I stumbled upon Meraki on Instagram just over a year ago and instantly hit the follow button. Inspired by Meraki’s loving belief of cooking and serving food, I have been an avid visitor of the restaurant since. Situated in gorgeous Stellenbosch on a quaint tree-lined street, once you walk through Meraki’s doors it truly feels like you’re inside a real-life Pinterest board. And not just an average DIY Pinterest board – an inspirational, designer Pinterest board. Unsurprisingly, the word Meraki is untranslatable and there is no English equivalent for the term.
Definition: Meraki (pronounced: may-rah-kee); Greek; adjective
1. To do something with soul, creativity, or love.
2. To put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing.
My family set off to Stellenbosch last Saturday morning for a much anticipated breakfast out of Cape Town. As we walked through several cyclists sitting on Meraki’s patio with their morning coffees, we found ourselves a table inside and ordered a round of flat whites. The coffee was rich in flavour and well needed after an early morning drive to Stellenbosch. We immediately scanned through Meraki’s breakfast menu and although their French Toast with Maple Syrup (and brûleéd banana!) almost won me over, the Eggs Benedict was the more convincing breakfast choice that morning. My dad – who has ruthlessly stuck to a Banting lifestyle and never gives into carb cravings – ordered the Eggs Benedict on a bed of wild mushrooms done with butter and thyme. Although buttery mushrooms sounded incredible, I kept my order just how it was meant to be with a piece of ciabatta. Don’t tell my dad, but the crispy ciabatta toast was worth the carbs.
My mom ordered an omelette with salmon, cream cheese and chives. And, I quote – it was “simple and delicious.” The use of free-range eggs and local ingredients makes for incredible flavour on humble, uncomplicated meals.
The restaurant offers a vast selection of baked goods – carrot cake, salted dark chocolate chip cookies and freshly-made all butter croissants to name a few. Corlandi Conradie, the owner of Meraki, also stocks lifestyle items from local companies. Ranging from Cape Town based design company Zana Product’s pillows, Banting Blvd food products, ButtaNutt tree nut spreads and Hemelvrugte’s toffies.
I sat down and asked Corlandi – the inspirational foodie and owner of Meraki – a few questions…
What is your idea of a perfect food day?
Breakfast: During the summertime I tend to go for fresh fruit. However, I absolutely love eggs; scrambled with rye, poached with avocado and fried with plenty of crispy bacon on a thick piece of buttered toast.
Snacks: Fresh fruit like nectarines, oranges, apples and dates are just so bold in taste, full in flavour and nutritious in flesh. Also, a handful of nuts and a peanut butter toastie is a classic snack choice of mine.
Lunch: I like to keep things simple. A massive bowl of rocket with parmesan shavings, pine nuts and just with a drizzle of olive oil is my latest addiction.
Dinner: A fresh (not from frozen) piece of Norwegian salmon, seared and served up with cauliflower mash. Real flor di latte mozzarella with fresh tomatoes, basil and cold glass of white wine is also a favourite. Oh, and I also love freshly baked bread with butter!
Without hesitation, freshly cut flowers. I absolutely adore the smell of garden roses, tuberoses, freesias and magnolias. In the kitchen when baking it’s all about butter, butter, butter!
What are some food items you always have in the kitchen fridge at Meraki?
Salted butter, full cream milk, free-range eggs, rye toast, home-made jam, parmesan cheese, anchovies, tomatoes, lots of salad greens and always fresh fruit.
Advice for someone who wants to open their own restaurant?
Running a restaurant is a lot more than serving up beautiful plates of delightful food. Cooking, baking and serving food is the easy part. To open up a restaurant you need to understand the principles of business. Being able to look at your financial statements every month and have an understanding for it – is ultimately what will make or break you. If you get this, the rest will fall in place with ease. Other than that, all businesses require discipline, dedication and positive energy.
A person you relate to/inspires you in the food industry?
I am inspired by so many phenomenal chefs. Locally Jacques Erasmus from Hemelhuijs, Abigail Donelly and her team from Taste Magazine and Luke Dale Roberts at Pot Luck Club – who makes for phenomenal dining experiences. Karen Mordechai from Sunday Suppers keeps food simple but sensational in flavour, texture and taste.
The book you’ve read most recently?
I read quite a few books at the same time. A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson recently stole my heart, the story of Charles Phan from The Slanted Door is truly inspiring. Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso is a must read for all aspiring business women.
Three must follow accounts on Instagram?
@sheisvisual for an inspirational take on life, design and beauty in small details
@sundaysuppers for simple food made real good.
@pyjamasandjameatery for every day scrumptious delight.