A visit to The winefields of Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of the oldest vineyard in South Africa.
Groot Constantia’s first vines were planted in the middle of the 17th century by Simon Van der Stel, the first governor of the (then) Dutch colony. Groot Constantia was effectively his home aswell. At that time the estate was bigger than the present estate, which is why the estates of Klein Constantia and Constantia Uitsig, all neighbours, are also well worth a visit. (check out http://tastingandliving.com/2010/09/04/vin-de-constance-with-michel-roux-jr/ for more info on the ‘Vin de Constance’ which is only produced on Klein Constantia.)
Bobotie (pronounced /bɒˈboʊti/) is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. The recipe is likely to have originated from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia, with the name derived from the Indonesian Bobotok. Afterwards, it was taken to South Africa and adopted by the Cape Malay community. It is also made with curry powder leaving it with a slight “tang” and often served with Sambal.
It is a dish of some antiquity: it has certainly been known in the Cape of Good Hope since the 17th century, when it was made with a mixture of mutton and pork. Today it is much more likely to be made with beef or lamb, although pork lends the dish extra moistness. Early recipes incorporated ginger, marjoram and lemon rind; the introduction of curry powder has simplified the recipe somewhat but the basic concept remains the same. Some recipes also call for chopped onions to be added to the mixture. Traditionally, bobotie incorporates dried fruit like raisins or sultanas, but the sweetness that they lend is not to everybody’s taste. It is often garnished with walnuts, chutney and bananas.
Although not particularly spicy, the dish incorporates a variety of flavours that can add complexity. For example, the dried fruit (usually apricots and raisins/sultanas) contrasts the curry flavouring very nicely. The texture of the dish is also complex, with the baked egg mixture topping complementing the milk-soaked bread which adds moisture to the dish.
The Bobotie recipe was transported by South African settlers to colonies all over Africa. Today, recipes for it can be found that originated in white settler communities in Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
So enough history now, the restaurant at Groot Constantia, called Jonkershuis, is side building of the main home of the governor, is more than worth a lunch stop. The wine list contains varied wines, not only estate wines, but if you want a red than go for the Gouverneurs Reserve at 99R/glass or 298R/bottle. I went for the Governeurs chardonnay at 66R seeing I was tasting the tasting plate of bobotie and curries (122R). I’ve been coming back for this dishes several times and for me it’s the perfect introduction into the Cape Malay dishes that have been passed down centuries of slavery and foreign influences.
The tasting plate consists of a fabulous variety of little dishes consisting of an oven baked bobotie, but also a lam and chicken curry, a beef samosa, cinnamon butternut and a papadum and of course served with sambals. The sambals go from quite hot yoghurty mild, an extra bowl of chopped tomatoes and onions is served to calm the palate down if you feel over heated!
It’s wonderful because you can just mix flavours as you go along. The bobotie is great as the savoury custard topping, slightly grilled to get a crusty topping is really outstanding.
So make sure to make your lunch appointment before heading out there because it tends to fill up quickly especially int he summer, the outside spaces are great and shaded but don’t forget to take a look inside too!
Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 794 6255
Fax: +27 21 794 4813