One of my favourite aspects of visiting a country is trying out the local cuisine especially ingredients and dishes that are totally new to me.
The Table Bay Hotel
had invited Mr Silver and I to check out their restaurant, Camissa
and sample some authentic Cape cuisine.
Though The Table Bay is a big hotel, Camissa is actually rather intimate and cosy with comfortable leather seating, wooden floors, artwork lining the walls and a terrace with views leading out on to the bay. I loved the name of the restaurant to which is actually the Khoisan
word for Cape Town and it means ‘The Place of Sweet Waters.’
We’d been invited to try the three course menu which featured seasonal ingredients that had been locally foraged. Chef, Jocelyn Myers-Adams came out to tell us a bit more about her menu and how she personally explores Cape Town and the surrounding areas looking for new ingredients to give her dishes unique flavours.
Jocelyn suggested that we started with the crispy crocodile…
I’ve had crocodile before and the flavour can only be described as fishy chicken but Jocelyn had injected depth into the texture with the crisp batter and there was a huge amount of flavour in the accompanying radish and carrot slaw with chakalaka (South African vegetable relish). I noticed that some of the dishes were flavoured with hibiscus; South Africa actually has about 60 species of hibiscus indigenous to the country including shrubs, trees and herbs, I’ve always enjoyed the flavour in a cocktail and I thought it would be really interesting to try it in a dish.
We also tried the yellowtail ceviche served with pickled cumber, salsa and citrus vinaigrette. Jocelyn came out from kitchen and asked us what we’d thought of the salsa…I’d really enjoyed it and it reminded me a lot of sweet chilli sauce. She told us that it was actually prickly pear, which is actually a member of the cactus family. The flavour has a light and not overpowering sweetness, a bit like melon, and it has a slightly grain texture to it.
Through out our meal, the very wonderful sommelier paired each course with a local wine, perfectly chosen to enhance the flavour of the cuisine.
Linefish was something that we saw on most of the menus while we were in South Africa, the variety depending on the catch of the day. Linefish in South Africa is so called because it is caught using a hook and line rather than net. Unfortunately, many linefish have been overfished but Camissa’s menu features a linefish approved by SASSI (The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) as Jocelyn is a great supporter of sustainability.
The linefish was a beautifully cooked yellowtail served with sauteed soutslaai (a salty tasting lettuce), dune spinach and swiss chard, bokkum (a salted and dried mullet), lemon remoulade and smoked pepper essence. Once again many ingredients that were totally new to me but a great balance of salty, peppery and zesty flavours.
We also tried the signature dish the Malay curried West Coast lobster pot served with an aromatic rice pilaf and sambals.
A traditional South African dish from the Malay community, it consists of braised lobster and aromatic spices. It would be my first instinct to assume a curry would mean lots of sauce that would overpower the delicate lobster. But the gorgeous blend of spice really enhanced it and my only criticism would be that the braising gives the lobster a slightly chewy texture.
Our first dessert was a deconstructed chocolate cake, which was a little like a cheesecake with caramel served with a delicious mint crisp ice cream.
Our second dessert was a beautifully presented mousse tart made with Amarula, a South African cream liqueur made from the fruit of the African marula tree. It was served with a coulis made from gooseberries from the Cape and a Rooibos tea jelly. Rooibos is a South African plant that I’ve tried many times at home in tea but never as an ingredient in food.
One last outfit shot…
I think hotel restaurants are often dismissed as over-priced and average but you can see just how much care and thought went into assembling the menu at Camissa. Jocelyn is a truly talented chef with an eye for detail and concern for her environment. I loved trying the authentic South African ingredients and flavours and it made for an excellent first night in Cape Town.
The Table Bay Hotel
6, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
Cape Town, 8001
Our dinner and wine pairing was complimentary