This philosophy, mounted on the wall of the Foodbarn Restaurant and Deli in Noordhoek Farm Village, epitomised the warm, welcoming ambience felt upon entry. It was a Wednesday and the 6.30pm arrival time meant I could sit back and relax in the cinema-style seating with my glass of Foodbarn Merlot Cabernet while chef Franck Dangereux showed us what real cooking is all about.
Renowned across South Africa and most particularly for his work at top restaurant La Colombe, Dangereux has teamed with partner Pete de Bruin to make the Foodbarn a destination for foodies and bare-footed children alike. This is the result of a real passion – of making good food available to everyone, whether they’ve driven there in a Ferrari or have walked in sandy-footed from the beach, dog in tow.
Each Wednesday evening, Dangereux demonstrates two or three dishes from the ever changing menu. Tonight it was Courgette Fritters on Celeriac Remoulade with Tapenade, and Beef Fillet with Persillade and flash-fried Cherry Tomatoes. Whilst educating his audience on cooking processes and ingredients, he cracked jokes and told stories, laughing at his sister’s attempts to make mayonnaise “from eggs kept in the fridge – imagine!” (cue: laughter from audience while everyone makes a mental note: Remove Eggs from Fridge when Home) and he advocated the use of using your fingers to taste… hygiene be damned, we’re in the country now. He made the process of cooking – daunting to so many – look fun, easy and seamless. And it was, of course, so much better than watching a TV chef, not least because it was all real time with no outtakes. And then of course there were the smells…
Drooling with anticipation, we made our way to the dining area where crisp white table cloths and formally set tables were complemented by relaxed yet efficient service from friendly and highly knowledgeable waiting staff.
I opted for the four course Steenberg winter special, which began with a starter of Warm Duck Pate with Pepper and Orange Sauce paired with a Steenberg Shiraz 2009. The duck had a pleasingly smooth texture and an intense flavour that was enhanced by the subtle citrus undertone of the orange sauce. The lingering full-bodied shiraz added a velvety warmth to the overall sensation.
The Mussel, Coconut and Lime Leaves Soup was next up, paired with the 1682 Steenberg Brut Methode Cap Classique. On the palate, the soup released a rich seafood flavour with a mild heat, with the coconut and coriander characteristics reminiscent of Thai cuisine. The sparkling acidity of the Cap Classique – which I would never have dreamed of pairing with soup – gave a light, fresh finish after every spoonful. A revelation.
Then came the unforgettable main course. A personal favourite of the night, and perhaps of my life – Lamb Cutlets with Chickpea Pancake and Harissa Mayo with pan jus and coriander. This is the sort of dish where each mouthful is a reward, transporting the lucky recipient back to a warm and happy childhood memory. It was home cooking at its best, with rich, soulful flavours that spread warmth through the belly and joy to the spirit. An easy drinking Steenberg Semillion 2010 didn’t overpower the dish but cut through the indulgent flavours to cleanse the palate and leave me excitedly anticipating the next mouthful.
Gateau Basque with Rhubarb and homemade Ice-cream was a very good contrasting combination for dessert, but simply couldn’t compete. My heart had already been stolen.
For many, it’s a bit of a drive out to Noordhoek for an evening, but boy is it worth it. This is something everyone should experience.
Franck Dangereux’s Wednesday night cooking demonstrations are free to those who book a table. Booking is essential as the restaurant has capacity for only 50 people.