Pickled fish is one of those things people almost instinctively turn their noses up at. Sometimes some of the best things in life are just taken for granted. It’s the prophet in his own country syndrome – you know him so well that you just can’t believe he really could be such a clever dude.
Commercial jelly is one of those things one doesn’t admit to owning, lest one’s foodie friends snigger while secretly remembering the taste of jelly as a child and wishing they could eat some right there and then. Commercial jelly is a good barometer of pretentiousness.
A new breeze has shuffled through Le Quartier Francais at Franschhoek where owner Susan Huxter and chef Margot Janse have tweaked the premises of the former Ici and revitalised it as The Common Room, a place where Franschhoek locals (and visitors) can hang out.
Reuben Riffel came of age in the sunny Cape winter of 2010. The Franschhoek poor boy-made-good has stepped out of the shadows of others who had bolstered his burgeoning career as a chef and restaurateur, and stepped into clear sunlight.
Raymond Blanc being very French and very precise, in that stubbornly Gallic way, he insists they be cooked at 85C, which means bringing the dish to that temperature in a 95C oven, which sounds more Irish than French. Whatever – being South African of Yorkshire stock with Irish habits, I cooked it at 100C and kept an eye on it.
In that quiet that follows, there is the sound of a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks badmouthing his girlfriend. On a pavement corner there is a trio of coloured boys singing in perfect harmony, with a hat at their feet, while bands of tourists march by unseeing, with their eyes on the next gourmet thrill.