I Ate South Africa

Seriously. I ate it all.

I’ve been all over South Africa this month — four provinces, seven cities/towns (I think), and more hotels and restaurants than I can count. I did a lot of stuff. But mostly I ate.

First I spent three days at the Grootbos Nature Reserve, and in those three days alone I ate more spectacular gourmet food than I’d eaten the entire year before that. Immediately after the Grootbos trip I participated in a weeklong #MeetSouthAfrica journey in which we literally ate our way across the country.

It will take me a while to tell all the stories. In the meantime, here are some shots of the food. (I apologize that these photos aren’t all up to my usual standards; most of them were shot in really low light and I was under the influence of wine.)

Grootbos: Gansbaai, Western Cape

Grootbos is a five-star resort on a private nature reserve southeast of Cape Town. There are many wonderful things about Grootbos but the food is the most wonderful of all. Most of the food is organically grown and locally sourced right from the Grootbos farms.

Grootbos breakfast

A traditional English breakfast at Grootbos. So simple and yet so scrumptious.

Grootbos mussels

Lunch at Grootbos: fresh mussels in curry sauce.

Beef medallion Grootbos

“Smoked beef fillet with bone marrow crust, chargrilled carrots, and rosemary jus.” Part of our six-course wine-pairing menu on our first night at Grootbos. Wow. I never could have imagined how delicious “bone marrow crust” tastes.

Grootbos wine cellar

The Grootbos wine cellar where we ate our six-course tasting menu. Food tastes really good in such surroundings.
 Grootbos peppadew poppers

This unassuming-looking appetizer was the best thing I put in my mouth at Grootbos. Fried peppadew poppers stuffed with tangy, spicy cheese filling.

Creation Wines Tasting Room: Hermanus, Western Cape

On the way back to the airport from Grootbos, our blogger group stopped for lunch at a vineyard called Creation in Hermanus. Unfortunately we had to rush a little bit in order to catch our planes — I need to go back soon for a more leisurely meal. Our wine-tasting was paired with a canapé tasting menu, followed by a main course and dessert. Incredible.

Creation canapes

Creation’s canapé tasting board. Unfortunately I’ve lost the menu that explained what everything is.

Creation duck

My main course from Creation. The meat in the middle was duck but I can’t remember what the little bits on each side were. I was totally not hungry at this point but ate the whole thing anyway because I could. not. stop.

Clementines: Clarens, Free State

Our second stop on the #MeetSouthAfrica trip was Clarens, a small mountain holiday town in the Eastern Free State where I’ve been several times but never properly written about. (See future Clarens post.) I was excited to eat at Clementine’s, which is judged by most South African foodies to be the best restaurant in Clarens. Our meal didn’t disappoint.

Clementine beef

At this point in my journey, I was delirious and no longer had the wherewithal to record the names of what I was eating or to properly photograph the food. I do remember, however, that the beef fillet beneath that pile of rocket and cheese was perfectly medium rare and bursting with flavor. The veggies were great, too, as was the decadent chocolate trio of brownie, mousse, and ganache that I devoured for dessert.

Clementine the cat

This is Clementine, the dainty and regal owner of Clementine’s Restaurant, with Kat of My Slow Journey. If you’re lucky, Clementine might deign to sit on your lap while you eat.

Clarens Brewery: Clarens, Free State

Clarens Brewery is a craft-beer hot spot in the center of Clarens. The brewery also serves really nice comfort food. We had lunch there on our way out of town.

Clarens Brewery goulash

Sausage goulash and a beer — perfect for a windy, cloudy afternoon in Clarens.

 Café des Arts: Franschhoek, Western Cape

We spent the last two days of #MeetSouthAfrica in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, the food and wine capitals of South Africa. We only had one meal in Franschhoek, at a locals-only place called Café des Arts. Café des Arts has great food, great service, and unpretentious atmosphere. Perfect.

Cafe Des Artes tuna

Just before we placed our orders, Café des Arts chef Chris Hoffmann marched out of the kitchen with this giant tuna. (Pardon the grainy photo — it was dark.) 

Cafe Des Artes tuna cooked

Fifteen minutes later, that tuna was on my plate. I don’t have to tell you how it tasted.

Terroir: Stellenbosch, Western Cape

Our final meal of #MeetSouthAfrica was at Terroir, a restaurant on the Kleine Zalze wine farm in Stellenbosch. Our three-course meal was delicious, of course, although I was so tired and full by the end of it that I nearly cried.

Terroire prawn risotto

Prawn risotto from Terroir. Perhaps my palette is biased since this was the last meal of the trip, but this was my favorite dish of the journey. My mouth still waters thinking about it.

I need to mention one more meal that I loved but neglected to photograph. Seven on Kellner in Bloemfontein is a fantastic restaurant that probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves, simply because of where it’s located. We had a great dinner there after visiting Naval Hill in Bloemfontein. Highly recommended if you find yourself in Bloem.

I returned home from eating South Africa on Sunday afternoon. Forty-eight hours later, I’m still recovering. The two-week food orgy was great but I’ve never been so happy to eat just one single plate of food.

1st meal back home

My first meal back in Joburg after eating the rest of South Africa: scrambled eggs, broccoli, and sautéed mushrooms and tomatoes. Ray cooked it for me. It was wonderful.

I’m glad I don’t have a scale because I’d be afraid to step on it right now. Workouts resume tomorrow.

*My travel was provided courtesy of Grootbos and South African Tourism. The opinions expressed in this post are solely mine.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Grootbos March 31, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Thank you for that incredible compliment, Heather. I’m sure that Chef Ben and his team will be happy to hear it!

    • Reply 2summers March 31, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      My pleasure! That really was the most delicious three days of my life.

  • Reply Sunshinebright April 2, 2015 at 12:22 am

    Heather, I feel full just because I envisioned all those wonderful delights in my mouth, not yours. I am an adventurous foodie; there’s hardly anything I don’t like. The presentations are so artful – what wonderful restaurants. Thanks so much. I don’t care if your photos are “grainy” or in not the best light – they are terrific in my book!

  • Reply Eugenia Parrish April 2, 2015 at 4:11 am

    Oh, my heavens, my mouth is still watering just from looking at the photos. Great job!

  • Reply Tim April 6, 2015 at 7:52 am

    such fantastic food, places and pictures – my local travel bucket-list keeps growing. Gaansbaai and Hermanus are among my favourite hideaway places in SA but have never explored beyond the obvious and “touristy”. Great post, hope there’re more stories to tell and images to share

    • Reply 2summers April 7, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Tim, if you ever feel like really splashing out and treating yourself to an amazing weekend, you should totally go to Grootbos. You would be blown away by the food there.

      On another note, I feel terrible that I have not yet finished our pizza mission. I’m nearly recovered from the trip now and will get back on it ASAP 🙂

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