Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lunch at La Colombe and a drive to the Cape of Good Hope for a last day in South Africa

The understatedly elegant Steenberg Hotel
Our last full day in beautiful South Africa began with a very nice breakfast at the Steenberg, a lovely winery and boutique hotel in Constantia, in the suburbs of Cape Town, that had been one of the hotels on my "must stay at" bucket list.

Our breakfast was prepared by Steenberg's executive chef Garth Almazan, whose grandfather was actually Filipino, and we had a chat with him when we went over for breakfast.

Garth has never been to the Philippines, though, and I understand that we were the Steenberg's first guests from the Philippines. Hopefully that'll change, as it's a beautiful and historic estate from 1700 run on five-star deluxe standards but offering all the tranquility and beauty of the winelands.

You read about the Steenberg here, by the way...

The scenery from the car,
in this part of South Africa.
Beautiful, even on a cloudy day.


A prestigious international magazine recently ranked a stay here as one of the top 500 travel experiences in the world -- probably for the authenticity of its Cape Town wine experience and its understated elegance.

EGGS BENEDICT 
AGAIN, AGAIN AND AGAIN

This was followed by lunch at South Africa's most famous restaurant, and then an afternoon drive to the Cape of Good Hope, at the very tip of the African continent.

The eggs benedict at the Steenberg
But back to breakfast first.

I ordered eggs benedict for breakfast at practically every hotel we stayed in, in South Africa -- so much so that on this very last breakfast day and just I was looking at the menu for hot breakfast dishes, The Boss said to me point-blank: "Stop fooling yourself that you're going to order something else. Just get it over with and order your eggs benedict."

The eggs benedict at Sabi Sabi Game Reserve

So that's what I did. So far I'd had the following eggs benedict in South Africa: 

1) Eggs benedict with ham (at Westcliff in Johannesburg)
2) Eggs benedict in a slightly native style (at the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve)
3) Eggs benedict with crispy bacon (at the Mount Nelson in Cape Town)
4) Eggs benedict with smoked salmon (at the La Residence in Franschhoek).

I'd also had eggs benedict with a very deliciously sour sauce at Le Quartier Francais, a lovely Relais & Chateaux establishment we stayed at with a very famous restaurant attached to it, run by one of South Africa's most creative chefs.

And that morning, at the Steenberg, the eggs benedict was also very good.


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SOMETHING NEW ON THE MENU

But that morning, on the Steenberg menu, we noticed something we'd never seen so far: a Cape Malay omelette. So of course we ordered that as well, and it came spicy with lots of vegetables, and in an open omelette style so that the bottom stayed dry and the top was moist.

The Steenberg's delicious Cape Malay omelette


It was very good and a nice change from happy days and more happy days of eggs benedict.

So for my last proper breakfast in South Africa, I had my usual fruit plate to start, and then half an eggs benedict and half a Cape Malay omelette to end.

A LAST WONDERFUL LUNCH

The awards won by La Colombe

Then for lunch we went to La Colombe, a nearby restaurant that is probably South Africa's best-known restaurant. It was considered the best restaurant in the entire Africa and the Middle East for several years, but I haven't really kept up to see where it's ranked now.

The chef at its height of fame was Luke Dale Roberts, the very chef who went on to found the modern and cutting-edge restaurant called Test Kitchen in Cape Town, where we had a pretty fanastic 11-course meal just before coming to stay at the Steenberg in Constantia.

Click here to read about our 11-course dinner at Test Kitchen in Cape Town.

Scroll down to read more...



DELICIOUS AND ENJOYABLE

Casual atmosphere of La Colombe
But even without its former very famous chef, we found the food at La Colombe was nevertheless excellent and very enjoyable.

Locals, and especially foodies in the Cape Town general area, speak with reverence of La Colombe. It's a great all-time favorite. So eating at this temple of dining for foodie South Africans was the perfect last lunch and the perfect end to a wonderful two weeks in South Africa.

We got there rather early so we were literally the first customers. This gave us an excuse to look around, and we were surprised at how casual the restaurant was, considering its global fame.

A SURE GUESS

Some of the famous people who've eaten at La Colombe
When we were ordering our lunch, the Boss said to me, while looking at the menu: "You're having the oysters or the foie gras to start and then that Chalmar beef fillet as a main."

He was again guessing what I would be ordering. Then he looked at me with his usual confidence about everything in his world and said: "Tell me I didn't guess right."

Yes, he was right, as usual. He knows what I like to eat and he even knows stupid things such as when I like more salt on my food. Sometimes, he doesn't even say anything, and he just sprinkles more salt on my food because he thinks it's going to be too bland for me.

And because the oysters hadn't arrived yet when we began to order, I had the foie gras first. Midway through the meal, the oysters were delivered so I just had to have these as well, delicately poached in champagne. They were luscious.


This lunch is going to be written about as part of our Africa special in an upcoming issue of Travelife Magazine so I'm not going to dwell on the details, except to say that we had a couple of knock-out dishes in a lunch that consisted of two starters, two mains and two desserts -- plus a complimentary starter given to us, maybe because we'd come early.

The after-dessert at La Colombe
Usually we share a dessert, but this time, we decided to have one each so that we could taste more of La Colombe's delights. We had lots of little extras as well, such as a plate of excellent petit fours, as is usual for good restaurants.

La Colombe's petit fours plate included a rosewater Turkish delight, marshmallows, meringue and some delicious chocolate.

THE END OF THE WORLD

Don't miss a drive to the Cape of Good Hope
if you find yourself in Cape Town.
We're so glad we didn't.


From La Colombe, we headed straight to the Cape of Good Hope, which is about an hour's drive from La Colombe via picturesque seaside towns and pretty amazing stark scenery.

We had a very nice car but it had the lousiest navigation system in the world. Fortunately, we never got lost on our journey to the end of the world.

Baboons were everywhere in the Cape of Good Hope.
I took this from our car. 


The weather wasn't very good, but we'd made up our minds to go and see this last thing on our bucket list for our last day in South Africa.

On the left is the rough Atlantic Ocean,
while on the right is the calmer Indian Ocean.
You can only see a sliver of the Indian Ocean in this photo.


The Cape of Good Hope is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean, and we climbed all the way to the point where you can literally see the rough seas of the Atlantic Ocean force itself on the calmer Indian Ocean.

Miraculously, the sun shone just as we reached this very crucial point of the earth, and we saw the two oceans meet in great glory.

For a Travelife, it was certainly a must-do to see this point of the earth with our own eyes. And this is exactly where I want to end the story of this journey. At least for now.



The Steenberg
www.steenberghotel.com







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