Monday, March 30, 2009

The Funniest Salad in the World

...is what I ate, between gulps of suppressed laughter, at Buitenverwachting, a very beautiful wine estate in Constantia.

The menu, which was all over the place - from Austria to SE Asia by way of North America - said Caesar Salad. I ordered it, followed by schnitzel, for good measure.

A huge plate arrived. With a Romaine/Cos lettuce quartered lengthways and lying in four quadrants. On each hunk o' lettuce, balanced see-saw-like, were rashers of very stiff and very flat bacon. And upon each see-saw, an entire anchovy, supine.  And on each tip of lettuce, poised like bubble bath on your loved one's breast, a puff of foam. The foam was parmesan-flavoured. Foam has made it to Cape Town. At last. And inbetween two quadrants of lettuce an entire poached egg. And beneath each poached egg, a small brick of pan-fried baguette. Dressing had been poured over the leaves.

I have never laughed at food before. Not even at Heston Blumenthal's snail porridge and bacon and egg ice cream and vanilla pods like straws (I liked those).

I laughed and laughed.

Deconstructng the Caesar Salad. It's a good idea. But here it was on a plate as misunderstood and abused as a salad has ever been.We should have buried it with with honours in the courtyard garden and played Taps. It had been a brave attempt.

The schnitzel was dry and tasteless. The Sacher Torte afterwards, the first time I have ever eaten cake with a meal, quite delicious.

Visit Buitenverwachting for the architecture, the views, the wine, and the gossipy, Eastern Bloc spy history. Skip the restaurant, which in Etienne Bonthuys' early days (before he got stuck on Repeat) was a destination eatery, and order the picnic but don't sit under the oak trees: Years ago my mom and I were eating in the dining room (under the cheffage of Thomas Sinn, then), when a rotten branch fell on a family picnicking outside. A man and his little dog were killed.

The oaks have been well pruned now but still...

But if you really need cheering up, order the Caesar Salad.

4 comments:

  1. darn ...it looks like it should be pretty yummy. I guess if there had at least been amazing flavour, it might have been okay.... and fun to boot....

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  2. I have been known to be overly critical :-)

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  3. bacon improves everything. just ignore everything around it.

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