Lifestyle

DEUR DIE BREE STREET

By Cindy- Lou Dale

A vivid tour through the hottest Bree Street’s central reaches that we call home to the ethical food movement

Cape Town is a city worth flying half-way around the world for. Imagine if you will, a towering flat-top mountain draped with a white tablecloth-like cloud, an ancient city at its feet, sugar-white sandy beaches, and the azure blue Atlantic ocean that meets the cyan blue sky on the horizon. This is a city that is both intense with its colonial buildings and laid back with its bustling artisan markets.

What few visitors to Cape Town know of is its historic Islamic quarter - the Bo-Kaap, which lies slumped against Lion’s Head. On one side it looks up at Table Mountain, on the other it sees Table Bay and straight down into the city centre.

The Bo-Kaap is a mile long rectangle of 600 brightly painted homes and apartments, a kaleidoscope of tightly packed Georgian dwellings. It starkly contrasts with the inner-city just a few streets below – the architecture is different, the dialect is unique, as is the vibe on the streets. It’s a strong community, hung thick with the perfumes of exotic spices, heady incense, and the call to prayer by the imam. This Muslim district of Cape Town was first formed back in the 16th century when the Dutch East India company’s trade ships returned to the colony from the east, laden with spices, slaves and a plethora of artisan like carpenters, builders and tailors – all in demand by the Dutch settlers. Today many of the Bo-Kaap residents still follow the professions as their forefathers.

Age-old cobblestoned streets wind into the Bo-Kaap, past homes with facades painted lime green, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with others splashed in fuchsia pink, electric turquoise, pillar-box red, delft blue and banana yellow. Some of the front doors are crumbling, as are numerous walls, creating a colourful mirror of the Muslim community who live here; a small enclave whose favourite pastime is stoep-sitting and watching the world go by.

Other than the boldly coloured buildings, what is immediately attention grabbing is the mix of cultures, religions and ethnicities that drive the pulse of the Bo-Kaap. Like Faldela Tolker, the flamboyant cook that lives in the purple house, at the top end of Wale Street. She teaches budding chefs about a cuisine which is not European, nor Asian, in fact, it can’t even be called South Africa – it’s exclusively Cape Malay. Faldela day-long cooking class is a hands-on, practical lesson where I learnt how to expertly fold Samosas (a crispy fried pastry with a spiced savoury filling), prepare an aromatic chicken curry, and accompanying roti’s (chapatti-type flat breads).

She put a small group of us to work in her kitchen. Within minutes the room was dense with heady thousand island spices. We all had our duties - some stirred bubbling pots, others rolled dough, and I crushed spices in the pesel and mortar.

With Bo-Kaap aromas wafting through the house, we sat at Faldela’s large wooden dining table and began sampling the memorable meal we, as a group, had created - food that’s not made anywhere else on earth.“There is only one true way to get to know a regions food,” explains Faldela, “and that is to go there and eat the food amongst the people who cook it every day. That way it is seasoned with a sense of the place, the landscape, the culture, history and the traditions. That’s the power of the chef.”

EAT
When it comes to eating opportunities, there’s no competing with Bree Street, which is just one block south of the Bo-Kaap. Bree Street has surpassed the opulence of Camps Bay, and trendy Long Street. Here young chefs are savouring their homegrown ingredients and looking to their own traditions in creating exciting eateries. Some are a little rough around the edges, others swanky, most are sociable gathering places for locals, others sophisticated, intimate; with a few wild cards thrown into the mix for variety.

A CAFFEINE FIX
Cape Town has a thriving coffee cult who all seem to congregate at Truth Coffee (36 Buitenkant Street), a steampunk-inspired, 19th-century artisan coffee roaster in an old warehouse. Industrial-chic interiors, gilded pipework, copper devices, whistling gadgets, and staff dressed in full steampunk regalia is the backdrop to coffee evangelist, David Donde, who preaches single bean gospel to his disciples.

TROPICAL ISLAND LUNCH
In the heart of Cape Town’s fashionable Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and harbour area is the uber luxurious One & Only. The main hotel block is centred around a huge atrium-like space that embraces a lavish lounge-bar with massively tall floor-to-ceiling windows, drinking in the views of Table Mountain.

Beyond the glass wall, is a tropical private island - and the discreet Isola Restaurant. Here the chefs, who have won a raft of awards, celebrate the unique cuisine of the Cape, complete with a sommelier who guides you through South Africa’s finest wines.

LUXURY SLEEP
The most striking of Cape Town’s numerous assets is Table Mountain, which rears up from the centre of the city. From atop the mountain, looking south, beyond the colossal peaks of the Twelve Apostles, the drop to the ocean is sheer.

This is where you’ll find the exclusive millionaire’s paradise - Clifton - a hamlet that has a closely guarded accommodations secret in the Cape View. Places here have an extra factor, shameless indulgence, superb service, sublime comfort - and the right aroma. It is contemporary and elegant to the extreme, with five deluxe suites, two family suites, an infinity pool and a non-stop electric blue ocean views. All the rooms are sea-facing and bespoke in soothing shades of white and pistachio. Breakfast here is extravagant and is a near family affair with a small mix of fellow travellers all

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