This is a a series of blogs describing the launch tour of Influence Tours, a tour operator that offers luxury travel in South Africa and invests 100% of their profits into development and charity. Read part one here.
In the morning, we were treated to a biodiversity walk on the grounds and vineyards of Steenberg. We were introduced to a variety of fynbos, from dainty little ericas, to mint-smelling geraniums and majestic proteas. Steenberg uses predominantly non-toxic, natural formulas of pest control on their vineyards, and also use natural predators to keep the grapes and the surrounding nature healthy. After the walk, we visited the cellar and finally tried some of the wines. The highlight for most was the Steenberg Flagship wine; Magna Carta, a Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon blend with aromas of elderflower, gooseberries and orange blossom. With an aging potential of 20 years, this is most definitely an investment wine! Steenberg is almost alone in having a white flagship wine, but they feel that this is the wine that represents the particular terroir of the vineyard best.
Next up were the cute African penguins at Boulders Beach. These birds are sadly under threat of extinction, with only about 10% of the population left compared to the early 1900’s (here’s a blog I wrote about this). This is why we believe that it is important to visit Boulders (and pay the entrance and conservation fee to SANParks), rather than the public places further along in Simonstown where you can see them “for free”.
Lunch was a fanciful affair at The Flagship, where chef Duncan Doherty welcomed us into his home and cooked a superb 5-course seafood meal. Duncan uses only the freshest, locally sourced and sustainably produced ingredients in his kitchen. He uses the SASSI guidelines as his bible, and has a keen awareness of the need to support small, local businesses. Wines from Graham Beck complemented our meal perfectly, creating a red thread from yesterday.
Later in the afternoon it was time to explore the Cape Town scene. We met up with Matt Manning, who took us on a foodie safari on Bree Street (Cape Town’s foodie mecka). First up: Publik, where we had a superb South African gin (Hope on Hopkins – distilled in Cape Town with a “grain to glass” mindset), a browse in the organic deli and butchery, and a tasting of biodynamic South African wines.
We then set our sights on Chef’s Warehouse, one of the most popular eateries on Bree right now. They don’t take bookings, and unfortunately it was impossible to find space for a group as big as ours, but we had a nice chat with chef and owner Liam Tomlin. He says he’s too old for late nights and drunken patrons, which is why he closes promptly at 8pm. Personally, I think it adds to the allure of the place and partly explains the long queues outside (I say partly, because the food is obviously the main attraction; scrumptious Asian-inspired tapas in generous portions). Liam has also run a very succesful chef training academy, and he is still deeply invested in mentoring young talent. He introduced us to his sous chef and protegee Angelo Scirocco who was a finalist in the S. Pellegrino Young Chef Awards 2015.
Dinner was at newly opened Charango, a Peruvian-Japanese inspired eatery (apparently called Nikkei cuisine). We started off in style, with rose & elderflower Piscos, and then feasted on a spread of dishes. My absolute favourite was the dirty tuna tacos; To. Die. For! They also have amazing murals by renowned SA street artist Faith47.
The Travel With Impact journey will be continued shortly; watch this space!