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Stars align in Japanese fusion for Tempelhoff’s FYN restaurant

The alignment of the right service, the right food, and the right aesthetic has put Cape Town’s FYN at number 37 in the 2022 World’s 50 Best Restaurants – and the only South African restaurant on the list.
Japanese style and technique melded with rustic South African ingredients found appeal with the international panel of judges for the 2022 World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, who also named FYN the Best Restaurant in Africa. For chef Peter Tempelhoff, it’s not about the accolades – although the recognition is “amazing” – he just wants to sustain doing something he enjoys.
In October 2021, FYN entered the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants at number 92 – the first new SA restaurant in the top 100 since Aubergine and Rust en Vrede in 2009. On July 18, 2022, it placed in 37th position, a remarkable leap in anyone’s book.
FYN opened in November 2018, and Tempelhoff believes it was an immediate success because South Africa was ready for something new, unique and innovative. “We broke out of the mould of French style restaurants. maybe the world needed something different. We’re not unique in the world by any means but I think it’s refreshing the way we do things,” he said.
“The internationals like us because they come here expecting South Africa – an African restaurant – and they get something completely different. They get something that can fit anywhere in the world.”
The combination of the symmetry of Japanese techniques and the rustic style of African ingredients is something Tempelhoff believes the World’s Best judges liked. While there are no criteria for restaurants to be considered (other than the fact that they are open for business and haven’t placed first for the awards previously, moving to The Best Of The Best list), the voting process is rigorous. Votes are cast by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, a gender-balanced body made up of 1,080 leading restaurant critics, chefs, restaurateurs and gourmets from 27 regions globally, who each nominate 10 restaurants.
“Peter has a pretty polished pedigree,” said Tamsin Snyman, east and southern African judge. “He has been one of my personal favourites for decades. His brave and necessary move from beneath the Liz McGrath Collection umbrella was an epic one. He exploded on to the independent cheffing scene with the show-stopping birth of FYN in the beating heart of the Mother City.
“From the day he opened in 2018 – and ...

The rediscovery of a French food legend in Jozi

Down a rabbit hole and into a world of rediscovery of French food, ducks and the grande dame who once ruled Golden City palates.
When a trusted food friend, Ken Heart, is asked where a few friends can eat the most delicious lunch in Fourways, he comes up with two places he loves. One is the Buitengeluk venue restaurant “for eating outside on a sunny day”, the other a French bistro or café with the unlikely name of the Old Ducky.
Ah, French food, we decide. There’s not a lot of that in Jozi any more. But from the moment I look it up, I start going down a rabbit hole of my own excavation.
It turns out that the so-called old ducky is none other than Freda Appelbaum, she who, for 25 years, had Le Canard, the legendary Jozi restaurant with an Eiffel tower in lights, in Morningside, Sandton. The younger ducky appears to be her daughter-in-law, Marina Appelbaum.
A little time has elapsed since the Tale of Two Duckies was first printed on the Old Ducky menu. Then it was foreseen that Freda would oversee the kitchen, run by her own Le Canard award-winning chefs and staff. The front-of-house would be Marina.
So the last part of the tale is just like that, when I go out to Fourways for an exploratory breakfast. Marina is a stunning and super-stylish hostess. Still, I desperately want to meet her mother-in-law, Freda Appelbaum.
During the whole quarter century in which Freda Applebaum reigned at Le Canard and during all the duck a l’orange, aux figues and au piment chocolat I ate there, among other French and French inspired delights, I did not ever introduce myself to her or, as in my rabbit hole, re-introduce myself.
Eating fabulous dinners at Le Canard did not automatically qualify you for an audience with the lauded Freda Appelbaum. At least I didn’t, or ever pluck up enough courage to ask for one. To be fair, she was an egalitarian as I now know, and though people like Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, the Queen of Denmark, Cyril Ramaphosa and all the embassies ate there and generally returned, she was no autograph collector.
People were in awe of Freda Appelbaum. Lesser restaurateurs would grumble that she wasn’t a qualified chef. And Freda Applelbaum was not. The chefs that worked for her were. She was a remarkably able and creative cook and betook herself with her ...

Throwback Thursday: Mushroom Sauce

Mushroom sauce was always there, somewhere, on every restaurant menu. Sometimes, it even had mushrooms in it. But I wouldn’t put money on that.
In hotel dining rooms, steakhouses and a million other eateries, mushroom sauce has been offered with a steak, sometimes with chicken or veal, even fish on occasion, for what seems like forever. Nine times out of 10, it arrived draped over your steak as if the chef was ashamed of what lay underneath his gloopy, flour-thickened “sauce”; a “sauce” unworthy even of the word. So why, oh why, are mushroom sauces still made so badly?
That “mushroom sauce” beneath which, somewhere, out of sight, is the steak you ordered at the kind of steakhouse where the Cordon Bleu is called Gordon Blue and there’s still chicken schnitzel on the menu and has been ever since the joint opened in February 1963. The gloopy, flour-sodden “sauce” with no discernible sign of actual mushrooms, because the only mushroom in it is from a packet of soup granules. That is not a mushroom sauce.
If there’s one thing that has me red in the face at any restaurant and frothing at the bit, it’s a bad mushroom sauce. The kind of mushroom sauce in which the taste of flour dominates any remote vestige of hope that a mushroom, any mushroom, even one mushroom, had ever been within a city block of the kitchen where that sauce was “made”. The kind of mushroom sauce that, if you scooped some up and held it aloft, some of it would drip down below the spoon but most of it would be reluctant to let go, as if hanging onto the ladle for dear life. Because the balance is all wrong; it has no flow; it is an affront to the tradition of sauce making.
Key to using flour in a sauce is that it takes time to cook out; which means for the flavour of the flour to disappear, incrementally, over a full 15 minutes while the sauce is stirred over a low heat. If you are not prepared to spend that time in your restaurant kitchen so that we can be served a mushroom or any other flour-thickened sauce worthy of the name, find a naughty step, because that is not how to make or serve decent food.
Also, the amount of flour used to thicken a sauce should be sparing; only as much as it ...

South Africa’s hardbody chickens – they’re tough but tasty

Defining hardbody chickens can be complex and controversial but everyone agrees that, cooked right, they are deeply delicious.
Not all hardbodies are created equal. Hardbody chicken is a southern African food phrase that almost all of us intuitively understand but many would struggle to precisely define. Part of the problem is that, while we all think we know what we mean when we say “hardbody”, it seems that we all mean something slightly different.
There is consensus that we are talking about an older chicken that has tough but flavoursome flesh and strong bones. We agree that birds with such bodies are best suited to long, slow cooking methods. Beyond that all bets are off. Slow Food Southern Africa activist and former butchery owner Caroline McCann says: “Hardbody is age-dependent, and the phrase requires further clarification to be useful. You need to know how the animal was reared and its breed to know what you are getting. It is akin to a phrase like ‘free range beef’ – that doesn’t mean grass-fed. Part of our problem is that as a nation we often use terms quite loosely. In some cases, there are precise scientific definitions and breed characteristics but these are not commonly known. So, for instance, a Cornish hen is actually a breed but in South Africa most people call any large, fat chicken a Cornish.”
Within McCann’s overarching definition, any older chicken regardless of rearing conditions is a hardbody. North-West chicken farmer Marie Sethunya (sort of) agrees that: “What you get in supermarkets in braai packs is called a broiler. That meat is soft. They only live three to four months before slaughter. Now a hardbody, most of the time it is those birds (they call them Hy-line silver and Hy-line brown) they are exceptional egg layers. They live long, their lifespan is one year, six to eight months and their meat becomes automatically hard so people call them hardbody.”
Izaak Breitenbach, General Manager of SA Poultry, confirms that: “There is what we call an ‘end of lay’ bird. Those that don’t produce eggs anymore. We sell about a million end of lay birds per month. They are sold into the live market, mostly purchased by cull buyers who distribute by way of small pick-up vehicles into townships and rural areas. The taste profile of those birds is different and tends to be favoured by those who want the whole bird, heads, ...

Chipping at Memories: The Doppelganger in the House across the Road

In the house across the road, the lady who looks exactly like my mother comes out to hang a Christmas wreath on her front door. In our old house in Oranjemund, my mom’s beating the batter for the kingklip she’ll deep-fry with chips the way only she could make them.
There’s a lady across the road from my house who looks exactly like my mother. She doesn’t look exactly like my mother looked when last I saw her, when she was 70 and soon to be gone from me. Or like my mother when she was in the Land Army in Wales in the early 1940s, such a beauty with her lush auburn hair that I inherited. (Luckily. My dad had wispy gingery strands that eventually became a combover.)
No. She looks exactly like my mother looked in the Sixties, when she was in her thirties and full of laughter and life. When she’d get her hair dyed blonde and permed, and worked at the till in the grocery store, and all the customers loved her. When she and dad would go the the Rec Club on a Saturday night and come back sozzled and giggling, then have a row.
The lady across the road looks like mom looked when she’d be in the kitchen in Oranjemund in her apron, peeling potatoes for her favourite food, mashed potato; the peeled and halved potatoes in a bowl of cold water on the kitchen table to be boiled later. Or beating the batter for the kingklip she’d deep-fry to serve with chips the way only she could make them, the way I make them even now. The chips that my daughter calls “Dad’s chips” but which in fact are Granny Betty’s chips. The ones you make like this:
Betty Jackman’s 10 Points for making Perfect Chips
Peel potatoes and cut them into neat, even chips. Lay them out, with space between each one, on a kitchen towel, and use a second towel to pat them down on top, so they’re dry all over (today I use sheets of kitchen paper). This is important: they must be perfectly dry, so leave them uncovered afterwards for the air to finish the job.
Have to hand, near the stove, a large colander or bowl in which you’ve placed three or four overlapping sheets of kitchen paper.
When dry, place some of the chips in a wire chip basket, but don’t overfill. They ...

What’s cooking today: Pork rump steaks with cranberry sauce and grilled limes

Pork takes sweetness and therefore fruit very well, just as it is well suited to spice. This recipe uses two kinds of fruit, cranberry and lime, for sweet and tangy contrast.
I bought beautiful pork rump steaks and concocted a sauce of dried cranberries and cranberry juice with additional flavour interest from mustard, soy and juniper, and served it with grilled slices of lime to finish it off. This recipe pairs well with this column.
2 pork rump steaks, about 400 g each
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp canola oil
350 ml cranberry juice
250 ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp Hot English Mustard
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1 Tbsp juniper berries
1 Tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
2 rosemary sprigs
Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 lime, sliced
For the cabbage:
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of ½ a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180℃. Melt the butter in a heavy pan and add the oil. Brown the steaks fat-side down first until the fat is well caramelised (hold them with tongs to prevent them toppling over). Then fry both sides until nicely browned. Transfer the steaks to an oven pan and put it in the preheated oven for them to finish cooking. About 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the savoury cranberry sauce. Add the juice and stock to the same pan you browned the steaks in, on the heat. Scrape the bottom with a flat-edged wooden spoon to take advantage of the flavour from the caramelisation.
Whisk in the mustard so that it melds completely into the sauce. Add the juniper berries and Szechuan peppercorns, then the rosemary, soy sauce, lime juice and zest and season with salt and black pepper. Cook rapidly until reduced by half, then strain and discard the peppercorns, rosemary twigs and juniper berries. Add the dried cranberries to the sauce and simmer gently for about five minutes until the sauce thickens and the cranberries plump up. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Slice a lime thinly and brown in butter until caramelised on both sides.
Toss the shredded cabbage in hot butter and oil until just wilted, then squeeze in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the pork steaks on a bed of the cabbage, with the sauce, and garnished with the charred lime. Something green such as green beans stirred in butter with salt and pepper would be good on the side. ...

The juicy side of savoury food

Fresh fruit doesn’t only belong in salads and smoothies. The flesh and juice can work their charms on hot savoury dishes across the spectrum.
Duck with cherries or orange. Prosciutto with melon. Peach or pineapple with gammon. Pork and pineapple (that’s the secret to China’s sweet and sour pork). Fruit, whether stewed with spices, charred on the grill, or paired with duck or chicken in a pie, has muscled a place for itself in contemporary savoury cooking.
But the juices of many fruits can be brought into the savoury kitchen too. Just as we use meat or vegetable stocks when making sauces and in stews, along with wine or sometimes beer, fruit juices can add an extra dimension to the complex flavour profile of a savoury meal. Everything has a precedent in cooking: orange juice and orange liqueur used in a sauce for roast duck; apple juice and cider in a reduction sauce for pork; berry juice in a sauce for grilled or roast chicken.
Fruity relishes have long accompanied classic dishes, from cranberry sauce with turkey to apple sauce with pork. And lemon, orange and lime, of course, have graced many a savoury dish, from fish to lamb and from game to beef.
Grilled fruit is a big thing in current cuisine. Even watermelon gets a grilling today. That idea is a bit out-there, but wedges of watermelon with a coating of spices can be grilled quickly in a hot pan to great effect, then paired with feta; a sprinkling of a nutty, toasted crumb can add a delightful crunch to finish it off. And imagine slices of mango grilled to golden lusciousness and served with a pan-fried chicken breast; charred plums with duck breast and plum juice spiced up and used in its sauce, or pork chops with char-grilled peaches.
Compôtes are one of the French techniques I like the most; almost any fruit can be made into one. Essentially it’s a dessert hailing from mediaeval Europe, of fruit stewed with sugar and spices. But for decades now a compôte has been a factor in meaty main courses in even the poshest restaurants, especially with pork or game. A compôte has become one of those things that a clever chef uses to add that extra something to a savoury dish, a component that can only enhance the quest for umami and balance on the plate.
Add cheese to a meat dish along with fruit ...

Madagascar’s vanilla pods of desire

You want the world’s best vanilla. And you want it fresh. When it’s yours, you’ll make something to show it off. That’s how it usually works, even in history. Now there’s a way to get it, directly from Madagascar.
As a kid, the most boring, (the most “vanilla”), ice cream was that plain white one, used when an ice cream was required that wouldn’t fight with the preserved guavas that were for pudding. Maybe even with the custard your sister insisted on as well, thank heavens.
And remember carefully adding that half teaspoon, sometimes just a fewPreview (opens in a new tab) drops, of liquid from the little vanilla essence bottle into cake mix, scone mixture, fudge, pretty much anything you were making on the sweet scale? You wondered why but that’s what you did. It certainly had a smell, quite a nice one, but you wondered if it tasted of anything really in the things it went into.
Funny, now that you think of it and reach back for the memory tastes of that pudding bowl of guavas, the thing that tasted more of vanilla than the vanilla ice cream was the custard.
Then came the time of French vanilla. A lot of things were suddenly French, perhaps for improvement, at least in concept. But when it had to do with ice cream, it was really the ice cream that was supposed to be French, with egg yolks added to it in the French or custard style, at best turning it from fright white to pale cream.
When it was used to describe the vanilla itself, it was a con, since vanilla is fussy about the degrees latitude (usually between 10 and 20) where it grows and France cannot grow any. However, Madagascar, though no longer in the clutches of France, was often still regarded as being kind of French. The Madagascan vanilla beans are called Bourbon, not for the booze but for the island nearby, Reunion, once called Bourbon. That was where the originally Mexican vanilla beans were first hand-pollinated and established. Madagascar is on the ideal part of the vanilla-growing map and the Bourbon vanilla from there is grown the time-taken, hand-pollinated way, then slowly, coddlesomely cured by experienced hands and that makes an enormous difference to its own special taste. Madagascan vanilla is surely the ultimate Slow Food. Take note there in Bra, Italy.
Small farmers of Madagascar grow the most, and ...

The taste of Fable in the KZN Midlands

This Curry’s Post eatery, a rather extraordinary work-in-progress, is already a destination. It might be remote for some of us. But enlightenment via Fable is closer than the Camino and you don’t have to walk.
When Mark Mattinson was at a crossroads in his life a few years ago, he took a 900km walk. This walk pretty directly, if in a convoluted kind of way, led to this story. Back then, before he booked his ticket to Spain, Mattinson was working in the fashion industry in Cape Town. While walking the full route of the Camino de Santiago, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Muxia, he both fell in love with frittata aka Spanish omelette aka tortilla de patatas. And came to the realisation that his true love, his interest, his passion, was food.
He was at that time no newbie to food, to cooking or to restaurant kitchens. And since then he has had a diverse culinary history, the pilgrim’s walk being just one twist on a long and winding journey. Come to think of it, not all that long given he’s only 35. But convoluted enough to make him interesting and engaging. And his cooking creative, self-assured and, after sitting and tasting and talking to him for this story, I’m inclined to say bloody fantastic.
His most recent crossroads saw him in exactly the right place at the right time, ready to take on, to partner in, to help bring to life, what I would be willing to wager is the most extraordinary in-development low-key big-vision culinary concept happening in KZN right now.
Mattinson is head chef and project manager at Midlands Fable way off a beaten track punctuated by a great many cavernous potholes at Curry’s Post in the greater Howick/Hilton area. Fable’s first phase and focal concept, the eatery (they don’t call it a restaurant) and gardens (four years in development, ever-changing with the seasons and full of surprises, like the food) has been open for six months.
A taproom with craft beers and gin, charcuterie, cheese boards, sharing platters and novel finger food is ready to open in a transformed milking parlour soon as the liquor licence comes. It is across an architecturally interesting concrete-with-water-and-plants walkway from the eatery.
A kind of pantry-deli with a bakery and patisserie is planned for an adjacent ready-to-go space, which will open when the taproom is pulling pints and offer assorted fresh and local items for take-home shopping or ...

A Turkish outpost of delight in Stellenbosch

Of all the tasting experiences you’d expect to find in Stellenbosch, Turkish Delight and Turkish coffee is probably not one of them. But Dilek Aktan of TurkSpirit brings an authentic taste of her home country to a hidden café off Plein Street.
It’s called lokum in Turkey. The story goes that an intrepid 19th century traveller to Istanbul took the sweet confection home to Britain, but couldn’t remember the proper name for it and so, not very imaginatively, dubbed it Turkish Delight. It’s gone by that name ever since in the English language, too often referring to an over-sweet, mouth-cloying and palate-sticking sugar-fest scented overpoweringly with rose, that bears little resemblance to the real fresh deal. Fry’s Turkish Delight, I’m looking at you.
I had a first taste of TurkSpirit’s authentic lokum recently and it was a revelation in flavour and texture, so much more interesting than my childhood experiences of the sweet in 70s England.
The only time we had Turkish Delight was at Christmas, when it was an essential part of the extravagant array of what our family called dessert, laid on only at that time of year. Pudding was pudding, the word “dessert” was reserved for what followed. Once the Christmas pudding and brandy butter, jelly and cream had been cleared away, amid the detritus of Christmas crackers, bad jokes and paper hats, various boxes and pretty glass bowls took over the centre of the table for desultory nibbling by the adults with coffee or, in the children’s case, enthusiastic samplings of pure greed.
Dates in a long box with rounded ends and a plastic imitation stalk for pricking them out of the box; still soft and chewy dried figs; jewel-like crystallised fruits, their centre a liquid dash of syrup that inevitably dribbled down your chin; a big bowl of nuts in their shells – Brazils, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds – to be attacked noisily with the nutcrackers, littering table and floor with shards of shell; Turkish Delight exotically scented with rose in a round balsa wood box which opened with a puff of powdered sugar. There were chocolates of course, whatever had been received as gifts: truffles, liqueur chocolates, Dairy Milk Tray, Quality Street and sophisticated Bendicks Bittermints. This cornucopia is what comes to mind whenever I encounter the word “sweetmeats” – that sense of over-the-top sugar heaven.
The collection would stay on the sideboard over the whole Christmas period until, ...

The Lime in Winter

Is the humble lime the true heir to the Citrus Throne? Smaller than oranges and lemons and tiny when compared to grapefruit, it has charms that supersede its size.
The quest for an heir can drive a king mad, a consequence of power and ego explored by Shakespeare in King Lear and more recently in The Lion in Winter and Game of Thrones, both of which are based on King Lear which in turn was based on the mythological king, Leir.
In the end, there will be no clear answer to the eternal question of which prince of the citrus kingdom is the rightful heir to the throne, just as in The Lion in Winter, the 1966 play by James Goldman that was made into a superb film, in 1968, starring Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, the machinations of the 12th century royal schemers prove fruitless, pardon the pun.
But the princeling called lime knows its worth. Oranges abound in our chill winter; as do grapefruit. Naartjies and other soft citrus vie for our attention too. But the lime exists in the shadows of the larger fruits, sometimes overlooked, often ignored, except by those who know the massive effect such a small ingredient can have on a dish, any dish.
The princely lime is no ordinary fruit. It stands apart, strangely proud and tall for one so small. The lime is big in flavour, heady in aroma, and imposes its sweet deliciousness on any dish in a way that makes it clear that it is present.
The lime can make magic in a dish in a way that other citrus could only dream of. Well, there is the lemon of course. The lemon undoubtedly has that effect on a dish too; a lemon tart is a wondrous thing. But the lime matches it, then adds that tantalisingly fresh aroma, that extra zing that sets every dish containing it apart.
Lime combines beautifully with sweet spices such as cardamom, cinnamon and clove, and was a widely used ingredient of old Persian cuisine. They’re favoured by cultures with a vibrant tooth and are all over Mexican cuisine, many Asian cuisines, the Middle East and African food cultures from the lime pickles of Kenya to the spicy lime concoctions of Ethiopia and Eritrea to West Africa where you’ll find, for example, West African lime cake. In the Caribbean you’ll find Jamaican lime biscuits and Caribbean lime-marinated chicken.
In Thailand, limes ...

What’s cooking today: Hot lime pudding

The lime is big in flavour, heady in aroma, and imposes its sweet deliciousness on any dish in a way that makes it clear that it is present. When the winter grips your soul, make this hot lime pudding to warm you up.
Citrus and winter go together like rugs and hugs. Lime has a particular flair and zest and makes for a winning flavour in a hot pudding such as this one. The sweetness and the bitter tang of lime zest somehow conspire to make a bit of magic.
75 g butter
175 g castor sugar
3 large eggs, separated
75 g self-raising flour
Juice and grated zest of 6 limes
200 ml full cream milk
For the lime syrup:
2 limes, thinly sliced and then quartered
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
Preheat the oven to 180℃.
Whisk the butter and castor sugar in a large bowl until pale.
Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks and gradually stir into the butter and sugar mixture, then alternately fold sifted flour, lime juice and zest in, and then fold in the milk.
In a second bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peak stage and fold into the mixture. It is likely to curdle, which is fine.
Grease a 1.75 litre oven dish and pour the mixture in.
Bake it in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Meanwhile, bring the water and sugar to a gentle boil while stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Put the pieces of lime in and simmer very gently until the liquid has reduced by half.
Reheat this just before serving and spoon it over the servings in their bowls, or pour it directly onto the pudding as you would for a citrus drizzle cake. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.
SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.

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