Friday, December 27, 2013

Bistrot Bizerca

I love the entrance to Bistrot Bizerca at 98 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town. Under a red awning and set back from the street in a beautiful heritage building, one wanders up 2 wooden steps and through a curtain- flanked doorway into a world away from the noise and bustle of the city.  A step  'Through the Looking Glass'.

Eugene and I escape often into the bliss of Bizerca.  It is whispered that a very famous French chef, whose food we adore, eats there occasionally.  What better accolade?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pane e Vino Food and Wine Bar

Eugene and I had heard so much about Pane e Vino in Stellenbosch, Cape, that we went visiting with high hopes and raging appetites. Both conditions were triumphantly served.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Super food at Sloppy Sam

Sloppy Sam seems to have been around forever.  We have eaten there for so long we have lost count of the years.  Our children grew up eating the food and hopefully, someday their children will enjoy the same rite of passage

Hooman Saffarian is the owner/chef of this wonderful place.  Of  Persian origin, but as he describes himself, proudly South African, he is the standard bearer of the present incarnation of Sloppy Sam.

But how can we talk about Sloppy Sam without mentioning Strati Constanides, the previous padrone.  

This lovely gentle Greek cooked his way into the hearts of a generation of food lovers.  He cooked for us.  He fussed over us and prepared our favourites and woe-betide anyone who left food on their plates.  In a simple cafĂ© on the Main Road Sea Point, he and his wife Esmini produced the food we remember with such joy and nostalgia. Greek food at its finest.  When Strati hung up his apron, we all thought that the world would come to an end.  We mourned when he died and filled the obituary columns with tributes.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Back Chat Interviews An Emerging Talent

Eugene and I recently tasted some stunning South African food at a house party. Standing proudly and fragrantly on the buffet table was a smoked snoek bobotie. Oh my goodness, it was fantastic!!  Served with divine chutney and delicious sambals, the guests cleared the platter.  An unctuous bread and butter pudding on the dessert buffet and the guests once again forgot their manners and tore into it.  Who had made this seemingly simple food into so much more than a 'bord kos'?  These dishes were certainly not part of our hostess' repertoire. I had to know more.

I discovered that the creator of these delights was a young chef, Juan Pierre Hugo, known to his clients as "JP".  I interviewed him at the lovely home in Hout Bay that he shares with his life partner, Nicholas Whitehorn and Joshua, their adopted son.  Oh yes, and 2 Rottweilers, 3 Dachshunds, 2 exotic and chatty parrots and cages of miniature doves and finches.  

But first I had to explore this beautiful home of wood and stone and glass.  Heavy wooden dining and coffee tables, Persian carpets on old stone floors and display cases that are crammed with Egyptian artefacts.  The walls and surfaces are covered with art and objets, while gazing through floor-to-ceiling glass doors, one has a view of a beautifully landscaped garden and the spectacular views beyond.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Eugene and I have made another discovery - Casareccio in Hout Bay, Cape Town.  It baffles me that it has taken us so long to discover what hordes of people have known about for ages!  A place that serves English breakfasts, divine Italian pizza and pasta, Portuguese specialities, perfect pastry and more.  A Cucina Italiana with a real Italian Mama in command of the kitchen, a restaurateur whose experience, energy and enthusiasm is daunting and delicious food that invites one to return again and again.

Friends introduced us to Casareccio.  All eight of us trooped in on a busy week night.  Actually, I think that every night is busy at Casareccio.  But the friends had booked and we were immediately taken under the warmly hospitable wing of Jorge Ferreira, the owner and his excellent team of service staff.   Eugene and I were quite bowled over by the vast array of pizza and pasta choices. There are also a number of salads and 'Speciality Dishes', which reflect Jorge's Portuguese heritage and are star turns at Casareccio.  To further complicate matters, there are specials displayed on a blackboard. Good grief, where to start?  I wanted everything.  We were gently guided through the maze of delights by our valiantly patient companions and finally decided to begin the proceedings with Garlic and Herb Focaccia (or two).  To follow, I ordered a half portion of 'Pasta Contadina (Village Style)' with olive oil, garlic, artichokes with white wine and parsley with added chorizo for good measure. And a side salad!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Delicious Italian Food At Magica Roma

Eugene and I adore Italian food.   Authentic, delicious Italian food made with the best and purest ingredients and with all the verve, passion and energy that the finest Italian chefs bring to their creations.

So it is with unalloyed happiness that we have been regular patrons of Magica Roma for years and years.

Magica Roma Ristorante Italiano at 8 Central Square, Pinelands in Cape Town, is proudly Italian.  Everything about it is Italian, from the owner/chefs Ezio De Biaggi and Franco Zezia, to the food that emerges triumphantly from the kitchen.   Our hosts were named Cavalieri Del Lavoro (Knights) by the President of Italy Dr. Scalfaro,  for creating a completely genuine Italian restaurant outside Italy.  Having been accorded this signal honour,  they are honour bound to maintain the finest tradition of Italian cooking using only the best ingredients.  Wine Magazine has, since the year 2000, included them each year in the top 100 restaurants in South Africa.  Rossouw's  Restaurant has awarded Magica Roma 3 stars.  In addition to all of this, there are numerous glowing write-ups and mentions from all over the world.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I find it incredible that we only found out about lovely Cargills Restaurant at 20 Station Road, Rondebosch, Western Cape, on Saturday 26th January 2013!   A foodie chef friend took over the  restaurant and treated his friends to an evening of superb food, finest wines and great conviviality.  We were captivated.   As soon as we could, we returned to Cargills, this time for lunch.

The restaurant, situated opposite Rondebosch station, is part of a row of shops with windows fronting directly onto the street. There is an air of genteel tranquillity, no hustle and bustle and lots of trees and shade.  The Rondebosch library is there.  As a young girl I used to take the bus to Rondebosch station to visit the library.  And now, all the years on, it seems that time has stood still.  Nothing has changed.  All quaint and English villagey.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine

We loved the experience of George Jardine's restaurant in Bloem Street, Cape Town.  We loved the food that emerged from his kitchen and the quirkiness of the upstairs downstairs set up of the place.   So when he relocated to a mountain eyrie in Stellenbosch, we became very happy camp followers.

To reach his mountain perch, one motors up a narrow road, framed by trees and lakes and vineyards and in summer, the brilliant colours of flowers and shrubs all dressed up in their best.   At the very end of the road the restaurant beams its welcome.  Beautifully constructed from wood, glass and steel, and surrounded by a bower of trees, it all blends perfectly and harmoniously.  Lovely to park under the trees; blessed shade on the fiery Cape summer days.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Directed by:    Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by:  Tony  Kushner                                                               

Starring:         Daniel Day-Lewis
                        Sally Field
                        David Strathairn
                        James Spader
                        Hal Holbrook
                        Tommy Lee Jones

Running time : 150 minutes                                                                                 
Based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, 'Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln'.
Time Magazine devoted a cover to Daniel Day Lewis' craggy profile as Lincoln.  Critics have written hundreds of words of praise for every aspect of the film.  At the time of writing this article, nominations for every award imaginable have been received.  So all that remained after digesting this panegyric was a personal assessment.   And quite simply, in Back Chat's opinion, this is a film at which to wonder.  Wonder at the mastery of Daniel Day Lewis' portrayal of Lincoln.  Wonder at the superb performances of supporting actors and wonder at cinematography and screenplay that are beautifully and miraculously wedded.

Come to the movies with us !

I would love to know your reactions to this cinematic experience.  Do let me know.  You may like to leave a comment on Back Chat or email me at .  I look forward to hearing from you.