Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Wine lovers are spoilt for choice with accommodation in South Africa’s winelands. From 5-star hotels and luxury guest houses, to Cape Manor houses and boutique style lodging, the following establishments offer the highest standards of service, quality, and comfort. You’ll also find superb attractions such as restaurants and spas, and, of course, some of the country’s finest fruits of the vine.
Situated on the Doolhof Wine Estate in Wellington, Grande Dedale is an elegantly restored Manor House that comprises 6 individually designed suites. An additional free standing thatch cottage is privately situated for honeymoons and special occasions. Outdoor activities on the estate include hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding, while the landscaped gardens, pool, and spa ensure a high level of relaxation and comfort.
Dining at Grand De Dale is an attraction on its own. Breakfast is a treat with homemade specialities and Cap Classique; light lunches and snacks are served throughout the day; and sundown aperitifs are followed by a 3-course table d’hôte menu of locally sourced game and seafood. Doolhof’s full range of wines is available for tasting and private cellar tours are available on request.
The La Petite Ferme guest suites, restaurant, and boutique winery are set on a vineyard-lined mountainside, offering unrivalled views of the beautiful Franschhoek Valley. Although La Petite Ferme lies on a working wine farm, the Vineyard Suites and Manor House are anything but rural. Adjacent to the restaurant, the Manor House rooms have a sweeping view over Merlot vineyards. Overlooking vines of Sauvignon Blanc, the Vineyard Suites are individually themed with touches of décor from Africa to France, and each has a private plunge pool.
The restaurant has been listed by Conde Nast Traveller as one of the Top 15 Best Value establishments in the world. The legendary lunches at La Petite Ferme Restaurant reflect the creative energy of the talented chefs combined with a wealth of fresh local ingredients.
Asara Wine Estate in Stellenbosch is home to an intimate, 5-star boutique hotel. The hotel has a relaxed atmosphere; with careful attention to detail and top class service ensuring guests enjoy a stay that is homely yet completely luxurious. Each room has a balcony with views over the vineyards, lake, or courtyard. No matter which room you choose, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere of a wine farm that is so different to everyday life.
A complimentary breakfast can be enjoyed at the lakeside restaurant, Raphael’s, while the Asara Deli offers delectable light lunches, freshly baked breads, sweet treats, and tempting handmade ice creams. Aside from the award-winning Winery, the Sansibar Whisky Lounge is an inviting sundowner spot where guests can enjoy a meal.
With its warm hospitality, rugged mountain backdrop, and exceptional wine and cuisine, the 4-star Rosendal Winery and Wellness Retreat offers a country guest house and spa experience in the Robertson Wine Valley. Rosendal is close to many of the attractions along Route 62 – the world’s longest wine route – where you’ll enjoy everything from wine and olive tasting to quirky galleries and challenging rock climbing. Alternatively, soak in the scenic landscape from your private veranda or enjoy a dip in the rim-flow pool.
Rosendal is ideal for romantic getaways and offers a range of all-inclusive packages that make it easier to budget for the holiday of your dreams. Enjoy a range of spa treatments, meals, and activities with the Romantic Treat, De-Stress, and Golf packages.
At the foot of the Stellenbosch Mountains, Delaire Graff Estate offers a sense of escape amongst leafy vineyards and perfectly manicured gardens. Delaire Graff not only appeals to wine lovers. Art collectors will be most interested in the Estate’s contemporary artworks that reflect the diversity of South Africa’s heritage. Works by the likes of Vladimir Tretchikoff, Cecil Skotnes, William Kentridge, and Sidney Kumalo adorn the walls, while guests at the Lodge will enjoy Stephane Graff and the intensity of Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi’s work.
Each of the Lodges offers a spacious, light-filled living space that flows seamlessly to a private plunge pool, where guests can enjoy a chilled glass of Delaire Graff wine. A range of exclusive treatments are available at Delaire Graff Spa, which also features an infinity pool and heated Jacuzzi. Guests can feast on ‘bistro-chic’ cuisine at the Delaire Graff Restaurant, while the Indochine Restaurant offers Asian-inspired cuisine with a contemporary yet delicate twist.
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
|Closing to reach Du Toits Kloof pass with Riebeek-Kaastel in the background|
It is Saturday 20th September, crisp morning but the sky promises a warm day to come. Clive and I decide to start early for one of our Absa Cape Epic training session and we depart for our ride at 08h15. As always, before a ride, I have some fried eggs on brown toast and some fruit to fuel my muscles; considering the ride we have planned for the day, I decide not to carry any additional food with me.
Our aim for the training is to do some serious climbing and ride an undiscovered single track which connect Du Toits Kloof pass to Bains Kloof pass, riding through the Hawequa Mountains; an estimated 50 km ride with 1355 m elevation in the first 20 km.
We set off from the foot of Bains Kloof pass, ride through some vineyards in the town of Wellington as we approach Olyvenbosch Road, at the top of Bouvlei Road.
That is were the serious climb starts; a mix of gravel, rocks, forest riding, mainly jeep track, at the foot of the imposing Hawequa mountain.
The rhythm is slow with an average speed of 7kmph; because we took a wrong turn we gain an extra climb, as if it was needed,and ended at a cul the sac with rewarding breathtaking views of Wellington and Riebeek-Kasteel.
We reconnect with the original track and keep on climbing until we reach the top of Du Toits Kloof pass and enter the Limietberg Nature Reserve through a private road, tarred and uphill, that lead to the Telkom Tower.
The climb to the Telkom tower is tough, although on tarred road, as it climbs for about 8km with a constant gradient. By the time we have reached the top we have rode for 17 km with an elevelation of 1355m.
We decide to take a break and admire the unsurpassed views of Paarl, Wellington, Riebeek-Kasteel and the majestic Table Mountain in the horizon from the Telkom tower whilst trying to determine at which point the two passes are joined by the single track.
After refilling our bottles with fresh mountain water we start the descent until we reach the start of a jeep track; this is it, our studies on Google map showed that the jeep track should lead to a single track which should ends at the top of Bains Kloof pass. So far our training has been fun and rewarding with the long climb.
The jeep track only runs for 2 km and soon after we found ourselves in thick fynbos bush and had to practice carrying our bikes; at the briefing we attended on 13th September we were told that a certain amount of bike carrying should be practiced so Clive and I were both happy that we encountered some challenging and difficult terrain.
But the fun soon stops; as we keep on walking into thick bush we realized that by now we are too committed to track back so we carry on; the path become thicker with more obstacle thrown our ways.We have to cross streams of water, climb and descend rocky areas and soon Clive gain some grounds on me as his Specialized carbon bike is much lighter than my Merida. We keep contact as we can see each other silhouettes and hear our voices echoing through the Limietberg valley.
It is now 14h30, the day has developed into a hot sunshine and luckily for us all the streams we have crossed have fresh and clean water in abundance, much needed now.
Clive and I lose contact at about 15h00; by that point I have reached a rock where I last saw him waiving his hands; below the rock I see some foot tracks going up the mountain and I start climbing. Around me just streams, fynbos and mountains that all looks the same. I check my IPhone and battery is low and beside I do not have reception, so I decide to switch it off to safe some battery and keep on climbing.
The adrenaline and determination keeps me going but by 18h15 I realized that I have to think of plan B; I stop on a rock and can see a white cement tower in front of me (I later realized it was the Telkom tower we rode to earlier); luckily I have cellphone reception and make contact with Clive, who made it safely home as eventually found the track, and my wife. Explain my location as best as I can and ask my wife to locate my phone with the Ipad application "find my phone" but only after I have reached my sheltered area which stand 30 minutes away from where I am making the phone call. We decide to reconnect at 19h00.
My shelter location is situated below a curved rock with a medium size Protea tree in the middle; I chop some thick fynbos to make a mattress and some larger trunks to build a small hut; the most spectacular room with a view in the midst of the Limietberg Nature Reserve. It is time now to make contact but I do not have cellphone reception!!!
Meanwhile Clive and my wife Tina have alerted personnel at the Nature Reserve, the local cycling club and the Police; soon after the briefing at 20h30 a search team of 20 is dispatched on a rescue operation but they come back empty handed just after 23h30.
My sheltered hut seems to keep me warm enough, but only until 23h00 when a light wind picks up and temperature drop drastically to 6°. Luckily for me, when we set off for our training ride earlier in the day, as the morning was still chilly I decided to wear an under-vest, long jersey and pants, a beanie and long gloves, my saving grace.
Although my body was telling me to sleep and rest my mind switched to survivor mood and having packed the hut with more fynbos branches I lye down in the fetus position to keep my body warm.
I survived a cold sleepless night and my new day was welcomed by the most amazing sunrise which lit all the surrounding mountains with some warm sun rays.
At 05h30 I climbed the rock above my hut to get my bearing right; in front of me I still see the white cement tower but further on its left I can spot a winding road above the mountain; my mind is set on reaching that road and started to study a route from my view point. I type a message to Clive and Tina which I will send as soon as I have cellphone reception, probably only once I reach the road. My target is too reach the safety point by 10h00.
At 06h00, Merida on my shoulder, I resume my Epic training!!! The first stream crossing I reach I quench my thirst with fresh water, refill the only water bottle left (the second one was lost through a rocky descent) and wash my face, more of a wake up call then anything else; in the meantime, back in Wellington, rescue operation has resumed, and a decision to bring a chopper is taken, not one but two.
Clive decides to hire a friend's chopper and follow our training route while the rescue chopper flies over and around Bains Kloof pass.
With some difficulties I have descended the rock from where I sheltered overnight and by 07h30 I am starting the ascend towards the road which is still on my sight but so far away; attempt to delivered the message typed earlier fail repetitiously as reception is not found.
By 08h30 I reach a plateau just below the road; my attempt to reach the road by 10h00 seems to be on schedule. I decide to take a short break to recoup my energy when I hear the familiar sound of an helicopter blades; to my disappointment it is not the traditional red colour of a rescue helicopter, it is blue but is hovering above me so I start waving my arms.
|Photo taken from the Blue helicopter. Below the arrow is me and the Merida|
In the blue helicopter there is riding partner Clive, pilot Ross and good friend Tom; they radio the Rescue helicopter my co-ordinates and five minutes later, the familiar Red rescue chopper appears from behind the mountain in a scene that reminds me of the great Francis Ford Coppola's blockbuster Apocalypse Now!!.
I am overwhelmed with emotions and relief but still determine to reach the road, so while I wait for the Rescue helicopter's crew to finalize their rescue operation I keep on climbing.
By 8h45 the paramedic from the Rescue chopper starts descending towards me, a fellow mountain biker, reassure me that he will first hoist me to safety and then come back to rescue my Merida!!!
|Finally landing to safety|
However we have also learned that we can trust each other, we are determined, committed, mentally and physically strong.
So Absa Cape Epic 2015.......here we come.
Team Grand Dedale Penetron
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Recipe of the month - Peppered Springbok loin, deep fried three cheese gnocchi, beetroot cubes and red wine jus
To prepare the gnocchi (serving 4)
• 4 large potatoes
• 3 large eggs
• 3 Tablespoons flour
• 1 heaped tablespoon baking powder
• 200grams of cheese of your choice
• 150ml fresh cream
Boil the potatoes (whole and in their skins) until soft. Allow to cool, then peel and coarsely grate into a large bowl. You can also use a potato ricer.
Whisk the eggs and add them to the potatoes with the flour, baking powder and salt and the grated cheese. Mix well to form a soft, but not too sticky, dough. Sprinkle some flour onto a board and start rolling pieces of the dough into long thin sausages – about 1/2 ” in diameter. Slice these into 2 cm pieces.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and deep-fry the gnocchi until golden brown.
They can be served immediately or reheated (uncovered) in the oven to regain their crispiness.
if you prefer an healthier option, you can cook the gnocchi in a pot of boiling salted water. Put only five or six into the pot at a time, as you want the water to boil continuously.
Before plating, in a sauce pan reduce cream and add the gnocchi for 2 minutes, season and serve.
To prepare the beetroot
• 200 gr baby beetroot• 50 gr salted butter
Boil the beetroot until soft, peel, and cut into 1 cm cubes; saute with butter and season before serving
To prepare the springbok
• 800 gr springbok fillet or sirloin
• 50 gr crushed black pepper
Season and sprinkle the Springbok with crushed black pepper until covered; heat medium size pan with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and seal the meat for three minutes on each side. Finish in a hot oven, 220 degrees, for 5 minutes