Delta Road, Franschhoek Valley
The Solms-Delta estate, a sprawling, 320-year-old collection of vineyards and winery, sits near the border between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Shaun Schoeman, the youthful and vibrant chef, is thoroughly reinventing Cape cuisine by mixing flavours and ingredients from the Khoi nomads together with Cape Malay and Afrikaner influences. Thus, the product every time is totally unique.
By all means ask the waiting service to provide an explanation of the rather fascinating ingredients. But, whatever, the food is extraordinary, while much of the produce is grown in the cultivated soils on the farm itself.
There’s a four course heritage menu which per person costs just £9.50. That in itself is a true bargain, but for the same price, you can instead opt for a wine pairing, where you’ll be treated to six tasty tapas together with six glasses of estate wine.
The tapas includes braised lamb, chicken broth with wild fennel, white carrot purée, and smoked snoek pâté, which is a bit like mackerel pâté, albeit with a South African overtone.
At Solms-Delta, there’s a large effort being made to address the legacy of apartheid. There’s a museum which focuses on the history of the farm which was run using slave labour, as all of the farms in this region were. These days, a third of the ownership of the farm has been handed to the farm workers in a cooperative format.
12 Church Street, Tulbagh
Well away from the usual winery routes in the Cape, Tulbagh is a quiet valley that comes with a handful of outstanding cellars, all of which are truly worthy of a visit. But one stands out, and that is Rijk’s, whereby Pierre Wahl produces some of the best Pinotage and Chenin Blanc you will likely ever have the good fortune to taste.
The town of Tulbagh is a sleepy little picturesque place, where the main street – Church Street – has been rebuilt in immaculate fashion after an earthquake struck in 1969.
Among the beautiful little thatched cottages in the town itself is Readers Restaurant, run by Carol Collins. It’s a favourite local hangout and Chef Collins serves up a combination of modern recipes such as tuna steak in wasabi butter along with more traditional dishes like the bobotie, which is a Cape Malay curry that comes with sambal (a rich sauce which is typically made with fresh chilli, shrimp paste, garlic, scallion, and lime) and rice.
Readers Restaurant is a terrific place to try out some of the Tulbagh wines, given that they have a selection of more than 50 local vintages on their sizable wine list. And all of them are priced in a very affordable manor.
If you still have the space for it, be sure to try the exotic homemade ice cream which Carol of course produces herself. She utilizes a variety of flavourings, including olive oils and balsamic sauces.
The main dishes are priced at around the £5.80 mark, while the wines start out at £3.70 per bottle.