A grilled sardine, calamari……heaven!

 

“See you at Chappies”. That was all you needed to say when we were growing up. Next thing, a cloud of Morris Minor or Mini exhausts, surfboards and long haired students would descend on Chapman’s Peak Hotel in Hout Bay and savour owner Carlos’ bad humour and succulent calamari and, not to mention, the cold beer. Beer was alway colder and better tasting at Chappies.

A fine day in Cape Town sees the Chappies’ terrace fill up to overflowing and Carlos’ son has now taken over the hostelry; smartened things up (the loos even flush now!); the waitrons beam with pride and good service and the calamari…..as good as ever.

A starter of legendary proportions: Portuguese chicken livers peri peri.
Another Peroni please.

 

For more information on Chappies, click here.

 

A view of the Gardens

One of the Top 10 attractions in South Africa is the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. We popped along on a windy day to see the new Tree top walkway – called the Boomslang.

The name Kirstenbosch first appeared in 1795, when it was listed on an inventory of property drawn up and handed over to the British Occupying forces, but the origin of the name is uncertain. It suggests a link to the Kirsten family. A number of families with the name Kirsten lived in the Cape at the time but none of them ever owned the property, and no connection has ever been traced. Nevertheless, it is probable that the land somehow became associated with one of the members of the Kirsten family, and became known as Kirstenbosch (Kirsten’s Forest).

 

We alight the walkway, high up above the tree canopy

The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway is a new curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum. Inspired by a snake skeleton, and informally called ‘The Boomslang‘ (meaning tree snake), it is a low-maintenance, low-impact sculptural raised walkway.

The Walkway takes the visitor from the forest floor into and through the trees and bursts out above the canopy, giving spectacular panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, Garden and Cape Flats.

This walkway is 130 m long, narrow and slender, with a few wider view-point areas, and lightly snakes its way through the canopy, in a discreet, almost invisible way. The walkway is crescent-shaped and takes advantage of the sloping ground; it touches the forest floor in two places, and raises visitors to 12 m above ground. It is more than just a traditional boardwalk – like a snake, it winds and dips.

The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway was built in 2013-14 to celebrate the centenary of Kirstenbosch in 2013, and opened to the public on 17 May 2014.

‘wildlife’ abounds for the visitors

 

The vygies – or wild daisies

 

Part of the massive cycad garden. Kirstenbosch has species which are so endangered you can only find them there

 

We ate at the lovely Moyo restaurant and outside is an unusual kiddies recreation area

 

What is a Boomslang?

The boomslang (Dispholidus typus) is a venomous tree snake native to Sub-Saharan Africa. Blunt-faced and pretty, with relatively enormous eyes and a bright, light green colour in males and brown in females, the boomslang spends its days up in the trees, hunting for lizards, frogs, chameleons, mice and birds. It’s a super shy and non-aggressive species – if it comes across anything it can’t swallow, it’ll be out of there so fast, the thing it couldn’t swallow probably won’t have even noticed it was there. It’s also basically the cat of the snake world, often moving into the enclosed nests of nearby birds so it can curl up and hibernate in peace during the winter months

On top of their non-aggressive tendencies, the way boomslangs are built means you have to be extremely, extremely unlucky to be bitten by one. Known as ‘rear-fanged’ snakes, their fangs are positioned way back in their mouths behind several other teeth, which means to inject someone with venom, they have to open their mouths really wide – up to 170 degrees –  so they can wrap them around the flesh and stab. There have so far been less than 10 recorded deaths from boomslang bites around the world.

One of the great things with a Babylonstoren visit is that you can put your lunch on ‘pause’ and go for a walk around the gardens and then come back to pick up where you left off. No rushing you to finish and turn the tables over.

A view of the gardens with the Simonsberg mountain the background

 

Propogating water blommetjies in the garden – not to mention the lavender in the background

 

The manor house and outbuildings

 

The gardens are full of quirky little touches – like these bird houses.

 

 

A regular visit each year and every time we are not disappointed. Koos and Karen Bekker’s magnus opus, Babylonstoren. Each year it is more developed, and better.

We dine at Babel. The menu cover says it all – fresh produce from the 20ha gardens lovingly cared by a veritable army of gardeners.

 

A new addition is a rather upmarket shop. Here we admired printed fabrics, all prices at a reassuringly expensive R1,500 per metre. We did not buy!

 

Time to eat. While making some very hard decisions from the menu, you are given some local Olive oil to taste, home baked bread and an amazing pesto spread/dip.

 

Salads come colour-coded. The yellow/orange one nestles on a bed of pumpkin fritters. 

Try the red/purple one. Beetroot in abundance.

What would a trip to the Cape be without a view of the Table cloth, pushing over Table mountain to the tune of the Cape South-Easter?

 

or maybe, just another sunset over the Atlantic Ocean?

A street food classic – Boerewors roll with onions, mustard and tomato sauce : Builders’ Warehouse, Retreat.

 

In line with the trends in cities in the U.S and U.K, a proliferation of smartly designed food trucks have appeared across Cape Town, and street food, normally in abundance in the townships, has made a slow crawl into urban areas.

The big deal is the Gatsby:

From Food and the Fabulous –

The ubiquitous Cape sandwich, similar to an American hoagie or sub, larger than a forearm, filled with slap chips, masala steak, onions and hot sauce. We choose half a dozen mince samosas and fresh cream-topped pink faloodas, neatly packaged to go for our hungry party of three. We eat the feast above paper serviettes, in the car in the parking lot, as is the norm here. The gatsby, invented in the 70’s to cater for cinemagoers as a post-film snack, is fiercely guarded as a Cape Town street food treasure, though it is available at some casual restaurants too.

Cape Town is fast becoming a film capital. At the time of writing, the local Government has reported that over 100 movies, commercials, documentaries are in production of in planning for production.

Along our morning walk, the spotted an Indian music video being produced……

When they make a music video, they do it big!

 

Nice backdrop – cloud covered Twelve Apostles

 

Madame gets to know Devotion

We drove out to Fisantekraal, near the old World War 2 Air Force base to meet Devotion. All 22 months young, frisky, sleek and muscled.

He LOVES carrots!

Stretching his legs

 

A quick chat with Luke

 

Swapping some gossip with Madame

 

 

 

One of Cape Town’s most iconic bands since the 60s has been Falling Mirror – original members Allan Faull, Nielen Marais (Mirror) and Pat Humphries had a huge hit in the 70s with ‘Johnny calls the Chemist”. Sadly, Allan Faull passed away suddenly last year in a recording studio, but Nielen and Pat have been joined by Alma Café stalwarts, Richard and Jo.

They play a regular gig at the Truth Café in central Cape Town. starting at 19h00, they knock off at a sensible (for wrinklies) 21h00. It’s a popular event and most eveings are packed.

We went along…. great night.

Falling Mirror in action

 

Nielen in his trademark felt hat centre stage

 

Check out the Truth website here.

 

Handmade coffee dispensers give off an authentic industrial atmosphere

 

Coffee grinder

Fpr more information on Truth Coffee click here.

One of our special haunts over the years and the scene of some significant celebrations, has been La Masseria. Now situated along the R44, a lunch was a must.

Crooksie’s veal with tagliatelle

La Masseria is the culmination of the Ciman family’s passion for good, wholesome food. The fare is genuine, unpretentious Italian country cuisine prepared and nurtured, as recipes and traditions have been passed down from one generation to another. The word La Masseriameans “ the farmhouse”, a homestead typical of Southern Italy, where fruits, grains, vegetables, are grown, and livestock kept, making it the embodiment of a completely self-sufficient way of life. La Masseria is where the fruits of the earth are gathered by the massaro, who ritualizes the process of growing, reaping and preserving. This is where seasons create the menu, simplicity is chef, and slow food is a way of life.

This is Lorenzo and Miki Ciman’s legacy, from which sprung La Masseria in1999, in Stellenbosch on the Blaauwklippen road. Initially started as a boutique cheesery, from where Miki, a cheese-maker, made and sold her sought-after products, then quickly extended to a small daytime restaurant as people flocked to sample her fresh produce, then add a glass of wine or two, and eventually, a restaurant emerged as people wanted more and more of the delightful goodies that were made fresh everyday on the premises. In time the cheesery made way for a full-blown Italian restaurant and the cheese operation was moved to other premises in Stellenbosch. In 2003, Miki, Lorenzo and their family moved La Masseria Restaurant to an old cellar in Eversdal, Durbanville, as the farm on which La Massseria was started, was sold. An apt move as this venue is an historical site, which is in keeping with the rustic appeal of the family’s restaurant. The Ciman’s daughters, Paola and Kiki slowly took over the apron strings and ownership of La Masseria in Durbanville, guided by their wonderful Italian heritage.

La Masseria enjoyed 9 successful years there, but on the meantime Miki stumbled upon a run-down house along the R44, and the family decided to bring La Masseria “home” to Stellenbosch and opened Agriturismo La Masseria in November 2010.With the Durbanville restaurant being sold in October 2011, the Ciman family has decided to concentrate solely on Agriturismo La Masseria – an old farmhouse on the R44, outside Stellenbosch, which is home to:

La Masseria Restaurant & Deli , Miki’s Formaggio e Fantasia (boutique cheese-making), Salumeria Ciman (Lorenzo’s charcuterie) and also plays host to the Family Farm (animal play farm) and Peppino’s (cement garden furniture). La Masseria is proud to have a loyal base of customers, who have supported us since the Stellenbosch days, followed us to the Durbanville area and now back to the current venue, all the while enjoying the quality of the authentic Italian food served in the restaurant and sold at various food shows and famers markets, the family’s sincere and natural hospitality, and from time to time, the delightful musical entertainment so ingrained in its tradition.

Today, la famiglia comes together to produce fresh homemade pasta, bread, preserves, Italian meats (made by the inimitable singing host, Lorenzo Ciman), marinated goodies and, of course, the delectable Italian cheeses, some made on the premises and others outsourced by Miki. With breathtaking views over the Helderberg, it is no wonder that La Masseria is also a popular venue for parties, corporate functions and weddings. Feel free to chat to us about your special occasion.La Masseria also offers cooking classes and Italian charcuterie workshops , as well as a selection of their products for sale (on order), e.g fresh pasta, Italian homecured meats, fresh bread, etc. And, a food-to-go Menu is also available for you when entertaining at home: simply order 48hrs in advance from our various lasagnes, pasta dishes , as well as the Antipasto and Italian snack platters.

 

Madame’s mushroom (funghi) risotto

 

My slow cooked venison stew with mashed potatoes and local veggies.

 

Restaurant & Deli, R44, Stellenbosch (opposite Mooiberge Farmstall)
Tel: +2721 881 3654
info@lamasseria.co.za

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