Tag Archives: Cape Town

San Julian

2 Mar

A Mexican family moves to South Africa and opens a restaurant named after their home town. They grind their own corn to make fresh tortillas and use Abuelo’s (grandfather’s) margerita mix recipe. Sounds perfectly idyllic, doesn’t it? Unfortunately most things at San Julian are not (except the margeritas).

My first qualm about San Julian is the menu – not that it’s diffcult to understand (most things are lost in translation), but that everything seems so… the same! Each dish is made with tortillas, whether they are quesadillas, tacos or flautas. No where was there menudo (Spanish soup), tamales or chile. At a table of four girls, there were only two dishes chosen and sadly, I was the definite loser! My Flautas en Salsa Verde was presented to me and I sighed. 3 cigar-sized tubes made of, you guessed it, tortilla, stuffed with non-descript chicked and served with a tiny mound of Spanish rice. The Spanish rice was superb, but my quarter cup portion barely touched sides. The cigars also disappeared very quickly, leaving my tummy rumbling, but at the price, unable to order anything more.

No one said anything, but the other dish chosen by my dining partners did not look particularly apetizing either. Diced meat on dry tortilla discs certainly doesn’t appeal to me.

The service is charming and the music delightful, but the best part of the evening must have been the margeritas. Salty-sweet goodness doesn’t come better than at San Julian. My advice: go for drinks, don’t have too many (your bank balance will cry), soak up the atmoshere, but eat before you go.

San Julian, Green Point, 3-4 State House, Rose Street, 021 419 4233, Mains +-R70 (half portions available), Margeritas: R40, Service: friendly and accommodating.

Pepénero

11 Feb

Having recently started a new job, I find myself missing my old colleagues and friends.A catch-up was in order and, all being Atlantic Seaboard locals, Pepénero was the perfect place to meet.

The evening did not start well as our booking was “lost”. A mystery to the manager, but he quickly found us a table outside after waiting only five minutes. We settled down and were quickly made comfortable by a wonderful waiter. He was quiet, unassuming and catered to our needs without becoming visibly irritated with our indecisiveness (something I wouldn’t have been able to do).

Our original plan was to eat sushi, having heard of the brilliant quality and Pepénero’s special. We were somewhat disappointed as the special isn’t that great – only maki, nigiri and California rolls are half-price and the rest of the a la carte sushi is pretty expensive to eat your fill. Most of us explored the rest of the menu and discovered some excellent dishes. All mains come with a choice of chips, rice, vegetables or salad, so anyone can find something to suit them no matter how health conscious.

I went with the Chicken Limone and was presented with three large pieces of chicken, grilled with lemon and parsley butter and pepper – superb. The steak special was also delicious – a juicy sirloin done simply but to perfection. One of our party chose the glazed butternut pasta – she wasn’t enamoured, but it was tasty enough (I helped myself to a few forkfuls!). The cinnamon glaze of the butternut was an interesting flavour in pasta, but nothing else in the cream sauce could compete with it.

At dessert time we were all hard-pressed to make a decision. I eventually shared the White Lindt Vanilla Cheesecake with a friend, while taking scoops of Crème Brûlée from my unsuspecting neighbour. Both were heaven! The cheesecake was covered with white chocolate shavings and its consistency was smooth and creamy. The crème brûlée was not too sweet and I wish I had been the one to crack its crunchy top.

Pepénero is a great place to go for a meal  in a gorgeous seafront setting but don’t expect too much privacy as it is often full and the tables are very close together. When we caught up on all the gossip we had to remember to keep our voices down – you never know whose mother is at the next-door table!

Pepénero,  Mouille Point –1 Two Oceans Beach, Bay Road, 021 439 9027 or 021 439 9037, info@pepenero.co.za, Starters R45+, Mains R70+ (sirloin special R79), Sushi R45+ (not including special), Desserts R45+Service: excellent

Under the Influence Wine Tasting

10 Feb

I write this post with a headache, because I have discovered that you can have too much of a good thing – and an Under the Influence wine tasting is a very good thing. Each tasting has a particular theme, whether it be region, terroir or varietal. The heavenly tasting I attended was “Great Whites” , perfectly up my street as red would give me much more than an innocent headache.

The Cape Town tastings are in one of the most beautiful setting the city has to offer – The Roundhouse lawn. I found myself looking over Camps Bay and the sea on a warm summer night, with friends and delicious wine – it doesn’t get much better. Oh wait it does – there were two potbellied piglets running around! Pancetta and Crackling (hopfeully just a cruel joke and not their fate) run free on the lawn, rooting in the grass and nuzzling offered hands. Just don’t pick them up unless you want the entire veranda to stare at you while they squeal.

Under the Influence tastings are all about learning, not showing off who has read the latest issue of Wine Magazine or knows the most about wine. You are free to make silly suggestions about the smell (sorry, nose!), use the wrong words and actually swallow the wine – all of which made me, an avid quaffer but useless sommelier, really comfortable. The hosts are also relaxed, joking about crib notes and bantering with the guests. While being incredibly knowledgeable about winemakers, wine and regions, they take nothing too seriously.

Each tasting consists of three flights or sets of wines, usually three wines per flight. The “Great White” flights were sauvignon blanc, viognier and chenin blanc blends. Wonderful! Not being a connoisseur, I will just give you my favourite of the evening: Lismore sauvignon blanc (2009), delicious and affordable.

I was eager to line my stomach before the tasting as last time there was only ciabatta to snack on. It wasn’t necessay though as Under the Influence has teamed up with the Rumbullion outdoor restaurant at the Roundhouse to offer not only scrummy ciabatta, but also pizzas (for an added cost). As we had eaten ourselves silly already, my friends and I ordered a simple margarita to share. It was crispy and cheesy – everything a pizza should be and it went excellently with the wine!

As the wine flowed, the inappropriate comments and giggles increased and everyone around the table became acquainted. One of the wonderful things about these tastings is the intimate setting – the tasting groups are normally only about 20 people, seated at a long picnic table. This lends itself to everyone sharing stories and opinions – I discovered that the girl across the table was also my next door neighbour! After the tasting, left over bottles are handed round and you are free to drink a full glass of whatever especially delighted you that evening – the perfect way to get to know your new  freinds. Unfortunately the Lismore was no more, but I refilled on Elgin Heights a few times.

Under the Influence also now does some tastings in Joburg and Durban, but I don’t think these will be able to beat the setting in Cape Town. I can’t wait for the bubbly tasting next week!

Tastings R120 per person (incudes tasted wine and ciabatta). Pizzas from R40. For tastings in your area and upcoming events, visit the website: www.undertheinfluence.co.za You can also buy wine on the website.