New Hip Zones in Cape Town – Bree Street

andUnion Bar

andUnion – fab spot to enjoy craft beer, boutique wines & light gourmet delights!

Cape Town is a creative hub and with the artists come artisans who are channeling their creativity into the food and entertainment world.  This creativity is best felt and experienced by exploring areas of the inner city and its fringe areas e.g. – Bo-Kaap, De Waterkant and Woodstock.  

The trend over the last few years has been a return to artisan roots and to support the smaller local artisanal businesses.   There is a very public shift away from big brands eg Illy Coffee, versus Cape Town artisanal roasted coffee eg Origin/Deluxe/Truth/Haas.  In addition the recession has meant that there have been less of a focus on opulence and as such fine dining establishments have struggled and many have closed.  Naturally chefs are not opening new fine dining establishments – they are opting for smaller quirky spots with a focus on quirky and artisan sourced food and drinks.  Another big buzz is (finally) the rise of craft beer in South Africa.  For years the market was dominated by one big company which made sure they kept the monopoly and as such there was no space in the market for craft beer.

To get your first taste for some of the trends happening in Cape Town, I would recommend you start at one end of Bree Street and work your way down the street as far as the intersection of Bree with Strand Street.    Bree Street is the local new hotspot for creative business openings and offers a wide variety of quirky and interesting spots

Bree Street, City Centre Cape Town:

Sababa – Picture some of the most beautiful salads with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences.  This spot is tiny, quirky and delicious with gorgeous white interiors.  You can either squish inside or sit out on the pavement and watch the world go by.  The food is delightfully fresh and the flavours rock my world.  These are truly talented foodies who understand that simplicity works.  231 Bree Street. http://sababa.withtank.com

Kirsten Goss and Missibaba Store Bree Street

Kirsten Goss and Missibaba – These are two local South African companies producing really great locally designed products.  They share a shop space.  Missibaba is a community empowerment project creating trendy bags ( http://www.missibaba.com) and Kirsten Goss designs and produces jewelry locally in Natal ( http://www.kirstengoss.com) 229 Bree Street

Orphanage -  This is a quirky, fun upmarket bar that boasts a restaurant and a club.  They are located on the corner of Orphanage and Bree Street – make sure you order the cocktail that gives a R15 contribution to a local orphanage.  This is open from 5pm onwards.  227 Bree Street http://www.theorphanage.co.za

Skinny Laminx – for those that are into looking for local textiles while traveling this spot is a must include while visiting Cape Town.  Started by Heather Moore as a hobby, her fabrics are now sort after around the world and are available in stores in South Africa through to New York.  http://skinnylaminx.com/shop/ 201 Bree Street

Jason - The Hatch

Jason – quirky artisan bakery where you order from the hatch

Jason – this is a cult following bakery.  People flock here for the sandwiches and the coffee and to stock up with bread.  It is also a favourite of mine for people watching.  People sit along the pavement and you need to know that there is no service – you simply order from the hatch.   He works closely with other artisan producers such as Franky Fenner Meats and there is a great synergy between the two businesses.  To find out updates on what is happening at Jason you need to follow him on twitter.  185 Bree Street. http://jasonbakery.com (open daytime only)

Clarke's

Clarke’s – quirky bar with great burgers

Clarke’s  bar & dining- This spot is quirky, it is hip and it has become a local hangout for the trendy 20 somethings in Cape Town.  It started life as a burger bar that cared about where its meat was coming from – everything is free range and they can track the source.  The burgers remain an insanely good option.  They have however added to it – with fab pulled pork sandwiches, Caesar salads and in fact a fairly large menu!   It has become a spot to meet up with friends for a real value for money delicious dinner and drinks and is a funky and fun hangout at night.  133 Bree Street.  http://clarkesdining.co.za  Another trend in Cape Town is the rise of Food Trucks.  Clarke’s food can also be found in their food truck which is always at the Biscuit Mill on a Saturday morning.  Unfortunately we still have archaic legislation that makes it hard for them to simply pop up and operate.  As such to track the Cape Town food trucks one needs to follow where they are on the Food Truck facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cape-Town-Food-Trucks/424139807602526

Birds Boutique Cafe

Birds Boutique Cafe

Bird Boutique Café – Chef owned restaurants seem to always offer a taste of love on the plate and Bird’s is no exception.  Here Chefs Leigh and Kevin offer delicious well priced dishes in a simple café style setting.  Well worth popping in.  Open Tues – Sat daytime and Wed – Fri evenings.  127 Bree Street https://www.facebook.com/BirdsCafe

Lucky Fish – this is the new baby of Lucky Fish from Kalk Bay Harbour, which is an award winning fish and chip shop.  The concept is very simple.  Excellent good old fashioned fish and chips using the freshest fish direct from the Kalk Bay Harbour.  Note at this stage they have no liquor license – but they are in the process of applying for one.  120 Bree Street https://www.facebook.com/LuckyfishandChips

Frankie Fenners Meat Market  during the day - and backdrop for Publik Wine bar at night

Frankie Fenners Meat Market during the day – and backdrop for Publik Wine bar at night

Frankie Fenners Meat Market

Frankie Fenner serves a different tartare each day and one or two other light meal options

Fab to sit at Publik in the evening and enjoy a glass of wine (or two) and a charcuterie platter

Fab to sit at Publik in the evening and enjoy a glass of wine (or two) and a charcuterie platter

SMALL DETOUR: Frankie Fenner Meat Market & Publik – TURN LEFT INTO CHURCH STREET – Frankie Fenner was one of the top food bloggers in Cape Town who decided to begin researching where our meat was actually coming from.  On his journey around the country he visited a large number of farms and searched for the happy cows and happy piggies and happy sheep.  His gut told him that people were looking for the answers too and as such he launched a small outlet where you could order his happy meat online and fetch it from his little outlet on Kloof Street.  The little outlet was inundated with visitors and the local chefs started to proudly state on their menu’s – Frankie Fenner meats – a new brand had been born.  Due to demand Frankie has moved to a larger premises and now shares premises with a wine bar called Publik that offers a different wine list each week so that you can have the opportunity to try some of our more artisanal and interesting wines.  Picture sitting in a butchery with a backdrop of swinging meat carcasses sipping your wine and enjoying your charcuterie platter.  Mad and Quirky.  Do not take your vegetarian friends for drinks.  Frankie Fenner is open during the day and publik is open from late afternoon (note closed on Weekends!).  81 Church Street http://www.ffmm.co.za and http://www.publik.co.za

yummy pulled pork sandwich at andUnion

yummy pulled pork sandwich at andUnion

andUnion – Craft Beer and Wine Bar – This is an absolute favourite spot to simply relax and catch up with friends while enjoying locally sourced wines and BrewersandUnion craft beers.  They offer a lovely small selection of dishes that are all absolutely delicious and even though simple – seem to attract all the foodies!  Favourites are the trio of sausages and the burger.  This is mainly an outdoor beer garden style of spot with large wooden tables.  You simply arrive – look for a gap – then ask people to share their table.  It is a great way to actually meet some locals.  Note this is not a good choice if there is bad weather.   Open from late afternoon until late.  Closed Sunday & Mondays 110 Bree Street http://andunion.tumblr.com

La Parada - as it is one of the newest kids on the block it is always busy! Get there early for a drink!

La Parada – as it is one of the newest kids on the block it is always busy! Get there early for a drink!

La Parada Octopus salad

La Parada Octopus salad

La Parada  - this is a fabulous new Spanish style tapas bar where everyone meets up with friends for drinks and a few plates of fun Spanish dishes.  It operates on a first come first served basis and as such no table bookings are taken.  Cape Town needs a few more upmarket fun bars and as such this spot has been inundated since it opened about two months ago.  In addition the Cape people flock to whatever is new – so hopefully it calms down a little! The chefs were brought in from Spain to ensure authenticity and the dishes offer a variety of fun Spanish flavours.  This spot is vibey and fun.  If you are going – try to get there by 5pm to secure a table.  107 Bree Street – https://www.facebook.com/LaParadaTapasCapeTown  Open from 12 till late Monday to Sat.  Open on a Sunday during the day

Avoova - creations from ostrich egg shells

Avoova – creations from ostrich egg shells

Avoova – This shop really shows off how creative innovation can uplift communities.  Prince Albert is a small town in the Klein Karoo region of South Africa that produces great hams, figs, cheeses, ostriches and a variety of gourmet products.  It is however a town that also struggles with a shortage of employment opportunities.  An artist in the town called Gideon Engelbrecht started experimenting with using the waste product of broken ostrich egg shells as an art form in the mid 1990’s.  Today this has turned into a thriving business and you cannot believe the variety of beautiful objects that can be created or decorated using a mosaic effect onto frames, bracelets, mantle pieces etc.  A visit to this store is a treat for anyone who enjoys seeing original creativity.  Purchasing from them also contributes to an amazingly successful job creation project.  97 Bree Street http://avoova.com

Sitting having dinner at the Food Trucks parked on Heritage Square for First Thursday in Cape Town

Sitting having dinner at the Food Trucks parked on Heritage Square for First Thursday in Cape Town

Heritage Square Parking Lot - First Thursdays Cape Town – There has been a movement that seems to be spreading to many cities around the world to open all the art galleries in a city on the first Thursday of the month.  This way all those hard working souls who have day jobs can come and experience the art that the city has to offer.  This is a really festive event in Cape Town and great fun.  Start your first Thursday in the car park behind andUnion which is where you will find three of the local food trucks parked.  This is the perfect spot to enjoy a snack before you start walking.  On either side of you are Church Street and Shortmarket street.  Both have loads of galleries, so head down either of them and simply pick up a First Thursday map from the first gallery and start your walk.  The town buzzes and many of the galleries offer you wine along the route!  My suggested route would be to start with Shortmarket street – after about 5 galleries you find a favourite bar called House of Machines on your left that is well worth stopping for a quick drink and to check out.  The idea is a quirky bar where you can order your custom made motor bike and patrons will be able to watch it being built at the back of the shop.  These guys also support the artisan beers – so stop for a quick one.  Oddly enough their coffee seems to come from San Francisco! http://www.first-thursdays.co.za

SMALL DETOUR: Turn left into Shortmarket street and enter into the Heritage Square building.  Here you will find three places that are worth visiting:

Wine Tasting at Signal Hill Winery

Wine Tasting at Signal Hill Winery

  • Signal Hill Winery – which is the only city winery.  They make wine from the vines that are close to the city and actually make the wine in the entrance!  They also sell local wines from small wine estates at cellar door prices.  This is a must stop to stock up with wines if you are spending a longer time in the Cape.  They will happily advise you which their favourite wines and wine makers are.  
  • Bizerca – this is one of Cape Towns top French Bistros.  The secret here is that there is a hidden courtyard in the middle of the building which is fabulous as a setting to enjoy dinner.  Plus this is a really talented chef (Ps look for the oldest vine in the Cape which is in the courtyard here.  Signal Hill Winery still make 20 litres of wine from it each year!)
  • Headquarters (HQ) – this is a themed restaurant – do not book unless you want to go for sirloin steak done medium rare with chips.  They only serve the one dish – but have made a concession to vegetarians by offering a giant mushroom!  This restaurant is slick and trendy and upmarket and actually quite sultry.  They have a nice bar which is nice to pop into for a drink after dinner in the neighbourhood.  They offer a variety of DJ’s and live music

Keep walking for a few blocks down and you will find the Beautifull Life Building on your left hand side

Beautifull Life Gallery entrance

Beautifull Life awesome gallery space

Beautifull Life awesome gallery space

Youngblood Beautifull Life Building – was born out of the desire to connect artistic talent with capital so that artists would be able to continue to establish themselves and there reputation through obtaining exposure and not simply fade from the art scene.  This building is truly a beautiful gallery space that rambles over four stories.  At its base it offers Beautifull food in a beautiful space.  Make sure you build in time to at least stay for a coffee here, it has a wonderful energy.  70 – 72 Bree Street http://ybafricanculture.com/en


Tip to those visiting our beautiful quirky Cape Town – our city shops are open strictly during the week until 5pm.   On a Saturday our shops shut in the city at 1pm.  On a Sunday very little is open.  Plan your exploring of our city for a weekday to get the best experience.

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Terra Madre Market – a feast to celebrate the love of good food

Terra Madre Logo - Round

My mate Nicole was raised with lambs legs gently swaying above her pram.  Her Mom and Dad both arrived as immigrants from Greece and owned one of the local butcher shops in Joburg.  Her Mom and Aunt loved to cook and to prepare all the traditional dishes from their homeland. To the Greeks every meal with the family is a celebration and should be cherished!  It is always a feast when the family get together and there are an endless number of dishes served over the course of the afternoon.

Chef Nicole in action!

Chef Nicole in action!

Greek Style lamb on the braai at the Terra Madre Market

Greek Style lamb on the braai at the Terra Madre Market

Nicole's Mom Koula - her inspiration in life!

Nicole’s Mom Koula – her inspiration in life!

Her foodie seeds were planted early and her love of food would guide her journey.  Nicole studied to be a Chef, ran a canteen and then launched her first restaurant called Cilantro in Parkhurst in the early days of Parkhurst metamorphasizing into a little gourmet hub in Joburg.  Her next venture was a restaurant called Icon.   The idea for this one was to create an upmarket Greek Restaurant serving the best Greek food in Joburg.  Both restaurants ended up with a huge and loyal following.  Nicole however was dreaming of the next step and that was a return to the earth.  A desire to actually be a farmer and to grow her own olives and to  make her own olive oil in the future.  She searched the Cape for a perfect spot and when shown an apple farm in Elgin – she fell in love and made an offer.  She sold her restaurant and stepped into a new world of farming.

Terra Madre Pomme Classique tastings at the Terra Madre Market with Ian Downie

Terra Madre Pomme Classique tastings at the Terra Madre Market with Ian Downie

 This step lead her to a new venture with her friend Ian Downie – they noticed that there was a gap in the market for a proper apple champers.  In South Africa we just had regular everyday cider.  This was the birth of a wonderful product called Terra Madre Pomme Classique………….literally a cider made in the method of champagne……you make an apple wine and then add yeast so that it goes through a second fermentation.  They designed the beautiful Terra Madre logo which represented their philosophy of the earth giving life and launched their sexy cider, which is the perfect drink for a hot summers day with the whole familia under an apple tree!

Terra Madre product tastings at the Terra Madre Market in Elgin

Terra Madre product tastings at the Terra Madre Market in Elgin

Nicole’s next dream was to create a range of products made only from the best ingredients, she also started the journey of learning how to make her own charcuterie meats, naturally made only from the best sources of grain fed and acorn fed animals.  It was a natural product extension for the Terra Madre brand.

Terra Madre's Charcuterie range

Terra Madre’s Charcuterie range

In order to share her philosophy on food and her products she has launched a market on her apple farm in Elgin.  This market represents everything that makes up Nicole.  It is a celebration of life, it is a celebration of family, it is a feast, it offers some of the most delicious food you will find in the Cape and it is a chance to escape to a farm filled with apple trees and love!

Come and feast and relax among the apple trees on Terra Madre Market Days

Come and feast and relax among the apple trees on Terra Madre Market Days

On market days plan to come for lunch, the main course for lunch is served from around 2pm – however – there are artisan loaves of bread on sale – so start with your own meze.  Buy the dips and spreads that you like and simply grab a table or lay out your blanket and settle in for the day.  On offer are taramasalata, tzadsiki, pork rillette, chicken liver parfait…….etc.

Delicious Iona Wines can be enjoyed among the apple trees.  Iona is the highest altitude vineyard in the Cape and their wines rock!

Delicious Iona Wines can be enjoyed among the apple trees. Iona is the highest altitude vineyard in the Cape and their wines rock!

Tip – head to the tasting table first to see which products you fall in love with before you buy your meze!  All of her charcuterie & dips & spreads are laid out for tasting!  Next head to the Iona stand to taste their outstanding wines – then head in and place your order.  Note that the products are all available on sale as well to take home later!

Playing at the Terra Madre Market is such fun!

Playing at the Terra Madre Market is such fun!

The apple farm is the perfect spot for the whole family to come and play.  There is an endless amount of fun for the kids as they can run up and down the apple orchards and play and explore.

A picnic among the apple orchards. #myideaofbliss

A picnic among the apple orchards. #myideaofbliss

In order to stay in the loop as to when the market days are – please like the facebook page http://www.facebook.com/terramadreElgin.  Nicole’s website is under construction http://www.terramadre.co.za  - it does however give you a map on how to get there!

The upcoming market dates are 30 Nov, 7, 14 & 21 December

Some more pics to inspire you:

Terra Madre Harissa - the best in Africa! Don't leave without buying a jar!

Terra Madre products rock! Don’t leave without buying a jar!

Dancing under the apple trees - after a few bottles of  Iona Wine!

Dancing under the apple trees – after a few bottles of Iona Wine!

Kids playing the good old fashioned way at the Terra Madre Market!

Kids playing the good old fashioned way at the Terra Madre Market!

Cooking a couple of Sicilian style sausages for the Terra Madre Market

Cooking a couple of Sicilian style sausages for the Terra Madre Market

Sitting under the apple trees!

Sitting under the apple trees!

Posted in Cape Town 4 Foodies and Wino's, Cape Town Visitor Information, Cape Winelands, The Cape for kids and families! | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour – using art as a platform to activate change in our communities!

Pam on the Woodstock Art Tour

Pam loving the Street Art Tour in Woodstock

In 2010 a street artist called Freddy Sam started a street art revolution in Woodstock. He started by asking residents if they would allow him to paint on open walls – showing them the art before painting and getting their permission first.

This has inspired other local and international artists to come and work in the area. From his shop at the Woodstock Exchange you can now book for a walking art tour of the neighbourhood to see 40 artworks. The cost is R150 pps and the money goes directly to the artist that you walk with. To book contact Elmarie at A Word of Art: elmarie@a-word-of-art.co.za or +27- 21 447 3994.  Alternatively you can also book directly with one of the street artists who works with Freddy Sam – Juma.  Juma has tried to expand the art activism as a platform for inspiration and change into one of the biggest Cape Townships – Khayelitsha.  He soon learned that in order to work with the community – he needed to become part of it.  As such he has now moved to the area.  Juma is a qualified tour guide and runs art tours in Woodstock as well as in Khayalitsha township.  He can be contacted on 073 400 4064 or juma.mkwela@gmail.com

I absolutely loved the walking tour. Note that it is a rough area – as such it was such a wonderful treat to have Juma with us!  The whole community know him and everyone sitting outside their homes wanted to say hi to Juma – so we got to chat to half the community – great fun!  We met the locals, the gangsters (Juma advised that people don’t sh** where they sleep!), the police who stopped to say hi, the criminal in the police’s backseat in handcuffs who also smiled and said hi and lots of kids who were playing in the street under the eyes of the community.

Woodstock is an area in transition – the lower part has always been poorer and rougher – but with absolutely fabulous architecture.   With the gentrification of our city – the rentals increased and as such the artists could not afford to stay there.   Among the first to move into Woodstock were the Cape’s two top contemporary art galleries – Michael Stevenson and the Goodman Gallery.  This has been followed by a variety of artistic ventures opening up in the area and renovating the buildings they have moved into beautifully.  Woodstock is worth a long a ramble – on a weekday and on a Saturday.  Not much happens there on a Sunday!

For more information on the artists and the artworks check out the  A Word of Art Webiste by clicking here 

Woodstock Art Tour with our wonderful guide Juma

Woodstock Art Tour with our wonderful guide Juma

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Not really part of the art tour – but a fab picture that shows a man having a nap in front of some graffiti! The area is rough!

Pammy with Woodstock Baby!

Her Grandaddy offered to let me have her! Too cute! Fab to meet and chat to the locals!

Gangster Nonnie in Woodstock!

We met one of the local gangsters who had only been out of prison for three weeks! He posed for me and when I asked if it was ok to put him on my website – he said – “Lady I am a naughty boy – I have just gotten out of jail!” It was great fun to chat to Nonnie too!

The back entrance to the Woodstock Exchange

The last “street art” work at the back entrance to the Woodstock Exchange. The Woodstock Exchange is an entire art journey in itself!

Artwork of man with wild cat!

I love this one! I definitely think he is being eaten

Woodstock man in front of funky striped wall

I love that every piece of artwork has been approved by the owners of the walls! Here a man proudly sits in front of his funkily painted wall

Woodstock kids hanging out

Woodstock kids hanging out

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The tour was a birthday gift for my friend Mark who is an artist who lives in Oman!

The streets of Woodstock!

The streets of Woodstock – just to give you an idea of how the art lifts the area!

Rhino 1

A common theme in the art was the Rhino’s – with so much carnage going on in Africa, the next generation may never get to see one

More Nonni

We had long chats with Gangster Nonni!

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Great to see art being used to spread the conservation message

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Rough next to the house where we met Nonnie!

Zebra Man!

Awesome picture – so sad that there was a shadow on the building when I was there!

Save the Rhino Funky Chic

Save the Rhino Funky Chic – absolutely love her!

House fully painted with art in Woodstock

Who needs to paint your home when you can get a fabulous artist to decorate it!

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Hydroponic Herb Tour on Allee Bleue Estate – a sensory treat!

Lario and her herbs

Lario and her herbs

Allee Bleue wine estate is located in Franschhoek.  It was originally settled by the French Huguenots in the late 1600′s.  In 1999 it was purchased by a German family –  Elke and Wilfried Dauphin in 1999.   The initial offering of wines from the estate were launched under the Meerust label, which is the original name of the farm.  This was unfortunately a bit too close to one of South Africa’s most iconic wines – Meerlust.  As such Meerust was eventually renamed as Allee Bleue.  The name is wonderfully appropriate as the entrance drive way is lined by beautiful rows of blue gum trees.  The original wine tasting was located deep into the estate.  Half the fun of the visit was the ramble through the farm.  Many years ago they built their restaurant and wine tasting next to the gate near the main road.  I can understand the logic – it meant the restaurant and wine tasting were visible from the main road – providing advertising in itself – and it added ease of access.  But the magic of visiting the estate was sadly lost.  I was happy to discover that the wine tasting has once again moved back to location deep on the estate and the estate is busy debating moving the restaurant permanently through to the same area.

I was invited by the PR agent for Allee Bleue to come and experience their herb tour.  I accepted gratefully as it is right up my alley!  I just love to learn more about all aspects of the food business and my first thought was that this could possibly be an amazing addition for gourmet tour groups and “foodies” visiting the Cape.  I loved the herb tour and am planning to include it when planning my next gourmet itinerary!

We met up with the very passionate Lario who manages the hydroponic herb tunnels on the estate.  Hydroponic herb growing uses a replacement material instead of soil.  In their case they use coconut husks which they source mainly from Mozambique or Sri Lanka.  The material is fairly expensive – but does last for a few years!  In the picture below check out the pipes that go across the broken down coconut husks.  These pipes are used to water the herbs, and also to feed the fertilizer that the plant needs.  The fertilizer is combined with the water and then is pumped into the herbs.  Hydroponic planting results in clean and high quality herbs.   The herbs that I saw were almost picture perfect!  Yes – quite simply they were beautiful! And the smells!  I could have sat in the corriander all day.  The mint was almost therapeutic.  My idea of bliss would be to have a hammock in the mint hot house and a good book……..and perhaps a mint cocktail!  It was really interesting to learn all sorts of “herby” facts – for example, they manage to cut more corriander in winter (4 good cuttings & a 5th that is not as high quality and goes into processed meals) vesrus in summer (2 cuttings) – as the corriander turns to flower more quickly in summer.  Mint however quite simply grows for years  - there is no need to replant, however it is best to cut back every now and again!

Herb Hot Houses at Allee Bleue

Herb Hot Houses at Allee Bleue

Allee Bleue Herbs - Coconut husks are used instead of soil

Coconut husks are used instead of soil

Allee Bleau corriander/ dhania/ cilantro

Allee Bleue corriander/ dhania/ cilantro

DETAILS ON THE HERB TOUR:

The herb tour runs every Friday at 10h30 and takes about 1 to 1.5 hrs.  Cost: R45 per person.  For large groups the tour can be booked on other days.

The Herb Tour can also be combined with a herb inspired 3 course lunch prepared by the estates executive chef Christine Moodlie.  The cost of the tour combined with the 3 course lunch would be R185 pps.

Below is a picture of the current restaurant location at Allee Bleue.  They may keep it up at the top of the estate where it is currently being housed – but the final decision still needs to be made.

The restaurant at Allee Bleau

The restaurant at Allee Bleue

Below is a picture of our starter which was a pesto chicken with a herb salad.   This was followed by a main course of Cape Salmon is a herb crust on potatoes.  The dessert was a crepe with a lavender ice cream.  I enjoyed the dishes, but was quite surprised that the serving staff did not introduce each dish and did not know what the dishes were.  I am not sure how new the herb lunch is, perhaps it is the first time this lunch has been served?  The staff definitely need to be trained in presenting the dishes.  The staff were in all other ways really efficient and very friendly.

Allee Bleau  - herb lunch - chicken with pesto

Allee Bleue – herb lunch – chicken with pesto

Allee Bleau herb lunch - Cape Salmon with herb crust

Allee Bleue herb lunch – Cape Salmon with herb crust

While on the estate I also enjoyed a short wine tasting.   The pinotage has been made in the new favourite “mocca” style which has taken South Africa by storm.  I think that I have overdosed on this style of pinotage and prefer it with a less burnt flavour.  I really enjoyed the Isabeau – which is a blend of semillion, chardonnay and viognier.  This would be a fabulous wine to pair with food.

Allee Bleau Outdoor Wine Tasting area

Allee Bleue Outdoor Wine Tasting area

Allee Bleau Wine Tasting

Allee Bleue Wine Tasting

Allee Bleue has a variety of venues that can be used from anything from a small wedding through to a large corporate product launch of up to 500 people.   They also offer picnics on the grass next to the gorgeous old manor house.

The Allee Bleau Manor House can be rented as luxury accommodation or as a function venue

The Allee Bleue Manor House can be rented as luxury accommodation or as a function venue

Wine Tasting hours:

Monday to Friday, 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

Saturday: 10.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

Sunday: 10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.

Contact Details:

Intersection R 45 and R310

Groot Drakenstein

http://www.alleebleue.com

info@alleebleue.com

Tel. +27 (0) 21 874 1021/2/3

 

Posted in Cape Town 4 Foodies and Wino's, Cape Winelands, The Cape for kids and families! | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Recipes from Mamma Lindy’s African Kitchen

Mamma Lindy in her kitchen at Eziko

Mamma Lindy in her kitchen at Eziko

Many years ago I set up a meeting with the Eziko Cooking School & Restaurant in Langa Township in Cape Town.   Here I met with Victor, founder of the Eziko Cooking School and his Mamma – Lindy – who was Head Chef of the restaurant.   The aim of my visit was to try and find a way that foreign foodies could experience our African cuisine.   Little did I know that this would be the start of something so much bigger.  They were both completely open to me bringing foreigners in to come and do hands on cooking of the African cuisine.  We discussed what people would cook and Mamma Lindy was insistent that they would need to cook tripe as it is a favourite in our black communities.  I shuddered – have any of you every smelt tripe cooking?  We settled on preparing the basics – Pap (eaten by most of the country), Samp & Beans (eaten by the Xhosa of the Cape), Nyama (Meat – a meal is never complete in African culture without meat!!), chakalaka (a fab spicy relish served in many variations across South Africa) and a token veg dish (spinach & cabbage being the local favourite and an unusual combination for most of us!).

Through visiting the Eziko family they were to become my friends and part of my extended family.  I have become a part of their team.  The visits by foreigners mean that the money goes towards running their school where they teach youngsters to get the basic skills to become chefs.  It leaves a footprint at the school.  The cooking classes were to become a lesson in African Culture and not just a cooking class.   My family shares their proud Xhosa culture with visitors, they share their stories, they share the hardships of growing up in the Apartheid South Africa and they share their hopes for the future and for the future generations.  Most of all they share their warmth and each time I return I feel like I am returning to family.  Mamma Lindy is my hero.  She is a passionate foodie who loves nothing more then heading to the big city lights for a cappuccino or to Kalk Bay for fish & chips.  She has had to fight hard as a single mommy with three kids under the Apartheid system and has come out strong and filled with a love of life and its finer things!  Today Mamma Lindy is retired, but she returns to the school when we have bookings to share some of her favourite recipes.

Mamma Lindy is a complete foodie. Pic of Mamma Lindy enjoying the Stellebosch Saturday food market!

Mamma Lindy is a complete foodie. Pic of Mamma Lindy enjoying the Stellebosch Saturday food market!

UMNGQUSHO (Samp and Beans)

Samp is simply dried corn kernels - it is traditionally cooked on its own or with sugar beans

Samp is simply dried corn kernels – it is traditionally cooked on its own or with sugar beans

Samp & Beans cooking

Samp & Beans cooking

Rinse the dried samp and beans thoroughly with water. Add roughly double the amount of water to the samp and beans. Cook for three hours on low heat stirring occationally. Make sure that there is enough water while cooking – you may need to add a little water. When it is soft, add salt, stir in and serve.  Note that this dish is served as the “starch” with a meal – similar to pasta or rice – it needs a sauce or a stew with it to taste good!  This dish is the staple dish of the Xhosa tribe of South Africa – they eat it for breakfast, lunch & dinner.  The Xhosa’s believe that it keeps hunger away as it takes a long time to digest and gives you energy to work during the day.

Cooked Samp & Beans

Cooked Samp & Beans

LAMB OR BEEF CASSEROLE

Mamma Lindy's Lamb Casserole

Mamma Lindy’s Lamb Casserole

Rinse the lamb/beef. Peel pototoes and cut into quarters. Leave the potatoes aside in a bowl of water for use later.

In a pot add 2 tsp of cooking oil (on low heat), add a chopped onion, a chopped green pepper, 2 tsp of sugar, a beef stock cube (add the whole cube on its own).  Stir until the onions are soft. Add 2 TBS Mrs Balls Chutney (this chutney is a favourite in South Africa), a pinch of salt, 2 TBS tomato paste, a sprinkle of Ina Parmens lemon pepper (Mamma Lindy’s favourite and she uses it in everything she cooks!), cook for a further 3 minutes and then add the lamb. It can be any cut of lamb – but preferably should be a cut on the bone to add extra flavour to the stew.  Add 1 TBS of water. Leave it to cook with the lid on for around half an hour – stir occationally. Then add the potatoes once the lamb is cooked. Cook until the potatoes are soft.

UMFINO (Traditional Spinach and Cabbage Dish)

Cooking the Umfino

Cooking the Umfino

Umfino ready to eat - it is delicious!

Umfino ready to eat – it is delicious!

Chop one onion and chop equal amounts of spinach and cabbage.

Add 2 tsp oil to a frying pan. Add the onion. Cook until soft. Add the spinach and the cabbage to the pan. Put the lid on and cook until soft, but not soggy! (However el dente would be definitely out of the question!  It must be cooked!)

CHAKALAKA (Spicy relish eaten with a traditional African Meal)

CHAKALAKA

Mamma Lindy’s Chakalaka

Add 2 tsp oil to a frying pan. Add one chopped onion, one chopped green pepper, 2 tsp sugar and stir. Add 2tsp vinegar (white or brown), stir, add 2 tsp Rajah curry powder, 1 tsp Masala (spices), stir, add one large chopped tomato, stir, add 3 grated carrots, 2 TBS Mrs Balls Chutney, stir, then add 2 more tsp’s of vinegar, a pinch of salt, stir, add a little water – about 50ml, then add about a quarter sliced cabbage. Cook until tender. Note any leftover veg in the house can be added to the chakalaka!  This recipe is used to use up all left over veg in your fridge.   Everyone’s recipe is different and there is a wide range of Chakalaka’s out there ranging from mild to firey hot!

PAP (African dish made from ground maize) – Porridge

Pap is simply ground dry corn

Pap is simply ground dry corn

Mamma Lindy always outsources making the pap!  She is a true Xhosa lady!

Mamma Lindy always outsources making the pap! She is a true Xhosa lady!

Pap should be stiff when it is cooked as traditionally we eat with our hands!

Pap should be stiff when it is cooked as traditionally we eat with our hands!

Boil up four cups of water

Separately, take two cups of maize meal (Iwisa/Star pap) and add some cold water to make a watery paste – stir or use a whisk to make sure there are no lumps.

When the water is boiling, add the paste and stir continuously until it is thick.

Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

This dish is the staple of all the tribes in South Africa (with exception of the Xhosa who eat Samp or Samp & Beans as their staple).  As you cross our border you will find the same dish with different names.  Once again this is the starch basis of the meal and you would serve it with a sauce or with a saucy stew.

Thank you Mamma Lindy for sharing your recipes and for teaching so many visitors to the Cape not only about your cuisine, but also about your culture and your traditions.  Thank you for so many visits.  Thank you for your passion, your laughter and the warm welcome that everyone who enters into the world of Eziko gets.  They may enter as strangers,  but they leave with kisses and cuddles as friends.

To read more about The Eziko Cooking School click here.

To find out more about cooking options in Cape Town click here

LINDY COOKING at Eziko

Mamma Lindy happy pic in her Eziko kitchen

Mamma Lindy Eziko cooking with Suzanne 2

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The Long Table Restaurant at Haskell Wine Estate – a local favourite!

Set right next to the vines - The Long Table is the perfect place to relax on hot summers day!

Set right next to the vines – The Long Table is the perfect place to relax on hot summers day!

A few months ago I received an e-mail from a local (Elaine) asking what I would recommend for a lunch in the greater Cape Town region that would offer: great food, local prices, a great view and something that would be a memorable lunch for all of them.     I sent Elaine a few ideas and was delighted when she sent me the most wonderful feedback  on how they enjoyed their lunch at the Long Table Restaurant on Haskell Estate.  So today this blog is not mine – it is a tribute to Elaine and her mates and gives you their feedback on how they enjoyed their lunch!

Dear Pam

As promised, please find attached the photos of our experience at the Long Table Restaurant as per your suggestion:

 Wow, the experience was amazing. As you did promise, the venue had amazing views, the menu was incredible and I was wondering if you had any hand in organising the superb weather.

Elaine and her mates at the Long Table Restaurant

Elaine and her mates at the Long Table Restaurant

The two women I was with have eaten at some of the better restaurants in and around Cape Town, but they really enjoyed the Long Table, so much so that all 3 of us will be recommending it to anyone who will listen. I was very relieved as it fell squarely on my shoulders to chose a suitable venue.

Greek lamb

Greek lamb

 We each had a three course meal. Every course was sublime. For me, who originally hails from the Free State, I loved the creativity of the meals and nothing was too ‘volksvreemd’for me. The difficulty for all three of us was what to chose.

For starters we had:

  • The Carpaccio
  • The Salmon
  • The Prosciutto-this is what I had and it was the best starter in my humble opinion.
Sirloin Burger

Sirloin Burger

 

For mains we had:

  • Free range duck breast
  • Greek lamb
  • Long table beef burger

 We could not decide who had the best main course.

Duck Breast

Duck Breast

 For deserts we had:

  • Pecan nut praline cheesecake
  •  Trio of lemon-this was the best desert
  • White chocolate, almond & raspberry cake : cinnamon white chocolate brulee, crushed berry mascarpone

It is definitely a place that we will return to. It was one of those unexpected experiences that will remain as a fond memory forever.

 Kindness

 Elaine

Pam’s feedback on the Long Table:

Beautifully plated dishes at the Long Table

Beautifully plated dishes at the Long Table

This is indeed the perfect spot for a summer’s day as you can sit right next to the vines outside.  It is the type of place that you can arrive at 12h00 and leave in the late afternoon.   They offer beautifully plated food, dishes that are uncomplicated that will suit all of your friends tastes from those that prefer a burger through to those who love oxtail.  It works for a group of mates,  people with kids (there is a play area and lots of space to run around) and for those planning a romantic lunch.  Best of all the

Chicken dish at the Long Table Restaurant

Chicken dish at the Long Table Restaurant

menu offers great value for money!

From a wine point of view – they are located on a wine estate – as such you have a choice of two ranges of wines – the reasonably priced Dombeya and the top end award winning Haskell range.  What we really enjoyed is that the estate also imports New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  As locals we rarely get to try out foreign wines – so this was a real treat!

Tips:

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with lunch!  Yum!

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with lunch! Yum!

This restaurant is located in a superb wine area – make sure you combine your lunch with a tasting at Rust en Vrede (next door) and Ernie Els Wines (just around the corner).

Contact details:

Click here for their website.  Tel no 021- 881 3746 / 021-881-3895 Location: Haskell Wine Estate (just off Annandale Rd, Stellenbosch.)

map to Haskell Wine Estate

Opening hours:

Breakfast: 8.30am – 11am, Tuesday to Sunday

Lunch: 12 noon – 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Dinner: 4pm – 9pm, Friday (reservations essential)

Posted in Cape Town 4 Foodies and Wino's, Cape Winelands, The Cape for kids and families! | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spice Route Wine Estate- an artisan playground of endless fun!

CBC - artisan brewing company opens on Spice Route!

CBC – artisan brewing company opens on Spice Route!

Malabar bottleAll I can say is WOW!  Charles Back is a marketing genius!  By buying the Seidelberg Estate (two farms down from Fairview) – he has created a hub of artisan fun on the Suid Agter Paarl Rd that is too hard to resist.

The first step of the metamorphosis from Seidelberg to Spice Route was to bring the Spice Route wines across from Fairview and to turn the original tasting room into the Spice Route tasting centre.  The odd thing about this is that the Spice Route wines are not produced in this area – the farm is in the Swartland region.  This is a fantastically hot region and as such the wines reflect this terroir – the heat leads to fantastic robust wines….do not leave without trying the pinotage, the Chakalaka, the Syrah and the Malabar (an awesome robust red blend that I would liken to nectar from the gods!)

He inherited a wonderful tenant called Red Hot Glass – here a talented team develop hand made artisan glass artworks.  It is well worth popping in to see them blowing the glass and to check out the gallery.

DV CHOCOLATE

DV Chocolate tasting CaracasThe wonderful thing that has happened on the estate is that it was decided to include a number of artisan businesses as part of the mix of attractions!  Firstly DV Artisan Chocolate factory launched in the old Cape Dutch Manor House.  Here you can enjoy a wonderful chocolate tasting of 6 chocolates made directly from cocoa beans that have been brought in from 6 different areas in the world.  It is an amazing experience as you can actually taste such distinct differences between the chocolates.  Click here to read my blog on DV Chocolates.   DV chocolates have just launched their coffee range.  As they have the equipment to roast the cocoa beans that they have imported, they may as well import coffee beans too!  As such you can now head to the coffee bar and taste coffee made from a variety of African coffee beans.  Shortly they are launching a coffee shop and will of course be serving all sorts of chocolate treats like brownies made from their own chocolate!  Yum!

DV Chocolate found its home in the traditional Cape Dutch homestead

DV Chocolate found its home in the traditional Cape Dutch homestead

CBC - finally great artisan beer tasting in the winelands!

CBC – finally great artisan beer tasting in the winelands!

THE CAPE BREWING CO

CBC tasting

CBC tasting

Next to open in the last few weeks has been the Cape Brewing Co (CBC).  This is a joint venture between Charles Back, Andy Kung  and Swedish brewer Henrik Dunge.  I have literally been watching them build the brewery while I have been visiting.  Interestingly they launched the tasting areas first while they were still assembling the brewing equipment.   In order to launch – the first beers were produced in Sweden and the first locally brewed beers are just starting to come  off the production line.  They aim to make the finest beer possible using only the finest ingredients.  A visit allows you to taste the five beers that they are producing and also gives you a great background into how they are being made.  Be warned – when the equipment is operating it is really loud!

BARLEY & BILTONG

Come & stay for a pint or two!

Come & stay for a pint or two!

The ingenious next addition was to place a little pub next door to the brewery!  Now you have tasted the beers and discovered which one you like – head next door to the Barley & Biltong Emporium and have a pint or two!  Here they are stocking Namibian biltong and droewors (ok I know Namibian biltong is good – but still – why not South African

Chose your piece

Chose your piece

biltong?).  You chose your piece of biltong – they weigh it and cut it up for you.  As any local knows – there is nothing nicer then a piece of freshly cut biltong!  Yummmmmm!  This spot also has a couple of daily light meal options to chose from – as such it encourages you to linger.  I love it – well designed – great view – fun and stylish.  The only strange thing about is is that there is no music.   Somehow – I think some relaxed background music would just be the touch that makes this spot purely magical.

IMG_1793

IMG_1791

THE GRAPPERIA

My Russians were the 1st to taste here!

My Russians were the 1st to taste here!

IMG_1826

Installing the still

Pizza & Grappa!

Pizza & Grappa!

Wilderer’s has opened a tasting room and pizzeria on the estate.  Here you can visit for a tasting – or come and relax and enjoy a pizza and the view!  I am not too sure whether one would chose to sip grappa while easting pizza – but it sure will assist you with digestion afterwards!  We were there a few weeks ago as they were building the still and as my client’s were fans of Wilderer’s from years of visiting the Cape, they agreed to let us be the 1st to taste there – even though they were not officially open yet!

So – plan a whole day out to Spice Route!  Note that Fairview is two farms down on the same road and it is a wonderful spot to head for a wine & cheese pairing!  They also have a wonderful restaurant where you can nibble on cheese platters and enjoy freshly baked breads!   The Suid Agter Paarl Rd is now a real gourmet playground! Thank you Charles!

Spice Route Tasting is open from 11 – 5pm daily

tasting@spiceroute.co.za

Tel: +27 (0)21 863 5200

Directions:

From Cape Town on the N1:

Take exit 47 on the N1 which is the R44 turnoff for Stellenbosch.  Turn LEFT and continue for 6.2km.  You will see a sign to the right for Fairview (Agter Paarl Rd) – note that it comes quite suddenly – so watch out for it!

Turn right (3.3km), Suider Agter Paarl Road

map_spiceroute1

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South African Soul Food! What do Black South Africans traditionally eat?

Pap is the most common staple eaten on a daily basis by most of South Africa's population

Pap is the most common staple eaten on a daily basis by most of South Africa’s population

Ground corn is used to make Pap

Ground corn is used to make Pap

The cuisine is not rated as a gourmet cuisine in this country and as such it is very much a home cuisine that you will not find easily in our restaurants.  As 80% of our population are black, it is really important to sample this cuisine if you are wanting to experience a taste of our local cuisine!

The staple diet of our people is maize. For the vast majority of tribes, the main ingredient in all meals is what we call Mielie Meal. This is quite simply dried

Samp & Beans - traditionally eaten by the Xhosa tribe from the Eastern Cape

Samp & Beans – traditionally eaten by the Xhosa tribe from the Eastern Cape

corn that has been ground down to a fine powder (similar to Polenta – but white). For breakfast, most people would cook it into a porridge that is so stiff that it eventually starts crumbling – this is called krummel pap (this literally means crumbly pap). This is usually eaten with sour milk and sugar. For lunch and dinner people eat “pap”. This is a fairly thick porridge and it forms the starch base much as rice or pasta would in Western cuisine. The exception to this are the Xhosa people (from the Eastern

Dried corn and dried beans are used to make the traditional samp & beans combo - it keeps you full for many hours!

Dried corn and dried beans are used to make the traditional samp & beans combo – it keeps you full for many hours!

Cape), they eat samp. Samp is quite simply the dried corn. Often the samp is combined with dried beans for additional protein. In the rural areas, ladies will cook the samp in a black pot over the fire. It takes many many hours to cook – thank heavens for Western cooking techniques – now it only takes about 3 hours on a gas stove to prepare! Most of the black people in Cape Town are originally from the Eastern Cape and have moved down here over the last 100 years. As such a lot of samp is eaten in

Nyama!  A meal is never a meal without meat in African culture!

Nyama! A meal is never a meal without meat in African culture!

Cape Town. The consistent dietary theme across all of our tribes is the love of meat – NYAMA! A meal is not considered a meal without meat. As such meat or a meat stew is served with lunch and dinner if you can afford it. In the township areas one of the main take away dishes is meat from BBQ’s (called BRAAI’S in South Africa) on the pavements. People will stop and buy a piece of chicken or a lamb chop or a sheep’s head. Yes, you read correctly. Sheep’s heads are considered a delicacy

by the Xhosa people and are called “Smileys”. The name comes from the fact that when

Smiley  - gets its name from the fact that the lips curl up when it is ready to eat - it looks like it is smiling!

Smiley – gets its name from the fact that the lips curl up when it is ready to eat – it looks like it is smiling!

you cook the sheep’s head, you will know it is ready when the lips curl upwards – it smiles at you!!!

Chakalaka is a spicy vegetable relish that is often served with the pap/samp and meat stew. There are many variations of this recipe – often it uses up the left over vegetables you have in the house and is usually quite fiery!  Always tread carefully when you serve it and remember it is supposed to be a relish – not a side vegetable to be eaten in large quantities!

Vegetables are not eaten in large quantities traditionally.  This is however changing as people are becoming more and more aware of the nutritional benefits of eating vegetables.  In the

Cape Town townships you will generally find that

Making Chakalaka!

Making Chakalaka!

the most commonly served vegetables would be spinach and cabbage which are traditionally cooked together.

Another traditional “drink” to try would be umqombothi.  The only way you are going to be able to try this one is if you head into the townships and to a shabeen.

Drinking African Beer made from Maize (umqombothi). Umqombothi is used to celebrate the home-coming of young men

Pam drinking umqombothi!

Pam drinking umqombothi!

in Xhosa culture, after initiation and ritual circumcision. The young men are known as abakwetha. The beer is also important when someone is intending to contact their ancestors (known as amadlozi). It is often used during customary weddings, funerals, and imbizos.  Today you will still find it in the Shabeens in the townships with mainly the older men gathering to share a large can.  This beer is always shared and you pass it on around the circle.  It costs around R20 for a tin with around one litre of beer!  Great value for money.   It is considered rude to not share – so make sure that once you have a sip you pass the tin around!   During apartheid the sale of liquor was banned in many of the black areas and as such this traditional beer became part of every day drinking in many communities.

A small glossary of useful words for use in the Cape (home to the Xhosa tribe):

Umqombothi – traditional African beer made from fermented corn

Umbengo – a Braai – a traditional South African BBQ.  Note that our black community enjoy the meat well done!

Mpokoqo – these are the traditional African free range chickens – they live a life of freedom – so they are as tough as all hell!  They are also delicious!  They however need many many hours of cooking to make them tender.  In our townships you can buy them fresh – yes – they are usually still alive next to the side of the road and you then can get it beheaded and plucked!

Umngqusho  – Xhosa samp and beans

Wors/Boerewors – this is eaten by everyone in this country.  Wors means sausage.  Boerewors means farmer sausage.  This is a traditional Afrikaans sausage that is best cooked on the Braai! (BBQ)

For those of you who are interested to visit a community project in the townships and learn how to cook traditional African cuisine  - simply click here for more details

For those of you looking for recommendations on where to try traditional African soul food – simply click here to view my favourite places 

Happy eating!

Mzoli's are famous for their braaied meat!

Mzoli’s are famous for their braaied meat!

A visit to Mzoli's - quiet on weekdays - chaos on weekends!

A visit to Mzoli’s – quiet on weekdays – chaos on weekends!

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My new favourite summer restaurant – The Pool Room on Oak Valley Estate – Elgin

The gorgeous setting of the Pool Room Restaurant on Oak Valley Estate

The Charcuterie Platter at The Pool Room

I am in love with The Pool Room at Oak Valley Wine Estate! This is a great addition to the foodie scene in Elgin!   The Pool Room is a joint venture between a close friend and talented Chef – Nicole Precoudis (of Cilantro and Icon fame in Joburg) – and the passionate foodie Rawbone-Viljoen family that own Oak Valley  Wine Estate.  This promises to be a marriage made in foodie heaven!

A huge amount of planning, blood, sweat and tears has gone into getting this project on the road.

I loved the commentary on developments from Chris Rawbone in the recent Oak Valley newsletter:

The opening date is set for Wednesday, 24th October. I should be excited, elated even. To the

The deli and flower section of The Pool Room

contrary, I’m somewhat nervous. So much time, energy and passion has gone into this project that it’s hard to believe we’re almost crossing the finish line, yet only at the starting block in a commercial sense. The premise behind The Pool Room is idealistic in many ways.  It stands for everything that makes Oak Valley great. An uncompromising belief in the integrity and quality of our products. No short cuts. We tried keeping the menu as simple as possible, focussing mainly on our meat products, grass-fed beef and acorn-fed pork, along with a range of

charcuterie, crafted by Nicole Precoudis, in her on-farm curing facility. Our Wagyu beef, the famous cattle breed from Japan, where it is better known

Sausages made by Chef Nicole from the free range piggies that eat acorns

as Kobe, will be on offer from time-to-time depending on availability. The restaurant is equipped with a custom made wood-fired grill to ensure optimum flavour. It promises to be the quintessential pasture-to-plate experience. Seasonal veggies and herbs will be sourced from our very own garden behind the restaurant while daily

specials will offer patrons the opportunity to order from the chalkboard. We’re bringing

Chef Nicole in action!

Harrods to the countryside. Without Al Fayed.

The Rawbone-Viljoen family were pioneers in the valley – Sir Antonie Viljoen was the first to plant a  commercial fruit orchards in the Elgin Valley.  Since those early days Oak Valley has diversified moving into flowers – they are now the biggest supplier of cut flowers to Woolworths in the country.  Later years saw them trying their hand at wine.  I can vouch for the fact that these are some of the nicest wines in South Africa (as do all of the awards that they have won!).  Next they decided to try and make use of the huge number of oak trees that they have on the estate and as such moving into free range

Oak Valley has some of the best cut flowers in the country!

piggies that eat mainly acorns was a natural product extension.   This led to the idea of starting a line of charcuterie meats.  Chef Nicole rose to the challenge and has been working on developing the range for many months – with delicious results………..so nice to have been able to taste a few of the “experiments” along the way……….what a treat!

We headed through to try out The Pool Room last weekend – and were completely blown away!   The drive to

The Pool Room Interior

Oak Valley takes just under an hour from Cape Town city – it is quicker then getting to Franschhoek!  From when you enter the estate you start unwinding!  You truly feel like you have entered into the countryside.  The restaurant is stylishly located right next to the swimming pool of the old manor house.  Quite simply the Pool Room is located in the families old pool room where they entertained guests in the past.   The menu aims to be a “farm to table experience”, it aims to be simple and the food to be simply presented in a

Oak Valley Charcuterie and meats for sale at The Pool Room

manner that brings out the taste of the fresh ingredients.  We had the charcuterie platter to share – outstandingly delicious – as well as the vegetarian platter – equally delicious.  I then had the burger – which was delicious – I will have to return to try the pork chops – they looked fantastic too!  We ended with the apple tart tartine which was outstanding and I wanted to lick the plate!   I know we are going to be returning many many times over summer.  We spent the afternoon at the side of the pool, simply chatting, relaxing and drinking delicious Oak Valley sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.  These are two of my favourite wines in the world – so it was an added treat to be able to enjoy them in such an amazing setting.  My verdict – book immediately.  This is a very very special treat -

Chef Nicole at The Pool Room

but the prices are really reasonable and as such I predict this spot will become extremely successful.

Note that the wine tasting area for Oak Valley has relocated to the restaurant and is now located at the back of The Pool Room.  My only reservation with this is that you would feel a bit conspicuous standing in the middle of the restaurant tasting.   Also – rowdy tasters may disturb the diners!  It is however a treat to be able to see the restaurant for those that are there …………….so that they know they have to come back and relax at the Pool!

Oak valley fruit trees at the start of spring

Oak Valley attracts a large number of mountain bikers and their supporters on weekends – the track is rated as one of the best for mountain bikers in the country – so if you are into mountain biking – don’t forget to bring your bike.  If you are into relaxation – simply head through to the Pool Room for a long lazy afternoon and enjoy the simple dishes that will keep coming from the kitchen.  Note that the wine tasting will now be open 7 days a week and you will have the opportunity to shop for fabulous meat

Blue cranes on Oak Valley Estate

products from the charcuterie to take home.   Oak Valley is one of the most beautiful estates in the country – so it is worth settling in for the day.

Info for The Pool Room – Oak Valley Wine Estate – Elgin:

Wed-Sun lunch 12h00-15h30

Fri dinner 18h30-22h00

Oak Valley Flowers

Restaurant bookings 021 859 4111

They are an hour away from Cape Town!  So not far!  For more information on the estate visit their website by clicking here.  To find a map and directions to Oak Valley - click here 

NOTE 05/2013 – Chef Nicole Precourdis is no longer at The Pool Room.  She designed and set it up and after getting it on its feet – she has moved onto another venture!  Note that she leaves the restaurant in good hands!

Posted in Cape Town 4 Foodies and Wino's, Cape Winelands | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Douglas Green Wines – fantastic value for money…..ahhhhh Douglas Green!

My memories of Douglas Green are of a brand that my parents enjoyed when I was a child and of course the 1980′s ad with the Japanese Sushi maker saying “Ahhhhh Douglas Green!”

Douglas Green trained as a winemaker in Stellenbosch and was one of the first marketing guru’s in the wine industry.  He spotted a gap that many are following today – he saw the gap to use his knowledge to buy the best grapes he could find and to bottle them under a brand label – Douglas Green Wines – which he would build into a brand that represented an accessible high quality wine that could be enjoyed immediately on purchase and bought for a price that represented good value for money.

He began his business with the purchase of the Forrer brother’s Stukvat liquor business in Paarl’s main road in 1938, and he is recognised as South Africa’s first true ‘negotiant’ wine merchant. It was risky and unconventional in his day, but he successfully ignored regionalism in favour of quality and price sourcing grapes and wine from across the Cape to blend his top quality range of wines.

70 years later – they are still one of the most popular wine brands in South Africa and are now available in 50 countries.  Their range includes a rose, whites (the chardonnay rocked my boat – it is very lightly oaked and was a perfect wood wine when paired with Italian food!), single cultivar reds and red blends (lightly oaked – ready to drink now or five years).  Locally these wines are outrangeously cheap – under R40 a bottle.

Douglas Green Junior - this is still a family owned brand!

Douglas Green Junior – this is still a family owned brand!

If you have not tried their wines – grab one next time you are at the supermarket.  My favourites were the chardonnay and the pinotage.

My verdict:  I thought there wines were really great – I would buy them for everyday drinking (great price) and would also feel comfortable serving them at a dinner party! 

Click here to visit their website. 

TIP: If you are living in the UK or the USA look out for The Beach House label in wine stores – this is also made by Douglas Green Wines – so it should be good!  It is currently one of the top selling South African wines in the US and the UK

Just for fun – check out the picture below of Marketing Manager for Douglas Green – a great ambassador for his wine as he introduces me to his wonderful range of wines over a great lunch at Burrata 

The Marketing Manager of Douglas Green Wines enjoying his job of telling us about his wonderful wines!

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Organic & Biodynamic – Avondale Vineyard Tour……doing things naturally!

David – our driver and host offers our 1st delicious wine at Avondale!

Pam on the back of the truck and loving it!

A book could be written about the farming practices at Avondale!  Avondale is one of the oldest estates in the Paarl Valley.  In 1997 the John & Ginny Grieve (who own Vital Foods) purchased Avondale.  In 2000 tragedy struck when a devastating fire cleared the estate.  However, out of something harmful came an opportunity.   Their son – Johnathan Grieve – rose to the challenge and used the “clean slate” to start trying to restore the nutrients in the soil by using BioLOGIC practices – a term he coined for turning towards Green practices which included the use of Organic and Biodynamic practices.   Johnathan has always had green fingers and has apparently been planting things since age 3!

Avondale is open for public tastings – and give you a wonderful introduction to the philosophy of the farm and explain what organic and biodyanamic farming practices are,  while you are tasting their wines.  However, to get a fuller appreciation of the

Lesley Cox enjoying the ride!

estate and its practices, it is great to book for their vineyard tour.

The tour lasts between 2 and 3 hours and

includes a drive on the back of a truck around the farm, stopping at various points to do wine tastings.  You stop to visit the ducks and then head into their gravity fed cellar to learn more about their wine making principles.   The cost for the tour is R200.

The first stop for wine tasting was at the top of the farm at the dam, a grand vantage point that offers sweeping views of the valley.

Avondale’s dam’s are high up so that gravity moves the water instead of pumps

Caelli gave us a fantastic intro to Avondale

During the tour Caelli acted as our guide.  We visited in winter – so the vines are all currently dormant.  It was fascinating passing the homes, the plum trees, the veggie patch with a fun scarecrow and learning about their “natural practices”.  The natural practices extends to everything they do:  From not using pumps to move water, through to planting 5 different cover crops in winter to do different jobs such as returning nutrients to the soil through to Nitrogen fixing, through to only using natural fermentation practices and building a gravity fed cellar.  But, by far the most intriguing aspect is of course the Biodynamic practices.  This is literally farming in tune to the moon.   The Biodynamic calendar rules when you plant, when you harvest, when you prune and generally

The cover crops looks beautiful! Great that they are functional too!

everything you do with the plants!  Interestingly enough this calendar has now been extended to include times for when you should be tasting the wines!  Here is a run down of the effect of the cycles in the calender:

  • Root Phase: The wine will taste flat
  • Leaf Phase:  The wines will show more minerality
  • Flower Phase: The wines will taste at their best
  • Fruit Phase: This will bring out the fruitiness in the wines – wines can taste jammy!

So check what phase you are in when booking!  Aim for the Flower period of the month!

Avondale winter vineyards with Paarl Rock in the background

The truck for vineyard tours – you need to be able to climb up!

THE WINES:

Caelli looking for nitrogen fixing plants to show us!

The wine making process is a slow and natural process on the estate.  They do not add yeast and rely on the natural yeast from the grapes for fermentation.  This process is risky and takes more time for fermentation to happen.  The philosophy is to do things naturally – but also properly.  Consequently the wines are at a premium price level in the market.  In my opinion, these are the highest quality organic wines you will find in South Africa.  I fell head over heals in love with their Champagne (called Methode Cap Classique or MCC in South Africa) – and had it been a little cheaper – I would have been loading crates into my vehicle!

All of the whites were wonderfully complex and interesting.

Nitrogen fixing can be seen in the roots of this cover crop

I enjoyed the Chenin Blanc and the Viognier blend.  Syrah is one of my favourite varietals and their Syrah was fabulous.

Note that they use a very low level of Sulphur in the production of their wine – half of the normal amount.  I mention this as many people always ask me where they can find low Sulphur wine. So here is the answer!

THE DUCKS! 

Each year Avondale takes on 100 ducks that work very hard to eat all of the snails on the farm.  These ducks work from morning to 5pm.  As there are predators in the area – they learn to literally walk the plank from the DUCK MOBILE from an early age.  Each day their duck minder takes them out to different vineyards in the morning and back to their “home” at night.  It was really amusing watching them trying to waddle through the thick cover crop!

In addition to the Ducks, Avondale also introduce wasps to eat the Mielie Bugs when they find them.  The wasps don’t seem to become a pest as once they have finished eating them, their food source disappears and they then disappear!

The Avondale Duck Mobile – the ducks get to walk the plank twice a day!

The Ducks hard at work in the cover crop!  They have a full time duck minder!

Avondale’s ducks work hard eating snails! They also have to battle through the winter cover crop!

I love the Ducks!

After our visit to the Ducks we headed into the cellar.  I loved watching them take the Chardonnay barrels out into the sun to heat them up and roll them – apparently this assists with getting the natural fermentation going!  Fabulous – I had never seen this before!

Avondale Rolling the chardonnay in the sun to assist with kick starting natural fermentation!

Contact Details for Avondale Wines:

Click here for their Website - www.avondalewine.co.za

Phone +27 21 863 1976

Opening hours for wine tasting: Mon – Sat 10am to 4pm (Note that they prefer to do the vineyard tours during the week as Saturday gets busy)

Avondale barrel cellar – gorgeous

Pam in the Avondale cellar

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La Petite Ferme Cellar Tour with John Dendy Young

La Petite Ferme Restaurant

It is so rare to be able to do a cellar tour with a member of the family that owns a wine estate.  Most estates get too big and then they employ staff to do the cellar tours.  A cellar tour is always interesting as everyone wants to learn about how wine is made, however there is something so special in getting to know the history of the estate from the family as well as getting the opportunity to learn about the production of wine.

La Petite Ferme was opened as a restaurant in 1984 by John and Carol Dendy Young.  The Dendy Youngs could not have chosen a prettier location – on top of the mountain with sweeping views of the Franschhoek valley below.  John personally oversaw the choice of vines to be planted on the estate.

Standing outside in the garden overlooking the vines, with the beautiful Franschhoek valley below

He starts the tour outside among the vines talking about the choice of varietals and route stock, as well as the history of their journey from food into wine.

Dormant Winter vines before pruning

The tour then moves down to the cellar.  This is a wonderful cellar to do a cellar tour as the estate is a small boutique winery – as such the cellar is small and intimate, with many of the processes of wine making still being done by hand.   John takes you through the stories of how the wine is made by his son – Mark Dendy Young – John is however very much on hand during harvest and during the wine making process to assist.  Today the ownership of the property has been transferred to Mark and his wife Josephine.

The barrel cellar at La Petite Ferme

A highlight of the cellar tour is the opportunity to do barrel tastings – very few estates offer barrel tastings anymore………..and it is great fun to do it!

Adele enjoying the barrel tasting!

Kim enjoying the barrel tasting!

Once you have tasted the wine – John encourages you to pour the contents out into the cellar – the theory is that you are assisting with keeping a humid environment – something that is necessary for stopping the barrels from drying out!

Adele doing her bit to keep moisture in the cellar!

From the cellar you head up to the bar area to try the end products!

Time to taste the La Petite Ferme wines!

It would be a mistake to not book for lunch after the cellar tour.  La Petite Ferme has been a consistently good restaurant since it opened.  The views from the restaurant are amazing and it is our absolute favourite thing to start the lunch sitting on the lawn enjoying the view and drinks.  From here you order your food and once it is ready they call you to your table.  After lunch we always settle back onto the lawn for the afternoon.  La Petite Ferme only opens for lunch – so there is no rush to move on.  Don’t plan to spend a short time at this magical spot!  Note that during summer this restaurant is very popular – so make sure you book your cellar tour and lunch well in advance.  The cellar tour starts at 11am and is free if you are staying for lunch and R50 per person if you are only coming for the cellar tour.  For more details visit the La Petite Ferme Website or call them on +27 (0)21 876 3016 e-mail: info@lapetiteferme.co.za (Note that on days that John cannot do the tour – his son – the winemaker – Mark – does the tours.) Ps John has written his own book – make sure you buy it while you are there and he will sign it! 

Ps 2 La Petite Ferme is child friendly and has child meal options on their menu.  The cellar tour is suitable for older kids as it is fascinating to learn the process of wine making!

Just a few foodie pics to whet your appetite!

La Petite Ferme Rabbit with parmesan

La Petite Ferme Goats Cheese Salad

Relaxing at La Petite Ferme – my favourite thing!

Keith relaxing in the garden at La Petite Ferme

Soooo beautiful at La Petite Ferme!

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The Dog’s Bollocks grows its family to include the Bitches Tits & Deluxe Coffee

Sign on the corner of Buitenkant and Roodehek Rd aims to grab your attention. The Dogs Bollocks has found a wife!

The Dog’s Bollocks has found a wife and she has the slightly rude name that I am sure must be grabbing drivers attention as they head down Buitenkant Street.   The Dog’s Bollocks are now serving breakfast and lunch – admittedly all under different names – what a fabulously unusual approach!   At the back of the L-shaped property Deluxe micro coffee roastery have moved onto the property.

Deluxe Coffee Roastery – at the Dog’s Bollocks

I headed down there yesterday to try their new delicious sounding sandwich menu and to sample Deluxe’s coffees.  For those that do not know the venue,  it is the initiative of Chef Nigel Woods who simply took over an alley and a small wharehouse space and popped what looks like granny’s furniture into the alley and opened a restaurant that only offers burgers.  Check out my blog on the Dog’s Bollocks to read more.

The industrial looking entrance to the Dog’s Bollocks – good to know what you are looking for in Roodehek rd as it is easy to go past!

I  was lucky enough to find a free table!  A small miracle if you know what this spot is like at night!  I chatted to the girls who are manning the cooking station – Nigel is doing the night shift and the ladies look after lunch.  Both Megan and Anel were really welcoming and friendly.  Megan trained as a chef at Vega and has moved here from Jason’s Bakery.  This is Anel’s first job in a “kitchen” and she is loving it!  Once I had popped my order of the Hero Meatballs onto the wall (after being warned that this batch had lots of chilly!) I headed into the gorgeous space of Deluxe Coffee and ordered a flat white.  The guys who are working behind the counter are seriously nice – they explained to me that the coffee I was having was made from the house blend – 45% Brazil, 45% Guatemala and 10% Ethiopia – it was a rich and creamy blend – smooth and strong and I loved it!  How fabulous to have a great coffee spot two blocks away from my home!

Deluxe Coffee Micro Roastery opened here a month ago! The staff are super friendly!

Shortly after my coffee, my delicious sandwich was ready.  I know you need to bring most things to the Dog’s Bollocks – they do not serve any drinks other then wine – but I forgot to bring serviettes!  My delicious Meatball Hero sandwich was seriously yummy and just about as messy as my burger experiences here!

Dogs Bollocks Hero Meatball sandwich. Too yummy! With serious chillies!

Overall Assessment:

I had one of the best cups of coffee I have had in years -it is so fabulous to have these guys in my “hood”.  My meatball sandwich was seriously delicious – quite oily though – so it will have to be for special occasions – this is not a spot to pop into for the health conscious!

The name of the lunch time venue does not resonate well with me.  The name the Dog’s Bollocks somehow is quirky and it cannot be mistaken for what it is – however the double meaning of the “B******’s T*t’s just does not feel right – it does not automatically feel like straight humour -I understand that the sign will create attention – which is of course the aim.

Naturally the venue is quirky and fabulous and I must admit I love it!  So, I will continue to be a groupie!

The Lunch menu!

Sign on Buitenkant St

Now serving breakfast too!

Cooking lunch!

Address: Roodehek Rd – head down Buitenkant – at the Shell Garage – turn left into Roodehek Rd – you will see the alley on your left.  Booking is not possible and tables on a first come first served.  For dinner he is now cooking 50 burgers – however – it is still wise to get there at 5pm to get a table.  Write your order on the wall!  Follow them on Facebook. Note they are also open for breakfast – their operating hours have not been updated on Facebook yet – so I am not sure what to advise! Note they are open Mon – Sat (closed Sunday)

Deluxe Coffee - closed Sunday – simply turn up and relax in this wonderful space!  Note that Deluxe Coffee has just opened in Franschhoek next to Reubens.  Finally great coffee in Franschhoek!  I hear a rumour that Bean There Coffee is also going to open in Franschhoek.  Lucky Franschhoek!

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Exciting news: New V&A Market on the Wharf to open in November 2012

Under Construction – Foodie market coming soon!

3 1/2 years ago Ruth Munitz approached the V&A Waterfront with the idea of starting a fresh produce market.  At the time, Cape Town was not used to having foodie markets and the Waterfront did not agree with her proposal for a market where people could buy fresh produce from artisenal vendors and local producers.  A few months ago she was however contacted by the Waterfront and asked to be one of four people contacted to submit a tender proposal for a fresh goods market.   She won the tender and work is currently underway to start creating the market.

Location will be the historic Power Station (old Musica store)

It is Ruth’s dream to create a foodie market for Cape Town that can rival the likes of the La Boqueria in Barcelona, Borough Market in London and the Ferry Building Market in San Francisco.   This is such an exciting venture and I am going to be one of the first people to go and check it out as soon as it opens.  The market will be open from Wed – Sunday from 09h00 to 19h30 and you can simply head down there and stock up from artisenal and organic vendors for your dinner parties!  Fabulous!

To quote Ruth:

“It will provide a hassle-free “must stop shopping” experience for anyone who has an interest in high quality food, from the single house-holder to the dinner party host through to the restaurateur looking for the “best of the best” produce on a daily basis. “In line with the trend of going back to basics and the Slow-Food-Movement, the market will offer to V&A residents and businesses, travellers and the hip, hot and happening crowd of Cape Town the opportunity of browsing and shopping at a daily market with a large selection of fresh produce under one roof in a popular and convenient venue”, elaborates Munitz.

For more information check out their website on www.marketonthewharf.co.za

The market is currently looking for high quality vendors – if you are interested – the application form and details are on their website.

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Cafe Mozart plays again!

Cafe Mozart has been an institution in Cape Town’s inner city for 37  years.

It was always quirky and fun with Mozart’s music gently playing in the background – but gradually it became a shabby chic spot and then it just felt shabby!  Enter the Madame Zingara group in 2010 and it once again became shabby chic and quirky…..with fab food….and great ambiance.  A winning combo for Cape Town!

Daisy from http://www.whatsonincapetown.com at Cafe Mozart Cape Town

   I was quite amused to receive an invite from the Madame Zingara group to go and try out Cafe Mozart. What does one do when you are already a groupie of a spot?  Naturally one accepts the free lunch! Naturally as I am a groupie – a blog on this spot was long overdue anyway.   I had a walking tour on Thursday – so I popped in with guests and then on Friday I met up with a great friend of mine Daisy – who is the fountain of knowledge behind the wonderful website www.whatsonincapetown.com.

Both visits were wonderful and a lovely opportunity to actually enjoy sitting indoors.  One of the main drawcards of the spot (for me) is to sit under the trees at the outside tables.  I enjoy watching the people passing by and watching those that are relaxing at this lovely spot under the tree with goodies hanging from it and surrounded by a quaint white picket fence.  The restaurant was buzzing on both days that I visited – wonderful to see in the middle of winter.

I love chilling out in the outside area at Cafe Mozart

We sat upstairs on both occasions – and I must admit I love how cozy it is up there.  I love the clutter and the eccentric decor – it is warm and welcoming.  The staff are always lovely at Cafe Mozart.  Note that there is only one or two small inside tables next to the kitchen – so if you find stairs a challenge – this spot will not be a great choice for winter.   On Thursday I had a delicious chicken burger – but was well impressed with how yummy the fish and chips looked when ordered by my client – I must admit I was suffering food envy!  Lucky me going back the next day.  Well – the restaurant was not expecting so many people to

turn up for lunch on the Friday – as such they started running out of everything.  It makes me feel

Food envy – how delicious do the fish & chips look. Love that they serve it in a colander

so happy for them that they  were doing so well!  So – no fish and chips for me!  They were out of chips!  Then they ran out of burger rolls!  So I went for the steak sandwich on the recommendation of the waiter – he suggested brown.  Unfortunately my worst thing in the world is sweet brown bread!  And voila it came on the sweet brown bread!  It was however a really lovely lunch.  Daisy enjoyed her calamari.

Cafe Mozart Steak Sandwich on brown

The Verdict:

I love it there!  Even if the food was not delicious (which it most certainly is!!) – there is something about the place that resonates with me.  I just love the energy and vibe of this little spot.  It is quirky and I feel relaxed and at home.  I can’t wait for summer to relax in the outside area…………..come on sunshine!! (Ps – you must try their cakes! Yum!)

Where to find them?

Click here for their website.

Open Mon – Friday – 7am to 4pm.  Saturday 9am – 3.30pm – note you are welcome to simply come and have a coffee or a drink or breakfast or lunch!  Sadly they are not open for dinners! What a pity!
Address: 37 Church Street – next to the antique market and in the pedestrianized part
Tel: 021 424 3774

Some of the dishes:

Cafe Mozart Steak Sandwich on brown

The Calamari

 

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More Zingara: 

Note that the all the restaurants in the Madame Zingara group are fabulous.  I have written some blogs on some of them.  Check out my blogs on Cafe Paradiso and Don Pedro’s. 

Read Daisy’s review on Cafe Mozart by clicking here.

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