Which SA city deserves the title gourmet capital?
DOUBTLESS, the debate about which of the two cities - Joburg or Cape Town - has the best restaurants is an enduring one..
So neither can definitively claim the crown of being South Africa's gourmet capital until this matter, which invariably invokes inconclusive heated arguments, can be resolved.
A significant distinguishing factor, though, for Cape Town is that it is home to the country's winelands, which are complimented by a formidable array of restaurants.
But Joburgers can argue - in their favour - that they are the biggest consumers of the wine produced by these winelands.
At a glance what indisputably separates the two cities is also their peculiar dollops of energy and pace.
Cape Town's laid-back poise is starkly contrasted by Joburg's rat-race streak - attributes which can either be enamouring or irritating, depending on the individual.
For many the mere mention of the Mother City conjures up alluring memories of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, a major calendar event for aficionados of the genre that happens annually on the Good Friday weekend.
Perhaps, unknown to many is that Cape Town also hosts other annual weekends with even greater attractions.
One of the attractions is the hugely popular TOPS Gugulethu Wine Festival, which in two days on May 25 and 26 drew close on 3500 people to the Gugulethu Square Mall.
While Cape Town battles to fend off the unedifying label of being a covertly racist city, this festival can credibly claim to be a significant melting pot of race relations.
The other attraction is the Good Food and Wine Show, which took place at the Cape Town Convention Centre the same weekend as the Gugulethu event.
Both events decked a fiesta of gigantic proportions for thousands of people who visited the shows in one weekend, which happened within an 8km radius.
A typical four-day itinerary on such an eventful weekend can be truly fun-filled.
For instance, DStv hosted a food-and-wine pairing dinner at the historic Nederburg Estate in Paarl, 48km from Cape Town, a day before the Gugulethu festival.
What the tasting revealed, is that one can rarely go wrong by pairing a juicy steak with Cabernet Sauvignon or braai meat with a Pinotage; or blue cheese with Sauvignon blanc or creamy soup with Chardonnay.
Better still, a Nederburg Rose embraced a Malay Curry with rice superbly, as did Rhine Riesling.
A day-time visit to the Rangaka family, who own M'hudi wines, is also unmissable. This is because the couple - Diale and Malmsey Rangaka - are so firmly grounded in ubuntu and just love to entertain strangers.
Their struggle to create a space for themselves in the world of wine induces a tear while simultaneously making one's pride well up in your chest. They produce an award-winning Pinotage and a Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot of equal splendour.
A visit to Alto Estate in Stellenbosch was equally illuminating. At a R50 individual tasting fee one was exposed to the mouthwatering exercise of pairing three different pâtes - snoek, chicken and liver - with Alto's Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon or the estate blend.
This is an illuminating exercise that can result in your pigging out unless a guilt trip sets in timeously.
Outside the two food and wine events, a trip to the Hout Bay Harbour Market ought not be missed.
The harbour hosts Saturday evenings of homely fun alongside a flea market, shopping and wine and food while listening to a live band.
One thing is for sure, the Gugulethu wine festival is the hottest wine event (of course) after its Soweto counterpart.
lThe Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show public tasting takes place in Sandton, Johannesburg tonight.
The public will have the opportunity to taste wines from a competition widely regarded as the country's most rigorous wine selection process.
More than 200 wines, which won various categories of awards, will be sampled.
The event takes place at the Sandton Sun (Maroela Room) from 6pm to 9pm.
Tickets cost R120 each and are available via www.computicket.com or call 0861-915-8000.