot of time here – I know, lucky me – and it’s pretty much impossible to beat, there’s so much going for it. .

It’s scenically stunning and diverse with myriad beautiful beaches, the ever-present majesty of Table Mountain, forests, mountain trails and gardens and some of the most stunning drives you’ll ever experience. It has a warmth to its soul, a great energy and welcoming people. There are hundreds of fabulous restaurants which are great value – and of course there’s all that wine that has to be sampled.

I was recently reminded that African penguins live here (I didn’t mention the wildlife yet, did I?) so the purpose of today’s outing was to say hi them at Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town. I think I’ve been suffering from penguin withdrawal!

Our journey took us from Sea Point to the other side of the peninsular. It’s a magnificent drive through Camp’s Bay, past Llandudno and over Chapman’s Peak. The road clings precariously to the mountainside –  an amazing feat of engineering – and the sea shimmers down below.

Live Bait: Chapman's Peak Drive

Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most stunning drives ever

Once you start your descent Noordhoek Beach appears on your right. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, and even though I know it’s coming, the view elicits an involuntary gasp. And I always wonder who lives in that house! What a view they must have.

Once you’ve crossed over the peninsular it’s a slow meander through sleepy seaside towns to penguin-land on Boulder Beach. Hello little penguins! I felt instantly happier on seeing them.

Live Bait: Penguins

African penguins lap up the warmth of the sun

Penguin fix sorted we headed back towards Cape Town Central following the coast road until we got to Muizenberg. Famous for its beautiful beach and warm Indian Ocean (the other side of the peninsular sits on the Atlantic and is decidedly chilly), Muizenberg is considered the birthplace of surfing in South Africa. There’s a big surfing community here all centred around Surfer’s Corner. Which is where we’re headed – for a spot of beach-side lunch at Live Bait.

Live Bait is right in the middle of all the action with a long glass front looking out over the sea. It’s a beautifully blue view and there’s plenty of surf-related action to observe. Inside it has a rustic beach house feel which so perfectly matches the surrounding seaside vibe. There’s a lot of fish on the menu and a great selection of sushi which is freshly made in front of you.

Our delectable light lunch today started with a portion of Thai fish cakes to share. Shaped more like fish balls, they were lovely and light with well-balanced Thai flavours and a nice crunch.

Live Bait: Fish cakes

Soft and flavourful fish cakes with Asian flavours

For mains we shared a portion of tempura prawns – and a very generous one it was, too. Served with crispy fries, the prawns were perfectly cooked in the light batter and served with a dipping mayo. We asked for some chilli and mixed it into the mayo, making for a delightful spicy hit.

Live Bait: tempura prawns

The large pan of juicy tempura prawns

Live Bait: Prawn tempura

Close up on the delicious prawn crunch

There’s a relaxed vibe at Live Bait, it’s the sort of place I could see myself spending many an hour drinking wine, feeling fine and absorbing some of that Muizenberg chilled-out surfing attitude.

Live Bait: Interior

Beautiful blues and whites inside and out

Live Bait: Beach house

There’s a beach house feel throughout

This is your sea view. Which goes on  much further on both the left and right of this picture.

Live Bait: Muizenberg beach

Looking out at beautiful Muizenberg beach

While Muizenberg is great for swimming and surfing, it’s also home to Great White Sharks (more wildlife)! The area is well monitored though with shark spotters on high and at the beach who seem to know where the sharks are. I’ve been on the beach when the shark siren goes and it is a bit of a scary experience if any of your party happen to be in the sea. That Jaws music creeps into your subconscious! There are experts on hand to tell you about these powerful creatures and there’s plenty of shark-related advice posted all over the place (in several languages). Like how to be shark smart – do remember not to swim at night or if bleeding! The presence of the Great Whites certainly adds to the Muizenberg adventure.

Live Bait: Sharks

Beware of the sharks!

Oh and before I go, here I am with my latest penguin friends.

I can’t imagine there’s another journey more filled with beautiful views, lovely food and exotic wildlife. What joy – Cape Town I love you!

Live Bait: Boulders Beach

Me visiting the African penguins on Boulders Beach

Today’s price point

Starters range from R45-R85 (£2.70-£5.10)

Main courses range from R99 to R225 (£6.00-£13.60)

White wine starts from R125 (£7.50) a bottle and red wine from R130 (£7.85)

All conversions are at the today’s exchange rate.

Live Bait is at 70 Beach Road, Muizenberg

A sunny Sunday at Cape Point Vineyards

So today we’re heading over Ou Kaapse Weg to the beautiful little seaside town of Noordhoek not far from the centre of Cape Town. Known for its laid-back attitude and beautiful beach it’s also home to a couple of excellent restaurants. The restaurant at Cape Point Vineyards (CPV) is a fairly recent addition and there’s also the picnic grounds all with fabulous mountain and sparkling sea views.

On a shiny Cape Town day it’s a wonderful venue with the deck laid out with tables looking out towards the Atlantic. The menu boasts an emphasis on local ingredients like tuna, calamari, kingklip, biltong, springbok and ostrich.

The tuna starter was amazing. Fresh, just seared and very pink (hate tuna that’s overcooked) it was served on a bed of the tastiest of grilled vegetables, with red onion and garden leaves and the clever addition of savoury olive tapenade and crispy capers. The garlic and lemon aioli dressing pulled all the flavours together perfectly.

tuna1

A summery and savoury tuna starter

The starter selection was so good that I had to have two (one as main not as well as a main, that would be a little excessive). This biltong salad was made up of sweet caramelised pears, blue cheese, shaved beef biltong, tasted walnuts, butter lettuce and a blue cheese dressing. The sweetness of the pears, saltiness of the cheese and dressing and meatiness of the biltong make a combination to remember. I’ll be recreating this at home…soon.

biltong

Biltong, pear and blue cheese salad

The day’s special starter was chicken liver parfait. Rich, creamy and melt-in-the-mouth.

chickenliverparfait

Beautifully indulgent chicken liver parfait

The beef carpaccio came with wild rocket, shaved Parmesan and a rocket pesto mayonnaise. A lovely light summer dish that could have been a larger portion, or maybe we wanted more just because it tasted to so good!

carpacckl

The dream combo of carpaccio, rocket, parmesan and pesto

On to the mains. Mixing chicken and prawns in a curry is typically South African and this dish served with fragrant rice, preserved lemon and cucumber mint raita was nicely spicy and light with sweet, juicy prawns.

curry

Add spiciness with a delicious curry

In a nation of carnivores there’s always a steak dish on the menu. One that’s frequently ordered, too. Today it was grilled beef fillet with truffled mushroom sauce, fries and a garden salad. Deliciously cooked medium rare with a light and tasty sauce.

steak

Steak and chips is always a good option

I love the setting at CPV and the food’s really good, too. We did go in the middle of the silly season, just after Christmas and service was a little patchy – the place was heaving. As it happened, that made no difference as it gave us the excuse to linger longer over lunch, absorbing the peace and the views surrounding us.

view

The stunning view from our table across to Noordhoek beach

You can also picnic at CPV and the baskets sound tasty – you need to order at least 24 hours in advance. And there’s a market day on Thursdays from 4.30 to 8.30pm with market stalls offering the produce of the Cape. Simply bag your space and choose from the array of foodie delights. What a great way to spend a Thursday evening.

There’s no doubt this is the perfect place to watch the sun set with a glass of wine in hand. The CPV Sauvignon Blanc is particularly lovely. Anyone for a Thursday evening picnic?

Cape Point Vineyards is at Silvermine Road, Noordhoek

A long-awaited return to the fabulous Food Barn

The Cape has more than its fair share of fabulous restaurants, lucky us…and The Food Barn is right up there. Co-founders Franck Dangereux (the chef) and Pete de Bruin have done something really clever by serving what is high-level fine dining in a totally relaxed environment without pretension and fussiness. You can bet no-one feels uncomfortable or intimidated when they are eating at The Food Barn, the atmosphere, service and whole feel of the place ensure that, plus the food is just wonderful.

I always think that you can tell Franck really loves cooking, the dishes are made and presented with love and are never quite what you’re expecting when they arrive at the table – in a good way! I can’t wait to see what my masterpiece meal is going to look and taste like.

The fresh fish (tuna) tartare I started with today came with lime, basil and avocado, aioli, soy and petit mussel fritters. Creamy, limy avocado (and a substantial portion of it), topped with the freshed of tuna and surrounded by a cornucopia of tasty sauces, and delicate, melt-in-the-mouth mussels.

tartare

A wonderful collection of fresh flavours and a thing of beauty to behold

And here’s something different…bravely ordered by Sarah who had never tried pigs trotters…braised rabbit croquettes, pig trotter and parsley samoosas, carrot ribbons, star anise juice and herb butter. An adventure on a plate – Franck does seem to like offering the more unusual options – today there was tripe as a main course, for example.

trotters

The exotic choice of the day

This prawn fritter starter is legendary among regulars – these are not your regular fritters. They come with a celeriac remoulade tian, sweet calamata tapenade, crunchy legs and basil salsa. This dish is sweet, succulent, crunchy and herby and results in plates wiped as clean as can be!

prawns

Prawn fritters like none you’ve ever had before

The petite Bouillabaise du Cap was packed with mussels, fish and prawns and came with a rouille sauce and crouton. The taste of the sea in a bowl.

bouillabaise

A wonderfully fishy bouillabaise satarter

For mains I opted for the Karoo lamb. Roasted rack with Dijon mustard herb crumbs, tomato, basil and pecorino quiche and a thyme scented jus. Karoo lamb is world class – flavoursome and tender and this rack arrived perfectly pink as recommended by the chef. I also loved the little quiche it rested on, the perfect companion.

lamb

Wonderfully tender, perfectly pink rack of lamb

The spring risotto was a celebration of herbs – basil, chervil, parsley and chives giving the creamy rice a real uplifting zest. It can be ordered plain or with plump sauted prawns (as here). A must-have for risotto fans.

risotto

The herbiest of risotto with plump prawns

Today’s grilled sustainable fish was tuna and it was served with a Basque pepper ragout, wild rocket, chorizo and red onion spring rolls and smoked paprika cream. A wonderfully Spanish influence coming through in this pretty-as-a-picture dish.

foodbarn

The freshest of tuna with the best of Spanish flavours

The pasture reared beef was a grilled sirloin served with an onion tart tatin and a rich Cabernet jus. We also ordered a selection of fresh market vegetables which all got polished off smartly. Even the vegetables are impossible to resist at The Food Barn.

steak

Juicy steak with soft, luscious onions and a rich sauce

A selection of desserts were ordered to share (this is getting to be a habit). They were all spectacles to behold as you can see. My highlight – the hibiscus ice cream in the third one. The creme brulee was pretty damn spectacular, too. Thanks to Sarah for letting me use her pudding pictures  – stunning they are, too.

dessert1

A chocolatey delight with three sauces

cremebrule

The creamiest of creme brules, they don’t get more moreish than this!

dessert3

Berries, pana cotta and hibiscus ice cream…what a beauty

How I love lunch at The Food Barn  – we were the last to leave the restaurant – which is not the first time and probably won’t be the last. It’s hard to tear yourself away – no one’s rushing you and you want to hold on to that state of total contentment. Some of it is still lingering nearly a week later…

The Food Barn is in Noordhoek Farm Village on the corner of Village Lane and Noordhoek Main Road.

Sunday lunch at stunning Cape Point Vineyards

Sunday lunch comes around again and it’s time for a long-awaited visit to Cape Point Vineyards (CPV). It’s located on a narrow strip nestled between the icy Atlantic and the warm currents of False Bay in Noordhoek, with cool sea breezes that provide the sort of climate that Sauvignon Blanc grapes love. The first vines were planted in 1997. It’s a unique place as it’s the only winery in the whole district.

The sparkling new building opened in October 2013 and owner Sybrand Van Der Spuy couldn’t believe his luck when he heard about the closure of legendary Cape Town restaurant, Constantia Uitsig. He wasted no time in snapping up their chef Clayton Bell.

We’ve been planning to visit since we heard at our final dinner at Constantia Uitsig that Clayton was moving here. Uitsig was such a Cape Town institution and reliable favourite and we miss it sorely. So if a bit of that magic had been transferred, we knew we would be happy. And we were. The menu has a distinct touch of Uitsig to it, a familiarity that warmed our hearts! And all in a beautiful new setting.

The restaurant is set up on a hill at the base of a mountain with beautiful views down across vines towards stunning Noordhoek beach. It’s a modern, airy and light-filled space, such a contrast to the often cramped restaurants of today.

I love Clayton’s attitude to food: “Don’t over-complicate food and don’t mess with good quality ingredients.” Sounds simple but I’m always amazed at how far off this path some chefs stray.

The menu offers six starters and six main choices. The Bouche de Moules of steamed black mussels served in a puff pastry case with a saffron cream sauce looked amazing and was beautifully aromatic with its saffron sauce.

mussels

Yummy mussels in a richly aromatic saffron sauce

The beef carpaccio was truly melt-in-the-mouth and topped with fresh, creamy avo and rich, crumbly parmesan and house vinaigrette. One of those starters that is truly spectacular if you get it right…this one was!

parma ham

The perfect combination of flavours and textures

This beautifully simple and delicious tomato tart is an old favourite from Uitsig and simply had to be ordered. The butteriness of the pastry, freshness of the tomato and basil and flavours of cheese and mustard combine to produce the queen of tarts.

tart

Tomato tart with Fontina cheese, Dijon mustard and fresh basil

The figs in South Africa are fabulous at this time of year, and combined with sweetly salty Parma ham make a wonderful starter.

parma ham

Parma ham served with luscious red figs

Today’s line fish was Kingklip. I wanted to cheer when our waiter announced this, it’s probably my favourite white fish and has been a bit in short supply this Cape Town sojourn. Well, it was heavenly – dusted with cumin and perfectly cooked it fell apart in gorgeous chunks.

kingklip

Cumin dusted Kingklip with sweet potato mash, baby spinach and verjuice onion vinaigrette

Clayton’s known for his amazing pasta dishes, too. The mushroom ravioli was creamy and deeply satisfying. Gotta love a bit of truffle flavour.

ravioli

Half moon ravioli filled with mushroom and ricotta in a truffle sauce

More truffles! The sirloin was served with the most amazing mushroom and truffle sauce. Sue asked for it to be cooked rare, very rare and it’s what she got. Fabulously rare, flavoursome steak with a sauce I wanted to inhale.

steak

Grilled beef sirloin with mushroom and truffle sauce

Dessert time, with four summery options.

orange dessert

Caramelised oranges with basil mascarpone

I don’t know why all restaurants don’t serve this! Vanilla ice cream served with espresso (aka affogato). The perfect dessert/coffee combo.

icecream

Vanilla ice cream with espresso

CPV only makes white wines and their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is truly wonderful and great value at R98 a bottle in the restaurant. I really should have bought some to take home.

Sunday was one of those rare rainy summer days in Cape Town which, while atmospheric, meant we couldn’t eat al fresco. Not to worry, with such lovely, unpretentious food, a stylish yet relaxed environment and one of our favourite chefs at the helm, I feel sure CPV will become a new regular. Even looking at the pictures is making my mouth water!

Cape Point Vineyeards is at Silvermine Road, Noordhoek.

Fabulous lunch at the Foodbarn

Another Sunday, another restaurant to savour. This week we went to the Foodbarn in beautiful Noordhoek. The stunning, sunny day started off well with a drive over Chapman’s Peak which connects Hout Bay and Noordhoek, with its amazing views of sea and mountain. And just when you think the day can’t get any better, you stroll in to the Foodbarn…and it does.

Chef Franck Dangereux was born in Cannes and appears to have been born to cook. His dishes are pure genius, just to warn you, my repertoire of adjectives is going to take a bashing before I get to the end of this post! The food is fab, tastes amazing and looks absolutely beautiful. And to make the whole experience even better, the restaurant, housed in a thatched roof building, is totally laid-back, unpretentious and welcoming with great, friendly service. The kind of place that makes you want to kick your shoes off and settle in for a long, long while, which we did at a lovely table on the verandah. The sun streamed through the slatted roof onto our table, as you will see in my pictures – giving a real feel of the beautiful day.

There’s a bistro menu on a blackboard as well as the a la carte – and you can mix and match between them. Our lovely waitress Ruby waxed lyrical about her favourite dishes on the menu – such passion and enthusiasm made the experience even more enjoyable and our choices even more difficult.

My starter of fresh yellowtail tartare was wonderful, a light combination of summer on a plate with plenty of creamy avocado, lovely fresh fish and truly sublime prawns around the edge of the plate. Made me wish I’d ordered the prawn main course!

Delicate yellowtail tartare with the tastiest of prawns

Delicate yellowtail tartare with the tastiest of prawns

The Tunisian fish soup is spicy with fish, mussels and prawns and finished with cuminaise chickpeas and fresh coriander. This dish takes soup to another level, it’s the stuff to dream about.

Silken fish soup with tender prawns and mussel

Silken fish soup with tender prawns and mussel

The crunchy and soft goats cheese fritters came with the sweetest of heirloom tomato terrines, fresh basil and aubergine caviar.

Stunning goat's cheese fritters

Stunning goat’s cheese fritters

The springbok tartare was served with homemade tacos, spicy avo and saffron mayo.

Springbok tartare with spicy avo

Springbok tartare with spicy avo

And now for the mains. My choice elicited oohs of delight as it arrived at the table. It’s Franck’s famous Pan Bagna. Bread topped with an amazing tomatoey, garlicky sauce, two large seared trout fillets, an egg and a tomato bonbon all on a bed of salad with an anchoiade sauce. A heavenly tower of flavours and textures to thrill. Seriously, I may never be able to order anything else at the Foodbarn, it’s a plate of perfection for me.

A beautiful towering plate of food

A beautiful towering plate of food

The tender lamb chops were served pink with a delicately delicious mustard and courgette quiche, wild rocket and a rich lemon verbena scented jus. Who knew a mustard and courgette quiche could taste so good?

Tender lamb chops with a delicate sauce

Tender lamb chops with a delicate sauce

Fillet steak Bordelaise came with a pecorino and truffle potato fritter but as Kevin, who ordered it, is having a carb-free period, he declined the fritter. Ruby, suggested she serve him a portion of vegetables on the plate instead, they couldn’t be more accommodating.

steak

Yum, yum, yum!

Why I haven’t visited more often is a mystery and certainly an oversight (one I simply have to remedy). I discovered they do tapas and wine matching events, too…put me down for some of that and soon!

The FoodBarn is at Noordehoek Farm Village in Noordhoek