Tasty platters and stunning views at Constantia Glen

Today we’re headed into the mountainous land of forests and vineyards that is beautiful Constantia for lunch at Constantia Glen.

This beautiful vineyard sits just below Constantia Nek nestling in the valley with a mountain backdrop and vines as far as the eye can see. Constantia is the oldest wine producing region in South Africa, they started here in 1685. So they’ve had some practice – and you can tell. Constantia Glen’s wine is nothing short of spectacular.

They produce only four wines – two whites and two reds – and they’re all wonderful though our favourite is the Constantia Glen Three – a classic Constantia/Bourdeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It’s just heavenly – even more so if you’re sitting at Constantia Glen sipping on it. Settled with our joyous glassfuls, it was time for lunch.

What’s on the menu

It’s a simple menu with a selection of tasty platters, pizzas, a soup dish and a couple of salads to choose from. The classic charcuterie and cheese offering dishes up a fine mix of tastiness.

Constantia: platter

The tasty meat and cheese platter

Today’s soup was a rich and satisfying goulash given a local touch by being served in a potjie – a round, last iron three-legged pot that’s usually used for cooking over a fire.

Constantia Glen: goulash

The rich goulash in a traditional potjie

My South African platter came loaded with all sorts of delish local delicacies like biltong, bobotie, smoked snoek pate and a beautiful loaf of pot bread.

Constantia Glen: platter

A platter of local specialities

Thinly sliced exotic ostrich bresaola was served topped with parmesan, rocket and olive oil.

Constantia Glen: bresaola

Beautifully vibrant bresaola

Constantia Glen is one of those places you simply can’t resist taking a pano on your phone. Here it is in all its lush greenness.

Constantia Glen: views

Panoramic views taken on pano

Constantia Glen: view

The stunning green and blue landscape

Constantia Glen is at in the Constantia Valley just below Constantia Nek.

 

 

 

Phenomenal food at The Greenhouse in Constantia

I do love a list. Especially a top-10 restaurants list. Oh, the arguments it can cause as everyone fiercely fights for a place for their favourite. It also makes for a brilliant goal – to try out every one on the list. A mission I have chosen to accept.

Luckily on the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards list of top-10 restaurants in South Africa for 2017, nine of them are in Cape Town and the surrounds. Making my mission easy to complete.

So today we’re heading to The Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenhort, to give it its full title. Its home is in a beautiful five-star hotel set in nine acres of stunning gardens in the historic Constantia Valley. And it sits proudly at number five in South Africa on the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards 2017.

The intriguing menu is conceived by Executive Chef Peter Templehoff and Head Chef Ashley Moss. They are committed to using local ingredients which makes for some interesting dishes. At today’s lunch we went for the three-course option. But of course – as you’d expect in a high end establishment like this – the three-course option is not three courses. Because there are pre-starters (three of them) and a bread course. And wonderful they were too – a fabulous way to start before you have your starters!

First up were little crispy parcels of cauliflower in a Cape Malay sauce. Great crunch, amazing flavours – and they look beautiful, too.

The Greenhouse: Pre starter

A crunchy base for the cauliflower in Cape Malay sauce

The biltong bitterballen were a revelation. Crisp on the outside, lovely and creamy inside with a good biltong hit. Biltong is a type of dried, cured meat that originated in Southern Africa – great use of one of my favourite ingredients.

Greenhouse: bilton bitterballen

Savoury and creamy biltong bitterballen

Deep-fried herby leaves were served topped with a tasty black garlic sauce.

The Greenhouse: Pre starter

Crunchy leaves and savoury delight

And then there was the bread course – yes, it’s officially a course these days – and so it should be, a real bread extravaganza. Three types of bread served with ceremony – and with three types of butter. Wow!

The Greenhouse: Pre starter

An extravaganza of bread three ways

The Greenhouse: butter

And of course an extravaganza of butter, too

Our butter was given a little bit of extra attention in the form of a grating of ancient volcanic salt. Seriously! There was garlic, spring onion and salted butter to sample.

The Greenhouse: butter

Salt is grated over at the table

Pre-starters consumed with sighs of joy we then all gasped with happiness when the starters were delivered. Ostrich tartare was served with salt baked celeriac, a truffled quails egg, kombu pickled vegetables and Cape mushrooms.

One of the most delightful presentations ever – it arrived nestling in the bottom of an ostrich egg which was nestling on top of a nest – complete with feathers. And what stunning tastes. My favourite bit was the fact that some of the egg yolk had been removed and replaced with truffle cream giving a surprisingly different flavour and texture. An amazingly clever mix of flavours and textures to tantalise the taste buds.

The Greenhouse: ostrich tartare

Ostrich tartare nestles in an ostrich egg

The Greenhouse: ostrich tartare

An overhead of the delightful tartare

On to mains. The local Cape fish (Kingklip) was served with langoustines, a Chinese noodle bean, miso onion, soba noodles and a crustacean emulsion. Beautifully cooked kingklip – possibly my favourite fish anyway – sweet, juicy langoustines and a wonderfully delicate sauce.

The Greenhouse: kingklip and langoustine

Beautifully flaky kingklip and sweet langoustines

The other mains choice was Braai Bokkie which was served with coffee carrots, lacquered onion, mushrooms and sweetbread. The springbok was coated with ground coffee before it was grilled to a succulent state of rareness.

The Greenhouse: springbok

Wonderfully tender and tasty springbok

Today was one of the rare days I ate dessert – obviously I had to as it was included! I opted for the Mpumalanga mango, Ethiopian passion berry, coconut ice cream and granadilla curd. All my favourite flavours dished up on a single plate. How perfect is that?

The Greenhouse: pudding

A wonderful mix of tropical flavours

The other pudding option was cleverly designed to look like a cheeseboard. But it didn’t taste like one! Camembert cheese cake was served with pineapple compote and pine nut biscotti. The cheese cake looked like such a perfect round of Camembert it certainly sent confusing signals to the brain. Genius!

Greenhouse: cheese cake

Is it a cheeseboard? Or is it a cake?

Phew! What a selection of delights. And of course it wasn’t over yet. A delightful tray of sweet treats to finish off a wonderful feast – mini custardy tarts and chocolate and passion fruit truffles.

Greenhouse: chocolates

Sweeties to complete the feast

This is certainly a wonderful voyage of flavours and clever ideas all well executed. The ambience is a touch formal which fits with the class and standards of both the restaurant and the hotel. Another one ticked off the list and well-deserved of its high ranking.

I’ve had a brilliant restaurant journey this year in Cape Town and I’m mulling over my own top-10. So watch this space.

Today’s price point

A meal at The Greenhouse is a real special occasion sort of thing, which does also mean that it is on the expensive side of Cape Town choices. Having said that it’s good value  – it would certainly punish your wallet a lot more for this calibre of food in London.

We had the official three-course menu which was actually eight dishes. And sensational they all were, too.

With one pre-lunch drink each and two bottles of wine between six our bill came to R1,000 each (approximately £58 at today’s exchange rate).

The Greenhouse is in the Cellars Hohenhort Hotel, 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia, Cape Town.

 

Chef’s Warehouse in Beau Constantia

Tapas for 2 at Chef’s Warehouse, Beau Constantia 

I’m back! Finally! Apologies for deserting Eating Covent Garden for so long – I have been travelling the world, like really travelling the world! Since my last post in December I have spent time on four continents (two for the first time) and I have so much to share with you all. So watch this space.

I’m starting with my latest restaurant discovery in the stunning Constantia winelands in Cape Town. Yes, I’m back in Cape Town, hooray, and straight into one of the country’s top restaurants.

Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia opened a couple of years back and was voted the fourth best restaurant in South Africa in the Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards 2017. There are myriad great restaurants in this foodie country so that’s quite an accolade for such a youngster.

It sits at the top of the Constantia Valley with views over vines and forests towards the ocean. This makes the parking lot seem a little perilous, particularly for the vertiginous – make sure you’re steady on those heels if you’re thinking of wearing them. The restaurant is a modern, glass-sided construction which certainly makes the most of the views.

What’s on the menu

As soon as we were seated with a glass of their lovely Pas De Nom MCC bubbles (the perfect way to start any lunch), my dreaded menu indecision loomed large! Until I spotted the magic words Tapas for 2. No choices to be made here, it’s eight dishes to share. Makes life easy.

Dishes arrive in groups of two or three in three batches – I guess you could call it three courses. We started with a triple-plate sensation. The coal-seared tuna came with warm black bean and walnut salsa and a fresh apple and ginger relish, on a plate with a visually confusing foam design. There is no foam with this dish – it’s the plate!

Beau Constantia: tuna

Coal-seared tuna served with crunchy black bean and walnut salsa

My favourite of the first trio was the line fish sashimi. A beautiful curry-based concoction with the freshest of yellowtail, Cape Malay pickle, bbq garlic emulsion and fried batter. Seems like the perfect mix of flavours and textures.

Beau Constantia: sashimi

Fresh line fish sashimi with spicy flavours

The Vietnamese BBQ beef came with herbs, toasted rice and a zesty Vietnamese dressing. Love those fresh, clean flavours and the herby crunch.

Beau Constantia: Vietnamese beef

Rare, herby Vietnamese-style beef

After a short break the next duo was delivered. Described as Beau tomato bruschetta, smoked, pickled and grilled, a bowl of tomatoes done three different ways was topped with garlicky, thin slices of toasted bruschetta. I love a tomato – pretty much any tomato – and these were in a league of their own.

Beau Constantia: tomato

A tomato extravaganza in a cup

And then the ultimately indulgent dish. Parmesan and smoked butter risotto with red onion bordelais and fried Swiss chard, all topped with a delicately creamy, cleverly crafted gouda flower. I love the creaminess and softness of a good risotto but always balk at eating a full portion – it’s just a bit rich and filling for me. What joy to share a small portion of this deliciousness between two. And never has gouda tasted so good. Needless to say we both wished for a bigger portion once we’d cleaned the pan. Probably the nicest risotto I’ve ever tasted.

Beau Constantia: risotto

Luscious parmesan and smoked butter risotto

The final tasty trio

So how could it get any better? Well, there were still another trio of masterpieces to come. The slow roasted pork belly was served with  an apricot and miso tart, cashew nut milk and garlic and thyme oil. The tastiest of pork that fell apart at the touch of a fork and was topped with the crispiest of crackling matched wonderfully with the creamy cashew nut milk (there’s a first for me). And the light and crumbly miso tart, topped with firm, tart cooked apricots was the ideal accompaniment.

Beau Constantia: Pork belly

Delightful pork belly with flavours of apricots, miso and cashew

Firm, flaky hake came with a delicate yet intense parmesan and anchovy puree and was topped with paprika and lemon cream. The dainty fried polenta cubes, salty capers and crunchy spring onion completed another masterful dish.

Beau Constantia: Hake

Lemony hake teamed with parmesan, polenta, paprika and anchovy puree

And finally it was time for some lovely lamb. The adobo rubbed, slow-cooked rib came with red onion, heirloom tomato pickle, burnt butter and mixed pepper jus. Tender richness to savour.

Beau Constantia: lamb

Adobo rubbed slow-cooked lamb rib

I’ve fallen in love with Beau Constantia. How can you not with a view like this? And all that great food – light, fresh and cleverly balanced – and all looking so beautiful – like the greens and blues of the outlook across the valley.

Today’s price point

Tapas for 2 comes in at R700 (about £41 at today’s exchange rate).

That’s for both of you, not each.

A bottle of their delicious Rose was R180 (just over £10 at today’s exchange rate).

Find out more at beauconstantia.com

Cape Malay dishes at Jonkershuis in Constantia

Today we’re having a family lunch at Jonkershuis, in Cape Town’s Constantia valley. Jonkershuis is set overlooking vineyards and mountains with a beautiful outdoor area reminiscent of the boulevards of France. There’s also a lovely indoor courtyard which is the perfect sun trap and offers protection on a windy Cape Town day.

The menu offers something for everyone, with a range of tasty salads and a fish, pork, beef and venison selection. And Cape Malay dishes – which for me has got to be the way to go every time.

Cape Malay cuisine is a fusion of South African and Asian influences. When the Dutch colonised the Cape in the 1600s and 1700s, they brought people from the East to work as slaves. They came mainly from Indonesia which was a Dutch colony for several centuries.

Cape Town’s attractively colourful Cape Malay Quarter is on the slopes of Signal Hill and called the Bo-Kaap. Worth a visit if you’re in town.

Adaptations of traditional Cape Malay dishes like bredie, bobotie, sosaties and koeksisters are now staples in many South African homes – in fact I’ve even made my own versions. You can find my recipe for bobotie by clicking here – do try it out and let me know what you think.

You will also find European and Indian influences. The dishes are characterised by the wide use of spices, producing full-bodied flavours – though not a lot of chilli. Seafood is a big favourite (well there’s plenty around) and fish dishes are usually salted, curried or pickled. Chutneys and atchars also play a role – gotta have a good sambal selection, after all.

Today there was pickled fish on the specials board. I can’t tell you how many people pull a face when I say I love pickled fish…well, they are wrong, it’s simply delicious. Fish fillets are marinated in vinegar and spices including curry powder, turmeric, ginger and coriander with plenty of soft onions. The dish is served cold – perfect with salad – and the process produces the plumpest of fish fillets and wonderful flavours.

Pickled fish at Jonkershuis

Love a plump and juicy piece of pickled fish

Ordering dilemmas rule my restaurant-going life and today was a big one. The fabulous Estate Tasting Plate is a must-have at Jonkershuis – it’s a large offering and for me can’t be enjoyed to the full on top of a starter. And today there were two starters I wanted to sample. So a quick bit of negotiation and I got my husband to agree that I could have a taster of his Tasting Plate. As a result I can taste everything my heart desires today.

My second starter on order then. Local black mussels in spicy masala and mango cream served with coriander and a baguette. I’ve eaten a lot of mussels this summer in Cape Town and very good they’ve been too. Today’s sauce was fabulous, creamy, sweet and spicy and the beautiful baguette, as soft as cloud inside was just what I needed to mop everything up.

Mussels at Jonkershuis

Mussels in a creamy, spicy sauce

The appearance of the Estate Tasting Plate evokes order envy in everyone! First of all, the plate of what are basically your accompaniments to the main event – sultana and almond turmeric rice, oven-baked cinnamon butternut, a quick fried poppadum and an angry beef samosa.

Curry accompaniments at Jonkershuis

The plate of side dishes waiting for the curry addition

And then the meaty selection. Oven-baked bobotie, Karoo lamb curry and chicken breast curry. You see, anyone would have to be envious of this order.

Curry and bobotie at Jonkershuis

Curry and bobotie all in a row

Also there’s the selection of house sambals – sweet tomato salsa, apricot chutney and spicy vegetable atchar.

Sambals at Jonkershuis

Can’t be without a plate of tasty sambals

If you’ve never been to Jonkershuis, you really should go – and take my advice – don’t even look at the menu, just go straight for the Estate Tasting Plate – you’re gonna love it. Especially relevant if you’re seeking a good selection of Cape Malay cuisine in one hit.

Finally, I can’t leave you without today’s autocorrect challenge – my system doesn’t like sambals and keeps trying to insist I change it to samba!

Today’s price point

Starters range from R62-R98 (£3.70 to £5.80 at today’s exchange rate).

The Estate Tasting Plate is R188 (£11 at today’s exchange rate).

Jonkershuis is at Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Groot Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town.

 

Lunchtime delights at Buitenverwachting

The first thing I love about this place is its name. It means “Beyond expectations” which is a big claim (well, depending on how much you’re expecting I guess, it my case that’s usually a lot). And it’s also particularly hard to pronounce for English speakers (until you’ve got the hang of it) – all those syllables make for a real tongue twister and some hilarity at times.

The estate goes way back. It originally formed part of the Constantia Estate which was founded by Simon van der Stel, who was the first Governor of what was then a Dutch colony in 1679. The first vines (90,000 of them) were planted here in 1825 by Ryk Arnold’s Cloete. The farm was more recently restored to its former glory by current owners, the Muellers.

Set on the slopes of the stunning Constantiaberg mountains, it has a beautifully peaceful and rural feel, despite being a short hop from the centre of Cape Town. The drive there through forested lanes immediately puts you in a laid-back state of mind

The restaurant is in the original thatch-covered and white-washed Cape Dutch building with a large inside area and welcoming veranda overlooking the courtyard. Love a courtyard. Chef Edgar Osojnik hails from Austria and serves up hearty retro-style dishes. So what can you expect?

Well, it’s an interesting menu with lots of classic dishes and some more unusual offerings. And the classics have some added extras too. Like Edgar’s Caesar salad which is served with a generous portion of Norwegian salmon. The dish, like quite a few on the menu is available as a starter and a main course.

caesar salad

Edgar’s extra special Caesar salad

The prawns are also available as both a starter and a main course. I do love the concept, wish more restaurants would do it. Pan fried, they were served with cucumber, pal choi, sea lettuce, spring onion, pea shoots, ginger, micro coriander, citrus dressing, sesame and soya. Juicy prawns nestling in a bed of green with a wonderfully zesty dressing.

prawns

I love it when I read a menu and find a dish that totally intrigues me – one I can’t imagine how it’s going to look or taste – so I couldn’t resist ordering this. This is porcini ravioli consommé. A light slightly set consommé is served with a large mushroom ravioli atop and burnt butter powder, parsnip puree and watercress peaches which are pan fried in Buitenverwachting’s dessert wine. One of the most unusual dishes I’ve had for a long time – and it was truly delicious too with a mix of flavours, temperatures and textures. An adventurous ordering choice that was well worth it.

jelly

There seems to be a pork belly dish on every Cape menu and I’ve sampled my fair share of them this summer – I’m happy to say. Today’s offering was served with potato gnocchi, pan fried baby cabbage, caramelised apple, fine beans, celeriac and leek puree. Deliciously flavoursome with crispy crackling and a wonderful combo of sweet and savoury ingredients.

pork

Another wonderful plate of pork belly

I love a good steak tartare and this is a real tartare extravaganza. Described as DIY, it comes with a selection of nine traditional garnishes all beautifully laid out in compact little bundles. Someone has taken a very long time making all these delicate delights. Some of my favourites were the hard boiled egg (separated in white and yellow parcels), the chopped capers and the rich and salty anchovies. It’s a lovely ritual eating this dish as you mix and match different flavours to mix into your meaty pile in the middle. I can’t imagine I’ll ever order anything else here, that’s how much I loved it!

tartare

A simply stupendous steak tartare

A lamb plate combo of pan fried lamb cutlet and grilled loin are with lemon thyme sauce, aubergine falafel, chorizo, leek puree, roasted chick pea gremolata and yogurt. Tender lamb perfectly done.

lamb

Delightful lamb done two ways

Edgar’s portions are truly substantial – two starter-sized ones make for an ample lunch. But you still have to make room for dessert when there’s my favourite on the menu. Who can resist a panda cotta? Not me. Today’s offering was a delicate vanilla served with strawberry balsamic sorbet. Just wonderful.

dessert

Panna cotta that’s pretty as a picture

You’re not finished yet – even the petit four are substantial at Buitenverwachting. And delicious.

petitfour

Finish off with some yummy sweetness

As you’re lunching on a wine farm make sure to try some of the estate’s wine (you have to, really). The Sauvignon Blanc we had was particularly pleasing and there’s a good selection of reds.

Our long, leisurely lunch sitting on the veranda was punctuated with friendly service. A really lovely experience – expectations truly exceeded. Oh and here’s the view from our table towards the leafy courtyard. Keep that spot for me, I’ll be back.

butter

Freshly baked bread is served up with butter and dips

 

Buitenverwachting is at Klein Constantia Road, Hope of Constantia, Cape Town.

Chilled out lunch at Constantia Glen

One of the many attractions that Cape Town offers is its wine. There are several wine regions around the Mother City where you can pop in for a tasting and to stock up your cellar, or settle in for a leisurely lunch. The Constantia area is only 20 minutes from the centre of town and is the oldest wine producing region in South Africa, dating back to 1685. There are several vineyards to visit here and today we’re at the stunning venue of Constantia Glen.

It’s amazing that you can be in a city, yet feel like you’ve been transported away to a private paradise in the mountains. Sitting looking over the Constantia Valley with vines as far as the eye can see, sapphire blue skies and rugged mountains framing the picture, an instant contentment washes over you. And that’s before you’ve even tasted the wonderful wine.

view

A picture-perfect view to enjoy

Constantia Glen makes just four wines, the Two, Three and Five, as well as a special Sauvignon Blanc. They are all fabulous, so don’t stress about which one  you order. I guarantee you’ll want to take some home with you, too.

And then there’s the food. A simple menu offering choice platters makes ordering life easy. We tucked into two meat and cheese combination platters between the four of us. I love a good platter and these are great. The freshest of (still warm) bread and a good selection of meats and cheeses that go perfectly with the wine.

platter

A mix charcuterie and cheese platter. Yummy!

And here’s the view from another angle in its magnificent blues and greens.

view2

Wonderful vineyard and mountain views

2007five_460_square

Constantia Glen’s Five is a stunning red

This is a popular place and the hot summer’s day that I visited it was heaving. Service was still smooth and friendly and it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful and laid-back place to spend an afternoon. I intend to do just that as often as I can!

Constantia Glen is off Constantia Main Road in Cape Town.