City Dozen: Reuben Riffel’s Cape Town

Cape Town sits just about 40 miles (65 km) north of the southernmost tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. Built around the dramatic beauty of flat-topped Table Mountain and the frothy, navy blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, South Africa’s second most populous city offers visitors stunning natural beauty in the seaside city proper as well as in the surrounding scenic winelands. Once a stop on the trade route around the Cape of Good Hope between South and Southeast Asia and Europe, the city is home to a diverse blend of inhabitants descended from indigenous Africans as well as the Dutch, Malays, Indonesians, Indians, and English. For a food-oriented visitor, there’s a wealth of culinary opportunity, and the surrounding mountainous vineyards produce world-class wines that are both classically-crafted and quirky.

Chef Reuben Riffel grew up in Groendal, a valley in the Cape Winelands town of Franschhoek, under the oppressive rule of apartheid with the limited rights granted to people labeled as “Cape Coloureds.” Today, he has become one of Africa’s best-known chefs, sharing the Cape Malay flavors he grew up with at his restaurants: Reuben’s, his restaurant at the One&Only Cape Town, the celebrated Reuben’s in Franschhoek, and two other Reuben’s locations in South Africa. This is his Cape Town Dozen.

1. Neighbourgoods Market
I love this market because it gives everyone the opportunity to meet local suppliers while still enjoying a restaurant-like atmosphere. You can try everything from a craft beer to gourmet biltong. It’s a great place to go in the morning for breakfast, where there’s always a healthy mix of locals and tourists – but be sure get there early for the best selection of produce.

Neighbourgoods Market
375 Albert Road
Cape Town, 7915
tel: +27 082 370 4075

2. Boekenhoutskloof Wine
There are two brands that fall under the Boekenhoutskloof wine label, and in my opinion, these are some of the top wines in South Africa, certainly on par with the best wines in the world. You can buy them at a great value at wine shops here in Cape Town – look for my favorite, the Chocolate Block – a Bordeaux blend that has become a real cult wine here.

Boekenhoutskloof Wine
Excelsior Road
Franschhoek, 7690
tel: +27 021 876 3320

3. Kalky’s Fish & Chips
Kalky’s is located in Kalk Bay, a fishing hub in South Africa. The restaurant has its own fishing license and sends boats out every morning to catch the freshest fish. My favorite dish here is the snoek and chips; it’s perfect while sipping a Castle beer and sitting overlooking the harbor while watching the seals.

Kalky’s Fish & Chips
Kalk Bay Peninsula
Cape Town, 7900
tel: +21 788 1726

4. Cape Malay Cuisine
I grew up with the Cape Malay style of cooking, a fusion food born in Africa with origins that can be traced back to the Dutch East Indies. Today, there are many chefs who are taking these traditional dishes and making them fresh and exciting, showcasing this type of cuisine to a new world of diners. My favorite traditional Cape Malay dish is curried pickled fish served on fresh baked bread with butter.

5. Willow Creek Olive Oil
When most people think of the Cape Winelands they only think of the wine. What they don’t know is that the region is also home to a number of boutique olive oil makers. Willow Creek in the Nuy Valley is my favorite. The estate began producing olives in 1999 and in my opinion their oils are far better than anything we can purchase abroad – and much cheaper.

Willow Creek Olive Oil
Wilgerivier Nuy, Kiaat Street
Worcester, 6851
tel: +23 342 5793

6. DV Chocolate
Created by the De Villiers family in Hermanus, DV sources cocoa beans from around the globe, including Venezuela and São Tomé, to create this incredible dark chocolate that just melts in your mouth. It’s better than any imported chocolate bar.

DV Chocolate
Suid-Agter Paarl Road, Paarl, South Africa
tel: +27 028 316 485

7. Bread & Wine Vineyard Restaurant
Bread & Wine at the Moreson Vineyard is a gorgeous lunch spot in Franschhoek. Their Mrs. Molly Bubbles sparkling wine is refreshing and light, a glass goes perfectly with a nice smoked salmon by their executive chef Neil Jewell, a charcuterie guru who smokes and cures all of their meats himself.

Bread & Wine Vineyard Restaurant
Happy Valley Road, La Motte
Franschhoek, 7690
tel: +21 876 3692

8. Lion’s Head
One of my favorite activities in Cape Town is to take a drive to the top of Lion’s head with a gourmet picnic. Lion’s Head is located in between Table Mountain and Signal Hill with spectacular views of the city. If you’re lucky, you might even see a paraglider launching off the top and soaring downwards.

Lion’s Head

9. N****ewlands Cricket Ground (Sahara Park Newlands)No trip to Cape Town would be complete without a stop at the Newlands Cricket Ground to watch a match. Be sure to order a Castle beer and Boerie roll. It’s like an American hot dog but made with a piece of boerewors (a beef and pork sausage) and served with sauces like chutney, chile, or barbecue.

Newlands Cricket Ground (Sahara Park Newlands)
146 Campground Rd
Cape Town, 7700
tel: + 27 021 657 3300

10. Get Stuffed Cheese Shop

Get Stuffed is the best cheese store in Cape Town. Valerie, the owner of the shop, is very well connected with most of the producers in South Africa and is usually the first to get what’s new. Try the Gaanzvlei Cheddar when you’re there – it’s sharp and creamy.

Get Stuffed Cheese Shop
217 Lower Main Road, Observatory
Cape Town, 7925
tel: +27 021 448 8041

11. Karoo lamb
Karoo lamb is unique to South Africa. Because of what the animals eat – a mix of wild herbs – their meat has a unique herbal flavor. Karoo lamb chops are particularly good on the braai, a South African barbecue.

DozenHotel

Where to Stay
The One&Only Cape Town
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{C}One&Only Cape Town is located right on the Victoria & Alfred waterfront in the city center so you can walk to all of the main downtown sights. The views of Table Mountain from the Vista Bar and Marina Rise are magnificent. It feels fresh and modern – a style that suits our new take on South African cuisine at Reuben’s perfectly.

The One&Only Cape Town

Dock Road
Cape Town, 8001
tel: +21 431 5888

rubenriffel

Chef Reuben Riffel grew up in Groendal, a valley in the Cape Winelands town of Franschhoek, under the oppressive rule of apartheid with the limited rights granted to people labeled as “Cape Coloureds.” Today, he has become one of Africa’s best-known chefs, sharing the Cape Malay flavors he grew up with at his restaurants: Reuben’s, his restaurant at the luxurious One&Only Cape Town, the celebrated Reuben’s in Franschhoek, and two other Reuben’s locations in South Africa.