Great foodie shopping at Cape Town’s Oranjezicht Market

Today we’re heading to beautiful Granger Bay close to Cape Town’s Waterfront. How I love a food market and the Oranjezicht farmers market is absolutely fabulous. It’s a community farmers-style market for independent local farmers and artisanal food producers that’s set overlooking the sparkling sea.

There’s plenty of seating where you can relax and munch on the many dishes available and a wide range of stalls to delight. The tempting displays definitely make me buy more, but as I love everything I’ve bought there that’s really not a problem.

Oranjezicht farmers market

The market looks out over the azure sea

As you walk in you’re greeted by a fabulous floral display, include vibrant bunches of perfect proteas – South Africa’s national flower.

Oranjezicht farmers market

Beautiful bunches of proteas to take home

Fresh produce

This has got to be the best place in Cape Town to stock up on all the fresh stuff you’re going to need for your week. The fruit and vegetable displays are stunning and everything is of the highest quality. Boxes of fresh figs, massively juicy watermelons, plump grapes, carrots in myriad shades, tomatoes, chillis, herbs, leaves, garlic…well, pretty much whatever that’s seasonal and delicious. Make sure you take a bag – you’re not going to be able to carry it all if you don’t! I think I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Oranjezicht farmers market

Chillis in different shapes, sizes and colours

Oranjezicht farmers market

How’s this for a vegetable display…almost makes me want to become vegetarian

More chillis to add spice to your life

A fresh herb selection and beans that are purple and yellow

Oranjezicht farmers market

Heirloom tomatoes – juicily bursting with flavour

A table full of squash is a work of art

Oranjezicht farmers market

Love the pink oyster mushrooms…and you can even grow your own

Some of the wonderful fruit on offer

There’s also plenty of great-quality meat, cheese, bread, fish and sauces available.

Snacking opportunities and takeaways

As well as all the fresh produce there’s so much to tuck into at once to keep your shopping strength up – or to take home for later feasting. Baked goods, fresh bread, samosas, sushi, pies, wraps, Vietnamese rolls, eggs Benedict, steak rolls in many forms, bacon and egg croissants, bagels..it’s astounding. Here’s a small selection of what’s on offer.

Oranjezicht farmers market

You’ll find plenty of sweet treats to indulge in

Perfect little pies made in a muffin pan

Oranjezicht farmers market

The sweetest and most custardy of Portuguese custard tarts

Oranjezicht farmers market

The chefs are busy with bacon and potato rosti

Oranjezicht farmers market

The colourful sushi selection is described with passion

The prettiest of plants are also on display

Oranjezicht market

There’s a lot of eating on the go happening here

This is some market – seriously, I could go every week and take a batch of pictures like this showcasing different products – there’s so much on offer here. My advice is to go and see for yourself – and go soon, cos you’re going to want to go back again and again.

You’ll find the Oranjezicht City Farm Market at Granger Bay Boulevard, V&A Waterfront, Cape town.

It is open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm.

Read more about the Oranjezicht City farm by clicking here.

 

Classically perfect pasta at Morgenster

I’m taking my job very seriously this month and trying to bring you news and lovely pictures from a range of Cape Winelands eateries. So today we’ve popped in for a casual mid-week lunch at 95 at Morgenster.

Morgenster is a thriving wine and olive farm which dates back to 1711. They are known for their Bourdeaux-style blends and their Italian Collection wines. All of which are fabulous. Plus they offer a  top range of olive oils.

The restaurant 95 at Morgenster is the baby of Italian chef Giorgio Nava, whose lovely original restaurant, 95 Keerom, is in  central Cape Town. The menu is inspired by the food of Milan and there’s a good selection of salads, antipasti, pasta and meat dishes.

Our taste buds got awakened by the sound of all the pasta dishes. My homemade ravioli of slow baked Karoo lamb shoulder was served with sage butter and parmesan. One of those pasta dishes that makes you want to sigh with delight with every mouthful. The richness and softness of the lamb, the flavoursome pasta pillows and that amazingly silken butter sauce. Truly a pasta dish to dream about.

Luscious ravioli in sage butter

You can’t beat a classic Italian dish perfectly done. The handmade tagliatelle came with a slow cooked beef ragu and fresh herbs. You can tell just by looking at this picture that it was a lovingly prepared ragu with great richness and depth.

Rich and tasty ragu with flavoursome fresh pasta

We actually got to Morgenster a bit early for lunch so settled on the restaurant’s lovely verandah overlooking the dam and mountains and enjoyed a pre-lunch coffee. Love the attention to detail here, with footprints in the foam.

Who left their footprints in the coffee?

You eat in dappled sunlight under a slatted roof (as you can see from the pictures of our lovely pasta dishes). And this is the expansive view of water, mountains and azure sky.

Food always tastes better with a view

Morgenster is at Vergelegen Avenue, off Lourensford Road on the outskirts of Somerset West.

Today’s price point

We paid R320 (about £19 at today’s exchange rate) for two delicious pasta dishes and a bottle of Merlot.

Exploring and indulging on the Franschhoek Wine Tram

As promised, today we’re hopping on board the Franschhoek Wine Tram. There are so many vineyards in Franschhoek in  South Africa’s Cape Winelands it’s quite a daunting task to pick which ones to visit. So someone clever thought about starting up the Wine Tram to make it easier. There are five routes to choose from and seven or eight vineyards that you can hop off at for each one.

We chose the Red Line, which has eight stops – and you have time to get off at a maximum of five. Clearly there is still some decision making to be done. Anyway, select your route and head for the centre of beautiful Franschhoek to start your adventure. It’s worth getting there a little early for a fabulous coffee at Sacred Ground (how’s that for a great name for a coffee shop). Then wait for the bell to ring to announce the start of your tour and for your guide with the red (or whatever the colour of your tour) flag to appear.

It turns out that the Wine Tram tours are mainly on a bus – well the actual tram only visits two stops which happened to be at the end of our tour. But you won’t be disappointed as it’s a particularly cute bus, resplendent in green and gold. The open sides make for easy picture taking and the informative commentary fills you in about the wine life in Franschhoek.

All aboard the wine bus wine tram

We headed out of central Franschhoek towards our first stop Maison. It’s a beautifully quaint little building with a welcoming verandah and tasting area in front. The restaurant – Kitchen at Maison – which is currently rated the eighth best in the country, overlooks vines and mountains.

The quaintest of cottages greets you

There’s a strict timetable to follow which actually makes life easier. Each segment is organised in periods of an hour – so when you’re dropped off watches are synchronised and the bus is back in exactly an hour. You can of course stay two hours (or three, or however long you want). We found that the hour worked really well. The farms are all used to the system and served us quickly and efficiently. So we were ready to head off to the next stop when the bus arrived.

In the garden at Maison – a bit of natural art?

We decided to skip the next two stops – Eikehof and Leopard’s Leap, though I did get the opportunity to capture this stunning sculpture from the bus. No prizes for guessing which vineyard this was at. As well as all its other great qualities, Franschhoek is like a massive outdoor art gallery!

Look out for the leopard prowling on high

Next stop Chamonix which dates back to 1688. The newly opened restaurant which overlooks the forest at the back. We tucked into the cheese and charcuterie boards because you’ve gotta eat if you’re tasting all that wine. They were beautifully presented and tasty, just what we needed.

A tasty cheese selection to keep us going

A delicious charcuterie platter with local meat and cheeses

A short hop and we were off the bus again at spectacular Dieu Donne. It’s a modern construction, set high up on the slopes of Franschhoek with this spectacular view across the valley.

Dieu Donne’s view is one of the most amazing

The bus meanders through the streets of this historic little town – and it really makes you feel like you want to live there (or perhaps that’s due to the wine?). Beautiful views, quaint cottages and a sense of peace – I could picture myself moving into this house!

Picture perfect cottages line the streets

By now the afternoon was starting to run away from us, time really does fly when you’re having fun. Finally it was time for the best bit – the actual tram. We waited excitedly alongside the track as it trundled up. All aboard and we headed for our final stop – Grande Provence.

It’s on the tram for the last two stops

On arrival at the station there’s a tractor and trailers awaiting you which trundle through the vines and trees to a beautiful destination. Grande Provence oozes class and style and there’s a very warm welcome, too.

Love the Franschhoek modes of transport

It’s over 300 years old and has the most spectacular gardens. Beautiful trees, water features and art everywhere for your pleasure. And the wine is great too. We settled in the shady garden with a chilled bottle of Rose. The perfect last stop to complete our day.

The stylish inside tasting area at Grande Provence

The beautiful trees offer shade for the sculptures

More fabulous Franschhoek art to admire

I loved our afternoon on the Wine Tram. We made new friends and sang with them along the way (wine tasting definitely helps with that!), tasted new wines and enjoyed the beauty of the Franschhoek Valley in style. The Bus/Tram works like clockwork and is certainly a novel way to travel.

Homeward bound after a fabulous Winelands afternoon

The vineyards we visited in conclusion

They were all very different, a mix of historical and modern, varying views, food and wine. My opinion in short.

Maison

Quaint and quirky.

Expensive wine tasting.

Highly regarded restaurant, though we didn’t eat in it this time.

Chamonix

Lovely cheese and charcuterie platters.

Delicious Sauvignon Blanc with lots of citrus notes.

Not much of a view.

Dieu Donne

Spectacular views.

More delicious Sauvignon Blanc.

Grande Provence

The classiest of the lot.

Beautiful gardens, water features and sculptures.

Delicious Rose.

Find out more about the fabulous Wine Tram at winetram.co.za

 

 

 

Tasty tapas at Spek & Bone in Stellenbosch

Today we’re in the beautiful university town of Stellenbosch. Majestic tree-lined streets, quirky shops and bars and a happy buzz, this university town offers many dining opportunities. One of the newest ones is chef Bertus Basson’s (of the famed Overture) latest venture, Spek & Bone.

The restaurant is named after his pet pig Spek (it means bacon in Afrikaans, poor Spek) and his boxer dog, Bone – who are best friends! There are plenty of pictures of the two of them scattered around the restaurant which is set back from busy Dorp Street down through a narrow passage to a welcoming courtyard shaded by an enormous tree.

Welcome to the road to Spek & Bone

Despite being a new opening there’s already a lot of history here. The wall on the left as you come in used to be the original market of Stellenbosch. And the huge tree you’re sitting under is the oldest fruit-producing vine in Stellenbosch. So take in your surroundings before settling down to peruse the menu which is a range of tapas-style dishes.

We started with this amazing dish of pork crackling topped with maple bacon. The lightest of crackling with great crunch combined perfectly with the slightly sticky sweetness of the bacon.

The amazing potato dish was cooked in camembert and topped with crispy bacon and thinly sliced spring onions.

Next up, fish tacos. Fresh tuna with a mix of avocado, cabbage, red onions and peppery radishes. Love a fish taco and these were beautiful with the crunchy vegetables and zesty flavours.

The Chalmar sirloin was served with a Monkey Gland baste, mushrooms, spinach puree and croquettes. Perfectly cooked medium-rare steak and a wonderful marriage of ingredients. Loved the depth of flavour of the spinach which somehow lifted the whole dish.

Spek & Bone is wonderful. We stopped off there on our way home from a visit to Franschhoek (more of which later) where we’d eaten rather a lot over the past 24 hours, so tapas suited us perfectly and we didn’t order that much. Having said that, I thought the portions were very generous.

I did feel somewhat conflicted eating bacon and crackling considering the name of the restaurant. But don’t worry, Spek is safe. The story on the menu assures us that he will never be eaten – “he sleeps on the couch and we love him dearly”. Thank goodness for that.

Right next-door is the legendary store – Oom Samie Se Winkel (which means Uncle Sammy’s shop), a Victorian-style shop that sells all food, gifts, souvenirs, antiques and all sorts of goodies. It’s a Stellenbosch institution since 1904 that’s set out over 10 rooms and it’s really well worth a visit.

Pop in and visit Oom Samie

Today’s price point

Lunch for three cost R540 (£32 at today’s exchange rate).

This included the dishes above, a lovely bottle of Rose and service.

Spek & Bone is at 84 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch.

Coffee in Cape Town: Spoilt for choice

Today I’m delighted to have a double-guest contribution to Eating Covent Garden. Nicky Elliot and Yvette Wilsenach live in Cape Town and as a fabulous photographer/writer combination have produced a stunning book called The Coffee Route. It’s their guide to Cape Town’s hottest coffee spots.

It’s a volume of beautiful pictures and useful facts to help enhance the lives of coffee lovers. Each section is prefaced with a map to help plot your route and each entry also includes information about parking, wifi (always important in a coffee shop) and the type of coffee served, as well as ideas of what else to do while you’re in the area.

Here’s what Yvette has to say about Cape Town’s coffee culture.

There is much to say about the beauty of Cape Town. There is the famous Table Mountain, the sea, the colourful Bo-Kaap, the greenery and nature in the middle of the city, the views. But one of the things that I am most grateful for, is the lack of shopping malls.  Make no mistake, we do have them – for example, one is a kilometre long, the other sits in the docks in Cape Town and has stunning views and shops – but we do not really have a mall culture.  Which is great and I believe that it contributes to the individualism of which Capetonians are so proud.

I love the beautifully quirky Bo-Kaap in Central Cape Town

I love the beautifully quirky Bo-Kaap in Central Cape Town

Cape Town has always had a bit of a hippie vibe, with markets like Greenmarket Square and Church Street having been around for decades.  In recent years, say the past decade, this individualism has married with the global rise of a coffee culture and so, thank heaven, we have dozens, if not hundreds of small, quirky and independent coffee shops.

So we wrote a book about some of them, called The Coffee Route. And what does that mean? That means we are constantly being asked, yes, but which is the best? And that is very hard to answer, because it all depends on what you are looking for. It is currently winter in Cape Town, otherwise known as the Cape of Storms, so this is a good time to huddle up in a coffee shop, devour some comforting cake and watch the sea, wind and rain.

Other times, you may need to focus on finishing that deadline. Then you don’t want too much of a distracting view, you need some low-level background activity and waiters who cater to your needs without helicoptering over you as you have just had that brainwave that pulls everything together. Or you want to go somewhere charming, perhaps with some dappled shade, some comfortable cushions, a pile of mags, or meet a friend for lunch. Other times you are dashing in to get a take-away on the way to your yoga class/meeting with a venture capitalist/friend’s birthday tea and before you get to the counter they are making your regular. All of this and more is available on the Cape Town coffee scene and I haven’t even got to the coffee yet!

Ten years ago Origin Coffee opened in Cape Town and was one of the very first home-grown roasters.  Now there are dozens of them in Cape Town itself, not to mention the outlying areas. These guys (men and women) are proud, excited, excitable and adventurous. They are roasting and producing some pretty awesome coffee and experimenting with new ideas, roasts, beans and products.

So yes, if you are a tourist to Cape Town and seeking reassurance, you will be able to find many international brands such as Illy and Lavazza or the ubiquitous Starbucks, currently making its debut in South Africa, but I would urge you to try some of the roasts from Origin, Truth, Deluxe, Rosetta, Tribe and one of their wonderful coffee shops.

And here beautifully photographed by Nicky are some of those wonderful establishments where you can get your daily coffee fix. There’s a lot of choice…

You can follow The Coffee Route on instagram and Facebook for daily inspiration by clicking on the links here.

book

To find out more and buy your own copy of this stunning book visit www.thecoffeeroute.co.za

African-beans-w

At the Bean There Coffee Company, coffee is African sourced, Fair Trade and roasted on site

The welcoming, contemporary interior of Bean There

The welcoming, contemporary interior of Bean There

Deluxe b (1 of 1)

The edgy, masculine interior of Deluxe Coffee in Roodehek Street

Coffee ghost (1 of 1)

Rosetta Coffee is a sophisticated shop with roasters passionate about single origin coffee and its origins

Breafast muffin

High Tea in Southern Suburb, Constantia serves amazing muffins and other delights from talented baker Irma Brummer

Ant cup

The revamped cafe in the Company’s Gardens serves coffee in ant cups under enormous trees

4 & 20 (1 of 1)

Four & Twenty Cafe serves great food and Bean There coffee

abc

Truth is an award winning coffee shop with a huge roaster

Industrial light fittings and plugs dangling from the ceiling encourage people to stay and work

Industrial light fittings and plugs dangling from the ceiling mean that people are encouraged to stay and work

Hout Bay Coffee is a tucked away gem that roasts unique blends on site with African flair

Hout Bay Coffee is a tucked away gem that roasts unique blends on site with African flair

ADDRESS BOOK
Bean There Coffee Company, Wale Street, City Bowl
Deluxe Coffee, Church Street, City Bowl
Deluxe Coffee, Roodehek Street
Rosetta Coffee, Albert Road, Woodstock
The Company’s Garden Restaurant, Queen Victoria Street, City Bowl
High Tea, Constantia Road, Southern Suburbs
Four & Twenty Cafe, Wolfe Street, Wynberg
Truth, Buitenkant Street, City Bowl
Hout Bay Coffee, Princess Street, Hout Bay
Table Mountain (1 of 1)

Beautiful Table Mountain dominates Cape Town’s skyline

Thank you Nicky and Yvette for your contribution. I can’t wait to get back to Cape Town and visit some of your discoveries with you.
Are you an expert on eateries in your area? Or have you been somewhere you really want to tell the world about? I’m always looking for guest contributors to share their stories, so please do get in touch.


Safari So Good

I recently wrote about my memorable travel experiences of 2015. You can read all about that by clicking here. But there’s one trip that I omitted, mainly because I wanted to tell you all about it separately. So here goes.

Last December I flew from Cape Town to Durban and headed for the nearby Phinda Game Reserve. We stayed in a beautiful lodge set on a hill overlooking the far-ranging bush with mountains in shades of blue in the distance. And the sky, so huge and so filled with stars. Seriously, I live in London (which I love) and can’t believe how big the African sky looks.

Every morning we awoke to the dawn and piled into our open landrover to search for those elusive wild animals. As soon as we emerged from the lodge sleepy eyed, a sense of anticipation hit. What would we see today? Early mornings are wonderful in Phinda. It’s cool and fresh and everything is just coming to life, including us and the wild life we were seeking.

Phinda teems with game. There are impala around every corner, including babies at that time of year. Beautiful, elegant and delicate, they bound through the bush with such grace. Plenty of warthogs run with their tails aloft – the comedians of the bush. Zebra bark, giraffe gaze at you suspiciously from on high and the sound of birdsong fills the air. We spotted two giraffe getting friendly, a rare and entertaining sight.

giraffe

Giraffe kisses to start the day

Even as you’re absorbing all this, you’re waiting, waiting for a sighting of one of the Big Five. Lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino – the term Big Five was coined by big-game hunters as they’re the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. And we were hunting them down, too, not on foot and certainly not to shoot them but to watch and marvel.

And they’re there waiting for you. First up the magnificently gentle elephants with their lumbering grace.

elephant

We got up close to this beautiful bull elephant

My favourites are the Big Cats. And boy did we see our share of these magnificent beasts. These lions were small cubs on our visit here last year and we were happy to see them thriving.

lions

Our little lions all grown up

Another litter had just been born. Our knowledgable ranger spotted their Mum but search as we could we couldn’t find the babies. She keeps them well hidden out of the way of predators until they are older. Just knowing they were there hidden somewhere safe made us happy.

mother lion

Mummy relaxes with one ear on her babies hidden nearby

And then there were the cheetah. Two families of them. We named them the models of the bush and we sat peacefully watching them pose and even witnessing a failed attempt at a kill. It was fast! Did you know they can run at 110 t0 120km an hour (in short bursts)?

cheetahfam

One cheetah family strikes a pose

morecheetah

Another family checks us out

Leopards are the most elusive of all so we felt highly privileged to spend time with two young cubs. This is the little girl, who we all fell in love with and wanted to take home with us.

babyleopard

The little leopard girl that stole our hearts

And then there were the rhino. Not the prettiest or friendliest of the animal kingdom but still amazing in their power and strength. Just don’t make one angry! Even the babies are huge with the average one weighing between 80 and 125 pounds at birth. Standing about 2 feet tall, babies are up and walking about within an hour of being born. Now that’s impressive!

rhino

Mother rhino stands guard over her not-so-baby baby

It’s impossible not to get excited, emotional and even overcome by such awe-inspiring sightings of wild animals in their natural habitat. I often found myself with tears in my eyes. Tears of happiness and wonder. Now that’s got to be a good thing. We’re unbelievably fortunate to be sharing our planet with these creatures, let’s appreciate them and do everything we can to keep them safe and with us. There’s no doubt the world would be a worse place without them. Phinda’s animal families never cease to amaze me.

And there’s more on this wonderful safari. The food! Let’s face it, there’d have to be food for me to write about, wouldn’t there? A feast for the eyes – and the stomach – served up at our  luxury lodge. Here’s a taster of some of the dishes our amazingly talented chef created.

Thai beef salad

The zesty Thai beef salad with the tenderest of rare steak

Late afternoon before the evening’s game drive we tucked into High Tea. So totally indulgent with delights like these amazing individual mushroom pasta bowls.

pasta

Creamy, earthy pasta to savour

For lunch one day, a deconstructed Caesar salad. How clever is that?

caesar salad

Caesar salad like you haven’t seen it before

salmontart

A salmon tart packed with goodness

Afternoon drinks with tea – today fresh lemonade and Pimms. Beautifully summery.

drinks

High Tea was pretty as a picture

Another clever take – this time on Surf ‘n’ Turf. Crunchy and sweet tempura prawns served on top of perfectly cooked rare roast beef.

surfandturf

A dish for kings to feast on

Heavenly mini Yorkshire puddings stuffed with rare roast beef and horseradish. And for dessert, the creamiest of mousses with berries.

yorkshires

Irresistible Yorkshires and sweet treats for after

I need to remind myself to be thankful every day for the places I’m lucky enough to visit. And I hope you’re getting a feel for them all as I share my experiences with you.

What’s the best travel experience you’ve ever had? What do you dream of doing? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.