Weekend Getaways close to Jozi & Pretoria

You don’t have to drive too far to escape the city lights of Johannesburg and Pretoria. A great weekend getaway might be closer than you think. Here are some ideas on how you can get away without spending too much time on the road:

Dullstroom

If you are looking for a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend away, the picturesque town, Dullstroom, is your answer. Dullstroom is South Africa’s favourite fly fishing village and offers something to interest every traveller, whether you wish to catch and release fish or to enjoy the calming scenic beauty and excellent, quirky restaurants.

Taste superb whiskey from the widest range of whiskies available in the Southern Hemisphere at Wild about Whisky, enjoy the scenic two day Steenkampsberg hiking trail located only 4km from town, or enjoy leisurely walks with fresh air, taking in the picturesque mountain scenery.

Pilanesberg

The Pilanesberg National Park offers a great bush getaway. Boasting the Big Five, Pilanesberg promises thrilling big game viewing and is home to more than 360 bird species. Enjoy a guided 4×4 game drive, take an exhilarating walking safari or enjoy a unique hot air balloon safari.

Hartebeespoort

For a getaway that offers fun, family-friendly activities to entertain young and old, Hartebeespoort is the place to visit.

Enjoy some extreme jet boat rides on the dam, do some exhilarating zip lining or visit the elephant sanctuary. For the best views of Hartebeespoortdam, consider trying the popular Harties Cableway. If you are keen on partaking in a romantic lunch, pack a picnic basket and a blanket and enjoy a picnic at The Strawberry Farm near Hartebeespoort dam.

Magaliesburg

For the perfect escape to the countryside, head to the Magaliesberg region.

The Magaliesburg village offers good shopping, art and crafts studios, working farms and excellent restaurants. For the adventurer, the Magaliesberg offers mountain walks, quad-biking, hiking and more.

With its beautiful mountains, rivers and indigenous woodlands, this scenic gem has visitors returning time and again.

Advertisements

Stellenbosch presents an all-new Celebration of Wine

Stellenbosch – A Wine Celebration, the latest innovation by Stellenbosch Wine Routes offers an unprecedented opportunity to re-discover the wines and wine people of the illustrious wine region over the course of a single weekend. From Thursday, 2 August to Sunday, 5 August, this top-drawer vinous show will toast excellence and diversity through a handful of intimate and exclusive, must-attend events.

The most famous legends of Stellenbosch will be brought to life through fantastic wine tastings and elaborate fine dining, pairing delicious food and wine with fascinating, entertaining wine personalities, all at one cosy location: De Warenmarkt, in the historic heart of the City of Oaks.

The weekend celebration will highlight the region’s winemaking heritage, premium status and internationally-recognised excellence. Among the events a special focus commemorates Women’s Month and the contribution of female winemakers, while another showcases the essential ingredient of family tradition entwined with the very DNA of Stellenbosch wine.

On Thursday, 2 August, Boutique Brilliance & Big Bottles opens the show. This walk-around wine tasting takes place from 6PM to 10PM and features a dozen of Stellenbosch’s boutique wine producers. Demonstrating that big is not always better, this is the opportunity to discover and stock up on rare and lesser known wine treasures. The entry fee of R290 per person includes access to a feast of delicious canapes and the harvest table with a special cheese fondue.

On Friday, 3 August, the Women-in-Wine brunch puts the spotlight on the region’s female winemakers. A three-course meal will be served from 10AM to 12PM, with bubbly and wines and the stars themselves taking centre stage. Tickets are R400 per person.

The formal dinner, titled In The Company of Legends, takes place later on Friday, 3 August, and offers the exceptional chance to meet some of Stellenbosch’s greats over a premier four-course, food-and-wine extravaganza. Among the luminaries who will attend are world-renowned winemakers and exceptional story-tellers. Tickets to the event, which starts at 6.30 for 7PM, cost R650 per person.

On Saturday, 4 August, Father & Son acknowledges the unique contribution of skill and knowledge that is passed from generation to generation, to Stellenbosch wine excellence. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, this dinner will feature some of the famous father-and-son winemaking duos, who will share their stories over four courses, paired with their wines. Tickets to the event, which also starts at 6.30 for 7PM, cost R750 per person.

The final event of Stellenbosch – A Wine Celebration will be a very special lunch at noon on Sunday 5 August. The Cabernet Long Table will underline the region’s leading prowess with the noble Cabernet Sauvignon cultivar – status that is held thanks to its incomparable concentration of local and international award winners. The four-course meal pairs vintages of the variety with every dish, including dessert and will see some of local Cabernet Sauvignon winemaking royalty in attendance too. Tickets are R650 per person.

Tickets to each of the Stellenbosch – A Wine Celebration events are very limited. To book, visit www.wineroute.co.za.

For more information, contact Elmarie Rabe on 021 886 8275 or info@wineroute.co.za.

Hemelhuijs comes to Jo’burg

Jacques Erasmus and Hemelhuijs, the home of Cape Town’s most sophisticated explorations in traditional Cape farm cuisine, have finally brought some of their culinary magic to Johannesburg. Hemelhuijs and So Yum have collaborated to present Hemelhuijs x So Yum, a new offering anchored by Hemelhuijs’ famous breakfast menu served at So Yum’s Hyde Park premises.

Hemelhuijs x So Yum was prompted by So Yum’s recent move to a new, larger and more central position upstairs at Hyde Park Corner, the grande dame of Johannesburg’s boutique shopping destinations. Jacques and Ernst Fischer, owner of So Yum and various other Asian restaurants, had long joked about collaborating, and So Yum’s move presented them with the ideal opportunity.

While So Yum is offering a small Asian-inspired breakfast menu including little-known dishes such as soft Japanese rice porridge and a selection of Asian omelettes, the central breakfast offering is from Hemelhuijs.

Johannesburgers will welcome Hemelhuijs’ freshly crafted, gem-bright juices and its well-loved signature breakfast dishes. Favourites such as traditional soft “mieliepap” served with local honey and salted butter and toasted “mosbolletjie” loaf with cultured cream and hand-made jam or marmalade tease the palate with their nostalgic associations presented with contemporary refinement.

From lunch on, the menu’s emphasis tips back to So Yum, albeit with a selection of So Yum x Hemelhuijs salads which can be constructed on bases such as the delectable papino, orange and shaved fennel with fragrant leaves and honey-lime dressing, or raw shaved vegetables and pear, beetroot and Japanese dressing. So Yum x Hemelhuijs will also serve a selection of their Cape Town counterpart’s paradisal cocktails.

Hemelhuijs’ café-style home in the chic historic district of De Waterkant in Cape Town is known for its whimsical but exquisitely conceived interior decoration, beautifully presented conceptual seasonal menus and stylistic transformations. These aesthetic flourishes will find a more subtle expression in the interiors and menu at So Yum, not to mention in the insertion of a nook at the entrance of the restaurant stocking the sought-after Hemelhuijs Home Collection.

Hemelhuijs’ current seasonal menu and interior theme in Cape Town is inspired by the legendary 18th century Swedish botanist and naturalist Carl Linnaeus, drawing on the aesthetics of his horticultural taxonomy and the beautiful botanical illustrations, engravings and scientific diagrams he produced. Hemelhuijs’ lavishly produced menu is underpinned by the structure and aesthetics of Linnaeus’s work, with photographic imagery styled and presented by Jacques through three-dimensional overlays of seasonal ingredients over Linnaeus’s illustrations, capturing not only the freshness and vitality of the ingredients, but also their botanical genealogy.

We’ve subtly introduced the Hemelhuijs identity to So Yum with small details and gentle touches,” says Jacques.

The design and imagery on Hemelhuijs x So Yum’s menu card draws on the mothership’s production, and the table décor includes a delicate sprinkling of Hemelhuijs’ aesthetic DNA. Signature items from the Hemelhuijs Home Collection feature on the table settings, such as its gold ceramic spoons and Black Salt, and So Yum x Hemelhuijs breakfasts are served on Hemelhuijs’ original Sepia Collection stoneware crockery.

These items and more are available from the Hemelhuijs Home Collection. The shelves of the calming, graphite-painted corner dedicated to these wares are piled with other ranges such as Hemelhuijs’ Bone Collection, Gold Collection and much-loved Boerendelft. Scented candles, Black Salt and the Erlenmeyer laboratory flasks the juices are served rub shoulders with them.

In addition to our basic collection, we have what we call our evolved collections, which are more closely tied to and inspired by seasonality and the restaurants thematic and aesthetic transformations,” says Jacques.

The season’s horticultural inspiration also finds expression in a special range of linen printed with imagery drawn from the menu design, including tea towels and napkins.

A specially designed limited-edition iteration of a series of Hemelhuijs’ collaborations with ceramicist Ella Lou O’Meara celebrates the Asian flavour of Hemelhuijs x So Yum. She has hand painted a range of blue-and-white abstract Asian-inflected designs on beautifully oversized tobacco jars. This range complements a related series of large vessels she and Hemelhuijs produced in Cape Town combining classic floral illustration with its contemporary mythology, mixing the scientific and fantastical.

I am very excited to be introducing our first culinary foray in Johannesburg,” says Jacques, “and I’m delighted that we can collaborate with our old friends at So Yum to introduce our unique flavour to a new context.”

Hemelhuijs X So Yum breakfasts are served from Monday to Sunday 08h00 – 12h00.

www.hemelhuijs.co.za

Sleep out at Royal Chundu

It’s not everyday that you get to sleep in a secret lair – let alone along the Zambezi River. Experiencing nature this way, is unfathomable and an experience of a lifetime.

The award-winning Royal Chundu, camouflaged along the banks of the Zambezi River, is a tranquil hideaway for both the romantic and adventurous, with the Victoria Falls a mere 30km away. Royal Chundu is a member of Relais & Châteaux and consists of the River Lodge, with 10 exclusive suites disguised among the riverine vegetation, and the Island Lodge, with 4 spacious villas located on the Katombora river-island.

Royal Chundu also offers a Sleep Out Experience, which is is definitely not your everyday sleep out. Guests get to sleep outside and literally experience nature on another level. It’s the ultimate secret lair, sensitively designed to let guests experience nature firsthand.

Set out by canoe or on foot late afternoon and be welcomed to a romantic retreat high above the trees with sunset drinks and snacks. Here you get to properly soak up the sights and sounds of the Zambezi and to disconnect from the world below as you settle in to an idyllic hideaway, awaiting dinner which is served in a gourmet picnic basket.

While the night emerges under African skies, drifting off with the lull of the world renowned Zambezi rapids in the background is an experience to be remembered. The Zambian sunrise signals the delivery of morning tea and coffee and the start of a new day and new adventures along Africa’s greatest waterway.

www.royalchundu.com

The best food for the winter chills

Edith Sitwell said: “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home.”

Here are a couple of places where you will feel at home this winter:

Constantia Glen

Enhance your winter wine tasting experience at Constantia Glen and tuck into a trio of delicious homemade soups. These hearty treats, on offer until the end of August, are a good reason to visit this picturesque boutique wine estate.

Available as single servings or as a trio of smaller portions, visitors can indulge in Constantia Glen’s famous traditional Austrian Beef Goulash soup, French onion soup with croûte au fromage, or delicious roasted Butternut & Sage soup, all served with crispy, freshly baked bread.

Each of these soups can be partnered perfectly with Constantia Glen’s elegant cool climate wines. Add an additional mouth-watering platter of cheese and charcuterie to your experience and enjoy the wonderful winter vineyard views.

The soups are available at R95 per single serving, or R100 for the trio. Wines are available by the glass from R70 if you want to linger over lunch for a laidback afternoon.

The Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa

During the chilly season from 18h30, the hotel’s Island Café is offering bottomless soup – a sensational selection of gourmet soups served with freshly baked artisan bread (gluten free and vegetarian options are available) that will fill and warm you up and get your cheeks glowing.

The cost is R95 per adult and R45 for children under the age of 11, making it an affordable and perfect option for families.

Bookings are essential.

The Shortmarket Club

Chef Wesley Randles continues his modern interpretations of classics created from ingredients with impeccable provenance. His menu boasts some exciting new dishes, such as a starter of Fig Leaf baked Ricotta with Creamy Gorgonzola, Wild Honey and Lemon, which he describes as “comfort food at its best”. Another starter of Raw Fig and Smoked Burnt Aubergine, Roasted Hazelnuts and Bitter Leaves hits all the right notes.

Winter also heralds the appearance of venison on the menu. The Springbok and Quince makes the most of seasonal ingredients and it’s complemented perfectly with a jus of locally produced Caperitif and intensely satisfying smoked bone marrow. Meanwhile, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will approve of the spiced tandoori cauliflower served with a vibrant peanut and lemongrass sambal that will bring some warmth to the Cape’s cold winter months.

The three-course Prix Fixe Winter Lunch Menu at The Shortmarket Club is priced at R280 per person, or R380 per person including a carafe of wine. It is available at lunchtime only, Monday to Saturday, until the end of September 2018.

Waverley Hills

Matching the landscape, chef Francois du Toit has set his own inspiration aflame in the kitchen and produced an enticing food and wine pairing menu that will have you linger for longer this winter.

Guests can expect to see dishes like Wild Mushrooms served with Parmesan Custard Cream and a whisper of Truffle paired with the Waverley Hills Chardonnay and Prawns fried with Spiced Paprika, Garlic and Parsley served with Fresh Ciabatta, paired with the Waverley Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.

The five-course food and wine pairing menu is available until the end of Spring 2018 and is priced at R395.00 per person. Reservations are required a week in advance.

BOSJES Kombuis

This dreamy winter destination is now offering their very own “First Thursdays” special in the months of June and August, giving guests the chance to celebrate chilly evenings with BOSJES’ winter curry nights on the first Thursday of each month. This special allows diners to feast on a selection of three curries served with sambals, naan, rotis, rice and dessert at R280 per person.

Contact eat@bosjes.co.za to book or call 023 004 0496.

BOSJES will be closed in July.

The Pot Luck Club

This winter sees the return of The Pot Luck Club‘s Lucky Lunch menu. Presented bento-style, lunch is served in small handmade bowls and wooden boards, and provides a feast for the eyes and taste buds.

The menu is subject to change without notice, due to seasonal availability and chef’s inspiration and is available for lunch until 31 August 2018. The offering consists of 6 items and is priced at R295 per person.

Bookings are open one month in advance and they are open from Monday to Saturday with lunch between 12:30 – 14:30 and dinner between 18:00 – 22:30. They are open on Sundays from 11h00 – 15h00.

The Pot Luck Club’s annual winter break is from the 23rd July 2018 to 5th August 2018 and it re-opens for dinner from 6 August.

Chef David Higgs writes his first cook book

When a chef needs to recover from a stomach operation, the recovery time could either be daunting or rewarding. In Chef David Higgs‘ case, it was definitely rewarding, as that is when it all started. He started to write little stories, took photos and tried to come up with the perfect concept for his book, called Mile 8, which will be available from October.

He has cooked for the likes of Antonio Banderas, Charlize Theron, Chef Ferran Adria, Drew Barrymore, Elton John, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, MTN Team Qhubeka during the Tour de France and Nelson Mandela. And now he wrote a book!

I’ve been wanting to write a book for a number of years. About six years ago I ended up in Namibia after a stomach op and it was probably the longest period of time I’ve had to chill and relax. I started writing little stories, taking photos and trying to come up with a concept. I’ve never wanted it to be ‘just another cook book’ – I knew I wanted it to be something unique, beautiful and special to me – first and foremost. When My Kitchen Rules SA first approached me, I got into contact with Tessa Graham – she looked after Jamie Oliver for many years. It was at this time, with Tessa and my business partner, Gary, that I decided to do MKRSA, and I also started talking to Tessa about doing the book.

Why the name, Mile 8?

“For me, Mile 8 is a special marker as it is where I caught my first fish and my food journey began. Originating from the Swakopmund Post Office and running north for 108 miles, Namibia’s coast is dotted with mile markers.”

According to Higgs, the book is a very frank account of essentially his story – beginning in the small, coastal town of Walvis Bay, through the cowboy kitchens of Cape Town in the 90’s, to the heart of South Africa’s lush winelands, and culminating at Marble. 

Elsa Young was the photographer for the book. “… I met Elsa when I moved to Johannesburg from Cape Town. It’s very rare to find a photographer who sees food in the same way as you do. We have the same understanding of what we want the food to look like in an image. She’s terribly talented and she’s a good, honest friend.” 

With fishing being the initial start to Higgs’ cooking career, it’s only natural that he still enjoys it. “Fishing will always be part of my life for a number of reasons. First, it’s the most relaxing thing you can do, especially when you’re not surrounded by people. Generally, up the Namibian West Coast all the miles from Swakopmund there’s just peace and quiet, and the sound of the sea. It’s quite special and pretty much the area where I like to fish. My favourite fishing spot is Paaltjies, heading towards Sandwich Harbour – it reminds me of fishing with my father, although its catch and release now.

Higgs also enjoys cycling to unwind. “I ride mountain bikes and it’s close to my heart.” In fact, “In my dreams I would like to be a professional cyclist (haha).”

Higgs’ favourite dish to make? 

“I love slow cooking dishes like casseroles and stews, and I love cooking on fire. As I say in the book: ‘The first fish out of the water, goes onto the fire.’ It’s still the best way to eat – uncomplicated and with a little salt, pepper and lemon juice. It goes perfectly with an ice-cold beer.

From his book, he would recommend the snoek with the sweet potato and apricot jam, the fish stew and the curry tomato soup.

If he could cook for anyone, it would have been his father. “Sadly, I was never able to cook for him while he was still alive.”

I always wonder where chefs’ preferred culinary destinations are. Higgs says: “I’m a big fan of New York, and I always have been. There is a lot on offer and a lot to see in a small space – you don’t have to travel far and wide to taste different types of cuisine. It’s got a great international offering, even if you are limited for time.”

It’s been quite an emotional experience, and it’s reminded me of so many stories from my childhood, and things I had forgotten about. But it’s lovely to be able to share this with people and tell stories as they are. It’s also great to be able to give everyone a real peak into the ‘behind the scenes’ of a professional kitchen. Some people will relate, and some won’t – but I like it, and so I hope people enjoy it. – Chef David Higgs on writing Mile 8.

Higgs says that Mile 8 is really accessible to everybody. “The important thing about cooking is that you need to experiment, and you need to push yourself. You don’t have to do everything the recipe says – you don’t have to put a lemon gel, you can rather just put a squeeze of lemon. I’m really just trying to show the combination of flavours. I wanted to have something for everyone – chefs, home cooks and even for people that collect beautiful coffee table books – to tell people about Namibia, South Africa, and show them what we’re about.”

Prohibition Gin – Helping folk dance

Silver Creek Craft Distillery founder and chief distiller, Mark Taverner, knows how to have a good time. Much of his working life has been dedicated to hospitality and it was on this journey that he fell in love with American iconography. During a Harley-Davidson motorcycle tour to the USA in 2014 he noted the rise of craft distilleries and the legal production of moonshine. After two and a half years of study and research – including a stint at Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky – Mark decided to set up his own craft distillery in Gauteng. And so Silver Creek, its Southern Moonshine and Prohibition Gins were born.

Tucked away in an old mine building in Gauteng’s Randfontein, the state-of-the-art Silver Creek Craft Distillery does everything by hand – from mashing and fermentation to distillation and bottling. This process allows for extra special care, which is why every bottle is signed by the distiller.

First came Southern Moonshine and now, South Africa’s one-of-a-kind Silver Creek Craft Distillery’s two new two gins are made in the same style as gin from America’s notorious Prohibition era. Prohibition Craft Gin and Prohibition Pink Gin are handmade in small batches – distilled to fine spirit from carefully selected grains.

“Prohibition was a ban imposed on liquor through the campaigns of America’s ultra-conservative Temperance Movement of the early 1900s,” says Taverner.

“The ban in 1920 created a very fertile environment for the illegal liquor trade and many entertaining tales of gin-making by the light of the moon and lively underground speakeasies. Business flourished for gang bosses and the likes of Al Capone made a fortune during this time. By today’s measure, it is estimated that he would have been worth over R16-billion. Prohibition only lasted for 13 years, ended by overwhelming objection. As you can imagine, this was time to party and everyone rose to the occasion. To this day, its death knell in 1933 is widely celebrated.

Taverner says that by making their Prohibition Gin in the same traditional style as back then, they salute those who fought so gallantly to have the law revoked.

“We like to think of this particular style of gin as helping folk dance since 1933!”

Silver Creek’s distillers put their minds to making a clear craft gin in the New World style – fresh and crisp, not too dry and infused with traditional botanicals of juniper, coriander, lemon, angelica and cinnamon. “These would have been used in the time of Prohibition,” says Mark.

The resulting Prohibition Craft Gin, bottled at 43% alcohol, is a versatile spirit ideally suited to be further enhanced with botanicals, fresh fruit and herbs and good quality craft tonics. In the glass, Prohibition Craft Gin offers the immediate impression of balance with a fresh, crisp burst of citrus followed by lingering juniper and a hint of cinnamon. Citrus is again prominent on the dry palate, gently supported by the taste of juniper. The finish is defined by a crisp, clean smoothness that lingers with an earthy character.

The Prohibition Pink Gin, also at 43%, is Silver Creek’s Craft Gin further infused with raspberries and blueberries, with a touch of hibiscus flowers and rose water. The result is a refreshing drink that is both aromatic, flavoursome and romantic.

“To us, the aromas of Prohibition Pink Gin conjure up images of an exotic eastern bazaar. There’s tantalizing sweet Turkish delight and crushed pepper corns,” says Mark.

Silver Creek Distillery quickly rose to fame last year with the launch of its moonshines, boosted by a five-medal victory at the 2017 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards.

The new Prohibition Gins retail at around R360 a bottle and are available at selected bars, restaurants and liquor outlets nationwide.

www.silvercreekdistillery.com

#silvercreekcraftdistillery #ProhibitionGin