Yesterday, when the weather was great (let's rather not discuss the weather today, My visiting in-laws went out in long trousers and fleeces), we decided to take a trip to Noordehooek, over the other side.
In Cape Town, when you live in an area, it seems you rarely leave it, talking about "the other side [of the mountain]" much like you would do Mars or perhaps something in the Twilight Zone that you have heard of, but not personally familiar with. To get your average Capetonian to even contemplate a part of town in which they do not reside is an effort, let alone getting them to go there.
Seeing as we're relatively new, it only took a couple of hours of summoning up all that mental strength to drive up and over Ou Kaapse Weg and find ourselves in Noordehooek. It took around 25 mins from door to beach. Phew.
For those that haven't been, Noordehooek is totally amazing. It feels completely rural, wild and cut off but is only around 35-40 minutes from Cape Town CBD. It is green, lush and quiet with a wide, wide beach stretching off almost as far as you can see. If there are 10 other people on it, you've hit rush hour.
Anyway, all that sun, sea and sand can make a person hungry so we set off in search of a place to feed 3 generations of one family.
We found ourselves at the Red Herring Trading Post on Beach Road in Noordehooek, a stone's throw from the beach. I absolutely love the Red Herring Trading Post. To reach the shops and restaurants in the Red Herring you have to navigate quite thick Milkwood Forest- all the traders are nestled among the branches that form natural jungle gyms for the children. As you emerge from where the Beach Cafe used to be, you get stunning views of the beach and the mountains. Rather like this:
The Beach Cafe is no longer. It has been replaced by Franieba's Restaurant. It calls itself Cape Malay but the menu is broader than that- there is Cape Curry, Bobotie but also calamari, fish and chips, burger, a selection of salads. The chalkboard menu definitely had something for everyone but without being in the league of a small novel.
The setting was beautiful and the service should rather be described as hospitality. The girls had room to roam and were fussed over by the staff. The food arrived and it was exceptional- every dish. The Bobotie was the best we'd ever had, the calamari and the fish fresh and delicious, the chips crispy, the burger mouthwatering. And all beautifully presented. As we stared mournfully as our empty plates (children included, which is nothing short of a miracle), the waitress came over to tell us that there was home-baked lemon meringue pie on offer and that the baked cheesecake had just come out of the oven. The cakes arrived and- really, I am running out of adjectives here- they were amazing. Perfect. Washed down with espresso.
Why am I telling you this? Have I broadened my repertoire to wannabe restaurant critic? What's the big deal, great meals are a dime a dozen in CT, right?
In answer, I'd love to be a restaurant critic but I don't think it would be good for my waistline. Yes, bad meals are hard to find in CT but, even so, this home cooked, professionally served, reasonably priced menu was exceptional..
But the real reason I am telling you this is because Franieba's has an amazing story behind it.
As I chatted to the waitress, she told me she was the chef's daughter. Then she scurried off and returned, proudly presenting me with a laminated newspaper article from the Daily Voice. The restaurant's name is Franieba's- it is a mixture of the 2 owners' names: Francis Phalane and Monieba Moses.
Frances and Monieba are 2 friends from Ocean View (a township on the Southern Peninsula) who have know each other for 18 years, ever since they both worked in the same restaurant in Simons Town.
Monieba is the enviably talented chef, Francis the charming, efficient and ever-vigilant front-of-house.
Monieba was a waitress at The Beach Cafe (which is now Franieba's) but things weren't going well for the onwer. Worried about how she would support her family, she got the idea of opening a restaurant on that site as she'd always dreamed of having. She called her friend Francis who was rather taken aback at the suggestion, as she couldn't imagine getting together R20,000 for the lease.
Anyway, they gathered together every cent they had and got the keys on February 2011. With no money for stock, they took their RCS cards (like credit cards) and bought non-perishable goods and mineral water.
Having no transportation of their own, they got a bus from Ocean View to Long Beach Mall and then walked all the way to Noordehooek- a walk that can easily take an hour- carrying the stock in their arms and on their backs. As public transport can be tricky at 6pm, sometimes they walk all the way home. Today they both have bicycles- although Monieba had an accident and hurt her shoulder, so she's back to walking (but still cooking!)- with which they bring stock to Franieba's.
Today they are debt free (except for what they owe themselves in salary). They employ four people. The first meal they served was pilchard bobotie and since then the menu has grown as I indicated above. They also do takeaway family meals and with enough notice they can make anything you like.
South Africa has not had a good year in the news. The Secrecy Bill, the ANC infighting, Julius Malema's disciplinary hearing, the appointment by the president of a Chief Justice on a whim rather than according to procedure, the toilet issues in Khayelitsha to name a few that come to mind in addition to the constant corruption scandals.
Reading the news, it would be easy to believe that we live in a country of little hope, little ambition and little opportunity
So I wanted to share with you a story of posititivity and success, right under our noses. 2 inspiring, inconceivably hard-working, determined and talented women and their families running a business that deserves to succeed.
If you live in Cape Town or you're visiting, go there. Tell your friends to go there The name is Franieba's Restaurant, Red Herring Trading Post, Beach Rd, Noordehooek, CT. Phone number: 021 789 0122. If you have kids, there's a huge jungle gym in the restaurant itself, in the middle of a Milkwood Tree.
And if you see 2 women walking on Noordehooek Beach or cycling down Noordehooek Rd, carrying impossible amounts of food, give them a hand or just congratulate them for having the guts to make a go of things, of daring to think they can succeed rather than just sitting and moaning that life is not as they wish.