There can be nowhere more beautiful to witness the changing colours of this season than on the luxurious Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch. Boasting sweeping views, indescribable art and exemplary cuisine, this jewel of the Relais & Châteaux collection demands more than a cursory visit. Take your time to enjoy a wine tasting, lunch at the Delaire Graff Restaurant, some relaxation at the spa or tempt your appetite with lunch at Indochine. I was spoilt to be in the company of both the Relais & Châteaux and Delaire Graff marketing teams, so in addition to sublime epicurean delights crafted by two-plated chef Virgil Kahn, the conversation was lively and peppered with interesting insights into the hospitality industry. After a glass of the Delaire Graff Sunrise, I savoured the squid with peanuts, lime, coconut, grapefruit, caramelized onion and garlic topped with kale meringue. The piquant fragrance of my neighbour’s Tom Yum Goong bore testament to Virgil’s recent visit to the east. As order envy was about to set in, I tucked into the sea bass, cooked to perfection with imagination yet elegant simplicity. Virgil has a true talent for fusing flavours and perfect plating. The afternoon drew to an enviable close with a quick visit to see some famous Graff diamonds, and a sneak peak of their world-class villa, soon to be unveiled.
CHEF’S WAREHOUSE BEAU CONSTANTIA
The vineyards below Beau Constantia too are a sight for autumn eyes. Meeting restaurateur friends for an early start to the weekend was bliss, from the first bite to the last fulfilling mouthful. With one being a pescatarian I offered to team up with him, sharing a medley of dishes that seemed to move from excellent to exceptional. Chef Ivor Jones and his team in the open kitchen make it look effortless. Our foursome spent some time after the meal hotly debating which had been a favourite dish. All, I say. Or maybe the coal-seared tuna, the linefish sashimi, or Vietnamese rice roll. Oh hang on, the Parmesan risotto was superb too. Who says missing meat means that you are missing the best? My carnivore friends waxed lyrical about their venison, and the other meat dishes too. All were united in their love of the fried polenta – Ivor, please may we have that recipe? Or please sir, may we have some more?
ELGIN RAILWAY MARKET
During the initial part of the trip on the steam train to Elgin, from the Royal Cape Yacht Club, one sadly passes a lot of litter. As you chug into the winelands the views improve, and after nearly three hours, you arrive at Elgin station. The carefully curated market in the former packing shed at the station has been renovated with a generous budget and great attention to detail. It is a delightful setting in which to enjoy some delicious grub, wine, a little retail therapy and foot-tapping live music. The gin bar is a welcome addition. Three hours later and you are back on the train, heading home.
SENSE OF TASTE
Sharing snippets of my career and journey in the food industry with the first and second-year students at the Sense of Taste school was a worthy start to the short working week. They were most appreciative of their copies of the JHP Gourmet Guide, and who knows, maybe some of them will be plated in the future! Hats off to Peter and Deb Ayub, and Byron Thebus for motivating and inspiring the next generation of talented chefs in our country.
Aliya Ferguson welcomed a gaggle of eight food-loving gals into her home in Tamboerskloof where she offers an intimate Persian cookery course. Whilst demonstrating a delectable array of tasty, traditional Persian dishes she shared the interesting tale of her life and culture. The afternoon sped by, and soon we were firmly ensconced in her dining room to enjoy the fruits of her labour and love of cooking.
CAPE POINT VINEYARDS
We spent the morning at Deep South Distillery enjoying a tour and sipping gin cocktails (put it on your to-do list), and tasting Pepe Charlot’s amazing French-style cheese. We then settled in on the deck at Cape Point Vineyards, a gorgeous setting where one can work up an appetite for good food and wine. The tuna steak hit a high note for me, the gin & tonic oysters, the Caesar salad and crispy calamari sang loudly for my friends. The weekly food market on Thursdays is a drawcard too.
THE FOODBARN RESTAURANT
The welcome at the Foodbarn is warm, the service friendly and informative, and the menu bulging with must-have options. It is hard to decide, and our waiter Jaryd, was patient as we merrily vacillated. Hot asparagus for husband and I, crispy calamari for our friends, followed by a perfect prawn risotto for two, the lamb chops succulent and tender, and my prawn with slender rings of pineapple, sublime. A watermelon and gin palate cleanser between courses, a cheese course after, and we were sated. Chef Franck Dangereux is undisputably the shining star of the deep south.
If you have not already devoured the information about SA’s plated and rated restaurants on our website www.gourmetguide.co.za, then visit it now. Book at all your favourite restaurants while scrolling through the options. Savour the autumn issue of the Gourmet Guide magazine. It’s free to download and print. This one-stop dining stop is all yours.