autumn_vinesAh, Autumn, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness… and cheese, and wine and olives, and all those good things that make one love living in the Cape.

It’s a fabulous time of year to be here:  the leaves start transforming into a riot of fiery colours, everything cools down and the boisterous sou’easter doesn’t rule the roost quite so often.

And then come the food festivals, as Capetonians look away from the beaches (however wistfully) and focus on the fabulous produce our local areas are able to provide.  

The following are a few of Mother City Living’s favourite autumn food festivals…

SA Cheese Festival (24-27 April ’09)

Bien Donne Farm, on the R45 between Paarl and Franschhoek.

This festival of all things cheese has become so popular that the organisers will no longer be selling tickets at the gate – you have to buy them in advance.  

'The Mall' at Cheese Festival '08

'The Mall' at Cheese Festival '08

This year you can look forward to seeing more new small cheeseries and to sampling  interesting cheeses such as Barbeque Feta, flavoured with spices and not the traditional herbs; a Yael – (Hebrew for goat) that is aged in grape skins and pips and Clairevaux’s red wine; goat’s milk cheese with chocolate, grappa and nut, or cheeses with green pepper corns or pecan nut.

Saturday and Sunday are likely to be jam-packed, so if you’re crowd-phobic (or want to be able to chat with cheesemakers) it’s best to go there either on the Friday (if you can take off from work) or on the Monday (a public holiday) – it’s cheaper, too.

The 2009 SA Cheese Festival runs from 24-27 April. Friday to Sunday 10am-6pm, Monday 10am-5pm. Tickets are available at Computicket or Checkers outlets:  R85 for Friday or Monday, R110 for Saturday or Sunday, R65 for seniors on all days, kids 12 and under enter for free.  Tasting glasses cost R10 each.

Riebeek Valley Olive Festival (1-3 May ’09)

Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel, Riebeek Valley.

olive festival 2009If you like outdoor festivals, where you wander from place to place, sampling as you go, this one is for you.  

This Olive Festival* takes place in the pretty Riebeek Valley which is lined with vineyards.  And, because it’s autumn, the display of colour can be quite spectacular.  

Then there’s the olives, of course – of which there will be plenty, in all shapes and sizes – as well as wine-tastings from local wine farms, live entertainment and a variety of traditional South African food offerings. 

It’s only about an hour’s drive out of the city, so definitely worth making a day-trip.

The 2009 Riebeek Valley Olive Festival runs from 1-3 May. There’s still no sign of the official program online, so it’s best to contact the organisers on 082 896 5022 or 083 299 7731 for more info.  Entrance to the festival itself is free, though you might have to pay to enter certain entertainment areas.

* The Prince Albert Olive Festival takes place over the same weekend, and is apparently a fantastic experience, but as it’s somewhat further away, it hasn’t been included in this list.

Cape Town Good Food & Wine Show (28-31 May ’09)  

CTICC, Cape Town.

Theobroma chocolates at Good Food & Wine Show '08

Theobroma chocolates at Good Food & Wine Show '08

The indoor variety of food festival is perhaps not quite as fun as those held in the fresh air, but there’s no doubting the fact that there will be plenty on offer for passionate foodies at this huge event.  

According to organisers, visitors will be “watching magic, tasting heaven, and learning from the masters of food, wine, gourmet travel and lifestyle” – a rather bold claim that shall require testing!

Highlights include cooking workshops by a number of local and international celebrity chefs, a selection of organic produce, and plenty of gourmet experiences to sample.

The 2009 Cape Town Good Food & Wine Show takes place from 28-31 May at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.  Thursday-Saturday: 10am-9pm; Sunday 10am-6pm.  Tickets are now available online: R75 for Adults; R35 for children under 12 & for pensioners.
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