Cape Town’s known throughout the country as being relaxed. Laid back. Hey shoo wow, bru. But if there’s one thing we’re serious about, it’s putting as much delicious food in our faces as we can; and as often as possible. We’re home to hundreds of great restaurants, from holes-in-the-wall to molecular gastronomy (you know, those guys who like to make foams out of weird things), and we make the most of it. That’s why every year, we walk away with more awards for our restaurant industry than our president has wives (no easy feat), and this year was no different.
I was lucky enough to get a seat at the 2011 Eat Out Awards, held at the Bay Hotel on Sunday the 20th November. Space is limited to about 360 people; because catering for that many is tricky at the best of times, but the Awards level up by providing you with a four-course, five-star meal; cooked, plated and served with military precision.
The evening started off with canapés and bubbly at Sandy B (the Bay Hotel’s members-only bar; because we’re fancy like that) before moving to the Rotunda, where every table was perfectly set, complete with flowers, candles…and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. As Charlie Sheen would say: Winning. Riaad Moosa was MCing and managed to keep it (mostly) tidy, and GoodLuck was on stage. I do think it’s a pity that they stuck them on between/during courses – their music is hardly made for background listening, and their vibe seemed wasted. They would have been better used at the afterparty. Other than that, the night was a win – the speeches weren’t overly long or boring, and the food…oh, holy shit you guys, the food.
Spinach, miso, crayfish, truffle oil. Rabbit/gammon ballotine, duck liver purée, red cabbage mousse, Everson’s pear cider jelly. Trompette-dusted beef, cep butter, baby beets and asparagus. Valrhona Ivoire chocolate torte, Valrhona chocolate mousse with orange preserve, crushed raspberries with Valrhona Ivoire chantilly. I can’t even pronounce some of those things, but I know they tasted amazing. Each course was made by a chef from one of the nominated restaurants, and paired with some of Cape Town’s best wines. Given the quality of the food, the results of the awards were hardly surprising. Now, not to hate on our friends up North, but it’s almost laughable just how many awards Cape Town walked away with in comparison to JHB. Out of the 20-odd categories announced, restaurants and chefs from Cape Town and surrounds scooped 18 of them. (Best Steakhouse, Jo’burg? Shame.) Nine out of the Top Ten slots went to Cape Town restaurants, including first place (The Greenhouse), plus Chef of the Year for Luke Dale-Roberts (The Test Kitchen). That’s just how we roll.
Once the awards were done, everyone staggered out to the afterparty at Sapphire with full bellies and a huge bag of swag; and I suspect more than a few people “rescued” their unfinished bottles of Johnnie Black. Tough life, hey? Quite honestly, the most difficult part of the night for me was trying to keep a straight face every time I had to use the hashtag. I mean, come on. #eatoutawards? That’s just unfortunate.
Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly made a great point in her opening speech: That you don’t have to be a “foodie” to be someone who enjoys good food. Personally, I think that foodies have become the hipsters of the food world – no one knows exactly how to define them, but we all find them vaguely irritating. So, don’t be that guy (nobody likes that guy). But if you do love good food and the experiences that come with it, do yourself a favour and try make the effort to visit at least a few of the restaurants we’re privileged enough to have here. Your wallet might not thank you that particular month, but your stomach definitely will. I reckon it’s a fair trade.