I haven’t really written much this year, I put it down to the fact that I have been too busy cooking and immersing myself in that part of my art, but maybe (if I am being totally honest) it’s because I have just not been inspired enough to tell a story. It happens. The so called “writer’s block”, and then, just like that, I get to experience a meal that re-ignites my passion for all things food. It makes me want to cook it, talk about it, eat it. It makes me want to stay up at 23H55 to write about it, despite a 05H00 kitchen start, because to hold onto the experience without sharing it just seems wrong…so this is my story about the launch of #OneStarHousePartyCT. It is why you should book, and why it was one of my most memorable dining experiences. Ever.
On the 3rd floor of a previous Airbnb loft in Woodstock (which your UBER probably won’t find first time around) is a new Cape Town restaurant pop-up, called the One Star House party. This, however, is no any ordinary pop-up. Chef James Sharman, who has trained under Michelin star chef, Tom Aikens, and who also who polished his skills at Noma, Copenhagen, first birthed this idea out of his very own apartment in Hong Kong. It was an idea which saw him and his team wanting to take his pop-up worldwide. 20 new cities, over 20 months, in each new city a ‘restaurant’ from scratch.
Cape Town is number 8 on the list, and goodness me, am I ever grateful that him and his team decided to grace our shores. As with each stop on their list, James and his team spend time (prior to opening) scouting the land for local ingredients which will be used for each menu. These are ingredients which they are of course not used to working with, but after fully immersing themselves in the cuisine and culture of each country, and using their technical skill as world class chefs, present food that I feel is incredibly inspiring. The focus is not on over the top fancy plating, it is all about what each bite tastes like and about where it takes you emotionally. As a South African, there were naturally elements in each dish that I have of course encountered numerous times, but never in this way. The approach was so fresh, and this in the raw setting of a Woodstock loft, seated around tables and benches made of pallett wood, was to me rather mind blowing.
The evening started with a thick and creamy pumpkin soup made entirely out of pumpkin, they use various techniques to get the best flavour and smooth silky texture. No detail is omitted, such as the fact that they even juice some pumpkin, allow it to reduce slowly until all that is left are the natural sugars for them to toss the pumpkin seed garnish in. They then also add some of this juice back into the soup allowing for a more intense flavour. I wanted a whole big bowl of it, as I write this I still want a big bowl of it. It is perhaps the most beautiful soup I have ever tasted.
We then moved onto the next course, a cross between biltong and tartare. Beautifully seared steak (just seared), which tasted exactly like biltong, this was served with a freshly baked bun which had been cooked with beef fat. It was absolutely sublime. This was followed by a snoek dish which left both myself and Sam Linsell, of Drizzle and Dip fame, rather emotional. They de-boned snoek (a very very brave task), cooked it directly on the coals and then married it with flavours of barley and kelp to create a dish which I think was certainly fish perfection. Yes, our humble snoek shone like I have never seen it shine before and each bite was magnificent. If you know fish, and cook it, and love it, this will be a dish you have to try for yourself. There is no way a few words will ever be able to do it justice.
Following this were dishes of slow braised short rib with smoked kale and date chutney. A Springbok consomme with “half grapes”, and then two desserts. The first comprised of bbq pineapple with a ricotta cream and pineapple compote (to. die. for), and to finish, melted smoked chocolate served with Italian meringue and granola so incredibly good, I asked them for a take-away bag.
In total it is a seven course menu, and it’s BYOB, so choose your favourite drinks to take with when you go. In fact, splash out, the quality of the meal and flavours deserve to be paired with something special. It is a relatively long evening, in our case this could have been due to the fact that it was opening night, but if you’re in good company you won’t even notice the clock, and every bite will be well worth it.
The menu goes for $85 per person (so approximately R1100.00) and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Booking can be made on their website, onestarhouseparty. The last dinner in Cape Town is to be served on the 11th May, so with not much time remaining, do not miss this.
If you love food, if it speaks to your soul, and if you are inspired by ingredients and how they are treated, then don’t miss this dining opportunity. I will certainly be back for more and hope to see you there x