Food ebbs and flows with the seasons. It is an age-old known fact that you sow your seeds when Mother Nature’s alarm clock goes off. She decides. She nurtures. And then she gives; harvested at its peak season, dripping with the sweet nectar of wholesome freshness. What you eat today, might only grace your pantry and plate again in a year. Weather-permitting.
It is humbling ― hauntingly beautiful ― to move alongside nature, to live in the now, off the land in a way that reflects our environment and culture.
Yet, between the aisles of supermarkets chicken from Brazil is stacked in the cold section. Jams – that your grandmother used to make by the ‘for every kilogram of fruit, you add a kilogram of sugar’ rule – are now only 35% of the recipe. The rest is gelling and anti-foaming agents. Marmalades contain colourants because ‘looks sell’. We stock our shopping carts with food with a longer shelf life.
Because of convenience? Because of cost?
We deserve better. We deserve fresh. Anthony Bourdain once said, “Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime. Please, treat your garlic with respect. Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screw-top jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.”
You deserve fresh, Fideli’s fresh
For Chef Judi the availability and abundance of locally sourced ingredients have always played a big role. In December 2019 she opened Pilcrow & Cleaver, a restaurant that changes its menu weekly to the ebb and flow of the seasons. And now, exactly a year later, she started an additional chapter called Fideli’s.
What you can expect at Fideli’s is wrapped up in the meaning of its Latin name, to be faithful. It is a place bridging the gap of disconnect between people and food, a place loyal to the ingredients.
Situated in Cape Town’s CBD, on Church Square right next door to Pilcrow & Cleaver, Fideli’s is all about community, food honesty and simplicity. While it operates as a beer garden, the twist of difference lies on its shelves inspiring at-home-cooking. There’s a product range called Judi Jars which includes home-made sauces, jams, yoghurt, and preserves. Many of which are firm favourites in Pilcrow & Cleaver’s dishes, like the Eggs Benedict’s hollandaise and the P&C Burger’s tomato jam. Then there are also spices, hand-made pasta, ready-to-go meals, and baked goods from ciabatta to alfajores.
No nasty add-ons to extend its sell-by date.
When you peek over at the cold section, there is a variety of fruit and vegetables, local cheeses, free-range eggs, milk, grass-fed beef, lamb, cold cuts, and green-listed seafood available from sustainable reputable suppliers – all stating the origin of the product, from Epping to Polokwane.
“Export might have been an exotic concept, imports trend on Instagram but living off the land means sticking close to Mother Nature.” – Chef Judi
Outside an oasis of greenery invites you to unwind in the beer garden. There are fresh herbs, grown on the spot, that you can cut and mix yourself. The drinks list features more than 80 wines, old school cocktails like a Whisky Sour, and local first quenchers such as Ben Wren and Hey Joe beer.
The food menu has breakfast, lunch, and dinner with meat and cheese boards, a harvest table or, you can choose a steak cut or sustainable fish fillet and ask the chef to prepare it for you with your own choice of sides, sauces, and dressing.
“I want people to connect with their food again, to know where it comes from, and to understand the importance and the impact at large of using locally sourced ingredients in their day-to-day cooking at home, or when visiting a restaurant. It is a ‘new green’, not a trend but a reality.” – Chef Judi
Centuries ago, our forefathers lived off the land. And then came longer shelf lives and fast food. It became volume over quantity. Convenience over taste.
A restaurant – or a grocery store – should not be like a gas station but rather an experience; a walk through an art gallery where every item is appreciated and can be traced back to its origin. And that is the Fideli’s promise. An invitation to make a return to something we used to know. A promise to build on its current wisdom and to stir the spoon of sustainability even further.
Fideli’s is can be found at 3.1 PIAZZA, Parliament Street and operates 7 days a week, from 07:00 until 22:00.