The Mount Nelson is more than okay… it’s the grandest of all South African hotels, is steeped in colonial history and since it opened its doors in 1899, when a young Winston Churchill was among its first guests, the grand old Pink Lady near the upper end of the Company’s Garden in Cape Town has played host to the world’s rich and famous. ‘The Nellie’ is also where you get the most splendid High tea. Sliver went along to find out what it’s all about.
Winter in Cape Town. Grey. Dank. Soggy ground under your boots. Endless ceiling of thunderous clouds overhead. Stack of umbrellas in a basket at the front door, half of them broken from over-use. Temperatures constantly around 10degrees. On a good day. Right? Have another look at the main picture. I took it in mid-June. In Cape Town.
Halfway through the special winter menu at Haiku, that sizzling hot central Cape Town venue where they serve Asian ‘tapas’ from five mini kitchens, each with specialist chefs, a Chinese master of his craft called Xie Shucong steps out. He has in his hands a large clump of pastry. It has a sheen that you could use to check your hair or adjust your tie, and after pouring a little oil onto a table surface that he has just cleaned, he sets about kneading and stretching the dough, occasionally flicking alkaline water or oil onto it, alternating with flour. It looks like a hell of a workout.
Reuben Riffel came of age in the sunny Cape winter of 2010. The Franschhoek poor boy-made-good has stepped out of the shadows of others who had bolstered his burgeoning career as a chef and restaurateur, and stepped into clear sunlight.
These developments spring up with increasing regularity, and you have to think that one day we will wake up, look around, grab the nearest handrail and yell, ‘Where am I? What have they done with Cape Town?’