Cape Town Can Wait

I adore Cape Town. But this is less about the destination – as it is with life. This is about a film and what it has to teach us about how we travel. Last night, I sat in the darkness of one of the city’s cinemas, lost in a world weaved by Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford and mother of Sofia, watching Paris Can Wait. It is, as this film review beautifully describes, “a diverting drama about the bounties of wonder, beauty, and the art of being present to the delights of the senses.”

American Anne (Diane Lane) goes on a winding journey with Frenchman Jacques (Arnaud Viard), driving from the South of France to Paris. While she is eager to get to the French capital, his philosophy of travel is to go slow and to take the backroads. It involves lake-side picnics, wine after wine, chocolate, roses, and witnessing the marvels that dot the path.

Along the way, Anne struggles with letting go, with going with the flow, but you see her changing, you see the Frenchman’s philosophy to travel winning her over. She captures every detail of the journey through her camera, which might have been where I too was won over, seeing in her so much of myself – a mix of resistance and surrender, and an insatiable hunger for the richness of life on the move.

The film is a celebration, ultimately, of the road trip, of la Route du Bonheur. On our latest trip out of and back to Cape Town, we meandered along our own route, through the Winelands, with our own lovingly prepared meals and fine wines at the Delaire Graff Estate, and into the Cederberg Mountains, for a night under the stars at Bushmans Kloof.

We had the just as charming Annie-Claude Bergonzoli at the wheel, instead of Jacques, and a BMW instead of a vintage sports car, but we experienced the same wonder and beauty of letting go and being present, and of stopping to answer the call of the spontaneous along the way.

Once at our destination, the beauty didn’t, however, end. A new journey simply began. Because if ever there was a city that you could spend days roaming around it’s Cape Town.

Read more about our trip in our Route du Bonheur Diaries: Ellerman House; Delaire Graff Estate; Bushmans Kloof, and The Cellars-Hohenort.

Mystery, Mindfulness & Mielie Bread

There are times when you might not want to eat mindfully. On an airplane, for instance. Or when on day four of hiking the 90km Fish River Canyon in Namibia the only foodstuff left in the backpack is Smash (* instant mashed potatoes, mmm…). I haven’t hiked the Fish River Canyon, but I’m sure that if it got to the stage where Smash was the only option for survival, I’d be sending my mind off to nap in the furthest, darkest lobe of my brain. And I would be second-guessing my choice of hiking partner.

There are times, though, when your mind wants very much to be there alongside (above?) you, when it stands on end like the fine and flirty hair of your forearms when you meet that person who completes your sentences. In that cute way, not the won’t-let-you-get-a-word-in way.

One of those times occurs as you enter through the glass doors of Greenhouse, The Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town’s award-winning restaurant, masterminded by Executive Chef, Peter Tempelhoff and Head Chef, Ashley Moss.

It happens as the waiter slips your chair out and you fall into its cushion. As the menu arrives and the drinks are filled and refilled. As the first of the eleven dishes arrives on the table before you. Yes, eleven. Because after the first bite your senses will be shouting, “Yes, yes, we’re all here, now bring us more!” Because they’re demanding like that. And because they know a good thing when they see it. And sniff it. And taste it.

The light is dim, romantic, and you can detect the mystery of night through the windows of Greenhouse’s, well, greenhouse. The stars twinkle a little brighter, I’m sure of it. Because as yours is sure to be too, my mind is present. I am here. Or there. No, no, definitely here. My attention attunes to each detail because each detail is something unexpected. And so satisfying.

You don’t need to go to Tibet. Although if you do, I’ll gladly join. You don’t need a course or CD or textbook in mindfulness. Sitting down to a meal at Greenhouse will show you the way. Just go slowly.

We would be doing the restaurant (the chefs, the waiters, the farmers, the fishermen; the whole team involved) a disservice by baring it all here for you to see. But in the name of calling that mind to attention, allow us to give you a taste of the mystery that flows from the garden at night into each dish, flavour and texture. From the mielie bread and popcorn butter, the bacon brioche and banana cream, to the Atlantic tuna and kimchi, the soured fynbos honey with that Karoo lamb.

This is The Greenhouse Experience… Take a look at the menu here.

“Most of the time, we are eating on autopilot, eating on the run, eating our worries or anxieties from the day’s demands, anticipations, irritations, and ‘to do’ lists. If we are not conscious of the food we eat, if we are not actively thinking about that apple, how can we taste it and get the pleasure of eating it?

“Eating an apple consciously is to have a new awareness of the apple, of our world, and of our own life. It celebrates nature, honoring what Mother Earth and the cosmos have offered us. … As the apple becomes more real and vibrant, your life becomes more real and vibrant. Savoring the apple is mindfulness at work.”

– Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, by Lilian Cheung, Thich Nhat Hanh