I heard it through the grapewine

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When I was trying to come up with a title for this blogpost, I wanted a song title that was connected to food and drink, preferably wine. Not an easy wish. All the songs were about drinking milk, wine or whiskey because some lover had left and you needed to drown your sorrows. None of them were about the joys of eating good food and drinking good wine. But that is exactly what this blogpost is going to be about.

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In South Africa’s B&Bs, they always start the breakfast with fresh fruit. And the breakfast at Skeiding Guestfarm, was truly little piece of art with attention to the details.

At a dinner party when we got home from our trip to South Africa, one of my food loving friends said: “I never knew that people went to South Africa because of the food…?” But in my opinion, food and wine is definitely a reason to pay Cape Town and the Winelands a visit. First of all, it is easy to find good food and wine. And I also I think it is easier than in other tourist places to avoid the typical tourist traps. Eating and drinking is relatively cheap. Especially when you come from overpriced Norway where going out for a dinner can cost you a shirt. And not just a regular shirt – a designer shirt!

On on of our last days Jo ordered a small snack platter in Drostdy restaurant. This is what that a small snack looks like in Swellendam.
Jo ordered a small snack platter in Drostdy restaurant, where we stopped on our way back from Knysna. This is what that a small snack looks like in Swellendam.

In South Africa you can easily get a dinner for 25 % of the price in Norway, together with excellent wine. No wonder we all gained weight during our trip. The last week (or maybe before that even), the same thing happened as last time we were in South Africa: We got tired from food! And we all had our momens of: “Oh no, is it time for dinner again? Do we really have to eat something? Can I just have a starter please…?”

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Even the food from the beach bar (well actually it was the hotel restaurant) was good. Slow service at the Protea President Hotel, but when the BLT came, it was very tasteful.

But prices aside – South Africa will give you lots of opportunities to enjoy good food – especially meat and fish dishes. If I were you, I would avoid the pasta (they haven’t discovered ‘al dente’) and sushi. But according to Warren, you just need to pick the right places if you prefer your fish served raw.

Perhaps January 1st was not the right day to have sushi at the V & A Waterfront? All the restaurants were packed and the waitors were too few and perhaps a little hung over? The sushi at Haiku was probably the worst meal I had in South Africa, with rice more similar to porridge than sushi rice.
Perhaps January 1st was not the right day to have sushi at the V & A Waterfront? The restaurants were packed and the waitors were few and perhaps hung over? The sushi at Haiku was probably the worst meal I had in South Africa, with rice more similar to porridge than sushi rice.

At least pick the right places, if you want to enjoy Italian or Japanese food. And also you should choose the right places for cocktails. They just don’t know how to do them right. Often you will find ‘fake fruit’ as an ingredient together with the wrong recipes. Definitely not like Rio de Janeiro, where they had fresh fruit even in the most dingy beach bars. So stay away from the Cosmo, and stick to the wine, wine, wine….and dine. And enjoy!

Breakfast at Gubas de Hoek in Robertson was a pleasure.
Breakfast at Gubas de Hoek in Robertson was a pleasure.
Breakfast at Gubas - attention to details.
As many of the places we went, Gubas had attention to the details.
The first night at Gubas Günter (the German chef and owner) prepared a braai (barbeque) dinner for his guests. It was fantastic. I am sorry we missed the meatloaf the next night. But when you have experienced meat loaf at hospitals and come from a 7 hour winetasting, meatloaf does not sound tempting. But according to Warren, we missed out on something memorable...
The first night at Gubas de Hoek, Günter – the German chef and owner – prepared a braai dinner for his guests. It was a fantastic meal! I am sorry we missed the meatloaf the next night. But when you have experienced meat loaf at hospitals as a child, and come from a 7 hour winetasting, meatloaf does not sound tempting. But according to Warren, we missed out on something memorable…

On our 5th day in South Africa, our itinerary (try pronouncing that after 7 hours of winetasting!) said ‘a day of serious winetasting’. We were planning a visit to four different farms, where we were going to do tastings and also have a small river cruise.

Ready for winetasting in Robertson.
Ready for winetasting in Robertson.

These are the farms we visited on our day of serious wine tasting:

At Vljoensdrift we started off with a cruise on a river boat, where we enjoyed the Christmas present from Warren - one of his favourite white wines.
At Vljoensdrift we started off with a cruise on a river boat, where we enjoyed the Christmas present from Warren – one of his favourite white wines.

2013-12-27 13.03.58All the wineries we visited were wheelchair accessible. Also the river boat (more or less). If you are wondering which farm to choose, you can check out the home page of Robertson Wine Valley, where you can do a search of which wineries are accessible for wheelchair users or not. We like!

Wheelchair accessible wine tasting at Graham Beck.
Wheelchair accessible wine tasting at Graham Beck.

Being a Norwegian on a serious wine tasting day, can be rather demanding. Because in Norway, wine is not something you spit out or pour in a bucket. You drink it! No matter what kind of wine it is. No matter whether you like it or not. You just DON’T leave wine.

Interesting buttons in the elevator at Graham Beck.
Interesting buttons in the elevator at Graham Beck.

If you continue with this Norwegian habit during a serious wine tasting day, you are:

1. Going to be seriously drunk
2. Not going to remember the last wineries very well (which is kind of stupid because they might have the best wine)
3. Fall asleep in the shower instead of having the world’s best meatloaf
4. Be hung over at six o’clock in the afternoon from alcohol you have drunk the same day!

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So here are some advice from a winetasting newbie (who fortunately managed to use the bucket at least a few times):

1. Ask your guide which wine farm is the best (and save some stamina for that)
2. Swallow the wines you like and poor the other ones in the bucket!
3. Don’t jump from the river boat (fortunately none of us did)!
4. Do not buy a whole case of wine after a day of serious wine tasting (or at least think about it twice)!
5. Enjoy! It’s going to be fantastic no matter what…

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Ingrid is asking the guide...
Ingrid is asking the guide what wines to taste…
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What people look like while doing some serious winetasting…
We were all impressed that Olivier managed to eat THIS desert after a whole day of winetasting followed by a big steak at the winery Bon Courage (where we did not do tastings).
We were all impressed that Olivier managed to eat THIS dessert after a whole day of winetasting and a big steak at the winery Bon Courage (where we did not do tastings).

At New Year’s Eve we were back in Cape Town, looking forward to what we thought would be a spectacular 8 course dinner at Karibu restaurant. We had booked it in advance when we had dinner there, after our visit to Robben Island. It turned out to be a completely different story the second time…

The 8 course menu at Karibu.
The 8 course menu at Karibu.

The first thing our waitor at Karibu tried to do, was to sell us the most expensive wine on the menu (1000R for a bottle is bloody expensive in South Africa). And I thought: “Hey, this might work in 6 hours – but not now!” And it sort of went downhill from there..

The food was still good. But the service was probably one of the worst I have ever experienced. The restaurants rushed the 8 courses. We left the table for a short while at midnight to watch the fireworks (or what we thought would be the fireworks). And when we got back to our table, the waitors had (despite our previous agreements) cleared the table, and poured out all our glasses of wine and water.

Bobotie - the traditional South African dish came in many different recipes. The one at Karibu was one of the best.
Bobotie – the traditional South African dish came with many different recipes. The one at Karibu was one of the best.

We ‘kindly’ informed them that we had two courses left and that we wanted our wine bottles (that they actually had kept behind the counter) back. But even if we had booked the table until 2 o’clock (it was New Years Eve, for God’s sake) the waitors were still very eager to get us out. At around 1 o’ clock Ingrid left for a toilet expedition, and the rest of us (at least those of us who were awake) were looking towards a waitor who was doing this dance act close to our table. The other waitors were smiling, clapping and cheering.

Food and drink can have this affect on your vision...
Warning: Food and wine CAN have a strange affect on your vision…

And I am still wondering if this was a trick to make us look another way, because when we turned around again we noticed that ALL our glasses were gone again! While we were sitting at the table! We were just watching this guy dancing! Annoyed by this insane behaviour, we decided to be just as rude and insane and emptied the last two bottles without any glasses (not a good idea really). All the other guests were gone. We had seen no fireworks. We had never received this bad service. And slightly drunk, we decided to head back to the Commodore Hotel, and dream about New Years in Rio instead.

Sometimes the hotel know just what you need the morning after New Year's Eve...
Sometimes the hotel knows exactly what you need the morning after New Year’s Eve…

So Karibu, you will not see us back I am afraid. But most of the other restaurants and B&Bs we visited are positive memories. Here are some highlights:

Christmas Eve at Africa Cafe.
Christmas Eve at Africa Cafe offered different flavours of Africa (tapas).
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Tasty rabbit at the Greek Fisherman restaurant, Cape Town
THE place to have (and see) ostrich: Skeiding Guest Farm.
THE place to have (and see) ostrich: Skeiding Guest Farm.
They also offered ostrich carpaccio
Skeiding also offered ostrich carpaccio
...and ostrich bacon for breakfast (Skeiding)
…and ostrich bacon for breakfast.
Skeiding Guestfarm also offered an impressive collection of home made jam.
…and an impressive collection of home made jam.
Bone Crusher Darling brew had a cooler name than taste, we thought.
Bone Crusher Darling brew had a cooler name than taste, we thought.
And this iron brew is perhaps to be avoided...?
And this iron brew is perhaps to be avoided…?
At Eat restaurant in Hermanus. Definitely the best meal I had in South Africa: Chicken Stuffed with Camembert, Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Spinach. On a crispy bacon & olive oil mashed potato with red pepper cream. 90R (=50 NOK).
At Eat restaurant in Hermanus I had the best meal in South Africa: Chicken Stuffed with Camembert, Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Spinach. On a crispy bacon & olive oil mashed potato with red pepper cream. Hallelujah!
Even the most touristic places (Cape Point) have decent restaurants. The crayfish at Two Oceans was absolutely good.
Even the most touristic places (Cape Point) had decent restaurants. The crayfish and calamare at Two Oceans was absolutely good.
In Arniston, this is the specialty...
In Arniston, this is what you should have…

At the start of this blogpost I said that you should stick to the wine. Usually that was the case. But sometimes you have to have a sip of something else, don’t you? And usually you didn’t have to go far to get what you craved. Many hotels and B&Bs have complementary sherry or port in the hotel rooms and/or a self service bar, where you write what you drink in a little book or on a list at the fridge. It is all in the little details…

The self service bar at Anha Casa. Helf yourself! One drink cost about 10R (= 6 NOK)
The self service bar at Anha Casa. One drink cost about 10R (= 6 NOK)!
Sherry at Arniston Hotel and Spa.
Sherry at Arniston Hotel and Spa.
Port at Skeiding Guest Farm (with old family photos).
Port at Skeiding Guest Farm (with old family photos).
An always, attention to the details...
An always, attention to the details…

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