Sunday, August 31, 2014

Quentin at Oakhurst

Eugene and I drove to 'Quentin at Oakhurst' along the beautiful Hout Bay road.  Approaching from the Constantia end, the trees touch overhead, kissing trees we call them. Then into Dorman Way where there is private parking right in front of the restaurant. 

We were warmly welcomed, always important in my opinion.  I hate cold, indifferent greetings by staff that frankly couldn't care less.  The restaurant was dressed in its best.  Lights twinkling, tables adorned with linen, sparkling silver service and glasses waiting expectantly to be filled.  Glorious arrangements of Cape flowers, which I later learnt, were the handiwork of our host, Quentin Spickernell, preened themselves under the lights. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Our first impression as we entered Burrata at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Cape Town, was of a stylish interior in the manner of the restaurants in New York City's Meat Packing District.  Wood, steel and glass and bare face brick walls combine to create an urban industrial feel.  But it is the splendidly bold red pizza oven presiding majestically over proceedings from a corner of the restaurant, which immediately catches one's eye. This is a special pizza oven.  It is different from most other pizza ovens and we would soon find out all about it.

Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from Mozzarella and cream.  The outer shell is Mozzarella while the inside is a combination of Mozzarella and cream, or sometimes a mixture of butter and sugar.  Best served fresh at room temperature, it is the epitome of buttery deliciousness.  Burrata means 'buttered' in Italian.

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 café 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.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Woodlands Eatery

Happily ensconced at 2 Deer Park Drive, Vredehoek in Cape Town, South Africa, the Woodlands Eatery is serving delicious food that defies any stereotype.  Yes, it does do pizzas and burgers, but they are especially wonderful pizzas and burgers. But it is not just a pizza and burger place! This little gem of food happiness produces dishes to satisfy all tastes and palates.  Wonderful antipasti, dishes of the day that make choice impossibly difficult and desserts that include a chocolate fondant that is the stuff of dreams. (Incidentally, before you tar and feather me for appearing to cast doubt on the nobility of pizza and burger places, let me hasten to assure you that I am in total awe of good examples of those particular cuisines.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Two New England Eating Adventures

New England Diaries.

This article combines 'Back Chat Eats Out' with 'Travels With Back Chat'.   Eating and travel are two of Back Chat's favourite things.  It is the story of two special  experiences that Eugene and I enjoyed during our New England odyssey:

River House, Portsmouth, USA

Constantino's Venda Ravioli, Providence. USA

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

La Belle Café & Bakery

‘The Alphen' in Constantia, Western Cape, has always been there, much like a benevolent maiden aunt at every family occasion.  Now a fresh breeze has swept through the lovely old place and given it new life.  A new owner, Paul Kovensky, whose innovative refurbishment allowed the spirit and ethos of the old Alphen to remain and voila, the Alphen once again stands tall and proud.  And nestling in amongst all this loveliness is La Belle Café and Bakery, the brainchild and province of Simone, Paul Kovensky's wife.

It was a rainy, grey day when Eugene and I first visited La Belle.  The gracious old Cape Dutch building beckoned its welcome and we happily left the inclement weather behind as we entered the warm heart of the restaurant.   The welcome was smiling and friendly.  I always find this so important.  It sets the tone and standard for the entire experience.  There is nothing I hate more than snooty, uncaring front of the house staff.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Boston The Third Adventure

New England Diaries

A lovely lazy Sunday in New England and our gang was back in Boston, this time to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  But first lunch at Joe's American Bar and Grill at 181 Newbury Street.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Boston - The 2nd Adventure

The New England Diaries.

During our second adventure in Boston, we visited the JFK Presidential Library and Museum.  We had an hiliarious and delicious dinner at P.F. Chang's China Bistro and spent an evening at the theatre experiencing the controlled lunacy of the Blue Man Group.  Do join Back Chat on a wonderful day in Boston.

On a rainy day in June we visited the JFK Presidential Library and Museum.  The sight of that splendid concrete building with its majestic glass pavilion was triumphal.  The great Chinese American architect, I.M.Pei,  who designed the library, was the personal choice of Jackie Kennedy's.  She picked him from a bevy of major talents because in her view he had the imagination and promise to realise her vision for the project.  I love his startling glass pyramid above the Louvre in Paris and was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing more of his work.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Boston: The First Adventure.

The New England Diaries. 

Happily settled in our amazing billet in Seekonk, Eugene and I were constantly delighted by its close proximity to some of the great cities in that north eastern corner of the United States.  Robin and James remained unfazed by distances or the prospect of driving those distances.  So a distance of 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Providence to Boston was dismissed as a mere bagatelle.  During our time in New England, we would visit Boston three times, each time an adventure.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Gardener's Cottage.

Eugene and I love eating at The Gardener's Cottage in Newlands, Cape Town.  It has been in existence for 19 years and for as many years we have been delighted by their lovely homemade food . Visiting the restaurant is a bit like going back in time. There is a gentle and relaxed feel that harks back to another time when life was less trammelled and cluttered with modernity.  Let me hasten to add that it is a very modern and up to date establishment.  However, the owner, Lee Barty, has created a sanctuary of calm and peace in her cottage under the ancient trees.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New York! New York!

 The New England Diaries.

Of course New York is not in New England.  However, our wonderful New York interlude took place while Eugene and I were staying with Robin and James in their beautiful New England home.  Therefore I have included it under 'The New England Diaries' banner.  Please forgive me and Back Chat our literary licence.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Midnight In Paris

Midnight In Paris 

Directed and Written by Woody Allen

Starring:  Owen Wilson
                Rachel McAdams
                Marion Cotillard
                Kathy Bates
                Adrien Brody
                Carla Bruni
                Michael Sheen

Eugene and I love Paris and all things French.  We are intrigued by every detail of the 'lost generation' and are really quite disappointed that we didn't live during that glorious time.  So, Woody Allen's 'Midnight In Paris' was the looking glass through which we stepped to capture wisps of a dream.  A dream of sharing the Paris of the 20's and 30's with all the extraordinary and brilliant people who created the magic that has us in their thrall

Join Back Chat as we 'Go To The Movies' and enjoy Woody Allen's tribute to Paris with us.  I would love to know your reaction to this remarkable film.  Do contact me at or leave a comment on Back Chat, I look forward to hearing from you.