Early tapas at Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg

Today I’m transporting you back to beautiful Cape Town and one of our favourite eateries – Bistro Sixteen82, set on the Steenberg Golf and Wine estate.

Talented chef Kerry Kilpin serves up wonderful seasonal dishes with simply the best sauces (she’s a bit of a sauce Queen, I reckon). There’s a distinct Asian influence (she’s inspired by the food of Thailand), as well as some interesting local touches. Oh and our latest discovery is that you can go there early evening for their special tapas selection. It had to be done – it’s tapas time!

What’s on the menu

How we loved these crispy tacos filled with pickled fish in a Malay-style sauce. Little morsels of heavenly crunch.

Bistro Sixteen82: tacos

Amazing crispy pickled fish tacos

The beef and Manchego croquette was luscious – richly meaty and comfortingly cheesy with a lovely crisp shell.

Bistro Sixteen82: croquette

The perfectly crisp, meat croquette

The West Coast mussels are served in a creamy Asian-style sauce. One of the many bowls of mussels I devoured in this year’s Cape Town sojourn and one of the best. I would eat these on every visit to Sixteen82 without doubt.

Bistro Sixteen82: mussels

Beautifully creamy fresh mussels

And then there was this melt-in-the-mouth mound of sticky ginger and chili beef. Topped with a surprise – some crunchy creamy coleslaw, it made for a satisfying plate.

Sixteen82: sticky ginger and chili beef

The comforting sight of sticky ginger and chili beef

And how’s this for a vibrantly beautiful plate? A broccoli, beetroot and slow-roast tomato salad with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and fresh coriander and a zest dressing. Tastes as good as it looks.

Bistro Sixteen82: beetroot salad

The vibrant reds of beetroot and tomato salad

We loved Steenberg’s wine offering this year. Particular favourites are the Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc, the Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend and their top-of-the-range Nebbiolo. My only negative about Sixteen82 is that they put way too much mark-up on the wine in the restaurant. It’s hard to stomach when it’s been made on the estate and you can buy it next door in the shop for a fraction of the price. Having queried this we were told that the Wine Estate and the restaurant are separate entities. And no you can’t take it through with you. So all we could do was get over it if we wanted to enjoy the delicious food. Which we have!

Today’s price point

Our five dishes today cost us R354 which is about £21 at today’s exchange rate.

Bistro Sixteen82 is on Steenberg Golf and Wine Estate in Cape Town.

It is open for lunch every day and for tapas early evening from 1700 to 2000h.

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.

 

 

 

Delicious Indian dishes at Marigold in Franschhoek

Today we’re heading deep into the Cape Winelands to the beautiful town of Franschhoek. One of my favourite places in the world, it’s also one of the oldest towns in South Africa and known as the food and wine heartland of the country. There are so many amazing restaurants and vineyards to try out, all set in the most beautiful of surroundings. It truly is a little piece of paradise that I love to visit. And there’s always somewhere new to discover – like the first restaurant serving ethnic cuisine in the village.

Marigold is set in Franschhoek’s main street and offers spicy North Indian cuisine from the expert hand of chef Vanie Padayachee who hails from Durban (the hub of Indian cuisine in South Africa) and has also spent time in India, making sure it’s a wonderfully authentic selection.

There’s a comprehensive menu to peruse, so the box of tasty poppadoms and dips was a welcome arrival to snack on while we did some serious decision making.

Marigold: Poppadoms

A delicious poppadom and dip selection

What’s on the menu

I think the decision making got all a bit too much for us, everything sounded so delicious – so we hedged our bets by ordering the non-vegetarian thali to share. A beautifully presented tray arrived with seven dishes from different sections of the menu. We loved every mouthful. The dal tadka was amazing – slow cooked lentils tempered with whole red chilli, ginger, garlic, cumin and mustard seeds. We also snacked on crispy spinach leaves, tandoori chicken, lamb kebabs and a stunning salad of carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, and onions seasoned with cumin powder, lemon juice and fresh coriander.

Marigold: Thali

The platter of thali for two

Also on the platter were two little bowls of chilli deliciousness. Fresh chopped green chilli and an incredibly spicy chilli paste. Seriously tongue tingling.

Marigold: Chilli

Plenty of chilli to spice up life

After our delightful selection we tucked into an amazing Kadhai Murgh. Chicken cooked in a thick tomato gravy with whole red chilli, peppers, onions and Indian spices.Marigold: chicken

Dessert was included in our thali selection, and what a good thing that was, too. I very rarely order pudding in Indian restaurants which is clearly a big mistake. The kulfi was delectable. A trio of Indian ice creams were made with boiled milk, sugar and fragrant spices. Such delightful flavours of cardamom and cinnamon. Gotta eat more Indian deserts.

Marigold: dessert

What a great addition Marigold is to the wonderful Franschhoek restaurantland. Another reason to head back to paradise in the Winelands!

Marigold: marigolds

Marigolds on display to welcome you

Today’s price point

Finally, the bill.

Tonight’s food cost R501 which is about £29 at today’s exchange rate.

White wine starts from R130 (£7.60) a bottle.

Red wine starts from R165 (£9.70) a bottle.

Marigold is at Heritage Square, 9 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek.

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 weekend getaway to picturesque Paternoster

The joys of pretty-as-a-picture Paternoster

Today we’re heading up South Africa’s West Coast to the seaside village of Paternoster. It’s about a two-hour drive from Cape Town to one of the oldest fishing villages in the country. Legend has it it’s called Paternoster (our father in latin) because of the prayers said by shipwrecked Portuguese sailors. Luckily for us there was no risk of shipwreck, just beautiful beaches, amazing food and chill time.

Paternoster is literally dazzling with its white-washed fisherman’s cottages, wide sandy beaches and sparkling azure seas – and that perfect light. Definitely a feel of the Greek islands here. It’s known for its crayfish and is a pillar in the South African commercial fishing industry. It’s also known for the Paternoster Hotel which was built in 1863, and its infamous Panty Bar.

Paternoster: Hotel

Quick beer stop at the Paternoster Hotel

Cheers from the Panty Bar

The Panty Bar once served as the town jail before becoming a bar. In 1974 Johan Carosini started his collection of ‘Honeymoon Panties’, suspending panties in all shapes and colours from the ceiling.

In 1983 the collection was taken down after a priest reported it to the police as an unholy practice. The unfortunate policeman responsible for confiscating the collection quickly became known as Panty Basson! I can almost hear the villagers chuckling!

Giorgelli Carosini (son of Johan), who now co-owns the hotel, started collecting again in the nineties. As you walk into the bar you can’t miss the impressive range of panties hanging from the ceiling. It’s slightly disconcerting and you don’t want your imagination to wander too much as to where those panties may have been! Rather order a glass of Castle Light draught and head outside to get in a Paternoster state of mind. Well, that’s what we did.

Paternoster: panty bar

The panties are displayed hanging from the ceiling

It doesn’t take long to ease into that Paternoster pace. Or long to find your way to our next stop – Gaaitjie. Just head for the sea and you’ll see the signs and find a gorgeous, rustic white-washed restaurant on the edge of the beach. Gaaitjie is a heavenly place for lunch – you can read more about the delicious seafood we enjoyed by clicking here.

Paternoster: Gaaitje

The stunning view from Gaaitjie

Paternoster: Gaaitje

Rose by the beach at Gaaitjie

Home from home at Smuggler’s Cottage

Replete after our beachside repast we headed to our home for the weekend – the delightful Smuggler’s Cottage. (Smuggies as we now affectionately call it). The attractive guesthouse is set a couple of minutes walk from a beautiful beach. It has a lovely pool area where we soon settled in with a bottle of chilled Rose for some sunshine hours. And I posted this picture on instagram posing the question ‘Where in the world am I?’. I got wide range of suggestions. Greece, Spain, Cape Town (close – though I suspect that was from someone who knew I was in Cape Town), Portugal, the Med, somewhere in the Aegean – even Cornwall(!). My favourite response, however was: ‘I don’t know where you are but I wish I was there!’ Yeah, get that.

Paternoster: Smugglers Cottage

Chilling out pool-side at Smuggler’s Cottage

Smuggies has comfortable ensuite rooms with  tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer (and hair straighteners, too – a first for me) and lovely large bathrooms. There’s a wonderful warm welcome and friendly efficient service. And we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast on the terrace framed by the beautiful bougainvillea.

Paternoster: Breakfast

Enjoying breakfast under the bougainvilleas

Creative dining at Wolfgat

The main reason for this foray westwards was to eat at Wolfgat restaurant. It’s ranked 13th in South Africa on the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards. A huge achievement considering it’s not in a major city and South Africa’s restaurantland is incredibly competitive.

The restaurant is in a 130-year old building with fabulous views across the sea. The seven-course menu is inspired by the weather and the surrounding landscape. Dishes include local seaweed,  seasonal veldkos (basically food growing wild that’s been foraged locally) and plants from the garden. Chef Kobus van de Merwe is keen to showcase ingredients gathered from around Wolfgat’s beachside location.

All this certainly makes for an intriguing dining experience. The restaurant seats a maximum of 20 diners (it’s the size of a small house) so there’s an intimate atmosphere and you can easily watch the intricate dishes being prepared.

Paternoster: Wolfgat

Chef Kobus creating another innovative dish

What’s on the menu

There’s a lot to take in and I was certainly challenged with flavours and textures I’d never encountered before. Not all of them were good and I balked at the sight of succulents growing beside the beach the next morning, fearing I may have to eat them for breakfast. Dishes were heavy on the succulent/seaweed front which is certainly novel, if more disconcerting than pleasurable. And some of the flavour combinations tasted decidedly weird to me, like the mussel dish served with a seaweed broth and papaya.

I did really love the bread course which consisted of home-made breadsticks (in a sack) served with a pan of bubbling butter infused with bokkoms and seaweed. Bokkoms are a type of salted and dried local mullet (know as harders). So this was like the best anchovy butter you’ll ever taste – and I love anchovy butter.

Paternoster: Wolfgat

I wanted to lick the pan of bokkom butter

The final course was a wild sage ice-cream with sage ash and nectarines. The nectarines were suspended from a foraged bush which was set on fire at the table. A great piece of theatre unfortunately not backed up with great flavours – it just tasted very ashy. As a result we left with a bad taste in our mouths. Not a good way to end dinner.

Paternoster: Wolfgat

The ashy nectarine tree

Paternoster: Wolfgat

The dessert didn’t look great or taste great either

Eating at Wolfgat is undeniably a memorable experience. The menu changes frequently – obviously I guess as they are dependent on what they find around them to some extent. Perhaps we visited on one of the stranger days. Because let’s be frank, it was all a bit weird – though certainly an entertaining and educational experience. One we are still talking about.

Go and try it for yourself if you dare!

Wolfgat only seats 20 guests – as a result you need to book and pay in advance. Dinner costs R750 (around £44 at today’s exchange rate).

Take me to the beach

There’s no shortage of sandy shores in Paternoster. You can walk to a selection of them from anywhere in the town. We couldn’t resist driving to the more remote Tietiesbaai (for obvious reasons, who can resist such a name). Along a dusty road over the hill you get to this beautifully unspoilt beach which is a favourite camping spot.

Paternoster: Tietiesbaai

The blue bay that is Tietiesbaai

Paternoster: Tietiesbaai

Always happiest in the sun on the beach!

Feet in the sand at Seekombuis

On the way back from Tieitiesbaai to Paternoster town you pass Seekombuis (it means sea kitchen in Afrikaans), a ramshackle building on the beach – another place that seemed to be calling our names. Whatever you do, don’t pass it, you simply have to stop for a while and chill at this beautifully basic beach bar.

Paternoster: Seekombuis

Welcome to the rustic, beach-side Seekombuis

We sipped chilled beers in the sunshine with our feet in the sand, wishing we had time to stay for lunch and didn’t have to head back home so soon. A blackboard advertised Kreef (crayfish) salad for R65 (£3.80) and Peri Peri kreef starter for R70 (£4.00). I’m still regretting missing out on such a bargain kreef experience.

They’ve converted little row boats into seats and it looks so pretty and everything’s so peaceful with its beautiful sea views and not a building in sight. Seriously hard to tear ourselves away.

Paternoster: Seekombuis

Boat tables and benches on the beach

Paternoster: Seekombuis

Even in the bar you have your feet in the sand

We found it so hard to leave Paternoster – it just felt like we hadn’t spent enough time. Luckily there were several shops on the way out so we had an excuse to stop and prolong our stay, even if  only for a little longer.

Die Winkel Op Paternoster (a winkel is a shop in case you hadn’t gathered) has a quaint collection of souvenirs, clothes and random stuff and is great to browse in. All the shops have a certain charm, so I’d pop into them all. I guarantee you’ll find something that you didn’t know you needed and just have to take it home.

Paternoster: Die Winkel

Pop in to the shop for some souvenirs

I bought some beautiful shell hearts which I’m looking forward to hanging in my garden in London. Because I know every time I look at them I will be transported back to happy days in Paternoster. And reminded that I need to organise my next trip there – and this time it will be for longer, that’s for sure.

Have you been to Paternoster or somewhere similar? Did you discover some magical place that brought you such happiness and made you promise to return? I’d love to hear about it.