From Ellerman House to down under

What a week of feasting, starting with a delicious lunch on the terrace at Ellerman House overlooking the Atlantic Ocean feeling happy to be back home. So what’s wrong with winter in the Cape when you bask in the sunshine in good company eating lunch outside after spending some time appreciating South Africa’s most comprehensive private art collection? Or seeing happy visitors chatting to the team at Ellerman House about their day out, firmly ensconced in this premium property for their holiday, made to feel like family? I’m not sure I would be able to tear myself away if I was on holiday there. For many reasons, as it is here that food, wine and art come together in true harmony. Apparently, some regulars settle themselves in and rarely leave their pool loungers, other than to make a visit to my favourite spa. The menu is innovated daily to ensure interest for guests, and to take advantage of whatever is freshest on that day. I chose scallops enhanced with fresh apple and pancetta, followed by Coq au Vin, which allowed me to reminisce about my recent trip to Burgundy. Good company too – the new GM of Ellerman House, Paul Bruce-Brand is sure to take this Relais & Châteaux property to new heights with the ideas that he and his team have been cooking up. A chat with executive Chef Grant Daniels centered on how heritage influences one’s style of cooking, and we shared stories of how our mother’s cooking shaped our love of food. As this property is truly exclusive, not open to the public, do what I do – encourage your friends and family to stay there, so that you can visit!

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Tuesday it was off to The Test Kitchen for a culinary journey that started in the dark room with cocktails, the pomelo and yuzu Caipiroska getting my top vote of the sweet, sour, salty and bitter collection. A short trip around the world on our tastebuds that included billionaires from Scotland (you have to go there to find out more), and we were ready to be moved to the light room. We settled in for what can only be described as an evening of food theatre, my man loving the iconic wine pairing, and I for interest taking the tea option. Each course was a story in itself, served with aplomb and efficiency. I would struggle to choose a favourite dish, as each was better than the last, but if push came to shove I will say the duck with sour cherry clafoutis, duck liver stuffing and sour cherry jus. I can understand, looking around the room, why visitors from all around the globe book a holiday to Cape Town for this. This level of innovation deserves international applause, and I was again, proud to be a Capetonian. Luke Dale-Roberts and his team know how to push the envelope of innovation.

Wednesday? Off to Tintswalo Atlantic to witness how their new chef Guy Clark is gathering inspiration from the ocean, literally lapping up to the deck, with his Ocean and Ash tasting menu. Attention to detail is extreme, and even the menus (painted by his equally talented photographer brother Tom), are works of art. I knew where to sit – there was a rock with my name on it, with a message of luck on the reverse. Warmly welcomed by owner and CEO Lisa Goosen with a glass of Phoenix bubbly, one can only admire how the property was resurrected in eight months after a devastating fire. Guy introduced each course to the very receptive media crew gathered around the table enjoying the supreme setting and view of the Hout Bay sentinel. I loved the marron, and his liquid umami made up of 32 ingredients. At the end of a memorable meal we took our rocks in our right hands, and threw them over our left shoulders, making a wish as they made a splash in the sea. Mine, of course, was simply to return, having seen the sumptuous style of two of the bedrooms, beautifully decorated to capitalize on incredible ocean frontage. Locals are sure to catch on quickly to the joy of having breakfast, lunch or dinner here. Booking is essential.

Thursday it was time to dig down under, to discover more about Woodford truffles. I started by sniffing some from Australia, some from Italy and then those that are from right here in the Western Cape. As there is a short window period of 18 days for removing them from the ground (detected by well-trained dogs), it is no surprise to discover why they cost what they do. I too would’ve put my precious produce into the talented hands of chef Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine. He produced a menu to honour the truffles’ true and distinctive flavours, paired with exceptional wines from his cellar (into which I did, admittedly, sneak for a peek).

Friday? Time to have the pleasure of writing about these plates and experiences for you – better than a second helping!