Last night saw the launch of The Taste of Cape Town festival 2013. Held at the Green Point Cricket Club, it’s a lovely venue but rather chilly. Cape Town’s decision to suddenly switch directly from summer to winter does impact on the outdoor experience so make sure that you dress warmly so that you can focus on the delicious food and not the chill. Girls: bring a hair elastic because the moment I was about to take my first droolicious bite, the wind got up and my hair went all over the show HAHA What a kill joy when you’re face to face with a gorgeous meal 😉
One of my biggest dislikes from last year’s event was the parking scenario. I ended up parking miles away and unless you’re attending a sporting event, that’s never fun. This year, however, it was organised perfectly. There were car ushers directing cars and in our instance they immediately informed us that the only parking left was in the stadium. All the cars were smoothly directed to the stadium and a R20 fee was charged BEFORE entering. This means no scrabbling for money post dinner. Your car is in, safe and close. There were even ushers inside the festival directing the cars to open spaces. Well done Taste of Cape Town this is MUCH better.
I also found the layout to be better this year. There seemed to be an outer ring and an inter ring of displays and restaurants. Maybe it’s my previous experience but I found this year’s festival far easier to navigate. I didn’t manage to get a menu when I walked in though, I’m not sure where those were, so I had to walk around a little bit to try in eat in a normal order but eventually I just took what I could get.
This year’s festival also included MANY more places to sit and eat. Whole sections of tables were placed for diners to relax and enjoy the ambience. Even the individual restaurants added eating counters or the odd table and chair for diners to use. All of these small touches make a difference to the experience since it is meant to be about dining a relaxing. This was a vast improvement.
This year’s menu selection was rather different from last year. There were some good parts and there were some great parts!
I must say that I was slightly disappointed at the amount of people at the Beef Cakes stand. Let me explain why. Firstly, their stand was fantastic. They had decorated in a fun, frivolously way as to be expected. They had a gorgeous man in drag singing karaoke. What a ton of fun!
But, they also had the most accessible menu. Chilli poppers, ostrich burger and chocolate brownies which meant their queue was really long. The food was a little slow coming out but I don’t blame them, however, I wonder why people attend a food festival only to go for comfort food? Seems to defeat the purpose really. Having said that, my boyfriend absolutely LOVED the double chocolate brownies so it’s all fair game. Well done Beef Cakes, you guys put on a fantastic “show”.
This year I was really disappointed with La Colombe’s pop up stand. Last year they completely blew me away with their Chocolate torte, tobacco caramel, Hennessy marshmellows (you won’t BELIEVE how much flavour are in these tiny cubes!), coffee meringues and hazelnut crumble. This year’s menu just wasn’t on the level. It was a pop up stand though (for one night only) so perhaps they wanted to keep things simple?
I don’t eat seafood and I don’t eat curry so I was excluded from quite a lot of places. I was also interested to meet Moslem friends along the way, they were on a fish mission because there’s not much there that’s Halaal. Perhaps Mint wants to come on board again?
The pork strips from 96 Winery Road were also a mixed bag. The flavour of the crackling was good and the meat was beautifully tender but I had to spit out the rinds on two of pieces (after swallowing two) because it was just too chewy and hard to eat. The tomato chutney was punchy with balanced sharp and sweet flavours.
Another win was the De Grendal edamame bean, duck, 5 spice and pot pourri risotto. I have no idea what pot pourri in a meal means – they’re put rose petals in my dinner?! Either way, it was delicious and for 5 crowns (R25) it was totally worth it. Also, it’s quite cold so having a lovely risotto to warm you up and fill you up is something I highly recommend as a starter.
Lastly I had the Azure Chalmar beef fillet with corn, which I interpreted as a type bread (although I don’t think it was bread but was a cube). It had shredded carrot underneath as well as butternut puree. I thought the butternut puree was pretty boring – which restaurant DOESN’T offer butternut?! But the fillet was gorgeous as was the sauce over the top. Not entirely sure if it’s worth 8 crowns (R40) but it was delicious. Find out for yourself 🙂
Although this is the restaurant I know the least about, Dash Restaurant’s 24-h braised lamb was very rich and indulgent. I like polenta so I enjoyed that offering as a change as well as the smoked tomato jus. The flavour was incredibly intense but delicious. The halved asparagus gave the dish a fresh, neutral break from the rich flavours as well as a nice texture to the meal. The lamb texture was rather like mince, really soft. Worth the 7 crowns (R35).
I’m one of the few weirdos on the planet that enjoy the white rather than the yellow but I always try to eat something unusual at the Taste Festival so I figured the lesser spotted Scotch Egg would quality. The Brasserie plated it in a super fun and creative way – in an egg box! One square for the egg, one square for the paprika aoli and 2 squares for the salt a pepper! Fantastic. It was rich in flavour with the pork sausage meat between the egg and the crumbs and the yolk was perfectly cooked: thick and creamy.
I loved the Il Leone’s coffee panacotta. I don’t drink coffee but their balance between the cream and coffee flavour was beautiful and delicate, really lovely. I highly recommend this. Simple but delicious. And it was only 4 crowns! (R20) I’m happy to say that this picture doesn’t do the dessert justice!
Apart from the many restaurants there are also many food, wine, treat and liquor stalls.
Other great features of the festival include the Lindt store. They have discounted Lindt chocolate slabs, hot chocolate warm and ready for sale, a tester stand, truffles as well as all our regular favourites. Many of the chocolate slabs are less expensive than in a regular store.
The Taste of Cape Town offers numerous displays and demonstrations. There was a Thai cuisine demonstation on when I walked past which is really interesting as it’s a lesser known cuisine in South Africa. There are also many food and wine stalls such as ice lollies. I’ve seen that the creamery has been commented as incredible many times on Twitter and they were there last night but it was just TOO cold for me to have an ice cream!
The Queen of Tarts from the Observatory bakery was also there and had numerous picture perfect sweets and treats on display. I didn’t manage to get back to the stand but I saw more than a few Tweets about her offerings.
Over all it was a far better organised event this year than any other years. Apart from the parking there are also more entrance gates with subdivisions (competition winners, media, general, etc.) I definitely recommend popping down this weekend for a beautiful meal. I saw crown stands with card machines if you want to buy crowns that way but I suggest bringing cash as it’s the quickest. The Taste of Cape Town festival is held at the Green Point cricket club in Green Point. Dress warmly.