Now that the weather is starting to take a turn for the better, it’s time for Capetonians to wake from hibernation and re-familiarize ourselves with our social lives. We all know that just the hint of a cloud can send us hiding under the covers, but equally powerful is the allure of a clear blue sky, which always calls me to the winelands.
We are lucky that we don’t have to go very far if we want to spend a day enjoying sweeping views and a glass of white then red then maybe port and finally a cup of coffee. A little while ago I joined a group of foodies on a media trip to the Durbanville Wine Valley to experience a few gems in the area. This valley is often overlooked between Constantia, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, but they produce some brilliant wines and they have a few delicious foodie stops as well.
It was during this trip that I discovered Phizante Kraal. The venue is not exactly new but for some reason nobody ever pointed me in their direction. I feel cheated. Phizante Kraal, which lies on the Groot Phesantekraal farm outside Durbanville, spoils visitors with spectacular views stretching out over the valley, to be enjoyed with a stunning selection of wines and comfort foods.
The current restaurant and tasting room opened in 2014 after two years of renovations. Owners André and Ronelle Brink converted the old stables, built in 1767, into the restaurant and the combination of smooth stone floors, plastered walls and simplistic finishes gives the space an elegant yet rustic charm.
The tasting room was added to the original building, with Jacques Erasmus from Hemelhuijs joining the Brinks to create the contemporary interior. The central feature is a wall of shelves lined with glass bottles containing a selection of herbs, spices and teas, which instantly made me think of an old apothecary.
To one other end a living-room setup was already occupied by two moms chatting over some tea, their toddlers playing on the carpet. The scene was cozy and comfortable, and the murky sky outside seemed less threatening on this side of the large glass windows. I can only imagine spending a summer day on that soft couch, allowing the afternoon sun to spill onto my back and into my glass.
Phizante Kraal was the last stop on our trip and they hosted us for lunch. The kitchen is run by husband and wife team Maret en Juan van Deventer, and we were served a selection of comfort foods including pork ribs and Biryani, each brought to the table in large platters to share amongst ourselves. This style of serving was done especially for us – normally diners enjoy single plates – but I found it utterly charming and homely.
All the food was delicious, but what won my heart that day was their mosbolletjies. This is a traditional bread that has a sweet, aniseed flavour with a soft inside and sticky outside. Normally guests receive a basket to enjoy with the estate’s olive oil – another delicious offering. We were treated to an entire loaf, freshly baked and served whole on our table, and it was immensely gratifying to tear away soft, steaming sections to enjoy with a perfectly salty-sweet fish paté.
What I loved about this farm is the blend of country charm and modern sophistication. You will also be treated to a lovely selection of wine, created by Diemersdal winemaker Thys Louw using the Phizante Kraal grapes. I particularly enjoyed their Anna de Koning Wooded Chenin Blanc – a gem if you can get your hands on it.
The next time the sunny weather calls me out I’ll definitely be heading back here. If you drop by, let me know what you think.
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