“I serve the kind of food I know the story behind.” – Michael Pollan
Green tomato and garden peas; red pepper and rocket. You walk down the rows and inhale their fresh, spicy scent. Turn a corner and you’re in the herbs, nearly bowled over by the heady scent of basil. The sun is high, setting the craggy range of the Helshoogte Pass into sharp relief, and your stomach rumbles in response: lunchtime. You amble back to the Delaire-Graff Estate dining room – you’re about to eat vegetables picked from the garden you just strolled through, meats from the farms in the valley below, and seafood from the Cape, only a few miles away. It’s like living on a farm, without the early morning chores, dirty Wellingtons, and uncooperative tractors.
This sums up the great appeal and joy of the farm-to-table movement, introduced to the U.S. by foodie celebrities like Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and Michelle Obama. South African farms and wineries are on a parallel track, as Douglas Rogers reports in this mouth-watering piece for Travel+Leisure. He highlights Delaire-Graff Estate, among others, to show how far this movement has come in South Africa, and how grounded it is in the land and the people who work it.
Afrikaaner culture is very focused on the land, Rogers notes, and people in the Cape have been farming and enjoying the fruits of their labour for many years – especially world-famous South African wine. Vineyards, fortunately, happen to not only produce one of mankind’s favorite beverages, they are also quite lovely to look at, and this has been a boon to the quietly burgeoning South African farm-to-table movement. Vast swathes of land in the Cape Winelands have become luxurious getaways, with spas, pools, and screening rooms complemented by lush kitchen gardens, rolling vineyards and the unspeakably good food and wine the two produce.
The setting is an ideal one for high-end travellers, eager to soak in the culture of the land but also requiring relaxation and comfort. At places like Le Quartier Francais and La Residence – both in Franschhoek and available for booking on a Micato bespoke safari – luxury reaches its zenith, but old Afrikaans traditions like smooth floors made of peach-pips and Cape Dutch-style architecture live on. Traditions here are not compromised by outside visitors; rather they are enriched by the pride of the local farmers, chefs and vintners. Farm-to-table brings local traditions straight to your plate. There is no better way to see South Africa.
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard