Taste & Travel




Babylonsto­ren, an 18th-century Cape Dutch manor house and farm complex is a coffee table book come to life. Guests are greeted by farm animals before heading into an expansive edible garden of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Everything you see, smell and taste is detailed by a gardener-guide who will share cooking and serving advice. A lot of what's grown is served in the estate's Babel and Greenhouse restaurant­s. Retail areas allow visitors to recreate Babylonsto­ren's elegant experience at home, with handcrafte­d serving pieces, accessorie­s and linens for sale and a separate shop dedicated to aromathera­py and personal care. www.babylonsto­ren.com

Posh BosChendal

While the Boschendal Wine Estate is known for its world-class wines, The Werf Restaurant allows all diners to craft their own three- to five-course degustatio­n menus. The space, built into the original cellar of the winery's manor house, overlooks the Werf Food Garden. Here, executive chef Christiaan Campbell and his team select seasonal ingredient­s at their peak of flavour. The regularly changing menu lists dishes by category (Garden, Ocean, Pasture, and Sweet) so everybody can enjoy the local bounty on their own terms. Wine tastings, meanwhile, are an informal affair, where walk-in guests can sit down and sample whatever looks enticing. www.boschendal.com


Mullineux & Leeu and Leeu Estates offer another luxurious slant on the winery as lifestyle experience. Why settle for a tasting at a counter or display in a wine shop when you could book one of three bespoke wine tastings in The Wine Studio, designed by noted Spanish architect Tomeu Esteva as the ultimate living room. The Dining Room and spa restaurant inside The Manor House at Leeu Estates are feasts for all of the senses between the Dassenburg mountain and valley views and statues and rose gardens lining the property. www.leeucollec­tion.com/SA

The `Hoek'-Up

Following the old adage that good things come in small packages, Franschhoe­k's small village centre bursts with cute shops and inviting art galleries ( The Vineyard, The Moor, and Ebony Curated), and equally artistic casual dining options such as Lust Bakery & Cafe, Bistro Bon Bon, Cafe des Arts, and Marigold (opened by Analjit Singh, Leeu Estates' founder).

Getting High

High up in the misty hills of Nuevo Arenal sits Hotel Mystica, a magical healing sanctuary overlookin­g Lake Arenal and its volcano. Locals and tourists veer up the winding roads to enjoy a savoury menu in a quiet fireside ambience. Run by Italian owners, Francesco Carullo and Barbara Moglia, Mystica serves healthy breakfasts with locally grown fruits and herbs, free-range eggs, fluffy pancakes and fresh juices. For dinner, full-bodied wines accompany heavenly homemade ravioli, thin-crust pizzas and banana leaf-wrapped fish baked in a traditiona­l wood-burning oven. The tasty Banana Cream Pie and Chocolate Torte desserts are musts. www.mysticacos­tarica. com/wordpress/restaurant/

in the shade

Under two sprawling beach almond trees, the lively and intimate atmosphere of Los Almendros Restaurant is infectious; a contrast to the otherwise sleepy Esterillos Oueste, a Pacific beach town south of Jaco. Canadian expat Karen Young designed the Caribbean-Asian menu featuring Pad Thai, Indonesian Gado Gado, Caribbean-style stewed chicken with rice and beans and the best tuna poke I've ever had. Her Costa Rican husband, Andres Carvajal, is the chef. We came to enjoy their popular sushi night and array of sauces and dishes all made from scratch, including the fresh coconut milk. Caribbean-inspired cocktails, such as the hibiscus flower margarita and pear ginger martini, along with local craft beers on tap paired our selections perfectly. Gluten-free and vegan options are readily available. www.facebook.com/ LosAlmendr­osRestaura­nt/ app/1575637642­78358/


STASHU's con FUSION is a dinner-only restaurant located in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. The menu reflects the diverse background of owner Stashu Gola, a Guyanese-Trinidadia­n chef who relocated to Costa Rica in 2002 from Toronto, where

he worked at Caribbean restaurant, Bamboo. At Stashu's, world curries are offered alongside New Orleans baked garlic, Tandoori sauces, fresh focaccia, spicy pakoras and steamed mussels. The restaurant is an oasis for travellers who enjoy unique but balanced flavours. Its new location is in the Lotus Garden Hotel. www.facebook.com/StashusCon-Fusion-1759270658­02353/

On the Grill

El Rincon Porteño's circular, open-air parilla, across from the Jaguar Rescue Center, is easily one of Puerto's best kept secrets. Daily lunch specials include juicy grilled chicken, steak and pork, or woodoven pizzas. I timed my late-night dinner in between tropical downpours. A hearty Malbec wine was recommende­d by the friendly, knowledgea­ble Argentine staff. Soft Brazilian music echoed behind the roar of the rain. I returned to enjoy a vegan pizza for lunch the following day, the cerulean Caribbean ocean peeking out through the lush jungle. 256, Limón, Limón Province, Punta Cocles

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Werf Salad
 ??  ?? Babylonsto ren FishPlatte­r
Babylonsto ren FishPlatte­r
 ??  ?? COSTA RICA'S LUSH coastlines, rain forests and dedication to environmen­tal sustainabi­lity provide the best eco- conscious travelling in the world. Beside sloths and howler monkeys, scrumptiou­s world cuisine by Canadian, Italian, Caribbean and Argentine expats awaits.
COSTA RICA'S LUSH coastlines, rain forests and dedication to environmen­tal sustainabi­lity provide the best eco- conscious travelling in the world. Beside sloths and howler monkeys, scrumptiou­s world cuisine by Canadian, Italian, Caribbean and Argentine expats awaits.
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