Cape Town isn’t one of South Africa’s biggest cities, but it’s certainly one of the most beautiful. This vibrant, multicultural city stretches out under Table Mountain’s “Lion’s Head” – with surrounding green vineyards, sandy bays and scenic coastal roads that run south to the Cape of Good Hope.
One of the main highlights for us in Cape Town was our half day at the Botanic Gardens (Kirstenborsch)…nestled below the impressive mountain backdrop (photos below). I know my last post also featured these gardens (& this one won’t be the last – have so many photos we love) – the scenery is so spectacular – even in winter it was stunning as we watched the mist slowly lift and hover around the mountains. I would imagine that Spring, Summer and Autumn would be even more colourful but we loved the cooler temperatures – ideal for lots of walking, including the tree top walk (feature photo). After lots of walking, the sun came out and we were able to have a late/light lunch sitting outside at the Moyo Cafe/Restaurant (photos below + last post).
Everything was so lush and green…not sure how things are now with the water crisis but hopefully they have a recycled water system/multiple tanks (like we do in many places in Canberra – also a dry climate). It was raining quite a lot during our week in Cape Town in June and as can be seen from the photos, everything was growing well. One of the most beautiful and interesting gardens we’ve been to in the world – and we’ve seen many.
Some trees and plants reminded us of home, Australia; others were typically African such as orange/brown leafed trees in the photo below. We loved the form and structure of those trees too…think I remember seeing them in one of my favourite TV series – “The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series (set in Botswana) which I became hooked on when a friend bought me the first book in the series to read after my 2nd big spinal surgery in 2010 (more followed last Yr & glad they’re over I hope!). I recommend both the TV series and the books by Alexander McCall Smith…an interesting/amusing writing style with some clever “whodunit” plot twists and turns but nothing too disturbing so sleeping was usually easy afterwards – with help of post op pain meds of course!
Back to Cape Town landscapes…it was a surprise to us when we heard that Cape Town has such a terrible water crisis -sadly, mismanagement by some at the top we suspect…what many South Africans we later spoke with believed. We’ve had similar huge issues with our Murray Darling River Basin – recently reported on by a program we follow, ABC Four Corners. Fortunately, closer to home in the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra), we appear to be coping better with a huge new dam opening not so long ago although we’ve had an extremely dry autumn (fortunately good early summer rain) and things might change in the future with climate change. I’ll post some Canberra landscape photos in future posts as the colours of autumn are spectacular now.
A restaurant recommendation in Cape Town (photos above):
Karibu Restaurant is a large touristy place but very enjoyable and we recommend a visit. Try to book a table either near the window or outdoors (see photo from their website above)…beautiful! Many large tour groups come here and they seat them at the back of the restaurant where there’s a space for performers as well. The advantage at the front is that it’s not as noisy and when the entertainment starts at 8 pm you can still hear/see it quite well. The food was mostly very good – servings were generous too; don’t expect top end dining – at times it felt like a classy cafeteria. The highlight of our night was chatting to the delightful young waitress from Uganda..”under difficult circumstances” she was University educated but had moved to Cape Town “for more Educational opportunities for her young family”. There was a male manager who seemed v bossy with her which was annoying as she was doing an outstanding job for us plus the people around us. Our hope is that smaller African cafes and restaurants, some managed by capable and articulate women like the waitress here, are supported by Government and businesses. Sadly (probably due to big money interests, especially at this expensive waterfront site) that’s unlikely to happen so we always try to explore away from the tourist belt in all large cities. My next posts will be about some good finds like that – the Cape Town B&B where we stayed + a small restaurant we loved too. The Chef’s Warehouse (last post) was another small venture that we loved.
Company’s Garden – not as spectacular as The Botanic Gardens but interesting history…
Info for garden/food/history lovers…interesting fact in bold…
“The Historic Company’s Garden VOC Vegetable Garden is a working vegetable and herb garden and includes historical vegetables and fruit trees, herb varieties, an indigenous medicinal herb garden, an edible indigenous plant garden and a demonstration food garden. The Company’s Garden was first developed by the Dutch East India Company to provide fresh produce to passing ships and sailors. It is South Africa’s oldest garden and was founded more than 360 years ago.” (Wikipedia)
When we were there in winter we mostly saw a herb garden. There’s also a casual cafe where we had a light lunch although the service was hit and miss…it was after 1pm so perhaps good to go early? A visit to the National Gallery (in the same vicinity) is recommended for insights into African art/culture/history. Photos from there in my post next weekend.
Little Bo-Kaap – the Malay Quarter
Cape Town is a colourful city in every sense, but the brightest burb is Bo-Kaap! Sure children would enjoy a visit too. This area has long been the historic centre of Cape Town’s Cape Muslim culture, and was once known as the Malay Quarter. Its many cobbled streets are lined with homes in all sorts of fantastic shades of colour.
Photos from various angles can be also seen on the Net. I did think the one I took here is quite good though😉…we saw this street on our taxi ride back to the B&B (from Waterfront). The taxi was happy to pull over and wait for 10 min while we walked up and down. Taxis are comparatively inexpensive in Sth Africa – they rely on tips so when we had good service, like on this occasion and many more, we repaid their efforts of course.
Restaurants in the area: we didn’t have a chance to try any but we did hear that there are some excellent Malay and Middle Eastern restaurants that we will try on our next visit to Cape Town – in a few years we hope.
Signal Hill (aka “Lion’s Rump”) – also nearby and could interest children too?
A massive 1806 canon (“noon gun”)…can also be seen near there. Every day since 1806 this gun has fired a single shot at precisely 12 o’clock, so that ship captains can check that their timepieces are correct. According to Lonely Plant Kids…”since April 2013, the Signal Hill Noon Gun has had a Twitter account. It tweets a single message simply reading, ‘BANG!’ Every day at noon.”
We didn’t get up there (next visit we hope)…we hear there are stunning views/sunsets and a lovely place to take a picnic. However, like other parts of Sth Africa (much of the world of course) check parking arrangements before you go…especially security (car minding is a custom worth checking out before you go to South Africa). Sometimes it’s easier to take an organised bus or small group tour…just saw some great tips in a Trip Advisor review dated 8/4/18 (person had 414 reviews & looks like they’re a frequent traveller (from US). Also check out traveller photos on Trip Advisor if interested…looks like great views/sunsets can be seen from the top of Signal Hill.
For sport lovers like Tony, our sons, our step grandson and our little granddaughter…a keen soccer (European “football”) player…she and her brother are athletic and fast. I might be a bit biased!
Cape Town Stadium: See Photo above/Wikipedia Info…
“(Afrikaans: Kaapstad-stadion; Xhosa: Inkundla yezemidlalo yaseKapa) in Cape Town, South Africa is a stadium that was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. During the planning stage, it was known as the Green Point Stadium, which was the name of the previous stadium on the site, and this name was also used frequently during World Cup media coverage. It is the home ground of Premier Soccer League clubs Ajax Cape Town (since 2010) and Cape Town City (since 2016). It has also hosted the South Africa Sevens rugby tournament since 2015.
The stadium is located in Green Point, between Signal Hill and the Atlantic Ocean, close to the Cape Town city centre and to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a popular tourist and shopping venue. The stadium had a seating capacity of 64,100 during the 2010 World Cup, later reduced to 55,000. The stadium is connected to the waterfront by a new road.”
Finally a recipe for those, like me, who prefer food to sport although I do like solo/partner/small group activities like walking, swimming, yoga etc. Did love net ball and dancing (even had a British Dancing Ballet Scholarship from 10-12) before my spine started to cause big issues (had 1st major surgery to thoracic at 13) so happy that, unlike some people my age/older with a similar problem (scoliosis), at least I can still walk distances + travel…as much as possible while I still can! So part of my hope while writing this blog is to inspire people with mobility issues to keep getting out and about – not only does it increase fitness but it also lifts the spirits during the tough times we all go through in life. Unless you’re incredibly lucky and have a dream run at life!
RECIPES WITH ROSEMARY + ideas for children’s learning…
Why does the herb Rosemary have me thinking of Africa? Well there are some meaty traditional dishes we had in Africa (Rosemary does work well with many meats) but Tony was more of a fan of those than me – will look for one which we both like and post here later. With Cape Town’s water crisis, it’s a very dry place at the moment and Rosemary is the perfect herb to grow – even on a small sunny verandah. It’s so hardy – but I remind my kids…you still need to check moisture (every couple of days in hot weather if it’s a small pot). I showed my children and students how to use our finger as a moisture meter. We do have a small meter (from big hardware store) but it’s more like a toy really – horticulturalists tell me.
Back to Rosemary!...We saw it growing at the Historic Company Gardens in Central Cape Town. As it was winter not much was growing except for herbs so that’s where my recipe inspiration comes from today. I’ve learnt to find inspiration from anywhere to lift my spirits! Also in Jo’Burg (after Cape Town…blog for another day) we went to the most amazing food market (reminded us of New York) and we saw lots of dishes that used various herbs and spices.
The recipe I’ve chosen for this post comes from Courtyard Kitchen by Natalie Boog (2005) – a good one for children to learn too:
Potato and Rosemary Pizza...”be sure to buy the nice cheeses to go on top – they really add to the flavour”…some Italians might scream “no!!! traditional pizza isn’t topped with potato” but our granddaughters and Tony did enjoy it the other night!
Tony always makes his own pizza dough base (we keep some frozen too) but of course you can buy a readymade base. He loves making the dough…maybe some Italian ancestry way back I say!
Quantity makes 3 x 22 cm diameter pizzas:
350 g all purpose potatoes (peeled and thinly sliced); 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves; 100g pecorino cheese (or similar) finely grated; 100 g taleggio cheese (or similar…ask at deli or look up Net if not sure) – thinly sliced; 100 g prosciutto torn into pieces (cost/type/quality varies a lot but major supermarkets eg. Coles sell an Aust’n one if you’re on a budget &/or ok with taste of that); olive oil; S&P to taste…we try to reduce salt as prosciutto is salty enough + watching BP.
Put the sliced potatoes in a saucepan of lightly salted water, bring to boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.
Cover base with a single layer of potato and scatter over the rosemary. Scatter most of the cheese over the top, then add the prosciutto. Scatter with the remaining cheese, season with pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Transfer two of the pizzas to the pizza stone or baking trays (if you like a crispy base use trays with holes) and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Bake the remaining pizza in the same way.
I didn’t take a photo but later I’ll add the photo from the book…sure I won’t be breaking copyright with 1 photo as it will help promote her book!
Other Rosemary recipes in the book are:
Rosemary Pesto (+ many good ideas on use); Herbed Hamburgers; Rosemary Potato Wedges; Pork with Lemon and Rosemary; Osso Bucco; Marinated Lamb Kebabs (I’ll put in a Turkey post in the future); Rosemary Lamb Ragu; Flourless Orange and Rosemary Cake.
Rosemary is a great herb as it grows well in the ground or in pots. It responds well to pruning and you can make it ornamental, perhaps in an attractive pot, or functional. Once the Rosemary becomes a little woody you can even use the stems like skewers – perhaps for a marinated lamb kebab recipe (many ideas on Net)
BLOG POST NEXT WEEKEND: Where we stayed in Cape Town…Blackheath Lodge; Galleries and Museums of Cape Town + more restaurants and recipes.