Six brilliant reasons to take an oh-so-slow drive through one of the oldest wine regions in the Cape. Here are the pitstops you need to make whilst in Constantia.
Words: Jacqui Bräunlich
Pictures: Elke Losskarn
1. Art in the Forest, Constantia Nek
In the Fifties this creative space deep in the forest was the secret studio of an artist who painted nude women. Apparently Trechikoff also painted some of his famous women here.
In 2008, the building was bought by a British philanthropist who started the Light from Africa Foundation that offers free pottery classes to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Now the studio is a hub with space for established artists, as well as adult ceramic classes, workshops by local and international artists, and a gallery.
Art in the Forest is run by master potter Anthony Shapiro who singles out the popular African pieces. While we were there, finishing touches were being added to 72 Nguni jugs for a prestigious London contemporary design shop.
- Monday to Friday 09h00-16h30, Saturday 10h00-15h00
- 021 794 0291
2. Chart Farm, Klaassens Road, Wynberg Park, Wynberg
Historic Chart Farm is the only place in Cape Town where you can pick your own roses while meandering through the extensive gardens. Just be prepared to be overcome by the glorious scent of these naturally grown flowers.
From the gardens and the coffee shop called The Terrace are splendid views – to the east over Constantia Valley and False Bay, and to the slopes of Table Mountain in the west. The Terrace serves breakfasts, lunches and home-made cakes, and The Farmstall at Chart Farm sells seasonal fresh fruit like grapes and chestnuts, as well as vegetables. And freshly picked roses if you don’t have time to pick your own.
- Daily from 09h00-16h30
- 021 761 0434
3. TheCellars-Hohenort Garden Tour, 93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia
“Welcome to my office,” says Niall McKrill, manager of the award-winning gardens at The Cellars-Hohenort hotel. The gardens were a labour of love by the late Liz McGrath, legendary hotelier and owner of The Cellars.
The 5ha ‘office’ up a slope of Table Mountain is spectacular throughout the year. The 24 sections of garden have some of Constantia’s best indigenous flora, and special features like the second-oldest camphor trees after those at Vergelegen. There are 3.5km of hedges, as well as vineyards and rose gardens with a special yellow rose named Liz McGrath.
On the garden tour you’ll be shown the Herb Garden, Chef’s Kitchen Garden, Rustic Garden and the Fern Walk, each a showpiece across the seasons.
- Tours take place every Tuesday at 10h30 and on request. Booking essential.
- 021 794 2137
4. Constantia Waldorf Organic Market, Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia
This market will change any perceptions you might have about organic veggies and fruit being too expensive. Resident grocer, Barbara Bootsma from organic fresh produce supplier Bees in Boots, has the finest and most affordable organic produce.
Also available are breads, apple juice, jams, honey, organic sugar, coconut products, olive oil, goats cheese, you name it. One of the stallholders, Fritz Rabe, sells preservative-free juices, jams, preserves, teas and cordials from his farm in the Tankwa Karoo.
Delicious lunch snacks include some of the best curries, samoosas, chilli bites and a real treat called Breakfast on a Mushroom. The market is famous for its organic ice cream but be prepared to stand in line.
- Every Friday 11h00-15h00
- 021 794 2103
5, Pollsmoor Mess Pollsmoor Prison opposite Steenberg Wine Estate, Tokai
Who hasn’t heard of Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, where Nelson Mandela was the most famous inmate? In its heart is what has been called one of the world’s most unusual restaurants. You won’t find haute cuisine here at Idlanathi (eat with us) but the menu has very reasonably priced favourites like fish and chips, burgers, curry and rice, and chicken schnitzel.
Low-security inmates do the cooking and serving, all part of a rehabilitation programme. A functional, canteen-style restaurant, it’s not five-star luxury but is such an experience. Open every day, access is easy, so just tell them at the gate and you are ushered through.
- Daily from 07h30-14h00
- 021 700 1270
6. Chardonnay Deli, 89 Main Road, Constantia
Pint-sized Charmaine Lilje, owner of this new farm-style deli in the heart of Constantia, says she managed the mammoth task of setting up her business in a renovated historic building within five days.
It’s described as a farm stall, bakery and deli, and serves light meals from a menu that changes daily. Breakfasts and lunches are listed on a chalkboard, and can be enjoyed under the oaks or indoors. There are excellent fresh breads and rustic cakes and quiches, and an abundance of take-home goodies like free-range eggs, and locally sourced, organic fruit and veggies stylishly arranged in baskets and on the shelves. Charcuterie, cheeses and free-range chickens are always available. It’s inspiring and the food is delicious.
- Daily from 07h00-18h00
- 021 795 0606/7