I was counting down the to Taste of Cape Town Festival, as I always do. It’s my favourite food festival as it gives diners a peek at what some of the best restaurants in Cape Town have to offer, in a tapas form. This year we drove down to Green Point and were pleased to be directed into a parking field. Turns out the parking field was 1 km from where we wanted to be and it took us 15 minutes to walk to the festival. That bummed me out as it was dark and I didn’t feel safe having to mission after being charged to park “nogal”! In the festival’s defense, they did acknowledge our complaints on Twitter and apologised for the inconvenience. My post last year started commenting on the lack of parking, I hope next year will be better as I had arriving somewhere grumpy HAHA!
The Taste of Cape Town Festival always feels like Alice in Wonderland, a mystical food world, with the array of beautiful wines, meat products, dairy products like ice creams and cheese, craft beers and demonstration exhibitions. I admit that I ended up eating in a really random order as I was literally taking what I could get but the winning restaurant for me was Azure, from the 12 Apostles, who served pork belly with pork “popcorn” which was crackling unlike ANYTHING else I’d had before. It was DIVINE!
The second amazing dish of the evening came from Camissa Brasserie from the Table Bay Hotel. Steak and ale pie is one of my most favourite things to eat in the UK. It’s not very popular around South Africa but Camissa Brasserie served a lager braised beef short rib with mushrooms on, what I suspect, was a polenta bread? It was delicious!
I had these two things with a cup of the Lindt hot chocolate in the middle. It was exquisite! However, pork, chocolate, beef, silly me. It was so busy though that I felt I needed to take what I could get. I also squeezed in a banana rum pancake at some point. The rum wasn’t cooked off for long enough so it had quite a punch but the peanut butter ice cream was divine!
The beef and pork were my hits of the festival, however, Camissa also served a lamb chop that was cold (a work colleague also had the same experience) and my chop was 80% fat. The Taste of Cape Town is a big challenge for kitchens as there are so many people to feed in a short amount of time. The turn over is really high but unfortunately a standard of food was set so high in previous years that constitent patrons such as myself expect a high level of service.
This could also be seen in the offerings from other restaurants who also seemed to have taken the manageable but “safe” route. Tsogo Sun Hotel’s stand was pumping. I tried their beef fillet with pepper sauce for R40 which tasted exactly like my own cooking! Burrata was kind enough to let me taste 2 of their dishes. They had a beetroot and goats milk cheese crumbed ball offering. They were really well made, warm, crispy and gooey. Their “reconstructed” Caprese salad (as I call it) didn’t nearly measure up: cheese, drops of basil oil and baked tomatoes had all the balance in the world but was hardly something to write home about. Maybe I missed the point? It was only R20 though so you paid for what you received, fair enough.
There were fewer restaurants this year and they were missed. Whilst making my way through I thought it was really sad that so many people were ignoring the featured restaurants and going for the more regular options (there was even a Simply Asia at the festival!). But after waiting in long queues at every restaurant, I realised that people were just too hungry to wait.
Outside each restaurant is a stand for diners to place their plates and eat their meal. Unfortunately these are always a squeeze and lack light but it is a help to put your plate down. I would like to see more of these people FoCT! I also didn’t see any of the wooden tables and chairs that had been available in previous years. Guests chatted excitedly about everything on display and it was really busy. My sister-in-law went on Saturday night and she said it was far less chaotic. I’m so pleased so many people have caught on to how fantastic the festival is, however, I’d love it if they were a little calm about the freebies! I think it’s because I went to boarding school but when people rush and push for get free tasters it really puts me off. Come on Cape Town! We’re better than that.
I’m still looking forward to the Taste of Cape Town 2015 and hope all the restaurants will up their game again. When Beefcakes’s food (far from a gourmet restaurant) is getting more attention than yours, fundamentally there’s something wrong with the menu. More sophisticated, more options, better behaved people for 2015! Here’s to next year 🙂