Cape Town Tourism - Table Mountain

Gourmet Cape Town

It’s no surprise that Cape Town is considered the gourmet capital of Africa – nine of the country’s top 10 restaurants, as voted in the 2011 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards, are found in Cape Town and Cape winelands.

You can have it all in Cape Town’s sublime settings, from a morning of people watching and tasting at a trendy food market to food and wine pairing. But what is it that makes the Cape’s food scene so trendy? Many people attribute the popularity to the influences of our diverse heritage, and today’s chefs use only the freshest local produce, much of it organic, and fresh seafood from our coastline.

As a traveller, we recommend you try a local favourite, the sweetly spiced bobotie, a Cape Malay dish,  might experience a local braai (barbeque) or potjie (slow-cooked stew), snack on biltong and sip the high in antioxidants rooibos tea wherever you go. And if you’d like to meet the locals along the way, take a guided township tour or meet the fishermen in Hout Bay or Kalk Bay to discover our diverse local tastes, and with everything from mopane worms to snoek on offer, they are bound to be unique experiences.

Cape Town’s food heritage can be traced to the city’s foreign settlers in 1652, when the Dutch East India Company established a vegetable garden to feed sailors who stopped over on their way to and from India. The garden was fed by the fresh ‘Camissa’ waters that flowed freely from Table Mountain through the gardens and down what is today known as Adderley Street, en route to the sea. Today, the Company’s Garden remains the green lung of the inner city (also overlooked by Parliament and home to the national art gallery, library and planetarium) and a project to revive the Camissa waterways is underway.  The Company’s Garden no longer grows vegetables but the tradition has been revived at Babylonstoren Wine Farm near Franschhoek where you can walk the seven-hectare kitchen gardens (a R10 fee goes to the farm workers’ trust) and relax at their stylish restaurant Babel or in their new conservatory.

In the early days, the Cape of Good Hope was a melting pot of cultures, with sailors bringing precious spices from India while the Dutch settlers, and later the French Huguenots, started the wine farms that continue today as the backbone of our flourishing wine industry.

Not surprisingly, one does not only visit a wine farm to taste wine these days, but also to enjoy good food at the restaurant. The Constantia wine route includes some of the finest restaurants Cape Town has to offer, including The Greenhouse (top in the country) at the Cellars Hohenort Hotel, La Colombe (also in the top 10), River Café on the Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate, and Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg Wine Estate. And for a memorable lunch with a view, enjoy a picnic at Cape Point Vineyard above Noordhoek.

Out in the Helderberg, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek winelands, top choices include The Tasting Room, Overture, Terroir and Jordan Restaurant, while Delaire Graff Estate and Tokara offer some of the best views at the tip of the Helshoogte Pass, with excellent collections of sculpture and contemporary South African art to view. The architecturally striking Waterkloof Restaurant overlooks the stunning Helderberg mountain range above Somerset West, while Vergelegen offers a cool oasis in its historical gardens with ancient Camphor trees. The Eatery at Durbanville Hills also has a spectacular view across rolling hills and the ocean towards Table Mountain.

To understand the roots of our Cape Malay cooking traditions, visitors can take part in a cooking course in the colourful Bo-Kaap on the slopes of Signal Hill, or sample everything from Italian to Thai in the city and surrounding suburbs.

But for an outstanding ode to our heritage, and particularly to the ingredients used over the past 350 years, Pierneef à La Motte restaurant in Franschhoek deserves special mention. Here you’ll find Bokkoms salad (dried fish) on the menu, as well as traditional recipes passed down through centuries from travellers who adapted the dishes of their homeland when they came to Africa. A copy of the La Motte cookbook Cape Winelands Cuisine (2011) is worth finding in their Farm Shop, as well as the curry powders made from original recipes dating back to the 1500s.

A short drive from La Motte wine estate, you can visit the modern and interactive slave museum, taste the wines under the oak trees and enjoy a delicious mealat Solms-Delta Wine Estate’s Fyndraai restaurant, where ingredients are sourced from their indigenous and healing garden (try the Spekboom quiche). Allow time to walk around the farm and find out why many of their recipes are inspired by our heritage, using plants guaranteed to intrigue every visitor.

Discover more of Cape Town’s gourmet offerings that you might want to acquire a copy of the Eat out 2012 guide, which is available at all leading retailers. Every restaurant listed has been visited and reviewed by dedicated and experienced food writers. Keep it handy, or visit www.eatout.co.za.

Gourmet Cape Town

It’s no surprise that Cape Town is considered the gourmet capital of Africa – nine of the country’s top 10 restaurants, as voted in the 2011 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards, are found in Cape Town and Cape winelands.

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