Visited good old 95 Keerom Street restaurant last night. Always a great pleasure and this had an added bit of interest worth reporting on, Ithink. It was the first time I’d been there since that first-class restaurateur and chef Giorgio Nava had won the Academia Barilla pasta competition in Parma, and his winning dish was on offer.
Well, I think it was a version of his winning dish, not exactly the same. That one was described as “cavatelli, broccoli and oregano flowers”, and looked like the one in the picture. No broccoli flowers on last night’s version of Pasta Giorgio, which was listed as “Cavatelli con crema di brocolli / Small pasta shells with broccoli, anchovies, fresh tomato, bread crumbs and oregano”.
I won’t quarrel with the description, or with the dish. It was actually quite remarkable, one of the more surprising pasta dishes I’ve had, somehow. Firstly, with its moulded shape it looked like it might be heavy and solid, but the shape fell apart at the lightest touch, and after that it was all Nava’s characteristic delicacy and subtlety of flavour, with the toasted breadcrumbs adding a little contrasting texture now and then. Unusual and delightful.
Cavatelli? Well I expected something that looks move like gnocchi – more shell-like. This pasta was like the shell flattened out, perhaps – more like a little skullcap.
Giorgio Nava wasn’t there to quiz or congratulate – a very, very rare thing for him to be absent. But it was his birthday (tanti auguri, Giorgio!) and he’d been persuaded that things wouldn’t fall apart if he took the evening off. And of course they didn’t. Everything as good as ever – the food, the ambience, the service (I do think that you get the best waiters in Cape Town at 95 Keerom, which isn’t necessarily saying a lot, considering how low the standard is – but these are excellent.
Wine? (This being a wine blog not a food one, after all.) Well, a glass of Idiom’s Pinot Grigio to go with my pasta (and my partner’s brilliant spaghetti with mussels – always a favourite dish of mine there), just out of interest – and it was as without interest as one could have expected, but OK. We then both had seared tuna, and turned to Spain for wine – happily polishing off a bottle of López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Reserva 2001. Mmmmm…