Monday, May 28, 2012

Constantia Winelands take 2

Constantia Glen
 
Constantia Glen
The last couple weeks have been extremely busy, and while I have quite a few updates to write, I haven't had the time to write them in between copy editing and writing for House & Garden and a special project to be launched in the next couple of months... Plus, I threw a birthday party for my fiance and myself a week ago, and it was my birthday this past Saturday, so lots has been going on!!

Constantia Glen

So anyway, a week ago, Mr fabulosity and I decided to head back to Constantia for a pre-birthday lunch for me, and to visit a couple farms we missed out on our last visit. Our first stop was at Constantia Glen, on Constantica Neck (on the chance that they weren't as full as last time), as we were still keen to try the wines and check out the venue. 
 

As it turns out, it was a quieter day and we were immediately welcomed to take part in a tasting, which was both informative and delicious :-)
Constantia Glen
On offer for R30 are two tastings of the sauvignon blanc vintages (2009 and 2010) and two red blends, the Three and Five (named after the number of varietals in each blend). The 'Three' consists of a break down of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, while the 'Five' is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. I enjoyed Five the best, and the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. They also have cheese and charcuterie platters on offer. 
Constantia Uitsig
You can buy wine directly from the farm, or online at http://www.constantiaglen.com. The farm is open for tasting on weekdays from 10am to 5pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm, 021 795 5639.
 
We then continued onto Constantia Uitsig for lunch and a tasting. We dined at the River Cafe, and did a wine tasting in-between our courses at the wine shop next door which was quite fun. The tastings also cost R30pp, but include a long list of wines, starting with a bubbly (2008 Brut) and ending with a dessert wine. Other wines we tried, included the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Red and White Bordeaux blends.


Constantia Uitsig

Constantia Uitsig
For lunch I ordered the broccoli soup (R45), which was warm, thick and full of flavour, while Mr fabulosity had the chicken liver pate with onion marmalade (R45), which was probably the largest portion of chicken liver pate I have ever seen, plus it tasted amazing (can easily be shared as a starter)!
I then had a warm butternut salad with goats milk chevin and slivers of pear as a main (R65), and Mr Fabulosity had the spicy (think aromatic curry flavours) lamb shank with vegetables and crushed potatoes (R120), which once again was a large portion. 

Constantia Uitsig chicken liver pate
Constantia Uitsig broccoli soup

Constantia Uitsig butternut salad with goat's milk cheese and pears
Constantia Uitsig curry lamb shank


River Cafe is open for lunch from 12:30 to 4:30pm, 021 794 3010. They also have a restaurant specials, two courses for R99 or three courses for R119 on selected dishes, including tea or coffee.
*NOTE: the annual closure of River Cafe will be from 13 August to 4 September. http://www.constantia-uitsig.com


Constantia Uitsig tasting room


We ended the trip at another stop at Steenberg, and tried a couple more of their wines. It's great because it stays open until 6pm, so it's always worth a pop in (and the tasting is free!)

Steenberg
Steenberg


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wine Tasting in the Constantia Valley


One of me dearest friends, G, had a bit of a nasty car accident this past Saturday morning... thankfully he wasn't hurt, but his Ford is a little fudged, so in an effort to cheer him up and keep his mind of insurance people, Mr fabulosity and I decided to take him wine tasting in the afternoon.

This of course didn't take much persuading on anyone's part, because we're always up for an adventure, especially if it includes wine.

After debating which route to visit, we all realised we'd never really explored Constantia's Wine Route before, and after a few phone calls regarding opening times and directions, we headed towards Constantia Neck to start our journey.

It's such a scenic drive from Sea Point, as you go through Camps Bay and Hout Bay before the Neck, and hardly takes long at all. Perhaps 25 minutes, before we hit the first farm, Constantia Glen. When the waitress/hostess explained that due to a large group visiting and eating lunch, that they could only serve us in about 15 minutes, we decided in the essence of time – and because we felt her approach was slightly rude – that we should just move on to Eagle's Nest, literally next door.


Eagle's Nest
The wine guys at Eagle's Nest (eaglesnestwines.com) were friendly and informative. Tasting are R30, and include all six wines. My favourite was definitely the shiraz, but that's no surprise to anyone that knows me. I had been dying to try it after hearing such rave reviews. The 2009 Viognier was also a winner for me, while G was a fan of the Sauvignon Blanc. They are open for tasting from Mondays to Sundays from 10am to 4.30pm, 021 794 4095
Eagle's Nest


Eagle's Nest
The next wine estate we visited, and probably spent most of our time at, was Klein Constantia (www.kleinconstantia.com). The farm is based on one of the oldest vineyard regions in the Cape, with the first wines being produced in 1689. The family-run estate makes 15 different wines, including an entry-level range called KC, offering a red (Cab-Marlot blend) and a white (Sauvignon Blanc). Sauvignon Blanc's aren't normally my first choice, but the KC Sauv Blanc took me by surprise as one of my favourites of the whole lot. They also make a gorgeous Noble Late Harvest, that made me want to break out the blue cheese right then and there. Tasting of the entire range costs R30, and you get it back if you buy some wine. In winter, their operating hours are from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and from 10am to 4:30pm on Saturdays, 021 794 5188.

Klein Constantia
Klein Constantia wine shop
Getting a wine education at Klein Constantia


Our last stop was Steenberg (www.steenberghotel.com), which by this stage, I was already well on my way to having a great afternoon!!! We arrived fairly late, after keeping the Klein Constantia guys busy quite a bit after 'closing time' and so only had a short amount of time to try a couple wines at Steenburg. We started with a bubbly, the Brut 1682 Chardonnay 2009 (MCC), and then I tried the shiraz 2008. The tasting was free, and after sampling those two, it was 6pm, and time to start heading back towards town. Operating hours: From 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and from 10am to 6pm on Weekends, 021 713 2222.

steenberg - oh the excitement!
steenberg brut chardonnay

What a lovely afternoon it was, and I can't wait to go back and try some of the other estates and revisit the three above. 

Party people


Monday, May 14, 2012

breakfast at KOS

After moving at the end of last year, I wanted to find a cute little local breakfast spot, and it was pretty much after our second week of living in our new apartment that we found KOS (which is the Afrikaans word for Food – for those who didn't know).
This quirky little establishment only celebrated it's first birthday a couple weeks ago, and we like to think we've helped keep it in business with our regular support.

The service is very attentive, I walked in the other day with a friend of mine and she was impressed at how the waitress asked if I'd be having my regular soy latte and french toast.

Their coffee is good, R20 for a double latte, and they do take aways.

The menu is simple, but the food is good and wholesome. I always have the Rye french toast with banana and syrup (R25). My fiance normally has the eggs Benedict with bacon (R50). They also have daily specials for lunch which range from butternut and feta wraps (R30) to burgers with all the works (R50). Other dishes include full English-style breakfasts, flapjacks with berries and mascarpone, cakes of the day, a cereal and fruit selection, soup of the day and sandwiches.

There is also free Wi-Fi, so there are quite a few patrons who bring their laptop along with them.



Little touches I love:

- There are books placed on the tables: travel books and recipe books
- Since it's started getting colder, there are blankets available for those feeling chilly
- The opera music playing from the kitchen
- The cutlery and crockery all have that vintage (like they come from your granny's cupboard) look, and are beautifully mixed up.

These photos are from this weekend, the balloons are not a normal adornment – but there were a couple Mother's Day's booking, so hence the 'party' vibe...



The Regency
90 Regent Road

Sea Point, Cape Town

072 246 6945

Clifton Shipwreck


 I went for a long walk along the promenade and the road that leads from Sea Point to Clifton on Sunday (yesterday), and snapped up some pictures of the shipwreck that took place on Saturday morning. It's quite unbelievable that this ship could have gone so far off course and run aground. Literally metres from the house right on the beach front. How hysterical. Apparently the crew were still on board yesterday, and the police had closed off all access to the Clifton beaches 1 to 4. The ship is currently sinking further into the sand... who knows what will happen?? we're just hoping that the fuel on board won't spill.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Start planning for Wacky Wine Weekend


I was feeling a little down after all the fun from the Riebeek Olive Festival was over... But I just remembered there's still WACKY WINE! (http://www.wackywineweekend.com)

This year the festival is taking place over the weekend of 7-10 `June. It will be my third year going, and I am super excited! We love exploring boutique wineries we've never heard of, stopping for massive farm-style breakfasts and taking part in whatever activity we deem sober enough to do.
There is a big 'live music' side to the festival, with concerts at venues such as Arabella, Rietvallei, Graham Beck, and of course in the town of Robertson itself.
Activities range from diving into pools of grapes and wine, sipping bubbly, watching live music at the sophisticated Graham Beck, trips on donkey carts through the excelsior vineyards, wine tasting and picnicing down the Breede river on a boat cruise to chocolate and wine pairings.. there's just so much on offer.
Download a full programme off the website, and use the map below to start planning your trip.

Contact Johan or Ryan at info@a2btours.co.za for more info on the buddy bus system and transport to and from Cape Town. If you have more than 7 people in your group, you can hire a bus and driver for a day.
Unfortunately if you haven't booked accommodation by now, the chances of there being any left are pretty slim.
Camping is a pretty good alternative, or visit the last minute forum page on the website to see if there is anything left...

For those who have never been, or for those of you who just want the low down on this year's event, here are the deets:

All visitors need to purchase a passport - R90 - at their first port of call. This includes a stylish tasting glass, WWW goodie bag, festival program and a bottle of water.
Designated Drivers need to register at the cost of R90. This will include a booklet of coupons for FREE coffee, breakfast, etc and can be redeemed over the course of the Wacky Wine Weekend. 

SEE YOU THERE!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Riebeek Kasteel Olive Festival Wrap-up


This past weekend I went to the annual Riebeek Valley Olive & Wine Festival (www.riebeekvalley.info) for my first time. I haven't explored much of this region at all, so I had been looking forward to it for a few weeks.

It's just more than hour's drive out of Cape Town, until you reach the charming town of Riebeek Kasteel, which has become somewhat of a foodie destination. Now that I have visited it, I definitely want to go back for a weekend's stay to explore the area when there aren't thousands of others people traipsing about for a festival.

Luckily for us, the weather was superb. It was warm and sunny – after what had been a dreary, drizzly week in Cape Town – so all jackets and jerseys stayed in car, while we soaked in the warmth and wine.

A few of us had piled into Lila's husband's van – he kindly offered to be DD for the trip – and once parked in town, we got around on foot or via tractor. As we arrived just after 10am, we were still lucky enough to find good parking. By 12noon, it was choc-o-bloc.

Our first stop was at the Olive emporium, where we got our passes for the day – they were going for R80pp for the weekend – and where we tried our first wines and olives.

After eating various smoked olives, stuffed olives, olives infused with garlic and herbs, tapenades and olive oils, we ventured out to find the tractor stop.

The 'tractor ride' literally consists of a farm-style tractor, pulling two trailers of sorts with hay barrels for people to sit on. They were so much fun, and carted festival goers to and from the farms and central points in town at no additional charge.

Kloovenburg wine estate was divine – as I thought it would be – they make an incredible shiraz, and my favourite wine of theirs is actually the White From Red Brut: a sparkling wine created from shiraz grapes. I also bought two bottles of their 'festival' wine at R50 each, which consumed very quickly. Plus, their cheese platters were to-die-for...

Other great wines I tried from Riebeek Cellars were the The Kasteelberg MCC – the first methode cap classique produced in the Swartland wine region or the Riebeek Valley – and the Riebeek Cellars Chenin blanc – a super easy-drinking, pleasant summer wine (www.riebeekcellars.com)

I loved the varying fruits in alcohol from Het Vlock Casteel (http://www.hetvlockcasteel.co.za) – the apricots in gin were my best :-)


By 3pm, everything started turning a bit pear-shaped as we hadn't eaten lunch, and drank

Wine Discovery of the weekend: Pulpit Rock Shiraz (R38 per bottle - I wish I'd bought more) (http://www.pulpitrock.co.za/)

Budget Discovery of the weekend: A bag of Olive Pride stuffed green olives for R5 - a real steal! (http://www.olivepride.co.za/)


I had the best time and look forward to next year already! Now at least I know to book accommodation six months in advance, so that I can actually stay over and explore it over two days, as there was so much I still didn't get to do.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Harvey's new winter menu

Harvey's restaurant at the luxurious boutique hotel, Winchester Mansions in Sea Point, has just brought our a new winter menu. We were lucky enough to be invited over to try some of the new dishes in a tasting portions. We were quite impressed.
Here's a sneak peak of some of the incredible dishes now on offer.
To book or find out more info: www.winchester.co.za, 021 434 2351
PS: also, ask about their next wine and dine pairing evening...  
Salmon with aniseed dressing - light and fresh, a real winner starter

vegetarian lentil curry – very fragrant, lots of intense, bold flavours, in no way a boring dish

the kinglip with potato veloute - my fiance and I agreed on this being the favourite dish of the night

ostrich neck - a beautiful succulent dish, my second favourite to the kingklip


Springbok oh-so-tenderly cooked and full of flavour

a trio of desserts: the malva pudding on the left was by far everybody's favourite, while the crème brûlée on the bottom right was a decadent close second
A dessert especially made for me - all dairy free... When booking ahead, let the chef know if there are any special dietry requirements so that they can accommodate those guests.