Food and Art Weekend in Cape Town

Food and Art Weekend in Cape Town

Cape Town weather is capricious – at one moment achingly beautiful and the next rainy and dreary. On those stunningly beautiful days it’s near impossible to justify being indoors. So, a cloudy, winter weekend was the perfect excuse to indulge in activities that had been on my Cape Town to do list but that I hadn’t managed to get around to during previous visits.

Although I had been to the Neighbourgoods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock before, it was the first stop on my food and art weekend. The market runs every Saturday and is popular with camera wielding tourists and hipster Capetonians alike. Skip breakfast at your hotel and head to the market. To beat the crowds try to arrive  when the market first opens at 9:00am. You can choose from from  quiches, gourmet sandwiches, salads, oysters, sushi, hot dogs, cakes, waffles, coffee, wine, beer, and list goes on and on. Make sure you have enough Rands to sample everything you wish otherwise you will find yourself in the situation I was in – short of cash. I even checked to see if there was an ATM at The Old Biscuit Mill before I left my guest house, but I hadn’t anticipated that it wouldn’t be working. With only R100 (equivalent to $10) in my wallet, I had to choose judiciously and settled on a savory onion tart with a slice of blue cheese on top, two macaroons (chai latte and coffee), and a flat white. Luckily by the time I was leaving, the ATM was dispensing cash and I was able to buy three Honest chocolate bars to enjoy back home in Johannesburg. In addition to the food market, there are stalls selling jewelry, shoes, clothes, and handbags as well as a number of stores in the Old Biscuit Mill itself.

While in Woodstock, I popped into the tiny South African Print Gallery for what I told the taxi driver would be a short visit, but I ended up spending an hour looking through the Joshua Miles woodblock prints. Next on the art list was Erdmann Contemporary for their Dreams to Reality photography exhibit housed  in a cool space above the Blah Blah Bar which is on the agenda for my next visit simply because I like the name.

Although not yet hungry, I decided on lunch at Hudson’s -The Burger Joint. Anyone who knows me, knows of my burger affinity but the real draw was the selection of craft beer. While it may seem like sacrilege to search for beer in wine country, Cape Town offers a number of local craft beers, including the Jack Black Lumberjack amber ale that I wanted to try alongside a burger and fries.

Whenever I am in Cape Town I visit Africa Nova, a shop in the Cape Quarter that stocks high quality textiles, ceramics, prints, and jewelry from across the continent. The shop operates past 2:00PM on Saturdays and is open on Sundays, unlike nearly every shop in Cape Town. I always end up purchasing something to cart home. This time two lovely Kuba cloths were coming home with me.

It was onto the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) located in a temporary home near the Cape Grace Hotel on the V &A Waterfront.  They had a great Yinka Shonibare video on display that paired nicely with the Andrew Putter floral still life photographs in the adjoining room. I have been a fan of Yinka Shonibare since the Smithsonian African Art Museum hosted a huge exhibit of his work in 2009/2010. Next up, a massage at the One & Only Spa which was just around the corner from the museum. Eighty minutes later I emerged covered in aromatic oils, relaxed, and a shower away from being ready for dinner.

Dinner was booked at Burrata which I had selected because of it was named the best Italian restaurant in the 2013 Eat Out awards. Despite having a reservation, my table was not ready when I arrived, but there was seating available at the bar which I prefer as a solo diner. Situated in front of the large wood burning pizza oven, I watched the cooks prep the pizza and make the dough from scratch. I started with a chenin blanc blend and a green salad with orange segments, perfectly cubed beets that honestly looked like mini gelees, and fried brussel sprouts. I repeat fried brussel sprouts. Along with kale, I haven’t seen, or eaten, brussel sprouts since I moved to South Africa, although they are on my shopping list every time I go to the grocery store. For a main course, I ordered the delre pizza. In place of tomato sauce there was a truffle spread which was dotted with mozzarella, mushrooms, and once it came out of the oven, translucent prosciutto.

The next morning I decided to forgo my alarm in favor of a leisurely Sunday morning. I made my way to Truth Coffee, reputedly the best coffee roaster in Cape Town and surely the only steam punk coffee shop in town. It also seemed as if all of Cape Town was there to enjoy a cup of coffee, breakfast, and men in bowler hats. There were no tables inside so I ordered beans and a flat white from the coffee bar and sat outside.  Since I wasn’t distracted by the steam punk vibe and people watching that surely would have tempted me had I been sitting inside, I was able to finish my book, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Read it. It’s amazing.

Before I headed to the airport, I wanted to eat lunch and so I made my way back to the V & A Waterfront to Willoughby & Co. a sushi restaurant in a mall seems to be the sort of thing that you should actively avoid when traveling, actually that you should avoid all together, but I had been assured that it was the best sushi restaurant in town. A long line had already formed for a table, but being only one person, there was space at the bar. Traveling alone does have its perks when it comes to restaurant seating. I can attest that the sushi was superb, in spite of the mall setting.

And like that, it was time to return to Johannesburg.

There are a number of hotel options to choose from. I returned to Derwent House in the Tambourskloof area of Cape Town. I prefer small, contemporary, locally owned bed and breakfast and guest houses in general. Derwent House offers and varied breakfast with a number of hot options to choose from as well as a large honesty bar in the lobby. The rooms are simple and functional. If you can, book one of the rooms upstairs in the main house.