Sunday, November 30, 2008

Good for the Hart

Hartenberg Wine Estate is most certainly aware that science has shown wine to be good for the heart. I am also certain that science has helped them fill their trophy cupboard. However it is the love that fuels their work that puts the heart in their name! This is definitely red wine territory, from cabernet to shiraz, but the chardonnay is also something to behold. As wine farms have grown more commercial, Hartenburg has remained true to itself with a goal of sharing their passion. Tasting is free, and your hostess will make sure that your tasting needs are met.

Guests are free to walk the surrounding grounds. On a sunny day, there is little better than picnicking under the regal oaks (in summer picnic plates are available, and in winter, soup – both come with a carafe of house red or white wine, and coffee with koeksisters for dessert). The freshly baked farm bread is delicious, as is the smoked snoek pate! Once a month a three course lunch is served in the tasting room – a hearty and fresh farm meal served with your choice of red or white wine.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Come rain or sunshine

Kalk Bay is certainly a place for all seasons. However, summer or winter, there is only one clear choice on where to eat, no matter the guise; a ready made sandwich or freshly baked croissant before heading for a walk in the mountains, an early morning breakfast, leisurely lunch or indulgent dinner – Olympia Café, Deli and Bakery!

The atmosphere here is very casual and not to everyone’s taste, but don’t be put off by mix `n match décor and interior as the experience is well worth while and, like us, you will be back! As a warning, there is order to the seeming “chaos”, but ensure that you write your name on the white board so to be seated.

Once seated, you will be given a plate of sliced freshly baked ciabatta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar as appetisers while you make important meal decisions. The menu is chalked up on blackboards just beforehand so what to expect is always a mystery. Regulars on offer are Linguini del mar (linguini pasta with fresh seafood comprising line fish, prawns, calamari and mussels in a tomato and cream sauce) and Fresh west coast mussels in cream and white wine sauce and both come highly recommended. They are also available in half portions as the full portion is hearty. If available, the nicoise salad and penne gorgonzola are both particularly scrumptious, as are the other line fish offerings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


After a hard week of work and toil it is very easy to convince yourself that you are deserving of some reward! For us this means a visit to Caveau at the Mill… This restaurant is most gratifying, and that is not only due to the food. As a suburban oasis with surrounding greenery and location next to a stream, it is idyllic and quickly soothes the weary body (the extensive wine list also helps, of which many are available by the glass). The service is friendly, knowledgeable and efficient, while the restaurant mood is relaxed and comfortable, but classy.

On offer are a range of tapas and mains which are ordered off a chalk board. The menu changes continuously and depends entirely on what is freshly available. Chef Charl’s specialties in our opinion revolve around pork, especially the pork belly satays (served with sweet chilli dipping sauce). These definitely score two thumbs up from us, and one quickly learns why many religions consider eating pork sinful… The crumbed prawns are also highly recommended, as is anything with poached eggs.

Caveau is also open for breakfast. In fact, it is one of the few restaurants that we would be quite happy to do breakfast, lunch and dinner all in the same day. Some memorable and noteworthy dishes have been the Pork belly with dumplings, Fresh poached cob topped with smoked trout mousse and served on mash with a side of green asparagus, Caesar salad, Roast crispy duck with sweet corn bilinis, Lamb steak on herbed mash and tsatsiki sauce! Yum…

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

“F” is for Food

As foodies, there is one place that springs to mind automatically when planning the perfect weekend getaway; Franschhoek! There are few other South African villages where one can drift along decadently from one spectacular meal to another. Ours started with an early lunch at the Salmon Bar. Sash went for the Smolax* with bilins and smoked salmon roes, I decided on Gravadlax, and to drink we had Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose. Our orders came with a side of baby salad leaves and freshly baked bread which was also delicious. The Salmon Bar deli also offers a range of tasty foods to take away with you – the smoked trout pate is a must!

After wine tasting at Haute Cabriere, we had a predinner snack at Le Quartier Francais. The Charcuterie was scrumptious, particularly the deep fried capers. This was washed down with a perfectly chilled Pinehurst Chardonnay. We were due to go to Grande Provence as we have been unable to get a reservation at The Tasting Room, our first choice. However fortune shone upon us – a late cancellation meant that we managed to sneak in. We both decided on the 6 course tasting menu. As expected, the courses were very innovative (think tuna tartar on meringue), intricate and nothing was spared in terms of ingredients. However, as we have heard from others before, dishes seem to be designed to impress the mind rather than please the palate. Overall, we enjoyed the experience, but were not entirely sure about the food as there were some dishes that were rather disappointing (the tomato sabayon with parmesan sorbet and basil comes to mind). As a benchmark, we had Jardine’s tasting menu a month prior, and at half the price the courses were far more synergetic and enjoyable.

After a visit to Rickety Bridge (recommend the Semillon 2006, Cabernet 2003, and Cabernet 2002 – only in Magnum), we paid a final visit to Bread and Wine. The restaurant was fully booked, so we settled with the deli section. Although the deli only has a small offering, everything is fresh and tasty and we soon had a number of appetizing morsels in front of us – fresh west coast oysters, charcuterie (which was once again delicious as Neil Jewell supplies Le Quartier Francais as well), along with freshly baked foccacia filled with basil pesto and peppers. A glass of Môreson Blanc de Blanc rounded it all off very well and left us contemplating the next trip to Franschhoek. Roll on December – the Champagne Festival awaits!

*Smolax is Salmon Bar’s take on smoked trout; a very tasty combination of Gravadlax and normal cold smoking

Monday, November 24, 2008

Root Canal

As all working class people know, Saturday mornings are the only time to perform mundane but necessary household chores. For us this means a visit to Root Canal (aka Canal Walk). Fortuitously there lies some respite and reward for wading through the endless masses – Cape Town Fish Market’s Sushi bar. Now bear with me for a second before dismissing this as I do realise that the Sushi aficionados out there are already preparing our lynch ropes! CTFM has become a refuge within the weekend ruckus; the service is always warm, friendly and efficient (ask for Teddy – he will ensure that your request for a glass of wine becomes a bottle!).

CTFM’s Sushi offering may not appeal to the traditionalist, but it is oh so delicious. Our recommendations are the seared tuna sashimi, the tempura Norwegian salmon fashion sandwiches and to finish off the tempura squid.