This is the season to rejoice in the changing beauty of nature, and KARIN DE BEER has some ideas on how to do that: like watching movies under the stars, soaking in the glamour of the Theatre Awards, long walks on scenic wine farms and losing yourself in the soothing magic of classical music.
The Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards have celebrated the leading lights of the theatre industry since 1965. Each year the judging panel of critics, journalists and educators reviews nearly 100 productions staged at more than 20 venues in and around Cape Town. A thorough process of nominations, shortlisting and voting by the judges – with all votes independently audited – determines the winners each year. A glittering awards ceremony is then held in March to celebrate the industry’s leading lights.
ON A CLASSICAL NOTE
Autumn is heralded in on a high note for lovers of classical music with brilliant productions during the SU Woordfees (2–11 March) in the Konservatorium’s Endler and Fismer halls as well as other venues. Two must-see productions are The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell with the Baroque ensemble Camerata Tinta Barocca performing as the orchestra, and the captivating Cello meets Dance with cellist Erich Oskar Hütter and dancer Tanja Schmid. Highlights for the rest of the season include Mozart’s profoundly moving Requiem performed by the Canticum Novum Choir and SU Symphony Orchestra (24 and 25 March); a celebration of retired organ lecturer Boudewijn Scholten’s 90th birthday by organists Mario Nell and Winand Grundling on the Endler Hall’s magnificent Marcussen organ (15 April); and the Prestige Series with international pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi (25 May) and piano trio Nikita Boriso-Glebsky (violin), Alexander Buzlov (cello) and Bryan Wallick (piano) on 9 June.
Visit www.endler.co.za for more information.
IN FULL BLOOM
Weather permitting, a wondrous sight will await you at Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden during the SU Woordfees (2–11 March): the night-flowering Victoria cruziana waterlilies. These tropical plants with massive leaves flower only in late summer and the blooms last for just two nights. On the first evening the flowers are white and have an extremely sweet scent. On the second they turn pink before disappearing beneath the water. When ripe, the pea-sized seeds float to the surface and are collected by the garden’s staff. You can make a reservation at the Katjiepiering restaurant for dinner before or after your walk because the garden, which usually closes at 5pm, will be open until 10pm during the Woordfees.
The entrance fee is R10. Alternatively, purchase a Botanical Garden membership card for R50, which entitles you to 365 visits annually.
Where do you find the perfect cuppa in Stellenbosch? All coffees are not created equal, but here are some from the top tier.
- The ambience at häzz (32 Ryneveld Street) is irresistible and so is the coffee made from a special blend of freshly roasted pure Arabica beans. Bonuses are free Wi-Fi and delicious small eats.
- If you feel peckish, head for Ya-Ya Cafe (8 Dorp Street) where the food is just as superb as the coffee. Breakfasts are yummy, as are the freshly baked cakes.
- Deluxe Coffeeworks (37 Dorp Street) is all about good music, interesting people and great coffee made from the finest Brazilian, Guatemalan and Ethiopian beans.
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MOVIES IN THE VINES
Relive the days of the drive-in at outdoor cinemas hosted under the stars on wine farms.
- Tuck into your picnic basket at Spier Wine Farm while watching a classic movie on a big screen set against the backdrop of majestic mountains. On 24 March you can watch the spy thriller The Tailor of Panama and on 28 April the action comedy film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Popcorn is included in the price of R95 per adult and R70 per child and picnic baskets can be pre-booked. Tickets are available via Webtickets.
- Good girl Sandy and greaser Danny fall in love in the all-time favourite musical Grease, presented by the Galileo Open Air Cinema at Blaauwklippen Wine Estate on 10 March. You can also watch Titanic at Dornier Wine Estate on 24 March, The Notebook at Plaisir de Merle on 7 April and Bridget Jones’s Baby at Knorhoek Wine Estate on 21 April. Each estate hosts bars, while food vendors such as The Mexican Nacho, Nom Foods and Butler’s Pizza are on site. Tickets range from R89 (standard) to R175 (VIP). To book, visit www.thegalileo.co.za.
PADSTAL PLEASURES and TREASURES
You don’t have to drive far to enjoy the pleasures and treasures of interesting and colourful padstalletjies (farm stalls).
- Stop to snap a few pictures of the stunning display of pumpkins at Pampoen Padstal outside Worcester and while there drink a mug of steaming moerkoffie (traditionally brewed coffee) and buy delicious jams and preserves such as makataan (wild melon) and green fig jam.
- A haphazard array of colourful scarecrows welcomes you at Mooiberge Farmstall outside Stellenbosch. Must-buy items are plump strawberries and creamy homemade butter when available, while wine lovers will be delighted by the huge variety of well-priced wines.
- Indulge in boerekos (traditional food) and even afval (tripe) at Dassiesfontein in the Overberg or challenge your taste buds with bokkoms (salted dried fish).
SHARPEN YOUR MTB SKILLS
Mountain-biking fever is running high with the hosting of the first leg of the 2018 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Series in Stellenbosch. If you want to sharpen your technical riding skills, Joanna Dobinson, skills coach and owner of Biking in the Bosch, will see to it that you have the ride of your life. She has more than 20 years of riding experience, represented Natal and South Africa as a junior rider and trains champion riders such as Ariane Lüthi, Jennie Stenerhag, Annika Langvad and Mari Rabie. Her highly acclaimed skills clinics cater for not only advanced male and female riders, but also complete beginners and Joanna gets a huge thrill from training them right through to world championship stature. Her love for the sport is contagious and you will have loads of fun, whether you’re being taught how to get the basics or more advanced manoeu-
vres right. She offers individual specialist sessions for children over eight, small group clinics for same sex or mixed sex riders of beginner or intermediate level, and one-on-one or two-on-one (riders with similar abilities) sessions.
Read more at www.bikinginthebosch.co.za, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Joanna on 074 169 4376.
FIND OF THE SEASON
Wander off the beaten track and you are sure to find gems in unexpected places, such as Ou Stokery Gin Bar and Tap Room off the old N1 outside Rawsonville. As the signage outside the barn-like building indicates, this is not a place to stop for just a quick bite to eat. The Stofberg Family Vineyards venture is a three-in-one experience comprising a restaurant, craft beer brewery and craft gin distillery. It looks unassuming from the outside, but once inside you will be surprised by the magnificent mountain views, heavenly aromas and great vibes. It is a place where you can spend leisurely hours while the kids play on the big lawn and jungle gym. Chef Daniël Vercuiel is famous for smoking meat, but the menu is an eclectic smorgasbord of everything from croquettes and bitterballen to gourmet burgers, pizza, platters and a kiddies’ menu. The gin cocktails, prepared by Authur Kadema with the farm’s Mosquito tonic water, are exquisite, but you can also enjoy craft beers and award-winning wines created by winemaker Mariëtte Coetzee (née Stofberg).
If you want to sample before deciding, do a wine, beer or gin tasting. To book, phone 082 511 0500.
WALK UP AN APPETITE
The mild autumn weather is ideal for exploring breathtaking landscapes on foot before sitting down to a sumptuous meal.
- Walk through the enchanting Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden on the slopes of the Stellenbosch Mountain and then take a short drive to Mont Marie Restaurant.
- Explore the natural beauty of Waterkloof Wines outside Somerset West on a two-hour, full-circuit walk. The experience includes a two-course meal in the estate’s restaurant, which clinched third spot in the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards.
- Set aside three to four hours for a hike up and down Constantia Nek in Cape Town and treat yourself to authentic Spanish tapas at the nearby La Parada afterwards.
- Take a leisurely stroll through the magnificent 3,5ha garden of Babylonstoren. Book well in advance to eat at Babel or enjoy an informal meal in the Greenhouse.
Stellenbosch Wine Routes is famous for gourmet experiences such as ingenious food and wine pairings. For autumn we suggest you try pairings with some local heroes.
- Stellenbosch Hills in Vlottenburg pioneered the pairing of biltong and droëwors (dried sausage) with wine in 2005 and serves these quintessential South African snacks with its premium wines. Try springbok biltong with Stellenbosch Hills 1707 Reserve White or kudu droëwors with Stellenbosch Hills Cabernet Sauvignon. Bookings are advisable. Wonderful wine and biltong pairings are also available at Marianne Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch and La Bri Estate in Franschhoek.
- Forget about banting and sink your teeth into sumptious braaibroodjies (grilled sandwiches) at Middelvlei Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Enjoy the new Gourmet Braaibroodjie and Wine Pairing on the veranda or in front of the fireplace in cooler weather. Expect delightful pairings such as a fig and Brie braaibroodjie with Middelvlei Shiraz or a boerewors and Mozzarella broodjie with Middelvlei Free-run Pinotage. Alternatively, you can try the Boerebraai Tapas and Wine Pairing. Confirm your visit at least an hour prior to arrival.
TUK-TUK TO WINE FARMS
Touring wine farms is one of the major attractions of the Stellenbosch region, but who wants to be the designated driver when there are so many superb wines to swirl, smell and sip? Instead, sit back and enjoy every minute hassle-free on a Tuk-Tuk Stellies wine tour. The chauffeured tours in snazzy tuk-tuks are offered daily and leave from Stellenbosch Information Centre at 36 Market Street. The half-day tour (10am–1pm or 2–5pm) costs R500 per person and takes you to Lanzerac Wine Estate, Morgenhof Estate and Simonsig Wine Estate. The full-day tour (10am–4pm) costs R1 000 and includes lunch, wine tastings and two cellar tours. You will tuk-tuk your way to Waterford Estate for a chocolate and wine tasting and cellar tour, followed by a wine tasting at Lanzerac, lunch and a wine tasting at Neil Ellis Wines, another wine tasting and underground cellar tour at Morgenhof, and a last wine tasting at Simonsig.
Book on the website (www.tuktukstellies.co.za) or phone 076 011 3016.