KeenwaSetCape Town’s Peruvian connection 

Keenwä restaurant, at the beginning of the fanwalk in Cape Town’s buzzing CBD, serves great food in a fashionable yet comfortable environment. The menu is kept small in a bid to make every meal a knockout. From ceviche to tacu tacu and ribs Keenwä serves the best Peruvian recipes sometimes adapted slightly for the context and local taste.

Peruvian food is so much more than the hot new food trend. Apart  from being the sizzling new cuisine of the moment it is absolutely  delicious and super healthy.

Pisco Bar, upstairs from Keenwa, is a cocktail bar and party venue. Spoil yourself with the house cocktail, Peru’s famous Pisco Sour, and nibble on a tapas or two.

 

The Latest

  • Wild cats … and a tame one

    neethlingshofEntranceGateRTPOur search for Malbec (at the insistence of some Argentines we count as regulars) led us to the gates of Neethlingshof and we quickly discovered a shared affinity for wild cats.

    The pairing lunch that precedes food and wine pairings at Keenwä got off to a rocky start when De Wet Viljoen, Neethlingshof winemaker, missed the tasting event because of some nonsense about international visitors and a multi-million dollar auction.

    Xavier1Our favourite sommelier, Xavier Didier, very kindly agreed to step into De Wet’s shoes at the last moment.

    Xavier, fulfilling the requirements of being gorgeous, amusing and a dedicated wino, helped us choose the menu while sticking to his strong policy of advising clients, “Yes, listen to the experts and do lots of research but trust YOUR gut.”

    We had already decided on the basics of the menu when De Wet, a tame lion of a man, strolled in and put his stamp on proceedings. He agreed with most decisions Xavier had guided us to, with one audacious suggestion: that we turn things upside down and serve the dessert wine as a welcome drink.

    We had planned to serve the estate’s chenin blanc with a few mouthfuls of our signature pesque de quinoa (quinoa and spinach risotto) to kick the evening off. A genius plan, we thought, but we were quick and happy to concede that De Wet’s idea of putting the sweet deliciousness of the Maria upfront with the pesque was another stroke of genius.

    De Wet gave his stamp of approval to the rest of the menu and pairing as planned with Xavier.

    After the pesque and Maria guests can expect:

    2 Ceviche and lychee in pastry cups

    with a glass of the farm’s knockout white 6 Flowers

    QuinoaCoatedPrawns13 Quinoa-coated prawn kebabs and a glass of the unwooded chardonnay

    And then a little twist suggested by Xavier, essentially giving diners our short-list (2 wines, 2 courses) and leaving the ultimate choice of the better pairing up to them …

    Two glasses of red served side by side (Malbec and Cabernet Merlot) with two courses in succession:

    4 Stir-fried red and white cabbage with ginger and pork medallions, and

    5 Tacu tacu (rice and beans) and honey-basted pork ribs

    MaracuyaSlider16 Passion fruit sorbet with caramelised chilli and feta cheese with the Gewürztraminer.

    It may not be a household name on these shores, but once tasted Gewürztraminer isn’t easily forgotten. It’s tremendously fragrant, with a flamboyant aroma that recalls roses, lychees and spices.

    Caracal1We were determined to get the Wild Cat, Caracul, on to the menu but couldn’t find a decent and worthy sparring partner for it so we decided to provide a glass to those Wild Cats who like to stay on after our wine pairings, purring and play-fighting. This blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 14% Cabernet Franc is definitely on our Big Five list.

    Thursday October 30: 6 courses paired with 6 wines and a glass of Caracal R350 a head.

    Booking essential 021 4192633

    Keenwa&Neethlingshof

  • A sparkling night

    Cupcakes19CupcakesFinal copyDiners at Keenwä were in for a rare treat on Saturday September 27 when they drifted upstairs for an after-dinner drink. A grand time was being had by all upstairs at Pisco Bar as the Rougettes, Whimsical cupcakes and Pongracz cooked up a feast of an evening to raise funds for children with cancer.

    Saturday (27 September 2014) was National Cupcake Day, a day of activities organised by community group Cupcakes of Hope to create awareness and raise funds for children with cancer.

    Cupcakes of Hope held cupcake sales at 54 malls across South Africa on the day. Money raised will be used to help afflicted families and children’s charities.

    The event at Pisco cost R50 a head, which included a glass of Pongracz and a cupcake from Whimsical Cupcakes, with all proceeds from ticket sales going to charity. For another R10 guests could enter a prize draw to wine a magnum of Pongracz.

    The Rougettes were in the house all night, serving cupcakes and Pongracz … with a big, delicious side order of song and dance.

    CupcakesThank you to the Rougettes for adding so much sparkle to this event, and to Whimsical Cupcakes and Pongracz for your delicious and generous sponsorship.

    Details about the amount raised coming soon. Watch this space!

  • Cape Town’s most famous non-Peruvian

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    Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 14.46.13

  • Mixing it up with the Grande Olde Dame

    Heavy snowfall and avalanches kept Capetonians at home during late August, forcing Keenwä to postpone the food and wine pairing with Groot Constantia. With the roads open again and the carriages rolling into town the event was held on September 25!

    It was a great night that elegantly combined the old and the new. This is how we got there:

    Tradition out the window: Keenwä and Groot Constantia food and wine pairing

    A food and wine pairing at Keenwä without ceviche? Sounds scandalous … but it is true.

    Our house dish, Ceviche – the most delectable combination of the freshest of fish, lime and chilli – goes beautifully with so many wines. We do not insist that one fish is better than another: we use the best available on the day. Sometimes it is the meaty gamey-ness of tuna; at others it is the flaky delicateness of angel fish.

    At the tasting lunch for Keenwä’s food and wine pairing with Groot Constantia it was the decadent butteriness of marlin. A perfect match with Gouverneurs Reserve white: Groot Constantia’s inversion of the proportions of the classic Bordeaux blend (ie much more Semillon than Sauvignon Blanc) highlights the vague salty promise of the ocean.

    GtConstCellarWe submitted the combination to the acid test: a sip of leche de tigre (tiger’s milk) – the juice that is left after you have marinated the fish – and then, in quick succession, a sip of the vino.

    Hmmmmm perfect! Test passed with flying colours but still there are only 5 places in the finals … and in the end this duo didn’t get one of them. But then nor did the Groot Constantia Shiraz, our stand-out favourite red at a recent tasting at the estate.

    But, of course, these nights is not about the also-rans and the nearly-rans.

    Our chosen stars for the night:

    ChardonnayThe Causa de atun, a layered dish of potato and lime mash and tuna tartare, stands in for the ceviche, with a glass of Chardonnay on her arm. This made perfect sense on the night – even those who are not normally chardonnay fans. (The only tuna available on the day was ‘fresh … ummm . I mean freshly defrosted’ so we opted for Yellowtail just out of the ocean, which turned out to be an excellent choice)

    Break with tradition and you may soon discover that rebellion is like a drug …

    We couldn’t quite decide which of the lamb dishes was tastier and more dramatic with the zesty pepperiness of the Pinotage, so we decided to let the people decide.

    LambMeatballs1RedbottlesDiners were served the lamb meatballs with yoghurt, cucumber and mint dressing and a hot salad of red cabbage and quinoa with a glass of Pinotage.

    After that, they were served the Seco de Cabrito (lamb braised in beer with coriander, peas and potatoes) with another glass of Pinotage.

    By the time we had decided on this were on our umpteenth glass of Groot Constantia and were building a rhythm breaking with tradition. So we decided to put the cart before the horse, the chicken after the lamb and a white after a red.

    At this unexpected twist in the road (and in a sort of nod to tradition) it seemed only right to give diners a little something to re-set and refresh the palate.

    KiwiMarcianoMaricano de kiwi, a little Martian of a dessert combines kiwi fruit sorbet with caramelised chilli and a sliver of Brie cheese.

    chickenRoseThymeThat cleared the tastebuds in readiness for the thyme and rosemary chicken with a light guacamole cream and lemon zest-infused quinoa.

    We were in full flight now, the rebellion was in full swing … we were banging on the gates of the palace. We paired this course with two wines, but not like last time: this time every second person received a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, the others got a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Then we went up to Pisco Bar for the grande finale: Grande Constance. A lone star, an outlier on the Richter scale of wicked sweetness.

    A welcome drink, 5 courses paired with 5 wines, and Grand Constance: R400

    GiftDanie

    Boy, have we got a treat for you: Keenwä chef Gift Matwaya and Groot Constantia wine-maker Danie Keulder

     

    1 Welcome drink: Blanc de Noir

    2 Causa de atun. Chardonnay

    3 Lamb meatballs. Pinotage

    4 Seco de cabrito. (also) Pinotage

    5 Palate cleanser: Marciana de kiwi

    6 Thyme and rosemary chicken with a light guacamole cream and lemon zest-infused quinoa.
    Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc

    7 Grande Constance

     

  • Waiters surprised; diners delighted!

    As much as I wished I could have been a diner, serving people who couldn’t see a thing was a lot of fun and quite an eye-opener.

    It was a typical Cape Town evening:

    The weather had changed so many times in the preceding 24 hours that most were dressed for the wrong season and very nearly everyone (except people visiting from Jo’burg, my sources tell me) was late (despite our begging and urging everyone to be on time). Three people didn’t turn up at all; five people turned up without a reservation …

    (Thank heavens the country is not run from the parliamentary capital)

    AlexXav

    European imports Alexandre Tilmans and Xavier Didier: Leading Capetonian foodies they may be … but did they know their moules from their frites in the dark …

    Our first Dinner in the Dark was very Cape Town in other ways too: gorgeous people having a grand old time eating and drinking delicious things. Only this time there was no beauty or brand consciousness since the dinner was served in the dark. We had hung drapery to block all sources of light and diners all wore blindfolds.

    Diners’ experience of the food was entirely dictated by what they sensed … taste, smell, texture and eavesdropping being the main informants.

    After dinner we asked people to make notes on what they thought the main ingredients had been. A number of ‘entries’ were fantastic; at least a few of them absolutely fantastical. Tom won his dinner for free after his name was drawn out of a ‘hat’ containing names of the five diners who had figured out almost all ingredients.

    It is gratifying to see that all the ‘wine work’ we have done at Keenwä has not been for nothing. Even if they can’t name the grape, the region, the wine maker or much else Keenwä patrons can tell liquids from solids, beer from wine and even reds from whites. More work clearly needs to be done, though: even Xavier, our favourite sommelier, could not guess that the red wine (which, incidentally, nobody could get enough of) was Allesverloren Touriga Nacional.

    There really is no better way to see what people genuinely want than to blindfold them, put a glass or two in their hands and intervene only to refill those glasses when empty. We stood back last night and watched people respond to what was in their glass, and we know that we are right on track with our two new additions to the wine list: the aforementioned Allesverloren and Nativo’s super-luxurious organic white blend. One funny aside is that people temporarily robbed of their sight had the impression that they were being absolutely plied with alcohol when they were being served an amount of booze that seemed perfectly normal to those of us who do this every day.

    Leopold_Packshot_Small GrolschIt looks like we have to do some more work on the hops and barley receptors. The basics are in place with every single person able to recognise the stand-out deliciousness of the Leopold7 but, again, there is more work to be done. Does Grolsch really taste that much like Carling Black Label or are these two just favourite tastes and therefore easy to confuse? Black Label was, incidentally, almost on the table last night, losing out narrowly to Grolsch as our choice to go up against the Leopold7.

    As for the food, being blindfolded really did heighten the rest of the senses! We chose favourites, only allowing ourselves to be slightly put off by requirements for complicated tools. In the event, people seemed to find their way around the knife and fork more easily than the spoons of ceviche, the opposite of what we had expected. Next time (Yes! There will be a next time … provisional date October 21), we will just adopt a devil may care attitude and let diners work it out. You’ll be surprised, we have been amazed!

    A very big thank you to our co-host, Alex of Leopold7, for tirelessly eating, drinking and dreaming and scheming with us to make Dinner in the Dark happen.

    Please call us on 021 4192633 or mail us at info@keenwa.co.za to book a table for October 21 (and thereby help us fix the date) or give any feedback …

     This is what we thought before when we knew what we now know:

    A dark and intimate affair

    Can you really tell your Leopold7 from your Grolsch, your Nativo from your Allesverloren, your organic from your common or garden variety, your premium from your ho hum and humdrum …

    Can you really trust your tastebuds? By at least one reckoning, 90% of people cannot differentiate between red and white wine in the dark. Unbelievable, no?

    Keenwä and Leopold7 Brewery will be putting this questionable theory (as well as a few others) to the test at our first Dinner in the Dark on September 16.

    Dear Diners

    You will be guided through use of the tools and other delivery mechanisms as you are served a three-course meal with at least four different drinks. For the rest of it, you will be left to your own devices (or at least your own senses). You will have to judge by smell, touch, taste, hearing and extra sensory perception what is on your plates and in your glasses.

    Picture yourself surrounded by voices – some familiar, some strange – discovering flavours and sensations without the early warning system of sight. Imagine the surprise and heightened pleasure of exploring food and drink without the usual markers and judgments.

    After dinner, you will meet in Pisco bar upstairs to compare notes. You will be challenged to name the three main ingredients of each dish. The winner of this challenge will get their dinner free.

    Come and let us surprise and delight you on September 16! There are just 30 tickets for this, our first dark and intimate affair. Three courses and drinks for R250 per head. Booking essential, on 021 4192633.

  • Coming soon: wine, women and wild cats

    Caracal1October 30: food and wine pairing with Neethlingshof.

Events

  • Wine, women and wild cats

    30
    Oct 2014
    Thursday
    - 7 for 7.30pm -

    Caracal1

    Food and wine pairing with Neethlingshof

  • Halloween

    31
    Oct 2014
    Friday
    - 6.30 -

    Halloween Expect a terrifyingly delicious evening of tricks and treats at Keenwä on October 31. Lost souls (and others) can take advantage of our All Hallows’ Eve offering of knock-down specials on spirits. The best-dressed diner will get their meal free and there will be other random rewards (to be collected on earth or in the after-life) during the course of the evening.

    HalloweenPiscoAfter dinner, the action will move to a Thriller of a dance party in Pisco bar. From 9pm, DJ El Fuego will be on the decks, expanding beyond his usual Latin-influenced repertoire to “anything that might wake the dead”.Prizes for best-dressed in Pisco too!

    R40 on the door, R30 Early Birds online https://www.quicket.co.za/events/6699-halloween-party/

     

  • Street Food Festival

    08
    Nov 2014
    Saturday
    - 4pm -

    StreetFood1  StreetFood3Our first Street Food Festival in the restaurant, in Pisco bar and on the cobbles out front.
    There is nothing pedestrian about Peruvian street food!
    It combines the finest ingredients in unusual and spectacular ways. And with Kumala wines as our partner for this event, diners can expect some sensational food and wine combinations.

  • Delicious, starring the Rougettes

    26
    Nov 2014
    Wednesday
    - 8.30pm -

    unnamed

    Another feast for all the senses with the Rouge Revue Burlesque company

Hours

Tues-Friday lunch

12.30-3pm

Tues-Saturday dinner

6.30-10pm

... and a late late bar ...

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