Destination: South Africa: Winelands
The Cape Winelands have always had remarkable wines; now the region is the center of a dynamic new culinary movement, with a slate of superb farm-to-table restaurants, and innovative wineries that are experimening with innovative tasting methods.
Leading the locavore trend is Overture (Annandale Rd., Stellenbosch; 27 (0)-21-880-2721), a rustic-chic wood, stone and glass eatery perched on the slopes of Hidden Valley wine farm overlooking Stellenbosch. (Golfer Ernie Els’s winery is next door.) Chef Bertus Basson, 33, changes his menu daily and decides what to cook based on whatever local ingredients—crawfish, springbok, quail, wild mountain rosemary—have been delivered that morning. Try the chilled zucchini soup with olive ice cream.
Across the mountains in scenic Franschhoek, chef Chris Erasmus helms Pierneef à la Motte (R45, Franschhoek; 27 (0)-21-876-8000), the sublime new restaurant of opera singer Hanneli Rupert’s wine estate, La Motte (Rupert is the aunt of Merchants on Long’s founder). Erasmus uses old techniques, such as cooking with bone marrow instead of butter, to re-create snout-to-tail fare that was popular among early Boers. The pomegranate glazed smoked pork belly is to die for. Down the road at Bread & Wine (Happy Valley Rd., Franschhoek; 27 (0)-21-876-3055), Brit-born chef Neil Jewell makes delicious home-cured salamis, prosciutto and biltong (dried beef), which he pairs with the estate’s red and white vintages. It sounds wrong, but tastes just right.
Equally unusual pairings are underway at Tuscan-style estate Waterford (Blaauwklippen Rd, Stellenbosch; 27 (0)-21-880-0496). Master winemaker Kevin Arnold couples his velvety Shirazs, Pinots and sweet whites with homemade dark and milk chocolate. The many cars lining the oak-shaded drive say it all.
It’s not all food and drink in the Winelands. Solms-Delta Wine Estate (Delta Rd., off R45; 27 (0)-21-874-3937), outside Franschhoek, plays on the region’s remarkable past. Attached to restaurant Fyndraai—whose glass floor is built over an archaeological site, the estate’s original cellar, from 1740—is a museum recounting the history of the indigenous Khoisan people, the rugged Dutch and French settlers of the 1600s, and the East Indies slaves from the 1700s. You’ll learn more about South African history here in an hour than you will in a year of news reports. ~DOUGLAS ROGERS
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