The last few days in Cape Town were slightly more relaxed than the beginning of the week. Later on Tuesday night I checked into my boutique hotel, the Rouge on Rose. After all my searching, I was very pleased with my hotel choice. The rooms were quiet and cool, with concrete floors and antique décor. My room also came with a fully stocked kitchenette, which I never used, but it was nice to have the option. The location was pretty central, located in the Bo-kaap district, so very easy to get most anywhere walking. I originally booked the Rouge with their complimentary breakfast in mind because from what I saw of the reviews, it looked delicious. The savings isn’t much- you can eat a hearty breakfast for no more than $5 at many cafes or restaurants, but the hotel breakfast was so, so good, I regretted not being able to try everything on the menu.
It was Wednesday morning that I got to test the breakfast for the first time. I chose the baked omelet with bacon- which turned out to be more of a soufflé than traditional omelet. Distributed inside was goat cheese and caramelized onions.
How gourmet does that look? I especially loved the patterned tea cups.
The rest of the morning was pretty casual, I walked around town and visited some galleries. It wasn’t until early afternoon that my friend picked me up and we set off to drive down the Cape Peninsula towards Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern most point of Africa. The drive was gorgeous, it’s hard not to be awestruck by the rocks and the cliffs dropping down to the ocean. We lucked out and the overcast sky eventually cleared up to provide some great views.
I was sad that I wasn’t going to be able to go on a safari while I was visiting, I just didn’t have the time and the best safaris aren’t anywhere near Cape Town. I did get a little wildlife sighting on the way back from the Cape of Good Hope though! Just on the side of the road was a small group of baboons, eating from the bushes. We immediately pulled over and very, very carefully took photos. Baboons are known to be a sort of menace, they’ll steak your things and wreck havoc if you aren’t paying attention. We had to quickly roll up the windows and lock the doors when they decided they were done eating and jumped on top of the car! There was nothing to do but wait until they got off, luckily finding the car behind us to be much more fun. I loved the way these photos turned out, with the baboons fur glowing from the light behind them, among the different greens and greys of the bushes.
Visiting the two Capes was one of my favorite things from my trip. It’s crazy to think I was closer to Antarctica than home! I was eager to get back though because we had something even more fun to look forward to: dinner at the Test Kitchen, rated the #28 best restaurant in the world on the San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna sponsored list. How on earth did I manage to swing that you ask? Well, back when I booked my flight I also had been watching the Netflix series, The Chef’s Table. Intrigued, I decided to look up the best restaurant list and lo-and-behold, one of them was in Cape Town. In fact, it was the only ranked restaurant Cape Town had. I knew had to go; who knew if I’d ever visit again? My timing lucked out, when I inquired via email (it was May I remind you), they were already booked though October for dinner! Note to future diners… book ahead of time!! I jumped on a reservation for the week I visited in December, and had been waiting ever since to finally eat there.
The wait was entirely worth it, and upon leaving the restaurant, decided it was the best meal I’d ever had. Everything from the service, presentation, taste, wine and décor was fantastic. They offered a wine pairing menu which was outside my friend and my price ranges, so we settled on cocktails and a bottle of 2014 Carl Everson Opstal Chenin Blanc for dinner. My cocktail was a ginger and ginseng martini, which was absolutely excellent. From here on, let’s just assume that everything I had was mind blowing to save all the additional descriptions. Photos of everything are below, I didn’t even take one of the bread course though which came with four types, fresh butter and sea salt for sprinkling! Gosh that bread was good, it was still warm even. Mmmmmm.
It’s amazing to eat a meal with so many courses and tastes where you literally sink into your seat and moan yummmm after every single one. Everything was great. The only one I had trouble with was the fois gras and smoked guinea fowl. The two together were so heavy, creamy and rich it was hard to get the texture out of your mouth between bites. It would have been perfect if there was a bigger crostini to provide some crunch factor. We lingered over coffee and tea, chatting with our waiter, and left after spending four hours at the restaurant. This was probably my favorite day of the entire week.
The next morning we had to be up bright and early to drive a couple hours out of town to a big cat sanctuary, Panthera Africa. This was my other wildlife sighting, the sanctuary is home to several lions, a tiger, and other cats that have been saved from captive breeding. It was sooo hot this morning, and there was very little shade to take cover in while viewing the animals. There was a small group of us, the sanctuary is pretty remote if you aren’t in the area or know about it (my friend volunteered there which is why we went). They have a small hut off a gravel road, and literally lock you in once everyone has showed up for the tour in case an animal escapes! They’re in large cages with electric fences and walkways in between, so you’re safe. The conditions weren’t great for photos because my camera wouldn’t stop focusing on the cage instead of the animals.
It’s crazy to be that close to a lion though, I couldn’t believe how HUGE they were! One of those paws could have taken my head off easy peasy. These two in the photo were right up against the fence snoozing.
After getting back in town and eating lunch I was exhausted, but I really wanted to see a bit more of the city so I ended up walking to the waterfront. I laughed when I saw a Christmas tree up, it doesn’t feel like December at all when it’s 80 degrees and sunny out. It’s so weird, Christmas is always in the summer for them but they still sell Christmas decorations with snowflakes and such on them. I grabbed myself some more biltong and looked at the fun touristy shops (hmmm, should I buy a classic wooden giraffe?), then treated myself to a spin on the great Ferris wheel.
Hello gorgeous view of Table Mountain!
Soon enough, it was my last day! I was able to enjoy my final breakfast, french toast, a surprisingly light combination of fried baguette slices stuffed with pecan cream cheese and drizzled in syrup. Also, more bacon, and more pretty china. I can’t believe this was free.
Then, I faced the big challenge of how to pack my four bottles of wine in my carry-on sized suitcase without them breaking. Checkout was at 11 and I pushed it to the last minute trying to rearrange everything in my bags. A tip for anyone trying this in the future: if you have those packing cubes that are meant for organizing your clothes, you can fit two bottles of wine wrapped in thick clothing in one of the larger ones. I’m positive this was what made the situation so much easier. I was able to pad the bottom and sides of my suitcase, wrap each bottle and place two in each cube with a little extra cushion if there was air space, and then cushion the top as well. The bottles were so snug, I was thinking positive thoughts about their safe arrival.
Upon recommendation from a staff member at my hotel, I went to a restaurant called Chefs Warehouse for my final lunch in Cape Town, if you don’t count airport snacks. It could not have been a better suggestion, and was the second best meal I had all week (nothing will ever beat the Test Kitchen). I had walked by it several times but always thought it was a kitchen supply store. They do in fact have a small store, but next door is the restaurant, featuring a tapas style prix fixe menu meant to be enjoyed by two people. Several long, skinny tables sit in the center of the room, groups of guests propping next to each other on metal stools, or they can sit at one of the two larger bar tables on the patio outside. On the walls of the restaurant are hundreds of different imported food products- my friend was very excited to find real maple syrup, something that was previously impossible to find. I was in heaven as well, there is nothing I love more than looking at food products and discovering new interesting ones to try.
Our meal came out on three different wooden boards, with beautiful presentation. They were themed, so the first board was seafood, the second was Italian, and the third was meats.
I couldn’t think of a better meal to end my week, sitting on the outside patio in the sun and enjoying the moment. I was fascinated to learn from our waiter that they change the menu every day! Had I known, I would have eaten here several times, I wish I was staying longer to do just that! The chef also had a beautifully photographed cookbook which I was tempted to buy, only the recipes were a little too finicky for home cooking. I was so happy this was my final meal in Cape Town, everything was fantastic, and very thankful to my hotel staff for suggesting it.
It was time to leave, but as the best vacations go, I was ready to be home again. In the airport I stocked up on Cadbury chocolate bars, and laughed at how when I was in line to hand my boarding pass to the attendant, Toto’s “Africa” played on the loudspeaker. It was the first time I’d heard it all week, and so fitting as a sendoff song. Two more easy flights on British airways (more free wine and good meals), and I was home. I went to bed at 8PM that night and slept for 12 hours straight. Maybe it’s time to plan another vacation to relax from my vacation?
Note: the wine survived.