Tag Archives: franschhoek

South Africa’s Top Foodie Getaways

If you are a food lover then Africa may not be the first place that springs to mind but South Africa can compete with the best countries in the world. South Africa is at the forefront of the modern culinary revolution and offers too many fantastic foodie destinations to mention them all. You can dine in trendy restaurants with the latest in cutting edge cuisine, you can dine in more traditional fine dining establishments, you can sample local produce at fabulous farms and vineyards, enjoy a brai at the beach or dine under the African stars at a top safari lodge whilst listening to the lions roar!

There are lots of incredible restaurants in South Africa especially in Cape Town and Franschhoek in the Winelands where you are spoilt for choice. However we have narrowed it down to some great restaurants which are part of hotels so that you can book a holiday and actually stay at some of these places without having to book a taxi home at the end of the night. Because don’t forget that South Africa is also home to some world class wine as well!

1. Franschhoek, Winelands

The pretty and historic town of Franschhoek in the heart of the beautiful Cape Winelands deserves a mention on its own as it is one of the best places to base yourself if you love good food and wine. In fact it is often claimed to be the culinary capital of South Africa and few would argue with that. There are amazing places to eat dotted about (as well as lovely hotels) including the world famous The Tasting Room which regularly features in the Top 10 South African restaurants lists. It features an 8 course South African menu but you can also enjoy a lovely lunch at its sister restaurant, Bread&Wine if you are just passing through for the day, although you must book in advance! We have a wide range of accommodation in and around Franschhoek and the Cape Winelands so there are plenty of options, including Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and La Fontaine in Franschhoek itself. In neighbouring Stellenbosch, another pretty Winelands town with great restaurants, we have Wedgeview Country House and Hawksmoor House.

2. Babylonstoren, Franschhoek

One of the most recent additions to our accommodation portfolio, the Babylonstoren combines a working farm, a 5 star hotel and a fabulous world class restaurant, Babel. The team behind Babel have a very modern outlook on cuisine and they focus on using their own produce from the stunning kitchen gardens which guests can wander around. They “pick it, clean it and then serve it” focussing on the pleasure of the fabulous produce and simple dishes with an edge.  The bountiful breakfasts at Babel are also another fabulous treat if you are staying at the hotel or exploring the Winelands.  The hotel is very chic with beautiful white luxury rooms in the old Cape Dutch farm buildings dotted about the farm and beautiful views over the surrounding valley.

3. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, Gansbaai, the Garden Route

Grootbos Private Reserve is a lovely private nature reserve made up of fynbos and woodland with stunning views over the coast and plenty of wildlife. This area is close to Hermanus on the Garden Route and Grootbos overlooks the beautiful Walker Bay which is a fantastic place to see whales, especially in our autumn months.  The two restaurants at Grootbos are the Garden Restaurant and the Red Indigo Restaurant which both offer sophisticated cuisine created from the finest local ingredients which in this part of the world includes incredible seafood and excellent wine.  A lot of the organic produce used in the kitchen also comes from their community project , Growing the Future. There are beautiful views from the restaurants as well as the guest accommodation and guests can also enjoy exploring the beautiful landscape on the nature reserve and perhaps work off some of that food! This is a fantastic spot for honeymooners. You can order a luxury picnic for two to take to the beach or book an even more romantic outdoor candlelit dinner set under the rare milkwood trees at Grootbos (see photo at bottom).

4. Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Drakensberg Mountains, Kwa-Zulu Natal

The Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse is one of our most romantic and scenic hotels. It sits on the edge of beautiful lake surrounded by the stunning Drakensberg Mountain range and its own pretty gardens.   One of the main draws of this hotel is the gourmet menu which makes the most of the local produce available in South Africa and from further afield. If you are lucky enough to stay here you will be treated to a 7 course dinner but any meals are a treat – have you ever had a 3 course breakfast? The food here will set you up for the day which you could spend hiking or exploring the incredible scenery of the Drakensbergs including many important rock art sites.

5.  Cape Grace, Cape Town

The Signal Restaurant at the Cape Grace has a lot of stiff competition it is true but we can happily recommend it as one of the best places to eat in Cape Town. The Cape Grace is a stylish and luxurious 5 star hotel situated right in the heart of the world famous waterfront and the buzzing heart of this vibrant city. The hotel offers fabulous views over the marina and the luxury yachts as well as towards Table Mountain.  The restaurant matches the hotel for style and finesse and it gets its name from the spectacular views towards Signal Hill, an iconic Cape Town landmark. There are taster menus for both food and wine and the restaurant specialises in creative Cape cuisine that’s fresh and inventive. There is a nod to the past with flavours from nations that have passed through Cape Town but there is an emphasis on fresh, local produce from local farms and fabulous seafood straight off the boats in the harbour out front. As you would expect the menu changes seasonally, but a common factor is the quality of ingredients and a distinctively South African flavour.

So have I whet your appetite for an indulgent trip to South Africa? If you fancy sampling some of these amazing places yourself just give us a call. You could book a long weekend in Cape Town or the Winelands or something longer if you have the time to take in the Garden Route or the Drakensberg Mountains.

Posted by Ruth Bolton

 

Spotlight on the South African Winelands

Following on from our news story this week about the introduction of a new tram system we thought we would take a look at the South African Winelands in more detail.

The Winelands is an area in South Africa close to Cape Town that is home to the majority of South Africa’s vineyards. The main wine growing districts in the Winelands area are Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. Stellenbosch is the second oldest settled town after Cape Town.  During 1690 some Huguenot refugees settled in Stellenbosch, grapes were planted in the fertile valleys around Stellenbosch and soon it became the centre of the South African wine industry.

The region possesses a wide range of soils in the area which produce fantastic wine grapes rather than table grapes. The South African winelands produce around 1,000 million litres of wine a year and they are gaining respect across the world for the sophistication of flavour. The South African Cabernet Sauvignon is now one of the most popular wines in the UK.  The region has a Mediterranean climate. Summers are hot and dry and winters cool and damp, with snow on the peaks during August and September. And just like the Med it is a perfect climate for growing grapes. The scenery is diverse and often spectacular and so many peaks, valleys, cliffs, rivers, pools, waterfalls, canyons, springs, forests, caves and other natural features that make sightseeing in this area such a pleasure.

The area is not only full of beautiful scenery but is also full of history.  Since the area was settled by Dutch colonials it is home to many very pretty Cape Dutch colonial houses and very picturesque towns and villages. A feature of this kind of architecture are the curved gabled roofs of the buildings and pretty white facades.

The Winelands are popular with tourists not just for the fabulous wines but also because the area is also home to many world beating restaurants with a focus on fine dining. One of the most popular ways to spend a day in the vineyards is to enjoy a wine tasting tour and walk around the vineyards followed by a fantastic lunch at a table in the stunning gardens.

The new tram which we mentioned at the beginning is being introduced this spring and will operate along the old railway line in the Franschhoek valley. It will be guided so that visitors can learn all about the history of the Winelands en route and it will transport tourists between the vineyards allowing them to safely sample South Africa’s finest at their leisure.