Tag Archives: stellenbosch

Exploring the Upper Blaauwklippen Vintners, Stellenbosch

12 Jun

The vineyard view from the tasting room at Kleinood.

 

Once a year, three boutique wineries in the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley, Stellenbosch, open their doors to a limited number of guests to exclusively taste their top varietals along with paired winter canapés. When I received an invitation to join the tasting which took place on the 2nd of June, I was extremely excited. I’ve never visited Kleinood or Keermont before, and have only visited De Trafford once, more than 10 years ago. With an allocation of only 100 tickets to this exclusive event, I knew I was in for something memorable.

Friends, if you have not been on a trip to this valley and you are serious about discovering some proper gems in the Stellenbosch region, this small valley is an absolute treasure trove. With its heady combination of valleys, mountain ranges, wine estates, crisp fresh air and fine wine, the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley offered guests a personal tasting of newly released, handcrafted vintages, rare and coveted vinoteque wines including Tamboerskloof Viognier 2013, John Spicer Syrah 2012, Tamboerskloof Syrah 2006 and Tamboerskloof Syrah 2012 from Kleinood,  first samplings of the upcoming Single Vineyard wines from Keermont and vertical tastings from the De Trafford Vinoteque, served with well-paired culinary treats. Winemakers and owners were all on site to chat to, sharing the stories behind their terroir-driven wines and unique wineries.

The five-kilometer trip up the valley leads along an elevation of 200 meters and a regular shuttle service between the farms ensured that guests could relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery along the untouched slopes of the Upper Blaauwklippen valley.

In order to ensure a personal experience, only 100 tickets were made available at R500 each. To take part in next year’s premium tasting, get your name on the list by sending an email to sales@keermont.co.za or call Juanita at Keermont on 021 880 0397.

Here are a few photographs of my incredible day experiencing Kleinood, Keermont and De Trafford on the 2nd of June 2018. It would be difficult to single out any wines, because there were plenty to taste and they were all exceptional. It was, however, a special privilege to taste the older vintages like De Trafford’s 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon, the exceptional Syrah range at Kleinood, and Keermont’s flagship 2013 Estate Reserve. Although these wineries are not open daily during the rest of the year, tasting can surely be scheduled if booked ahead. Otherwise, take note of their small-windowed tasting room opening hours:

Kleinood: Fridays 10h00-13h00

Keermont: Fridays 10h30-13h30 (closed on public holidays)

De Trafford: Saturdays 10h00-13h00

Upon entering Kleinood’s tasting room.

 

Our first sip of the day at Kleinood: the Katharien rosé made from shiraz grapes. “A rose gold coloured Rosé with strawberry preserve, papaya and hints of fruit salad notes on the nose, supported generously with flavours of tangerine, quince jelly, saffron and elegant white spice on the palate.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

The 2013 Tamboerskloof Viognier from Kleinood. “A white gold coloured Viognier with melon, citrus blossom, mango and pollen flavours on the nose with apricot, ripe peach and citrus on the palate. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy.” – winemaker, Gunter Shultz.

 

Kleinood also makes extra virgin olive oil, called Die Boerin – a blend of selected Italian cultivars: Coratina, Favolosa, Delicata, Leccino and Frantoio.

 

The single vineyard syrah from Kleinood: John Spicer 2011. “This is a beautifully structured and balanced, dark-scarlet coloured Syrah with a magenta rim and a deep intensity. The nose develops with medium, but pronounced intensity, showing pure, red and black berry fruit, white pepper, plum preserve and chocolate éclair. On the palate, complex dry spices, loaded with complex plum and mulberry preserve with a white pepper finish.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

A bowl of venison with butternut puree and all kinds of wintery flavours – delicious! Prepared by Stir Food at Kleinood.

 

This is what a winemaker’s hands look like! Thank you Gunter Shultz, winemaker of Kleinood, for the personal approach and friendly chat.

 

The picturesque building at Kleinood. this is the one side of the tasting room.

 

Arriving at De Trafford, you are surrounded by French oak barrels.

 

One of the most incredible wines of the day, De Trafford’s Cabernet Sauvignon 1996. “Dense, with purple tint. Intense, creamy blackberry and Christmas pudding aromas. Rich, sweetish berry fruit and spicy oak palate. Fine, firm structure and long finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and truffle oil at De Trafford, served by Die Worsrol from their caravan while it was pouring down with rain outside. Winter at its best!

 

More of De Trafford’s iconic barrels that span a few floors on the one side of the cellar and tasting room area.

 

Another stellar cab by De Trafford. “Deep, dark, brooding red colour. Cassis, ripe mulberries and tobacco and cedar nose. Intense fruit flavours and firm persistent tannins follow through to a long dry finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

De Trafford’s Vin de Paille – or straw wine. I cannot racall the vintage, but this was an exceptional wine, served with their Italian-style orange cake.

 

The driveway that leads to Keermont’s tasting centre.

 

The stone walled tasting room at Keermont.

 

Keermont’s brand new Sweetwater Rosé. “Ferrari red in colour, this Rosé has a complex nose of cherry, black current, peach, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate it is full and rich with flavours of peach, baked pears, cinnamon, and white pepper. The finish is dry and textured hinting to the fact that it matures for 6 months on the lees in seasoned French oak barrels.” winemaker, Alex Starey. In 2015, they only made 4 barrels of this wine.

 

The Steepside Syrah 2015 by Keermont. “This is an intense wine with a bright strawberry red colour. Spicy, floral aromas are complimented by hints of cinnamon, ripe strawberries and black current. The palate is full and broad with ripe spicy fruit. The tight structure gives the wine a succulent dry finish with lingering flavours of vibrant and savoury red fruit.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

Tasting the Keermont range of wines at Keermont’s cellar. This photograph is a great reminder of a memorable day – many open bottles, many corks, many happy faces, many incredible wines.

 

One of the big wines of the day: Keermont’s flagship Estate Reserve 2013: “Venetian red in colour, this wine exudes complex aromas of sandalwood, ripe cherry, wild berries, and dusty ‘fynbos’. On the palate, the wine has a soft entry and exudes an array of ripe berries, cherry sherbet, crushed herbs and spices. Elegant but firm tannin affords the wine a long dry succulent finish. Drink 2017-2030.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

One of my personal favourites and the perfect wine to end off a spectacular day: Keermont’s Fleurfontein (NV). It exudes dried apricot and marzipan – two of my favourite flavours in the world.

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A stay with dinner and breakfast at Majeka House

28 May

The pathway from our room door towards the entrance and reception area of Majeka House.

 

Earlier this year, I received an invitation to visit Majeka House Hotel & Restaurant in Stellenbosch for a stayover for two including a four course dinner with wine pairing. Majeka House is a boutique gem in the heart of residential Paradyskloof, discreetly tucked away between the quiet neighbourhood houses adjacent to Vriesenhof Wine Estate. Their restaurant, Makaron, has won numerous awards and is considered a must-visit on the Stellenbosch food landscape.

A bird’s eye view of Majeka House Hotel & Spa. Picture supplied by Majeka House.

 

Here are the highlights of our stay, our dinner and our breakfast in pictures. For me, Majeka House is a premium, boldly stylish, intimately private retreat where you will feel pampered and refreshed. The rooms are lavishly decorated with wall art, bold colours, eclectic furniture and beautiful tropical glass panels. There’s no room for “boring” here, and you’ll know for sure that you’re not in just another hotel suite.

Makaron’s small plate menu is driven by Chef Lucas Carstens – a man of few words that prefer to speak the language of good food. His courses were thoughtful, delicate, sometimes provoking and an all-round pleasure, especially with the spot-on wine pairing that really opens up the experience to another level. The amouse bouche and bread board (compliments from the kitchen) were some of my favourite items of the evening. The wine pairing is highly recommended and adds a lot to the dining experience at Makaron, presenting the inhouse sommelier’s clever and sometimes surprising wine choices from hand picked estates and boutique wineries. You’ll probably also discover a wine (or two) that you’ve never heard of before and that might just become your new favourite. All staff members at Makaron were friendly, professional and highly informed.

Breakfast has always been a highlight for me at Majeka House, especially with MCC on ice, trays full of freshly baked canelés (and other baked goods), individually potted treats and jugs full of freshly juiced fruit and veggies that will make you feel like a champion. I’m not one for hot breakfasts (my husband loves a good scramble or eggs Benedict, and that is also available, of course), but you can catch me in a trap with proper French pastries. Theirs are simply fantastic.

Majeka House has a few fabulous specials running during Autumn and Winter, check it out:

Away in May: R1990 pp sharing

  • Choice of a 60 min treatment each and a 4-course small plate dinner (excl. beverages) at Makaron for 2
  • 1 night accommodation for 2 in a Premier room
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520

Winter Night Out: R1325 pp sharing

  • 1 night accommodation in a Premier room
  • 4-course small plate dinner at Makaron for 2 (excl. beverages)
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520
  • Valid from 1 May to 30 September except for Wednesdays

Winter Escape: R1845 pp sharing

  • 1 night accommodation in a Premier room
  • Choice of a 60 min treatment each and a 4-course small plate dinner (excl. beverages) at Makaron for 2
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520
  • Valid from 1 June to 30 September except for Wednesdays

Book now:  +27 21 880 1549 | reservations@majekahouse.co.za

Relaxing in our room in the Autumn sun, just after arrival.

 

Our plush king size bed with mesmerising wall paper art.

 

Our room opened up onto a semi-private pool and veranda (shared with the suite next door). This is the view from the veranda towards our back door.

 

 

The striking striped pool outside our room.

 

Blue pool chairs and shades of Autumn.

 

Time for an afternoon gin, of course.

 

Dinner starts: Compliments from the kitchen: caesar taco / crispy chicken skin & truffle / beetroot & trout cracker.

 

“Roosterkoek” & bokkom butter, mosbolletjie & korrelkonfyt.

 

Langoustine mi cuit, sea butter, fermented cucumber, green curry juice.

 

Zucchini risotto, raw mushrooms, cured egg yolk shavings. This dish has been on the menu since Chef Lucas started his journey at Makaron, and it has remained a favourite ever since. It was my favourite dish of the day – the cured egg yolk is such a stunner!

 

House smoked hake, celeriac, dill, whey soured onions.

 

Mushroom ravioli, house made malt vinegar, parmesan. PS: The “ravioli” wasn’t your regular pasta, it was a clear sheet of mushroom flavoured stock or something, that held a chunky mushroom filling that you could see from the outside. Mesmerising.

 

Pineapple, white chocolate, coconut, fennel.

 

I cannot remember this chocolate creation’s menu name, but I think the ice cream on top was malt-infused. It was the perfect end to an exquisite evening.

 

These dainty little toffee apples are the size of large cherries and they are incredibly delicious! Not your standard candy apples, for sure.

 

Early morning peak at the mountain on our way to breakfast.

 

My happy place: the breakfast table at Majeka House.

 

Many difference potted treats, including homemade yoghurts, compotes, granola, smoked fish and lots more.

 

One of my highlights: a freshly baked tray of canelés.

 

The breakfast table from the other end, also showing one of the many characteristic ornamental pigs at Majeka House.

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Review: Lunch at Cavalli

27 Feb

Chef Michael Deg (center), head of the kitchen at Cavalli.

 

On Sunday, my family and I had the privilege of visiting Cavalli Estate for lunch. We’ve been for a few gallery visits and wine tastings there before, but never for lunch. After receiving an invitation to experience the restaurant at Cavalli’s new “One at Cavalli” menu, where the shining ingredient for the month of February is beetroot, I was intrigued to see what recently appointed head chef Michael Deg had up his sleeve.

Stretched across 100 Hectares of pristine land located in the picturesque Helderberg region of Stellenbosch, Cavalli Estate boasts 26 hectares of vineyards, 10 hectares of indigenous fynbos gardens, a contemporary restaurant, 350-seater function venue, wine-tasting facility, retail contemporary art gallery, luxury boutique and a world class equestrian facility.

Chef Michael Deg’s focus on quality rather than quantity is apparent in his small à la carte menu with 6 starters, 6 mains and 6 desserts, for lunch and dinner. He likes to change one or two dishes every week to ensure the menu keeps evolving with the seasons. His aim is for vegetarians and vegans to feel appreciated at Cavalli (see vegan menu options) and he now also offers two tasting menus for dinner – both are 8 courses, with one of them completely vegetarian.

Here is our lunch experience in pictures. The beautiful food and the surrounds will speak for themselves, but a special mention needs to be made about the fantastic service. From the front gate security to the various waiters, sommeliers and the restaurant manager that looked after us (and the kitchen staff that came out to explain their dishes) – the team at Cavalli seamlessly displayed their calm professionalism and friendly knowledgeability. We were served by a team of waiters (not just one), always receiving our courses at the same time, with incredible wine pairings by head sommelier, Farai. Truly a premium atmosphere all round.

The food at Cavalli was bold in flavour, beautifully plated and pure pleasure on the palate. From bright green silky pea gazpacho to perfectly flame grilled cauliflower, pale pink beetroot meringues and dewy garden salads (and that umami dumpling!) – the food was simply incredible from start to finish. Watch out, this restaurant will draw a lot more attention within the fine dining arena in the near future.

Check out our experience below:

The magnificent view from the restaurant entrance at Cavalli, when you look to your right.

On our way to the entrance at Cavalli.

The entrance sign amongst steel and stone – architecturally, Cavalli is already a must visit.

The contemporary restaurant interior at Cavalli.

More of the restaurant interior and the terrace at Cavalli. The restaurants seats more than 100 guests.

Adjacent to the terrace at Cavalli, there is a tranquil pond with this incredible view.

The brand new release of Cavalli’s first MCC.

Some beetroot meringue kisses with a savoury filling from the kitchen as a welcome snack.

Beetroot salt and other flavoured butters to go with the bread board.

Bread board (tomato & feta flatbread, ciabattini & mini seed loaves).

Farai – the friendly, knowledgeable head sommelier at Cavalli.

Amuse bouche: pork dumpling in umami broth. I could eat a very large bowl of these, they were absolutely incredible. Very punchy in flavour.

SPICED CARROT TARTAR (VEGAN) | pickled shimeji, onion ketchup, shallot cups, crispy ginger. Great combinations of textures in this dish.

One of the many wines we enjoyed as part of a wine paired lunch journey. Cavalli has a very long list of wines that you can order by the glass – something that is very rare these days (and such a great way to taste through a wider variety of their wines with the many menu items).

GRASS-FED BOBOTIE KROMESKIES | kale pesto, mustard crème fraîche, crispy potato, apricot, curried crumble. A modern take on a classic South African favourite. The bright green crispy kale was delightful.

CHILLED PEA GAZPACHO | yoghurt & lemon ice cream, pea salsa, goats cheese. The goats cheese ball was deep fried, and the contrast in temperatures with the cold soup and very cold ice cream was delicious.

My daughter’s “fish & chips” with a fresh garden salad. It was delicious! Kids also have an option to order “chicken nuggets” and, if I remember correctly, a “beef burger”.

We were very impressed with Cavalli’s stainless steel reusable straws – very cool!

CAULIFLOWER STEAK (VEGAN) | tempura, cauliflower puree, macadamia nuts, capers, sultanas. The macadamia nut crumble was the perfect accompaniment to the soft and creamy cauliflower.

My main course red wine pairing: the Valkyrie by Cavalli.

GRASS-FED BEEF FILLET | pomme purée, creamed spinach, pickled baby beetroot, bone marrow crumble. You cannot see the inside of the meat on this picture, but it was absolutely perfectly cooked.

Pre-dessert: yoghurt, beetroot puree, tangerine granita, freeze dried raspberries. So fresh and cleansing!

MANJARI CHOCOLATE MOUSSE | blondie, dulcey ganache, mint ice cream, cocoa nibs. I’m a sucker for chocolate mousse AND blondies, so this was right up my alley.

BANANA & PISTACHIO GALETTE | salted caramel ice cream, peanut tuille, pistachio crème. One of the highlights of the dessert menu offering.

A final sweet gift from the kitchen to end off our lunch.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner 5 days a week, from Wednesday to Saturday. Sundays lunch only.
Restaurant bookings: (021) 855 3218 (8am – 5pm)

Starters range in price from R85-R120.

Mains range in price from R170-R250.

Desserts range in price from R85-R120.

Visit Cavallistud.com for more info. Menu changes seasonally.

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Revamped small plates menu at Majeka House

17 Jan

The table at the entrance to Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House.

 

Yesterday, I attended a media lunch preview of the revamped popular small plates menu at Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House in Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch. This restaurant was named as one of the top 30 in SA by Eat Out Magazine in 2017 and remains a favourite dining spot for locals and international visitors alike.

One of the pigs in Majeka House’s iconic pig collection.

 

After a welcome drink at the plush M Lounge and a quick site tour of their luxurious premier (entry level) and poolside (premium) hotel rooms, we took our seats at the iconic golden tables in Makaron Restaurant to sample chef Lucas Carstens’ finest new offerings.

Here is my photographic journey through the dishes that I tasted yesterday, all of which are on the current small plates menu (available until around March 2018). Diners are encouraged to choose four to six small plates per person, with or without wine pairings (I highly recommend the wine pairings though, as recommended by their acclaimed sommelier Brenda Karamba). This way you can taste your way through more than one dish without the heaviness of huge portions, savouring many different flavours and textures, mostly influenced by traditional South African cuisine and produce, with refined yet unpretentious flair.

Compliments from the kitchen: ceasar taco, crispy chicken skin & truffle, beetroot & trout cracker.

Roosterkoek & bokkom butter, mosbolletjie en korrelkonfyt.

Poached oyster, peaches, pickled sea vegetables.

Eggplant tartare, artichoke, turnip.

House smoked hake, celeriac, dill, whey soured onions.

Zucchini risotto, raw mushrooms, cured egg yolk shavings. This was my favourite dish of the day. It has been on the menu since chef Lucas started his journey with Makaron and it is still a firm favourite for many diners.

Leipoldt’s springbok rafeltjievleis, stewed fruit, apricots, onion.

Suckling pig, suurvytjie basting, sweet potato, nasturtium flower vinegar.

Banana tartare, roasted yeast caramel, sour dough ice cream, grated fudge.

Fermented blueberries, olives, olive oil.

Mini toffee apples.

Chef Lucas Carstens explains his revamped menu.

So what’s the verdict? The style, attention to detail and great service offered at Makaron Restaurant remains unrivaled. This is a restaurant/hotel situated in a residential area, competing with all the big wine estates (and their views) and still they remain one of the top players in an extremely competitive arena. Chef Lucas’s food is elegant, inventive and downright delicious – keeping a focus on simple ingredients being meticulously prepared. If you have not visited Makaron Restaurant before, do so this year.

Check out Majeka House’s January special stay-and-dine offerings, as well as their April specials for a decadent Autumn breakaway in the heart of the beautiful Winelands.

Makaron Restaurant is open for dinner only from Monday to Sunday, 18h30-21h00 (last orders).

Compile your menu from 4 to 6 small plates per person:
4 small plates R450–R770 with wine pairing
5 small plates R565–R940 with wine pairing
6 small plates R675–R1100 with wine pairing
Note: For groups of 5 and more the same amount of dishes must be selected.
Contact Majeka House:
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Col’Cacchio Stellenbosch revamped to celebrate 25 years

23 Oct

Early evening at Col’Cacchio, Stellenbosch.

 

This year, well-known pizza franchise Col’Cacchio celebrates 25 years in the industry. They’ve updated their branding and revamped some of their flagship stores, with more revamping rolling out countrywide shortly.

I was invited to visit my local Col’Cacchio in Plein Street, Stellenbosch last week. The location of this store has always been a hit – a tranquil courtyard in the absolute centre of town, perfect for families with young kids but also walking distance from campus for students. It has a distinct European feel, yet enough privacy and safety because it is not directly on the street.

Col’Cacchio distinguishes themselves as an Italian-inspired elegant pizzeria with an extensive menu, also including generous salads, antipasto, pasta and desserts. With their menu also recently updated, you can now do half-and-half pizza options, choosing any two of your favourite pizzas on the menu or even creating your own list of toppings.

The standard thin crust of Col’Cacchio’s pizzas wins my vote. I also love the size of their pizzas and the fact that they don’t feel heavy, but still are generously topped with fresh ingredients. I’ll definitely be back for the antipasti platter – such great value and perfect for sharing. Note that there are also gluten free and vegan pasta and pizza options!

As always, kids are well catered for with complimentary pizza dough and cookie cutters to play with, as well as crayons to draw on the brown paper table cover. This literally keeps them busy for ages – I love it.

Linger longer this summer season at Col’Cacchio Stellenbosch, invite a crowd of friends to join you and sit back while you snack through their menu. Their wine selection also includes many local favourites.

Take a look at our visit in pictures:

Garlic, chilli, parmesan, Tabasco, olive oil and balsamic vinegar comes standard with every sit-down table.

Happiness is fresh dough for the kids!

My favourite of the day: a delicious antiplasti platter of caprese salad, artichokes, charcuterie and marinated peppers. This platter also includes thin, crisp, herby pizza slices, plated separately.

Prosciutto and orange salad with rocket.

My half-and-half pizza – the smoke babe (Asian deboned smoked pork ribs, rosso onion, corn, spring onion, mint and coriander) and spicotta (fior di latte, garlic, spinach, ricotta, tomatoes and parmesan).

Schalk’s half-and-half pizza: the smoke babe and the moghul (Indian butter chicken, yoghurt, fior di latte, coriander & crispy onions).

Kids playing happily in Col’Cacchio’s courtyard.

 

Where to find Col’Cacchio Stellenbosch:
Location: Shop 29-31, Simonsplein Centre, Plein Street, Stellenbosch, 7600
Telephone Number: (021) 886-7088

For more info visit www.colcacchio.co.za or hop onto these social media platforms:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColCacchio/
Twitter: @ColCacchio
Instagram: @colcacchio

Download the Col’Cacchio Rewards app from the Apple App Store or Google Play & unlock delicious rewards.

 

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Tasting unfiltered olive oil (and lunch) at Tokara

8 Jun

Tokara’s filtered premium extra virgin olive oil, an award-winning product that most of us know and love.

Visiting Tokara is a must on the Stellenbosch to-do list, whether you’re an out-of-towner or a local-for-life. This landmark winery, restaurant, deli and olive oil producer is one of my favourite destinations in my home town – one that we visit regularly and one that keep evolving to bring some us award winning wines, food and oils every year.

This week I had the privilege of visiting Tokara for a special tasting of their unfiltered oils, straight off the press. Unfiltered oils are preferred in top olive oil producing European countries like Italy, but in the South African market people still prefer a clear, filtered product. To tell the truth, I would seek out and buy unfiltered extra virgin olive oil if it was available on shelves. So I might try to twist the arm of Tokara’s olive farmer to sell me some of their milky, peppery gold.

We tasted three varietals, including a soft and mild mission, a new hybrid called FS17 with a walnutty undertone and a very peppery coratina that will take your breath away (literally). Afterwards we had a delicious lunch, prepared by Tokara chef Richard Carstens and Tokara Deli head chef Edwina van Niekerk, accompanied by Tokara’s award winning wines.

Here is my visit in pictures. Do take the time to visit Tokara and Tokara Deli for a wine tasting, some olive oil shopping, or anything from breakfast to dinner.

Autumn becomes Winter at the entrance to Tokara Deli. This is olive harvest season.

Tokara GM Karl Lambour welcoming guests to their unfiltered olive oil tasting.

Gert van Dyk, olive farmer and oil producer at Tokara’s Olive Shed.

We get to take a tour inside the olive production plant at Tokara.

Ulfiltered liquid gold.

The table in the private dining room at Tokara Deli, next to the olive oil production plant.

These little blue glasses are international olive oil tasting glasses – round so that you can warm them in your hands, blue so that colour won’t affect your tasting perception.

Our lunch menu.

Tokara sauvignon blanc to start with.

Freshly baked bread and parmigiano to go with our unfiltered olive oil.

Roasted beetroot & gorgonzola salad with orange, pear, winter greens, nuts, thyme & orange dressing.

Tokara grenache 2012 to go with our main courses.

My choice of main course: mushroom risotto with spinach, leeks, parmesan and mascarpone.

Orange & polenta cake with orange ice cream and candied oranges.

Renowned Tokara chef Richard Carstens telling us more about his team’s choices for our lunch menu.

Tokara Deli head chef Edwina van Niekerk.

Freshly baked bread sticks, unfiltered Tokara olive oil, salt and recipes to take home!

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(review) New small plates menu at Makaron Restaurant

17 May

Small plates at Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House, Stellenbosch. (Photograph supplied by Manley Communications)

MAKARON RESTAURANT is confirming its reputation as one of the most exciting dining destinations in the Winelands with an exciting new ‘small plates’ menu from Head Chef Lucas Carstens.

Situated in the stylish Majeka House & Spa in Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch, this luxury small hotel has recently earned yet another award, being named the Best Design Hotel in Africa & the Middle East at the international Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence 2017.

This winter, Chef Carstens is heating things up with an innovative menu of tapas-style dining where the idea of flexibility and social eating gets preference.

The small plates offering begins with an amuse bouche of leaves from the Majeka vegetable gardens, tossed in rooibos vinegar and served alongside korrelkonfyt, sourdough and butter. From there you can choose from 18 small plate dishes on the menu, varying from vegetarian to meaty to sweet and everything inbetween. Fermenting and curing play key roles in bringing out umami flavour, with the team making kombucha, malt vinegars, cured duck breast, pickled figs and ginger beer.

I had the privilege of experiencing a taste of the small plates menu earlier this week. Makaron remains one of my favourite restaurants in Stellenbosch. Their new small plates offering is highly recommended and their wine pairings were, as always, exquisite. Here is my experience in pictures:

Our media table at Makaron Restaurant, where I had the privilege of tasting many of the small plates on the new menu.

Chef Lucas Carstens tells us more about his new small plates menu.

Majeka garden leaves & rooibos (compliments of the kitchen).

Bread board with spiced butter dip (compliments of the kitchen).

“Mielie pap” croquette & Sheba (compliments of the kitchen).

Heirloom tomato, white balsamic, house ricotta, gazpacho granita.

House made duck breast ham, baby figs, cos lettuce.

Cured trout, beetroot-apple kraut, milk kefir dressing.

Charred cauliflower, cabbage, sweet corn, parmesan.

Beef tartare poke bowl, avocado, sesame bar – one of my favourite dishes of the day.

Kingklip, black garlic, eggplant, ash baked carrot, black rice.

Baby marrow risotto, cured egg shavings, raw mushroom, truffle.

Springbok rump, beetroot, cabbage.

Dark chocolate, almond milk ice cream, home brewed ginger beer.

Passion fruit, buchu meringue, coconut, spekboom.

“Melktert” ice cream sandwich.

Makaron Restaurant is open daily for dinner (closed on Wednesdays during winter between May and September), from 18h30 – 20h30. Diners can choose four/five/six courses from the ’small plates’ menu for R450/R565/R675 respectively. An optional wine pairing is also available, at a cost of R770/R940/R1100 for both food and wine.

Take advantage of the special winter promotion available at Majeka House & Spa where you will pay only R1420 per person sharing a night inclusive of breakfast and dinner at Makaron, available from Sunday to Thursday, May to end of August 2017. 

Majeka House & Spa and Makaron Restaurant are situated at 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch. For bookings call 021 880 1549 or email reservations@majekahouse.co.za. For more information visit www.majekahouse.co.za

Thank you to Makaron Restaurant and Manley Communications for hosting me.

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(review) Lunch and dinner at Stellenbosch Kitchen

16 May

The entrance to Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening.

This year, I’ll be celebrating my 40th year in Stellenbosch. A year ago we made a move from the outskirts of town to the beautiful bustling historical centre. While we gave up a chunk of living space (in size) in the process, we gained the incredible European-like lifestyle of locking up our apartment and walking a short distance to the best coffee shops and restaurants the Winelands has to offer.

Dorp Street and Church Street is where it’s at: the centre of my beautiful town when it comes to tourism, social hotspots, food and wine. Right in the middle of it all is Stellenbosch Hotel and its recently renovated restaurant Stellenbosch Kitchen – pretty much back to back with its sister-hotel Coopmanhuijs Hotel & Spa featuring Helena’s Restaurant. I recently had the opportunity to visit Stellenbosch Kitchen for dinner and lunch respectively, and would love to share my experiences with you.

The landmark veranda of Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening, just before the arrival of dinner guests.

Stellenbosch Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in town, built on Simon van der Stel’s property (a grant) between 1692 and 1701. It has since been restored in 1987 and declared a national monument. After the refurbishment in 2016, the name Jan Cats Restaurant was replaced by Stellenbosch Kitchen, featuring an eclectic yet contemporary spin on the existing historical eatery.

The space that is now called Stellenbosch Kitchen has forever been a local hotspot to both students, the mid-town working crowd and the wealthy. Their bistro-style fare has been a favourite for decades, being enjoyed on the tree-rich veranda that envelopes their landmark corner on Dorp and Andringa streets.

Here are my lunch and dinner experiences in pictures.

One of the massive old oak trees that surround Stellenbosch Hotel.

Our 18h00 arrival at Stellenbosch Kitchen meets a neatly prepped restaurant space.

Chef at work – the service hatch at Stellenbosch Kitchen.

Bread board with red wine butter and hummus. All bread baked in-house.

The dinner menu at Stellenbosch Kitchen. This menu changes seasonally.

An exceptional wine list is one of the attractions at Stellenbosch Kitchen. Here we’re enjoying Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs Shiraz.

Potato gnocchi, butternut, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, goat’s milk feta, basil pesto. Beautifully cooked gnocchi with a mixture of very punchy ingredients.

Pan-seared line fish, fennel velouté, prawn barley risotto, grilled prawn, red pepper fondue. Perfectly cooked line fish, and I really enjoyed the texture of the barley risotto.

Ale-battered hake, hand-cut potato chips, sauce tartare, charred lemon, mushy peas. A stunning dish, yet so simple. Perfect tartare, fluffy hake, super crunchy chips – what more do you want?

Fondant of black cherry and Valrhona chocolate, Bulgarian yoghurt ice cream. Excellent texture and an interesting spin on the classic fondant – maybe a little too bitter and sour for my personal preference. Beautiful plating and delicious ice cream.

Our second visit was an early lunch at 11h30 – also much better lighting by day for my camera!

A buttery yellow glass of Jordan Chardonnay for me.

Roasted rack of Karoo Lamb, carrot purée, spiced pear chutney, polenta, fine beans. This dish is from the dinner menu, but was made for us on special request over lunch. It is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and well worth ordering (for dinner).

Osso bucco with risotto milanese. This dish certainly won’t win any prizes for plating, but it is hearty and moorish and hits all the right spots for comforting winter fare.

Apple and almond tart, vanilla bean ice cream, ginger crumble, crème anglaise – definitely my favourite dessert on the menu. They should serve this delicious pastry for breakfast too!

Coconut panna cotta, compressed pineapple, mango caviar, passion fruit mushrooms.

Stellenbosch Kitchen is well worth a regular visit, whether for a mid-week lunch, a lazy weekend dinner, or a special occasion with friends from abroad.

Thank you to the staff and management of Stellenbosch Kitchen for hosting us. We’ll certainly be back for more.

Make your booking:

Tel: +27 (0)21 883-2893
Address: Corner of Dorp & Andringa Streets, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa

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Top 10 Winter Winelands Taste Adventures

3 Aug

The spectacular view at Jordan, as taken a few weeks ago at a brunch. Beautiful winter's morning.

The spectacular view at Jordan, as taken a few weeks ago at a brunch. Beautiful winter’s morning.

It is mid-Winter in the Winelands and it’s one of the coldest ones in a long time. But the locals aren’t moaning, they’re smiling. Why? Because we’ve been looking forward to this: the magical comfort of a dreary, rainy, icy Winelands winter. “Kaggel-en-rooiwyn” weather, we call it.

I’ve put together my list of the top 10 places in the Winelands to visit this winter, specifically because they make us love winter even more. Places where you’ll find roaring fire places, more than enough of the very best red wine and the most delicious winter fare in the district. So get your car insurance quotes online, make sure your vehicle is covered and get out there!

  1. Boschendal – Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein
    • The Werf Restaurant is super cozy with a fire place that roars like a dragon. From wine tastings to visiting the deli or even staying over in one of the cottages (also with fire places and heaters), this is a winter haven.

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from www.boschendal.co.za)

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from www.boschendal.co.za)

  2. The Bakery @ Jordan – Stellenbosch Kloof Road
    • There’s just no substitute for a late morning breakfast in a place that smells like freshly baked bread all the time. And just in time for a wine tasting afterwards, because hey, wine in the morning is fair game in the Winelands. And did I mention they now also have luxury accommodation facilities?
  3. Cuveé Restaurant @ Simonsig – Kromme Rhee Road, Koelenhof
    • Ever had oysters and Kaapse Vonkel in the middle of winter next to a crackling fire? These guys will show you how.
  4. Glen Carlou – Simondium
    • The red wines at Glen Carlou keep me coming back for regular tastings during the cold months in the Winelands. Their huge glass doors leading to the stoep keeps the cold at bay (with breathtaking views right through the year) and a fireplace oozes warmth right through the tasting area and restaurant.
  5. Terroir @ Kleine Zalze – Strand Road, Stellenbosch
    • Heaters are placed around every corner of this understated gem of a restaurant. Winter specials include 2 or 3 courses with a glass of wine and is excellent value for money. A must-visit.
  6. Tokara – Helshoogte
    • With a massive fireplace in their tasting area and views to die for, this is also one of my favourite wine tasting venues during winter. Stay on for lunch at Tokara Restaurant or move a little further along to Tokara Deli for more roaring fires and kid-friendly zones.
  7. Terra del Capo @ Anthonij Rupert – R45, Franschhoek
    • Ask for the private tasting area on the first floor that has a fire place – just magnificent. Don’t miss out on the tapas downstairs, as well as a beautiful drive to the motor museum and a second tasting at the Anthonij Rupert tasting area. A full day of wonderful wine-induced activities.
  8. Makaron @ Majeka House – Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch
    • With a fire places in the lounge and heaters in the restaurant, you won’t even feel the chills of winter. Remember to try their Sunday roasts for lunch, or opt for one of the best breakfast experiences in the Winelands over the weekend. They always have Winter stay-over specials at their hotel, so check out their website for more info.

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from www.majekahouse.co.za)

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from www.majekahouse.co.za)

  9. Waterkloof – Somerset West
    • With a crackling log fire all winter long, you’ll feel right at home at Waterkloof. They offer delicious platters at their wine tasting lounge, or opt for a cheese and wine tasting. The restaurant is spectacular and a must-visit destination.

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from www.waterkloofwines.co.za)

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from www.waterkloofwines.co.za)

  10. Clos Malverne – Devon Valley
    • One of the best value for money three course meals with wine pairings in the Winelands, but don’t forget the magnificent views through the glass panes as well as the fireplaces and the authentic Devon Valley hospitality. Bring the whole family – you’ll feel truly welcome.

This post was written in collaboration with Dialdirect.

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A midweek family getaway at Boschendal

25 Jul

The beautiful centre of Boschendal, surrounded by the Werf Restaurant, the deli, farm shop, butchery and manor house.

The beautiful centre of Boschendal, surrounded by the Werf Restaurant, the deli, farm shop, butchery and manor house.

Stellenbosch is an amazing town to live in. We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants, coffee shops, wineries, sights to see and views to enjoy. But escaping this bustling town is sometimes just what you need.

I was invited to Boschendal Farm for a midweek dinner and stay-over with my family. Boschendal is situated off Pniel Road in the Groot Drakenstein between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Over the past two years the new owners have revamped the farm, historical buildings and restaurant to establish a more contemporary and ethical destination that offers one of the best quality all-round experiences in the Cape Winelands.

Only a few kilometres across the Helshoogte Pass lies a working farm destination fit for royalty, but accessible to many. With a choice between many different cottage accommodation options adjacent to the main farm buildings or higher up in the mountain (closer to the bike trails), you’ll certainly find something to suit your pocket and your needs. Starting from R700/p sharing, the cottages offer between 1 and 4 bedrooms.

Our beautiful accommodation for the day: Brinkhuys Cottage.

Our beautiful accommodation for the day: Brinkhuys Cottage.

Brinkhuys Cottage, one of the Werf Cottages at Boschendal.

Brinkhuys Cottage, one of the Werf Cottages at Boschendal.

The three of us stayed in one of the Werf Cottages – one bedroom with a double bed (and a day bed), fire place, self-catering kitchen, dining area, stoep with shaded seating and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The beautiful Le Creuset cookware was a nice touch for an avid cook like me.

Upon arrival on a Thursday afternoon we couldn’t help but explore the breathtaking gardens – a paradise for children and adults alike. After a drive amongst the massive farm’s fruit orchards, we checked out the accommodation options further away from the main buildings (perfect for mountain biking enthusiasts), then headed back where we settled into our cottage with a cozy little fire and a complimentary bottle of wine. After dark we took our seats at the Werf Restaurant next to a roaring fireplace where we were treated to Boschendal’s famous “farm-to-table” shared eating experience and some of Boschendal’s best wines. Although executive chef Christiaan Campbell was on a well deserved holiday, his professional team operated seamlessly. All ingredients are ethically sourced and produced (mostly directly from/on the farm). It was one of the best meals that we’ve shared as a family and the friendly staff left a lasting impression on all of us.

Entrance to the Werf Restaurant.

Entrance to the Werf Restaurant.

Inside the Werf Restaurant.

Inside the Werf Restaurant.

The Spanish interior of the Werf Restaurant.

The Spanish interior of the Werf Restaurant.

The second starter:

One of our starters: grilled octopus, pork sausages, oyster emulsion, parsley and lemon preserve.

Our shared beef platter with marrow bones, aioli, potatoes and much more.

Mains for two: Our shared beef platter with fillet, marrow bones, boerewors, aioli, salad, potatoes and much more.

After dinner we walked back to our cottage (with a provided flashlight) and snuggled into our luxury beds – pre-heated with electric blankets.

For breakfast we opted for the packed basket which came brimmed with charcuterie, cheeses, fresh orange juice, bread, butter and preserves, muesli, yoghurt and more. Ground coffee and a large plunger sorted us with a proper caffeine fix for the day. Breakfast can also be enjoyed at the deli – just book when checking in at reception.

This one night stay-over on the other side of the mountain felt like a much longer break-away adventure in one of the most beautiful places in the Cape. There is so much to do and see and experience at Boschendal, and all of it is great: the best droëwors I’ve ever tasted at the butchery shop, horse rides for kids, fly fishing, hiking trails, wine tasting, farm shop with fresh veggies and meat from the farm – the list is endless. It is truly accessible to locals (not only international guests) and is highly recommended for people and/or families who are keen to explore the majestic Groot Drakenstein outdoors. Boschendal’s honest approach of “local, seasonal, ethical” is a shining light in a very competitive market.

Thank you to the Boschendal team and to Atmosphere PR for making our stay possible.

One of the roads on the working farm side of Boschendal Farm. Magnificent scenery.

One of the roads on the working farm side of Boschendal Farm. Magnificent scenery.

The Orchard cottages on Boschendal Farm, perfect for outdoor lovers and mountain bike fanatics.

The Orchard cottages on Boschendal Farm, perfect for outdoor lovers and mountain bike fanatics.


Book your mid-winter farm retreat now on 021-870 4290 or accommodation@boschendal.co.za and profit from the winter-warmer special at one of the Boschendal Orchard Cottages, valid 1 May to 30 September 2016: 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom at R1500 per night B&B for 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 16 or 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms at R1900 per night B&B for 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 16. Please use the reference Bosch002 when booking.


The Werf Restaurant: +27 (0) 21 870 4206 / werf@boschendal.co.za

Winter opening hours:

Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday 12:00 to 14:30  (Seated by 14:00)

Dinner: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 18:00 to 21:00 (Seated by 20:30)

Booking is essential. Download the Winter 2016 menu here.

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