I am off to unfasten the enchanted vineyards of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula; to get an insight of how Emirates creates menus like the one I relish on board; to explore the collective course it takes for these to travel, from producer to flight.
Each Emirates flight has a tailored menu depending on the end destination. I check in at the One and Only in Cape Town and am in love with the location, I can see the Table Mountain from my room, which forms a superb background to this booming city. From mountains, harbours and gardens, the city has so much to offer that it is virtually surreal.
The King of Chenin Interestingly, when Ken Forrester purchased the dilapidated farm in 1993, it was Chenin grapes that he found in abundance and today his Chenin wine stands proud and firm on the world wine map. My arrival at Ken’s vineyards promised so much. As I walk around I keep looking at all of the astounding natural beauty, the history that I can still visually appreciate with country life going on all around it. The outskirts of Stellenbosch are beautiful. Ken’s country house, where I am staying, is lively with a view overlooking the stunning mountains and the weather is gorgeous. After a few tastings, my favourite being the 2014 vintage, which is a beautiful elegance and apricot influenced style with a crisp bite, we head to 96 Winery Road, Ken’s restaurant at the country house for dinner. I am hungry and so go for the meaty gourmet burger, which goes beautifully with the Red Renegade 2011 that Ken offers.
We drive down to Fairview wine and cheesery and at the Beryl Back tasting room, sample local cheese that make up the cheese board on Emirates flights from South Africa, balancing gorgeously with wines. My preferred is the vat-fermented Lands’ End Syrah paired with the silky red pepper and tomato cream cheese. Do not leave without peeking into the famed Goat tower.
It is lunch time and we are booked at Boekenhoutskloof, where the Managing Partner and driving force behind this famously, vibrant property in Franschhoek, Marc Kent, is waiting for us. He tells us about his Swartland project, Porseleinberg, which is rather interesting and we even visit it the next day.
We amble through a wooden bridge that runs around a rainforest kind of an ambience. And the walk is much needed too, more so after overeating an enjoyable lunch of local produce, fondly prepared by Marc’s PA. I carry a bottle of The Chocolate Block home, I am totally sold out by the taste.
Paul Boutinot and his team have a rustic tractor ready and take us to explore their Biodynamic Estate that houses a stable and a “restaurant in the sky”, trendily selected in a 10 metre tall glass crag, with a slick tasting lounge and gravitational cellar, where sophisticated present-day classics marry chic wines for elevated food and wine experience.
We stop enroute to try the False Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016, with a setting surrounding hills of overwhelming beauty; bouquets of citrus and gooseberries overwhelm my nose trailed by a crispy palate…Aah! Life’s simple pleasures. It is no surprise that it claims a Champion Status by the World Wildlife Fund’s Biodiversity and Wine Initiative. I will never forget my experience here in a hurry.
All good things must come to an end. Enroute to Bushman’s Kloof, we get an additional measure of the lush green forests. Post a game drive, where we come across Ostrich and other animals, we move into the exclusive restaurant where we taste Amarula and dine. Amarula is a South African fruit that tastes like a cross between mango and passion fruit, the liqueur is delicious. I look up at the sky full of stars.
Post this swift trip, it’s soon time to leave. “There are, of course, crucial difference to serving food on board versus in a restaurant. For example, space constraints and having to reheat food. We also know that attention to detail is incredibly important so we are constantly reviewing what we have done; checking every meal that goes on our aircraft multiple times, just to make sure it is perfect,” shares Joost Heymeijer, senior vice-president, catering. I don’t resist the offer of an extra slice of cheese ~ knowing it has come from Fairview or Amarula ~ with coffee.