Three Days in Cape Town
It's still buzzing after this year's world cupnow without the crowds and those earsplitting vuvuzelasand there's never been a better time to visit Africa's most exciting city.
DAY 3: FOOD + WINE
From farmers market stalls to high-end restaurants, plus the many vineyards just outside of town, evidence of the Cape's bounty is everywhere you turn—a blessing for the city's wealth of imaginative chefs and winemakers.
South Africans have a fierce sweet tooth, and Melissa and Mark van Hoogstraten have spent 14 years satisfying it. Their mini chain, Melissa's The Food Shop, specializes in handmade vanilla fudge and allergy-sensitive desserts like gluten-free almond cake. You don't even have to find your way to one of their six outposts to get a taste—more and more competing grocers across the country are carrying the couple's signature goodies on their shelves. 94 Kloof St., melissas.co.za, almond cake $3.
Since its creation in 2006, the Neighbourgoods Market at Woodstock's Old Biscuit Mill has become a Saturday-morning must-shop stop for Cape Town food lovers. Along with small-batch wines and South African snacks like boerewors (farmer's sausage) and biltong (meat jerky), vendors show off their unique takes on regional produce with items like Cape Gooseberry macaroons. 373-375 Albert Rd., neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za, Saturdays 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
In South Africa, a braai (or barbecue) is as much a social custom as it is a way to fill your plate—and it's most vividly experienced in a place like Mzoli's, a rowdy restaurant in the Gugulethu township that's standing-room-only on weekends (011-27/21-638-1355, meat from $4 per kilogram). Formality is nonexistent: Patrons simply pick a cut of chicken, steak, or sausage (the cost is calculated by the kilogram), and relax with a Castle lager as it cooks. While you're in the area, it's worth taking one of Liziwe's Tours through the township. Innkeeper and Gugulethu resident Liziwe Ngcokoto leads 40-minute walks that finish at Mzoli's (011-27/21-633-7406, about $14 per person).
Of the several dozen vineyards in the Cape Winelands area, about half an hour east of the city, Muratie Wine Estate is one of the oldest: It was first farmed in 1699 by a German soldier. The vineyards themselves are beautiful, but the real draw at Muratie is the farmhouse lunch of traditional South African meat, soup, and homemade breads, held in a centuries-old stone-walled cellar decorated with antiques and oil paintings (for parties of 10 or more only; reservations required). For smaller groups, the kitchen can assemble a picnic of cantaloupe, cheese from nearby dairies, and fresh koeksisters—supersweet South African doughnuts—to eat out on the lawn. Naturally, the staff will suggest wine pairings for either option. R44, Stellenbosch, muratie.co.za, lunch $26 per person including wine, picnic $20, picnic with wine tasting $23.
Sampling sauvignon blancs for an afternoon is great, but spending the night in a vintner's farmhouse is downright dreamy. At the Hawksmoor House, a classic Cape Dutch building with rounded gables, each of the eight rooms has its own distinct look (a four-poster bed and an antique vanity in one, bright-turquoise walls in another). Guests share the grounds—all 544 acres—with the owners' horses, cows, and four German pointers, and have access to the wine cellar, herb garden, lavender beds, and vineyard. Near Stellenbosch, hawksmoor.co.za, from $136, including continental or English breakfast and afternoon tea.