by Seth Shezi
Arrival at Hotel
Fridays come with a lot of expectations; expectations that are hardly ever met considering Fridays also mark the end of a work week, often a rigorous one, so my plan after checking in was to take a leisurely stroll around the city, have a simple dinner and retire to my room early for I had a packed Saturday ahead.
Now imagine my surprise as I waltzed back into the hotel at 1am grin on face and a giddy feeling like I’ve just cracked the Cape Town code.
18h00 – Walk Bree Street
After showering and changing, I decided I’d explore Cape Town’s trendiest street, Bree. 50 meters in and Bree is starting to deliver jewels and after walking past a throng of world class eateries I settled upon Chef’s Warehouse & Canteen, an unassuming casual eatery with communal tables – I love these when I travel alone because I can easily meet locals or other lone travelers.
19h00 – Dinner at Chefs Warehouse
Chef’s Warehouse is essentially a Cookery School turned Cape Town’s sensational everyday gourmet tapas restaurant run by chef Liam Tomlin and his hospitable wife Jan. Described by Wall Street Journal as ‘a regular haunt for restaurant-industry insiders’ Chef’s Warehouse offers an ever changing 8 course tapas menu that will floor any hedonistic foodie – by dish number 4 of seared tuna with ponzu I was ready to walk into the kitchen and hug the chef myself. The menu can be likened to that of a test kitchen; you never know what you’re going to get, what with the kitchen inventing, tweaking and improving dishes on a daily basis and experimenting with newly available ingredients. As dinner drew to a close it became apparent I’d need to find a worthy spot to take in an early nightcap.
21h00 – After dinner drink at The House of Machines
I head down Shortmarket Street off Bree, a tiny street lined with boutiques and G2 Art Gallery, it’s not the art that’s brought me here, but the hipster petrol head hole in the wall known as The House of Machines. Here classic cocktails with a twist are sacred; my Old Fashioned though potent was possibly the best I’ve had to date. Once my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting I took to my favourite pastime – people watching – and here lay the answer to THoM’s charm. THoM is frequented by those who rate Steve McQueen with the most reverent regard and relate to the artful homage the space pays to the bygone era of prohibition bars of 1920’s America. The concept is believable because the owners themselves hang out here, after Brad Armitage one of the owners announced there’d be a live indie band performing later I smiled quietly to myself – this is the Cape Town the tourists never get to hear about.
I work a lot, naturally, everyone does, so as a result I really cherish my weekends when I don’t have any work to do such as this one. My uncontainable excitement coupled with the early summer sun got me wide awake at 6am, my weekday wake up time – thanks body clock.
07h00 – Lion’s Head Hike
In a city completely bordered by mountains it’s no surprise hiking is every agile Capetonian’s favourite pastime and this morning I was going to get my badge by traipsing my way to the pinnacle of majestic Lion’s Head. Lion’s Head is a gentle hike that can be easily be a family activity, on my way up I whizzled through countless families with their kids, some bringing their canine family members along for the stride. Having started at 7am from the carpark at the base of Lion’s Head, I was nearing the summit 60 minutes later. Avid hikers often say of Lion’s Head “You never tame the beast”, not referring to the level of difficulty of the climb but instead referring to how it seems to punch the wind out of your lungs each time you get to the top – everything becomes quiet and still, the beauty is awesome in the true sense of the world.
Unsurprisingly the hike down went far quicker, delighted with myself for having made it up and down before the Mercury started to rise, I knew where my stop would be – a reward stop at the newly opened Jarryd’s Eatery in Sea Point. The ground rules to this place are simple, they have fantastic food, even better coffee, but what half of the queue is here for is Jarryd himself. Between his Australian accent, warm smile and disarming good looks you’ll forgive everyone for forgetting their coffee order once reaching the front of the queue. I come here because they make an infallible flat white and I can have it my alternative way – with soy milk.
Cape Town is littered with markets, they keep getting more and more niche. I love the Neighbourgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill, except on this particular Saturday I was hungry for something more than people watching. After my early start and a great workout I needed sustenance a lot closer to town so I opted for the Oranjezicht City Farm Market in Granger Bay – this is the same organic market that was held at Premier Helen Zille’s house during the summer months. What the new locations lacks in stately colonial grounds it makes up for in picture perfect uninterrupted sea views across both Granger & Table Bay, as well as Robben Island.
I proceeded to hunt and gather treats; by the time I sat down I had enough food to feed a dozen people. In my cornucopia of delights I had a small sourdough bread from the Woodstock Bakery, which I had plans to dip and use as a utensil for eating the moreish Sababa Shak Shouka followed by a gluten-free crepe which to me means calorie-free crepe from La Rozell. On the day I went the main market selling organic produce from the City Farm was also selling fresh coconuts – fewer things are more refreshing and good for you than fresh coconut juice. I had an interval of watching the swell across granger bay hoping to spot a whale (they appear here often around this time), after successfully fighting the urge to grab the succulent pork belly from the Vagabond Boys I settled on creamy rich flavoured gelato by Moro – Cape Town’s undisputed most beautiful ice cream cart.
14h00 – Chapman’s Peak Drive to Boulders Beach
2pm in Cape Town is a sort of magical time, the sun is no longer above you, the wind is still and the sky is usually at its clearest, it’s my favourite time of the afternoon to take pictures. The peninsula isn’t short on picturesque sights which is why this is the perfect time to take a drive to Boulders Beach via Chapman’s Peak. I always stop at the first Chapman’s Peak view point just after the toll gate (R26 for bikes, or R40 if you’re in a light motor vehicle like myself), the view of Hout Bay from the other side never tires. Noordhoek has wide beaches which made for a scenic amble, but this time the penguins awaited me, so I glanced longingly as I whizzed by headed towards Boulders Beach.
15h00 – Sunset Drinks at Batstone Pool
Having spent most of my day outdoors in the blistering summer sun, it was time for me to cool down and fewer places in the city are more relaxing yet bustling as Batstone Pool in the Waterkant. The roof top terrace can be likened to a viewing deck in Barcelona where almost all their roofs include a swimming pool. Their cocktails and trendy crowd makes for great company as you watch the amber African sun set, feet dipped in the water with cocktail in hand. There’s something heady about being on a rooftop, perhaps it’s the uninterrupted vistas or the eye candy, either way, it made it hard to leave.
What shopping you ask? Well what I failed to mention was that on my long drive to Boulders Beach I’d made a sneaky stop in Kalk Bay. The beautiful and quaint seaside town wedged between Simonstown and the surfer paradise that is Muizenberg.
20h00 – Open Door in Constantia Uitsig
11h00 – After Lunch at Babylonstoren
After a brilliant hearty Sunday breakfast at my hotel, I took a leisurely drive fit for a sunny Sunday with just the right amount of sepia in the sky. I decided to arrive way earlier for my lunch because I wanted to tour the enchanting Babylonstoren gardens. Starting from the wine tasting room, I sampled some wine to get my Sunday going – a wineland’s Sunday only starts once the first drop of vino hits your lips. The wine is very affordable if you buy it at the farm so I helped myself to a case of a mix of their whites, roses and bold reds. My tour of the grounds took me past the Green House which also acts as a restaurant, the casual sibling to Babel where I had a booking. Interestingly, visitors are allowed to pick some fruit and vegetables when they visit the farm – that is not to say they’ll let you bring your basket and harvest their garden.
Lunch at the all-white, calm and perhaps clinical Babel started with a glass of their rose which pairs musically with their red salad consisting of a milange of fruit and vegetables all prepared using various cooking methods and united on the plate over their shared pigmentation. Now if someone told you about a salad called red consisting of only red fruit and vegetables, you’d be forgiven for crying; “Novelty” – but this salad was exquisite, the textures and flavours paired with the visual stimulus made for a unexpected taste sensation. The baked fish main was subtle and delicate, while the dessert of lemon sorbets was a refreshing whack of citrus zing, a brilliant summer sweet ending.
Blog by Seth Shezi. To connect with Seth, click here