Food

My favorite cape town wineries

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Not only is the area in and around Cape Town one of the most beautiful places I've ever been it's also full of awesome wineries! It's been about two months since I was last there, but I've been wine tasting in the area four times now and I think I'm starting to get an idea of what I like here. I love South African wines, not just cause they've got a lot of great ones (and that I'm forced to drink it because of the sheer lack of quality beer in the country ;-) ), but also because of the price. For the same quality of wine I would pay at least twice to three times the cost in Canada.

The selection is also massive. If you've ever been to Argentina the price and quality is about the same, but I think the selection in South Africa is a bit broader. South Africa's signature grape is the Pinotage and it seems that almost every winery here carries one.

There are several wine regions within easy driving distance from Cape Town, I've only really spent any time in two of them, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek Valley. Stellenbosch is a comfortable distance from Cape Town for making short day trips to. When Scott Mac was here we decided to spent two nights in Franschhoek and it worked out great for getting to taste at a ton of wineries.

My favorite winery that I've probably ever been to was Vrede en Lust (Franschhoek). The wines had some very unique flavours and I'd especially recommend the Viognier (and I don't even really like whites!) and the Mocholate (a Malbec). The main downside to this winery is that they don't sell to bottle stores and you'll need to either live close to them or join their wine club to get wines from them on any kind of a regular basis.

The restaurant / shop at Vrede en Lust also does olive oil tasting (mmmm!). I don't think they do olive oil themselves, but they had probably a dozen olive oils from South Africa and Italy. My favorite was the Waterfall River (Franschhoek), which was a bit stronger in flavour than most of the olive oils produced in this country (that I've tasted).

I think my two runner-ups for favorite winery are Tokara (Stellenbosch) and Fairview (Paarl). I love Tokara, not just for their wines, but also the view and atmosphere. Such a beautiful winery looking down over the valley. They also do their own olive oil and have tastings. They're a bit milder than I prefer, but still have some nice ones. The wine at Tokara is pretty nice too ;-). I can't think of any that really stood out to me though, but absolutely worth a visit.

Fairview winery is more of a tourist attraction than winery, but a great place to spend a couple hours to do wine tastings as well as eat at the restaurant or have a picnic. Fairview is HUGE, not only do they have a few brands of wine under them (I believe Goats do Roam and La Capra to name two), they also produce several (super nice) cheeses! And they do cheese tastings right alongside the wine tastings!!! There's a small fee for tastings at Fairview, but well worth it. After we finished doing tastings we bought a bunch of cheese, bread, and a couple wines and had a picnic outside and watched the goats. We didn't get a chance to try the restaurant as there was a two hour wait to get a table. The one wine that really stood out to me from Fairview was their Tannat. It's not easy to find this one outside of their winery either, and apparently there's only two wineries in SA that actually make a Tannat.

Boschendal (Franschhoek) is another winery I've really enjoyed visiting, not specifically because I enjoyed their wines (though I did :) ), but because of the atmosphere. The wine tasting at Boschendal is done sitting at picnic tables under a giant oak tree. Again, this one isn't free, but the cost to do the tasting is quite cheap at about R20 or R25 (can't recall exactly). Last time we were there we also bought a plate of nice cheese to go with it.

Spier (Stellenbosch) is one of the closest large wineries to Cape Town. I think Spier must be one of the biggest wineries in SA, and although none of their wines have really appealed to me they're quite affordable for the quality. Spier is really a huge tourist attraction, in addition to wine tastings there's also a Moyo (had terrible service and not much food selection when I was last there though), a huge gift shop, and bird and cheetah watching. I think there's even a hotel there.

South Africa also has some great sparkling wines (known as Cap Classique). One winery that we particularly enjoyed these at was Haute Cabriere. They also make brandy there, which led to us getting sufficiently buzzed for 10:30am :). The restaurant / tasting room is essentially built into the side of a mountain. It was quite an amazing building with great views over the Franschhoek valley.

There's plenty of places I enjoyed that I'm leaving out here. And of course we've hit a few duds as well, but I've tried to put those out of my mind ;-). If you get a chance to visit Cape Town for a few days (maybe for FIFA World Cup), be sure to take at least a day trip out into the nearby wine lands. Not something to be missed.

Rio's Food

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Among other things, Rio is a great place for eating. If I needed a reason to go back it would be the food. Almost without exception, all the meals/snacks/drinks I had there were delicious. On every other corner there was a juice bar serving juices of pretty much any fruit you could imagine... the juice was made to order from fresh fruits. My two personal favorites were watermelon and açai (prounounced ass-eye-EEE).

Acai is a small berry, similar to a blueberry but denser, that grows on acai palm trees. I believe they keep the berries frozen and then blend them when you order. It's not so much of a juice as it is a delicious purple-y fruit slushy. The berries have recently become popular in North America for their anti-oxidant and supposed weight loss properties. Sam and I had never heard of the stuff before we got to Rio, but we had one each just about every day. So delicious.

Doritos Unidentified Flavour

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I was walking down Robson street last night (near Granville) and was accosted by one of the many people who try and give you crap in Vancouver. This time it turned out to be Doritos, so I was pumped :).

Apparently they're doing a promotional contest for a new flavour of chips. It must have been a "sneak peak" as their website claims it won't be out until Feb 16. They want a name and a 30 second ad and I guess have a chance to win 25K + 1% of the net sales.

Among the more interesting ingredients there's cheddar, blue, monterey jack, colby, and swiss cheeses, tomato powder, garlic powder, and sour cream powder. They're also spicy... in the chemically typical not too much taste, type of spicy. They taste quite similar to their spicy buffalo / blue cheese bags of chips, but with both flavours in a single mix.

I think in honour of valentine's day I'll suggest "nacho crush".

What's for breakfast? How about 175 thousand calories?

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Out of habit I look at the label of pretty much everything at the grocery store before purchasing it. Not for any health reasons, just habit really. Sometimes the labels are in foreign languages that I don't speak, but that rarely stops me.

Yesterday at the grocery store I found this gem:

Fisherman's Wharf

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Finally made it out to fishermans wharf today for the first time since I've lived in Vancouver. I'd been meaning to go there for the last two years, but for some reason just never quite made it. My parents were in town for about an hour for lunch today and needed something relatively quick, having heard heard they were some of the best in the city, I suggested fish and chips at the wharf.

FIshermans Wharf

fish and chips

The fish and chips place is called "Go Fish". Definitely not disappointed, good sized portions and about between $8-10 for a 1pc fish and chips. They were also selling spot prawn skewers, though I didn't have one, I may go back tomorrow and try it out. That was the other thing, when we arrived they had just started selling live prawns, an hour later when we went to buy some, they'd already sold out. I'll probably head back over tomorrow to pick up a pound of them for dinner.

Dad eating soup

Yesterday was the summer solstice, so happy summer everyone! I dropped by this odd but kind of cool little thing that was going on at English bay with Ariane last night to celebrate the solstice - "Circle Event - Sun Sea Cycle". Which was suppose to be a video (15 mins or so) showing the tides and sun crossing the sky over the course of the day. Unfortunately the battery for the projector only lasted 2mins, but nonetheless it was still enjoyable, and some good hippie poetry to go along with it.