GIORGIO Nava stands out among chefs at the Cape, not only for his distinctly gentlemanly Milanese style and exquisite Italian accent and suave air but for the astonishing level of his visibility when you’re in his restaurant. He’s all over the place, which makes you think that either he doesn’t have his eye on the ball (the ball in the kitchen, that is) or he has his team so expertly trained that he can afford the time to get to know his guests.
It is all very boere-gay, with ribbon-bound old books adorning tables, tannie’s crockery on the walls, saucepans, koppies en pierings flung into the (white-painted) mish-mash madness of things happening in the ceiling installations above your head, not to mention knives and forks, ribbons and who knows what else lurks up there like so many miniature Swords of Damocles ready to descend if you frown at what’s on your plate. Best not to diss the food until you’re safely out the door. It is also perhaps best not to look too closely lest you spot something you left at the restaurant last time you were there.
Why are restaurateurs in this country unable to find our own themes and names for things? Tapas is not African. Small portions aren’t either. And there is one truly glaring omission from this supposedly African menu: there is no red meat on the menu other than a tiny portion of bobotie. In Africa, land of the cow, the goat and the buffalo, there is no meat on a showcase African menu. This is like not having soy sauce on a Chinese menu, or omitting the spices in a curry. Come on, we’re Africans, we eat meat.
The key to perfect chips is a quartet of musts: The oil must be hot enough for the potatoes to produce an instant bubble as they go in. The raw chips must be absolutely dry. The pan must be shaken as soon as the chips go in, to separate them and avoid them sticking to one another. And there must not be too many chips in the basket – give them space and do them in batches.