Power of the midweek reset

late arrival

In many ways it wouldn’t be amiss if we were to be referred to as city slickers. Our lives are pretty much centered around the urban sprawl that is Cape Town.

Living in the city has many advantages, true. However, it does come with some disadvantages. Work and the constant-go-nature are just some of these disadvantages. We’re forever moving, on the chase, blissfully unaware that we may be out sync with our partners.

Enter The Residences- Crystal Towers.

Views

To be fair most of our relaxation comes from visiting wine estates, taking scenic coastal drives, or going for walks (be it by the sea or mountain side)………..but the feeling doesn’t last.

Thus when we got the opportunity to “press” the midweek reset button, we soon realized that a one night sleep out was exactly what the doctor ordered.

 

Centrally located in Century City The Residences offered us the chance to blow off some steam. Connect. Eat a hearty breakfast. Take in the views and sights. And we also gave ourselves the opportunity to acquire a second wind to finish off the week on a high.

breakfast

Judging by the success of this mini break we can only urge couples to follow suit. If you’re wondering where to go you don’t have to look far beyond the centrally located Century City. And the The Residences are well placed to be your home way from home for a night.

 

The Robertson Wine Valley- no letdowns with the surprises

It’s incredible just how quickly one can adjust to their surroundings. The views offered by Galloway Guest House are really magnificent- especially in the mornings and at sunset. On our check-out day the sky was crystal clear and the contours, colors & details of the mountains surrounding us seemed to be more, and for a lack of a better word, “alive”. Our initial (and perhaps obvious) reaction was to wish for “one more day” so we could savor it for longer & more.

We reluctantly started packing our bags and soon Galloway Guest House was in our rear-view mirror. A special word of thanks to Jana & Johan (owners of Galloway Guest House) for their hospitality. Our room was cosy and well-equipped and the spectacular views of the Langeberg mountain was the icing on the cake.

We took a leisurely drive through the Robertson Wine Valley as we made our way to our first experience of the day at Viljoensdrift. The drive was scenic and delightful- best you bring along your best driving music to enjoy the experience even more.

En route to our first stop of the day we saw groups of families (dressed in their Sunday best) making their way to their various places of worship. Nobody rushing. Befitting the general mood of the Robertson Wine Valley.

Viljoensdrift. A jewel, whose backdrop is the Elandsberg Mountains, sits nestled on the banks of the Breede River. It simply caters for all needs.  Are you looking for a quiet picnic-type setup? It’s here. You want to have a get-together for a big group of people? No problem. You have children? Play areas to take care of that. We also caught a band setting up to perform a live gig. Simply put: Viljoensdrift has something to offer everyone.

Before signing our indemnity forms for the boat cruise we had a sneaky wine tasting kicking off with the Villion MCC and finishing off with the Merlot “River Grandeur” (2015). Seeing that we arrived almost 30m to spare before our cruise we also took advantage of their beautiful picnic garden on the river bank.

The boat cruise, which lasts around an hour, is a great way to “get up close” with the mountain and river. With good weather and a beautiful bottle of Viljoensdrift Sauvignon Blanc (2017) by our side, the cruise was terrific! Within a blink of an eye, the hour whizzed by and soon we were back on firm ground. The docking of the boat signaled the end of the first part of our experience- we must admit at being envious of those arriving as we were departing – especially with the live band already in full swing. Soon we were pointed in the direction of Graham Becks’ Estate ready to tackle our last experience of what had been an amazing weekend in the Robertson Wine Valley.

The experience at Graham Beck, with it’s beautifully manicured gardens, was the perfect way sign off the weekend. The geographical location was perfect; a short left, literally off the R60, a mere 15 or so minutes outside Robertson, and you enter the stunning grounds of Graham Beck Estate.

We kicked off our experience with a glass of Graham Beck “GORGEOUS” Chardonnay Pinot Noir. A perfect companion for any mood and/ occasion. And on this occasion a beautifully ladened platter of cheese, charcuterie, breads and fruits.

Graham Beck sparkling wines are of a very high standard but we were pleasantly delighted to try both the Vintage & Non-Vintage tastings. We were both familiar with some of the Non-Vintage range but had never had any of the Vintage range before. We were not disappointed. (If you opt to do the tasting inside you’ll be spellbound by the views of the mountains that open up in front you- like something out of a postcard!)

Our last bit of tasting signaled the end of our Robertson Wine Valley experience. When we arrived in Robertson on the Friday night we could never have imagined that we would spend days on end speaking about experiences to anyone willing to lend an ear. This was without doubt one of the best local getaway weekends we’ve had. And definitely one we’ll be repeating (and with friends next time around)

The weekend proved to us that if you’re willing to explore there are tons of amazing experiences out there that await you. The Robertson Wine Valley, with its natural beauty, humble residents & incredible offerings is one such place that has plenty to offer.

A special word of thanks to Mira Weiner, Hot Oven Marketing, who put together the most amazing itinerary and gave us a weekend full of the most amazing food, wine, hospitality & views. If the experience of the Robertson Wine Valley was anything to go by, we have vowed to make it our point to find/ unearth more wonders of this nature.

 

The Robertson Wine Valley- the idyllic escape

Wow! Can’t believe that it’s been almost 2 months since our last post. It’s amazing just how much can actually happen in a short period of time. We’ve certainly witnessed and experienced a great deal over the past 2 months- some of it good and some of it, not so good. But the overall journey of the past 2 months has been nothing short of incredible. We must make it clear though that, in the past 2 months, we have gone out but the spots we’ve been to have been determined by: last-minute decisions or preference to dine at places where we’re familiar with the food &/ menu. So we felt that had we posted anything we’d not be doing the places nor the readers any justice.

So you can imagine that after such a long absence our date night proved to be so much more than that. We had an entire weekend to explore the Robertson Wine Valley; and what  the region had to offer left us spellbound. Seeing that our experiences spanned over a couple of days we felt we wouldn’t be doing it justice to have a single post and thus in an effort to give a detailed account of our experiences we felt that a 2-part post would suffice.  Having decided to depart from Cape Town at around 8pm on Friday evening we eventually entered the Robertson Wine Valley just under 2 hours later (we’ll not go into too much detail about taking a wrong turn & ending up driving the length of Roodewal township). Thank heavens our hosts at Galloway Guest House were patient enough to stay up till our arrival. We did as one does after a long day & opened the door to the bar fridge and opened a bottle of vino (celebrating our arrival). Our excitement and source of energy would dissipate very soon though and we’d shut down. All the while being clueless to the surprises that awaited us the next day.

The next day we awoke up to the sound of birds, the bellowing of the resident bull and fresh, clean air. We immediately felt as though we were no longer city slickers, and were very happy to tap into the pace of the region. Again our hosts had a great deal to do with this (as much as they were there, they were non-intrusive) and gave us time and room to get into the groove & vibe of the weekend. Shortly after a hearty breakfast and giving a lift to one of the locals we made our way to our first experience of the day, Marbrin (for olive oil & olive tasting).

We could not have wished for a better start! And it’s true what they say: there is no substitute for passion and Clive Heyman’s (the olive farmer’s) energy is infectious. Never in a million years did we ever think that olive oil tasting would be on our “to-do” list….first thing on a Saturday morning. This stop is simply a “must-do” for anyone venturing out to the Robertson Wine Valley. It’s simply an experience that cannot be missed. If you want to learn about olive oils, or even if you don’t: this stop is a must!

Our next stop was at the Ashton Winery and once again the experience here couldn’t be more different than that of Marbrin. However, there was one undeniable and similar trait between the two: the service and passion of the staff was once again at the fore. Chocolate & wine pairing (no more needs to be said).

The pairings were extraordinary: local wine + local chocolate = magic. The Chardonnay & Chenin were fantastic but we both agreed that the Roodewal Reserve (2017) needed a special mention. If you thought chocolate was a specialty perfected only by the Swiss, you’d be happy to know that our own chocolatiers are producing incredible creations of exceptionally high standards.

After sampling some beautiful wines and chocolates we were off to Rietvallei. Picturesque. Pristine architecture and bubbly service.

Always great to speak to people who come from similar environments as you (the wine tasting room manager is a capetonian who’s decided to settle in Robertson) and her insight into how her life had changed following her move from the city was fantastic (it suddenly dawned on us that it’s a seemingly regular occurrence for people making the switch from city life to pastoral life.. and with seemingly relative ease). The beauty and serenity provided by Rietvallei was incredible and perhaps just what the doctor ordered in terms of finding a place where one can sit in relative peace and make an effort to take in all that’s around them. And the experience was made that much better with a glass of John B Brut Sparkling Chardonnay (2017).  We must mention that the Award-winning Rietvallei Sauvignon Blanc (2017) was great accompaniment for the meat & cheese platter-according to our taste.

After Rietvallei we had our 2nd last experience of the day at Zandvliet. Another unforgettable experience. We came to learn of a farm where many of the people working on it, were either born or had family that was born on the farm. And yet, having spent much of their lives on the property, they remain passionate about the wine farm and the work that’s done on the estate as well as have deep respect  for their fellow employees and visitors.

The cellar tour was a highlight for the both of us and then getting the chance to blend our own bottle according to our taste and preferences was a bonus. And we’re both making an effort to store them, only to be opened for special occasions (minimum 5 years from now).

We had a little R & R at Galloway after a long day out in the sun, but the evening was topped off by an amazing culinary experience we had at Mimosa Lodge in Montagu. The setting? modest. The food? extraordinary. We had a 4-course wine & food pairing and every single course did not disappoint. Again passion was at the fore here, and when a chirpy table of 16 or so  people suddenly goes quiet and the chirps get replaced by the sounds of cutlery scraping on the crockery and the occasional deep sigh, one is made to take note of the food. It’s been a very a long time since we’ve walked into an unassuming environment and walked out with our jaws on the floor due to the high quality of food & service.

Upon returning to Galloway Guest House to call it a night we were awed by the experiences that we’d had from the start of the day; kicking off with olive oil tasting and concluding with the food-and-wine-pairing experience at Mimosa Lodge. Bring on the new day and the experiences that lay in wait.

A home away from home

Coming into the week we had reasons to be happy. After all we were coming off a weekend that started off at an alarming pace- chores, work, appointments (we’re all very familiar with this) but it ended off on a surprisingly relaxing (and certainly most welcome!) note. So waking up on Monday to start the week, we were rather well-rested. Then our help at home failed to arrive at work- and just like that our reasonably relaxed start was flipped on its head!

The first couple days of the week were testing to say the least! Yet through the chaos of it all we received some positive news (new work on the horizon) and so when our date night at Savoy Cabbage came around we would have plenty to smile about.

To be honest as much as we were looking forward to our date night we were also rather fatigued and were secretly praying that we weren’t going to arrive to a carnival-like atmosphere. Just to make sure that we would avoid any possibility of such a scenario playing out we got there early. We should have known better! Caroline Bagley, the owner, is well-versed at making her diners feel at home. The pace, the friendly staff and the atmosphere all come together to put one at ease. There’s no doubting/ questioning the aesthetic beauty of the establishment & the gaps in our conversation were only cut by silence brought on by us being intrigued by the artwork on display.

Our savory and fish starters followed by hearty main meals of warthog & fish hit the spot. And what was meant to have been a quick stop-over turned out into a marathon affair. It was more a feeling of being in a home away from home.  As the evening rolled on and the hours passed by we sat and admired all that was going on around us- and we didn’t mind one bit. We needed this evening to re-focus our attention to our weekly family goals.

Our eating experience ended with a shared desert (caramel & chocolate tart) & at its conclusion we both agreed that the non-intrusive approach & friendliness of the staff (led by Caroline’s wisdom & passion), the intriguing aesthetics & the chef’s ability to cater to the palate make Savoy Cabbage an ideal choice for those couples & friends looking to either catch up or to pump the breaks and slow down the pace, over a good meal. For those of you who are not interested in the food, Savoy Cabbage is there to cater to you too, it is after all a Restaurant & Champagne Bar……………..We’ll cheers to that.

In between the water & the mountain

Depending on where you’re seated you can have either the view of the Indian Ocean or the Kalk Bay Mountains. Or you can choose to position your seats in such a way that you see both. With the local fishermen (on this particular night, at least 50 strong) casting their rods in seemingly unrehearsed unison into the waters below in hope of a good catch, the views on offer are simply astounding. A welcome relief from the constant buzz & hustle of the city. The feeling of being a hamster on a wheel is an all too familiar one and establishments such as Harbour House Restaurant offer the perfect relief from this unseen trap.

The build up to this week’s date night was frantic to say the least. I guess that’s something that comes with this thing of being an adult as well as being a parent- there’s seemingly always something to do! Last-minute shopping, organizing play dates (and attending them), coordinating calendars with extending family, the little one’s swimming sessions. Sjoe! The list is extensive and one would be forgiven for not being able to discern from its beginning  or ending. We needed to be reminded about the importance of ‘getting off the wheel’ and with its wide range of beautiful sights & sounds Harbour House Restaurant offers its diners and visitors an idyllic dining experience.

Being so close to the ocean we would have done the place a major injustice if we hadn’t selected seafood. And in an effort to shed the unnecessary ‘heavy baggage’ we opted for seafood ceviche & Tian of prawn to kick off our dining experience.  A fitting decision! Seated next to the window we made an effort to feel the pulse of the Kalk Bay and not surprisingly, it seemed as though there was none! The windless evening, the sound of the waves, the fresh ocean smell only broken by the detailed backdrop of the Kalk Bay Mountains were enough to let us get lost in the evening.

We decided to split our dinner options to seafood & game. Queue the order envy! However, when all was said and done both plates were fairly void of any food by the time they were taken to the kitchen.

As has become our custom we end the dining experience by sharing the desert: a Trio of Sobert. The act of sharing our meals has become a way of us connecting and making sure that we leave as we entered, together. We are  once again thankful for this week’s date night. We’re constantly learning about and, perhaps most importantly, from each other. One of the most crucial things we’ve taken away from this experience is understanding the importance of forging a  new path & not getting on the hamster wheel.

Just when we began getting lost in this idyllic world a big boom of “Cheers” followed by the clinking of glasses came from across the room. Just then it was evident that other people were happy to have discovered this gem between the water & the mountain.

Thursday night delight

What a week! Our home’s been like an incubation chamber: with our son falling ill past Sunday night (but thankfully bouncing back as quickly as he went down) & then the virus hitting us, meaning separate sleeping arrangements for the bulk of the week. So you can imagine (also with the Dr’s stamp of approval) how great it was to go out on a date night.

This time there was a great deal to catch up on before; as well as during the date night. So when we eventually sat down, we (in both a proverbial  & literal sense) exhaled! There was a great deal to shed from the week. Tonight’s date night felt, for lack of a better expression, like an evening of giving gratitude. First and foremost we had to give thanks for the family’s return to good health: spells of being ill show you just how brittle  & vulnerable we can be & reemphasizes the importance of making an effort to look after our health.  Then we had to give thanks for having each other. When you know (during the moments when we’re most vulnerable) your partner will be there to carry you through: that’s something to cheer.

Mink & Trout was perfect for our date night. The seating setup is fantastic for a couple or groups of 4 . We sat nestled in the corner right next to the window and were able to take in some of the sites & sounds of Cape Town’s Bree Street and we got a great view of Mink & Trout’s layout, including the kitchen.

With the attention finally turned to each other we got up to speed on the week’s comings & goings. The table setting was intimate and allowed us the ability to be close to each other & to engage without the need to strain our voices. Then our attention turned to the food. And just to our luck tapas was on the menu. Starter sorted, order envy avoided. The constant chit-chatter interrupted by bursts of laughter inside a restaurant adds to the general atmosphere & maybe a good indicator of people’s enjoyment of the food too, perhaps?

Our tapas were great. The mains (pork belly & free range chicken pie) ticked all the right notes & the desert (panna cotta: we couldn’t go it alone & resorted to sharing) the perfect sweetness & lightness to finish the night. Perhaps the panna cotta was the perfect way to sum up our evening & kick off our weekend. After some filling meals it gave us a beautiful light send off.

We couldn’t have wished for a better place to help set the tone for our weekend. Great service. Delicious food. Warm environment. And a Head Chef always ready for a sneaky little pic? priceless.

If you’re looking for a place that will give you good food and provide you with a spring into  the weekend (or week day) then look no further than Mink & Trout.

Thali- the hidden gem in the hustle & bustle of the city

It’s Feb. The month of love. We’re in Cape Town. If you’re familiar with things then you know this: it’s hot &
restaurants are generally chock-a-block. So you can imagine our surprise to find a hidden gem in the hustle & bustle of the city.

When we first walked into Thali we couldn’t believe that we were in the city. Upon entry you are immediately transported to another world. And if you’re going on a date night- that’s a great start! You can’t help, but to leave all your stresses
at the door.

The relentless Cape Town heat made the decision to sit in the outside courtyard area easy. The mood in the
area was jovial. People were smiling, laughing and generally looking relaxed. Another essential ingredient
for a good date night. With it being February, maybe the month of love had a great deal to do with this?
Either way, it paved the way for a positive experience. The week leading up to our date night had been rather
busy so our experience of Thali could not have come at a better time.

Thali (“a set meal at an Indian restaurant” or “a metal plate on which Indian food is served”) Whichever one
of these definitions suits your fancy, the restaurant has it covered. The set tapas on offer (served on round
metal plates) is incredible. Whenever we eat out, almost all of the time one of us always feels as though
they’ve made the incorrect order choice. Yes!Order envy is rife in our home. Tapas eliminates this & Thali’s
craftsmanship in the kitchen will leave you wanting more.

Being a date night we also wanted time to ourselves, and as if by some magical way, the staff knew this. Not
only were they attentive, inviting & very well-versed on the menu & the Thali experience, but they gave us
our space. The result of which ended up with us having some much-needed QT together.

Having spent time in the courtyard we migrated to the middle seating area where got a full view of the kitchen.
The shining gold/bronze kitchen utensils contribute to the fanfare provided by the dining experience.

If you’re looking to spend quality time with your partner/friend over good food then Thali has a winning formula. Staff, food and the environment have all come together to create an unforgettable
experience in the heart of the city.

Month of love or not, we’ll definitely be coming back.