Monday, January 31, 2011

Bits and pieces

It's been radio silence for the last few months, but not for lack of delicious regional adventures! Here are some bits and pieces…

Anri, Katrin and I had one of our last roommate lunches at Birds Boutique Café (127 Bree St., Cape Town) back in November. They offer an organic box scheme and emphasise fresh, seasonal, ethical eating.

I've been getting my fruit and vegetable boxes from the Ethical Co-op, which delivers to a supermarket near my house. The Co-op also offers pretty competitively priced dried goods and home products. Even though you're still getting your food from a middleman, it's a time-pressed regional eater's dream: it lists where every product comes from and lets you order everything together once a week. The online experience can't compare to chatting with producers at a farmer's market, but it still beats supermarket strip lighting.

An epicurious friend of mine came down to visit from the U.K.—we visited Eight, of course, where she was extremely impressed by the zucchini soufflé, chicken and leek pot pie (below right) and especially by Spier's Organic 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (I'll admit that I bought the first bottle only for its pleasingly graphic label and well-written copy). Forgive the following point-and-shoot pictures, but I was relatively lax with my camera...

We also visited Solms Delta's Fyndraai restaurant; I was a little disappointed to find that only one of the dishes on the menu appeared to use ingredients from its culinary Fynbos garden, Dik Delta (a vegetable bake that was tasty, but not particularly special). We did love their wine tasting (below left) and the extensive displays dedicated to educating visitors about the history and perspectives of slaves and workers on the farm.

We both liked the food and coffee at Loading Bay, one of those far-too-cool clothing cafés, and the menu claimed that they bought directly from producers.

Last but not least we stopped by the Fresh Goods and Neighbourgoods markets; the second was an absolute zoo! Arrive early and you might be able to nab some produce from the Drift Farm stall. They're growing some beautiful heirloom vegetables (golden zucchini, purple beans) which you can also order directly from them.

A few other things I'm loving:

- Foxenburg Estate goat's milk yogurt. The grenadilla flavour (ingredients: goat's milk, grenadilla) is like eating cheesecake filling. You can buy it from certain Spars and at the Wellness Warehouse (the one at the Cavendish Centre carries 1L buckets for R64. More expensive than cow's milk, but believe me, it's worth it).

- Wild-caught honey available at the Sustainability Institute's A Green Café (R25). It has a very rich, complex flavour.

- Mint lemonade (above, sweetened with stevia). I didn't follow exact quantities, but if you've got a few fistfuls of mint, five lemons and a few drops of stevia you're in business. I know a lot of people dislike the flavour of stevia and it's not regional, besides... but it pairs really well with the mint. Rooibos iced tea with honey is perhaps the better regional choice, and is even easier to make.

- The prospect of a visit to Joburg/Pretoria this weekend! I'm counting on Anri to introduce me to Gauteng's very own regional buffet.