A 10-15 minute drive from Cape Town CBD will transport you to nature reserves and wine country. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is a must visit, as is experiencing wines at one of the Cape’s earliest established estates.
Chefs Warehouse provides a culinary adventure through a set tapas menu and there’s 4-wheel driving to the highest mountain vineyard. You’ll be surrounded by nature and picturesque views so let’s take a closer look at Kirstenbosch and Constantia Valley!
From Adelaide to Vancouver there are stunning Botanic Gardens and Cape Town is no exception. Kirstenbosch, at Newlands, on the way to the Constantia Valley has a backdrop of Table Mountain. Across 36-hectares, Kirstenbosch has been conserving and promoting the flora of South Africa since 1913.
The first Botanic Garden in the world devoted to its country’s indigenous flora and the first to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kirstenbosch cultivates over 7,000 rare and threatened species.
Hiking trails into the mountains, open rolling lawns and private nooks among the trees provide spaces to take in the beauty of the gardens no matter your mood.
The Centenary Tree Canopy Walk, a walkway beginning at the forest floor and ascending above the tree canopy is an absolute must for incredible views over the gardens and beyond. Bird and animal life are undisturbed by the low impact snaking structure and seating in the wider sections is provided so you can linger.
Picnic at Kirstenbosch or sample some African flavours at moyo Kirstenbosch. Expect Springbok, Boerewors, harissa, Chakalaka, dukkah, biltong, bunny chow, potjies and more Africa-centric delights.
A mere 5 minutes from Kirstenbosch is the breathtaking Constantia Valley and a jewel in its crown, Beau Constantia Wine Estate. It is here Liam Tomlin and Executive Chef Ivor Jones (ex Test Kitchen) have chosen for a branch of Chefs Warehouse and who could blame them.
With views of rolling vineyards and tremendous architecture, wines flowing from Beau Constantia and an eclectic tapas for 2, no one would blame you either for heading straight to Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia.
Unlike Chefs Warehouse Bree Street, reservations can be made at Beau Constantia and they’re recommended. You don’t want to miss out on this signature foodie experience.
‘Tapas for 2’ is an 8-course sharing menu changing regularly with the seasons and produce availability. At ZAR650 (AUD 65-ish) for 2 people, this highlight will be featured in episode 3 of our Fine Dining For Less series, but it’s too cruel to leave you hanging so here’s a taste of what proved to be a gastronomic experience without an astronomic price.
Impossible to resist was the temptation of Saldanha Bay oysters fresh in that morning. Plump, sweet, juicy and topped with chilli jam, fried eschalots, and micro greens, these were a taste sensation.
The first 3 of the ‘tapas for 2’ courses were delivered together. (1) Line-caught Kingklip sashimi with roast onion cream cheese, house-made garden pickles & carrot Malay dressing. (2) Coal seared tuna with hazelnut & Sesame Sambal, burnt honey & tahini dressing. (3) Beef tartar with spicy Sichuan dressing & grated shiitake.
Next up, 2 comfort courses. (4) Swiss Chard Risotto with sour cream, lamb Merguez, roast garlic & paprika oil. (5) Mushroom & Onion Pinwheel Tart with Parmesan Catalan, parsley & lemon gremolata.
3 protein courses completed this culinary adventure. (6) Pan-fried Hake with Indonesian Black Pepper dressing, steamed pak choi & vinegared rice. (7) Coal seared Blesbok with walnut & black pudding stuffing, pickled shiitake mushrooms & cauliflower cream. (8) Lamb Rice with celeriac ricotta, tomato & thyme jus.
Before making tracks to more Constantia Valley delights Beau Constantia wines deserve a mention. A boutique wine farm with modest production, Beau Constantia focus on quality over quantity.
Try their Pas De Nom MCC (Méthode Cap Classique) a truly delicious sparkling Chardonnay. The Pas De Nom White is also lovely, a sauvignon blanc, viognier blend. In the reds, Beau Constantia’s Lucca (Merlot, Cabernet Franc) and Aidan (Shiraz, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot & Cab Sauv) are delicious drops.
On the Constantia Wine Route, it would be remiss not to visit the oldest South African wine estate, Groot Constantia. Producing wine for 330 years, Groot Constantia’s history is as inviting as its wines. With 2 restaurants, tasting rooms, a museum, gallery and enormous grounds, tours of the estate can be booked in advance.
If it’s solely the wines you’re here for then enter the historic tasting room and select your package. A chocolate and wine pairing is offered and is highly recommended. These are not random chocolates matched to wines but specially produced to complement the wines and vice versa.
To achieve this, a small amount of the wine is added to the chocolate preparation, salt is also added in varying amounts depending on the matching wine.
To make the most of the pairing experience, nose the wine before tasting a small sip then take a small bite of the paired chocolate. Next, warm a small bite of chocolate in the mouth and combine another sip to taste the flavours together. There is a method to this wine and chocolate madness. Don’t be surprised if you’re an instant convert.
There are 6 outstanding wine estates in Constantia Valley along with the 2 in this post. Steenberg, where the lovely Nadine from Living It Up CT took us to Catharina’s in the first instalment of Fine Dining For Less and 5 more – Eagles’ Nest, Constantia Glen, Constantia Uitsig, Biutenverwachting and Klein Constantia. In order to see as many as possible, reserve your spot on a Constantia Wine Tour.
Join a ‘Classic’ full or half day tour or up the anti to a ‘Premium’ full day. Mix your adult beverages with a ‘Wine & Craft Beer’ tour or if specific estates are on your list bespoke tours can be arranged. The best part is you don’t need to drive, arrange lunch or think about the bill. Pay up front and the Constantia Wine Tour does the rest.
Breathtaking scenery, gastronomic delights and incredible wines just 15 minutes from Cape Town CBD: it’s a thing we love….