In celebration of this year’s Africa Day, I was invited to experience a locally-inspired lunch at Zeitz MOCAA Food – the restaurant accompanying the breathtaking gallery space below. Presiding over a view encompassing the harbour, Table Mountain range, the city bowl and Lion’s Head, Zeitz MOCAA Food certainly is an eatery unlike any other.
Located on the sixth and final floor of the gallery, the restaurant is encased in the building’s distinctive glass prisms, allowing diners a sense of eating in the sky. A sleek, minimalist aesthetic – all pale wood and Scandinavian design – ensures that the decor does little to distract from the view. However, the same cannot be said about the food. What with a menu that undergoes regular changes to keep it’s offerings seasonal and sustainable, Zeitz MOCAA Food is certainly an eatery with its finger on the pulse of food trends on both a local and international scale. But since it was a day for all things Africa, we were treated to a selection of regional and continental dishes that incorporated traditional flavours into contemporary presentation. To start, a platter featuring a lusciously creamy beef and peanut soup from Nigeria, fried banana chips from Ghana, Ful Medames devilled eggs from Egypt, addictively fiery Muamba chicken skewers from Angola and spicy Arancini balls inspired by the exoticism of Zanzibar encompassed the continent in the tastiest way – embarking us on a journey around Africa through taste, scent and texture. Served by our self-titled “appetologist” MK, a generous amount of fatty beef biltong kept hunger at bay before the second course.
Bringing cuisine closer to home, the selection of mains created specially for Africa Day were thoroughly South African-inspired. Food and Beverage manager Luke van Rensburg took us through the curated menu while resplendent in his embroidered tunic to commemorate the day. Food-wise, think vetkoek with curried mince, gourmet boerewors roll and a steak masala gatsby. I had had a serious craving for a proper braaibroodtjie for ages and so was inherently pleased upon spotting just that on the menu. Thick-sliced white bread sandwiched in layers of tomato and oozy cheese served with a crisp green salad and potato chips – often simple is best. Fellow diner and total babe Megan of Life with Me opted for the Pap & Nyama – slow braised beef shortrib served on traditional maize meal pap (porridge) and topped liberally with a spicy tomato-based sauce known as chakalaka. Tender to the point of falling apart, the unctuously fatty cut was perfectly suited to the obsequious flavour of pap, the chakalaka lifting the dish’s richness.
To finish off the meal, Zeitz MOCAA Food’s signature dessert of activated charcoal & rosewater ice cream ensured that smiles took on a rather ghoulish appeal. Blackened teeth and stained lips were worth it though – the ice cream is delicious!
While the menu I’ve described above was specially developed for Africa Day, Zeitz MOCAA Food offers delicious fare at affordable prices specially considered to appeal to locals. Even better is that every Wednesday the Zeitz MOCAA gallery offers free entrance to all South Africans – all you need to take along is your green ID book to gain access. A morning spent immersing oneself in art and culture from around the continent in a space that can only be described as awe-inspiring followed by lunch in the sky? Sounds great to me!