The best in fine food, plus a generous array of Cape Town’s best wines available in abundance under a single festival ticket price? This is Constantia Fresh! And if you didn’t attend on Saturday afternoon, 25 February at Buitenverwachting Wine Estate, you missed out. Lucky for you, I’ve got the inside scoop…

The R550 ticket price included bottomless canapés from South Africa’s most renowned restaurants including Jonkershuis, Greenhouse, Foxcroft, and more, as well as tasters from a selection of 200 wines. The festival took place from 3pm – 7pm, which I found to be an odd time frame, but a late afternoon spent languishing on Buitenverwachting’s sprawling green lawn is certainly nothing to begrudge. With a “Something Blue” dress code, southern suburbanites showed up in their finest and set the scene for an ever-so-classy day of wining and dining.

Food Highlights

Without a doubt, the most delicious thing to grace my taste buds on the day was the game fish braai by Peter Tempelhoff of Greenhouse. It was served with an almost pickled cauliflower “cous cous,” as well as deep fried cauliflower “balls.” A sweetness that I think came from a type of sultana or dried fruit, rounded off a perfectly balanced dish.

Chicken liver parfait with fresh fig at Constantia Fresh

Coming in close second was the luxuriously creamy chicken liver parfait served with jammy grilled fresh figs, shredded pork, toasted baguette, and micro greens by Jonkershuis. The pork was perhaps unnecessary to me, but the parfait was ridiculously smooth, and the figs were big, succulent, and perfect additions to the rich parfait.

Chef Brad Ball’s pork belly yakitori definitely drew the longest queue, and while it was certainly tasty, I found it a little too generously basted. Had the slaw on top been sharper, that barbecue sauce richness may have been more successfully subdued.

I was devastated that Foxcroft’s Korean fried chicken was “sold out” by the time I made it to them, and unfortunately I didn’t get to taste any dessert for the same reason… Note to self, less wine sipping, and more canapé nibbling.

Oh, and quick shoutout to Beemster’s cheese mountain table of dreams!

Wine Highlights

I love using wine festivals as an opportunity to try new varieties, or even just classic offerings from lesser known wineries. Indeed the selection of wines at Constantia Fresh was so overwhelming, that any other strategy would have left me legless!

Saboteur white wine at Constantia Fresh

I loved Glenelly’s unwooded chardonnay which was crisp, and fresh with delicious notes of vanilla. Luddite’s Saboteur range caught my eye due to its quirky packaging and unique beer bottle crown capping. Their white blend is beautifully floral and dominant in citrus and stone fruit tasting notes, making it the perfect summer sipper.

On the subject of packaging, Antebellum Wine’s Petrolhead range boasts an attractive art deco/steampunk inspired look. But the star of the Antebellum range is definitely their award-winning rose, which smells and tastes so deliciously of baked strawberries.

If you’re contemplating a Constantia Fresh experience next year, be sure to arrive early. This way you’ll be able to pace yourself throughout a more expansive wine tasting experience, and probably won’t miss out on any of the food offerings either. You’ve got to get the most out of your ticket price after all.