Travel and a bit of shopping
First published ( a re-worked version) in Khuluma, Kulula Air, March 2019
Cape Town Cycle Tour: Support Squad
In 2019 the Cape Town Cycle Tour goes back to its roots by starting at the Grand Parade Precinct. When the starter’s pistol cracks, head up Buitenkant Street to Truth, headquarters of steampunk in Cape Town. More demure dandiprats might be intimidated by the leather aprons, brass goggles, neckcloths and corsets of the waitrons; the overenthusiastic greeting by the doorman could also unnerve some.
At Truth you get to choose your coffee beans. Coffee blends have been given innovative names such as ‘Deep, dark and twisted’ and ‘Black Honey’ accompanied by coffee tasting notes to aid customers in making a choice. Alternatively a shot of Grappa can be added to your espresso. Want to try something different? Albumen Airship is a cold coffee drink that comprises a shot of espresso, blended with egg white and condensed milk.
The Brasserie Menu might be short but it packs a punch, a most flavoursome punch. Opt for Steampunk Benedict with poached egg, artisanal bacon, cherry tomatoes and hollandaise sauce on sourdough toast or go the whole hog with a Sho’t Left Mixed Grill, a plate filled to the brim with mFino (Zulu spinach, the menu explains), roasted vine tomatoes, a skilpadjie, a marinated lamb rib chop, free range beef wors, a mature cheddar-infused mielie cake and a soft-boiled egg.
Alternatively the current summer menu also features a breakfast burrito, avo on toast, tapioca porridge, a granola panna cotta and Norwegian salmon.
Imbued with a new alertness courtesy of Truth’s coffee get behind the wheel and zip down Nelson Mandela Boulevard, spin up Hospital Bend, sweep past UCT and Newlands Forest.
Care for some Grand Constance billed as South Africa’s oldest wine and formerly known as Constantia Wyn? This – and more – is what you will find at Jonkershuis Restaurant at Groot Constantia Estate.
Outside seating at Jonkershuis Restaurant has a view over the vineyards all the way to False Bay; inside seating is either in a covered courtyard or in cosy rooms in a gabled house that offer a respite from summer heat.
Many dishes on the menu are inspired by Cape Malay cuisine. Malay dishes include smoked snoek paté with spiced apricot relish, beef samosas with coriander and oven-baked bobotie with sultana and almond turmeric rice and caramelised pumpkin.
The highly recommended estate tasting plate has a combination of these as well two curries, one with Karoo lamb and the other with chicken breast.
As meals especially the pasta dishes at Blanko Restaurant at The Alphen Boutique Hotel are fairly bland I’d give this eating establishment a miss. A zabaglione is not a zabaglione here. Complaints fall on deaf ears.
Kalk Bay harbour is one of the last working fishing harbours in South Africa. Not only does it have a handful of restaurants; it also has seals inadvertently posing for photographs, seabirds swooping down for titbits and an opportunity to listen to the colourful language of the fishermen.
The larniest restaurant at the harbour is the swish Harbour House. Inside it’s light and airy. The view stretches all the way to Hangklip; on a clear day you can see Cape Hangklip lighthouse.
Oysters are served three ways (natural, with a mignonette sauce or with lemon granita), the seafood stack starter has layers (salmon tartare, tempura prawns, caviar, avo mousse, tomato and cucumber tian and pea shoots) of taste and the seafood pasta (pappardelle, calamari, mussels, prawns, linefish and parmesan sauce) is creamy and absolutely delicious.
Always enquire about the specials of the day. If yellowtail tartare is on offer, do not think further. The tartare is light and refreshing with a very slight bite to it.
Live Bait, beneath Harbour House, is built on the breakwater of Kalk Bay harbour. It has a relaxed atmosphere and – yet again – a view over False Bay. Nibble on sardines salsa verde off the grill whilst contemplating life, or what to order next. Fresh West Coast mussels and smoked paprika calamari can be ordered as a starter or a main, you can’t go wrong with grilled prawns with garlic, chilli and lemon zest or take a squiz at the chef’s choice special board.
Kalky’s has been going for a few decades which surely attests to its ability to please the crowds. It’s an old school fish and chips shop with plastic table cloths and a happy buzz at the best of times. Blackboard menu options include hake or snoek with chips (calamari can be added too), a family meal (one piece of hake, one piece of snoek, calamari, six rolls, 2 medium chips and a litre of cooldrink), grilled fillet linefish (yellowtail, cape salmon, tuna or kob), a variety of platters and pickled octopus in oil (when available).
If sitting outside on the pier beware of the seagulls. They have been known to steal the chips from your plate.
Until late last year Fish Hoek was a dry town; after 200 years, you can finally buy booze there.
Don’t wait for the new retro-funky Stargarden Boutique Café to get its liquor license – you can bring your own wine. And you should. The food is exquisite.
So is the interior with parakeet green walls, teal velvet booth seats and chairs and a selection of off-beat art, some of it for sale, on the walls.
The menu changes every month. Think seed-crusted gorgonzola cheesecake with smoked honey, pickled beetroot and hazelnuts. Save me some smoked camembert, fig jam, fresh grapes and pumpkin seed brittle.
On a Sunday they might serve leg of lamb with lavender sauce, honeyed pumpkin and beetroot-stained chickpeas or chicken and chickpea curry accompanied by Persian pilaf.
For dessert – or a coffee date – the beetroot and carrot cake deserves a mention too.
You definitely don’t want a fear of eating to overcome you when you drive into Simon’s Town. Once in Simon’s Town head to The Light House Café that is so much more than merely a café. Its vibe is laidback, partly beach house, partly French Provencal.
From 8h30 till 11h30 breakfast is served. There are traditional combinations as well as more unusual options such as a sweetcorn fritter stack with bacon and maple syrup or a banana loaf served with sliced banana and vanilla and cinnamon yoghurt.
Opt for moules mariniere (West Coast mussels cooked the French way), Jamie’s beer battered fish and chips or bouillabaisse (when available) for lunch.
Scarborough to Misty Cliffs
The Oasis Garden and Pub at Camel Rock Restaurant in Scarborough is no optical illusion after having covered the winding coastal road with its numerous twists and turns from Smitswinkel Bay to Cape Point and beyond. Neither is the camel-shaped pizza oven with its distinctive hump in the restaurant garden. At Camel Rock the vibe is local and lekker.
Camel Rock Restaurant is open seven days a week: on Wednesdays they rock with burger nights; on Fridays they rock with tapas nights; they have pre-announced line fish braais around the fire pit in the Oasis Garden and pizzas are always emerging from the stomach of the camel pizza clay oven.
The little hamlet of Misty Cliffs has, predictably, misty cliffs, beautiful beaches and a view that leaves you gobsmacked but no restaurants, pubs or cafés.
Look out for the food trucks on the side of the road as you head towards Camps Bay.
Top up on caffeine at Detour Espresso Bar.
Chris Swanepoel, the chef at Carte Cuisine, makes a mean chilli cheese burger; as he does not pre-cook the real beef patty it requires some waiting once you have ordered.
Street Café has great iced coffee and real gelato. The owner loves the vibe of the Cape Town Cycle Tour; he says loads of cyclists stops at his food truck to rest before tackling the next section of the route. Inevitably they start off moaning and groaning about sore muscles but leave smiling once they’ve had some ice cream or a cold espresso.
Once in Camps Bay park off at Mynt Café. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also have an extensive cocktail menu with interesting concoctions like a granadilla caipirinha, a kiwi colada and a papaya and paprika sourz, as well as a range of craft gin cocktails and sparkling wine cocktails.
End your gastronomic Peninsula tour by heading up to Salsify or The Lawns at The Roundhouse.
Salsify takes bookings at 8h30 on the first of each month for the month ahead.
Browse the on-line menu before you go; ingredients like fire roasted asparagus, sunflower pesto, salted sour plum and num num and sauerkraut crisps will make you salivate ahead of your visit.
The Lawns is more relaxed; it has an unbeatable view over the Atlantic Ocean and the Twelve Apostles. Sit down at the Sunset Deck, the Oak Terrace or the Cabana Lawn (reservation essential) with a G&T in hand and soak it all up.