Seafood market great value

An affordable night out at Seafood market

If you are on a tight budget, as most are in January, but still wanting to go out for a meal, there can be few better choices than Balobi’s Seafood Market & Deli at the Port. During the season this cavernous venue was bursting at the seams on most days and word has it that they were serving well over 1000 meals most days. That’s a lot of cooking and that they managed to serve these sorts of numbers truly is remarkable and says a lot about the staff that manager Janet Harrison has put together.

Looking back a couple of years one remembers the Seafood Market only opening on a Friday for a couple of hours. One didn’t have to toss a coin of where to get lunch on a Friday and hake & chips was top of most of those who religiously made the trek to the Port most Friday’s. Its growing popularity saw it opening during the week and finally upgrading from a take-away to a small diner with beautiful views over the ocean. This saw its popularity grow and it wasn’t long before finding an empty table meant getting there a little earlier and as custom grew, so did their operating hours until it quite simply outgrew itself.

And so the decision to close the adjacent Loligos Restaurant and expand the Seafood market into the enormous area that the Seafood Market now occupies. A better decision they could not have made for Loligos simply didn’t work, certainly for this scribe.

Venturing to the Port only once over the season and seeing the crowd spilling out of the restaurant’s doors I beat a hasty retreat, sadly deprived of my portion of the sea’s bounty.

An invitation to celebrate a friends birthday at the Seafood Market renewed my acquaintance on Saturday evening. Although it meant missing out on the fun music of ‘Absent Irish’ and the  ‘taking back St Francis’ party at Legends, friends always come first closely followed by hake & chips. And so eight of us gathered at the restaurant at around 7:00 and were not disappointed. Being so late, they close at 8:00, I expected it to be deserted but whilst not bursting at the seams, it was busy enough  to not make one feel uncomfortable in the knowledge that it wasn’t your table keeping the staff from getting home to their families.

As always the meals were excellent and nary a complaint from anyone at the small birthday bash.  My choice of grilled hake with rice was an absolute winner and unlike so many fish restaurants, Seafood Market doesn’t hold back on the lemon quarters. And the choice of rice rather than chips was rewarded with a really inventive rice dish filled with colour.

Outstanding company, excellent service, well-priced and delicious food served with very little delay and all exactly as ordered.

A few small comments though, not criticisms, just ideas to consider.

Whilst appreciating that the Seafood Market is able to keep their prices low by cutting back on serving and scullery staff, a slightly larger group, such as ours, had a problem ordering. In the end one of our party wrote down all our orders on any available space on one of the menus as there was nowhere else to make up the order. Maybe putting a small note pad with a pencil on the table for larger groups would be a good idea and would certainly make it easier for the person going to the counter to place the order.

The last two comments have nothing to do with the food or service which, as said, were excellent, but rather on the general ambience. Whilst the majority of the restaurant is quite well lit, the area at the back where we were seated, adjacent where the deli products and fresh fish are sold and obviously closed that late into the evening was quite dark and dingy. I spotted a couple of lights above our table but these had been switched off.

The last comment was as one approached the restaurant in what was the old take-away area, seemingly now used as a preparation area. It was left in a rather messy condition with empty food containers on the working counters as if those working there had heard the going home bell and dropped everything in their haste to leave. Appearance is so important and small things can detract from the overall experience.

 

Some Cape Eloquence

A touch of Eloquence at Cape St Francis Resort

Eloquence at Cape ST Francis Resort

Zelda (violin) and Michelle (guitar) of Eloquence performing at lunch at Cape St Francis Resort.

There was a little touch of Eloquence for lunch around the pool at Cape St Francis Resort on Sunday and one can only hope that we hear more Eloquence in the coming months. It really was a wonderful change from some of the music delivered on Sundays at the resort and whilst maybe not to everyone’s taste, Eloquence played mellow, gentle music from the sixties or seventies so they are sure to please the over 60’s brigade as well a few of the younger folk who enjoy music from quieter background offerings with their meal. It left one feeling groovy and allowed table conversation rather than having to shout to be heard or wait for the band to take a break to chat with friends.

Eloquence is two Jeffreys Bay lasses, Michelle Ohlhoff on guitar and Zelda Malan on violin and they offer their quiet folksy rock style music in a lovely relaxed sound that only an acoustic guitar and violin duet can. Most of the songs they played during the short period I stayed were old favourites, easily recognisable and soon had one quietly singing under one’s breath or at least humming along to the tune. Music to lift your spirit so well done ladies for playing such great music and for bringing back such great music from those happy, hippie days!

Here’s hoping the resort invites Eloquence back for Sunday lunch at least once or twice a month going forward for they are bound to become a popular lunch time act.

Michelle & Zelda of Eloquence

Eloquence at Cape St Francis Resort

Bread & Butter for dinner

Bread & Butter never tasted so good!

Ham & Pea Soup at St Francis Brewing CoThe beer / wine / food pairings regularly held at St Francis Brewing Company are always one of the highlights on the St Francis dining calendar and an opportunity not to be missed. Chef Daniel again served up a gastronomical treat last night and it seems there is no end to his creativeness in taking a simple dish and creating a gourmet’s delight. It would be difficult to choose the best dish of the 5-course meal served last night for the vegetable terrine fish and steak were all superb and perfectly prepared but his pea and ham soup was undoubtedly my pick of the evening. Unlike a conventional pea and ham soup Daniel served the pea soup, a separate patty of ham and crackly pork ‘biscuit. Ingenious in its presentation and quite divine to the taste buds.

But to top of what was a great evening, spent on the benches of the brewery with friends both known and newly met, was his dessert offering. Now those who spent time and boarding school, well us oldies anyway, before food nutritionist were employed to ensure growing lads are properly fed,  we were served weekly bread & butter pudding, a tasteless mess of brown bread with  smattering of weak tasteless custard. Horrible stuff!

When Daniel presented his menu at the start of the ‘feast’ he came to the last item, bread & butter pudding served with peaches and strawberries and custard, not particularly inspiring to an ex boarder until it was served. In one word “DELICIOUS”, so delicious in that I was very nearly tempted to approach our hosts, Linky and Lance and even Daniel himself, in a rendition of Oliver’s famed “I want some more”. I noticed almost every diner at our table quite unashamedly wiping the remnants of their plates with their fingers to mop up the last morsel and for one moment it looked as though one of our dining partners (no names) was about to lick her plate clean. Without doubt the tastiest bread & butter pudding ever and the custard, well I never knew custard could taste that good. If Daniel were to bottle it, it would put all other custard makers out of business.

A splendid meal enjoyed with wonderful company. Oh, and the beer is damned good too with a couple of new additions I hadn’t tasted before.

Sadly it is St Francis Brewing Co’s last pairing of the year so roll on 2017 so we can again witness some of Daniel’s creativity. But in the interim at least we can still enjoy the daily menu and the outstanding Sunday lunches.

Daniel Hoffman preparing the entree at St Francis Brewing Co

Thousand Sensations Craft Beer & Food Festival

Thousand Sensations Craft Beer & Food Festival
Pre – Festivals Beer & Bites

The Garden Route will be a hive of activity during September, with a slew of school holidays and activities, culminating in the most important craft beer and food event in the region, The Thousand Sensations Craft Beer & Food Festival.

Taking place on 16 & 17 September in Wilderness, Garden Route, the festival is set to attract an eager crowd. From regulars keen to repeat the memorable moments from the last two festivals, to newcomers eager to taste some of the 150 beers from 38 brewers. Some brews are making an appearance for the first time ever at the 3rd instalment of this prestigious event.

The week leading up to Thousand Sensations won’t go by unnoticed either. Festival organiser, Alewijn Dippenaar, has lined up a week’s worth of craft beer and food experiences he calls ‘Beer and Bites’.

“We know there’s nothing better than an ice cold frosty, great food and good company.” Alewijn said about the series of craft beer and food pairings. “It’s the ultimate pairing experience.”

4 events will take place, at different locations along the Garden Route and surrounding areas, in the week leading up to Thousand Sensations.

“You’ll get to try 8 different styles of beers,” said Alewijn, “and each 100ml taster is complemented by a thoughtfully created morsel of gourmet deliciousness.”

Alewijn explained how each pairing is designed so that carefully chosen foods are served with specific craft beers. “Each pairing will enhance, highlight and influence each other’s flavours, creating an extraordinary culinary experience.”

The Beer & Bites events start on 12 September at the 101 Mead Street Restaurant in George, with beer master Kevin Robertson from Robertson Brewery. On 13 September it’s hosted by Turnberry Boutique Hotel in Oudtshoorn, before returning to George and boarding the Insomniac Party Bus on the 14th. The last event before Thousand Sensations itself, is set to take place on the 15th, at the Diaz Hotel & Resort, with Ampie Kruger from Wild Clover  in Mossel Bay.

The events run from 7pm – 9pm and cost R150 per person. Each pairing session will be led by an experienced facilitator, and both the chef and the beer’s Brew Master will be on hand for further explanations and to answer questions.

Spaces are limited, so act fast to secure your seat. For booking and other enquiries, please contact Alewijn Dippenaar on 082 457 5675.

“Without the support from the Western Cape’s tourism, trade and investment promotion agency- Wesgro, Lynn Schroeder Motors, RSK, Moore Stephens, Rotolabel Cape Town, Arcade Liquorland, Cocreate, and additional product support from Liquor King2 Voorbaai Mossel Bay, Tipsy’s Liquor and various breweries,  Thousand Sensations would soon flounder.” he said.

Thousand Sensations Craft Beer & Food Festival

For more information on the festival please visit www.thousandsensation.co.za of visit our facebook Thousand Sensation.  Tickets can be booked through https://ticketstroom.com/event/thousand-sensations-craft-beer-festival/

Press release on behalf of Thousand Sensations compiled by: INTERFACE by goji, mimi finestone, mimi@gojipr.net, 084 583 3144

Dining with a touch of France

Young St Francis Brewing Company chef, Daniel Hoffman, pulled out all the stops for his best offering yet at what has become a monthly “must do” occasion at St Francis Brewing Company’s food & beer pairing held last night. One nice change to the evening’s format was offering non-beer drinkers a choice of either pairing beer or wine with their food which no doubt pleased many of the ladies attending a farewell party to friend Diane Harcus.

This has really become a popular event and last night saw, but for a couple of late cancellations, a full house of almost 40 diners enjoy a wonderful menu with a French influence created by Daniel. This man’s inventiveness with food seems to have no bounds and from the very unusual potato bake starter that had just that perfect saltiness to arouse the taste buds to the last finger licking of the combination of tastes in his dessert offering, one’s taste buds bounced with delight with every dish. Having attended all of these pairings since Daniel arrival it was undoubtedly his best.

Those readers who enjoy a great dining experience should keep a watch out for the next pairing for it truly is worth the R180 they charge for a 5-course meal that includes the beer and wine tastings. Certainly the servings are, in true fine dining style, small, but after the 5-courses few leave not feeling content. To choose a best dish would be impossible as they were all so different and all complimented the previous dish. The Oxtail consommé with beef strips was probably my favourite but then came a superbly marinated yellowtail. The final dish  before the finger licking dessert, and I say finger licking for I was literally using my index finger to wipe off the last morsel of the dessert, and I wasn’t alone, was a tasty saddle of lamb perfectly marinated for something like 20 hours and then slowly, very slowly cooked to perfection.

Great evening and kudos to St Francis Brewing Company for a super evening.

A last word. It was great seeing a delegation from the Kouga Wind Farm saying farewell to local community Liaison and Administration Officer Babalwa Kani. St Francis Today wishes you well in your future and will miss your lovely smile.

Food & Beer pairing at St Francis Brewing Co

StFBrew2

An Awesome breakfast idea to celebrate a special occassion

Awesome Breakfast

Looking for really good idea for an early start to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or just starting off an ordinary day with something a little different but really awesome? Well a great idea is to invite a few friends for breakfast at The Sands B&B in St Francis Bay.

There is something about breakfast at a (‘an’ for the purists) hotel that really allows one to break all breakfast habits. Where at home a bowl of cereal or yoghurt, a slice of toast and a cup of coffee always seems more than satisfying, when staying in an hotel this simply won’t do and the more there is on offer the better. Well when it comes to choice at The Sands you certainly will not be disappointed for the menu has a superb selection from Health to Continental to a full English selection to get your day off to a really positive start.

The healthy side of the spread includes the usual yoghurts, muesli, a selection of muffins and fresh juices so this is a good place to start just so you can at least say you tried to keep up your healthy habits. But don’t stop there! A delightful choice of cold meats and cheeses with an absolute essential, a fig preserve is next. Another cup of their great coffee and it is time to move from the hot menu. A great selection but having a penchant for Eggs Benedict, my choice was made up before even looking at the menu. Cooked to perfection and served on a fresh English muffin topped with a really, really good Hollandaise sauce, sauces really do make such a difference to good food, bacon and sausage  with bacon. My dining partner had ordered the scrambled egg and as good as the Benedict was, I was tempted to order a second round just to taste the scrambled eggs.

But breakfasting at The Sands is not only about the food for the view  simply has to be the best in the entire St Francis especially on a beautiful autumn morning in May. Treat yourself, you really will not be disappointed but be sure to book for there is limited space and they need to know you are coming as it really isn’t a pop in and eat type of venue.

The Sands can be contacted on 042 294 1888

Breakfast at The Sands St Francis Bay

The beautiful view over the bay from The Sands

The Sands St Francis Bay