Cape Town, a City Tasting Tour
Without a doubt, Cape Town remains South Africa’s culinary hub with a staggering 90% of top restaurants within the city’s metropolis and the neighbouring winelands, which offer robust, sure-footed New World blends and single varietal wines. A resurgence in market culture, artisanal produce, coffee enthusiasts and people demanding to know the origins of their food, Cape Town offers flavourful options, with a conscience.
Take advantage of the local market mania by visiting one of many food markets within and just out of the city. The Neighbourgoods Market at Old Biscuit Mill is one of the oldest of the popular markets and comprehensively representative. Be sure to try Richard Bosman’s masterful charcuterie. The ready-made food selection includes some of the best made to order Dutch bitterballen in the city, Cape Malay style curries and steak sandwiches by KC Canteen - a must. The City Bowl Market offers a respite from the hectic heave of the other markets. It’s a good spot to pick up organic fruit and vegetables at reasonable prices and rest on a hay bale on the upper level, cider in hand, unwinding like a local. Sample products from Master preserver Oded Schwartz, available at both these markets. Twenty minutes will take you from the CBD to the restful suburb of Hout Bay and the vibrant Bay Harbour Market. Part of the Hangberg Social Upliftment Project, it offers live music, art and fresh seafood like grilled crayfish on the barbeque.
A pioneer in popularising the modern craft beer movement in Cape Town,&Union stocks an ever growing range of Brewers & Union beers.This unassuming venue, with wooden benches outside and simple stools on the inside, is packed in the summer-time. Try a bucket of love - three beers at a special rate. Yes, you’ll bump into a lot of skinny jeans wearing hipsters, but there’s a reason &Union is so popular with locals and visitors.
The grandaddy of local brews must be Mitchell’s Brewery, a family-run concern founded in Knysna in the Eastern Cape in 1983. The waterfront bar is packed with locals and tourists who enjoy the convenience of location. It’s best to get a table early during the summer months.
An old school bar dating back to 1864, stocking all the brands you’re accustomed to as well as a few local labels, Fireman’s Arms is popular with all ages and especially the seasoned beer drinkers. Beer, quiz nights, proper pub food - this is the place to be. No elbow room for pretension here.
INTO THE SEA
While seafood is bountiful, we don’t have fishermen selling their catch to the public on the shores. This is remedied by the ever-increasing number of fishmongers and seafood restaurants. If you’d like to prepare some of your own, I highly recommend Ocean Jewel Fisheries, available at theNeighbourgoods and other markets as well as directly from Julie Carter, who delivers in the city. They are a family run fishmonger focussing on sustainable fishing methods and the freshest catch. Enjoy a generous seafood platter of plump West Coast oysters and mussels, calamari, crayfish and a choice of fish at Harbour House, Kalk Bay, with pristine views over False Bay. The newly opened Harbour House at the Waterfront is also a worthy option - get a seat at the water’s edge.
If you feel like a quick meal of traditional fish and chips, Live Bait in Kalk Bay also offers beautiful views. Fish on the Rocks in Hout Bay is a firm local favourite - expect fish served in paper, strong winds and long queues.
INNER CITY HOPPING
The CBD is dotted with tasty hot spots you should not miss. Start with coffee at Truth Coffee in Somerset road, home to artisanal coffees, roasted in a way that eradicates the bitterness. Next meander down toJason’s Bakery for one of his legendary pies, like the caramelised pork and apple pie (these change regularly) and a pastry.
If you’ve got a shopper handy, take a baguette or loaf away with you- Jason isn’t known as Captain Bread for nothing. Explore Long street and it’s many curio and vintage stores. When you’re ready for a late lunch, make your way to Hemelhuijs conceptualised, owned and run by city creative Jacques Erasmus.
The small space typifies current haute design aesthetic and you will be drawn to the hunting-trophy deer mounted onto the charcoal wall, it’s antlers decorated with shards of fine china. Unique Dutch inspired ceramics are on display and for sale. The salads with a difference and cheese cake are winning options.
WINING IT UP
These fine wineries on one stretch towards the once French-Huguenot occupied town of Fraschhoek are in close proximity to each other and therefore reduce travel time. Glen Carlou will arrange a full tasting for you and boasts a gorgeous view of the valley. Enjoy the Hess Art exhibition, a provocative contemporary collection using several mediums, at your leisure. Noble Hill estate is a few meters away. After a tasting, enjoy plates of starters (portions are large) at Cosecha restaurant, an open hacienda-styled restaurant that focuses on farm-fresh Latin flavours.
Another option is to order a picnic basket and enjoy it with your wine in the garden. After you’ve rested, head down the road to Backsberg wine estate, which holds the honour of being one of only three wineries world-wide to be carbon neutral. The last winery on your agenda would be La Motte estate. Visit the museum dedicated to Jacob Hendrik Pierneef. Kids can play, supervised, in the little stream. Dining at the gorgeous Pierneef La Motte restaurant is a sublime experience.
Bookings recommended for all.