By Karen Rutter
Picnics are a lot more ‘designer’ these days, with many places offering to lay on the whole spread—blankets included
Picnics used to mean wrapping some sandwiches in wax paper, boiling up some eggs, and packing in a bottle of lemonade and some plastic cups. The package was completed with a blanket to sit on and maybe a beach brolly for shade.
Things are a lot more ‘designer’ these days, however, and hardly a picnic goes by without a tub of hummus, some smoked salmon and a loaf of artisan bread or two. And while it may be fun to make and bake your own picnic, the options have also got a lot easier, with many wine estates and farms offering to lay on the whole spread—blankets included.
In the Western Cape we’re often spoilt for choice, and it’s hard actually to decide where to spend a lazy lunchtime break. We also have the settings to match the menus, from gracious oak-dappled lawns to spectacular sea views.
• Many venues require you to book your picnic hamper in advance.
• Some venues offer special vegetarian and children’s hampers—make sure to enquire.
• Some venues operate only on certain days, such as weekends, so find out when you want to make your booking.
Here’s a selection of great picnic options:
CAPE TOWN AND SURROUNDS
Buitenverwachting: The shady grounds of one of the Cape’s oldest wine estates offer pretty picnic spots where you can relax while indulging in a line-up of tasty treats. Salads, quiches and cheeses as well as fruit kebabs and chocolate brandy truffles are on the menu, and a kid’s mini-hamper is available. Tables and chairs are provided, and estate wines can be ordered. Visit www.buitenwerwachting.com or call 021-794-1012
The Round House: Not a classic picnic venue, in terms of blankets and brollies. Things are a bit more organised at The Round House, where you sit at wooden tables and tick off items from a list, which are then delivered to you in a basket complete with cutlery and napkins. There’s a fabulous selection of tapas that come in glass jars (jalapeño hummus, caramelised onion pâté and more) along with crusty breads, charcuterie and salads. The view—Twelve Apostles to the left, Atlantic ahead—makes it a pretty unique experience. Visit www.theroundhouserestaurant.com or call 021-438-4347.
Steenberg/Bistro Sixteen82: There’s not a huge amount of space to spread yourself in the grounds in front of Bistro sixteen82, but there’s enough rolling lawn to play boules and spread a picnic blanket or two. The estate offers weekend picnic hampers (which need to be ordered in advance) that feature a truly gorgeous array including paninis with oven-roasted butternut and red onion spread, designer cheeses, tartlets, chocolate brownies and a bottle of estate wine. Oh—and all the packaging is biodegradable, which gets a green thumb up. Visit www.steenberg-vineyards.co.za or call 021-713-2211.
Solms-Delta: You can tick off a whole lot of plus factors at Solms-Delta. Great setting: tick (shady lawns, a tinkling river to splash in). Wonderful food: tick (including basil pesto marinated farm vegetables, lamb kofta with mint creamed cheese and apple tart with cream, plus a bottle of complimentary wine or water per basket). Extra things to do: tick (heritage museum on site, guided farm tours, wine tastings). And they make it so easy—simply choose your riverside spot, and the team will bring your picnic basket and blanket to you. Visit www.solms-delta.co.za or call 021-874-3937.
Allée Bleue: Stylish picnics—or “chicnics”, as the Allée Bleue team call them—are served from a picnic gazebo. Sit under a sun-shaded table and enjoy freshly prepared fare. Children get their own menu. Visit www.alleebleue.co.za or call 021-874-1021.
Boschendal (Le Pique Nique): Yet another fantastically popular venue—and certainly one of the first estates to open its grounds for relaxed al fresco picnics—Boschendal makes the whole process look pretty smooth. You can choose to be seated at an outside table or spread a blanket on the lawns, where lofty pine trees provide a cool retreat. Collect your basket filled with cheeses, breads, charcuterie and salads, stock up on estate wine, and relax. The pretty gazebo near a lily pond supplies teas, coffees and desserts, all part of the package. And there’s loads of room, so you never feel cramped, even at the height of the summer holidays.
Visit www.boschendalrestaurants.co.za or call 021-870-4272.
Mont Rochelle: The folk at Mont Rochelle suggest you “pick up a picnic basket at the Country Kitchen and take a stroll with your blanket in hand, through the vineyards down to the dam, into the rose garden or to the shade of an oak or weeping willow, and make yourself comfortable.” Which, with a basketful of goodies that includes smoked Franschhoek trout, roasted bell peppers and Panna Cotta, sounds like an excellent idea.
Visit www.montrochelle.co.za or call 021-876-2770.
Hartenberg: Here’s a place that holds plenty of happy memories for myself and my extended family, who have spent many an indulgent lunchtime relaxing under the estate trees with a glass or three. The summer picnic menu includes such attractions as beetroot and cumin pâté, rosa tomato, Bocconcini and basil salad, and artisanal cheeses, while the hamper for two includes a bottle of estate wine or grape juice. A post-prandial stroll around the grounds or perhaps a more energetic game of Frisbee makes for a great way to round off the day. Visit www.hartenbergestate.com or call 021-865-2541.
Zevenwacht: Park yourself on the sprawling shaded lawns overlooking the lake at Zevenwacht estate and tuck into a feast of bread and biscuits, cold meats, cheeses, and salads. If you’re feeling more energetic, you can also pre-order a braai pack and cook your own meal over a vine-wood fire. There’s a safe play park for children, a cheesery where you can sample real Mozzarella, and a wine tasting and deli centre to stock up on extras to take home. Oh, and in case you feel like extending your stay, accommodation is offered on the farm. Visit www.zevenwacht.co.za or call 021-900-5700.
Spier: The go-to venue for locals and visitors alike, Spier offers such a range of activities and experiences, it’s easy to understand why it’s such a popular venue. There’s an art gallery and craft market, the Eagle Encounters bird centre, wine tastings and nature walks to enjoy, and beautiful gardens to meander through. The landscaped lawns around the lake are perfect for families to throw down a blanket while ducks eye your picnic feast. Spier offers a range of picnic options, provided by the acclaimed Eight restaurant—gourmet, relaxed, raw, vegetarian and for children—which include such delights as cashew nut hummus, mini pork pies and roasted sweet potato wedges. Bookings can be done online, at least two days in advance. Visit
www.spier.co.za or call 021-809-1100.
Warwick: Apart from rolling lawns, a forest courtyard, and a child-friendly play area, Warwick also offers unique picnic pods, which seat up to 12 people in secluded and shaded privacy, plus a separate penthouse picnic area for special functions. With pâtés, salads, cheeses and charcuterie on the menu, it all sounds too good to resist. Visit www.warwickwine.com or call 021-884-4410.
Morgenhof: Vegetarian and kiddie’s menus are available when choosing your picnic from Morgenhof. The grounds are a treat—as are the vanilla cupcakes that come with each picnic basket. Visit
www.morgenhof.com or call 021-889-5510.
Remhoogte: Here you can watch zebra, springbok and wildebeest grazing while you sip a chilled Chenin Blanc and nibble on breads, cheeses, olives and cold meats. The estate has a small private game area, and also offers horse rides through the grounds. Visit www.remhoogte.co.za or call 021-889-5005
azendal: There’s a plaasteater on the grounds of Hazendal where you can hear upcoming musicians while you enjoy a picnic prepared at the award-winning Hermitage restaurant. The savoury spread is rounded off with chocolate brownies and fresh fruit salad. There’s also an art gallery and a children’s playground on the estate. Visit www.hazendal.co.za or call 021-903-5034
Doolhof: There’s a pretty river walk (and a more strenuous 10km hike through the vineyards) to whet your appetite for one of Doolhof’s delicious picnics. Also on site is a unique labyrinth.Visit www.doolhof.com or call 021-873-6911.
Vergelegen: You could easily spend a whole day at Vergelegen, exploring the spacious grounds, enjoying the immaculate gardens and strolling through the historic homestead. While you’re there, pick up a (pre-ordered) picnic lunch and soak up the atmosphere along with some award-winning estate wine. On the picnic menu are such delights as homemade truffle cream cheese and smoked salmon, served in the camphor forest with its elegant picnic tables, set out for your enjoyment.Visit www.vergelegen.co.za or call 021-847-1346.
Picnics in Joburg
If you live in or around Joburg, the city offers some special spots to spread a blanket and lay out a feast. To take the schlepp out of it, why not pre-order a picnic from a catering company?
RECOMMENDED SPOTS FOR A PICNIC
Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden: Picnics are encouraged at this family-friendly park, which features several beautiful walks and a picturesque waterfall. Visit www.sanbi.org
Emmarentia Dam and Botanical Gardens: 6km from the city centre and over 80 hectares large lies this urban rest-stop, where you can jog, picnic, ride a bike, go for a canoe ride, explore the flower gardens or simply park off in the sun with a basket of goodies. Visit
Zoo Lake: Famous for its live concerts, Zoo Lake is also perfect for more laid-back activities such as sipping something cold and munching something tasty, preferably in the shade on the soft lawn.Visit www.jhbcityparks.com
Walkhaven: A dog-friendly space for humans and their canine companions to enjoy. Perfect for getting your pooch into a sociable space. Visit www.walkhaven.co.za
Gillooly’s Farm: Braai spots, space to play a bit of touch rugby or just laze in the sun on the lawns. Bird watching and walking trails are all on offer at this sanctuary in the city. 011-453-8066
Bunny Park: Cows, donkeys and yes, bunny rabbits abound in this child-friendly park where farm animals graze peacefully. You can even feed the bunnies—bunches of carrots are on sale. Bring the family, a picnic basket and a blanket. Call 011-422-3651