Clifton Beach, Cape Town

Clifton Beach, Cape Town

I made my annual pilgrimage to Cape Town as a last minute trip this year. It is always great to escape the UK weather and given the recent rain, it was fantastic to find an opportunity to get away between my other commitments and forget the real world for a short while.

It’s not just the weather that gets me on that 12 hour flight. The first reason to go is that it feels like home from home to me and that’s all down to having the most fabulous friends there who welcome me into their place with open arms. And I realised more than ever this year that they share my outlook, my way of life and my interests. We may not see each other for a year and may not even make much contact over that year but as soon as I step over the doorstep, it is as if that year in between was yesterday. That’s the best sign of friendship I can think of.

IMG_2213

Every year I am interested to see what is new. And this year, Cape Town is the World Design Capital following in the footsteps of cities such as Turin, Helsinki and Seoul. So my expectations of this great city were high … and it didn’t disappoint. With design front of mind, I discovered Weylandts this year. I can’t figure out why I have never been there before and was pleased to find some fabulous lights for my new home. You really can’t beat the prices with the exchange rate more than ever in my favour, and the South African designs were spot on. This multi storey warehouse of beautiful stuff is well worth visiting.

It got me thinking about just why this city is so inspiring. I think it is embedded in the fact that South Africans are just so straight up and honest. Some people find that difficult to relate to but in the retail and food world, it means that you get a very true experience that is what it needs to be without having to try too hard. And because the country is so vast and isolated from others (unlike Europe, for example) businesses just get on with doing what they want to do with creativity and purpose. Finally, there is more of a culture of support than I see in other places. When a new young someone wants to put an idea into practice, they get encouragement and help rather than a queue of people hurling cynicism or trying to knock them back. It all adds up to lots of innovation and passion that translates directly to the consumer.

The big explosion over the past two years has been in coffee which I will talk about next time. So what else is there to report back on?

IMG_2243

Firstly – Karen Dudley. She has been fronting her Kitchen for a few years now which was the restaurant of choice for Michelle Obama when she visited Cape Town. Given Karen’s philosophy and food, you can understand why. It certainly isn’t on the usual tourist path of restaurants but it is in the trendy Woodstock area so not too far off the beaten track. In the past year, Karen has published her second cookbook “Another Week in the Kitchen” and opened The Dining Room in the adjacent building.

IMG_2182

Trolley service!

Trolley service!

IMG_2196

We visited for dinner and had a lovely meal hosted by the chef herself. As with her first place, it is as if you are in Karen’s home eating whatever she has prepared that day. The decor is eclectic with mismatched cutlery, plates and funky decorations. The menu is short with starters served from a trolley, a choice of two mains and desserts. The team are incredibly attentive and Karen herself just oozes interest and joy in the food that she offers.

SONY DSC

Cosy cafe at Schoon de Companje

Coffee roasting

Coffee roasting

Lovely produce section

Lovely produce section

Another of my favourites from last year has had a makeover. Set in Stellenbosch, Schoon de Companje is the next iteration of a great bakery and cafe that I saw last year. Now the space has expanded to include butchery, coffee roasting, wines, ice cream making and produce in addition to the bakery and cafe. The whole atmosphere is cosy and relaxed with natural wood, lovely displays and a simple menu. It’s definitely worth a trip on the way to exploring the vineyards in the area.

SONY DSC

The other discovery was a new market at the city farm in Oranjezicht. It may be small but I can see this one growing, if you pardon the pun. The stall holders focus on local produce along with some home made delicacies. It seems there is a lot of focus on gluten free, carb free and raw foods in Cape Town at the mo and here you will find people doing a good job of making yummy healthy treats as well as a central braai for tasty lunchtime eats.

Craft brewing, hand bottled and all at the back of a spacious bar and restaurant

Craft brewing, hand bottled and all at the back of a spacious bar and restaurant

The final place to report back on in this post is the Taproom. Once again, this new place is to be found in the Woodstock area which is most definitely the area to discover when you are out there. Here they are hand bottling home made craft beer and serving a short menu to accompany the Devils Peak liquid. It was just a very good example of the beer fashion with production there on site and open to be seen by all who visit, not as a theme park but as a real brewers. Once again it is straight forward, simple and yummy.

SONY DSC

Advertisements