Having lived in Stellenbosch for years, I am ashamed to say that I only recently took a #Shotleft to Tokara. This gem was on my doorstep all along, which proves to me the value of local tourism - tapping into your immediate surroundings to experience the wonders and destinations our country has to offer - and reminded me of my New Year's resolution to travel around the Western Cape and indulge in its offerings.
Boasting magnificent views over vineyards and olive trees, the estate will enchant you to stay a little longer than anticipated. Walk the grounds and take in the views, enjoy the contemporary sculptures and take a peek at the winemaking process through glass floors when you enter the foyer. Let Tokara invite you into the tasting room with earthy tones, comfortable sofas and floor-to-ceiling windows that create a vineyard-to-glass experience.
Tasting some of Tokara’s award-winning wines while skewering a few olives to go with it is surprisingly easy on the pocket – R100 for six glasses of wine will set you up for an experience of the “Bacchian” kind.
While we enjoyed the wine tasting first, I feel it’s wise to warn all wine-tasting visitors to make their first stop the restaurant instead. Between the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon with its brooding flavours of cocoa, dark briary fruits and a hint of savoury saltiness that will entice you with its ruby red rim, and the fruity 2016 Sauvignon Blanc treating you with hints of quince, lemongrass, and dried herbs while leaving you pleasantly cotton-mouthed, you may feel the need for some gastronomical backup.
No tigers were milked here
The restaurant, “a Cape architectural icon utilising glass, steel and stone”, blends in with its surroundings from the outside while offering unencumbered views from the inside. Here multi-award-winning chef Richard Carstens and his team produce dish after delicious dish. Some diners lifted a quizzical eyebrow at a dish including tiger’s milk, but after we were assured that no tigers were being milked to produce it - it is citrus-based marinade – we happily indulged in the beautifully produced dishes.
The à la carte menu changes every season, and the daily specials are ever changing – offering returning diners something new every time. Some of the favourites on our menu included smoked trout with quinoa, puffed grains, broccoli mole, trout crackling, caviar and tiger's milk; juicy fire-roasted miso beef with carrot purée, shimeji, spinach, buckwheat, Huguenot cheese and mustard jus; succulent roast duck, with eggplant purée, harissa kimchi, apricot, almond and gooseberry sauce; and a sensationally creamy ice cream with honeycomb.
While Stellenbosch and the surrounding Winelands has much to offer foodies and wine enthusiasts alike, I would definitely recommend taking a #Shotleft to Tokara – quite literally, coming from Cape Town turn left on the Helshoogte Pass, the same road that will take you on a winding tour with some spectacular views and right to the entrances of some of the most celebrated wine farms in the country.
Book your own Sho’t Left by visiting www.shotleft.co.za and follow the #Shotleft hashtag to see the dizzying and dazzling array of experiences South Africa has to offer.
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