Whenever I visit Daniele in Cape Town we have a number of Restaurant rituals. One of these is lunch or dinner at Societi Bistro. This superb spot, which feels more like home from home for us, serves consistently fabulous Italian and French food and sits comfortably on the apron of Table Mountain. Whenever I sit down at my table I can hear the food angels whispering location location location in my ears.
The staff is chipper and the wine is always exquisitely cold. I pretty much know the menu inside out. Two weeks ago my son and I set out early to shop for the ingredients needed for dinner that night – it was one of those days when, if you stood still for just a millisecond, you could feel your skin shrinking back like a piece of cling wrap too close to the fire. Wow! It was a stonker of a day and we needed to run for cover.
Hi ho – it’s off to Alfresco eating at Societi Bistro we go!! I scanned the menu up and down – it’s short but sweet and if I have one observation to feed back to Chef Stefan Marais – it’s that it’s time to shake it up and reinvent the menu me-thinks! A new menu would certainly be welcomed by us and we have been dining here for around 4 years.
Anyway! – I have this nightmarish childhood memory of dodgy watermelon. Many moons ago I ate some less than fresh Watermelon and got awfully sick, so whenever I see any dish containing watermelon on a menu I avoid it like the plague. I searched the menu at the BistroTo no avail for something that I had not yet ordered – Nada! so with a huge amount of trepidation I thought it was time to get over my watermelon phobia! Twenty five years was long enough! Cool chunks of watermelon come to Mamma!!
‘Oh dear sweet angelic food angels thank you so very much for making me eat watermelon again!! I repeated this incantation in my head billions of times over the weekend and told everyone who would listen about my foodie revelation for an entire week. Wow, I had the salad of the century.
Watermelon Salad – mint & vodka, goat’s cheese, watercress (R36)
Think pretty pink, sweet juicy watermelon juxtaposed against a cushion of soft white , creamy and dreamy goats milk cheese, united for eternity by the sweet minty vodka blessed dressing……….. All this nestled on a bed of peppery watercress. Toe curling – eyes rolling – table bashing Good I tell you! I fear that I am probably 25 years late – for I should imagine that this celebration of all that is needed to cool your soul on a stinking hot African summer’s day has been en vogue forever and ever and it was my prior tousle with watermelon that prevented me from this culinary nuptial. Good!!!
There is nothing more inspiring for little old me than to discover a new food combo! I got back to Durban last Tuesday and by Wednesday I had gathered the needful and was-an-experimenting my socks off. I have come close enough to the original Holy Harmony of Societi Bistro’s chef Stefan to satisfy my conscience and taste buds. All I added was some fresh basil leaves and a handful of pecan nuts – just for a bit of crunch.
In honour of Chef Stefan @ Societi Bistro in Gardens Cape Town I, kneel before thee and do humbly proffer my rendition of thy, toe-curling, eyes rolling, Meg-Ryan-Table bashing summer salad …….
Salad For 1
(I wouldn’t think twice about serving a nice big platter of this as a heat busting starter in summer!)
4 batons of watermelon
Watercress – or Rocket would do nicely
1 Chevin Goats milk cheese – plain or with black pepper would be fine.
A handful of Pecan nuts
A handful of mint leaves chopped finely
A dash of Vodka – about 1 Tbsp.
Salt & lots of freshly ground black pepper
A dash of Verlaque Persian Pomegranate five spice balsamic reduction
2 Tbsp. Honey
Now – obviously I have re-created this recipe to suit my palate. I only ate Chef Stefan’s delicious salad once unfortunately and couldn’t photograph it as I had forgotten my camera!
Please feel free to alter any of the quantities to suit your palate!
Arrange the watercress in your salad bowl.
Place the watermelon in the centre
Arrange slices of the Chevin around the watermelon
Place the sliced red salad onions – or you can use normal red onion over the salad
Top with a handful of your favourite nuts – I chose pecans
Finely chop a good handful of mint leaves
Add 1 Tbsp. of Vodka
1 1/2 Tbsp. of Iced Water
1 Tbs of Verlaque Persian Pomegranate Five Spices Balsamic Reduction
2 Tbsp. of Honey
Season to taste with salt to balance out the sweetness.
Nap – Dress or in my case Drench (I like A LOT of dressing) with the salad dressing.