While I am not trying to develop a city rivalry between Joburg and Cape Town, I do have to admit that when it comes to food, Cape Town wears the Top Chef hat. Whether you view the Eat Out restaurant awards with as much skepticism as I do or not, Cape Town does seem to have more restaurants with a higher quality and innovation standing than Jozi – or perhaps its just because Jozi is so damn big that truly superb restaurants are never able to rise about the thousands of mediocre restaurants that have established clientele for no other reason than for Johannesburger’s general attitude towards blind loyalty of mediocrity. This is why I love the concept of Taste of Joburg.

So the concept of the Taste of… experiences is a beautifully simple one. Gather together the best food and beverage merchants in the city as a single venue, and allow thousands of people to move from one mini-restaurant outlet to the next tasting the various dishes on offer. Then, if they like your sample dish and want to experience the full meal deal, make a booking for the restaurant. Naturally, the chance for people to attend what eventually becomes a food and drink orgy on a hot Joburg spring weekend bring out both the very best, and the very worst of Joburg – but at least everyone attending has the love of food in common.

This year’s Taste of Joburg drew in record crowds, and it was not surprising that the firm favourites were those restaurants which, sadly, are often snubbed by Eat Out – perhaps because the restaurant’s are not in the Western Cape. Below are some of the best meals and stands at this year’s show.

Cube Tasting Kitchen, Chef Dario de Angeli

Perhaps with the best dish, Cube Tasting Kitchen’s pork morsel had us coming back for seconds and thirds. The crab was less appealing, but the desert was also a winner.

Roots, Chef Adriaan Maree

Also a dish that drew us back more than once was Roots’ springbok dish with a truffle sauce that drove us nuts. Unfortunately the two other meals didn’t quite live up to it.

As temperatures rose into the upper 20’s, most of us bolted towards the San Pellegrino stand, and as one of us said, “if you stand is about water, you better make it damn appealing”. We think this innovative fountain did the trick.

Drawing in the sweltering crowds, San Pellegrino could sell water to a fish with this little fountain.

And before you think that Taste of Joburg is just about snooty overpriced restaurants with food you would never dreams of eating as you settle in your 15 year old recliner to watch the Bulls take of the Cheetahs, here are a couple of surprise stands that caught our attention, and should be mentioned for their great snacks.

Mad Maude’s confectioners

Tamara at Mad Maude’s just has that thing about her that subconsciously tells you, “yeah, my bakes goods are gonna be good!” – and she doesn’t disappoint. In a world where cupcakes have become a cliche, Mad Maude’s delivers.

 

Black Mamba Chilli Venom

If you like your food like your women, seriously hot, then try Black Mamba Chilli Venom. Their sauces and dips are seriously good, and if you like yours on the hot side, these provide a taste that has a hearty substance behind the burn – oh, and they are fair trade approved – meaning that no neo-slave trade practices are part of the production or sale of these products.

So, if you are looking to explore food options beyond the nearest Mother Woolies, then give Taste of Joburg a try next year…and if you can;t wait until then, rumour has it that Taste of Christmas will be taking place in early December.