South Africa's cultural capital offers worldly cuisine and exotic charm.">

Destination: Cape Town


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Cape Town, with its imposing backdrop of Table Mountain, is one of the world's most scenic cities. The iconic mountain jutting from the sea greeted first colonizer, Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck, as he sailed into Table Bay on April 6,1652. Today, Cape Town, (affectionately known as the "Mother City"), continues to dazzle with its multicultural flair.

The city's relatively small size allows for ample exploration on foot. For instance, few countries can pinpoint their first vineyard: to indulge in the history, take a walk through the Company's Gardens, a green haven in the middle of town and origin of South Africa's first wine, made nearly 350 years ago.

The excitement of winemaking in the middle of the city can once again be experienced at Signal Hill (23 Church Street; www.winery.co.za, where tastings are accompanied by cheese and French-style charcuterie at Petit Caveau.

There's atmosphere galore in the restored 18th-century Heritage Square complex, home to Petit Caveau's big brother, Caveau Deli and Wine Bar (Heritage Square, 72 Bree Street; www.caveau.co.za). The French bistro theme is developed with daily specials, selected according to the freshest, seasonal ingredients and chalked up on a board. The wine list, imaginatively organized with headings such as Easy Drinkers, Discoveries or Rarities, offers several verticals and over 70 wines by the glass.

Giorgio Nava's 95 Keerom (95 Keerom Street, www.rhodeshouse.com), built in 1682, originally housed the stables and slave quarters of the Company Gardens; today it boasts one of the best Italian restaurants in town. Nava, from Milan, offers authentic Milanese cuisine as well as Italian dishes with a South African slant. Cape classics, topped out with a good selection of local and Italian Grappas, are main features on the wine list. After dinner, pop next door into Nava's hotspot nightclub, Rhodes House (60 Queen Victoria Street; www.rhodeshouse.com) for some celebrity spotting, including British royalty.

 

 

Aubergine is a mandatory stop for game and lamb creations.

Aubergine (39 Barnet Street; www.aubergine.co.za), is a must for those seeking the country's famed game and lamb. German chef/proprietor, Harald Bresselschmidt's cuisine is also noted for inspirational pairings, as in his seafood "East meets West" dish. The comprehensive wine list won't fail to inspire; the choice is eased with advice from the knowledgeable, enthusiastic sommeliers who navigate the wines with friendly but expert guidance.

The gracious, five-star Mount Nelson Hotel (76 Orange Street; www.mountnelson.co.za echoes the ambience of this older part of the city, though its Planet Champagne and Cocktail bar would please any palate, whether classic or on the wilder side.

The buzz starts at the entrance to the modern Victoria and Alfred Waterfront; it's not only a shopper's paradise, but also offers excellent restaurants and clubs. For jazz lovers, the Green Dolphin (Victoria & Albert Arcade; www.greendolphin.co.za) cranks out live music seven nights a week. Belthazar (Victoria Basin; www.belthazar.co.za) satisfies discerning wine lovers; a 600-bin wine list and 178 wines by the glass—served in appropriate Riedel stemware—are served alongside the restaurant's famed Karan beef and seafood.

After seeing Cape Town by day, glide 31 floors up the ABSA building to Hemisphere (2 Riebeeck Street; www.hemisphere.org.za) to sip sundowners, party and enjoy the famous views by night. It's an excellent way to unwind and soak up the dramatic terrain for which the city is known.

It may take some time to come down to earth after a visit to this exotic escape, but wine lovers and adventure seekers will be glad they made the trip.

 

 

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