Alan Parker’s magnificently terrifying film Midnight Express did about as much damage to the Turkish tourism industry as Patricia de Lille’s brain-dead managing of Cape Town’s water crisis has done in eradicating tourist-related income to the Western Cape summer past.
It must have been just after the first Cape Town hipster had tragically died from beard-oil poisoning while drinking an almond latté when I first heard of the Dog’s Bollocks. I initially assumed this to be the name of one of these ridiculous shooter drinks or a vogueish new tattoo pattern. Instead, the Dogs Bollocks turns out to be a place in the Gardens flipping burgers which the in-crowd deemed to be the best thing to hit town since Dis-Chem started selling a ladies’ underarm grooming kit.
Photo: Black Label Charters, Cairns, Australia
I hadn’t killed a marlin for some time now, so I decided to go out and eat one. Not a whole thousand pound fish, mind you. At least, not in one sitting.
This lust for game-fish lead me to Miller’s Thumb, the restaurant that has for over two decades been a local institution to those residing in the Cape Town City Bowl. It does fish and some meat, as well as having the kind of casual homely atmosphere that makes one tend to frequent the joint often, if only to hang at the small bar talking to other locals about killing fish with surface lures, tools with which to trim beards and the current tattoo fashions.
I’ve always dreamt of a tall, gangly blonde looking down at me and utterings words to the tune of “oh, just eat it like a mielie”. But this she did, smiling before turning around to head for the kitchen leaving me with a still heart and a deep-fried pig’s tail in my hand.
A taxing few days’ Oriental dining were accompanied by some Sauvignon Blanc wines, and I am happy to report that I appear to have lived to tell the tale. Like the culinary offerings of the East, Sauvignon Blanc is never-ever going to be truly great, but as the dining sessions showed, it is a wine that does provide fleeting, brisk sustenance of the vinous kind.
If the prospect of being exposed to a disconcerting slice of knife-crime or the possibility of contracting a virulent STD are not enough to frighten tourists from visiting Cape Town, there is always the African cuisine. For while the Mother City has in the eyes of foreign and local critics alike garnered a reputation for an international, wine-land, with-it kind of cooking, those wishing to seek-out the fleshpots of a more indigenous and ethnic nature will be less rapturous than those New York Times and Guardian journalists popping a wet-one about the local tapas bars and Asian noodle joints.
Just in-case you thought otherwise, wine-writing is not as engagingly gratifying and pleasure-filled a profession as it would appear. Take the delivery of all those complimentary tasting samples, for example. Why do the winery couriers always ring one’s doorbell just as you are in the middle of delicate contractual negotiations with that paranoid editor so petrified at the prospect of losing your free-lance writing services?