Women go through 3 stages in life. In the beginning they are so young that they don’t mind telling you their age, then they do mind, and then they tell you without being asked because they are proud to still be alive. The Commander has just moved into phase 2 and to celebrate her birthday we went to Paternoster for the weekend. Clearly the universe knew that Commander J was coming because the weather was gorgeous – sunny and warm, the wind gentle and the sea a brilliant turquoise (no Charlie, I’m not making this up). The best part however was the excellent food we ate.
There is something very satisfying about eating food that you have grown, collected or harvested yourself. Whether it is just a simple radish from the garden sprinkled with sea salt or curried fresh mussels poached in coconut milk, the knowledge of the provenance of the dish makes it taste better. Perhaps the reason for this is some innate connection to nature that is rekindled or perhaps it is just the fact that it was not purchased in polystyrene from a supermarket. You can replicate this feeling at Kobus van der Merwe‘s restaurant Oep ve Koep. He is passionate about using locally sourced produce and we watched him pick the salad leaves for our starter from the old row boat in the garden of the restaurant. He bakes bread using flour from Kopperfontein, a local flour mill and sources most of his ingredients from the West Coast. The food was delicious, simple, tasty, unpretentious, very reasonably priced as well as being balanced as neither of us felt the need to loosen the belt a notch upon leaving the table. The shop also offers a charming selection of edibles and homeware.
Also worthy of mention is Gaaitjie – Salt Water Restaurant. This was the Commander’s favourite by far and we enjoyed a meal that would have made any restaurant in South Africa proud. The plan was to share which worked well for the butternut and sage tart tatin and the fish spring roll but when it came to the mains and the Commander tasted the sole with crayfish sauce the sharing came to an abrupt end. Fortunately the mussels with chorizo were excellent and peace was maintained. One thing missing from the menu was a dessert made with chocolate so we suffered with a dreamy brulee and an espresso.
We’ll definitely be back, sooner rather than later. I left armed with 5kg of flour determined to make a baguette worthy of eating (more about that soon), 500g of west coast fleur de sel, 10 of the biggest, juiciest lemons, assorted heart shaped things and hand made soaps for the Commander and our spirits rejuvenated.
Be intent on the perfection of the present day – William Law