We’ve curated some of our favourite gastronomic hot spots, cocktail bars and beverages to help you take the edge off and indulge this summer.
By Debbie Hathway and Richard Holmes
EASTERN CAPE GEM
The first time I visited Prana Lodge in Chintsa East I was overwhelmed with memories of childhood family holidays in the area. Stepping out on to the top of that sand dune at the end of the garden that leads down to 21km of unspoilt beach, running to the sea and into the water with hardly another soul in sight, that unmistakeable mix of salty air and coastal vegetation… This time it was like being welcomed back by family.
Luxury isn’t just about the environment, it’s about how you feel when you’re in it and the Prana Lodge team has it down pat. I had the Turquoise Suite, one of only eight tucked away in the bush, completely private, expansive, and with its own plunge pool. The once barely visible steps to the beach have all but disappeared due to recent flood damage so access is now via a neighbouring property, which simply gives you more opportunity to explore. I had one of the best aromatherapy massages ever, with spa therapist Awethu using grapeseed oil combined with essential oils such as peppermint, lemon and Australian tea tree. I was so relaxed afterwards it was a challenge to stay awake through dinner, but when award-winning head chef Jaycee Ferreira is in the kitchen you have to make a plan. He and his team are as skilled at creating their tantalising recipes as they are at their food presentation. The menu changes regularly, spurred on by their desire to innovate with fresh produce and impress their guests so much that they keep going back for more. And they do…
Visit pranalodge.co.za for bookings and more information. – DH
COCKTAILS OF THE CAPE
Boerewors-inspired cocktails? Wisps of Cape ‘sea mist’? Buchu-tinged spirits? There’s no shortage of creativity on the cocktail menu at Cause & Effect, one of the hottest new bars to open up in the Mother City. Award-winning barman Kurt Schlechter turned to proudly South African brandy and the landscapes of Cape Town for inspiration, so look out for seaweed-infused brandy, fynbos liqueurs and homemade orange husk marmalade.
Start with a refreshing Aperitini, made with local Caperitif, and work your way through the four cocktail courses. The Cape Negroni made with spicy naartjie bitters is superb, as is the extensive range of award-winning local brandies. Hungry? There’s an extensive food menu ranging from gourmet platters to hearty aged fillet. Flambéed in brandy, of course.
Call 072 917 1183 for more details. – RH
NEW CHEF FOR CAVALLI
Chef Michael Deg, formerly of Delaire Graff Estate, has taken over the kitchen at the gorgeous winelands restaurant Cavalli, and is already impressing diners with his adventurous ‘ONE at Cavalli’ concept.
The new menu of contemporary country cuisine takes its cue from a single hero ingredient each month. Deg explains, ‘I want to place emphasis on simplicity. The philosophy hinges on using fewer, garden-fresh ingredients and letting the quality of the produce shine, whilst still focusing on beautiful presentation.’ Insider’s tip? Arrive a little early and spend an hour exploring the wonderful art gallery beneath the restaurant. Alongside a permanent family collection, the gallery hosts temporary exhibitions by leading local artists.
Visit cavallistud.com for further information on how you can indulge. – RH
G&T… WITHOUT THE G
Whether you’re counting the calories or volunteering to be designated driver, it’s time to meet The Duchess.
Indulge in the world’s first ‘virgin’ (read: alcohol-free) gin and tonic developed in Cape Town, and is taking South Africa by storm. Crafted using aromatic botanical extracts, it neatly delivers all the fresh herbaceous and juniper-infused notes of a classic G&T, without the kick, calories or hangover. The Duchess is also preservative- and sugar-free thanks to the use of stevia and xylitol.
A new addition to the family is The Duchess Floral, which brings extracts of primrose, citrus blossom and honeybush for a more perfumed, and slightly sweeter, tall pour. Best served over plenty of ice.
Visit drinktheduchess.com for more details. – RH
Johannesburg gourmands will be happy to hear that chef James Diack has opened his fourth restaurant in the city. Situated a few steps from The National, another Diack eatery, Il Contadino dishes up hearty country fare inspired by the chef’s travels through the Mediterranean. The approach is purposefully rustic, with generous portions and bold flavours. The starter soufflé of pecorino and goat’s cheese is a must-order, as is the confit duck on truffle-infused parsnip
While the inspiration may come from far-off lands, the ingredients are anything but: much of the fresh produce is sourced from Diack’s family farm in the Magaliesberg. An abundance of farm-fresh produce means there’s plenty on the menu for vegetarians to indulge in too: try the wood-fired pumpkin with oyster mushrooms.
Call 010 900 1363 to book. – RH