Blessing Of Good Food.

by Patrick Liew on January 14, 2013

On Christmas Day  2012, my family and I decided to have our dinner at the Azure, a highly acclaimed restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa. It is located at the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, a beautiful place that is nestled between the Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean.

It was my eldest daughter who took time to study the dining scene in that city. She booked a table prior to our arrival so as to, in the words of the restaurant’s website, ‘avoid disappointment.’

The advertisement proved to be true because it was a full house even though we reached the restaurant at about 9.15 pm. Perhaps, the fact that it won the ‘2013 Accredited American Express Platinum Card Fine Dining Restaurant’ had something to do with it.

My first surprise for the evening came about when I read the menu. It was politely offered to me by a well dressed and quite clearly, an experienced maitre d’.

Right on the first page was a policy statement about its corporate social responsibility.

Apparently, that restaurant subscribed to the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative and its ‘best practice guidelines for sustainable seafood.’ This was in line with supporting ‘responsible fisheries and the many local communities which rely on healthy ecosystems to provide them with their livelihood.’

It was a good start for a responsible meal, not that I was prepared for it.

It was also interesting to discover that Executive Chef Henrico Grobbelaar started his career as an engineer before he found his culinary calling in November 2002.

Since then, he has won many accolades and has been considered, according to information in the menu as ‘one of the most creative and celebrated chef’ in his country and a  ‘natural talent’.

For starter, I ordered Beatrice Tollman’s famous ‘homemade’ Chicken Noodle Soup.

No, I did not have a cold to cure, but the soup was certainly comforting to the body. It has a full flavor and has a pleasant umami that lingered on the taste buds.

Did I mention that I was offered a surprisingly wide selection of bread? I chose a slice of Capetown seeded loaf which is baked with 7 different types of seeds. I discovered later that they included- surprise! – poppy seeds.

No wonder, I was already half way to paradise before the main course. Lol!

Incidentally, Beatrice who was also affectionately known as ‘Bea’ and sometimes ‘Mama’ is one of the founders of the restaurant and President of Red Carnation Hotel Collection.

She was a renowned chef and author of her memoirs, ‘A Life In Food.’ The tabletop book detailing the best food that she has taken and the people she met while on a food trail all over the world.

After the starter, there was a round of light and refreshing raspberry sorbet to cleanse the palate. It was also a visual treat because the waitress poured water into a small receptacle of dry ice. As a result, the low-sinking, dense clouds of fog-like smoke created a celestial effect around the sorbet.

Earlier on, I had looked at the selection of main courses and one item stood out from the rest, the Cape Malay Chicken Curry. Imagine eating Asian food in South Africa and in a European-styled restaurant.

It was a pleasant surprise as I had been on the road for more than a week. Deep inside me, I was beginning to crave for Asian food and was willing to take the risk even if is not authentic.

After tasting the thick curry, I found it to be slightly sweet and subtly spicy. It was served with another series of surprises – star-aniseed basmati rice, sambals, warm butter-roti and a poppadum.

What’s more, it came with nine different condiments, including apricot chutney, fresh coconut shavings, and pepper salsa. All these items provided a surprising array of ‘oomphs’ to complement the curry.

Although the curry tasted unusual, it was nonetheless exquisite and delicious. The fusion of western and eastern tastes offered a satisfying experience and left a warm and flavourful sensation on a cool evening.

The sommelier recommended Graham Beck Brut, a Cape Classique wine – South Africa’s answer to champagne – to go with the meal. As I was appointed ‘chauffeur’ for the night, I had about five sips worth of the light-bodied wine. Enough to leave behind a surprisingly refreshing aftertaste.

The meal ended on a crescendo. The climax of the wonderful dining experience was the highly recommended ice cream.

The silky-soft icy texture came in three flavours; my favourite peppermint crisp, and chocolate flake and halva ice cream. They were rich, creamy and – obviously – pleasantly sweet, a sensational end to a great dining experience.

As it was late in the evening, I skipped coffee. Instead, I popped one of the candy-coated soft mints into my mouth, something which I rarely did.

After washing my hands in the toilet and filling my mouth with a wonderful minty taste, I dropped the remaining of the mint into the garbage bin. The least I could do to avoid consuming more calories from a good meal.

That night, I practically floated out of the restaurant. Back in my hotel room, I fell asleep before my back touched the bed and went straight into heavenly slumber.

In the deep recesses of my mind, I heard jingle bells, Christmas carols and what sounded like Ho! Ho! Ho!

The next morning, I felt very grateful and thankful that this kampung old man could enjoy such a good meal so far away from home. Some interesting thoughts also crossed my mind.

The way to a person’s heart is to plan for a series of pleasant surprises – and to do it purposefully and consistently. That’s what made our dining experience such a memorable one.

If I don’t enjoy good food, there must be an angel out there who is heart-broken. Someday when I get to heaven, the angel will ask me why I did not enjoy the food that our Creator has inspired the chef to prepare for me.

Truly, a good dining experience is catching a glimpse of heaven.

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

For my opinions on current affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

Please visit my website,

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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