As the summer approaches, do you find yourself wanting a lighter, fresher dinner option? Made to order, seasonal ingredients that doesn’t break the bank?
Tonight was one of those nights!
Having stayed in the office waaaaay later than expected, I left hungry & wanting something refreshing but still filling - perhaps a salad? Or Chinese fried rice?
Having my mind set on the Pork Fried Rice special by Jewel Tavern on St George’s Mall & Church Street - I walked quickly & determined. Only to find out that my favourite Chinese restaurant (with amaaaazing lunch specials!) had MOVED!!!!! aaaaaagggh!! Bye Bye Jewel Tavern, guess I have to find you on Kloof St in the future!
Plan B: Doppio Zero right across the road!
Doppio had the amazing Gypsy Kings album on! Score! On closer look at the menu, the cheapest salad was R50++…. hrrm, after all the fresh produce I bought at the Earth Fair Market this afternoon, I was left with R50 in my pocket…
Plan C: Kauai? Crave?
Both were closed and it was only 7:30pm! Ugh! The Italian restaurant across from Purple Turtle was opened though…. again, cheapest salad = R50+… this is really not my day >.<
I was meeting a friend at OnBroadway tonight, to see the STHE AND THE UNTOUCHABLES! Perhaps that Turkish hole-in-the-wall booth right next to OnBroadway?
BINGO!! Baris Bufe - Doner Kebab!
I could not believe my eyes! Kebab in pita with chips, salad for R35? Lamb kebab for R45? Turkish Lahmacun with salad for R15?!!?!?! I was sold!
This is my Turkish Lahmacun - a Turkish pizza with very thin, flat base! Topped with delicious spread of mince, chopped onion, tomato, fresh parsley & green pepper!
The Lahmacun dough was freshly rolled, baked, and was literally ready within 8minutes. Toasty & warm, I gobbled up my treat and sat content with a wide GRIN on my face!
Dinner & Grapetiser = R27. Now that is a HARD DEAL to beat!
Shhhhh….. but I think I’ve discovered Cape Town’s Hidden Gem! Find Baris Bufe - Doner Kebab at 44 Long St!!
Cook Franschhoek, Saturday 11/06/2011
Center stage, Franschhoek valley.
Sunshine showering through French windows on either side of the kitchen.
Chefs, freshly chopped ingredients, steam rising from pans.
Audience, mesmerized by the splendid creation happening in front of their eyes, seated.
Light humming of wine pouring into crystal glasses.
The kitchen comes to life!
It is always amazing to witness the creation of art, beauty, and divine indulgence in front of your eyes. As your senses are engaged, artists share their passion with an explosion of colours, smell, texture, taste, and the ancient art of storytelling.
Stunned by the rich Autumn colours as we turn off the N1, driving through Franschhoek Valley, Tom & I slow down to 40km/hr to take in the breathtaking sight in front of our eyes. This is what most tourists miss when they visit Franschhoek in the summer! The grapevines form a tapestry of burgundy, orange, hints of magenta and the thousand shades in between!
Arriving fashionably late (oops!) at the 22hectare Holden Manz wine estate, we were greeted by the friendly staff from the gate-go! Driving through the vineyard, we reached the Cape Dutch manor, home to the Franschhoek Kitchen where the weekends’ magic happens.
Monneaux & Glenwood: Chef Louis Jansen
Chef Louis Jansen & his team from Monneaux had just dished up twice-rolled omelette with oyster mushroom, smoked salmon, dhania, watercress, toffeed ginger and balsamic reduction. We were too late! But Hoden Manz’s barman, John, ushered us over and pointed out DP Burger with GlenWood Vineyards – and we had our first taste of the 2008 Shiraz.
Chef Louis Jansen has the philosophy to infuse Cape classic cuisine with local produce, delivered by local farmers in the morning. Inspiring a fantastic curried lentil salad, vegetable atchar served with a rack of lamb with minted Bulgarian yoghurt on top! The curried lentils surely packed a kick!
Monneaux will be serving up a new Winter menu in late June/ July, I am looking forward to sample his new creations!
Café Bon Bon & Haut Espoir: Chef Chris Erasmus
After a short break, we were treated chicken and cashew nut curry and savoury rice with Chef Chris Erasmus at Café Bon Bon! Chef Chris Erasmus had made a fantastic Lemon Meringue on Friday which looked simply divine! I was blown away by his savoury curry even more – demystifying the common misconception to pan fry chicken before drowning them in curry, he slowly simmer the curry with all herbs and spices to infuse meats with maximum flavours. Rob Armstrong from Haut Espoir was ready with his range of handcrafted wines, complementing our curry with a hint of sweetness!
As a newbie to Indian food, I always wondered about the best method to make Basmati rice! Adding cumin and other spices IN the rice was the secret! As the room filled up with exotic scent from the Far East, our stomachs began to rumble… Thankfully, the chef welcomed the spectators to a second serving!
Food & Wine pairing notes
I have recently learned from Michael Gabagas, wine specialist at WineCops & Hoodwinx about the specificities for food and wine pairing. More than what meets the eye, both chefs and sommeliers will pair a selection of wine with raw ingredients to find the ideal balance in acidity, which will be perfected after the ingredients are combined, cooked and served. This helped me appreciate both demonstrations and take note of the different flavours one can experience, having the food and wine separately and together!
PITSTOP 9: Arabella Wines!
With the HUGE TVs set up for SHARKS vs. CHEETAHS rugby game in the afternoon, cover band Fishbowl, Wedding DJ’s, and GOLDFISH LIVE, Arabella Wines is definitely the headliner for Saturday night! We arrived at 5pm (I know, 7 wineries before 5pm…!) and got in for free – our friends who arrived at 5:10pm weren’t so lucky! But at R50 / entry, I will pay it any day to see GOLDFISH LIVE!
Arabella was really the beginning of the end…! Needless to say, the troops had sampled amazing wines throughout the day and weren’t driving anywhere that night! Thankfully, Arabella had tent spaces available in their gigantic farm! As the night grew darker, the crowd only grew rowdier! I could have sworn I was at a Greek wedding – with the amount of glass clinkering and crashing on the ground! Only about 20% of the tasting glass survived the evening… and Arabella must have sold over 8000 bottles of wine on Saturday night alone!
The crowd went wild when GOLDFISH came on promptly at 8pm – what a SOLID SHOW! My first time seeing GOLDFISH LIVE in concert and I will NEVER MISS their concert, ever again!! Fantastic musicians and performers, Sakhile amped up the crowd and showcased amazing freestyle rap after favourites like Cruising Through and We Come Together!
PITSTOP 10: Spaces!
After a night of mayhem in Arabella, we needed to recover (& battle the hangover) with a hearty breakfast. Driving through Robertson, we flew to Spaces like moths to fire! BUFFET BREAKFAST!
Spaces looked like a converted warehouse from the outside, amazing spacious with Garden seating behind the main dining area, and a vintage boutique in the back! Surprisingly classy venue for breakfast, where we were served scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, pap, bread with butter & farm-made fruit preserve jams! Served with live acoustic music on the side, the musician played acoustic guitar and harmonica to favourites like Johnny Cash, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews & more!
PITSTOP 11: Graham Beck Wines 1983!
What better way to end the wacky weekend than Graham Beck! We saved the best for last, and also dodged the craze crowd from Saturday. Sunday was very much a day of bliss, much more relaxed pace and only the true wine loving connoisseurs emerged from the weekend! Graham Beck has four estates throughout Western Cape in Robertson, Stellenbosch (2farms), and Franschhoek. GB take their viticulture seriously – with viticulturist Marco Ventrella adopting the most advance technology such as GIS, infrared satellite imagery and more to maintain the health of the vines.
Graham Beck had fantastic selection of Red, White, Rosé wines and Méthode Cap Classique! I enjoyed their Ridge Syrah, The William, great Sauvignon Blanc and of course, Brut NV. GB wines are definitely in a higher price range compared to other wineries, but the quality is outstanding. The tasting room housed Graham Beck’s private art collection as well.
GB had classy, streamlined main tent hosting live bands featuring contemporary, gypsy jazz bands! We arrived just in time to catch Manouche - a 6 piece band based in Stellenbosch!! We felt refreshed and truly relaxed, enjoying great conversations over glasses of Brut NV. It was fantastic to reconnect with friends in such a beautiful setting!
Time to plan your next trip to Robertson Valley!
Pictures speak a thousand words – I hope the 20+ photos showcased the beauty of Robertson Valley, the heart of Wine Route 62 and its people! The people were warm and welcoming, and the festival was well-organized with signage along all wineries! HUGE SHOUTOUT to the organizers for hosting over 20,000 attendees from all corners of South Africa and beyond this past weekend!
If you haven’t had a chance to venture out to Robertson Valley, what are you waiting for?
** Photos from this blog are courtesy of:
PITSTOP 5: Goedverwacht Estate 1960s
Imagine our surprise when a decked out, festive Tractor showed up next to our picnic table! As it turned out, Goedverwacht Estate offered fun Tractor Rides between the two wineries! Who said WWW is only for 18+ adults? Kids can have fun too! “Yipppee!” we exclaimed! Even though the guys “protested” about the idea of riding on a tractor carriage, I am 100% sure they secretly enjoyed the ride! As we cruise down the dirt track toward the 180ha farm, the grapevines formed seas of orange & red colours – autumn is definitely here in Robertson valley!
Besides a fantastic array of wine available for tasting, Goedverwacht had cheese & olive tasting, along with jumping castles and surprise goodies for the kids! Not to mention the amazing pancakes for R5…. Definitely satisfied my sweet tooth!
PITSTOP 6: Viljdensdrift 1998
Viljdensdrift was going to be a highlight for the day! They winery offered river cruises for only R40, with optional picnic basket available~ But of course, it was completed booked ON Saturday and the next available cruise was Sunday 3pm – next year! I also found a GREAT Shiraz here, the first red wine I’ve truly enjoyed all day! Note that we’ve already gone through 6 wineries at this point…! The weather was looking grey, getting more humid by the minute… seeing that there’s no chance to hop on the cruise, the troops happily marched to our next stop!
PITSTOP 7: Bon Courage 1921
There must have been thousands of people in Bon Courage… okay, more than 600 at least! Parking lot was COMPLETELY full, and cars were parked as far as 15min walk away! It was all a little overwhelming, then I tried their Blush MCC…. This all make sense now!
Great set up, separating the tasting room (indoor) and wine sale for immediate consumption (red outdoor tent), the Oysters & sushi were served under a large tent as well! This turned out to be the saving grace, as it started pouring around 3pm! Despite the rain, the crowd loved the wine and almost every other group had bottles of Blush to share! Definitely a great MCC bubbly!
PITSTOP 8: Robertson Farmers’ Market & Wine Dive!
We’ve all seen the spa advert – red wine rejuvenates your skin, as much as a-glass-of-wine-every-day does wonder for your heart! But imagine my amazement when I see large, tall men diving down “wine slides” into a complete pool of red wine! To be perfectly honest, if I had brought my bathing suit, I would have probably braved the weather! Mmmmmm!
I SURVIVED MY FIRST WACKY WINE WEEKEND! WOOOHOO!!
With all the buzz building up to the big WWW, I have been looking forward to this weekend since the Easter break! Wacky Wine has grown astronomically since its humble beginning in 2003; now encompass more than 60 wineries all across the valley. From Robertson -> Ashton -> Montagu -> Bonnievale -> McGregor, the wine festival was guaranteed to be EPIC with the 12page long program! How did I know WW was going to be huge? Over 5500 attendees on their FB event page!
Our group of 12 embarked on the quest for supreme wine, picturesque landscape and GOLDFISH pre-world tour concert in four cars, determined to make it to Robertson before midnight! A fellow Couchsurfer, Derek Serra kindly offered to host us at his humble abode for the weekend! After curves and turns, we finally made to his beautiful home and shared a home cooked meal – curry potijie! Wish I had photos to show, but the hungry crew cleared out all the food in a matter of seconds…!
Having attended WWW for the past 4 years, Derek was a true veteran! The troops were summoned to the smell of fresh coffee & promise of sunshine, despite the rain from the night before! We woke up promptly at 8am, to the crisp fresh air of the wine valley!
Saturday was the BIG day – we had to get our game face on! Armed with fleece, scarves and fall jackets, we drove out to our first stop of the day!
PITSTOP 1: Bonnievale Kelder 1964
We grabbed our WWW goodie bags here! Vouchers for more wine after WWW, event guide, our pass to heavenly wines and of course, the tasting glass! The glass this year was much larger than last year, but it didn’t bear the WWW emblem =( Nevertheless, we filled up on delicious breakfast – variety of Roosterkoeke! Traditional Afrikaans bun filled with jam/chilli sauce, boerewors, or the Breakfast Special with eggs/bacon/onion chutney & more!
At 9:30am in the morning, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for wine… tried some light Whites at Bonnievale Cellar and wasn’t blown away by the selection. Great tasting room setup nevertheless.
PITSTOP 2: Jonkheer Winery 1912
We decided to stop at various wineries as we work our way towards Robertson! Jonkheer had a fantastic craft market in the past, however this year was lacking… with its large garage transformed with live RUGBY Screens & makeshift furniture stalls! The winery also charged R20 cover for their Es La Vida Dance show… The wine selection was better but again, not particularly impressive… I am not the biggest wine connoisseur, but had the company of Derek & my mate, Charlie Miller, who helps to develop products at Wooly’s! I learned a great deal about tasting notes, how to aerate a red correctly & various tips from them!
PITSTOP 3: Van Loveren 1937
Moving on! Arrived at the famous Van Loveren, with 5 wine brands and over 40 wine selections! Wine tasting was available at a large warehouse or outdoor tent in the garden area. We arrived around 10:30am, before the live music performances began! But the winery was already hopping with activities, with a FULL parking lot & vibey mid-20s patrons. We bumped into a couple more friends here, and enjoyed the festive atmosphere!
PITSTOP 4: Wolvendrift Private Cellar 1980
We were welcomed by LOUD SOKIE SOKIE MUSIC the moment we stepped out of our cars! Wolvendrift was rather empty in the morning, but the picnic tables were GORGEOUS with the grapevines lining the background, and an outdoor tent! For some strange reason, only 5 wines were available for tasting? I absolutely loved their sweet wine!
I was blown away by the TOPS Gugulethu Wine Festival this past weekend!
The inaugural event was held at Gugulethu Square Mall, a massive shopping mall spanning 23 457m², remarked as the “first of its kind in the 50 year history of the township.” The shopping center is owned by Westside Trading, of which Mzoli Ngcawuzele (owner of Mzoli’s Meat) is a partner of. The wine festival is further conceived by Mr. Ngcawuzele and Lungile Mbalo, with the main objective to promote Gugulethu as a tourist attraction!
With a lack of directions & reliable GPS (yes Tom Tom, I am talking to you), my friends and I had slight difficulty locating the mall from N2… we drove around in circles in Gugulethu, but managed to navigate our way after stopping for directions from the helpful residents! I guess it became obvious that we were extremely lost, after going around the same circle several times in 15minutes…
Greeted by the friendly ticket sales staff, we received our tix from Lindy at Solms Delta! Who led us up the steps for our goodie bag and wine glass! Even at 6:45pm on a Saturday, the wine tent was hopping with festivities! Needless to say, I had to get my Cape Jazz Shiraz fix… definitely one of my favorite bubbly of all time! Best part is? It’s not a rose or white wine! Give me a stout over lager any time, same with my wines – I need full bodied reds with complex flavours please!
After several tastings (just short of an hour, need I say more?), I stumbled over to the Nederburg booth where I fell in love with their cellar vintage, struck me by surprise with its honey undertone! Sadly I didn’t catch the name… =(
The event sponsors and organizers did such a fantastic job!
From the get-go, the promoters came together and created an exciting buzz around the event! There were posters along the busiest streets of Cape Town, both in the CBD and in residential areas such as Gardens, Vredehoek, Green Point, Clifton and more! Not to mention all the tweets by @GugsLovesWine on Twitter! Wine exhibitors such as Solms Delta ( @Solms_delta), OverhexWines ( @OverhexWines), Nederburg ( @Nederburg) and many more joined efforts to promote the festival as well. HUGE SHOUT OUT to the lovely ladies at PWMC ( @PaulWilsonPWMC) and Solms Delta for their ticket sponsorship as well! To promote the event and prevent drunk driving, the Gugs Taxi Association offered R40 to the festival from V&A Waterfront!
THANK YOU, GUGULETHU, for hosting us!
P.S. Before I forget – it was awesome to see the Census 2011 team out at the festival! The booth was busy giving out bright yellow t-shirts & free issue of Field Workers – these guys sure work hard! I honestly didn’t see any volunteers with wine during my 3 hours there! Remember, Mzansi Census 2011 from 10-31 October - Be there or be SQUARE!
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Oh Mzoli’s, how I love you so!
I first heard of Mzoli’s during my very first weekend in Cape Town, casually brought up amongst my co-workers.“Yebo, what’s happening this Sunday?”
“Chilling out at Mzoli’s bru! It’s guaranteed to be hectic with the long weekend! We have to get there early; otherwise it will be a 3hr wait before we get any food…”
Some say that curiosity killed the cat, but I think curiosity gave the cat options! If the cat didn’t follow the sweet vanilla scent and venture into her neighbour’s yard, she would have never found the plot of valerian! In case you didn’t know - Valerian’s roots work as a semi-psychotic stimulant for kitties!
Off topic. Anyhow, I invited myself along for Sunday’s festivities! And boy, I never imagined butcheries could be so sexy…! Mzoli’s certainly draws in a young, vibrant crowd! We arrived at 10:30am and the music was blasting – my first encounter with Kwaito music! Long queue of patrons lined-up outside the butchery, as we finally arrived at the counter, our friendly butcher pointed to the crisp, glass-shelved selection of meats. We chose our all-in-one appetizer/entrée, and gladly accepted our prize in a large enamel bowl! I was clued in to always ask for “the secret sauce from ma Ugogo.”
We turned the corner and handed our meats to the braai stand with the shortest queue! It’s truly an amazing business model, as local entrepreneurs setup braai stands outside Mzoli’s operates independently. Now that is the true form to creating jobs for the local community! Sweetening the deal, we crossed the road into a seemingly ordinary house – to buy beers from the Mama in the kitchen! Having started as a small butchery selling meat out of the garage, Mzoli’s have surely come a long way!
Another interesting thing about Mzoli’s is the diverse clientele: for the locals, Mzoli’s is a regular Sunday hangout, where friends come together to enjoy the braai meats, House & Kwaito music, and the overall good vibe. On the other hand, you have tourists coming from all over South Africa and beyond, looking to experience a unique township culture.
I believe it is the conversations sparked from this mix of background, culture, desires and energy that makes Mzoli’s a great experience!
CPT Love, *Follow me on Twitter!! @bestCapeTownSA!
*Follow me on Twitter!! @bestCapeTownSA!