Go Travel: Cape Town Seafood Restaurants
I hesitate to call this a food post. After all this is not even remotely close to being a food blog. I may talk about trying new foods as a by-product of traveling, but it is a very low priority by-product. It’s really more something I say than do because it’s something you’re supposed to say in travel blogs. You see, I am not a Foodie. In fact, I am probably a Foodie’s worst nightmare. I know how to cook exactly nothing and have no interest in learning any more. While I enjoy nice food, it’s really the food I enjoy more than its adjective. “Nice” to me means anything satisfying at that particular moment. Given that I tend to only think of food when I am already past Hungry and heading towards Starving, “nice” translates to “instantaneous”. I may appreciate a gourmet French soufflé, but I enjoy McDonald’s just as much. I’d say on average I consume fast food burgers three to four times a week. Other meals consist of cereal, grilled cheese and your ever-popular liquid diet of alcohol. In culinary terms, I am a hot mess.
But lately something’s been happening. While it might not seem noteworthy to the casual observer, it is significant to me. I fear that I may be developing a slight case of culinary distinction. Slowly I am creating a hierarchy of consumables that is more sophisticated than just “Good” and “Bad.”
Take wine for example. Wine accounts for approximately 83.2 percent of my annual liquid intake (thinking long term on the health there, old girl). Since I was old enough to drink somewhat legally I have been an eager consumer. I started with low standards – if I could physically get it, I would drink it. Slowly I began making subtle distinctions, like recognizing the difference between red wine and white wine. This escalated into realizing that wine tastes better if I can remember to put the cork back in after opening – this is not a joke; I spent several regrettable college years stuffing tissue paper into wine bottles when I couldn’t be bothered to find the cork. I eventually even graduated to drinking wine from real, live wine glasses instead of coffee mugs. Now I live in South Africa, otherwise known as a wine lover’s haven. Some of the best wine in the world flows o’er the valleys and is sold for next to nothing. And so naturally I have become a full fledged wino, the kind who decorates your home so you won’t have to roam, and so forth.
Now after two years of living in the land of winey milk and honey I have discovered that I can actually distinguish slightly between wines. With moderate confidence I can label merlots, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs and, my newfound friend, viogner. Of late I have even been known to scoff at poor quality wines. In fact it’s been a good six months since I bought any wine for less than R40 a bottle (that’s almost $5).
It’s a fact: I am becoming a connoisseur.
Perhaps it’s because I know my time living here in South Africa will be coming to a close in just a few short months, but recently I made a decision: I will indulge myself in food and wine. After all, some of the world’s best seafood/steak/champagne and wine is right here in Cape Town. While it may cost slightly more than McDonald’s, it costs a lot less here than it does anywhere else.
So yesterday, armed with newfound culinary snobbery, JD and I headed on an expedition to have a fancy lunch. We drove past KFC, Nando’s fast food chicken and the highly acclaimed McDonald’s on our way to a much different sort of restaurant, Die Damhuis.
Die Damhuis is the type of place a real Foodie would love. On the west side of Cape Town it’s known for having the best seafood in the area. For the rest of the city, it’s too far out to bother. This means that you get great food without the pretention and high prices of other places that know they’re cool.
Die Damhuis is an old house (in fact, I’m fairly sure it means “Die, damn old house” in Afrikaanse). It’s in the little town of Melkbos; the first official town outside of Cape Town. It has the white washed walls and thatch roof of quaint seaside cottages found worldwide. Just like you would expect of a good sea cottage, its dark inside, bright and sunny outdoors. The ocean is right across the road and the waves pound enthusiastically throughout your meal.
Knowing we were seated at one of the best seafood restaurants in the world, JD and I naturally ordered burgers. At the last minute my newfound culinary culture caught up with me and I switched my order to mussels. That’s right, actual mussels like you read about in French Women Don’t Get Fat. To top it off we ordered wine with lunch and a starter. Ooo la la, aren’t we fancy? I certainly thought so. Unfortunately I am still a newcomer to this world of food reverence. And, since I have not yet mastered the art of tasting rather than chowing, I scoffed down my mussels in a matter of minutes and spent the rest of lunch moaning to JD about how full I was. “So good… I’m gonna puke,” was a recurring line.
While I might not be fully initiated into this cultured world of food lovers and their many highly sensitive pallets, I can honestly say that Die Damhuis was a good first step towards bettering my sorry self. In fact I’d say it was organically distinctive, innovatively classic and whatever random adjectives food reviewers use to say “great.”
So for all you self-proclaimed Foodies and equally apathetic chowers, give it go if you’re in Cape Town. After all, the food is nice.