A day to sleep in a bit, finally! Mom woke me up at 7:00 and I got to making breakfast while she slept a bit. I’m getting better at making coffee on the stove as this was the best batch yet.
Our morning started with a quick Uber ride to Greenmarket Square. This is a local square where the first fresh water fountain and a watch house for security purposes. Now it acts more like a flea market. While I love looking around at the various stalls, I prefer to shop without being approached so it wasn’t necessarily for me. I also felt like it was a bit more...sketchy. Later, our food tour guide told us that it is a place to be more alert.
Mom and I made our way to Origins Coffee in De Waterkant where our food tour was set to begin. We were super early (go ahead, roll your eyes if you know me), but that meant we had time to talk with our tour guide, Elsje, and get to know her. She started this company two years ago and it’s been growing ever since. She has lived in South Africa all her life and you can feel her love of the city.
Ollie (I’m probably spelling his name wrong but that’s how it sounded), taught us all about siphon coffee brewing, the oldest brew method! The two key points are pressure and heat! We tried Tanzania and Rwanda roasts, my preferred roast being the Rwanda.
The building used to house a tobacco factory and has tall ceilings and gorgeous infrastructure. The upstairs is where the roasting and packaging happens. It’s also where there’s a school where people can get degrees so that being a barista is a career, not just a job! I love it, creating careers for everyone.
Our next stop was La Petite Tarte. This is a quaint restaurant that I would call a must visit! You walk into an amazing bakery and then there’s a small dining room and absolutely mouth-watering food. We had a sample of the bobotie, a traditional casserole style dish. It’s made of minced lamb or beef and a variety of subtle spices and vegetables held together with an egg mixture. It’s topped with a currant like jam called blatjang. It’s meant to be mixed together in a not so pretty way, but oh my goodness it’s something out of this world.
Our third stop was at Beluga. It’s a hidden gem in an old foundry. Gorgeous brick everywhere. This is a seafood restaurant known more for its “African fusion”. We started off with MCC (the South African version of champagne) and peanut chicken potstickers. These were made with wheat flour instead of rice flour for more sustenance because traditionally people in African had less money and needed lasting energy so that they could work for long hours.
The main dish of this stop was South African sushi. My mom has never had sushi before so I was excited. This sushi was a bit different since it didn’t have any seaweed wrapping and was topped with mayo and caviar. The mayo is a South African version with MSG added to it. Apparently, South Africans add MSG to a lot of things. People even used to DIP their sushi rolls in mayo...until the rates of heart disease sky rocketed. Now there’s a small dollop. It wasn’t bad, but I prefer my sushi with very minimal if no mayo.
Stop number 4 was right near our Airbnb, a place called Cafe ExtraBlatt. Here we tried some craft beer of the region. Let’s just say I’m a craft beer snob, which those who know me know to be true, so this didn’t wow me compared to the wine of the country. But we also tried a flammkoeken which is basically a flat bread that they throw on the fire to see when it’s hot enough for bread making that is then turned into a pizza without cheese. It’s topped with bacon and onion though!
Next up, The Butcher Man. Unfortunately the biltong (which sounds like bull tongue) was not ready but we did try some jerky like options. We also had boerewors, which I’ll never be able to pronounce. Basically it’s sausage with bread crumbs and MSG added to it. The flavor profile is AMAZING. It’s rare you find a vegan or vegetarian in Cape Town.
Last, but not least, we went to the food market in the Waterfront. Mom and I had been here but not to eat. Elsje got us rich vanilla ice cream (literally made from cream and you could see the vanilla bean) mixed with Amarula. Amarula is a liqueur that tastes similar to Baileys, but better. The proceeds go to the women who work in the factory braiding the rope around the bottle and the elephants.
On our tour, Elsje also taught us about the colors of Bo Kaap. These houses were painted when the slaves in Cape Town received their freedom. After only being allowed to wear beige they wanted (and deserved) some color. The suburb only just recently became a World Heritage site two weeks ago. She also showed us the Breakwaters which is now the Cape Town business school. This building used to house prisoners and there was even a treadmill (literally what you think) in which six people would walk and if one walked faster or slower would likely be injured. It was a form of torture...and still is. There are some doors that have been covered with concrete and these were rooms that people with leprosy were placed in to die. Now new doors have been built.
After our food tour we went back to Greenmarket Square to a different coffee shop to meet our next tour, a walking tour of Bo Kaap. Basically the Dutch founded Cape Town as a stop on the Indian Spice Route. Being a business town the population was capped at 12,000 of which 7,000 were Northern slaves. When the British fought to take over Cape Town the slaves were forced to fight for the Dutch but only if allowed to practice their religion. When slavery was abolished, Bo kaap was designated as the suburb to house Muslim slaves. Even now it’s about 70% Muslim.
After the tour mom and I got a wee bit lost in which I got frustrated because I’m trying to not look like a tourist and make sure my mom and I are safe. But we eventually found our way to the secret gin bar behind Honest chocolate. The bar is an old mortuary but is very beautiful. The drinks are based on what your body needs and I went with Hope. Although I told my mom I could use a little bit of help in every department: love, a good night’s sleep, confidence.
The bar was a bit loud so we Ubered back to our Airbnb and opened one of our eight bottles of wine. I think I may have gone overboard...
We have another full day tomorrow since our flight doesn’t leave until midnight but we don’t have plans. I envision myself eating more seafood, hopefully more SouthAfrican curry flavors (either Bobotie or bunny chow) and buying myself all the souvenirs.
Update, mom and I ordered bunny chow (bread stuffed with minced meat and spices) and the Gatsby (a sandwich stuffed with local meat and French fries) for dinner. Very carb-y but the meat is so flavorful. And yes, I ate most of it without shame. Along with a 2016 Pinotage.