(My slightly dodgy attempts to capture the magical touches in Hemelhuijs)
(The Cornelia vase filled with full blown flowers)
I am grateful to Jacques Erasmus for many things.
Here are a few highlights:
The first is that he forever changed the way I felt about oats. Back in the day when he was chef at a small spa cafe in Mouille Point, he served oats with grated apple, cinnamon and brown sugar. I liked it so much I ate it for lunch.
Once, when I had tasted his milk tart at a cafe in Kloof Street, I was smitten by the elegant simplicity of this traditional recipe. A recipe he generously gave me, and which, despite my best intentions, I have never managed to recreate succesfully.
I have, however, been most successful when following his easy instructions for fresh figs served with dollops of white chocolate infused Greek yogurt.
He has made me laugh till it hurt when recounting his tales of excess and shopping in Buenos Aires.
He is kind. And creative. His food reflects both qualities.
He is stylish and innovative. His surroundings are testimony to this.
And then there is the fact that he has provided me with a name - an excuse for my collection obsession. 'Sam, one does not collect, one curates.' he said.
So, once again, I disclose that this is not an unbiased review. He is a friend. And I am a fan.
Hemelhuijs is Jacques's new venture. A small, stylish cafe, which I believe to be one of the most sophisticated, yet unpretentious venues in town. Black walls, floral chandeliers, hunting trophy-adorned-with--porcelain, Erasmus-designed homeware, friendly, attentive service, and beautiful food (at surprisingly modest prices), make this a cafe to visit frequently. Opening night was on Thursday, I returned on Friday, with my mom, and on Saturday with my husband. On both occasions I recognised people who had been at the launch, and we smiled knowingly at one another. Delighted to be back.
The milk tart, his ouma's recipe, and I think, his simple signature, is on the menu. Thank God. It's a sacred thing.
So is a scrambled egg, smoked salmon and toasted apple cake combination for breakfast, which is both surprising and delightful. As is a decadent open omelette with fresh figs, maple syrup glazed bacon and goats's cheese. Lunch was a roast chicken with marzipan and apricot something, which was served with a berry coulis-type of things, which was sheer heaven. And a Hemelhuijs beef burger with mushrooms that demands one reassess all other burgers that have been before. And then there are the excellent coffees, the teas in beautiful pots, the fresh fruit juices; Apple, ginger and celery ( for mom) and the Apple juice Gin & Tonics (for me)...and the daily freshly baked goods, which almost demand to be eaten before the mains. Or at least that's the way I did it.
The menu will change regularly to allow for the introduction of new dishes. And already Jacques is planning new looks for the future.
Unstoppably innovative, Hemelhuijs is a showcase of Jacques's talents - both culinary and creative. And it is such a pleasure and a privilege to be able to witness and experience a small part of this extraordinary curator's world. Go with friends and share the magic, or go alone and feel it. Either way, you've got to go.
71 Waterkant Street
Tel: 021 4182042
Open Monday-Friday - 8am - 5pm; Saturday 9am - 3pm