Just under a two hour scenic drive from Cape Town situated in the Breede Valley, lies a perfect little hideaway, Bosjes. You may very well remember me spamming your social feeds a few weeks back when we went to stay there for two nights. Named after the old Bosjesman’s Valley Farm which has been owed by the same family since 1831.
The farm had a complete renovation just over a year ago and is fast becoming one of the most popular wedding destinations in the Western Cape thanks to it’s architectural masterpiece, The Chapel, and it’s breathtaking views.
The old farm barn has been converted into a guesthouse comprising of five luxury suites and a shared swimming pool overlooking the nearby mountains.
After checking in we headed straight for the restaurant (obvs!), Bosjes Kombuis. A beautiful Scandi design with high ceiling, lots of wood and large glass windows offering you the best lunchtime views in the valley. The menu, which is created by Chef Pete Goffe-Wood and Chef Kim, is a combination of various bistro-style dishes. Think refined home cooking, with dishes like apple and plum crumble that take you straight back to your childhood.
We pretty much ate our way through the entire menu during our stay. Everything from the Moroccon style spiced chicken with cous cous and apricots to the tempura duck livers with pickled cucumbers (what a combo!) however our standout meal, which I still think about to this day, would be Chef Kim’s fillet medallions cooked to absolute perfection served with potato dauphinoise, sautéed greens and (yes, hear me out) crumbed exotic mushrooms. Paired perfectly with a bottle of Syrah.
Outside tables spill out onto the terrace besides a rather whimsical mural consisting of 366 blue and white hand painted tiles featuring over 100 species of flora and fauna by artists Lucie de Moyencourt and Michael Chandler. The inspiration behind the design is that of the old shards of porcelain that were dug up on the farm. Bosjes’ very own Tree of Life reminding me of my Portuguese adventures around Porto last year with all their blue and white Azulejos.
P.S it makes for a perfect ‘insta-moment’.
We spent a lot of time at the Bosjes Chapel in the mornings and evenings as it’s the most marvellous light study.
Designed by architect Coetzee Steyn of Steyn Studio, the Bosjes Chapel is hard not to gape at. Striking white curves and a seamless flowing roof that merges so effortlessly with the water that surrounds it. Once inside the chapel you are greeted by the Slanghoek and Waaihoek mountain range through the chapel’s large glass windows and a sense of serenity washes over you.
Alongside the chapel is a charming garden, complete with a meditative circular walkway and a sculptural water feature, and close by is the estate’s new sunken tea garden. Unfortunately the tea garden was closed for renovations during our stay but when it’s open you can expect to find all your favourite sweet and savoury refreshments in the garden’s amphitheatre.
TIP: Make sure when visiting to take a stroll up the hill beside the chapel for an overview of the farm. Best enjoyed at sunset.
Mornings on the farm start peacefully, with the sun slowly rising from the mountain range as the dew clears up from the guesthouse’s windows. A continental breakfast is served in the communal dining area which comprises of freshly pressed juices, various home-baked farm style breads, meats, cheeses and fresh fruit.
A stroll around the farm in highly recommended, you may even bump into one (or two) of Bosjes’ honorary residents – the black swans – enjoying their morning sun. Bosjes is a working farm which produces wine grapes, olives, peaches and proteas, so the farm is usually buzzing with activity in the mornings.
If you feeling a little more energetic the farm also offers 5km and 12km hiking trails which is home to some tame game such as bontebok, zebra and ostrich, if you lucky you’ll even spot some giraffes. Birdwatchers will be in paradise, the Bosjes’ website even has a full downloadable birdwatching list. See here.
If hiking isn’t your thing there are 27 wineries nearby and 4 craft beer breweries. Some of my favourites being the Stofberg Family Vineyards and Bergsig Estate and if you prepared for an hour drive, Springfield Estate in Robertson.
Overall we had the most magnificent stay at Bosjes. A true space to slow things down and take a moment of two for yourself amongst the Slanghoek Mountains.
Photos by myself and Justin Polkey
Earlier this year we travelled to Vilankulo. A small town situated along the Mozambique coastline that acts as a gateway to the ever so epic Bazaruto Archipelago. Originally called Vilanculos during colonial times the town was named after local tribal chief Gamala Vilankulo Mukoke, the name was changed to Vilankulo when Mozambique become independent 1975.
The beaches run endlessly up the coastline and are wild in nature with the each palm tree adopting their own personality. During low tide the ocean mysteriously hides itself leaving the once bobbing dhows stranded on the white sands longing to be rescued against a seamless African sky dotted with cotton-candy clouds.
Each morning we would explore the wonderfully wide shores and sand-blasted hideaways that the coastline of Vilankulo had to offer us stopping from time to time to hide beneath a mangrove tree from the summer heat. We found plenty of washed up coconuts and mountains of wild oysters shells glistening in the sun.
All walks were proceeded by fresh coconut water that our chef at Vila La Mar, Ernesto, would prepare for us by effortlessly scaling a six metre palm tree out back with his machete, followed by a quick education about the three stages of coconut maturity.
We stayed at Vila La Mar for the week we spent in Vilankulo. A beautiful self-catering luxury villa situated on the beach and set back in lush tropical gardens. There’s not much to do at the villa besides soaking up the sun while reading endless summer novels. Which to be honest, suited me just fine.
As for Vilankulo itself there’s plenty of activities to keep you entertained during your stay:
– Day trips to the nearby islands in the Bazaruto Archipelago. (Detailed blog post to follow soon about that.)
– Go for a sunset horse riding safari. Your guide will take you along parts of untouched beach for a real ‘island hideaway’ feel. You even have the option of going swimming with the horses.
– Explore the small (only 5km) town of Vilankulo. The town shuts down on Sunday’s so make a plan to visit during the week.
– Go shopping for fresh fish for dinner. Every afternoon, around 4pm at the beach near Oddysea Dive, the fishermen beach their motleyed dhows. Women and children load the fish and seafood into colourful plastic buckets and a pop-up auction follows. This is a small glimpse into the daily lives of the locals.
– Visit local beach bars such as Casbah, Samara or Archipelago Resort for lunch and cocktails.
– Go diving/snorkelling. I have never seen so many colourful fish in such close proximity. I’ve snorkelled in a lot of places around the world and the Archipelago still wins hands down. The Bazaruto islands and its surrounding coral reefs were declared a national park in 1971.
– If horse riding isn’t for you there’s always the option to go on a sunset dhow safari.
– Vilanculos is the perfect place to learn to kite surf.
Vilankulo has been growing extensively over the last decade with a considerable inward investment into its tourism infrastructure. It is home to a new international airport which has daily flights to several regional destinations.
With that being said the town is still very rural with most of the locals living a very simple life either farming or fishing while most homes are built out of dried reeds and tin. Colour is embraced throughout the town with the colour blocking of buildings and handmade garments. Games of informal football take place on the beach while fisherman mend their nets nearby or play a game of cards.
A special shoutout to two of my very best friends Marius and Paul for introducing us to Vilankulo who unfortunately had to drop out of our holiday due to medical reasons. They always used to tell us stories about this small Mozambique town and how special the place was but I never fully grasped it’s magic until I got to experience it for myself.
An untouched coastline, thousands of wild palm trees, a preserved coral reef still abundant with sea life, azure blue waters with deserted islands scattered throughout, simple living consisting of fresh coconuts and omega rich fish. What’s not to love?
Till next time Vilankulo.
orange swimsuit – Sommer Swim
white flare trousers – H&M Studio
cat eye sunnies – Le Specs
mini fang necklace – Missoma
black dress – H&M Trend
stripped espadrilles – H&M
wooden bag – Shop On Y Va
tortoise shell sunnies – Miu Miu
lace lingerie – Cotton On Body
white tee – Mango
yellow jumper – Holiday Boileau
denim shorts – Zara
round basket bag – Shop On Y Va
rope sandals – Nomadic State of Mind
yellow floral dress – Mango
yellow dress – Free People
maroon sandals – Trenery
stripped shorts – Billabong
stripped silk set – H&M Trend
flat sunnies – Celine
white shirt – H&M Trend
basket shopper – Cotton On
* All photos taken by myself and Justin Polkey
Last week we headed out of town for a two day adventure in the winelands to celebrate my birthday. I’m a bit of an introvert and not big on parties but prefer getaways, particularly ones that include lots of food, as my birthday treat.
Our first stop on our mini road trip was Terroir at Kleine Zalze, a quiet vineyard setting overlooking the mountains of Stellenbosch where we were greeted by Chef Michael Broughton who has been running to kitchen at Terroir since 2004. I was completely blown away with my experience at Terroir. No fancy entrance or decor, no frilly airs and graces but rather a restaurant that serves exceptional food plated with a certain flare and refinement. The service is phenomenal with the perfect amount of small talk from the waiters and small touches like the refolding of our napkins each time we got up to take a stroll around the garden.
It’s hard to choose a favourite dish from our four course (more like eight because Justin and I shared each dish on the menu) tasting menu however the Malay style baby squid with smoked mackerel, aioli and coconut was a definite stand out, presented as a beautiful wreath and robust in flavour, I won’t be forgetting that dish anytime soon.
Each dish on the menu was paired perfectly with Kleine Zalze’s award winning wines. The perfect opportunity to sample and savour the the farms wines. In the end we stocked up on a case their 2016 Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier, a fruity wine with allspice flavours and floral nose. They also have a range of rather affordable yet sophisticated MCC’s.
Kleine Zalze are currently running a winter special which is valid till the 30th September – a 2 course menu for R295 or a four course menu for R450 p.p with each special including a glass of Kleine Zalze award winning wine. Booking is recommended.
Terroir’s menu evolves with the seasons and the inspiration of chef Michael Broughton however I’ve attached an example of what we experienced below in order of the images:
Comté onion soup with a poached hens egg and onion brioche
Malay style baby squid with smoked mackerel, aïoli and coconut
Prawn risotto with Broughton’s famous sauce américaine (This dish has been on the menu for 14 years!)
Lamb with parision gnocchi, kimchi, aïoli and jus
Duck with roasted kohlrabi, rhubarb jus and carrot crumble
Pan fried line fish served with coconut yogurt curry, bhaji, pak choi and confit onion
Sacher with caramel crunch and kirsch ice cream
Vanilla bean tart with honey ice cream and almond crumble
With fill and happy tummies we headed to Majeka House in Stellenbosch to check in for our night’s stay. Majeka House has been on my travel wish list for years now and was voted the best design hotel in the Condé Nast Johansens 2017 awards. The hotel is situated in a small leafy suburb of Stellenbosch surrounded by mountains and vineyards and a ten minute drive to the town’s centre.
The hotel went under a major refurbishment in 2011 by designer Etienne Hanekom who created a “neo-colonial look with subtle French and Moroccan influences.” A light and airy ambience is filled with hand crafted furniture and quirky design details such as a statue, carving or painting of a pig as a tribute to the owner’s love for the animal.
We were shown to our dreamy poolside room complete with flamingo wallpaper making all my pink and electric dreams come true. Majeka House has a total of 23 rooms spread across four room categories offering a wealth of experiences for a variety of travellers.
I spent the remainder of my afternoon between the hydrotherapy pool, sauna and swimming pool at Majeka House’s very own spa. A beautiful open space that allows for the flow of light courtesy of their sky light. With two single therapy rooms and a room for couples’ treatments, the spa offers a range of holistic facial and body treatments, unfortunately they were fully booked during our stay.
Makaron restaurant was closed so dinner was served in the cosy MLounge amongst the bookshelves of French novels where we dined on oysters and bubbles, a wagyu beef burger and calamari. We retired to our room early to watch the FIFA world cup from our insanely large and comfortable hotel bed.
I woke up on next morning a year older and a whole lot happier, the loviest of staff at Majeka House had baked me my very own birthday cake. A sort of carrot cake topped with a blue berry compote, fresh mint and layered in cream cheese frosting – yes please!
Breakfast was served out on the garden terrace amongst the mosaic tiles and Moroccan inspired cacti. If there’s one thing Majeka House do better than most hotels it has got to be their breakfast. A selection of freshly baked pastries from classic croissants to mouth watering madeleines and french caramels and a selection of freshly baked breads. Bubbles and fruit jars adorn the buffet table with too many delicious dishes to choose from the hot menu. I was torn between the warm whiskey oats and the smoked salmon rösti. I vow to return to Majeka House just to eat every pastry on their breakfast table. It’s sublime.
Majeka House lived up to all my expectations and more. Such warm and welcoming service throughout our stay and I seriously hope to return one day soon.
All packed up we bid our farewells to Majeka House and took the scenic route to Franschhoek via Helshoogte pass for our next foodie stop – Haute Cabrière.
I’ve always been a fan of Haute Cabrière’s wines, particularly their Chardonnay Pinot Noir which pairs perfectly with sushi during those hot summer days, however on this particular chilly winter’s afternoon I was craving a big glass of their Reserve Pinot Noir – a fruity wine with hints of tobacco and spice.
Lunch was served inside, an elegant setting nestled inside a stone cellar beside a majestic fireplace. We opted for a two course meal from their a la carte menu, they also offer a 6 course tasting menu which offers an explosion of flavours such as pan fried sweet bread and venison ragout. The food philosophy of Haute Cabrière is courtesy of chefs Nic van Wyk and Westley Muller who inspire bold flavours while making use of classic techniques.
Haute Cabrière’s winter prices are seriously reasonable with a full 6 course tasting menu costing R450 p.p for both food and wine. (Valid till 31 August) As mentioned earlier we just opted for the two course menu which costs R290 for a starter and a main.
Pea and chorizo soup. Fresh peas, crispy chorizo, pork puff and pea velouote
Steak tartare. Hand cut sirloin with a quail egg (Is that not the prettiest steak tartare you’ve ever seen?!)
Prawns. Fresh tagliatelle, chill, garlic, parsley and parmesan
Wild mushroom risotto. Parmesan and truffle foam
See their full menu here.
Our final stop on our Cape Winelands tour was La Petite Ferme. “A destination for all local and international guests, offering award-winning cuisine, wines and accommodation” and the most spectacular view of the whole of Franschhoek.
The story behind this establishment is truly something quite beautiful. The 40 seater restaurant burnt down in a tragic fire back in 1996, what’s truly remarkable though is that it was brought back to life over the next 6 months thanks to the local community and staff who still work in the kitchen to this day.
La Petite Ferme offers a range of luxury accommodation with large rooms that boost the best of views. We had our own private liabary suite with (once again) our own swimming pool. Pity the weather turned on us otherwise I might just have spent my whole afternoon soaking up he remaining warmth like a lizard in the sun.
With the change in weather and the restaurant closed for the evening we decided to order some cheeky room service. My meal was outstanding and definitely the most plate worthy (read insta worthy) room service I’ve ever received which has only left me wanting to return to La Petite Ferme to experience their full on dining experience.
Breakfast was served the following morning in their newly renovated bright and elegant restaurant while fires blazed in each corner. Their full farm breakfast still makes my mouth water whenever I think about it. Edamame beans, foraged mushrooms and smoked bacon- simple, hearty and absolutely delicious.
After breakfast we had a wine orientation guided by a very charismatic Avron Williams to learn about the history of La Petite Ferme’s wine making and the growth of their vines. Every wine orientation is followed by a seated tasting of their beautiful wines in the bar with a story of how each wine came into fruition. We tasted a total of 6 of their wines – three reds and three whites. My favourite still being their Shiraz. It’s a truly unique and interesting experience that left me wanting to sign up for a mini wine course of sorts to learn more about wine.
The Cape Winelands are looking truly remarkable at this time of the year and most restaurants and hotels are running winter deals, it’s the perfect excuse to plan a weekend away with your loved one or friends. In my opinion Cape Town is actually more beautiful during the winter so why not embrace it and swap Netflix out for a lunch amounts the vineyards.
*All photos by myself and Justin Polkey.
I finally had some film developed that I shot awhile back when I was on holiday in Biarritz France. Biarritz was one of those kinds of holidays where I hardly had my phone on me and refused to carry my Canon 5D around, instead I opted for a simple disposable camera. I was way too preoccupied with baguettes and red wine to be chasing that perfect insta moment.
Our week in Biarritz followed pretty much the same daily routine. Wake up around 12pm, (Who was I!? I usually never sleep past 8am) eat a croissant, a pain au chocolat and some baguette, head down to the beach while the boys surfed and us girls caught the last of the summer rays while either gossiping or devouring our summer read, laze around the house or go for a motorbike ride along the rocky coast, head out for dinner, paint the town red and return home around 4am.
We were invited to Biarritz by two of our nearest and dearest friends, Kelly and Sylvain. Their holiday house is something out of a French 70’s seaside digs, surfboards and wetsuits scatter the front yard, there’s a silver airstream trailer our front and a Buda with a wreath of flowers around it’s neck. Enough beds to sleep 10 of us and there’s ALWAYS a baguette somewhere in the house, a fridge full of rosé and litres of Get 27 on the go.
One of the highlights of Biarritz is the food markets, I’ve never before seen quality like that. The freshest of fresh groceries from juicy tomatoes and delectable cuts of chateaubriand to bottles of aged red wine and freshly caught octopus. It’s any foodie’s paradise.
If there’s 3 words I would use to sum up our stay in Biarritz they would have to be:
SURF, FOOD & WINE.
So where exactly is Biarritz? Well it’s “an elegant seaside town on southwestern France’s Basque coast and has been a popular resort since European royalty began visiting in the 1800s. It’s also a major surfing destination, with long sandy beaches and surf schools.”
A popular symbol of Biarritz is the statue of the Virgin Mary on the rocky outcrop of Rocher de la Vierge which you can reach via a footbridge and has sweeping views of the Bay of Biscay.
As far as where to eat my mind draws a complete blank! Pretty much anything and everything is delicious in France and when staying with 10 frenchman you kind of just learn to fall in step and follow the pack because you bound to end up somewhere exceptional down some quite street where someone in your group knows the owner and food is simply ordered in a flurry of words and placed in front of you. Oh you don’t eat liver, oh well, everything’s in French and you only realise afterwards you just ate some but it’s ok because it’s delicious and the wine keeps pouring and the night becomes alive and you end up in some cheesy gay bar singing french karaoke, dancing till you can’t breath anymore and drinking pacharan to the early hours of the morning, you order a cab home or ambitiously attempt the 45min walk home and eventually fall into bed as the sun begins to rise and think to yourself damn, if only life was always this carefree.
Thanks for the sharing your spirit with us Biarritz.
All photos snapped on disposable camera by myself and Justin Polkey