Monday, October 17, 2011

Harbour House - A Review

One day when I'm big, I'm gonna have a house that looks like this...

Sitting by the window, at table 3, looking down as the waves crashed against the rocks, I felt content... this now, this is what I wanted - to be served delicious food and to be lulled by the rhythmic chanting of the waves.

Inspiration took me by the hand and guided me around the room; I was a woman possessed, I had to take pictures - there was beauty everywhere I looked; from the picturesque setting, to the lazy seals, even the weathered paint on the outside walls seemed romantic. And the beach-house effect... that was just home to me.

Harbour House is situated in the quaint fishing village of Kalk Bay. The unassuming location transports you to a time when everything was done by hand and the clock stands still, for just a moment longer...

As I walked along the pier, I drifted to Greece or Italy, so beautiful were the surroundings - this was an enchanted world where anything was possible.

The right thing to do in such a setting would be to appreciate the gifts from the sea, in all their glory - and that is what I did.

For the month of October, Harbour House is running a special - two courses for R140 or 3 courses for R160 - this is great value as the portions are generous.

I had mussels to start is a gloriously flavourful sauce of garlic, onion, thyme, white wine and cream... I went straight to my happy place with the first mouthful! The simple flavours, when combined, seemed to sing in my mouth.

My main was Sauteed Paprika Calamari with black olives, caper berries, lemon zest, garlic and chilli. Served with savoury rice. This was a treat for the senses: the colours burst on the plate and the flavours were fresh and uniquely defined.

One of the desserts on offer was a Strawberry Layer Cake with fresh strawberries and creme anglaise, I didn't taste it, but I heard the murmurs of happiness.

The winelist is extensive with some unique choices, by the glass. I had the Glen Carlou Chardonnay, which is lightly wooded, with yeasty notes and subtle hints of tropical fruit.

Harbour House at the V&A Waterfront is said to be opening next week. I personally can't wait to go and make some new memories there!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicken Pad Thai

Thai food speaks to my soul.

The balance of flavour that is quintessential to Thai cooking is comforting in a world that is a little off balance. I love the fact that I have the power to control this balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy and lift a dish from appetising to magnificent with a few tweaks - a splish of this and a shake of that.

This practice can be applied to our own lives; by making simple, positive adjustments - we can find harmony and happiness. The ingredients to this balance may be trickier to come by - but the secret is to stop and listen to our souls' whisperings and tweak as necessary.

The majority of Thai food is a sanctuary for the gluten intolerant as the focus seems to be on ingredients such as rice flour, corn starch and soya, instead of wheat.

I first tried Pad Thai about a month ago, when I visited Chef Pons. Since then I have come to realise how much of an institution this restaurant is to Capetonians and I believe it is because they have the balance just right. Not only the flavours, but the decor, service and ambiance too.

I was delighted by the freshness and the lightness of this dish and have found myself, on numerous occasions, daydreaming about the taste sensations that I experienced.

Chicken Pad Thai:
(Serves 2)

Recipe courtesy of Eat In


250g Thai rice noodles
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced

Marinade for chicken:
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp soy sauce*

Thumb size piece of ginger, minced
Fresh red chillies (I used green)
3 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup chicken stock

Pad Thai sauce:
3/4 Tbsp tamarind paste*, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
4 Tbsp fish sauce* (I thought this was a bit much so used 2)
1/2 Tbsp dried chilli
3 Tbsp brown sugar

3 spring onions, sliced
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/3 cup crushed peanuts*
Fresh lime or lemon juice

*Some soy sauces contain gluten
*Tamarind paste, fish sauce and peanuts all contain yeast


  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil and remove from heat. Dunk in the rice noodles. Allow noodles to soak. Noodles are ready when they are soft enough to be eaten, but are still al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  • Combine the Pad Thai sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Stir well to dissolve the tamarind paste and brown sugar. Set aside. (This may seem like a lot of sugar, but you need it to balance out the sourness of the tamarind - this balance is important).
  • Marinade the chicken in cornstarch and soy sauce for about 30 minutes. Warm up a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Fry chilli and ginger for 30 seconds. Add chicken, with its marinade. Stir-fry for 1 minute. When wok/pan becomes dry, add a little chicken stock.
  • Add the noodles, and pour the Pad Thai sauce over. Using tongs gently stir-fry the noodles for a minute or two. Add the bean sprouts and season with the pepper. Continue stir frying until the noodles are soft. (Around 2 minutes). Add a touch of stock again if it seems too dry.
  • Top with generous amounts of fresh coriander, spring onion and chopped nuts. Squeeze the limes over the top.