Plant-Based travel – Cape Town, South Africa

A couple of days ago I came home from my first visit to Cape Town, a city I have longed to travel to for many years. Despite my high expectations, I wasn’t disappointed. On the contrary, we’re already planning our next visit! The light, the views, the food, the wine, the ocean and the mountains – it honestly takes your breath away. It was also an extraordinary experience from a plant-based and gluten-free perspective. Almost daily did I have the fortune of eating amazing food ticking both these boxes, and God knows (as do everyone travelling with food restrictions) this is nothing to be taken for granted when visiting new places. I thought therefore I would launch a new section here on the blog, called Plant-Based Travel where I share my eating recommendations for the parts of the world that I visit. Please know that I don’t only visit vegan and vegetarian places, but I do always seek out restaurants that will accommodate both my plant-based and gluten-free requirements.Anyway, here are my food notes on Cape Town:DINNER AT THE ROUND HOUSEwww.theroundhouserestaurant.comThose of you who follow me on Instagram know that I totally fell in love with this restaurant which is hidden above a small beach, at the backside of the unique Table Mountain. The building is an old colonial hunting lodge with large, beautiful windows through which you see the sun set over the Atlantic ocean. Everything falls into place at this restaurant; the ambiance is warm and caring, the views are intimidatingly gorgeous, the service perfect (genuine, kind, not too much, not too little) and the gluten-free and vegetarian (mostly vegan) tasting menu was both delicious and interesting. It included things like Globe Artichoke with Smoked Aubergine, Black Garlic and Charred Leeks and Sunflower root and Caramelised Oyster Mushrooms with Onion Puree, Wild Herbs and Sour Pear Consommé.  My favourite was the Rainbow Carrots though, cooked three ways; a salad, a puree and a soup, flavoured with coriander seeds and the South African leaf Buchu. I could go on and on about this place, but will just say this – If you’re visiting Cape Town, don’t miss The RoundHouse. And try to time the sunset!IMG_1549 WINE TASTING IN THE STELLANBOSCH was another great experience, primarily perhaps thanks to the tremendously beautiful settings of some of the vineyards. Keeping things gluten free and plant-based, we tasted wines with nuts, olives and chocolate instead of the more traditional bread. The Waterfront Estate sailed up as our favourite – we will be ordering both wines and chocolates from them in the future – and the place for the tasting is in a beautiful, tranquil garden, and hosted by lovely staff.  The Peter Falke winery was also nice – tasting takes place in loungy sofas in the garden of the stunning colonial stunning mail villa.IMG_1546 LUNCH AT DELAIRE last stop of our wine tour was a three course lunch with wine pairing at the Delaire Graff.  It is a huge and grandiose place, and worth a visit primarily for the surroundings – the gardens and the wineries are so beautifully kept and the restaurant oversees the wine ranks and the mountains and just sitting there is a humbling experience. This place is big though, hosts both clothing, jewellery and art shops and gives off a stronger air of commercialism than other more genuine places we visited. And although the food presentation is amazing for the eye, taste wise it was actually the least impressive experience out of all our meals in South Africa. The green vegetable risotto was nice but nothing new. The side orders of sweet potatoes wedges with a chive dressing, minty peas and sautéed beans were also nice, but again lacked that little ‘extra’ we had gotten spoiled with from other Cape Town eateries. The same goes for the watermelon and olive gazpacho which started our meal. The highlight was actually the miso flavoured butter, served with gluten free bread and smoked salt right at the beginning. That is something I will try to recreate at home. To be clear – I would go here again, since the experience overall still is fantastic, but I would choose to eat my full meal elsewhere.IMG_1564 LUNCH AT THE Food Barn is this lovely place in the little village of Noordhoek, which we drove through on our way to the Cape of Good Hope. It was the perfect lunch stop about an hour and a half into the tour offering great ambiance – light, friendly, helpful – and excellent food. Again, this is not a vegetarian place, but we hadn’t announced my food restrictions prior to arriving, yet they were still very accommodating. They have plenty of delicious both vegan and vegetarian side dishes and also salads and risottos. A plus also for us was the child friendliness, and the big, beautiful and old style playground right outside the window.IMG_1567 DINNER AT THE POTLUCK really enjoyed our visit to this popular and very urban restaurant on the fifth floor in downtown Cape Town with views of the train rails leading in and out of the city. It was packed with people when we arrived and that for good reasons it turned out.  I loved their salt baked celeriac with mint and lentil puree and the fries made from chickpea flower. The veganised ceviche made with radish was good, as was the vegan bean tacos on salad leaves. I also had this super cold frozen grapefruit for dessert – more interesting and yummy than it sounds! They also serve beautiful cocktails.LUNCH AT THE COURTYARD CAFE, KALK BAY A primarily plant-based lunch restaurant which doesn’t serve wine, but make great fresh juices (and you can bring your own bottle if you want to).  The menu is excellent –  could have ordered at least half of it – and the highlight was an eggplant stew with cauliflower rice and their vegetable burger with vegetable crisps and avocado. We strolled through the little fishing village of Kalk Bay after, filled with picturesque little restaurants, cafes and shops alongside the ocean.IMG_1570 PLANT-BASED JAPANESE DINING IN are big fans of the Japanese kitchen and during our two full weeks away we were bound to try out a couple of sushi restaurants. This was made easy with Nobu actually being in our hotel building, so we could even order room service from them (which helps when your travelling with small kids!). Their vegan sushi selection was never a disappointment and always served with gluten-freee soya sauce. We also liked a place called Umi, in Camps Bay, right on the beach (the dolphins jumping in the waves were a bonus!), mind you here one must really alert them to any food preferences before arriving – my husband actually had to step out to buy gluten-free soy sauce for me, and the variety (not the quality, which was great) of the vegan sushi wasn’t too impressive either. Anyhow, their ‘flamed sake edamame’ was a great start to the meal, and having sushi in the sunset at a beach is not happening that often. So – definitely worth a visit!image1 That’s it for this journey! Ida