Blog

So what do you get when you mix up 4 South Africans, 2 Brits, 2 Swedes, one Frenchman, a German and an Aussie? That's our Cape Portfolios office team, all passionate in different ways about Cape Town, its wonderful lifestyle, fabulous climate and gorgeous scenery.

And this is our new blog where we plan to tell you about some of our favourite things to do and see in Cape Town from hot new restaurants, to cultural events and fab excursions. Please enjoy and let us know what you think!



Travel Review - From White Wines to White Lions!

This review was posted by Candice on 1 September 2010.

 

Part I - From white wines in Franschhoek...


As Cape Portfolios expands its range of exciting villa holiday destinations, our boss cruelly chased the "CP sales team" away from our desks for two days to check out some fabulous rental properties we plan to offer our clients in the magnificent Franschhoek valley (arguably the country's food and wine capital) which is just an hour and a half's drive from Cape Town. And we were asked to experience a luxury safari at the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve which we will also be offering our clients very soon; it's always the Cape Portfolios way to hand pick and view the properties and tourism experiences we recommend and I have to admit I could think of worse things I could be doing for work!!


We had a wonderful drive to Franschhoek and enjoyed a beautiful sunny Western Cape winter's morning viewing some fabulous properties ranging from simple self catering apartments to luxurious villas and hotels. The ones we liked best will be up on our site soon but you can always email us for our top tips in the meantime at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ! We paused for a delicious lunch at ICI Bistro and Bar, a trendy little place I would really recommend in the heart of Franschhoek (part of the multi award winning "Le Quartier Francais" Hotel, a Relais & Chateaux group member). Our table outside had wonderful mountain views and the atmosphere was perfectly relaxing after our busy morning of viewings! For those with more time on their hands and big appetites a visit to the World renowned "Tasting Room" restaurant at the same venue is simply a must!!


After some more "hard graft" (!) viewing even more lovely rental properties for our new Franschhoek selection, my colleague and I treated ourselves to a late afternoon glass of white wine at Mont Rochelle, a stunning 5 star hotel I would highly recommend on a wine farm perched high up on the steep Franschhoek valley slopes with unbeatable views. We reflected on the day and thoroughly enjoyed our drinks before an excellent dinner at the hotel's "Mange Tout" restaurant. Again exquisite food, great views and delicious local wine! An idyllic spot for a romantic getaway and certainly don't be shy to ask for the honeymoon suite, indeed even if you are not on honeymoon (or at all romantic!) that particular room is very special and a must if it's available!

Feeling well pampered we retired to our accommodation in a luxurious two bed apartment at the newly launched Ivy Apartments superbly located just off the main road in Franschhoek and easy walking distance from the shops and restaurants (not that we could possibly eat more by now!) The big fluffy duvets and pillows were a relief for our weary limbs!

 

Part 2 - To white Lions at Sanbona....

white lion

The following morning we awoke early to head through to the 54,000 hectare Sanbona Wildlife Reserve which is located at the heart of the Warmwaterberg mountains in the heart of the Little Karoo approx 3 hours from Cape Town. Having never been on safari I was eager and rather nervous about what to expect.

 

On arrival at Sanbona you have the option of either self drive to the accommodation or a complimentary transfer. We decided on the latter and although this can mean waiting around for up to an hour it was well worth it. During our transfer we saw a wonderful array of animals including zebras, giraffes and elephants! When we reached our accommodation in 1 of 9 luxurious tents in the heart of the mountains and the remoteness and wild beauty of the landscape and setting of the accommodation was simply mind blowing! We didn't even have cell phone reception, how rare and how relaxing is that these days!

 

We went on two game drives (afternoon and evening) and although initially I chuckled when I saw another guest completely wrapped up as if she was going to the Antarctic, I soon realized what a clever woman she was and spent part of my game drives dreaming of warm hats and jackets!! We were given blankets and even hot water bottles but at least in our Cape mid-winter ALWAYS bring extra warm clothing (7 layers should do it!). We had a wonderful time anyway and saw a lot of game, including the famous Sanbona white lions (apparently the only two self sustaining white lions in the World) and even the nostrils of a hippo - I never knew a hippo can hold their breath underwater for so long!

The following morning the baboons barked and echoed in the valley as our natural wake up call and a sorry reminder that we had to head back to Cape Town. I was sad to leave, having been so in touch with nature and the animals really touched my heart. I just loved the philosophy behind Sanbona which is to re-introduce the same species of wild animals that would have naturally lived in this part of South Africa hundreds of years ago and I must say look so at peace and at home there again now! Ideally Sanbona is somewhere you should go for a few nights to really relax and make the most of the experience. Everything was top class from the food to the service and the endless smiles. I will certainly be going back again and be sure to take my fiancee (and some warmer clothes) with me next time!

 
Mzoli's Place - our township's sizzling hotspot!

This review was posted by Chuma on 19 August 2010.

Eita da! kwa Mzoli that's the Xhosa name most of us locals know it by, somewhere that's always fun, with the coolest local music and the most succulent "braai" or barbequed meat imaginable! Situated in the sprawling township of Gugulethu 15km from central Cape Town, this has to be one of the most original and different places to visit and hangout for a few drinks and lunch for a truly South African experience!

The owner Mzoli Ngcawuzele grew up in the streets of Gugulethu and started off simply selling meat door to door but had a bigger vision of opening somewhere to unite the many diverse cultures of our Western Cape region in the company of good music, food and drink - and I must say he has done a wonderful job making his dream come true! Mzoli's is so full of the warmth and energy of the happy customers and you are never far from the smiles of the many friendly staff members looking after you. This may be a family business at heart but also one that has created a remarkable and much needed employment opportunity for many of our township residents.

A typical lunchtime visit to Mzoli's with friends starts with the friendly car guard offering us a parking space and the welcoming sound of DJ's playing their music out in the open space to an excited crowd of onlookers. "Heyi mfethu!" (Hey Buddy!) I have to be careful not to bump into other cars because I have just seen.....surely it can't be? Yes it is! DJ Christos, one of South Africa's most respected house and kwaito performers is doing his thing on the Turn Tables! Yho! Yho! It's happening here, this is so much fun, standing around enjoying the sounds and we haven't even gone inside yet!

Finally drawn inside by my hunger from the delicious smells wafting through the door, I quickly place my order and opt for the house speciality "secret sauce" which is as mouthwateringly mysterious as the name suggests! We also decide to have a side dish of pap (a traditional porridge made from ground maize) which is the perfect partner to barbequed meat (or "Vleis"). Mmm, now we are talking! "Pap and Vleis", with an ice cold "Hunters Gold" cider to keep the food good company, what more South African way can there be to enjoy a relaxing Saturday or Sunday afternoon with friends?!

The orders are processed quickly by the friendly staff and the meat sizzles away on an open fire towards the back of the space while we sit around chatting and having a lot of fun together in the separate seating area for guests neatly arranged under a big umbrella. When the meal arrives, I tuck in with the tunes of DJ Christo still humming in my ears and happily think to myself how I have never tasted such tender, juicy and delicious meat (and at such reasonable prices too!). In fact I probably won't taste meat this good again until my next visit to Mzoli's, so it's going to have to be soon!

 

Mzoli's Place, Gugulethu, Cape Town (Tel +27 (0)21 638 1355).

 

 

 
New Restaurant Review - Van Hunks
Blog van Hunks
This review was posted by Thomas Vallee on 15 August 2010.

Just the name of this newly opened Cape Town restaurant immediately made it intriguing and interesting: if anyone out there doesn't know the fabulous legend of the old sea dog Van Hunks smoking his pipe on the mountain and ending up in the mother of all smoking contests with the Devil himself, I suggest you find out!

Van Hunks is in a very pretty renovated Victorian house on a corner plot half-way up Kloof Street, it has been decorated in a very simple and classic manner yet with a certain arty feel about it. The slightly retro styling takes you back to the 60's with nice classic tunes in the background to match the decor. It is a medium size restaurant with a very cool bar attached to it and a spacious stoep at the front overlooking Kloof Street, ideal if you are having a birthday party or just getting some friends together for Friday evening drinks and a bite to eat.

I was handed an A4 piece of paper with the menu printed on it as well as a wine list. Casual I know but hey, why do you need a whole encyclopedia anyway. The menu is concise but has something for everyone. The style of food at Van Hunks is oriented towards French and South African classics such as Bouillabaisse and Bobotie, all very well executed at extremely reasonable prices with main courses ranging from R60 to R90 - terrific value I thought!

Let me tell you the wine list is not bad either, we opted for their house wine, which was a lovely white blend from a smaller producer from Stellenbosch and at R55 a bottle, you really can't go wrong with that! The rest of the wine list is made up by some renowned bigger names of the local wine industry as well as smaller wineries making for some interesting options.

All in all a great new addition to the Cape Town restaurant scene and a very welcome change from certain other establishments where you try and visualize your bank balance in your head as you are walking back to your car.....you know the feeling!

One thing for sure, I will be back at Van Hunks!

VVan Hunks Restaurant, 1 Upper Union Street off Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town (Tel. 021 422 5422).
 
Five Fabulous Festivals!
This article was posted by Thomas Vallee on 15 August 2010.

The Cape Town area hosts many wonderful festivals and similar events throughout the year. Here is our pick of five slightly lesser known festivals that we think anyone living in or visiting Cape Town will certainly want to put on their agenda:-

Cape Town Design Indaba

The Design Indaba is more than a fashion show, it promotes ecological, political and social activism while providing a showcase for cutting edge clothing, furniture, architecture and graphic designs.  Innovative exhibits provide demonstrations and information about sustainable product designs and green solutions to modern problems.  This three-day conference held in February each year was begun in 1995 and has grown to take a leadership position in South African advocacy programs. We love it and go every year, it just gets bigger and better every year!

Robertson Slow Food Festival

The past four years in August, up to 30 wineries in the beautiful Robertson wine valley 2 hours from Cape Town welcome visitors onto their farms, into their homes, and up to their tables to sample delicious traditional dinners such as Waterblommetjie Bredie, Braai Snoek and Karoo Venison.  This 4 day event not only celebrates the great wines of the region, but provides opportunities to learn how to make down-home dishes from native ingredients like salami, pasta or an eight-course organic meal.  Outdoor activities such as horseback riding and hiking help Slow Food participants work off the ample meals they will be enjoying.

Encounters Documentary Festival

Now in its 12th year, this international documentary festival has grown steadily because it shows some of the best nonfiction movies from South Africa and around the world. Currently running this year until 29 August, the venue brings over 800 films to the local screens.  Forums and panel discussions with independent filmmakers help audiences understand their methodology and the messages they are crafting.

Gravity Adventure Festival

Located in Kleinmond in the spectacular environment of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve about an hour's drive from Cape Town along the coast towards Hermanus, this yearly weekend sporting event includes many fascinating ways for participants of all skill levels to compete in fun and exciting activities.  The 2010 festival ran until mid August and included fun events for the whole family, along with a film festival and drawings for prizes.

Cape Town Book Fair

More than just a place to get used books, Cape Town Book Fair plays host to some very interesting exhibits, lectures and demonstrations about all things related to literacy and the book industry.  Attracting more than 34,000 visitors in 2010, this event is held during the last weekend of July and has turned into a wonderful venue for social commentary and networking.