Expresso’s Zola Nene is one busy chef. Aside from cooking up a storm at dawn on SABC 3, styling and developing recipes, and working as chef patron of Capsicum Culinary Studio, she’s just released her first cookbook, Simply Delicious, published by Struik Lifestyle. The book is full of easy-to-follow recipes that could soon become your new week-night staples. (Like this pap lasagne, for instance.)
But where does Zola go when she’s not in the mood to cook? We asked the multitalented chef to share her favourite neighbourhood restaurants in Sea Point and surrounds.
I’ve been working and living in Sea Point and Green Point for the past six years, so have gotten to know my ’hood pretty well during my time here. I love that I’m located close to town, but far enough away so that it feels like this area is its own contained hub of activity. I have everything I could possibly need in terms of cuisines a mere 10 minutes away.
I love the sushi at Beluga, and taking advantage of the half-price special is a must. (Sushi and cocktails are half-price all day until 7pm). I always order Carin’s roll – it’s a prawn tempura roll topped with a spicy prawn mix. I’m drooling just thinking about it. I also love the seared tuna salad; the spicy peanut dressing is incredible, and I always ask for extra.
This is venturing out of my ’hood slightly onto Bree Street, but the pizza at Bocca is AMAZEBALLS. (Yes, I said it.) The savoury, chewy pizza dough is cooked to bubbly perfection and the truffle-laced mushrooms and prosciutto are my favourite toppings. What I love most about this place is that the pizza is cooked in proper wood-fired pizza ovens and the toppings are kept simple and to a minimum. I can’t stand a pizza with too many toppings.
My favourite is the chorizo burger at Engruna Eatery: it hits all the marks that a good burger should. The bun is toasted to perfection; the meat is juicy, not too compact, and cooked to a perfect medium; and the crispy, spicy chorizo adds a great touch. They also have hand-cut truffle-parmesan fries. I’m a bit of a sucker for anything doused in truffle oil.
I love La Mouette for unpretentious fine dining. The food is always fabulous and their tasting menu is affordable.
Quaglino’s in Moullie Point.
I’m a full-blown froyo addict! I get my fix from Filo Yoghurt, and always go for the fruity flavours – pomegranate being my favourite and granadilla coming in at a close second. For me, froyo has to be tart and not overly sweet.
I’m a Nando’s kinda girl and my order is always the same: a mild quarter chicken (leg portion) with spicy wedges and a mielie.
Margaritas are my current cocktail obsession (which changes on a weekly basis). I’m loving the margaritas at El Burro at the moment, and the food is great too, so it’s definitely a winner.
There aren’t any markets in my neighbourhood, but I do love going to the Palms Market in Woodstock. It’s covered, so is great for any weather, and they have fun cooking competitions every month. The bread maker there has the most delicious artisanal potato bread, and there are so many wines from which to choose. It’s a great Saturday morning outing.
I like picking up some fresh produce from a market and experimenting with different flavours and cooking methods – it’s great for finding recipe inspiration. I also enjoy purging my pantry cupboards and freezer; some of the best recipes come from finding creative ways to use what you have available at home.
I adore making curry at home. My mom makes the most unbelievable curries; whenever I visit my parents during the holidays, I’m guaranteed a curry for dinner. My versions aren’t nearly as time consuming as hers, though. I go for quick Thai curries, whereas hers are slow-cooked Indian curries.
Simply Delicious by Zola Nene is available at all good bookstores.