The authentic South African pairing of red wine and biltong at Marianne's wine estate

Perfect Food and Wine Pairings in the Cape Winelands (enter to WIN!)

In the Cape winelands February is a busy month. Harvest is in full swing and the December break is a distant memory. However, thanks to Valentine’s Day, love is in the air and nothing beats the perfect combination of spending the day with a significant other in the beautiful Cape winelands.  Another winning formula is food and wine pairings.

Most of us are familiar with cheese and wine pairings and even chocolate and wine has become somewhat ordinary, but there are a host of new and exciting pairings springing up all over the Cape winelands to tempt your taste buds and help you experience wine in a whole new way.

Not only is February in the Cape busy but it is hot with temperatures in the mid-30s.  How cool then is Clos Malverne in Stellenbosch’s unique ice-cream and wine pairing where handmade gourmet ice-creams with exotic flavours are paired with their delicious wines. The wine and ice-cream pairing includes 4 wines starting with Kiwi fruit & chili ice cream paired with Clos Malverne Sauvignon Blanc and ending with Pineapple, coconut and mint ice cream paired with Clos Malverne’s Honey Dew – a delicious Chenin Blanc sweet wine. Not only does Clos Malverne have a spa but now one can also overnight on the estate.

Clos Malverne's unique ice-cream and wine pairings

Clos Malverne’s unique ice-cream and wine pairings

Delheim in Stellenbosch, was a founding member of the first wine route in the country. This estate offers a cupcake and wine pairing which captured my imagination. Whilst cupcakes are a little girl’s indulgence, paired with grown-up wine it is a ‘naughty but nice’ experience. How yummy does a Rooibos cupcake infused with lemon and topped with a cream cheese and honey icing paired with the Delheim Chenin Blanc Wild Ferment sound? Because the cupcakes are freshly baked each day pre-booking is required.

Delheim's decadent wine and cupcake pairing

Delheim’s decadent wine and cupcake pairing

 

In Stellenbosch, Marianne’s wine estate offers a biltong and wine pairing and you can’t get more South African than this! Guests are treated to 5 wines paired with three different types of biltong including Springbok and Pinotage; Kudu and Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz and then beef with their flagship Bordeaux blend, Floreal. A brasserie bearing the same name has recently opened on the estate.

The authentic South African pairing of red wine and biltong at Marianne's wine estate

The authentic South African pairing of red wine and biltong at Marianne’s wine estate

Fleur Du Cap – Salt and Wine pairing – at first thoughts one would think ‘yuk’ but South African Chef Craig Cormack has a fascination with gourmet salt (more than 161 of them) and in collaboration with Fleur du Cap has put together a unique tasting of 5 wines paired with tapas style offerings infused with specific salts. How exotic, and dare I say erotic, does unfiltered Chardonnay together with Black Larvae salt from Hawaii infused in a green olive tapenade sound or Cabernet with Khoisan flakes from the West Coast and sundried tomatoes and mature Gouda?

Fleur du Cap -SaltedCaramel LR (2)

Fleur du Cap’s original salt and wine pairings

Benguela Cove located on the Bot River Lagoon near Hermanus offers an unusual Liquid Gold Millionaire Pairing. Their Noble Late Harvest is paired with Millionaire’s Shortbread with a dark chocolate and gold leaf – described as ‘’A multi-textured caramel delight which highlights the sweetness of the wine. The crunchy shortbread base, soft caramel filling and cold, crisp chocolate topping creates a sensually delicious flavour explosion.’ Yum!

The delicious pairing of Millionaire's Shortbread with Benguela Cove's Liquid Gold

The delicious pairing of Millionaire’s Shortbread with Benguela Cove’s Liquid Gold

Creation wine estate in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley has always been at the forefront of wine pairing and over the years won many accolades for their food and wine pairings including one for Innovation by the Great Wine Capitals Network. Their tapas and wine pairing is the most popular and they are now focussing on drawing attention to herbs grown on the estate complementing their wines, such as mint and Merlot, chervil and Sauvignon Blanc and basil and Chardonnay.  According to innovative owner Carolyn Martin “At Creation we have always believed that what grows together goes together. Now that our herb garden is coming into its own it is just such a pleasure to match the fruit from our vineyards with the produce of our garden”.

Creation Wine's popular tapas and wine pairings

Creation Wine’s popular tapas and wine pairings

For a special Valentine’s month date why not combine a feast of pairings to create a truly memorable day.

Vindigo Travel is running a competition to win a selection of perfect wine pairings for two.

How to enter:

Follow Vindigo Travel on twitter and/or like our FaceBook page or if you already follow us leave a comment to automatically be entered into this competition.

Terms and Conditions:

Competition runs from 14 to 29 February 2016

You can only enter once

You must be over 18 years of age

The first correctly completed entry to be drawn randomly will win the prize

The prize includes a wine tasting experience for two at the following vineyards –

  • Benguela Cove: A Liquid Gold Millionaire’s tasting for two to be redeemed at either our Benguela Cove or Benguela on Main venues.
  • Delheim: Wine and Cupcake pairing for two;
  • Clos Malverne: Wine and Ice-cream pairing for two;
  • Marianne: Wine and Biltong pairing for two

The prize excludes transport to and from the tastings

Tastings are subject to availability and must be arranged directly with the vineyard within stipulated time period

The winner will be notified by twitter and/or FaceBook

 

All images by kind courtesy of wine farms.

 

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Family Friendly Farms in the Constantia Valley

The very name Constantia evokes the old world and the weight of history. Constantia is experiencing a new flurry of activity as it reinvents its wine tourism offering to cater to guests, young and old. Across the board what is on offer is of a consistently high standard, to be expected in this verdant valley, home of old money in the Cape.

The Red Hop on Hop off buses have introduced scores to the delights of the winelands right on Cape Town city’s doorstep. Those to benefit most have been Groot Constantia, Beau Constantia and Eagle’s Nest where the London-style buses stop off.

Red hop on hop off buses make visiting the Constantia Wine Route easy for all

Red hop on hop off buses make visiting the wine route easy for all

Starting off at Eagle’s Nest owned by the Mylrea family, the fresh ‘Little Eagle ‘Rosé is the perfect breakfast wine. For young families it is hard to beat the picture perfect dell surrounded by established trees to the left of the tasting room. Because it is a boutique family-owned winery, it is highly likely that you will encounter a member of the family helping out in the tasting room.

The venue is very popular on weekends when families – including well-behaved dogs – can come and spend the day enjoying the peaceful ambiance and one of the many platters and picnic options on offer. By special arrangement one can enjoy – at a price – a trip up to the highest vineyards with jaw –dropping views in the farm’s rustic 4 x 4.  Under the leadership of winemaker, Stuart Botha, Eagle’s Nest Shiraz has secured the accolade ‘Best Shiraz in the world’. During a private tutored tasting only possible through booking a private wine tour with guide – we enjoyed the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc – yet to be released, made from 30 year old bush vines from the Darling area. Well known for their Viognier, the 2014 did not disappoint. The 2011 Merlot, which was bottled in 2013, with its delicious savoury meatiness reflecting the minerality and iron from the granite block was my favourite.

The Eagle's Nest relaxed tasting room and picnic venue

The Eagle’s Nest relaxed tasting room and picnic venue

Constantia Uitsig is home to the flattest vineyards in this valley. Formerly home to the old River Café, La Colombe and the Constantia Uitsig hotel, loyal past customers to these old Cape Town institutions have had to adjust to the changes. The new owners are now establishing a new destination winery.

Jacques Du Plessis is the new winemaker who performs an impressive sabrage on the Uitsig MCC. The new mountain bike park is already in operation even though parts are still under construction. Plans to build a coffee barn serving coffee and pastry from the Open Door restaurant are in the offing as is a picnic area near a little dam planted with Fynbos banks.

A new green cellar on the estate will produce its own wines on site. Another great wine tourism idea is a public vineyard where members of the public can come and pick Hanepoort grapes.

Although I was an ardent fan of The River Cafe, I like the new Open Door restaurant with its hands on owner and great decor. They have a brilliant Children’s menu with mains such as Spaghetti with pea sauce, crispy bacon and Parmesan. Their cookies and steamed milk dessert also looks good.

Their standout white wine is the white blend with Semillon making up 70 % and Sauvignon Blanc 30%, a reversal of the traditional percentages, although their Chardonnay Reserve 2013 with ripe pineapple notes was a close second.

The newly opened Open Door Restaurant at Constantia Uitsig

The newly opened Open Door Restaurant at Constantia Uitsig

At the top of the Constantia  Valley is boutique wine farm, Beau Constantia. It boasts awesome views across the valley, towards the Stellenbosch Mountains in the distance and False Bay and has on-site the Sushi Box restaurant. There is a grassy amphitheater perfect for kids to play in whilst the adults sip delicious wines and imagine themselves as extras in a James Bond movie! All in all a visit to the Constantia valley offers a brilliant and accessible escape from city living and its accompanying stresses. The Constantia Wine Route comprising 10 farms offers something for every age and persuasion. From fine dining to picnics, wine-tasting to bike-riding, it is an exciting destination open to everyone and well worth visiting. For private tours please contact melissa@vindigotravel.com

The modern Beau Constantia tasting room with breathtaking views

The modern Beau Constantia tasting room with breathtaking views

 

 

The exclusive Melkkamer Manor House

Cold Gin and Hot Chocolate – a Whale of a Weekend at the Tip of Africa

In Africa, there is an easy answer to the question ‘Would you like a Gin and Tonic?’, but when it is a local artisanal brew from up the coast at Stilbaai and is graciously offered with a twist of bright orange peel in a sublime setting, it is an even easier answer.

Inverouche Verdant Gin from Stillbaai

Inverroche Verdant Gin from Stillbaai

And so the tone was set for three days during a recent long weekend at the end of Winter, flirting with Spring, as we drove through fluorescent Canola fields down to stay at the De Hoop Collection – a unique and memorable place situated in a nature reserve near the tip of Africa.

Wine Country

We stopped for lunch at the wine farm Gabrielskloof in the Overberg – over Sir Lowry’s Pass past Hermanus. We shared a quality charcuterie and local goat’s cheese platter, accompanied by home-made bread and olive oil off the farm. The signature Magdalena wine, a Sauvignon- Semillon blend was the perfect accompaniment – not to mention the gorgeous views encompassing countless Blue Crane’s – South Africa’s elegant national bird.

Fynbos Country

In Bredasdorp we had a whistle-stop tour to admire the spectacular display of vynbos including mountains of proteas at the local showgrounds as part of the Cape Floral Kingdom expo.
Four hours after leaving Cape Town, including an half an hour on a good gravel road from Bredasdorp, our group of 6 girlfriends arrived at the De Hoop Collection situated in a nature reserve managed by Cape Nature overlooking the Indian Ocean and teeming with whales.

The exclusive Melkkamer Manor House

The exclusive Melkkamer Manor House

Melkkamer across the De Hoop vlei

Melkkamer across the De Hoop vlei

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneur and owner of the De Hoop Collection, William Stephens has a friendly, avuncular disposition and it is clear his staff like and respect him. A hands on owner, his staff know what is expected and rise to the occasion. He clearly invests in his staff and it shows. They proudly engage with guests about what training courses they have recently been sent on or completed. Nothing is too much hassle for the staff – from the personal chef, to the manager, housekeeper, guide and driver we were extremely well looked after.

The friendly and competent staff at De Hoop will look after you well.

The friendly and competent staff at De Hoop

De Hoop is an organic project – growing and developing. A spa is about to be added to the complex overlooking the large De Hoop vlei where a flotilla of Pelicans happily while away their days fishing.

The three days spent at De Hoop were filled with excellent food, wine, fun outdoor excursions and plenty of time to rest and soak up the tranquil atmosphere. On numerous occasions I found myself sighing – exhaling really – the stresses of city life in an atmosphere of complete peace. Nature’s balm was working her magic. The house we stayed in Melkkamer is the most exclusive and we experienced the fully catered option. Sitting down to a 3 course meal the first night, we were treated to local wines from Strandveld – the Southernmost winery in Africa, Black Oystercatcher and Sjinn wines owned by David Trafford and situated close by on the banks of the Breede River.

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Delicious picnic lunch

Delicious picnic lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accommodation

The beauty of the De Hoop Collection is that whatever your budget or group size, there is something for everyone. The democratic nature of the set-up is appealing with everyone able to experience the unique beauty and pristine nature of its setting. The Melkkamer house was perfect for our small party – it can sleep up to 8 people in 4 suites. The wooden floors, high ceilings and romantically draped 4 poster bed as well as comfortable linen ensured an excellent night’s sleep. After a hot bath in a Victorian style bath I climbed contentedly into my king-size bed – complete with a hot water bottle. The generator was switched off and the flickering paraffin lamps reminded me of a bygone era when life was much simpler. It’s more remote location – only accessible by boat for part of the year made it even more special.

One of the four ensuite bedrooms

One of the four ensuite bedrooms

Inside the beautiful, remote old stone manor house

Inside the beautiful, remote old stone manor house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the course of the next two days, we experienced the diversity of what De Hoop has to offer. We went on an interpretive boat ride around the vlei having some of the 250 bird species pointed out to us, accompanied by piping hot chocolate, flaky croissants and extra blankets to keep us warm.

Feasting

We hiked along the vlei to a delicious picnic lunch of quiche, salad, more Gin and Tonic as well as dessert. Local chef, Philip Lottering generously shared some of his life story and recipes. Back at the main restaurant and hub of the Opstal area – we decided to go Quad biking. This is a guided, controlled activity but was rather loud having become accustomed to the tranquillity. Supper that night was a delicious lamb potjie, or stew cooked on an open fire in a black three legged cast iron pot. It was preceded by a retelling of the history of the homestead built in 1907 by the Anderson family as well as local ghost stories – it was wonderful to sit around a crackling fire in the darkness far removed from city lights with the soft murmur of the ocean over the distant dunes.

Whales

De Hoop is world famous for its whale sightings and especially from June to October when Southern Right whales come and turn the bay into a giant nursery. Sadly it was raining when we drove down to the nearest beach, Koppie Alleen yet we still managed to spot some whales in the bay and enjoyed an interesting interpretive walk along the coastline with our fabulous, knowledgeable, diplomatic and agreeable guide, Dickson.

Southern Right Whales are part of the scenery here from June to October

Whales are often seen from June to October

The main house is extremely comfortable and I enjoyed two afternoon sleeps in a row– absolutely unheard of but clearly attributable- in part- to the fresh air. Sitting in the cosy lounge we were able to relax before our last supper – a traditional South African braai.

It had been a weekend of rest, relaxation, good food, laughs and new experiences effortlessly aided by the hospitality of the staff and the beauty of the land – and perhaps a good Gin and a hot chocolate or two!

To book your trip down to De Hoop and create memories that will last a lifetime at the tip of Africa contact melissa@vindigotravel.com

hot choc

The breathtaking Helshoogte Pass

The Heavenly Delights of Hell’s Heights Pass

If there is one stretch of road worth driving more than any other in the Cape Winelands I would have to say it is the windy mountain pass linking the historic oak lined university town of Stellenbosch and the fertile Banhoek valley leading into the French Huguenot town of Franschhoek. Not only are the vistas absolutely extraordinary but the wine farms, attached like amulets on a chain, each have a unique story and are each a worthwhile destination boasting top wines, restaurants, delis, accommodation, art galleries and sculpture gardens.

The beautiful picnic setting at Boschendal

The beautiful picnic setting at Boschendal

The ‘Helshoogte’ or Hell’s Heights Pass otherwise known as the R310 was originally built in 1854 and then upgraded in 2010. It links the wine districts of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch and is 15 km long with the summit reaching 387m above sea level. If you are coming from the Franschhoek side on the left is Boschendal which has undergone a renaissance and become a real destination winery with plenty on offer. When my brother got married ten years ago the 3 day wedding extravaganza for their overseas friends who had travelled to the Cape Winelands culminated here with ‘le pique-nique’ on the Sunday. Boschendal pioneered the luxury wine farm picnic with beautifully presented hampers of fresh farm goodies to be enjoyed in the verdant grounds.

Pniel at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountains

Pniel at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountains

Further up Helshoogte you will pass through the small village of Pniel in the shadow of the Simonsberg Mountains. It is here where the first freed slaves chose to settle in 1842 after the abolition of slavery in the Cape in 1833. Its name comes from the book of Genesis in the bible and means ‘face of God’, an apt name for such divine surroundings.

Beautiful fynbos on the Bartinney farm

Fynbos on the Bartinney farm

Just before you reach the top of the pass on the left is a very special farm called Bartinney, overlooking the Banhoek valley. Owned by one of South Africa’s leading businessmen, the story goes that due to financial constraints the family farm passed out of the Jordaan family hands, but was able to be repurchased by the son who now lives there with his young family. Delicious Cabernet Sauvignons come from the Banhoek valley and I recently had the privilege of enjoying a tutored tasting conducted by the female winemaker Ronell Wiid at this boutique winery. At Bartinney sustainability is a business philosophy and the sustainable farming practices are seeing the return of wildlife and birds such as Guinea fowls. The shy Cape Leopard has also been sighted in the mountains above the farm. Social balance and harmony is regarded as equally important as environmental balance at this forward thinking winery, where the effluent from the wine-making process flows though the fynbos, indigenous to the Cape Floral Kingdom. By removing alien vegetation such as Blue Gums and Pine, a spring that had been dormant for 40 years recently started flowing.

Delaire Graff - known as the 'gem of the winelands'

Delaire Graff – known as the ‘gem of the winelands’

When my father turned 60 some years back he invited his friends to join him on a tour of the Winelands. A bus was hired and off we set confident in the knowledge that no-one had to drink and drive especially when navigating the windy pass. The chosen lunch venue was Delaire at the top of Hell’s Heights then owned by Erica and John Platter of Platters – the wine bible of South Africa fame. The simple country lunch we enjoyed was memorable. Today my father would not recognise what has now become ‘the gem of the Winelands’. Delaire-Graff owned by the founder of luxury jeweller, Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff is a seriously impressive destination winery designed to leave visitors breathless. The gardens were created by South Africa’s leading gardener and celebrity horticulturalist Keith Kirsten and each season offers the visitor something new. Not only is the best of South African art on display but award-winning restaurants commanding magnificent panoramic views make this destination winery at the pinnacle commanding 360 degree views Table Mountain in the distance a must-visit. Across the road from Delaire-Graff you will find the well-known estates Thelema – recently rated one of the world’s top 100 estates and Tokara – known for their excellent wines, restaurants, olive oil, art galleries and charismatic winemakers.

Heavenly offerings.

Heavenly offerings.

Thelema has a lovely old world feel nestled into the valley. Owner and viticulturist, Giles Webb, a former accountant planted all the vines. As a student the first ‘sophisticated’ white wine I can remember which made an impression on my palette and which I could order with confidence was Thelema’s Blanc Fumé which they sadly no longer produce – we are talking more than a quarter century ago and one thing is for sure is that all these wineries are dynamic, constantly re-inventing themselves!

Tokara is housed in super modern buildings with gorgeous views. Original art works by South African Masters such as William Kentridge are to be spotted on the walls. The small gallery annually hosts an artwork competition where students are invited to paint around a theme using red wine as their medium. The results are astonishing and one can imagine the fun the students have in producing them. The sculpture garden walk through the olive grove between the more relaxed deli and fine dining restaurant is also well worth doing.

It might be called Hell’s Heights but the views as well as the offerings are certainly heavenly. A leisurely drive over this short but dramatic pass with multiple stops is a treat not to be missed and a delight for the senses on every level.

A visual feast @Cafe Bon Bon

Casual Country Dining in the Winelands

Although there are lots of fine dining establishments in the Winelands catering to the Dollar and Pound laden foreign tourists, there are plenty of great reasonably priced options to delight locals who want to experience a break from the city and fresh and tasty local fare in country surrounds.

Steeped in tradition and celebrating their 330 vintage this year Jonkershuis @ Groot Constantia never disappoints. Family – friendly and always popular with locals I popped in for brunch recently and experienced excellent service, delicious scrambled egg on toasted ciabatta which was beautifully presented on a wooden board. Also on offer are their Cape Malay specials such as The Estate Tasting Plate which includes bobotie, samoosa and curry.

The relaxed setting at Jonkershuis at Groot Constantia

The relaxed setting at Jonkershuis at Groot Constantia

Few places beat the unique country charm and setting of Café Bon Bon which is located on La Petite Dauphine wine farm in Franschhoek. Turn right at the Huguenot monument and head into the back country roads and away from the bustling galleries before entering the estate. At Café Bon Bon you sit on the terrace under the oaks. The Café Bon Bon anti pasta platter is a winner and amongst other things includes Parma ham, minted zucchini, ham hock terrine, goat’s cheese accompanied by delicious bread. Booking is essential.

Cafe Bon Bon is the ultimate in relaxed country dining

The unique country charm of Cafe Bon Bon

The Country Kitchen at Mont Rochelle – Sir Richard Branson’s South African Hotel and Vineyard recently opened. It is a lovely venue separate to the main hotel buildings where the wine tasting takes place. It is open every day from 12- 6:30. In addition to tasting platters boasting a selection of local cheeses with homemade chutneys and preserves, it has a good selection of starters and mains as well as a ‘Little Chef’s Menu’. Their picnic baskets for two require 24 hour advance booking and range from R400 – R480 depending on the type selected.

The recently opened Country Kitchen at Mont Rochelle

The recently opened Country Kitchen at Mont Rochelle

La Petite Ferme – apart from the spectacular view over the Franschhoek valley, this family run restaurant with attentive staff can be relied on to deliver beautifully plated, fresh country fare. Whether it is trout caught that morning in the mountain stream or a Dender-Young family recipe, La Petite Ferme never disappoints. Booking is necessary for this popular spot.

La Petite Ferme in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley

La Petite Ferme in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley

The Deli at Tokara at the top of Helshoogte has been revamped and you can hardly get more family-friendly. Even the adults will be tempted to try out  the playground. There is standard fare of burgers and pizzas to tempt the littlies and the gift shop with free olive tastings and delectable truffles is hard to resist.

Heavenly offerings.

Lunch platter at Tokara Deli

Housed in the old wagon house, the Farm Shop and Deli at Boschendal, which recently hosted the Cape Wine Auction has also just opened. The whole estate has been revamped and there are outdoor tables under the oaks in front of the Manor House. Tempting homemade ice-cream with flavors such as pink geranium and green apple made on the estate are perfect for the still warm weather. Not only can you stock up on local preserves, but it is a perfect choice for a casual country lunch.

Lots to stock up on at the Boschendal Farmshop and Deli

Lots to stock up on at the Boschendal Farm Shop and Deli

Article first appeared in Food24.

Company's Gardens

Returning to Cape Town’s Food Garden Roots

Whether it is a tart granadilla or peppery rocket leaves, there are few things more satisfying than picking home-grown produce from one’s own garden and eating it minutes later. I recently visited the newly established Vegetable Garden in the Company Garden’s in Cape Town where an abundant array of magazine –perfect produce is growing slap bang in the middle of Cape Town. Thanks to the innovative Manager of the Company Gardens, Rory Phelan, and his team of 4 gardeners, the move to restore at least part of the Company Gardens to its original Dutch roots has taken seed.

It is a huge pleasure to come across the neatly laid out colourful patchwork of artichokes, quinces, spinach, brinjals, mielies, not to mention numerous fruit trees, hanepoort grapes and berries which the public is free to enjoy and which are thriving in the Company Garden’s – the original site of the Dutch vegetable garden. Over the past 350 years the nature of the Garden has changed. Originally it was established to supply food to the ships sailing around the Cape en route to the East. It then changed to a botanical garden enjoyed by the citizens of Cape Town and during the Victorian era became a pleasure garden. Started as a World Design Project in 2014 and given initial funding by Woolworths, the dream to reclaim hard surface and green the garden is being realised.

Vegetable Garden at Company's Garden

The newly established vegetable garden in the Company’s Garden

Through meticulous research based on etchings and paintings of the time, every detail from the ‘lei water’ system to the sand and pebbles surrounding the gardens has remained true to their Dutch period. There is also an endangered medicinal herb section, a reminder of the local knowledge on the ground which the original Khoi and San inhabitants of the Cape would have shared with the new arrivals. According to Rory, the three main driving forces behind the project were to re-green those parts of the garden which had been turned into parking, provide a snapshot of the roots of the garden and establish an avenue of food security. The spectacular gardens at Babylonstoren are of course based on the Company Gardens and a lovely collaboration project exists between the two. Collaboration is the name of the game and what a fruitful partnership it has been. With the excess produce plans are afoot to have a fresh farmer’s market.

The recently revamped Company’s Garden restaurant is currently supplied with garnishes, herbs and salad greens harvested within a stone’s throw of their kitchen. They are planning a more substantial salad bar in which case the Garden will aim to grow produce according to their requirements. Do yourself a favour and go for lunch in this historic oasis and green lung of the city. Help is at hand for those of us who want to have more food security and become ‘locavores’ whilst reducing food miles. Sign up for one of the Eduplant sponsored morning workshops which will take place on 15 April and 24 June where, in addition to having the theory explained you, you will get practical training and go home with a planted up container all fired up to farm your own veggie patch!

The newly revamped Company's Garden Restaurant

The revamped Company’s Garden Restaurant uses fresh produce from the adjacent vegetable garden

Article first appeared in Food 24

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Art Galleries in the Winelands

 

I was recently invited to the opening of an artist friend’s exhibition in Franschhoek. To make a day of it, I asked a girlfriend to join me on the journey – not only to enjoy the Cape Winelands’ fabulous wine and food offerings but also the visual feast on offer through magnificent South African art located at some spectacular galleries in the Winelands. It turned out to be a wonderful excursion.

First up was Cavalli in Stellenbosch located on the R44 coming from Somerset West. Cavalli is the Italian name for horse and the theme is evident throughout the estate. Owned by the Smith family, Cavalli started as a stud farm, housing what must be the most aesthetically pleasing and luxurious stables in the world! As a destination winery it is hard to beat.

The Equus Art Gallery on the estate ‘aims to encourage the local arts through its platforms of public sculpture spaces and a public art gallery.’ From the entrance to the restaurant, once can see Table Mountain in the distance. Enter through the restaurant and across the water is a huge Dylan Lewis sculpture. Down the stairs and carved into the hillside below is the wine tasting room and then an astonishingly large 600 square meter gallery showcasing rotating exhibitions of visiting curators, alongside a permanent exhibition of other notable works from the Cavalli Estate Private Collection. When we visited, the Equus exhibition with a horse theme was coming to an end but we managed to view Janko de Beer’s astonishing Sea Weed horses. The Gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 7pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm gallery@cavalliestate.com or call 021 855 3218. There is no entrance fee.

Janko De Beer Seaweed horses

Janko De Beer Seaweed horses

Our next stop was the Rupert Museum at the entrance to Stellenbosch on Dorp Street. Housed in a custom built space, the Rupert Museum showcases the unique private art collection of billionaires Anton and Huberte Rupert. The walls are literally dripping with the most spectacular South African art – showcasing talents such as Maggie Laubser, Irma Stern, Alexis Preller, Walter Battiss, Jean Welz, and JH Pierneef. In fact the one gallery is dedicated to the original Johannesburg station panels painted by Pierneef in the 1950s and is in itself worth the visit. In addition, there are also major European works by leading sculptors such as Auguste Rodin.

Anton Rupert Museum Stellenbosch

Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch

Dylan Lewis @ Anton Rupert Museum

Dylan Lewis at the Rupert Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

En route to lunch in Franschhoek we stopped at the top of Helshoogte pass and another billionaire’s dream – this time the awe-inspiring Delaire-Graff estate, which describes itself as ‘South Africa’s premier art, hospitality and wine destination’. Graff is a leading diamond dealer and the boutique jewellery shop off the foyer dominated by a huge Lionel Smit canvas is well worth drooling over. We were enthusiastically shown around the art collection on the estate by an estate ambassador who made us feel very welcome. William Kentridge is well represented as are the sculptors Deborah Bell and Anton Smit and Dylan Lewis whose sculptures strategically dot the estate. We were blown away by the latest acquisition called Morpheus a 3 ton mirror-image sculpture of a Malay woman by Lionel Smit.

Lionel Smit at reception to Delaire Graff

Morpheus by Lionel Smit at Delaire Graff

A visit to the Pierneef Gallery at La Motte on the outskirts of Franschhoek is always worthwhile, but by this stage we were starving and Café Bon Bon at La Petite Dauphine wine farm in Franschhoek proved the perfect spot to linger. The setting on the terrace under the oaks, the red rooster and the timeless feel of the place .Their food is visually presented like art on a plate and was both delicious and fresh.

A visual feast @Cafe Bon Bon

A visual feast at Cafe Bon Bon

Before making our way to the Gallery at Grande Provence and my friend’s exhibition we popped in for tea at Sir Richard Branson’s Hotel, the newly revamped Mont Rochelle and discovered the best deal in town. A pot of Earl Grey tea and rusk size biscotti with a view to die for over the Franschhoek valley for R15!

We finished off our perfect day with a glass of delicious wine at The Gallery at Grande Provence with its sublime setting. Not only does the gallery exhibit local artists like Angus Taylor, Deborah Bell and Lionel Smit but also emerging artists such as Arabella Caccia as well as artists from Europe and America.

We drove back to Cape Town having experienced a feast of South African art in spectacular surroundings whilst enjoying world class wine and food. This is an outing which can be enjoyed all year around come rain or shine.

The lighthouse at Cape Agulhas

The southernmost wine farms in Africa

 

Take a trip down south and taste some excellent SA wines.

‘Die winter is verby, nou kom die wind’ – winter is over, now comes the wind, remarked an Agulhas local. This remote part of the world, known for its treacherous shipwrecking coastline is at a superficial level somewhat intimidating. Yet scratch beneath the harsh surface and you will find delicious wines and hospitable locals.

At Cape Agulhas - the tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

At Cape Agulhas – the tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

There is something distinctly romantic about tasting wine from vines grown at the southernmost point of the African continent, and not just ordinary wines but extraordinary, highly ranked wines competing with the best in the world. The Elim ward falls in what has traditionally been cattle and wheat country. Known for its biodiversity, the wine farmers established the Nuwejaars River Wetland Special Management Area dedicated to conservation of this unique part of the world where they have re- introduced hippo and buffalo. For those who take the road less travelled they will be richly rewarded.

History

Elim itself has a fascinating history as a Moravian mission station set up in 1824. Known traditionally for its thatcher’s, the name Elim is more and more associated with delicious Semillon and Sauvignon blends among the whites and full bodied reds.

Black Oystercatcher

If you approach the Elim wine route from Bredasdorp, you will come to Black Oystercatcher Wines. Here Dirkie Human has built a destination winery popular amongst locals and tourists. His fish braais are legendary and memorable coupled with his flagship White Pearl Sauvignon Semillon blend and a tranquil view across the Agulhas plains. The bulging organic vegetable garden which guests in the self-catering cottages are free to harvest is a foodie’s dream!

Dirkie Human is also the wine maker for Celestina, owned by Caroline Rillema of Caroline’s Fine Wines and her partner Ray Kilian. She has planted 1, 8 hectares in nearby Baardskeerdersbos and produced 2400 bottles in 2012. This wine displays the typical Cape Agulhas characteristics of minerality, raciness and gentle acidity and her sought after 2015 vintage is eagerly awaited.

Bredasdorp Square

Bredasdorp Square

Black Oystercatcher

Black Oystercatcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strandveld Vineyards

A few kilometres south and only 9kms from the sea you will find, Strandveld Vineyards which claims the title of the southernmost cellar on the African continent. Their First Sightings range refers to the original sighting of the South African coastline by the Portuguese explorers in 1488. One of their flagship wines holds the name Strandveld Pofadderbos referring to the deadly poisonous puff adders to be found in that particular vineyard. The bouquet is full of white asparagus, nettle and green pepper aromas and it tastes sublime. Tasting fee is R40 which is refundable with purchase.

Strandveld Vineyards

Strandveld Vineyards

Zoetendal

Changes are afoot at Zoetendal named for the Dutch shipwreck of 1673 and which will reopen to the public at the end of 2015 under the auspices of David Nieuwoudt of the Cederberg, as the new home of Ghost Corner wines. Staying with cattle and sheep the new owners from Upington recognise the quality of the soil and are happy to lease and cooperate with leaders in the industry such as Dave Hidden and Charles Bak to harness the terroir and coax delicious and memorable wines out of this somewhat harsh climate.

(Note – The Elim Fruit and Wine Festival will be held in October.)

First appeared on Food.24

For more information on food and travel tips, visit Melissa Sutherland’s Facebook page.

Orchard Farm Stall

Fabulous Farm Stalls in the Overberg

 

The school holidays are around the corner and nothing shouts start of the holidays more than the ritual of stopping at a farm stall en route to one’s holiday destinations.

An hour outside of Cape Town – once over Sir Lowry’s pass, are a couple of options.

Orchard Farm Stall

Orchard Farm Stall on the left has a special place in my heart as it was where my boyfriend (now husband of 20 years) stopped when he was wooing me. It has subsequently gone through a couple of ups and downs and new management took over this year, but in addition to being able to pick up fresh fruit and bread, it is a good pit stop to use the loos and give the dog a run around.

Peregrine Farm Stall

Coming through Elgin one sees Peregrine Farm Stall on the right. You know you are in Apple country with their range of freshly squeezed apple juices. Their bakery stocks mosbolletjies (sweet brioche-like buns made with fermented grape juice), rusks and biltong. Elgin is also the home of cool climate wine, so you can stock up on some of the local wines!

Delicious local goodies on offer at the Peregrine Farm Stall

Delicious local goodies on offer at the Peregrine Farm Stall

The Peregrine Cafe

The Peregrine Cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houw Hoek Farm Stall

At the top of the pass, Houw Hoek Farm Stall has always been a favourite for fresh farm pies. They offer a range at R20 of chicken and mushroom, curry steak, steak and kidney. You can pick up kudu droewors and home baked goodies. My aunt religiously stops there for their seed stuffed health bread. The well-stocked deli is full of fresh farm treats such as Green Fig Preserve and Moskonfyt. You can pick up beautiful bouquets of local fynbos and always land up spending more than you meant to – but hey, it’s the holidays! The Houw Hoek Farm Stall also has a great range of local wines, which brings me to my next suggestion.

Houw Hoek Farm Stall

Houw Hoek Farm Stall

Gabrielskloof

If you aren’t in a rush and feel like making the journey part of the holiday, then treat yourself to a delicious food and wine pairing experience at Gabrielskloof wine farm just past Botrivier on your right. The setting overlooking the Overberg wheatfields is simply gorgeous and it’s not surprising that this is such a popular venue for weddings given the beautiful courtyard and chapel.

There is a popular restaurant and at the deli you can even collect fresh farm eggs, as well as divine quiches and pies including a popular Bobotie Pie for R20. Everything is homemade and free range and the bread is all baked on the property.

Wonderful view from Gabrielskloof

Wonderful view from Gabrielskloof

Restaurant at Gabrielskloof

Restaurant at Gabrielskloof

 

 

 

 

 

Dassiesfontein

If you are prepared to drive a bit further up the N2, just past the turnoff to Villiersdorp you will see Dassiesfontein on your right. It is hard to miss. A monument to boere-chic and by that I mean you can buy all kinds of enamel kettles and pots, old kitchen utensils and seal shoes as well as biltong, bokkoms and dried fruit from the Overberg. The doorstopper sandwiches on homemade bread hit the spot if you are starving.

Dassiesfontein

Dassiesfontein

First appeared on Food24

For more information on food and travel tips, visit Melissa Sutherland’s Facebook page.

Buitenverwachting

Where to eat on the Constantia Wine Route

 

Whether you approach it from the bottom of the valley at Steenberg Golf Estate or coming over Constantia Nek at the top, Capetonians are spoilt for choice as to the dining options available along the Constantia Valley Wine Route.

A lot has been happening with regards restaurants opening,  closing or in some cases relocating. Spring has heralded a new crop of ideas and dining options. Here is a round-up on what you can expect:

The wine bar at the ultra-modern Bistro Sixteen82 on Steenberg Estate is the place to start. Whilst previous chef Brad Ball has recently left to open a new restaurant at Peddlers on the Bend, a new chef is in the process of being appointed but patrons can expect the same delicious contemporary European fare.

Bistro Sixteen82

The ultra modern Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg

Stylish Catharina’s is nestled in the werf of the old farmhouse precinct and 5 star hotel. Breakfast is served from 7 am each day. Lunch choices are from a blackboard menu which changes with the seasons. For fine dining, the candlelit dinner is a romantic treat. On Sundays, Family Feasts accompanied by live music are served from 12 – 3 pm from May – l October and feature a choice of starters, platters of roast meats and vegetables and dessert for R280/adult, half price for kids under 12. The Summer Feast is a buffet at R300/person

Catharina's Restaurant

Inside the stylish Catharina’s Restaurant

When Constantia Uitsig recently changed hands many people wanted to know what would happen to their restaurants.The River Café is set to open again under a new name and the new management of Neil Grant later this year although no firm date has been set. La Colombe has moved to a new location in Silvermist estate at the top of Constantia Nek and construction is under way. See website for details www.lacolombe.com

The restaurant at Buitenverwachting has long been a destination for a treat meal. The Austrian chef’s roots are clearly evident in his cooking style. Buitenverwachting’s popular summer picnics start from 20 November 2013 – 31st March 2014. The Coffee Bloc is a new popular addition to the farm and valley with yummy Austrian pastries.

Buitenverwachting Restaurant

View across the vineyards from Buitenverwachting Restaurant

Buitenverwachting picnic

The popular Buitenverwachting picnics

Coffee Bloc

The new Coffee Bloc

 

 

 

 

 

 

Groot Constantia reminds me of my favourite granny and is an old and established favourite in the valley. Jonkershuis is ever popular for breakfast under the oaks in front of the Manor House or for their Estate Tasting plate featuring a medley of Malay curries. Simon’s is family-friendly and great for a casual lunch or dinner.

The relaxed setting at Jonkershuis at Groot Constantia

Dining under the oaks at Jonkershuis

Simon's Restaurant

Simon’s Restaurant is ideal for relaxed outside dining

 

 

 

 

 

Ascending the valley, Constantia Glen’s wine bar has a restricted offering of charcuterie and cheese platters to accompany their delicious wines. With breath-taking views this is proving to be very popular as a lunchtime spot.Constantia Glen is open daily from 10h00 till 17h00 on weekdays, from 10h00 till 16h00 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Constantia Glen wine bar

Constantia Glen wine bar

Beau Constantia’s location has the wow factor. One could be in a James Bond movie sitting in the glass tasting room suspended over the valley. Lunchtimes on Friday, Saturday or Sunday enjoy a small changing menu of burger, pizza or fish and chips @R90. There is also a tasting platter. Plans are at an advanced stage to open a wine bar downstairs which will also serve Craft Beer and tapas style dishes. Gourmet picnics will soon be on offer in the amphitheatre. Check website for details www.beauconstantia.com

The modern Beau Constantia Tasting Room with breathtaking views

Breathtaking views from the Beau Constantia tasting room

Article first appeared on Food24.

For more information on Cape Town travel tips, visit Melissa Sutherland’s Facebook page.