Sunday lunch at stunning Cape Point Vineyards

Sunday lunch comes around again and it’s time for a long-awaited visit to Cape Point Vineyards (CPV). It’s located on a narrow strip nestled between the icy Atlantic and the warm currents of False Bay in Noordhoek, with cool sea breezes that provide the sort of climate that Sauvignon Blanc grapes love. The first vines were planted in 1997. It’s a unique place as it’s the only winery in the whole district.

The sparkling new building opened in October 2013 and owner Sybrand Van Der Spuy couldn’t believe his luck when he heard about the closure of legendary Cape Town restaurant, Constantia Uitsig. He wasted no time in snapping up their chef Clayton Bell.

We’ve been planning to visit since we heard at our final dinner at Constantia Uitsig that Clayton was moving here. Uitsig was such a Cape Town institution and reliable favourite and we miss it sorely. So if a bit of that magic had been transferred, we knew we would be happy. And we were. The menu has a distinct touch of Uitsig to it, a familiarity that warmed our hearts! And all in a beautiful new setting.

The restaurant is set up on a hill at the base of a mountain with beautiful views down across vines towards stunning Noordhoek beach. It’s a modern, airy and light-filled space, such a contrast to the often cramped restaurants of today.

I love Clayton’s attitude to food: “Don’t over-complicate food and don’t mess with good quality ingredients.” Sounds simple but I’m always amazed at how far off this path some chefs stray.

The menu offers six starters and six main choices. The Bouche de Moules of steamed black mussels served in a puff pastry case with a saffron cream sauce looked amazing and was beautifully aromatic with its saffron sauce.

mussels

Yummy mussels in a richly aromatic saffron sauce

The beef carpaccio was truly melt-in-the-mouth and topped with fresh, creamy avo and rich, crumbly parmesan and house vinaigrette. One of those starters that is truly spectacular if you get it right…this one was!

parma ham

The perfect combination of flavours and textures

This beautifully simple and delicious tomato tart is an old favourite from Uitsig and simply had to be ordered. The butteriness of the pastry, freshness of the tomato and basil and flavours of cheese and mustard combine to produce the queen of tarts.

tart

Tomato tart with Fontina cheese, Dijon mustard and fresh basil

The figs in South Africa are fabulous at this time of year, and combined with sweetly salty Parma ham make a wonderful starter.

parma ham

Parma ham served with luscious red figs

Today’s line fish was Kingklip. I wanted to cheer when our waiter announced this, it’s probably my favourite white fish and has been a bit in short supply this Cape Town sojourn. Well, it was heavenly – dusted with cumin and perfectly cooked it fell apart in gorgeous chunks.

kingklip

Cumin dusted Kingklip with sweet potato mash, baby spinach and verjuice onion vinaigrette

Clayton’s known for his amazing pasta dishes, too. The mushroom ravioli was creamy and deeply satisfying. Gotta love a bit of truffle flavour.

ravioli

Half moon ravioli filled with mushroom and ricotta in a truffle sauce

More truffles! The sirloin was served with the most amazing mushroom and truffle sauce. Sue asked for it to be cooked rare, very rare and it’s what she got. Fabulously rare, flavoursome steak with a sauce I wanted to inhale.

steak

Grilled beef sirloin with mushroom and truffle sauce

Dessert time, with four summery options.

orange dessert

Caramelised oranges with basil mascarpone

I don’t know why all restaurants don’t serve this! Vanilla ice cream served with espresso (aka affogato). The perfect dessert/coffee combo.

icecream

Vanilla ice cream with espresso

CPV only makes white wines and their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is truly wonderful and great value at R98 a bottle in the restaurant. I really should have bought some to take home.

Sunday was one of those rare rainy summer days in Cape Town which, while atmospheric, meant we couldn’t eat al fresco. Not to worry, with such lovely, unpretentious food, a stylish yet relaxed environment and one of our favourite chefs at the helm, I feel sure CPV will become a new regular. Even looking at the pictures is making my mouth water!

Cape Point Vineyeards is at Silvermine Road, Noordhoek.

The paradise that is Constantia Uitsig

So April in Cape Town is autumn and conversations are punctuated with gloomy statements like “winter’s on its way”; “I can’t believe summer was over so quickly” and “it’s time to hibernate”. As someone who lives mostly in England and has experienced proper Northern European winters I’m (probably annoyingly) gung ho about the autumn weather in Cape Town.

Then suddenly the temperature plummeted, it was actually cold at night and, horror of horrors, you couldn’t  eat al fresco anymore. I think the contrast between the perfection of summer and the reality of winter is so stark that it makes it even harder to cope with.

But then the most amazing thing happened…for four perfect days it was summer again. Actually, it was better than summer because it was unexpected. And there’s something sensational about the light in April if it’s sunny. Everything looks so perfectly clear it takes your breath away. Okay, so if all of this isn’t good enough to be going on with, it so happened that on one of these unexpectedly awesome days we headed off to Constantia Uitsig for lunch.

Uitsig is one of three restaurants on the Constantia Uitisig estate in the beautiful Constantia valley. As soon as you turn into the estate and slowly drive your way through the vines, showing off with a background of mountains and perfect azure sky, your mind shifts into paradise gear. And this is even before you’ve got to the restaurant.

Uitsig opened in 1992 and is housed in the original Cape Dutch homestead. Head chef Clayton Bell’s philosophy is “Don’t over-complicate food and don’t mess with good quality ingredients”. The menu has a Mediterranean Provencal flavour and takes some poring over…a word of advice, don’t pore over it with too much concentration as there are a long list of specials that are beautifully described. Iif you’ve focused and been decisive about what you want, you’ll end up totally confused. Well, we all did anyway. I can tell you it took a lot of endeavour to come to the decision of what to eat. Here’s what we chose.

This is my favourite foodie photo of the year (so far)…a spectacular tomato tart that really couldn’t be simpler and or more bursting with flavour. A tomato tart with a puff pastry base with fontina cheese, dijon mustard, fresh basil and sundried tomato paste.

A puff pastry base with fontina cheese, dijon mustard, fresh basil and sundried tomato paste garnished with spring onion

Gotta love a tomato tart

I chose the fish carpaccio. Soft food that melted in the mouth with a wonderful Asian-style dressing. The small mound of sticky rice in the centre is such a clever addition as it means you can mop up every bit of the sauce. I’m loving the dappled sunshine!

Carpaccio de pesce. Thinly sliced raw fish with a soya sauce, red wine vinegar, sesame oil and ginger dressing served with seaweed and sticky rice

Carpaccio de pesce Asian style. Delicious!

Fresh mussels in a beautiful sauce, topped with perfect buttery pastry.

Bouche de moules: black mussels steamed in white wine with a saffron veloute sauce

Bouche de moules: black mussels steamed in white wine with a saffron veloute sauce

Total tomato heaven, the Bocconcini salad again couldn’t be simpler or taste better. Buffalo Mozarella tossed with cocktail tomatoes with fresh basil, olive oil and minced garlic

Bocconcini salad: Buffalo Mozarella tossed with cocktail tomatoes with fresh basil, olive oil and minced garlic

More tomato heaven, this time in a tower!

One of the specials of the day, a concoction of livers in an amazing sauce, again topped with that tasty pastry.

livers

Liver dishes don’t get better than this.

On to mains. Catch of the day was our favourite fish…kingklip.  Pesce al forna con erbe aromatiche: Kingklip baked in the oven with sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, mint, garlic, butter and white wine served with garlic and parsley mash. LIght and aromatic with a fabulous herby mix.

Pesce al forna con erbe aromatiche: Kingklip baked in the oven with sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, mint, garlic, butter and white wine served with garlic and parsley mash

Amazing local Kingklip baked with plenty of herbs

Another special of the day. Certainly one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten, and the same can be said of the mushroom sauce.

Sirloin steak with wild mushroom sauce and spinach and pine nuts

Sirloin steak with wild mushroom sauce and spinach and pine nuts

A classic Italian veal dish, perfectly executed. Veal saltimbocca alla Romana: Tender veal escalopes with parma ham and sage

Veal saltimbocca alla Romana: Tender veal escalopes with parma ham and sage

A true Italian classic

A luscious rack of lamb with a velvety sauce.

Roasted Karoo lamb rack with roasted vegetables and dauphinoise potatoes

Roasted Karoo lamb rack with roasted vegetables and dauphinoise potatoes

Desserts, and it was time for two classics for the table.

brulee

Creme brule – a classic

Banana sticky toffee pudding with homemade vanilla ice cream

Banana sticky toffee pudding with homemade vanilla ice cream

Of course, I couldn’t resist the cheese. Oh, and did I mention it was my birthday? The chef wished me happy birthday in chocolate on my cheese plate!

A selection of local and imported cheeses

A selection of local and imported cheeses

To extend our lunch we tucked into a bottle of the amazing dessert wine Vin de Constance. Napoleon loved it, Bismarck drank it and Jane Austen and Charles Dickens wrote about it in their novels. And we love it too, thank you Candy.

The stunning Vin de Constance produced just down the road

The stunning Vin de Constance produced just down the road

What can I say? For an autumn day this will go down in history…we just didn’t want to drag ourselves away. We ate outside overlooking the vineyards, here’s our view.

Do views get more beautiful?

Do views get more beautiful?

Find out more at www.constantiauitsig.com