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.

 

Coffee heaven and brunch treats at Coco Safar

Coffee is one of the joys of my life. So I’m in heaven when I’m in Cape Town as there are coffee shops aplenty. Main Road in Sea Point is home to its fair share and also arguably the best of the lot – Coco Safar.

Coffee shops don’t come more stylish than this. There’s amazing coffee from specially selected coffee beans which are roasted in small batches in the Cape Town Roastery and Coffee Lab and also there’s an enticingly different food menu.

Coco Safar: latte

The beautifully artistic frothy coffee

What’s on the menu

The dishes all sound mouth-watering – and they taste just as good! They are served on trays with  a scoop of delicious creamy potato and a bowl of chilled herby citrus alongside. Seemed like a strange combination at first sight, but one that works surprisingly well with the fruit adding a refreshing zing.

We tasted both frittatas. For meat lovers the lamb and spinach combo is wonderfully satisfying.

Coco Safar: lamb frittata

Lamb frittata with potato and citrus

Or there’s a meatless option – a mix of delicious roasted vegetables.

Coco Safar: Vegetable frittata

Zooming in on the vegetable frittata

Avocado on toast is one of my favourite breakfast treats and it’s frequently found on South African menus. Today’s dish had a little bit extra – tahini avo toast with a wonderful mix of mashed avocado topped with slices dipped in white and black sesame seeds. Lovely touch – I could eat this every day!

Coco Safar: avo on toast

Avo on toast taken to a new level

Coco Safar: Tahini avo toast

Close up on the tahini avo toast

And the cakes! Coco Safar describes itself as a couture patisserie inspired by the great French tradition of patisserie and viennoiseries. There’s a large display cabinet full of the most beautiful sweet treats you could imagine. They almost look too good to eat.

Coco Safar: Patisserie

Delectable sweet treats all in a row

Coco Safar: Patisserie

Delicacies almost too beautiful to eat

Time for tea

There’s also a wonderful tea selection. I loved the local rooibos infused with ginger and lemongrass. Served up again on one of their delightful little trays complete with a colourful egg timer to ensure optimum brewing.

Coco Safar: Rooibos

A vibrant cup of tasty rooibos

As well as being a comfortable and luxurious place to while away several hours tasting the wonderful array of beverages and food, Coco Safar also sells a range of coffee-shop related goodies. Including the the world’s first home compostable, oxygen tight BIO-CAPSULE so you’re won’t be creating mountains of rubbish with your home-made coffees. Gotta love that.

Coco Safar: entry

The stylish entry to Coco Safar

Coco Safar is in the Artem Centre at 277 Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town.

It is open from 7am to 9pm weekdays, 8am to 9pm Saturdays and 8am to 6pm Sundays.

Our return visit to Beau Constantia

I rarely blog about a restaurant twice – especially when the visits have been so close together. But today I’m making an exception with a return lunch at Beau Constantia’s Chef’s Warehouse. We had a fabulous lunch there in January which you can read about here. Today it was time to celebrate Terry’s birthday with lunch on the terrace overlooking the glorious valley and I had to share these stunning pictures with you.

I love the concept – Tapas for 2 – eight delicious dishes served as three courses. No decision making and a chance to try everything. Here’s what we tucked into.

The cold seared tuna was served on top of Moroccan-spiced aubergine, fresh milk curd and toasted cashews. I do love a bit of seared tuna and todays offering went perfectly with the Moroccan spices and the different textures combined to make for a delightful plate.

Chef's Warehouse: tuna

The tastiest of tuna with Moroccan flavours

The line fish sashimi was served with BBQ pineapple atchar, fried onion and curry leaf crumb and coconut cream. I loved the delicate flavour of the onion and curry leaf crumb and the light-as-a-feather topper.

Chef's Warehouse

Yellowtail sashimi with delicate curry flavours

Beef tartare came with a chilli and Madagascan black pepper dressing and sourdough croutons. One of the best tartares ever – there were tiny pieces of avo and mushrooms in the meat and the croutons were so light and crispy. Also loved the porcini dust which finished the dish.

Chef's Warehouse: Beef tartare

The best beef tartare ever with hints of chilli and porcini

This place really knows how to make the perfect risotto! Last time it was mushroom, today we enjoyed a parsley risotto, with smoked bone marrow, salted lemon and pecan nut salsa and a red wine reduction. Spectacular! I loved its vibrant greenness and the hint of lemon from the salsa was a lovely surprise for the tastebuds.

Chef's Warehouse: risotto

Vibrant and comforting parsley risotto

My favourite dish of the day – the char grilled lamb rib was served topped with preserved tomato and Korean chilli dressing and with asiette of heirloom tomatoes and smoked milk ricotta. The lamb was slightly crisp and melt-in-the-mouth and the dressing added a real chilli kick. The tomatoes are always a joy at Chef’s Warehouse, today they had a wonderful smokiness and were topped with beautiful purple basil leaves.

Chef's Warehouse: lamb rib

My dish of the day: soft and crispy lamb rib

The flaky grilled hake came with a fried maize and ginger crumb, braised sushi rice and a toasted Szechuan and black pepper sauce. Beautifully sweet fish with a spiced sauce.

Chef's Warehouse: hake

Sweet and spicy, flaky hake

The char grilled springbok was rare and tender and served with smoked pear and garlic puree, pickled pear, burnt butter and cassia bark jus. Such an attractive plate of food – with an added delicacy of deep fried Brussesl sprouts – so yummy.

Chef's Warehouse: springbok

Beautifully tender local springbok

Our charming waitress, Jess, informed us that the Chef changes a few of the dishes every week. So after about three weeks it’s completely different. I’d better book to go back then – you do have to book quite a bit in advance. Well, it is officially the fourth-best restaurant in South Africa. And certainly my favourite.

It was lovely sitting on the terrace on a lovely, still day. It’s often windy in Cape Town which can limit your al fresco dining opportunities. What a valley view it is.

Chef's Warehouse: view

The beautiful view in blues and greens

Today’s price point

Tapas for 2 is R700 for two people.

Chef’s Warehouse is at Beau Constantia wine estate, Constantia

Peninsular touring and seafood at Live Bait

Cape Town is frequently ranked one of the most beautiful cities in the world in those never-ending Best of… lists that pop up everywhere. I’ve spent a lot of time here – I know, lucky me – and it’s pretty much impossible to beat, there’s so much going for it. .

It’s scenically stunning and diverse with myriad beautiful beaches, the ever-present majesty of Table Mountain, forests, mountain trails and gardens and some of the most stunning drives you’ll ever experience. It has a warmth to its soul, a great energy and welcoming people. There are hundreds of fabulous restaurants which are great value – and of course there’s all that wine that has to be sampled.

I was recently reminded that African penguins live here (I didn’t mention the wildlife yet, did I?) so the purpose of today’s outing was to say hi them at Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town. I think I’ve been suffering from penguin withdrawal!

Our journey took us from Sea Point to the other side of the peninsular. It’s a magnificent drive through Camp’s Bay, past Llandudno and over Chapman’s Peak. The road clings precariously to the mountainside –  an amazing feat of engineering – and the sea shimmers down below.

Live Bait: Chapman's Peak Drive

Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most stunning drives ever

Once you start your descent Noordhoek Beach appears on your right. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, and even though I know it’s coming, the view elicits an involuntary gasp. And I always wonder who lives in that house! What a view they must have.

Once you’ve crossed over the peninsular it’s a slow meander through sleepy seaside towns to penguin-land on Boulder Beach. Hello little penguins! I felt instantly happier on seeing them.

Live Bait: Penguins

African penguins lap up the warmth of the sun

Penguin fix sorted we headed back towards Cape Town Central following the coast road until we got to Muizenberg. Famous for its beautiful beach and warm Indian Ocean (the other side of the peninsular sits on the Atlantic and is decidedly chilly), Muizenberg is considered the birthplace of surfing in South Africa. There’s a big surfing community here all centred around Surfer’s Corner. Which is where we’re headed – for a spot of beach-side lunch at Live Bait.

Live Bait is right in the middle of all the action with a long glass front looking out over the sea. It’s a beautifully blue view and there’s plenty of surf-related action to observe. Inside it has a rustic beach house feel which so perfectly matches the surrounding seaside vibe. There’s a lot of fish on the menu and a great selection of sushi which is freshly made in front of you.

Our delectable light lunch today started with a portion of Thai fish cakes to share. Shaped more like fish balls, they were lovely and light with well-balanced Thai flavours and a nice crunch.

Live Bait: Fish cakes

Soft and flavourful fish cakes with Asian flavours

For mains we shared a portion of tempura prawns – and a very generous one it was, too. Served with crispy fries, the prawns were perfectly cooked in the light batter and served with a dipping mayo. We asked for some chilli and mixed it into the mayo, making for a delightful spicy hit.

Live Bait: tempura prawns

The large pan of juicy tempura prawns

Live Bait: Prawn tempura

Close up on the delicious prawn crunch

There’s a relaxed vibe at Live Bait, it’s the sort of place I could see myself spending many an hour drinking wine, feeling fine and absorbing some of that Muizenberg chilled-out surfing attitude.

Live Bait: Interior

Beautiful blues and whites inside and out

Live Bait: Beach house

There’s a beach house feel throughout

This is your sea view. Which goes on  much further on both the left and right of this picture.

Live Bait: Muizenberg beach

Looking out at beautiful Muizenberg beach

While Muizenberg is great for swimming and surfing, it’s also home to Great White Sharks (more wildlife)! The area is well monitored though with shark spotters on high and at the beach who seem to know where the sharks are. I’ve been on the beach when the shark siren goes and it is a bit of a scary experience if any of your party happen to be in the sea. That Jaws music creeps into your subconscious! There are experts on hand to tell you about these powerful creatures and there’s plenty of shark-related advice posted all over the place (in several languages). Like how to be shark smart – do remember not to swim at night or if bleeding! The presence of the Great Whites certainly adds to the Muizenberg adventure.

Live Bait: Sharks

Beware of the sharks!

Oh and before I go, here I am with my latest penguin friends.

I can’t imagine there’s another journey more filled with beautiful views, lovely food and exotic wildlife. What joy – Cape Town I love you!

Live Bait: Boulders Beach

Me visiting the African penguins on Boulders Beach

Today’s price point

Starters range from R45-R85 (£2.70-£5.10)

Main courses range from R99 to R225 (£6.00-£13.60)

White wine starts from R125 (£7.50) a bottle and red wine from R130 (£7.85)

All conversions are at the today’s exchange rate.

Live Bait is at 70 Beach Road, Muizenberg

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell on Bree Street

Today we’re heading for lunch at SeaBreeze on Cape Town’s Bree Street. It’s a street on the edge of the City Bowl District (CBD) that I love meandering up and down. It’s home to our favourite pub The Crazy Horse (which sells English bitter to my husband’s delight), and plenty of bars, coffee shops, cafes and restaurants. It seems every year more open, yet none close so there’s even more to chose from. It’s all happening in Bree Street.

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell is up towards the mountain end of the street. Always handy when you have  something as  magnificent as Table Mountain to use as your landmark. It describes itself as “Celebrating the Mother City’s seafood heritage” – bring it on I say.

What’s on the menu

Of course it starts with with oysters. Three kinds in this case – Knysna (from the Garden Route), Saldhana (from the West Coast) and Luderitz (from Namibia). Everyone who loves oysters has their favourites, for me they can’t be too big or too creamy so it’s Knysna every time. They  have that perfect just-from-the sea flavour.

SeaBreeze: oysters

Juicy, saltily delicious Knysna oysters

The grilled prawns came deshelled with red slaw, sesame mayo, chilli nuts and some crispy noodles on the side. The sesame mayo was a wonder, perfect to dip those plump prawns in and add a bit of crunch with nuts and noodles. As we were up for a long lunch we asked if we could finish our starters before we ordered our main courses, our waitress was more than happy to accommodate us. What this did mean is that one of our party liked the prawn starter so much she ordered it again as a main-course portion. Now there’s a good dish!

SeaBreeze: prawns

Tasty, fresh prawns with plenty of crunch

I love fresh tuna but can’t face it if it’s been even slightly overcooked. I don’t know it seems to take most of the flavour out and and also gives it a mushy sort of texture, terrible way to ruin a beautiful piece of fresh tuna. So I was happy to hear the words: “Well done,  medium, rare or blue” when asked how I wanted mine cooked. Blue is the answer obviously. And this is what I got. A perfectly seared plate of delicious tuna served with charred cos, anchovies, quails egg and tomatoes.

SeaBreeze: tuna

Perfectly seared blue tuna

And now for something different – fish bunny chow. Bunny Chow (or Bunny) was originally a fast food dish of a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry that was created in Durban, where there’s a large Indian community, in the 1940s. According to Wikipedia was also sold in Gweru, Zimbabwe during World War II and is still sold in Kadoma, Zimbabwe which is where I was born and grew up. Now there’s a bit of a surprise! Can’t say I saw any of those sort of bunnies around town in my childhood.

SeaBreeze: Bunny chow

Bunny chow with creamy Malay flavours

The bread was beautifully light, kind of brioche-like and the curry was Cape-Malay style, so mild and creamy. A delightful dish, one that makes me want to return purely so I can have one!

SeaBreeze: Bunny chow

Taking the lid off the bunny chow

SeaBreeze has a lovely chilled atmosphere and as befits its name has a seaside feel to it even though you’re not that close to the beach. The menu is all about things from the sea, though there is a steak choice available. But really you need to go there to celebrate the flavours of Cape Town’s choice seafood.

SeaBreeze: interior

The beach-style interior in blue and white

Today’s price point

Lunch for two including two starters, two main courses and a bottle of wine comes out at R655 (around £39 at today’s exchange rate).

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell is at 211-213 Bree Street.