17 Jan

Annual Classic Car and Bike show at Timour Hall

The Classic Car and Bike Show has been hosted annually by the International Police Association for 10 successful years, as a means of fundraising for their various charitable programs and is held at beautiful 19th century Mansion, Timour Hall Villa.  Although the first show featured only a handful of clubs, the event has grown steadily in popularity with exhibitors and members of the public.  In 2006, it was decided to expand the event from a single day into a two day event to include modern and future Classics on the Saturday with Vintage and Classics remaining on the Sunday. This decision allowed the inclusion of more clubs and increased the field of interest to attract the younger generation.  Since the purpose of this Classic car show is to raise funds, the ability to help others grows with the show, with funds being donated annually to a deserving charity cause.Triumphs at Classic car show

The public pays a very affordable R20 admission with children under 12 free and tickets are available at the gate both days or from Computicket!  The show is open to the public from 10am – 4pm.  Note that none of the vehicles from the Saturday display will appear on the Sunday display, so do come both days.   Bring the Family!  The organisers strive to make this a day that can be enjoyed by the whole family and there here will be plenty of refreshments available, with a number of food stalls to tickle the taste buds, cool drinks to banish thirst and the popular, shaded beer garden.

Saturday 19 January will features Modern Classics

On day one of the Show, the exhibition will consist of vehicles which can be defined as ‘Modern Classics”. These include Hot Rods, Street Rods, souped up vehicles, racing cars and bikes, custom vehicles and motorcycles and this year a selection of cute and loveable old school Minis! This is a day that will appeal to many motoring enthusiasts.

Sunday 20 January features Vintage, Veteran and Classics.

On day two of the Show, the exhibition will consist of vehicles dating back to the late 1890’s, to classics that were loved in our youth. These are the classics that invoke an era of elegance, a more relaxed way of life and a time when craftsmanship was an important element of vehicle design and manufacture. This is always a popular display and will appeal to anyone with a love of restored and maintained classic vehicles.

The venue is at the bottom of Timour Hall Rd, off Gabriel Rd in Plumstead.  For maps, please see the venue website at www.timourhall.com . Check out info on the charity aims for 2013 on their website www.classiccarandbikeshow.co.za

PUBLIC PARKING is available only at Timour Hall Primary School on Gabriel Rd, Plumstead and visitors are encouraged to park their vehicles there and walk down Timour Hall Rd to the venue as public parking at the venue this year is limited to the DISABLED only, but there are no disabled facilities on-site.

By Horizon Cottages, Noordhoek

Tim 2 Timour hall villa

3 Jan

Kaapse Klopse – Cape Town’s Minstrel Carnival

The Kaapse Klopse is a music and costume carnival celebrated on 2nd January each year in the streets of Cape Town. This festival originates from the days of slavery under the Dutch when the slaves were given a day off at the start of the New Year. For centuries 2 January was a public holiday in Cape Town as a result of this celebration.  The Carnival has been held since the mid 1800’s and is believed to have been influenced by American minstrels from visiting ships, notably the US Southern Confederate raider the “Alabama” which underwent refit in Cape Town in 1863 and whose visit is still celebrated in one of the traditional folk songs. The festival evolved into one of groups of singers, dancers and bands dressed in colourful silk outfits competing with each other in song, dance and parades through the streets of Cape Town.

Preparations for the  Cape Minstrel Carnival, as it is now officially designated, starts months in advance with troupes rehearsing their songs, dance routines and parades for months. Costumes typically feature bold, multihued colourful satin fabric, bow ties, umbrellas and hats. Over the years, these minstrels, with their rich blend of music and spectacle, grouped into ‘klopse’, or clubs  to compete, which is how the Afrikaans name for the festival stuck.  The Minstrel Carnival of today features more than 65 troupes, tens of thousands of minstrels, strumming banjos, blowing trumpets, trombones and generally making merry. The majority of the minstrels come from the Islamic community; ancestors of the slaves brought by the Dutch from the East Indies, and other “coloured” or mixed race communities; who are mainly Afrikaans speaking.

The Carnival parade held on 2 January 2013 kicked off in District Six, previously home of the “coloured” community which was notoriously razed by the Apartheid regime in the 1960’s. The Grand Parade in front of the Cape Town city hall was the scene of musical entertainment and many food tents to keep the crowds entertained while waiting. Most people however, preferred to lay claim to a shaded spot on the route despite the relatively late starting time of noon and the finish time of 8 pm. Locals and visitors descended on the city in their tens of thousands, and by early afternoon the crowded streets were oppressive in the heat. Refreshments are plentifully available, although the portable toilets provided are only for the very brave, or very desperate.  Many families arrive as early as 7 am pitching a shade tent, setting out chairs and bringing a picnic for the day. Cape Metro police were on hand in great numbers to ensure that all went peacefully.

It required fortitude and determination to be able to see much of the 2013 Festival parade. After the official opening at 12, following the firing of the famous “noon gun”, a single troupe paraded along the route to the end point of the “Bo Kaap” or Cape Malay quarter, after which everything shut down for the Muslim mid-day prayer time. At around 2:30pm another troupe followed the routes when all was shut down again for afternoon prayers. By 5 pm only 6 of the reputed 65 troupes had strutted their stuff. Even some of the dedicated locals were taking down their shades and heading for home by then. We, too, had had enough after seeing so little to reward us for having to stand in the streets for more than 6 hours. Some of our guests at our Cape Town self-catering cottages stayed the course and reported that by 6pm the remaining crowds were rewarded by one troupe after another parading in quick succession and that the parade finished just before 8pm. I think that the city officials should communicate this information in their press releases and that the organisers should consider scheduling their parade to be more convenient for the spectators and supporters. Perhaps this is why the Kaapse Klopse does not feature highly on the list of things for visitors to Cape Town to see during their visit.





23 Dec

Fish Hoek Galley -restaurant on the beach

The Fish Hoek Galley occupies an enviable position right on one of the most popular family beaches of Cape Town, and has been around for decades. It is popular both with locals and visitors as it offers an excellent choice of fish and seafood at good value for money. Although we have eaten there many times over the years it had been some time before we visited them recently, attracted by an advertised  special offer which included grilled yellow tail, favourite of both my wife and myself.

The summers in Cape Town are made even more enjoyable by the fact that the sun only sets at around 8 pm. When we arrived at the restaurant at 7 pm there were many children playing happily with their parents in the gently sloping waters and on the clean white sand that characterises the sheltered beach of Fish Hoek; one of False Bay’s most popular beaches.  Tables in the restaurant are thoughtfully placed so that the majority of diners are able to enjoy, through the large glass windows of the restaurant, a magnificent view of the Bay, the Jaeger walk along the shore, the mountain at Kalk Bay and the bathers enjoying the beach.

We had made an early reservation in order to be able to enjoy the view as much as the meal. When we arrived however we stood waiting for quite some time for anyone to attend to us and lead us to a table. Waitrons buzzed by, ignoring us as we stood waiting, which did not start our evening well. As my irritation level raised, the lady who appeared to be in charge arrived to greet us but then the reservation book could not be found which resulted in further delay while it was sought to see our table number. We were then seated at a very nice table right in front of the windows and promptly served with a drink, while we browsed through the menu. Unfortunately the first waitron that we asked about the special was not aware of it and thought that the special included grilled sole. Having called the supervisor, who clarified the matter, we placed our orders, relaxed and enjoyed the drink. The platters of grilled yellow tail fish, 3 small grilled prawns and some strips of breaded cuttlefish steaks arrived -not calamari as advertised. The fish was served both with fries and savoury rice, garnished with a little salad. It was certainly attractively presented; accompanied by some five different sauces, and a thoughtfully provided finger bowl.

The fillet of Yellow tail was superb; a generous portion lightly topped with a spice mixture and nicely grilled so that it was just done; being a game fish it is easy to dry out this fish by overcooking. The “calamari” was also perfectly done and very enjoyable. The prawns, however, were mealy and it was a battle to persuade the shells to release the meat. Aside from this little complaint, the whole dish was very satisfying, and, we thought,  great value for money at R99.00.  On previous occasions I have enjoyed their Fisherman’s platter : “a choice of prawns, calamari, mussels, seafood kebab and line fish caringly prepared and served with rice, French fries and a selection of sauces” which is also great value at R129, as well as the line fish of the day, which has never failed to please.  Having had an ample meal, we declined the desserts to enjoy a walk on the beach.

The Fish Hoek Galley is unpretentious, serves really good fish and seafood at prices that don’t break the bank, even in peak season, but a little more supervision of the restaurant or training of the staff could improve the  dining experience.

The Bayside also includes a “Bistro” with table both inside and out , offering a wide selection of affordable dishes,  making this ideal for informal family beach meals. Bathers in baggies, or those in shorts and T shirts are welcome. Parents can enjoy a sundowner drink at an outside table while the kids play on the beach or in the playground and we usually recommend this option to guests with families staying at our affordable self-catering accommodation in Cape Town.



14 Dec

Cape Town safety tips for travellers

Cape Town is a safe place for travellers to visit. Every year approximately 1.8 million travellers will be able to tell you the same thing. At the end of the day these Cape Town safety tips are the same ones you should use when visiting any popular city in the world; if you practice general street smarts, you’ll never have cause to feel unsafe. Often international travellers consider South Africa to be an unsafe destination. A lot of this paranoia has stemmed from sensationalist media and crime statistics based mainly on the poorer township regions. Cape Town city is one of safest of world tourist destinations thanks to an excellent security plan that has been put in place to ensure visitor safety.

All you need is a bit of common sense and to follow our streetwise safety tips below. Here is a list of easy, no-nonsense Cape Town safety tips for travellers:

Car safety • Keep your car doors locked • Wind windows up when in stationary position • Leaving valuable items openly displayed in the car is an open invite to thieves; put them in the trunk or glove compartment •

Don’t leave GPS accessories in clear view when away from your car- store them in the trunk •

Ensure rented cars are fully serviced and topped up on fuel •

If you are lost, stop and ask for directions at the nearest police or fuel station •

Be wary of loiterers at traffic lights- keep doors locked and windows closed •

Park in secure parking lots or where car attendants are present (remember to tip them only once you have returned to your car. About R5 will suffice) •

Manually check your doors are locked before leaving your car.

Train safety •

When travelling by train hold onto your bag, don’t put it on the floor, the seat next to you, or on your back •

The safest time to travel is at peak hours of 07:00 – 09:00 and between 16:00 – 18:00 •

Don’t travel on trains after dark Areas to avoid •

Townships :

Only venture into the townships if accompanied by a tour guide •

Avoid the townships at night •

If walking alone steer clear of isolated areas or dense roadside bushes and ditche

Don’t flaunt your wealth, conceal cameras, mobiles, laptops, wallets and expensive accessories and don’t carry large amounts of cash •

Zip up your bags and lock if possible, keeping a firm hold on handbags •

If hiking and climbing, do so in groups and carry a mobile phone with you •

Be wary of opportunistic pick-pockets  when walking on busy streets or in crowds •

Take note of the specific opening and closing times of tourist spots to avoid being stranded •

If you are approached by a vagrant, give them food rather than money, however you are not obliged to give them anything.

Safety after dark • Avoid poorly lit and isolated areas • Don’t walk the streets alone • Park as close to your destination as possible • Stay on the main streets and avoid side roads and shortcuts • Ask locals or your host advice on where the best spots to go out are • If intoxicated get a taxi home, don’t walk.

Safety for woman and children • Avoid driving alone after dark through rural areas • Ensure your children carry mobile phones at all times • Know your children’s schedules • Teach your children basic safety rules such as not talking to strangers.

Emergency Numbers • Police (Tourist Assistance Unit) – 021 418 2852 • Ambulance – 10177 • Fire Brigade – 021 461 5555 • Mountain Rescue – 10111 • Sea Rescue – 021 405 3500

As a past traveller to Cape Town put it on World Traveller, “Go out on the streets, and have a great time. Keep your valuables protected, your wits about you, and don’t let the ridiculous reports in the press interfere with having a wonderful experience in this city!” By knowing these Cape Town safety tips for travellers there is really no need to feel unsafe. Cape Town is safer for tourists than most large international cities.

by Guest Blogger Dalene Ingham-Brown  of Discover Africa

26 Nov

Saul’s Mediterranean Taverna – Sea Point

My wife is a prawn addict- she loves them prepared in every way and seldom orders anything else when we eat out; which we do quite frequently. I had been attracted by a special offer to enjoy a 1kg Queen prawn platter for 2 at Saul’s Taverna in Sea Point, at only R99. Although this restaurant is out of our way, I decided to enjoy a Sunday in the City, as the day promised an end to the chill and rain of this past weekend and give her a treat.

Saul’s Taverna is at the top end of Sea Point at 103 Main road; easy enough to find and parking in nearby streets was not difficult to find. The restaurant faces the street and has both an outside covered patio and large sliding windows to let the summer sun and weather in. The place has a cheerful, Mediterranean ambiance, with vaulted ceilings and arches, and terrazzo tiled floors.  The prawn special was everything that one could have wished for. Grilled seafood can easily be overdone but these prawns,  grilled on the flame, were succulent and delicious, served with a Garlic butter sauce and a selection of bottled Peri- Peri sauces. The tiny fries that accompanied the prawns were lightly spiced and delicious.  When eating prawns, however, the finger bowls should be brought at the beginning of the meal not after.

Sauls Taverna is obviously popular, in spite of the competition from the many restaurants in the street; probably because it offers large portions at very good value. The Menu features some Mediterranean specialities and a few more innovative dishes, such as Kudu Espatadas, (R115).  This makes a great family eating out venue as Pizzas, Pasta  and burgers are very affordably priced as is the Fish ‘n Chips at only R39. The wine list offered   a reasonable selection, affordably priced but, disappointingly, only indifferent house wine was available by the glass.

The service was friendly but not very efficient even though the restaurant was not too busy. One gained the impression that the waitrons were inexperienced and possibly untrained.

In summary: Great prawns; and a good value for money eatery.


24 Nov

Noordhoek’s new Community Market

Noordhoek is a coastal village that offers visitors a rural country charm. There is an on-going tussle here between those who would suppress any attempts to make the village more popular and those who wish to promote and share what Noordhoek has to offer- peace, tranquillity, clean air and more sunlight hours than anywhere in Cape Town.  Residents bemoan the fact that the very popular Thursday Earth Fair market at Noordhoek Village had to be closed because of those who objected about zoning issues at Noordhoek Farm Village

One of Noordhoek’s more recent success stories is the establishment of a vineyard that is uniquely situated on the narrow strip of the Southern Peninsula between the cold Atlantic and warmer waters of False Bay; a strip of land that is continually buffeted by breezes from both of the oceans and which appears to create a microclimate ideal for the production of award winning Sauvignon Blanc wines. The Noordhoek vineyards stretch high up the mountain slopes from Silvermine Rd in the village, overlooking the magnificent stretch of Noordhoek beach as well as the wetlands; creating an enviable spot for picnics. Cape Point Vineyards has now stepped into the breach with a new community market aimed at bringing together local producers as well as the people of the village and which will be held each Thursday from 4:30 to 8:30 pm.

The inaugural market held on Thursday 22 November was an unqualified success, starting with a complimentary glass of their iconic “spattered toad” red or white wine for the first hundred guests, and a thank you note from the owners. The Noordhoek Community Market is held in their new tented Summer Tasting Room; a soaring Bedouin type marquee in a beautiful setting above the vineyard’s dam, with rolling lawns, magnificent views and ample secure parking. There are so many markets in Cape Town that one gets a sense of sameness if you are a regular visitor to these. The Noordhoek community market, by sourcing new suppliers, offers something that is a little different to any of those that we have visited. Although there was a wide range of interesting things to eat and drink on offer it is apparent that there is sufficient space for the market to expand as it becomes more popular.  Before sunset the need and support of Noordhoek residents for a place where children can play in safety and where one can enjoy informal dining, meeting and chatting in a beautiful setting was evident as the evening air was filled with the laughter of children running and playing barefoot on the lawns whilst the adults enjoyed a drink and a chat. Something else that distinguishes this market is the fact that, although it was crowded, there are ample tables and benches provided with the further option of hay bales or even the lovely lawns if it should ever become too full.

Whilst there were a number of stalls offering preserves, crafts, home bakes and the like, this first market focused clearly on offering a wide an interesting selection of food, either ready prepared or quickly prepared while you wait. The food included a selection of seafood wraps and rolls from Kommetjie, organic health food options, glorious matured steak rolls, chicken curry and bobotie spring rolls from the Vineyards own kitchen, laced coffees and crêpes and many more. It was however the Burritos of the colourful character, Pedro, from Cuba who seem to have attracted the most attention and popularity. His chicken or steak filled tortillas, topped with avocado, cheese and spicy sauce drew the crowds. There was even sushi being freshly prepared by the staff of the de Noordhoek hotel. Sushi , once a rare delicacy sometimes drawing shudders, appears to be set to take over from Samosas and pies as the most available snack to be found anywhere in South Africa.

Thirst quenching fresh juices were on offer together with Artisan produced beers, whilst the award-winning wines of Cape Point Vineyards were being served, either by the glass or by the bottle, at crowd pleasing prices.  As the sun set over Noordhoek beach, filling the sky with spectacular colours reflected also in the farm dam just below the market there was much talk about becoming regulars at the market and the hope that this, too, will not fall foul of the regulatory authorities.

Cape point Vineyards have reinstated their summer picnics with the picnic site, just  below the tasting room is now open between 10:00 and 20:00, offering spectacular views and a range of delectable picnic baskets available to order 24 hours in advance. Picnic blankets, cushions and umbrellas are provided, but pets, music systems and food or beverage items purchased elsewhere , are not permitted.  Because numbers are limited to prevent crowding it is essential to book your picnic beforehand which can be done by contacting events@cape-point.com . If you can’t make the Thursday Community market- try the picnic venue.

If you would like to spend a weekend unwinding in our beautiful valley, and enjoy these and other attractions try our affordable self catering cottages or chalets.

By : Horizon Cottages, Noordhoek



16 Nov

Cape Town consistently heads list of World’s Top cities

That Cape Town is recognised by international travelers as one of the most beautiful and desirable cities to visit has been borne out by the many accolades that have been bestowed upon our unique city. Visitors, whether from overseas or upcountry, always remark that they have never been able to experience or see all that Cape Town has to offer during their Cape Town holiday because of the tremendous scope and range of attractions and activities available.  Over the millennia this remarkable city often known as the “Tavern of the Seas” nestling under the iconic Table Mountain has welcomed visitors from every corner of the globe and many have stayed and contributed to the eclectic and exciting mixture that makes up our population.

In the 25 th century the King of Portugal named it the “ Cape of Good Hope”, a name that endures until today. Sir Francis Drake, during his circumnavigation of the world, called it “the most stately thing, and the Fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.” Cape Town is loved for its amazing scenic beauty that starts with Table Mountain and Signal Hill offering spectacular views across the city and the Bay and continues along the peninsula on both the Atlantic and False Bay coasts to Cape point, along some of the truly most beautiful coastal scenic drives to be found anywhere in the world. The beaches of Cape Town with their clean white sand and beautiful blue waters, many of which now have international Blue Flag quality status, the popular Victoria and Alfred waterfront, an almost unending choice of restaurants and interesting things to eat as well as a range of affordable, quality wines and people with an enviable reputation for warmth and friendliness are just some of what keeps visitors returning and keeps Cape Town on the top of so many lists of “bests”. To this must be added the fact that visitors feel safe when visiting Cape Town thanks to a city that takes care of its tourists and makes the city safe to walk even late at night.

World’s best City : The most recent accolade bestowed on the city during November came from 17,000 readers of the prestigious UK Telegraph, who were polled about their favourite travel companies and destinations. Cape Town was chosen as the favourite city in the world, with South Africa coming in 3rd as the favourite country to visit; after New Zealand and the Maldives. That British tourists like visiting South Africa is well-known,  but it is not only the British that have elevated our city with their votes. One of the top international travel websites in the world is TripAdvisor, with the bulk of their readers and members coming from the USA.  45-million TripAdvisor subscribers voted in 2011 to declare Cape Town as their choice as the world’s No.1 destination.  TripAdvisor spokesperson, Emma O’Boyle, was quoted as saying, “Cape Town is clearly the destination to beat. With beautiful scenery, great wine and gorgeous weather, it’s easy to see why Cape Town, which also played host to last year’s World Cup, has topped this year’s list.”

Another widely respected Website, the travel wing of CNN International; CNNGo this year listed Cape Town as one of the 10 most loved cities in the world. The CNNGo website explains how the top 10 cities were decided: “We’ve trawled the Internet for media ‘best of’ praise, solicited recommendations from local correspondents, bloggers and travellers, scraped the bottom of every Internet and press barrel we could find and  came up with what we think is a definitive list of the world’s most loved cities.”. Cape Town was rated no2 city in the whole world and No. 1 city in Africa  at the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards 2012  , with an overall Readers’ Choice Rating of  84.8,.  It is worth looking at how the overall ranking was made up :

Ambience: 92.3

Friendliness: 86.6

Lodging: 89.3

Restaurants: 86.0

Table Mountain voted as one of the World’s 7 Natural Wonders. Cape Town rejoiced when,  11/11/11, Table Mountain was chosen among the New7Wonders of Nature, following a lengthy international public voting process during which Table Mountain received more than 100 million votes from 220 countries, beating even  the Great Barrier Reef, Kilimanjaro National Park and the Grand Canyon. The official inauguration ceremony will be held on December 1 and 2  at the foot of Table Mountain  to inaugurate Cape Town’s iconic mountain to the list of seven wonders of the world.

Tourism growth results from this recognition, and the arrivals figures bear out the view that the country remains a hit with tourists, despite the global dip in travel numbers in the face of the global economic downturn. According to Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk  tourist arrivals to South Africa grew by 10.5% for the first six months of 2012, more than double the global average of 5% for the same period. Cape Town Tourism has commissioned Horwath HTL to conduct monthly surveys of its members, to determine occupancy, growth and pricing trends.  These surveys have shown that tourism in Cape Town has grown by 10% in the first 9 months of 2012 although room rates have increased only marginally. Perhaps the answer to continued growth as the holiday season approaches is to ensure that our visitors continue to perceive that they are getting good value for money.

By : Affordable self catering Cape Town accommodation

8 Oct

Hermanus Whales Festival dissappoints

The 21 st annual Whale festival was held in Hermanus on the last weekend of September. Normally this is combined with the annual classic and vintage car show “Whales and Wheels” but the format was changed for 2012, with certain sports events and the classic car show being moved out by another week in order to reduce the traffic into the popular coastal town. Fortunately the weather played along and everything should have been set for a riproaring success for the Festival.

Unfortunately this new arrangement did not turn out as planned for the organisers, businesses and shopkeepers or for the participants. Could it have been the current state of the economy or could it have been as a result of dividing the attractions? By all accounts there was an excellent  turnout for the Whale Festival itself but businesses and shopkeepers did not enjoy the annual bonanza that the Festival brings, with some saying that it was no better than usual weekend in the town. Whilst there were many visitors during the festival, the average spend was very low and it seems that people came to spectate rather than to participate and at the same time spend.

The classic car show on the weekend of 6 October which aims to raise money for improvement of the Hermanus primary school could also not have been deemed a great success.  Unlike previous years, the number of participating cars was significantly reduced and more than half of the school playing fields, which are usually full, left empty. Although some motoring clubs; notably the Triumph Sports car club, the Sunbeam Club, GSM Dart/Flamingo club and a few others put on a good showing there was little vintage or exotic material to be seen. A nice Jowett Jupiter sports car and a very rare 1930’s Jensen were about the only unusual attractions.  The number of paying spectators from the public seemed very thin in comparison with previous years so one may assume that the funds raised for the school would also have been somewhat disappointing. An entertaining Elvis impersonator did his best to keep the small numbers entertained, as did the excellent food stalls, but the usual crowds did not materialise.

A parade by some of the cars through the town during the early morning proved popular with weekenders as did a special parade in the middle of the day to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Triumph Spitfire, Ford Cortina and South African built sportscar, the GSM Dart.

If the organisers wish to regain the popularity of the previous years they will have to give serious thought to the format for the 2013 Whale festival. Perhaps it would be better to combine all of the events over the same weekend and make special arrangements to control the traffic and provide an easy access for the drivers of the classic cars who do not like having to cope with traffic jams

By : Horizon Cottages- Cape Town beach cottages and chalets


23 Sep

Harbour House Restaurant : Kalk Bay

Pic Courtesy of Harbour House

Kalk Bay is one of the most popular of the seaside suburbs of Cape Town’s southern peninsula, and attracts both locals and visitors who fill its streets on weekends. This charming fishing village is not only a browsers paradise but has many restaurants and cafes offering food to suit a wide variety of palates and budgets. Some of these have enviable reputations, built over long periods of time, while others seem to come and go. The working fishing harbour may not seem to be the most salubrious of locations for fine dining but the Harbour House restaurant is hands down the best restaurant in Kalk Bay. The restaurant is perched on the rocks right next to the sea, and has large floor-to-ceiling windows to enable diners to enjoy lovely views across False Bay to Simonstown and to the Hottentots Holland mountains on the other side of the bay, or the waves crashing on the rocks below. During the spring months diners may,  from the elevated dining room, be lucky enough to spot whales which migrate annually to our shore to mate and calf.

Lunch time diners get the best of the views, but enjoying dinner here has its own charm at any time of the year. The restaurant décor is light and airy with white painted chairs and white table linen all softly lit with many tiny down lighters.  The lights of the restaurants ( 2 others below) are enough to spotlight the waves which may come crashing up as high as the windows like some sort of iridescent sparkler. If you book well before the time you may get a window table on request but it is a very popular restaurant.

We, a party of 3, enjoyed dinner on a cold and somewhat stormy spring evening recently and were lucky to book the last available table. I appreciated the honesty of the person taking the booking informing us that it would not be the best in the restaurant, but we were not unhappy with our seating. In the centre of the dining area was a open hearth with a cozy fire burning , keeping the chill at bay. Before even browsing the menu, one could not suppress a delightful sense of anticipation of a special night to come. The evening’s specials as well as the regular menu offered many tempting choices of seafood but we decided instead to take advantage of the set menu special which offered three courses for R 170 in order to enjoy a variety of the kitchens offerings.  During the low season months the set menu changes each month and offers really good value for money.  Best of all is that, unlike so many fine dining establishments, the portions are generous.

Two of us had the Steak Tartare; raw chopped beef fillet, drizzled with sauce Marie Rose; topped with a puree of parsley, caper and shallot and a fresh quail egg , served with garlic ciabatta croutons. Our daughter, who travels extensively, pronounced it better than anything that she had

enjoyed in Europe. My Asian wife eagerly ordered the soft shell crab; masala dusted and deep-fried,  garnished with fresh green asparagus spears  and served on a Russian potato salad and pronounced it delicious. For the mains, the ladies each had Trio of Venison ; medallions of Kudu, Ostrich and Springbok on an orange and honey jus, with a pretty layered tian of roasted butternut, creamed spinach and celeriac mash, garnished with white onion puree and strips of deep fried leeks. Both enjoyed the venison , but our daughter found one of the medallions to have a less pleasant aftertaste, and was disappointed that the waitron was not able to identify which meat was which nor get anyone from the kitchen to help.

I had the line fish which was so superb that I was filled with an amazing sense of fulfilment on eating it. Fresh Kob was served with potato Gnocchi and baby fennel; tiny kernels of sweet corn, green beans and oven roasted bella rosa tomatoes with a crispy dice of chorizo and black olive salsa.  A grand finish was provided by a choice Italianate desserts;  Panna Cotta in a berry soup or Tiramasu, served with red wine poached pear, unusual vanilla mascarpone ice cream garnished with coffee syrup.

Our service was good, but not up to the standard of either the food or the restaurant.  Not being able to provide information on the dishes being served and being absent rather than discreet should not be expected. Although we lingered over dessert and the restaurant had pretty much emptied, we tried so long to get the attention of our waitron that we decided to forgo coffee in favour of settling the bill.

We recommend this great resaurant: If you want to enjoy creative fish and seafood served in a great scenic location pay a visit to the Harbour House restaurant in Kalk Bay soon.

By :  Horizon Cottages- conveniently located for all Cape Town attractions.



19 Sep

Mooiberge Farm Stall

Interesting and attractive farm stalls may be found throughout the greater Cape Town countryside offering not only an enjoyable diversion but some great alternative shopping. One of the most interesting and most popular of these is the Mooiberge farm stall and strawberry farm situated between Stellenbosch and Somerset West on the R44. On any weekend, no matter what the weather, it is bustling with Capetonians looking for great quality and value farm produce, preserves, pickles and confectionery.  The Zetler family , owners of the farm, has been supplying fresh produce to the local market and supermarket chains for more than 100 years.

You will be sure not to miss this attraction because the fence adjoining the road is lined with colourful papier-mâché scarecrows and other Mooiberge farm stallcreatures, with an even greater variety including a blue giraffe, blue bull (for the rugby team) elephants, chameleons and the like lining the lane through the strawberry fields.  Children are enthralled at these bright and colourful characters and they will enjoy clambering on the “strawberry choo-choo”; a rusty old wreck of a motorcar, or a tractor.

The farm stall is a harvest cornucopia, packed as it is with neat wooden shelves lined with jars of honey, jams, dried fruits, nuts, pickled vegetables, chutney, vegetables and the iconic South African dried meat known as Biltong.  Mooiberge farm is, however, best-known for its strawberries which are distributed to major outlets and are also available to the public for picking in the fields during the season, which begins when the Cape Town summer has truly settled in during November. Because of its location a little distance from the sea the summer months here offer lovely still, warm weather making it ideal for spending time in the countryside. Mooiberge strawberry farm nestles in a beautiful

location at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by the Stellenbosch vineyards. Although you can purchase beautiful organically grown strawberries at the farm stall; the family is more likely to want to collect a basket at the farm stall and head off to the fields to do their own picking which you then take back to the farm stall and pay per kilogram for what you have picked.

mooiberge  farm produce

Mooiberge Farm stall is not just about fresh and preserved produce but offers an enormous selection of wines; estate and table, as well as ports, brandy, spirits and liquers in the adjacent wine shop. Here you will find racks, oak barrels and baskets filled with newer wines as well as an impressive selection of vintage wines all of which are offered at affordable prices, and some at bargain prices. Great care has been taken to offer something to suit every taste and every budget. It is worth taking a drive out on a weekend if you want to stock up your wine cellar at prices that will not dent your budget, from a range that you are unlikely to find at your local wine outlet. If you are fortunate you may be invited to view the awesome temperature controlled underground cellar which is a repository for a large selection of vintage wines dating back to the 1970s and even older. For a selection of photographs of the underground cellar go to the gallery of their website :  http://www.mooiberge.co.za
One of the newer additions to the farm is a country restaurant called “The Farmers Kitchen”, where one can enjoy modern country cuisine in the bright, cool restaurant which has a French Café ambience with its reds, whites , checks and recycled metal fittings. On nice days one may opt to dine on the open deck under the shade of colourful umbrellas while enjoying lovely views of the strawberry fields surrounding winelands and the beautiful mountains (mooiberge). The Farmers Kitchen offers both breakfasts and lunches.

To get there: One can take the R44 exit from the N2 highway just before Somerset West, and then follow signs for Stellenbosch or,  if coming from the Southern Peninsula, take the Baden Powell /Stellenbosch road R310 and, just before Stellenbosch, turn right into Allandale Road, which will bring you to Mooiberge farm stall.

Insider tip : Mooiberge Farm Stall lies at the junction of the R310 and Allandale Road from Stellenbosch.  If you have approached it from the R44, leave via Allandale Road and, at the junction with the R310, you will find the Zetler Farm Stall within the precinct of a filling station. This farm stall, too, belongs to the family and seems to be known only to the locals. You may be lucky enough as I was, to find some wine bargains that were not available at Mooiberge; like a few bottles of 2006 Estate Mouvedre marked down by 75%, and magnificent indeed they were.

By : Horizon Cottages: Affordable Cape Town family cottages and chalets

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