The ‘cape Olive Route’
If you thought Cape Town was all about wine and wine only, here’s a well-kept secret – the Cape Olive Route! Yes, the Cape produces many of the world’s finest wines, and has a rich heritage of viticulture disabled dating back to the French Huguenots’ arrival in South Africa. And yes, olives are a new-comer to the area, having only been introduced here 80 years ago. But with the change in South Africans’ diet including the increasing popularity of Mediterranean foods, fuelled by television’s international celebrity chef programmes and the mushrooming of delicatessens all over South Africa, the demand for locally grown olives and their by-products has soared.
To date there is not an official Cape Olive Route, but with delightfully appointed farms dotted all around the Western Cape we’ve taken the liberty of drawing up our own itinerary – a culinary meander if you like, for olive-lovers who live in or are visiting Cape Town.
Stellenbosch is a good place to begin your excursion. This historic town is home to the Universtity of Stellenbosch and is brim-full of students during the term time, lending it a lively air. Plenty of good pubs are to be found here, while culture vultures can enjoy visiting galleries. But the main aim of this trip is to find olives, so before you get stuck in ‘Stellies’, head for the Eikendal Vineyards – your your first olive stop. Next drive across to Saxenberg Wine Farm near Kuils River, then back to Somerset West where the famous Morgenster Estate, specialising in olives and related products, is situated. These three establishments can be woven in to a trip around the wine route, and really, there can be few combinations to delight a foodie’s heart more than fruit of the vine and fruit of the grove…
If you want to make a day of it, try the following route: Head off to Riebeek Kasteel and visit the Olive Boutique in the town and the Kloovenburg Estate – home of one of the top 15 olive oils in the world. Their selection of olive-based products will amaze you! The town itself is delightfully bohemian with a winning blend of artists, eccentrics and excellent chefs calling this village home. The vineyards grow between the houses and the church and pub co-habit side by side quite comfortably. At a mere one hours drive out of Cape Town this makes a good day trip.
To become completely steeped in the atmosphere of a Cape olive farm, however, you can stay at the Wild Olive Farm between Tulbagh and Ceres. This working wine and olive farm has delightful self catering accommodation in a sprinkling of charming cottages, as well as a lovely camping site. Not only will you enjoy seeing the olive groves being farmed and harvested, you can also fish, swim and canoe on any of the three dams. The views of vines and mountains are exquisite.
If you love olives but don’t want to venture too far out of town, Melissa’s Food Shop is a great deli with branches all over Cape Town. The Olive Station in Muizenberg serves Lebanese dishes and sells olives and olive produce on site.
Lastly, here are four more fabulous olive establishments you may wish to add to your own version of the Cape Olive Route!
• Drakenstein Olives, Paarl (on De Hoop Farm)
• Hildebrand Estate, Wellington
• The Cape Olive Trust (at the foot of the Drakenstein Mountains)
• Blackpear Olives, Paarl
Image by brightroyalty