5 of South Africa’s best gourmet winter breaks

Posted on 20 June 2012

My antidote to the winter blues is to take (many) weekend breaks filled with friends, food and wine. Here’s my pick of best destinations in South Africa for foodie holidays guaranteed to warm you up.


1. Midlands Meander, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

The Midlands Meander has to be the best gourmet destination in winter. Think rolling fields covered in a dusting of snow, cosy fire-warmed pubs, charming B&Bs and guesthouses, and some of South Africa’s best restaurants. From Swiss sausages, award-winning goat’s cheese, blueberry pancakes, Persian spices and relishes, homemade chocolates to organic bakes, the Midlands Meander has just about every yummy thing you can think of on sale in its numerous shops and farmstalls.

Stay at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, where every meal is a gourmet experience. Chef Richard Poynton creates lavish six-course dinners and indulgent three-course breakfasts that will have you wearing stretchy pants by the end of your stay. You could try and hike off your calorific meals in the beautiful Drakensberg mountains that surround the farmhouse, or be lazy (like me) and munch on biscuits all day in front of the fire, with a cuddly cat and book in your lap.

There’s also Hartford House, a lodge and fabulous restaurant set on the beautiful grounds of a stud farm. Chalets are spread out on green lawns edged with trees. Feast on chef Jackie Cameron’s creations in the restaurant in between long walks on the farm: expect dishes such as  pan-seared beef fillet with horseradish potato creme, roasted garlic and red wine sauce, and ‘peanut butter and syrup on toast’, a really creative and fabulous pudding of peanut sauce semifreddo, maple syrup ice cream, sugar glazed banana and vanilla creme anglaise. And for breakfast dessert (the first meal of the day is a three-course affair, of course), have the Maltabella ice cream.

Click here for my 10 best foodie finds on the Midlands Meander


2. Prince Albert, Klein Karoo, Western Cape

The Karoo is beautiful in winter, with sunny, crisp days and big blue skies. My favourite Karoo town has to be Prince Albert, for all its foodie offerings. The town’s quiet main street is lined with farm stalls, fabulous restaurants (my favourite is the Gallery Cafe, with its delicious hearty dishes), coffee shops and South Africa’s second smallest wine estate, Soet Karoo, which produces dessert wines. Then there’s the wonderfully country-ish Saturday morning village market, which sells heirloom organic vegetables, Karoo lamb pies, moerkoffie, preserves, and legendary cinnamon-sugar pancakes for R3. There’s also a lovely wine estate a short drive out of town – Bergwater – which has some lovely wines. One of the town’s main foodie attractions is African Relish, a cookery school and restaurant that offers a wide variety of weekend and mid-week courses – upcoming courses include bread making, comfort food and spices.

All in all, Prince Albert is a wonderful destination for a weekend foodie break.

Read more about Prince Albert, its foodie treasures and best places to stay here.

 Click here to find out where to eat, what to do and where to stay in Prince Albert

Read more about African Relish here


3. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

Last winter I left rainy, cold Cape Town for a stay in balmy, tropical Durban and warmed my chilled body with fiery curries (of which Durban has many). Turns out that Durban is the perfect spot to escape winter – the weather is mild, locals are friendly, the vibe is laidback, and accommodation is cheaper than in summer (and there are no holidaying crowds to content with). Eat South Africa’s best curries and soak up Durban’s summer-holiday-in-winter atmosphere.

Here’s where to eat curry in Durban

 Click here to find accommodation in Durban


4. Stanford, Overberg, Western Cape

Stanford, up until now, has been something of a ‘hidden gem’ in the Overberg, overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Hermanus. A short drive away from the tourist-flocked holiday hotspot, Stanford seems to be the perfect country dorp. With fantastic restaurants (Mariana’s and Graze are my top picks), an up-and-coming wine route, fabulous weekend markets offering delicious farm produce, and a nearby award-winning cheese factory, it’s a foodie’s heaven. In between eating and drinking wine, there are some great active things to do – from canoeing on the river to hiking in the Salmonsdam Nature Reserve.

Read my blog on 12 things to do in Stanford

Click here to find accommodation in Stanford



5. Cape Winelands, Western Cape

The Cape Winelands are gorgeous in winter: they’re all russet-coloured vines and emerald-green fields. On rainy days, there’s nothing better than cosying up to a roaring fire with a glass (or bottle) of good red wine and a hearty meal. Another good thing about the Cape Winelands in winter: notoriously expensive restaurants offer amazing value-for-money specials. Like Tokara, for example. Main courses at the renowned restaurant are usually priced at around R150, but on their special you get four courses and a glass of wine for R250.

A lot of B&Bs and hotels in the Winelands also offer fantastic discounts on accommodation in the quiet winter months – perfect for an affordable weekend break.

 Click here for all the Cape Winelands winter restaurant specials

Click here to find accommodation in the Cape Winelands


If you’re stuck in the city this winter with no hope of escape, don’t despair. We’ve rounded up the best winter restaurant specials in Cape Town, Durban, and Joburg so you can feast more and pay less.




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