Just when you thought I was done for the year, I decided a ‘best of’ compilation post was necessary.
See the list below for some of our favourite things from 2016, all in and around Cape Town obviously, and expect an annual update*. Some categories will remain, others will change. Note that most of these came to mind instantly, but some were dismissed as we experienced them last year, not this year, and others I had to manually search my blog(s) for mentions and reminders – links included if you want to walk down my memory lane again. If there are any categories you feel I’ve left out, let me know! 🙂
Milkshake: There’s no denying milkshake is my favourite treat. This year, I’ve learned that if an establishment goes so far as to title something a ‘Freek shake’ best you believe it. Gibson’s Peppermint Caramel Freek Shake was enormous and I probably should have shared it. Ditto with the Festive Underground Eatery or FUE‘s cocopine shake much earlier this year.
Burger: What goes with milkshake? Burgers, of course. You just can’t go wrong at Jerry’s. The patty is tasty, cooked to perfection on a brioche bun and the side of fries doused in Sriracha is a treat in itself. The bacon, cheese and onion ring-topped buccaneer beef burger at Catch22 also gets a thumbs-up from me.
Hike: We’ve done quite a few hikes this year to work off all those burgers and shakes – most recently the Skeleton Gorge version up Table Mountain – but our faves all involved caves. That’s because you want a good view, sense of accomplishment and a body that’s not on the point of collapse once you reach your destination. Wally’s Cave in Lion’s Head was this year’s hidden hideaway gem.
Conference venue: It’s not all about weekend activities though. Conferences are the lifeblood of my worklife. The Artscape Theatre and trusty CTICC are always a good bet for Wi-Fi, tasty snacks and temperature control, but my best was the Vineyard Hotel.
Night away: Living in Cape Town is a little like living in paradise, but everyone needs a break away from their daily routine once in a while. For us, the best version of this was at Majeka House in Stellenbosch. Just over an hour from our front door, the suites are enormous, the spa treatments are heavenly and the food is simply superb.
Romantic dinner: You also need to celebrate special occasions as they arise. Maybe just because we went there to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary, maybe because they’re just up the road, but Homespun is at the tippy top of our ‘lovey-dovey locations’. The food, drinks, setting and service are all commendable.
Once-in-a-lifetime meal: This category is for those breathtaking meals that cost quite the pretty penny and offer course after course of plates you simply can’t help but take photos – and videos – of. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek was our winner here. Go soon if this is something on your foodie bucket list, as chef Margot Janse is leaving these kitchens early next year.
Road trip: Whether you’re staying the night or just out for a few hours on the road, there’s nothing like a few empty hours to fulfill your wanderlust. We did so a few times this year, enjoying a few afternoons in the unspoilt beauty of Gordon’s Bay and Langebaan, both around two hours from home.
Winter special: One of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets is that many of its fine dining establishments offer warming meals at pocket-friendly prices in the cold winter months. Some of this year’s best include the half-price chicken curry specials at Inside in Eden on the Bay.
Alcohol tasting: You’re really spoilt for choice if wine is your thing, but those who prefer a more refined tipple are also in for a treat in the Cape. Val du Charron in Wellington does so with beautiful legends behind each wine blend, and many wine farms offer an MCC tasting of their bubbliest bubbly, but it’s the KWV brandy tasting that got Husband’s seal of approval this year.
Weekend lunch: This list proves it’s not all about the bustling CBD. In fact, on weekends there’s lots of appeal in driving a little off the beaten track to find a new venue where you can spend a few hours eating, drinking and laughing with loved ones. Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch is a beautiful spot for this, with panoramic views of the estate’s 123-hectare vineyards, an adventurous menu and their own wine varietals on The Vine Bistro‘s menu.
Seafood meal: Unless you’re allergic to it, a meal out in Cape Town should include seafood. I passed the baton the Husband on this one, and a few of his favourites were the fettuccinne marina and platter for two at Panama Jacks in the Cape Town harbour.
Wild meal: Eating out in South Africa often means eating unusual dishes. The tasting menu at Catharina‘s on Steenberg Estate is an excellent way to do so. Though seasonal, you’re likely to find delicacies like wild boar, crocodile and zebra on offer.
Eggs benedict: Husband’s weekend breakfast staple, we’ve sampled quite a few this year. The ones we kept going back to were the salmon version from Company’s Garden and the pork-belly bacon benedict at Steenberg’s 1682. Tart Hollandaise, yolk that pours at just the right pace and not-your-average toasted base. Yum!
Dessert: Sometimes you don’t want a full meal. Sometimes it’s just your sweet tooth looking for satisfaction. I seem to have a mouth full of sweet teeth as I’ve had a jaw-dropping amount of desserts this year. My best have been the caramel bar at Majeka House’s Makaron, and the winter chocolate fondant and the summer raspberry ice cream sandwich at Grande Provence’s The Restaurant. Beautifully plated, these are the type of sweet treat you swirl around in your mouth with your eyes closed, and follow with a sip of strong coffee to enhance those flavours.
Coffee: My bloodstream is coffee. I’m not fully functional before at least a cuppa or two, so the weekend hasn’t officially started before I’ve had a caffeine-filled cappuccino or latte. My favourites this year include the cappuccino at Village Place Cafe, with a shot of toffee syrup, and the regular cap at The Hart Breadhouse and Eatery in Melkbos.
Over and out, folks! Here’s to sampling the very best of 2017, watch this space…
*All photos my own. Disclaimer: Some of these were experienced free-of-charge as I reviewed them for work, but most came from our own pockets. No payment was considered for this ‘best of’ list as it’s all based on personal preference.