Kalk Bay is real; it’s noisy, it’s fishy and it’s a wonderful slice of real Cape life on the coast. Choose your line fish at restaurants in the harbour or the main street, from cheap and cheerful fish ‘n chips in a basket from Kalkies or Lucky Fish, to the family-friendly Live Bait and nearby Outspan, or the chic top floor Harbour House, with potent cocktails and fabulous ocean view. Underneath is Polana – the Portuguese restaurant better known for its laid-back sociable lounge-bar, which is so close to the waves that winter storms have been known to break the windows.
What kind of fish is ‘Line Fish’?, ask many visitors to Cape Town? Kalk Bay epitomises just what is meant by line fish; it is those fish caught on a hand line from small colourful boats that venture into the oceans around Cape Town every day. Each fisherman has his own compartment in the boat and has to hand over a portion of his catch to the skipper/vessel owner and get paid for the rest.
Somehow they seem to be able to sniff out where the shoals are ‘running’, and the small boats clusters off Cape Point to catch snoek on one day and haul in yellowtail from a completely different location the next. The boats chug into the calm water of Kalk Bay harbour and moor up against the wall at around lunchtime. The day’s catch is then hurled unceremoniously through the air, fish by fish, straight onto the dockside. Walk past at the wrong moment and may get a clammy fish in the face, not to mention that your feet will be swimming in sea water and fish guts.
Ask advice on what to buy and how to cook it from one of the traders. Dressed in white apron speckled with fish blood and holding up a long silvery snoek, Muriel recounts, “I sit at home eating me crayfish toppies like I was the Queen. I like me red roman and yellowtail, but snoek goes pap too fast, but this is a good one – fresh off the boat.” Make your choice and Murial guts it on the spot, wraps it in paper and it’s yours.
Read Wednesday’s post for the SASSI guide to sustainable fish.