Impacts of sunshine on food and other stuff

A memorable feature of eating out in South Africa is a non-edible product -- SUNSHINE.  Every eating experience seems flooded with this entirely free commodity that has the pleasant impact of bringing conviviality.  Eating out seems always to be a time of cheerfulness even if the food, as in one case, did not contribute to the effect. Kevin enjoying the retro ambiance of La Petite Tarte, Waterkant

La Petite Tarte with its wide-open doors and sidewalk terrace provided a fully open-air experience; dappled sunlight filling the lively inside and outside spaces.  Food was elegant and quickly delivered and included my rhubarb and nut tarte! 

What made this little café so special was the constant presence of its owners, taking orders, talking to patrons and helping the staff to keep the busy machine working well.  Table service was very retro with stacks of old, odd and mixed pieces of china and cutlery.  I even thought that my mother's china was among the examples.

Every neighborhood in the city, seems to provide its sunny handouts and places to sit, eat and enjoy your table's company and soak in the local scene.  What is also of note, is that the scene is local and rarely do I ever feel I have got caught up in a purely tourist experience.

Speaking of local experiences, I feel the need to give my award for authenticity to the rural town of Swellendam - exactly half way between Cape Town and the Garden Route cities of George and Knysna.

The guidebook suggested that Swellendam, founded in 1742, is a picturesque small town. I am not so sure about picturesque, but I can vouch that it provides an authentic South African experience.  Its many preserved houses and buildings, including the grand Reformed Church to provide a pretty picture.  Equally, its simple restaurants serve well to feed and water the many locals and tourists driving between Cape Town the Garden Route Cities along the N2 highway. The serving counter and shop of the Old Gaol in Swellendam 

Beyond the pretty pictures, however, the town also presents a frank picture of a rural farming town of modest proportion and incomes.  It keeps what it has going and makes the most of it.  I found the town very relaxing, being not more or less than what it is.

At the Old Gaol, and yes, it was the town jail many years ago, we dined on locally backed bread, exceptionally delicious fresh pomegranate juice and "melktert" - a subtle custard tart.  All this on another open-air terrace shaded from the bright sunlight by 100 year old trees.

Note though that the most delicious melktert in the WHOLE world is available down the main road at the Old Mill Inn and restaurant. The Old Mill's version is lighter, and served warm.  And of course the experience is on its terrace shaded by trees and grape vines that provide a canopy of protection from Mr. Sun.

Knysna on the other hand, provides lots of sun, retail and outdoor dining but the overall experience for me proved largely middle-of-the-road.  Restaurants fit the criteria -sunny and bright with cheerful patrons - but often with less than sunny managers and staff.  

While my reviews of the Turbine Hotel can be found on TripAdvisor, I wondered broadly if this very pretty and special place was failing to articulate its [a] brand.  

Unlike Cape Town with its up market and cosmopolitan experience, and Swellandam with its down-to-Earth reality, Knysna offered spectacular scenery but with unimaginative eateries, dull, touristic retail, and hotels that lacked appeal, apart from offering a room.  View from one of many Tapas places on the Thesen Island waterfront

I was left wondering what exactly was the brand "Knysna" and longed to get back to the Cape Town. 

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