The original Khoi inhabitants named the fertile valleys at the base of the Cape’s tabletop mountain Camissa, ‘place of sweet waters’. It was partly this that motivated the Dutch East India Company merchants to establish a refreshment station here in 1652, literally rooting the first European settlement in sub-Saharan Africa in a kitchen garden. The outpost flourished, inevitably drawing the attention of those arch colonialists, the British, who claimed it for themselves in 1795.
Today, Cape Town is still a refreshment station of sorts, surrounded by vineyard-clad mountains, fruitful valleys and a bountiful coast. The city’s gourmand reputation is based on the variety and quality of local produce, and the sublime surroundings in which it grows – in turn a strong drawcard for talented chefs. Whether you’re tucking into a Karoo lamb sandwich at a market stall, biltong (cured meat jerky), boerewors (the local spiral sausages) cooked on the braai, fresh vegetables at the farmers’ market, the aromatic Cape Malay fusion cuisine, or working your way through a seven-course tasting menu, ‘outstanding’ is a common refrain. Just be sure to come hungry.
Heading out for the day? Stock up on Cape Malay snacks from Biesmiellah. Located at the top of Wale Street in Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay Quarter, on the slopes of Signal Hill, it caters to the local Muslim community, and its samosas and dhaltjies – fried chickpea fritters also known as ‘chilli bites’ – are not to be missed. biesmiellah.co.za
Here’s a bet I know I’ll win: stroll down Wale Street to Honest Chocolate, and if you leave without purchasing a box of its truffles, I’ll eat all mine. (Somewhere in the world it’s 5pm, so stroll over to Gin Bar after, down the road, which has one of the city’s most comprehensive collections of the stuff.) honestchocolate.co.za
OZCF Market Day
In Granger Bay, on the V&A Waterfront, you’ll find Oranjezicht City Farm, the city’s best farmers’ market. Come for tastings of crops from independent farmers and local artisanal producers like Stokkiesdraai, which makes the most delicious biltong from ethically sourced, grass-guzzling cattle from neighbouring Namibia and Botswana. Saturdays, 9am-2pm, ozcf.co.za
Located in the edgy Woodstock neighbourhood and housed in two adjoining warehouses, Neighbourgoods Market is the city’s hippest foodie market. Here, the focus is more on prepared foods. The live music and craft beer also attract a younger crowd. Aside from browsing food stalls there’s also great shopping in the surrounding Old Biscuit Mill. Saturdays, 9am-3pm, neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za
The Test Kitchen
Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock is a regular in the World’s 50 Best, and as such is much in demand. Bookings open online a month in advance and go quickly. But if you miss out, try sister restaurant The Shortmarket Club, located in the city centre. Almost everything on the a la carte menu is exceptional. theshortmarketclub.co.za
The place to be on a sunny day. Pair postcard-perfect views of Camps Bay beach from the first floor restaurant with a beautiful South African sauvignon blanc and a menu of superb lamb and seafood. bilboa.co.za
Cathay Pacific launches a seasonal three-times-weekly service to Cape Town from Hong Kong on 14 November