A Taste of South Africa
By Marketing Intern Caitlyn Williams
Interested in learning more about South Africa—the setting and home of Peter Brook’s The Suit—Rose Woodbury (Communications Assistant) and I looked to Cederberg Tea House located at the top of Queen Anne to show us the ins and outs of South African cuisine.
Named after the only place where rooibos tea grows naturally, Cederberg Tea House is well known for their rooibos espresso: rooibos tea pulled through an espresso maker and served with whole milk- (ther non-dairy options are offered). I sampled a rooibos cappuccino topped with honey and cinnamon, and Rose had the rooibos white mocha also known as a “Red Symphony.” I found the earthy and grassy flavors of the tea to shine through its frothy cappuccino form, highlighted by the gentle sweetness of the honey. If its delicious taste wasn’t enough, Natasha, the owner of Cederberg Tea House, informed us that rooibos is also caffeine free and has five times the antioxidants of green tea. Not as harsh and acidic as traditional espresso drinks, rooibos espresso was the ideal primer for the food that we were about to taste.
Bunny Chow, a popular South African street food was served as our main course. A hollowed out piece of traditional white loaf bread, referred to as a “government loaf” is filled with curry and typically eaten without utensils—being the refined theatregoers we are, we opted for silverware. Nobody knows where the name for Bunny Chow originated, but one of the stories behind the dish is that a restaurant owned by the Banais created it as a means to serve those excluded during apartheid through back windows. Rose and I tried the lentil, sweet potato and butternut squash Bunny Chow (curries rotate weekly), served in a white sandwich loaf from Baker Boys Northwest.. The curry was one of the best that I have ever tasted. Warm and complex spices resulted in a well-rounded flavor when paired with the perfectly cooked vegetables. The bread was a flawless vehicle for the curry, it was light, fluffy and almost disappeared in my mouth, but it never became soggy. Bunny Chow is what every “bread bowl” should be: great simple bread filled with high-quality curry.
To top off the meal, Rose and I were treated to two incredible South African desserts. First up was the Melktert, a milk custard tart that Natasha described as a, “crème brulee meets a snickerdoodle.” A buttery and mildly sweet shortbread crust encompassed a very light and airy custard—not as dense as a brulee—with soft and sweet notes of vanilla and topped with cinnamon sugar. The crust is what makes or breaks a tart, and this shortbread crust was delicious enough to eat on its own. The Melktert was fantastic, but the Malva Pudding was unbelievable. A deceptively simple-looking loaf cake, Malva Pudding is a sponge cake doused in a cream, butter, sugar and vanilla sauce immediately after it has been removed from the oven. This results in a syrupy rich cake, where flavors of sweet butter and cream explode into your mouth. Remarkably, the cake holds its shape perfectly and delivers a consistent texture while complimenting the buttery and saucy goodness. They say that the patrons of Cederberg Tea House will return multiple times a day asking for a Malva Pudding; I totally get it.
Much like The Suit, Cederberg Tea House is a unique and unforgettable dining experience that will enchant and surprise you. If you find yourself dreaming about the charming South African parable, I suggest that you head over to Cederberg for a delicious meal that will satisfy your stomach and your soul.