T’was the Freedom Day long weekend in SA last weekend, so we had time to fit in lots of fun moments.
We were also lucky enough to be reviewing a mini version of the winter lifestyle package at Clos Malverne in Stellenbosch, so this week’s post is jampacked with mouth-watering food and breathtaking views. See for yourself…
Friday, 27 April 2018: Go-karting at Century Karting
We had a later-than-usual breakfast brunch on Friday as didn’t have to get up with an alarm. See my chai latte and enormous croissant with bacon, brie and blueberries, as well as side salad. Husband had the mince on toast topped with an egg. All this at the Foodlover’s Market on Sandown.
Husband had spotted the Century Karting track when we made a miss-turn in the parking lot of Canal Walk, and as keen to give it ago with his dad, brother and father-in-law. They went zooming around the track so fast that the bottom right blurred pic is about the clearest ‘action shot’ I managed to snap.
Team photo of the proud racers. The sons had more aches and pains the following day than the dads.
We also spent some quality time with the puppers that eve. They’re such sweeties.
We dined at Petisco’s with brother-in-law Spec that evening. Their creamy chicken xai-xai fillet is amazing!
Pink sunset from the balcony at Petisco’s that evening.
Saturday, 28 April 2018: Massage, four-course lunch and ice-cream wine pairing at Clos Malverne
We had a quick earlybird breakfast with Spec at News Cafe first thing on Saturday, then it was time to set off for our grand adventure…
Such pretty scenery on the road to Clos Malverne in Devon Valley, Stellenbosch.
Blue skies, check. Green valleys, check. Chirpy birdsong, check. Before we knew it, we were at Clos Malverne in Stellenbosch’s Devon Valley.
Our first stop – the spa! We were treated to back, neck and shoulder massages, as well as time in the steam room to unwind. There were Ferrero Rochers awaiting us on the massage table pillows. Such a lovely start.
Feeling relaxed after our massages, we were ready for the four-course lunch that lay ahead. But first, where to sit? So many appealing options at the Clos Malverne restaurant…
The bright, happy painting in the restaurant was so fitting for the Freedom Day long weekend in South Africa.
We sat in a corner of the sun-dappled balcony with panoramic views of the vines and valley ahead.
This is why it’s called a ‘meal with a view’ at Clos Malverne. See my starter butternut-goat’s cheese arancini and Husband’s half-shell mussells in Thai curry broth.
Mmm. See Husband’s fillet steak topped with asparagus spears and springbok samosas on top, with my bacon-wrapped chicken fillet and pork belly below. Such beautiful plating, with tastes to match!
Loved the mini apple rolled in poppyseeds that accompanied my pork belly (it tasted of pear). Also see our desserts – the ‘savoury sweet’ on top is a butternut-chilli-caramel cheesecake, with the ‘white dark chocolate’ mousse below.
If you thought we would be full by then, you obviously haven’t heard of Clos Malverne’s ice cream-wine pairing. This is not part of the lifestyle package but definitely worth booking as part of your stay. Flavours range from the ‘lemongrass, chilli and litchi’ as paired with a flute of MCC to the orange, ‘gluhwein and star-anise’, paired with a sweet dessert wine. Full descriptions to follow on Bizcommunity!
Next stop, nap time. The rooms are named after wine varietals, with views of the valley and amazing pool. Husband was clearly amused at the wonderful simplicity of the TV remote!
Look. At. That. Pool! But it was too pretty to just lounge around and look at, despite the icy water…
Proof of our pool time. We lounged beside it and also had a quick dip – t’was super chilly!
A slight variation of our usual ‘gowns in luxurious spaces’ photo. These were super soft and fluffy.
‘Clos’ means ‘walled vineyard’ and the vines sure are well protected on the farm. We went for a walk as desk set in and marvelled at the beauty of the setting sun over the mountains. See the rising moon in the last picture.
Sunday, 29 April 2018: Elevenses at Helena’s, Root 44 Market and the Stellenbosch Flying Club
This looks like a very good Sunday morning to me. See the sunrise, coffee on the balcony, fruit parfaits left in the fridge for our in-room breakfast, and fluffy brown cows grazing in the adjacent field. Then it was time to leave.
We took the long road home, with quite a few stops along the way as the typical Cape country scenery is all the more beautiful in the heart of Stellenbosch.
That included an explore of the sides of Stellenbosch we’d not yet seen, like this giant wheel.
Helena’s Restaurant in the Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel was so charming that we had to stop in for ‘elevenses’ or second breakfast – just a cappuccino for me, while Husband had the salmon eggs benedict. Delicious.
If you’re in Stellenbosch on a Sunday morning, chances are you’ll end up at the Root 44 Market, drooling over various crafts and foods. These looked amazing! Colourful confections at the market.
A corn dog for everyone, no matter your tastes.
The Stellenbosch Flying Club was our very last stop on our way out of town for a look around at the planes.
That’s all, folks!
Click here for my full, wordy review on Bizcommunity…
This is what we came for – it’s wonderful!
*Disclaimer: Our meals and accommodation at Clos Malverne were part of our review package. All else came from our own pockets. All enjoyed equally.
last update I was a little vague about just how we’d be unravelling our city-stress knots and niggles, now all can be revealed: I’d been invited to review* the oh-so-magical Majeka House in Stellenbosch for a few days. See just some of the best things we did below and click here for my official review, as the professional pics do a much better job than ours from our phones below…
There’s nothing better than that feeling of excitement when you’re about to set off on a road trip – even if it’s just a hop, skip and jump away. Always start your journey with pics of the road ahead and any pretty scenery to rub in the fact that you’re getting away from it all. Take this pic, for example. Road ahead, check. Pretty scenery, check. Excited to see more, check.
Sometimes the sights you see are so strange you’d think you were dreaming if you hadn’t snapped a photo. These scarecrow puppet people are at the Polkadraai farm stall and strawberry picking point about half-an-hour from home.
Those puppets are just to the left of where this shot was taken. Another road trip tip is to definitely stop when you see one of these yellow Nat Geo frames and take a photo no matter what the view.
Feel free to stop and try the local fare before you reach your final destination. This is Husband trying a Black Label draught at Hudson’s on Dorp Straat in Stellenbosch. Just as good as a draught at any other pub, and the cheese burger and chips we shared were just as good as any of the other Hudson’s meals we’ve had. It was so very windy that things were blowing off the tables and everyone else was choosing to sit indoors, but we couldn’t resist the pretty tree-lined street for a spot of people-watching.
In and around your room
Of course each form of accommodation differs, even each room at each venue will have its individual quirks. At Majeka House this included an honesty bar system in the kitchen corner, with a fully stocked fridge (don’t touch the R700 mini bottle of champers, whatever you do)! All these lovely treats were individually priced, apart from the complimentary coffee pods with complementary fresh chewy peanut butter cookies. Don’t worry, there were no crumbs in/on the bed for our room fairy to take care of as we ate them standing.
Look around your room very very carefully, as there may well be hidden features. Following our spa sessions we showered then trotted around in the bunny-soft robes in the room – and on sitting on the bed noted the landscape painting mounted above our heads.
You may notice other interesting room/suite features on your third or fourth lap. For instance, look at the suspended TV in the pic on the left, and the similarly inbuilt painting in the pic on the right. It’s the front and back of a swivel, so if you’d rather watch TV in the lounge you just give it a slight nudge and hey presto, the painting faces the bedroom and you’re ready to channel hop!
This was the view from our rooftop balcony. Lots of soothing colours for the eye, as well as pleasing mountain shapes to rest on.
If you’ve brought reading material with you, be sure to try out each possible reading point. For me this included various chairs on the two patios, our all-too-comfy bed and a number of couches and cushions in the lounge before I settled on this corner, complete with soft blanket to buffer against the wintery wind outdoors.
Snap the sunset from as many view points as possible. Or just over the course of a few minutes from the same spot. This is the setting sun from our bedroom balcony…
The same scene just five minutes later – all yellowy and happy-making.
Of course you can’t stay cooped up in your room the whole time and need to explore the grounds. What delightful grounds these are in Stellenbosch, with all sorts of hidden lighting cleverly highlighting features you’d otherwise miss in the daylight.
The spas and watery things
Following a back-relaxing hour-long couple’s massage all you want to do is close your eyes and think happy thoughts. Here is Husband, having a soak/pummel in the viciously strong Jacuzzi – so much so that the bubbles almost overflowed into the adjoining pool. No bubble bath required!
As we’re both Aquarians we could easily spend all our free time in water and be happy chappies. So of course I did the exact same thing as Husband. Note lovely landscape on the wall behind me, as well as doors off to the sauna and steam room – yes, they’re different things.
Here is Husband, stoking the steam in the steam room by topping up with hissing water over the aromatic logs every few minutes. As it was set to 70’C we didn’t stay in there for long.
At night, the chandelier-style lights lit up the spa and pool area in the most magical way. We’d been encouraged to have a swim or soak after dinner – all you do is swipe your room card to access the main hotel section, even after staff have locked up for the night. As appealing as the thought was, we didn’t follow through. Here’s why…
The fancy (filling) dinners
If it’s not quite dinner time, it’s surely time for a pre- (or post-) meal drink. We sampled two of the fancy cocktails at the blue-lit M Lounge – I went for the espresso martini, Husband had the Long Island Ice Tea. Both expertly made and just the right thing to sip at the fireside.
This is the fireplace beside which those cocktails were sipped. Note those walls of books are not real – that’s a special wallpaper that almost everyone who entered the bar when we were there went up very close to examine.
If you’ve booked the three-course dinner at Makaron, Majeka’s in-house award-winning restaurant, don’t by any means fall for the idea that you’re only getting three plates of food. For example, soon after being seated you’ll likely be offered complimentary still or sparkling water and a breadboard filled with the freshest, fanciest bites with touches of onion and cinnamon where you’d least expect.
Once your wine is served, be sure to swirl it around a little in your glass to release the flavour, as Husband did with his. He made it last throughout the bread, amuse bouche, starter and main course, only opting for something different with his dessert. But more on that later…
See a sample of the things you’ll eat at Makaron. Top left is our saffron-infused amuse bouche. Top right is Husband’s prawn linguini starter, bottom left is my ‘rainbow beets with goat’s cheese chantilly’ starter, and bottom right is my steak with herb gnocchi mains. All part of just one meal. Plan ahead and go on an empty stomach!
When ordering dessert, be wary of ones with bits you’re not sure of. While my vanilla creme brulee was large, light and lip-smackingly good, with perfectly brittle sesame tulle on top, the exotic-sounding ‘yuzu’ was just that – exotic and a little too sharp on the tongue. Don’t be afraid to ask for your waiter’s recommendation.
Because our waiter recommended the caramel bar for Husband’s dessert, which was hands down the best thing we ate in Stellenbosch – and we ate a great deal of delightful meals! This may look small but was as caramelly, chocolately and ice-creamy as possible, with warm brown melty flavours and a dainty little coffee macaron on top – alas Husband popped the whole thing in his mouth before I could have a taste. Sad face. I’d go back just to try that mysterious macaron!
The sweet dessert called for something a little sweeter gliding down the throat, like a tot of KWV 5-year-old.
The breakfast choices
The breakfast buffet is eye-poppingly comprehensive, but don’t fill up before your hot meal arrives or you may not have enough space for it. Rather copy me and order a cappuccino, then pour a berry smoothie and mix all manner of muesli, nuts, yoghurt and berry coulis in a bowl to slowly munch through before your eggs benedict or bacon-filled French toast arrives.
Or copy Husband and fill a side plate with flaky croissant, selection of meats and cheeses and pepper to your liking. I repeat, do not overeat, especially on a Sunday. You’ll see why soon.
This is what said French toast and eggs royale looked like. Amazing and so filling. Especially if you have an adventurious day ahead…
The outdoor hikes
Just 5 minutes up the road from Majeka House is the entrance to Paradyskloof nature reserve. Do yourself a favour and go for a brisk trot or even a cycle if you’ve packed along your bike. There are no steep uphills and lots of shady bits to pause and catch your breath or admire the view – or both.
Of course you’ll take a selfie while you’re on your walk, as we did. This was the best option of the six we attempted, promise. 😉
The Sunday morning markets
Goodness me but you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Sunday morning markets in the Stellenbosch area. Our first stop was at the Blauwklippen market, where you simply won’t know where to look as there are so many tasty delights on offer. Best you not have already filled up on breakfast. We did not know this so just looked and looked while our full-to-bursting bellies made regretful noises.
The main Blaauwklippen restaurant is exactly what you’d imagine a ‘Cape Dutch eatery’ to look like, with warm inviting interiors (we just peeped through the windows).
Of course you’ll wander a little off the beaten track while browsing the Blauuwklippen Market, as it’s set on such pretty grounds, with ducks floating on ponds and squirrels chasing each other all around the greenery.
And then we stopped at the Route 44 Market at Audacia. Even more food, crafts and soul-rejuvenating scenery to look at. This is the view from just one of many seating areas.
By then we’d walked up quite an appetite, and Husband simply plopped himself down on the beach bar stool (with real sand for your shoes to rest in) at the Mussel Monger and ordered himself a couple of oysters. They smelled like the cold sea and I’ll bet tasted like it, too.
And that, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll need to go back to Stellenbosch many, many more times to fully experience all it has to offer. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend Majeka House and Spa, what a treat!
*Disclaimer: Obviously our accommodation at Majeka House and meals at Makaron were part of the review package. All else came from our own pockets. All enjoyed equally. Prices included in my official review.*