South Africa Part 2: Drunk in Love in Stellenbosch

Title inspired by Queen Bey’s hypersexualized Grammy opening performance! Which is the second weirdest song I’ve heard in the last couple of months, after Kanye “a-ha baby” West’s Bound 2.

Anyway, this one is about Stellenbosch, part of the Cape Winelands and 50km away from Cape Town. Alan and I drove down for some controlled, classy boozing.

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I think wine tours are great to start for those fresh to the workforce, who are intimidated by the words ‘sauvignon,’ ‘chenin’ and whatever other words they’ll have for “yet another type of grape”, but don’t have the money to experiment in super-pricey Singapore. (Last week I went to a party where the bill was $1700 and counting. Jaw drop!)

I say this because in places like Napa Valley, Margaret River and the Cape Winelands, wine becomes something of a necessity and less of a status symbol. Because honestly, who cares if you can really smell the “roast apricot, with a hint of pepper” (true quote, btw) in your port?? What matters most is whether you like it, and with wine it’s a lot less theory and a lot more drinking.

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South Africa apparently produces more than 1 billion litres of wine each year, but the wineries are still very fluid — with the “top 10” changing every few years, and some dropping out of the race altogether. As such, it was very difficult to pin down “must-go” wineries on the Internet — after a while we gave up, and just went with whichever name sounded nice/easy to remember (i.e. not too Dutch or Afrikaans).

First stop was Simonsig.

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Simonsig is supposedly noted for its MCC which, until two seconds ago,  I did not know stood for Method Cap Classique — a fancy name for champagne.

We paid US$2.50 to split 5 wines between us, sipping on fairly dry bubbly. Simonsig wasn’t as warm and intimate as the wineries (the staff were kinda brusque) I visited in Margaret River last October, but we still took home two bottles of wine — one dessert and one Chenin Blanc. US$17 for both! If I lived in South Africa I think I would be tipsy five days a week.

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Alan glows like a tomato after a sip, so we hightailed out of there.

Maybe his red face subconsciously activated my desire for strawberries (seriously! it gets so red that it’s both endearing and holy-smokes-will-I-die-in-a-car-crash-if-he-drives) but I soon found a strawberry farm while Googling for our next winery.

Up till today I have no clue what strawberry farm we ended on. We thought we were headed for The Farmer’s Hand, but when I saw a giant strawberry floating in the sky I told Alan to just pull over. We were greeted by a truck parked outside a field. A man was handing out plastic containers but it could have just as easily been some dude who decided to hijack the grounds to make a quick buck for the day.

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Not that that really bothered us. We grabbed our containers and went on the hunt. We ate strawberries on the go, picking them straight off the vine. If you think about it, it’s pretty unhygienic ‘cos people may have fingered them or kinda stepped on them with their dusty shoes or the fruits may have been bombarded with pesticides. We may never know.

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We filled two huge boxes of strawberries and paid US$3.70 — a bargain if you see one in the States, and next-to-impossible in Singapore. (In fact, even after two days, we still hadn’t finish eating them and had to throw them away 🙁 ) Then we brought our strawbies to the next door Thirsty Scarecrow, where we indulged in thin-crust fig jam pizza and the gold standard for strawberry milkshakes.

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We took in as many sights as we could of sun-kissed mountains framing fields and grapes, accompanied by tunes from a Spotify playlist we would soon get sick of. (Yeah, I’ve managed to listen to Ed Sheeran to death. 🙁 )

Next stop was Rust en Vrede, which for the longest time we thought was the Dutch spelling for red and green (rust is red and verde means green in Spanish so we assumed it was a typo hahaha). It actually stands for “rest/calm and peace” and for reasons unknown to us, a whole bunch of buildings we saw in SA have annexes or cottages bearing that name.

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Rust en Vrede, in contrast, was everything I thought a winery should be — even if it focuses exclusively on red wines! There was a beautiful, shaded area where wine lovers and pretenders can swirl their wines and sniff it and talk about the lovely legs the shiraz is leaving on the edge of their glasses.

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The grounds were gorgeous (we literally rolled around on the grass for a while), and our server explained (thank God I have no idea what I’m supposed to smell and taste 82% of the time) each wine. We had their Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and their 1694, and while I appreciated Mike’s anecdotes and could even discern the differences of each — I remain in possession of an unsophisticated tongue.

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After all the wine and strawberries, we still found it in ourselves to head to 95 Keerom, a quaint Italian restaurant back in Cape Town proper. The restaurant was very popular, and our waiter was extremely handsome, looking like a Spanish version of Jared Leto. (I offered this observation to Alan who agreed, only to backtrack microseconds later to ask, who’s Jared Leto? Um, like the most beautiful man on earth?)

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Major Regret: not taking photo with Handsome Man. JUST KIDDING — I take photos with Alan all the time hehehe.

We tucked into carpaccio, butternut squash ravioli (super divine), Alan’s trio of exotic meat (wildebeest, kudu and ostrich) and an explosive chocolate lava cake. By the end of the trip, we compiled a list of top eats — this deserves an Honorable Mention.

95keeromOkay and that rounds up the Stellenbosch post. Actually, looking at all these pictures of wine and food is making me a little depressed. Over the Chinese New Year break (my first in five years!!!) I visited some relatives in Malaysia where one grandaunt with superlow EQ declared: “Wah, you reeaaaaaalllllly put on a loooooooooooot of weight, ah?”

As if that wasn’t bad enough — and I can accept that, still — she proceeded to PINCH MY ARM AND WAVE THE FLAB. So not cool. Almost wanted to do the same to her tummy hanging over her waistband. Haha.

But yeah, you know you have officially breached the fat zone when you walk into stores and out of habit you pull out the S sizes (because you know, you wore that all your life) and the storelady comes up to you with larger sizes and says, “Ah Girl ah, you’re not an S la.” Oh Clothes Shop Aunty, your words are like daggers that have pierced through my fat and into my heart.

So yeah, I’m channelling my angpao money to a personal trainer whom I’m starting with this Saturday. I’d save a lot of money if I could be intrinsically motivated, but look where self-discipline has gotten me. Anyway, the results of the fat analysis will probably mean loss of dignity, so wish me luck!

IN SHORT
EAT The Thirsty Scarecrow, 95 Keerom
DRINK Rust en Vrede
DO Strawberry farm next to The Thirsty Scarecrow

Catch up on the rest of our South African adventures!

Part 1: Cape Town
Part 2: Stellenbosch
Part 3: Robben Island & Kirstenbosch Gardens
Part 4: Cape Peninsula
Part 5: Table Mountain
Part 6: Garden Route (Part 1)
Part 7: Garden Route (Part 2)
Part 8: Safari in the Kruger
Part 9: Johannesburg

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