South Africa's cosmopolitan society and rich heritage of different cultures, has created a diverse and grand menu of cuisines, delicasies and beverages that cater for travelers exploring the country.
The Test Kitchen is the pinnacle of the gastronomic and culinary scene in South Africa and, arguably, the entire continent– perhaps one of the biggest reasons why it offers such a unique experience. Recently the restaurant’s design has been transformed into a breathtaking contrast that draws inspiration from dualism and offers a deeper experience to guests than it did ever before. Two rooms, called the Dark Room and the Light Room, seat a total of 40 guests each, and offer their own menu and atmosphere. Here, traditional ingredients and modern gastronomic techniques are fused in what ends up being something truly spectacular. The restaurant was ranked 44th best in the world for 2020, a place that most certainly does it justice.
The Capetonian culinary scene is a vibrant and diverse one. In and around the mother city there are many local beer brewers, quirky restaurants and fine dining giants. Local markets are dotted throughout the city every Saturday and there is a bar, pub, cafe or cocktail bar to suite any environment. Cape Town is the unofficial culture capital of our country, a fact few would dispute when going restaurant hunting in this diverse and eccentric place.
Clarens is a beautiful old town surrounded by the Maluti Mountains of the Free State, and plays host to this vibrant festival in February of every year. Over 50 different beers and ciders are on display here from across South Africa, showcasing the artistry and dedication of our best artisan brewers. The entire experience definitely warrants a visit to this beautiful and idyllic town, if not the town itself.
When the French Huguenots landed in the Cape some 300 years ago, they brought with them the rich culture of wine-making that defines this area to this day. South Africa boasts having some of the best wines in the world, perfect for any foodie to explore and discover for themselves. The wine farms in the region are also perfect lunch destinations while you seek out your ideal Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc, with most having a cozy restaurant or bar area that showcases a small selection of the best produce of the region.
Johannesburg’s culinary scene, similar to that of Cape Town, is one that is very diverse. Sandton, the CBD of Africa, has some of the best fine dining restaurants, while the surrounding areas of Rosebank and Melrose boast similarly high-end attractions for eager foodies. Scattered throughout the city however, is an array of places you may find anything from African to Greek, Korean to Argentinian food, and even an old train station room converted to a fine dining establishment in the Newtown in the centre of the city. The size of the greater Johannesburg region, and its status as the largest city in Southern Africa, contributes further to the vastness of options to explore.
To this day, the town of Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands commemorates the storming of the Bastille-fortress and the French Revolution in an annual visit that is full of food and festivities, wine and celebrations that show the town’s strong French heritage. In addition to traditional dishes and local wines, you might also enjoy the live music and the astonishing views. For those looking for a more food centred experience, there are special tickets available to he Food and Wine Marquee, with tastings of the best wines, cheeses and foods of the region.
The beautiful Garden Route town of Knysna will host the annual Knysna Oyster Festival this year again from the 26th of June to the 5th of July in what is one of the biggest lifestyle festivals on the southern coast of South Africa. Though there are many places for oyster tastings in and around the town’s waterfront, there are an equally many family activities to enjoy. In addition, there is also the Knysna Forest Marathon that takes place around the same time. Though not strictly a foodie experience, the festival is definitely worth a visit.
As the name suggests, this festival is made for wine lovers. The festival takes place over a weekend in mid-September in the beautiful town of Franschhoek in the middle of the Cape Winelands. Wine tastings, wine pairings, vineyard and cellar tours, and barrel tastings are all happening and all definitely worthwhile experiences, with few places in Africa having such a wide variety of wines to enjoy in a such a beautifully scenic and tranquil town.
Another festival taking place in the vibrant Cape Winelands, only this one’s focus shifts from wine to chocolate. The town of Stellenbosch plays host to this event at the beginning of September, with chocolatiers from throughout the region assembling here to showcase anything from chocolate truffles worthy of a place at an art exhibition, to quirky pairings of chocolate with unsuspecting savoury foods. There are also supervision areas where the children can play while you enjoy yourself, in keeping with the idea of making the festival as family-compatible as possible.
Lastly, we have another vibrant festival in the town of Stellenbosch– the South African Cheese Festival and Exhibition, hosted between the 25th and 27th of April this year. The best local cheese makers will no doubt have their creations on display here, though international brands have also joined their ranks in recent years. This year will be the 19th edition of this event with over 30 000 visitors and 170 exhibitors attending, making it one of the largest of its kind in the region and just the place to explore niche cheeses and fine wine and cheese pairings.