I have discovered my favourite restaurant in South Africa.
I mentioned my experience at Overture in the 72 hours in Cape Town post (see it here).
Overture on Hidden Valley Stellenbosch has a spectacular view matched by the beautifully plated Modern South African cuisine. This is the food that truly moves me! The combinations of the familiar flavours uplifted with unexpected textures speaks to my food context. – excerpt from 72 hours in Cape Town ultimate food guide
I have been meaning to write this post for a while and have started many times before but have procrastinated because it is so important to me. Important because it speaks to the power of food in bringing people together. U-N-I-T-Y!
The term food context is one that I first heard from Bertus Basson Chef and Owner of Overture, as I understand it; it’s our food history, it’s our food story and our DNA (well it’s in my DNA at least).
My DNA is a marriage of Mozambican, South African (Swati, Xhosa, Malay, Irish and Scottish) blood lines. I am a table filled with bowls of kapenta fish in a tomato and onion sauce with sadza (maize pap) and pumpkin leaves, roasted piri piri chicken, feijoada, sweet curried tripe with soet patat, brown onion mutton stew and peppery cabbage bredie. It is this food context that the thoughtfully plated modern South African cuisine, crafted by Bertus Basson the Afrikaans speaking South African from Nelspruit, resonates with.
Let’s start with the Pap and Prawns dish we had on our visit to Overture in July. For those of you who have travelled to the US, you’d immediately think this is a play on shrimp and cheesy grits – a play admittedly it is but cheesy grits it is not.
The Overture version is built on the Southern African staple Pap, not any pap, but house made mielie pap that has texture and fresh corn stirred in. A fork full of the pap transported me to a time, before my birth and before perfectly white packaged mielie meal, when my ancestors were grinding mielies under the Southern sun.
A bite into the sweet, crispy prawn head caught my imagination adrift on a four man boat off the coast of Inhambane, my Mozambican ancestoral home, throwing out nets into the clear blue sea and pulling up crawling Mozambican prawns to be enjoyed after a few turns on the open fire. Side note: you have not eaten a prawn until you’ve sucked out all of the juices from the head, crunched on it, tiny eye balls and all.
The well balanced, slightly spicy peri peri seafood bisque tracks my parents’ journey as MK soldiers through Angola and Mozambique, which is the historical Portuguese route that birthed the combination of chillies, spices & lemon that is piri piri (peri peri).
As with most of Bertus’s dishes the pap and prawns is filled with delectable Southern African familiarity and comfort yet unexpected in texture, perfectly balanced flavour combinations and appropriately beautifully plated.
It is not merely a fine dining plate it is my DNA over-layed by my parents’ journey before my being.
This is Part 1 in the Overture blog series, part 2 coming soon!
T&Cs: for those who are wondering, this series is not sponsored. I also paid for the meal I had at Overture.