Cape Fusion Tours specializes in the quirky; from candy floss pink cocktails to delectable afters. Their extensive knowledge of eats and treats, combined with their infectious love of the Cape insures a memorable day out. Pamela tells us more.
Please introduce yourself.
I am Pamela McOnie, the owner of Cape Fusion Tours.
Tell us about how Cape Fusion Tours started.
At the end of 2002 I moved down to Cape Town from Johannesburg. Cape Town is a magical place to live; you are surrounded by the sea, mountains, vines, artists and nature. Cape Town does not have jobs, as Johannesburg is the financial hub of the country. It is best to start your own business. Cape Fusion Tours came into being after I brainstormed all the things I loved – “Food, Wine, People, History, Travel and Psychology.” Naturally starting a food and wine travel company would mean that I would never really feel like I am working again?
I have loved every step of the journey. Over the years we grew into a family of six.
Initially we focused mainly on wine tours; we were the first in Cape Town to start a foodie walking tour. This tour has overtaken our business and now accounts for approximately 70% thereof.
Which tour would you recommend for first time visitors?
The first visit requires a minimum of four days to experience a taste of the destination. A week is better though!
Day 1 – Explore our Peninsula Region – until you drive out of the city you do not understand that we are surrounded by sea and mountains unless you meander along the mountain all the way to Cape Point, stopping to see the penguins.
DAY 2 – Explore our City, Table Mountain and the Waterfront.
As a foodie I would encourage you to do our foodie walking tour called The Cape Town Eats Tour. We explore the city from all sides, from the history through to our cultures, our local cultural cuisine and the modern artisanal food movement.
Take the Cable Car up Table Mountain or hike with a mountain guide.
Visit The V&A Waterfront for shopping (our favorite is the Watershed) and the amazing contemporary art gallery called Zeitz Mocca. Robben Island needs to be booked in advance.
DAY 3 -Winelands.
We have a large number of wine estates on Cape Town’s door step. Do explore the Stellenbosch region; it is home to some of the country’s top wines and the second oldest town in the country.
DAY 4 - At Play.
This is your leisure day. Visit the beach and enjoy a lovely long lunch on the Camps Bay beach area!
Have the picture perfect food found all over social media influenced the restaurant trade?
Yes. The pics form an integral part of an establishment’s marketing. People will come and try you out because they saw a delicious dish or someone they respect eating there, be it a foodie or a celebrity.
Any trends in dining and cuisine that you consider an absolute must?
There is a couple of trends; like the move away from impersonal dining. People enjoy connectivity and establishments that have a personality and most importantly interacts with visitors, be it the Chef, owner or manager.
The move away from fussy fine dining; diners want to taste and recognize what they are eating. I call it the Real Food Revolution. Simplification of dishes.
The farm to table supply chain management and Eco Activists; all are integrally linked. Both Chefs and consumers are demanding to know what is in their food and where it is from.
The rise of Veganism, this goes hand in hand with the Eco Activists, albeit a bit more extreme. Vegan numbers are rising. Restaurants failing to accommodate this market are going to find themselves losing a large number of bookings.
Sweden is known for green living, with Stockholm having a variety of innovative restaurants. What do you think local restaurants could learn from them?
Trends become global extremely fast these days. It is wonderful to have the trend setters to learn from. They are the champions at local sourcing and foraging. It is great that many of the Chefs around the world have followed their trend. They have been another contributor to the voice that asks consumers to think about the origin of their food and the footprint it leaves behind.
Are there any coffee tours on offer in Cape Town?
I thought of launching one! However how many cups of coffee can the average person drink in the morning? If each Coffee establishment wanted you to try 5 or 6 coffees and you then went to 4 coffee roasters……… As such we have built coffee stops into our food tour to balance the coffee!
Name your all time favorite restaurant.
Olympia Café in Kalk Bay, Cape Town. The fish is straight from the fishing harbour across the road and mussels from 2 hours up our coastline. Insanely fresh. No frills. Just simple amazing food.
Do you prefer red or white wine and is wine and food pairing essential?
Oddly enough I am a weather wine drinker; White wine, Bubbles and Rose in summer. Red wines in winter. I don’t believe in rules for dining. Sometimes a beer is the best combo with slow cooked brisket. However when you do pair the perfect wine with a dish; it does raise the experience up to a whole new level!
Adding salt to your meal before tasting is considered rude. Do you have any pet peeves when dining out?
Nope. I just don’t like very slow service. I like to order a drink and start relaxing and enjoying the experience.
Describe what you ate during your most delicious dinner.
There have been so many dinners! There were two pivotal foodie moments. When I tasted olive oil in Italy on a platter of grilled zucchini and aubergine, age 16. I had never had olive oil and had never enjoyed vegetables. We grew up with soft boiled vegetables. I spent my life hiding the vegetables in serviettes and flushing them. I realized that vegetables could be delicious and that I would be addicted to olive oil for the rest of my life. I put olive oil on everything.
I had my first fresh truffles sliced on a pizza in Italy at age 19. The earth literally stopped for me. That was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten in my life.
Everyone has to eat, are you an adventurous eater, who would try anything on the menu?
Nooooo. Sadly I am not that brave. I draw the line at guinea pigs and caterpillars.
Do you have a bucket list foodie destination?
Many – I have so much more of the world to explore!! Cambodia. Japan. Mexico. Peru. Argentina.
Do you have any Christmas food traditions that you follow?
Not many. We have a very English style Xmas lunch. In the heat of summer we are usually cooking roast turkey, gammons, roast potatoes, peas ……etc. The only traditional family recipe that usually comes out is a mustard jelly ring that is eaten with the gammon. This recipe has been passed down in the family.
What are your future plans?
I plan to launch another two food tours in Cape Town. Our main tour is in the city. I would like the other two to be based in “foodie hoods” i.e. slightly off the beaten usual tourist track.
Name your favorite quote or mantra to live by.
You will be much more successful in life if you follow your dreams and your passions.
I truly believe that if you turn your work into your happy place, your passion will shine through.