Table Mountain Is Calling and I Must Go

DCIM102GOPROGOPR1306.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir

It is autumn in the city of Cape Town, but as summer slips away and the air becomes cooler, the mountains only get better. Table Mountain and its peaks, close and far, are quieter, with fewer travellers making their way over and up the chillier ridges and peaks. The cable car will always have visitors curling around the foothill of the mountain, awaiting their ride up, but for the hikers and rock climbers, the hills and paths that extend outward from the cable station on top are emptier. There is a deeper peace to it all.

Table Mountain 9

Clouds drop and rise above and below the peaks, changing constantly, sometimes hiding the whole city below with a thick white quilt and other times swimming higher through the saddles and over the mesas like a mountain brook. The hills are more alive, more unpredictable, and at the same time, more soothing. As Muir wrote, “…going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”

A necessity that according to a recent article by Condé Nast Traveler, How Hiking Changes Our Brains—And Makes Us Better Travelers, has a range of benefits, “from lessening negativity to boosting creativity, hiking in fresh air actually boosts brain power and can help certain parts of the brain grow.”

DCIM102GOPROGOPR1356.

There are many ways to experience Table Mountain and each experience is worth spending a morning doing: hike up and down, take the cable car one way or both, and at the top of the Table… hike around and explore the many corners of the national park, abseil down the side, or enjoy coffee in the café, while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Below are a few photographs from our own recent escape into the hills of Table Mountain and for more information on where to stay, scroll to the bottom. Our recommended hotels are able to assist in helping you plan a hike in these hills during your stay.

Table Mountain 13

Table Mountain 11

Table Mountain 7

DCIM102GOPROGOPR1298.

DCIM102GOPROGOPR1297.

DCIM102GOPROGOPR1310.

DCIM102GOPROGOPR1268.

DCIM102GOPROGOPR1356.

Table Mountain 6

Table Mountain 1

Table Mountain 4

Table Mountain 3

Table Mountain

Table Mountain 2

Table Mountain 14

“Each stone, each bend cries welcome to him. He identifies with the mountains and the streams, he sees something of his own soul in the plants and the animals and the birds of the field.”

— Paulo Coelho

Table Mountain 17


Where To Stay

Ellerman House, Bantry Bay, around the corner from Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak.

The Cellars-Hohenort, in the Constantia Valley, Cape Town’s own inner-city winelands.

Delaire Graff Estate, further outside town in the Cape Winelands, near Stellenbosch.


“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
― John Muir

The Fine Art of Mixing (and Drinking) Drinks

Gin & Tonic3 BD

The fine art of mixing drinks harks back decades to the days of the Middle Ages, when people were fascinated by all kinds of infusions, macerations and sagacious compositions. For this is just what occurs in the art of mixology… a sort of alchemy, taking various ingredients and creating something of an elixir. It’s an art that connects our barside habits today to a time long gone. It is a tradition that teaches qualities such as moderation and precision, but that inevitably leads to quite the opposite in its imbibers.

When we sip an Old Fashioned or a Bloody Mary, a Martini or a Classic Black Russian, we are transported through time to the world of the Great Gatsby and James Bond. It is a sort of fantastical trip much like that in Midnight in Paris, one that takes us back to a bar in the 1920s, beside Juan Belmonte and Ernest Hemingway.

At least, this is what goes on in my mind, as I lounge back on the terrace at Ellerman House in Cape Town, watching the sun set over the ocean, watching the city lights brighten as the moon rises and the ice melts slowly in my tumbler. In celebration of World Bartender Day, take a look at Ellerman House’s evening cocktails below, along with a pictorial gaze at the creation of generations of knowledge passed down from bartender to bartender…

Ellermantini SL

Ellerman House Cocktail Menu Evening No Price

Smooth Ginger SL

Ellerman House Cocktail Menu Evening No Price

Cocktails SL

Yellow Bird SL

Fynbos Cocktail6 SL

Cable Car SL

Gin & Tonic2 BD

Ellerman's Pepper Mary SL

Cocktails_Espresso Martini TW

Cocktail Making BD

Dirty Martini BD

If alcohol is not your thing, take a look at our piece on mocktails, featuring non-alcoholic drinks from around the world.

The Greenhouse Effect

kraken-1

The Greenhouse Effect is a spell of inspiration as much as seduction, a Nina Simone-esuqe voodoo that comes from the most ancient of arts… the culinary arts.

If ever there were a restaurant in Cape Town that made one feel as though you had not just dined, but had your whole world changed, this is it. It serves the sort of divine inspiration expected of the Greek muses. But its domain is that of gastronomy, not astronomy. Music, dance, history and poetry, certainly, because its reach is unlimited. It speaks not only to food lovers and food creators.

Chefs

What they have created here, in the Hohenort building of The Cellars-Hohenort in Cape Town, is a South African fairy tale. One set in a secret garden – nine acres large. One bringing to life the traditions of the nation, holding onto them and sharing them with diners so that they will be remembered, like all the best tales. And it is a tale of the earth, a new muse, the tenth muse, one of nature, of the land. You can detect this in the way it produces and presents its wine and meals.

As explained in the restaurant’s own words…, “We live in a complex, joyful, and beautiful country; a country where your ideas and preconceptions change the longer you look at them. Peter Tempelhoff, Ashley Moss and their team look long and hard at what we eat, and where it’s from. They look to the sea and the garden, to the fields and orchards; they open old cellars and pantries to find ingredients that have meaning. We invite you into our dining room to take part in a modern, South African dining experience. An experience that’s as complex, joyful and beautiful as the country we live in.”

GH-September-2016-017_edited

breadedit

GH-September-2016-008_edited

Dining

As for the Greenhouse Bar, along with a range of bespoke cocktails, wines and champagne, craft beer, cider and spirits, there is a natural wine list –  with organic, biodynamic and minimal intervention wines from the South African winelands. From winemakers that nurture biodiversity while embracing and observing nature, rather than fighting to control it.

“The natural wine movement has taken off in Europe where natural wine bars are trending at the moment,” says group sommelier Michelle Michaels. “No one else is offering a natural wine list at the moment. So at Greenhouse we decided to launch one. A few years ago consumers were too scared to explore these type of wines. The wine industry has grown over the years, and consumers are exposed to more interesting wines and are hungry to explore new, exciting things happening in the winelands.”

natural_wine_list_750_502

As for the meals, Ashley Moss, Head Chef at Greenhouse, has started something of a revolution with a Weekly Waste Challenge that turns the kitchen’s weekly leftovers – from the preparation of dishes already on the menu – into beautiful dishes. Each chef in the team gets a turn and as Ashley recently told Eat Out, “It’s a great opportunity for them to take time and be creative. They can try out ideas or techniques they have read about or seen.”

“I wanted a means to keep the chefs creative and inspired,” explains Ashley. “After looking at what we are throwing away, I challenged myself to create a dish using the offcuts and trimmings. That got the ball rolling.”

“It’s really opened their eyes,” says Ashley. “When we are prepping in the kitchen we look at every little offcut or trimming and think, ‘Hey, how can I use that?’”

“Often it’s easier to just throw something away than to take the time and effort to incorporate it into the menu. The most difficult part is getting people to have that minimal-waste mindset in everything they do. From prepping fish to washing your hands there is always room for improvement.”

The challenge was recently featured by Eat Out, with images of the dishes themselves… as seen on Ashley’s Instagram feed, alongside the meals actually on the menu – both equally picturesque.

For example, senior chef de partie, Moses Moloi’s dish of chicken stuffed with golden sultanas and pistachios, rolled in bacon, cooked sous-vide and served with a slightly different take on a risotto (using three different kinds of rice left over from other dishes and applications around the kitchen), plus some carrots and onion centres that were brought back to life with smart cooking and careful seasoning.

Junior sous chef, Wesley van Wyk’s pork belly dish using a few flowers, herbs and veg from the hotel garden; Julia du Toit took inspiration from a 2014 Greenhouse dish, a mushroom agnolotti with roast aubergine and tomato velouté; and head pastry chef, Amy-Margaret Young,’s savoury dish of sweetcorn panna cotta, miso bacon and tomato.


As for the meals on the menu, the African Hunter & Gatherer carte du jour gives you a glimpse of how a taste of the traditions of South Africa has been created. Take a look at the menu here…

The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia
www.greenhouserestaurant.co.za
Open for dinner: Tuesday to Saturday 6pm to 9.00pm

Read more about the challenge in Eat Out’s article, Chefs at Top 10 restaurant make magic out of leftovers.