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.
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!
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…?”
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.
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!
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.
These are the farms we visited on our day of serious wine tasting:
All 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!
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.
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!
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…
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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…