Friday, February 10, 2012

open for business

Yesterday was all about lunch.

Marie drove us an hour and a half north of Cape Town to Paternoster, once a fishing village, now popular as a beach town for upscale vacation homes. Paternoster is the home of Oep ve Koep, which is dialect Afrikaans for "open for business". The chef, Kobus van der Merwe, is creative, personable, and oh-so-gifted. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The drive to Paternoster takes you through an arid landscape.

The beach is well known for its lobsters, but we arrived too late to buy from the fishermen, so after appreciating their boats, we headed for lunch.

The back yard dining area was colorful, intimate, and inviting. Bougainvillea spilled over the walls and African-themed tablecloths added color and humor to the setting.

Kobus came out to explain the menu and despite the fact that we were only two, we ordered one of everything. We are serious eaters.

The appetizers were 1) watermelon, pickled onion, and basil salad with a watermelon and tabasco granita, cucumber sorbet, and borage flowers; 2) a fig and bread salad, and 3) chicken liver with preserved grapefruit, fleur de sel, and arugula. The flavors were fresh, strong, and well balanced; each one a winner.

Our first main course was local mussels (plump and large) with wild garlic, dune parsley, and buttermilk broth. The broth was salty and addictive; I drank every drop.

We shared angelfish pan fried with cape gooseberry (Physalis), tamarind, roasted tomato, capers, and nasturtium. I'd never had angelfish before. It has the texture of swordfish, but a more buttery taste. Loved it.

The final main course was a potato-stuffed dumpling served with dune spinach, mushrooms, pine nuts, and a compound pea butter. Another delicious dish.

If you love food and you're in Cape Town, make the drive to Paternoster and Oep ve Koep. It's the kind of place and the kind of food that makes you deeply happy; you'll enjoy every minute and every bite.

On the way home we detoured to Big Bay to see the para-sailers. Incredible! They dipped and flipped in front of Robben Island.

While the shark warning would have discouraged me from swimming, apparently it had no effect on the para-sailers.

To the south, Table Mountain was draped in its tablecloth as we headed home.


At February 11, 2012 at 7:58 AM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

Sounds delicious and looks lovely!

At February 11, 2012 at 9:36 AM , Blogger Mum said...

Every description is wonderful. The dishes at Paternoster looked and sounded spectacular and I'm glad you gave yourselves permission to try each one. It must have been a memorable day that most of us would never see...or taste.

South Africa is like no other place we've ever been and I'm so glad you've had the experience. Who knows what's next! See you in two weeks. Lots of love, Mum

At February 12, 2012 at 10:11 AM , Anonymous Mark said...

Cruel, cruel woman. I am in deep gastronomic envy. Hell, lust.


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