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Dinner at 96 Winery Road (new small plates menu)

9 Nov

One of our favourite plates of the day: 96 Winery Road’s popular “Hollandse Pepper Fillet”.

96 Winery Road has been a popular and prominent family restaurant in the Winelands for the past 24 years. Established in 1996 on Winery Road off the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, they’ve always been known to serve “real food”, aspiring to the apt definition by Nigel Slater: “By ‘Real Food’ I mean big flavoured, unpretentious cooking. Good ingredients made into something worth eating. Nothing fancy, nothing extravagant, nothing careless or slapdash, just nice uncomplicated food. Simple food cooked with care and generosity.” With their characteristic thatched roof, fireplace and friendly service staff, the team from 96 Winery Road has remained steadfast throughout lockdown, reopening their doors recently with an adapted small plates menu suited to the changing needs of their loyal customers.

The thatched entrance to 96 Winery Road.

My family and I were invited to experience this brand new menu last week and I’m so happy to be sharing our dinner in pictures. Senior Sous Chef Ryan Zaayman and his team treated us to no less than 8 different dishes from the small plates menu (4 plates per person). The menu still contains some of 96 Winery Road’s most popular items like the “Hollandse fillet” smothered in a punchy black peppercorn sauce and served with perfectly golden fries topped with grated parmigiano, but they’ve also added some new items like the “new style kabeljou sashimi” with Ponzu and Japanese mayo – both our favourite dishes of the day. Service is friendly and swift, and we enjoyed a series of fantastic Ken Forrester wines per glass, generously served, of which the wooded Old Vine Chenin Blanc was my personal favourite. Do check out their carafé wine menu, available per 250ml and 500ml.

96 Winery Road is not what you’d call a “trendy hotspot”, but there’s a good reason why they have remained a local favourite and a beacon on the very competitive Winelands restaurant scene for the past 24 years: serving really delicious food paired with great wine, consistently doing what they believe in with skill and integrity.

Small Plates Menu: 2 plates – R210 | 3 plates – R300 | 4 plates – R390 (choose 2, 3 or 4 plates per person)

Panko crumbed Dalewood brie, wild rocket, spicy bacon jam

New style sashimi, Ponzu, fresh ginger, Japanese mayo, coriander, sesame oil

Smoked kudu carpaccio, basil, Grana Padano, Evoo, pistachio nuts

Slow roasted pork belly, baby fennel and apple salad, red wine jus vinaigrette

“Hollandse” pepper fillet”, peppercorn and brandy cream

Confit duck, Korean BBQ sauce, glass noodles spring onion, cashew nuts

Wagyu slider, blue brie, tomato chutney, rocket, coleslaw

Grilled artichoke and baby veg salad, Aioli

Spinach and Ricotta tortellini, exotic mushrooms, beurre noisette, sage

Loin of lamb, hummus, Dukkha, lamb jus, harissa crumble

Prime cut of Cape Wagyu beef, supplement – R150

Desserts:

Crème brulée

Chocolate mousse, meringue shards, strawberries

Lemon tart, raspberry sorbet

A simple, warm interior of wooden tables and chairs, and tiled floors.

New style sashimi, Ponzu, fresh ginger, Japanese mayo, coriander, sesame oil.

Panko crumbed Dalewood brie, wild rocket, spicy bacon jam.

Confit duck, Korean BBQ sauce, glass noodles spring onion, cashew nuts.

Spinach and Ricotta tortellini, exotic mushrooms, beurre noisette, sage.

We enjoyed our small plates menu each with a different wine from Ken Forrester. This is the Renegade.

Loin of lamb, hummus, Dukkha, lamb jus, harissa crumble.

Lemon tart with raspberry sorbet and in the back a plate of chocolate mousse with meringue chards and fresh strawberries.

Senior Sous Chef Ryan Zaayman, who has been with 96 Winery Road since 2017.

Address:

96 Winery Road Restaurant
Winery Road
Zandberg Farm

96 Winery Road is open seven days a week. In the mornings, they serve freshly-brewed coffee and bakes from the oven including stuffed croissants. The new Small Plates menu is available daily for lunch, and for dinner Wednesday to Saturday.

Open times:

Deli – daily from 9h00
Breakfast – Served until 11:00, last orders in at 10:30
Lunch – daily from 12h00 to 15h00
Dinner – Wednesday to Saturday 18h00 to 21h00

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#SupportStellenbosch: a weekend with Kunjani, Fat Butcher, Mason Farming, Koelenhof, Villiera, Joostenberg and Knorhoek

20 Sep

The Stellenbosch hospitality and tourism communities have reopened with wide open arms after a devastating few months due to Covid-19 restrictions and lockdown in South Africa. Most of these establishments are now dependent on the support of locals, which will hopefully carry them through the following few months towards a brighter future. Visit Stellenbosch has come up with a fresh new rewards campaign – #SupportStellenbosch – aiming to stimulate our tourism economy and incentivise our residents to love where they live and experience local. The Support Stellenbosch campaign was specifically designed to call on residents to support local businesses, experience Stellenbosch as tourists and inspire their networks to discover what Stellenbosch has to offer, in times of COVID-19 and beyond.

Additionally, they’ve started the Support Stellenbosch Restaurant Rewards Programme, where restaurant patrons paying any bill over R200 with SnapScan will receive a voucher to the value of 50% of their bill (capped at a maximum of R400) to be redeemed at any participating restaurant within the campaign period. It will not cost restaurants any money to benefit from this campaign. A Restaurant Recovery Fund will finance the reward vouchers and they aim to raise R1.5M, donated by various stakeholders, corporates, and other benefactors. The duration of the campaign will be determined by the amount raised for this fund.

How does the restaurant reward voucher system work?

SnapScan manages the reward voucher system. For every SnapScan transaction of R200 or more, at any participating restaurant, a 50% voucher to the maximum of R400, will be issued to the user’s SnapScan wallet within 48 hours of the transaction. The wallet can be used to pay for future dining experiences during the campaign, and only at the participating restaurants, therefore keeping the funds within the local economy. The full amount of the SnapScan transaction will be transferred to the restaurant, and the reward portion will be claimed from the Restaurant Recovery Fund by SnapScan.

Visit Stellenbosch invited me and my family to explore a few Stellenbosch destinations last weekend, and to share our experiences with you, encouraging more locals (like us) to support our beautiful town and all that it has to offer. There are so many world class experiences at discounted rates available to us all in September and beyond, and our support will make a real difference to the industry as a whole.

Take a look at our weekend in pictures below, and be sure to follow the hashtag #SupportStellenbosch on social media for more ideas and offers. We stayed over at Kunjani Wines guest cottages including breakfast at their restaurant, we had a braai box from The Fat Butcher for dinner accompanied by ‘n farm produce hamper from Mason Farming, we did a wine & sorbet tasting at Koelenhof, we did a tasting and game drive at Villiera, enjoyed lunch at Joostenberg Bistro and another lunch at Knorhoek Wine Estate. We were bowled over by the genuine hospitality, passionate staff, quality offerings, scrumptious food and breathtaking scenery during our weekend. I am so proud to be a Stellenbosch local, and so enthusiastic about sharing more of this town and all it has to offer with you. I hope you will go on your own adventure, supporting Stellenbosch, soon.

 

What a view at sunset from Kunjani’s Shiraz Cottage front porch, where we stayed.

Thank you Visit Stellenbosch and all of the participating destinations for hosting us and for showing us once again how fabulous it is to play, eat and drink right here where we live – the best destinations, restaurants and experiences right here around us. Let’s support Stellenbosch!

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Celebrating Bastille Festival with Leopard’s Leap

5 Jul

Leopard’s Leap’s Bastille Festival delivery menu for two, available online at R365 (excl wine and dessert).

 

Franschhoek’s annual Bastille Festival is taking place virtually this year, making room for everyone to enjoy the festival from a safe distance within Covid-19 circumstances. Leopard’s Leap has joined in the French-inspired fun with a delivery menu from their popular rotisserie restaurant. They sent me this week’s classic French menu for two, consisting of the following (R365 for two, available 1-11 July 2020):

Deboned and rolled beef neck bourguignon

Lyonnaise potatoes

Dalewood Camembert (60g) with garlic, parsley, tarragon, extra virgin olive oil and chardonnay

Freshly baked sour dough bread

Grilled and marinated ratatouille vegetables with rosemary and tomatoes

Add your choice of dessert at an extra cost, or kids pizza meals – we tried the Pear, muscat and lemon clafouti with crème fraiche (R60 for two), an incredibly light crumb with the softest fruit, as well as the BBQ Pork Pizza (R85).

We couldn’t help but lay a table to enjoy this feast! What a delightful way to experience some local French flair in the comfort of your own home. Take a look at my pictures:

Two of Leopard’s Leap’s wines that we enjoyed as part of this feast: The Culinaria Pinot Noir Chardonnay (R110) and the Culinaria Grand Vin (R125) – both available for purchase online.

 

Deboned and rolled beef neck bourguignon – meltingly tender and boneless, rich and hearty. I added some of my own rocket leaves for a touch of green.

 

Perfectly golden Lyonnaise potatoes.

 

Grilled and marinated ratatouille vegetables with rosemary and oven dried tomatoes. The portions were very generous – there were two tubs like these, but I only plated one.

 

A beautiful medium-size freshly baked sourdough loaf with butter – perfect to enjoy with the baked camembert.

 

Such a simple addition, but so stellar: baked Dalewood Camembert (60g) with garlic, parsley, tarragon, extra virgin olive oil and chardonnay.

 

Sweet endings with the most delightfully light and moist pear clafoutis with crème fraiche. French simplicity at its finest.

 

Leopard’s Leap’s French-inspired Culinaria wine range is also available for purchase online – free shipping on any online order of 6 bottles or more, and you receive a free recipe booklet (valid 1-11 July 2020). The wines are all designed to be exceptional food partners.

Leopard’s Leap’s Rotisserie Restaurant will reopen for both Bastille Festival weekends (Fri-Sun, 09h00-16h00, 3-5 July and 10-12 July 2020) – the same menu that’s available for delivery. They’ve taken all the necessary safety measures, and luckily they have a lot of open spaces and fresh air.

Follow #FHKBastilleFest to see all the French festivities taking place until 11th July 2020, and check out Leopard’s Leap’s Facebook page.

 

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Lunch at the recently transformed Haute Cabrière

18 Mar

25 Years since the Von Arnim family launched their iconic Haute Cabrière cellar, the destination has transformed into a lighter, more modern, multi-purpose, world-class space. The renovation journey was aimed at building on the foundation of the past 25 years, and setting the scene for the next.

I was recently invited to experience the transformed Haute Cabrière dining area. On a bright Sunday, we took a seat for lunch. Take a look at our experience in pictures below (see a sample menu here). Chef Nic van Wyk is still at the helm of the kitchen, serving French-inspired bistro-style food with a strong focus on local ingredients. His food has the most perfect balance between deep and fresh flavours – almost like the best of rich French and lighter Mediterranean cooking. Generously portioned main courses, reasonably priced throughout considering the world class location. The warm almond cake is a thing of beauty – I could have finished three of those. Service is swift and friendly, and our waiter recommended excellent wine pairings with every dish.

I am in awe of the clever design at the transformed Haute Cabrière. It is incredible that you can build a large freestanding space right in front of the existing cellar and restaurant, and make it feel more open, more modern, more accessible. The amount of light that comes into the new space is fantastic, and it allows you to fully admire the breathtaking views from all angles, floor to ceiling. When weather permits, the glass panels can be opened up completely for an even more spacious feeling without any barriers to the surrounding natural scenery. The existing “underground” space is now utilized as a tasting room and deli, and feels quietly private, more spacious than before, with a newfound serenity.

Left: A friendly reception. Right: Guests reclining next to the reception area on soft seating, with the destination’s iconic view as a backdrop.

 

Left: Welcomed with a glass of Haute Cabrière MCC Brut. Right: The view from our table next to the floor-to-ceiling glass “walls”.

 

Left: House-baked sour dough bread, tomato jam and butter. Right: Simplicity rules with a heavenly slice of buttered bread and tomato jam to start with.

 

Schalk’s starter: Cured tuna, creamy horseradish and herb vinaigrette. Fresh and punchy flavours.

 

My starter: Steak tartare, caper, brandy and tabasco mayonnaise, croutes. A popular classic – I really enjoyed their interpretation.

 

Schalk’s main course: Beef sirloin, brown onion, garlic and lemon sauce, duck fat potatoes, garden greens. French bistro cooking at its finest.

 

My main course: Pan-fried linefish, chargrilled and marinated courgettes, tomato and spring onion salsa, herb-salt chips. Fresh and light Mediterranean flavours, and generously portioned silverfish fillets.

 

Left: Trio of sorbet (berry, stone fruit and mango) – delightfully fresh. Right: A perfect ending with dessert – the iconic Haute Cabrière Ratafia.

 

My dessert: Warm almond cake, amaretto ice cream. My favourite dish of the day. Exquisite flavours with a soft and gooey texture.

 

Modern, open, semi-industrial spaces inside the new dining area. The feeling is light, accessible, welcoming.

 

Leaving Haute Cabrière from the old entrance, walking in the space left open between the old cellar and the new dining area.

 

Do take the time to visit Haute Cabrière and experience everything it has to offer for yourself. It’s the best of Franschhoek’s views and premium hospitality within a very laid-back environment where time almost stands still, and without the hassle of finding parking in the middle of town.

Haute Cabrière is situated on the Franschhoek Pass, Franschhoek. From the a la carte menu, prices range between R90-R120 for starters, R155-R230 for mains and R40-85 for dessert. Pre-starter and cheese course also available on the menu.

Update: New operating hours during Covid-19 restrictions:

Monday – Saturday: 10h00-17h00

Closed: Sunday and Public Holidays

 

Offering: 

Bakery & Deli 10h00 – 17h00

Tapas from 11h00 – 16h00

À la carte 12h00 – 16h00

Wine tasting and sales 10h00 – 17h00

Breakfast is usually available from Monday to Saturday from 08h00 to 11h00, but in light of the current Covid-19 climate, no breakfast will be served until further notice.

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Lunch at Monneaux Restaurant

14 Jan

Some of the dishes on Monneaux Restaurant’s summer menu 2019/2020. Photograph courtesy of Franschhoek Country House (FCH).

 

At the beginning of December 2019, I was invited to visit Franschhoek Country House & Villas for a first hand experience of their recently reimagined Monneaux Restaurant. We stayed for a night in one of the hotel suites suitable for a small family – a spacious king size bedroom with separate sitting room (including sleeper couch) and large bathroom with window views of the lawn and swimming pools.

Boutique hotel and pool view. Photograph courtesy of FCH.

 

Hotel suite interior. Photograph courtesy of FCH.

 

Beautiful gardens all over the property. Photograph courtesy of FCH.

 

At first sight, the property is inspired by the charming French countryside – cobbled walkways, quaint window shutters, various water features, lemon installations, lush lawns and manicured gardens, incredible mountain & vineyard views. Monneaux Restaurant is set adjacent to the luxurious five-star Franschhoek Country House & Villas boutique hotel. The restaurant has recently reconceptualised its dining offering “from pass to plate”, as well as introducing self-sustainable initiatives and a hyper-local focus at every stage of the culinary chain. The driving force behind these inspired changes is chef Calvin Metior, who was appointed as Executive Chef in September 2019.  After working with renowned chef Eric Bulpitt at La Motte, his most recent position, Calvin says his mind and perspective were opened to a new world of cooking.

Chef Calvin Metior. Photograph courtesy of FCH.

 

“Having the freedom to dream, to make my concepts a reality and to produce my own food is incredible. To be able to do so in this beautiful country-style setting and surrounded by so much natural inspiration and superb produce in the Cape Winelands, is a dream come true,” says chef Calvin.

He’s also fiercely passionate about supporting local producers, thus keeping the restaurant’s carbon footprint to a minimum and improving self-sustainability. Micro gardens have been established throughout the property, which will produce a rotating supply of fresh herbs and vegetables. In the kitchen, Calvin and his team has started making their own miso, fermented mustard, hot sauces and fish sauce, smoking and curing their own meat and fish, making charcuterie from scratch, and dry and wet ageing of fish and meat.

Chef Calvin Metior in the kitchen, plating artfully. Photograph courtesy of FCH.

 

Restaurant interior opening up to a leafy courtyard. Photograph courtesy of FCH.

 

The dappled courtyard at Monneaux Restaurant. Photograph courtesy of FCH.

 

Ready for our lunch experience at Monneaux Restaurant.

 

Monneaux Restaurant’s variety of beautiful seating areas provides choices to suit all preferences. The outdoor fountain terrace, beneath the dappled shade of a spreading pepper tree, is ideal for lazy summer lunches and sundowners, and al fresco dinners beneath twinkling fairy lights on balmy evenings. The restaurant’s interior is discretely divided into three individual dining rooms, creating an intimate atmosphere.

“Calvin brings along impressive skill, passion and limitless creativity, and shares our vision of elevating Monneaux to an exciting new level,” says Franschhoek Country House & Villas owner Jean-Pierre Snyman. “In the culinary hub of Franschhoek, it’s important to differentiate and develop, whilst continuing to offer quality and authenticity. We believe that our new offering truly sets the Monneaux Restaurant apart as a must-visit dining destination and we look forward to welcoming guests to enjoy the transformation with us.”

Take a look at our lunch experience in images below. Chef Calvin’s starters were the absolute highlight of our day: aged beef tartare and local caught skipjack – both dishes leaving you bowled over with punchy flavour; delightfully inspired food that will set him apart in his new role at Monneaux. His plating is playful yet considered. Service is seamless with a deep sense of authentic Franschhoek county-style hospitality. Pricing is reasonable considering the setting, and portions are generous. A varied local & international wine list with many options by the glass is available, with pricing options to suit most diner’s pockets.

Monneaux Restaurant – with chef Calvin Metior at the helm – promises to be a dining destination to discover and revisit in 2020.

For reservations and enquiries, contact: (+27)21-876 3386 or email info@fch.co.za.

Trading hours: Open 7 days a week for lunch (12h00-14h30) and dinner (18h30-21h30).

(Please take note that menus change regularly as Monneaux Restaurant only use the freshest seasonal produce. The most recent menu can be e-mailed by their management on request.)

Note: Photographs credited as supplied, where applicable. All others were taken by me during our visit, on location.

To start with, from the “snacks” menu: chicken liver parfait, butter and ciabatta.

 

From the “small plates” menu (also available as a main course): aged beef tartar coal emulsion, fermented mustard, burnt onion paste.

 

From the “small plates” menu: local caught skipjack, sesame, lime, wasabi, avo.

 

From the “mains” menu: hay smoked oak valley beef short rib, carrot, dukkha, dill.

 

From the “desserts” menu: valrhona dark chocolate, passionfruit, coconut, honeycomb.

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Lunch at Foxcroft

26 Nov

Chef Proprietor Glen Foxcroft Williams. Photography by Claire Gunn.

 

I was recently invited to experience the spring set menu at Foxcroft in Constantia, that was recently extended to mid December 2019. Having never been there before, I jumped at the opportunity to take a bite out of this Eat Out Top 30 restaurant.

It’s been three years since Foxcroft burst onto the Cape Town restaurant scene and it has since become a regular favourite with locals and international guests alike. Chef Proprietor Glen Foxcroft Williams has crafted out a more casual approach than fine dining, but with the same intensity and thoughtfulness. He believes in a carefully structured farm to table offering, utilising the freshest seasonal ingredients and showcasing them on the plate to deliver an experience with finesse and exceptional flavour.

Foxcroft’s interior, as photographed by Claire Gunn.

 

The menu reflects this philosophy and is constantly renewed. “Our menu has become a lot more streamlined in terms of choice, and varied in inspiration, with a greater focus on sustainability than we have ever put forward.” says Chef Glen. “It reflects the most hyper-seasonal, fleeting produce that usually wouldn’t be put on the menu because they have such short seasons. Our menu reflects global inspiration and a commitment to sustainable, local produce,” explains Chef Glen. “We feel that we’re cooking the best food we ever have, and are glad to still be on a path of growth and evolution that we feel will stand the test of time.”

Foxcroft is a must-visit destination for serious wine lovers, now also showcasing rare and unique hand-picked wine pairings for all of their menus. The team’s love of wine is also reflected in their successful winemaker’s dinner series collaborations, where diners enjoy a five-course chef’s menu paired with a first-class cellar’s hand-picked wines.

The open kitchen at Foxcroft. Photography by Claire Gunn.

 

Until mid December 2019, Foxcroft’s spring lunch special is running from Monday to Sunday (R345 for four courses or R595 with wine pairing). The menu consists of bread, two tapas courses, a main course and a dessert (each course having an option of three items to choose from). See my pictures below (a few photos also supplied by Foxcroft’s management – credit given to Claire Gunn where applicable) with comments on the items that I had. The restaurant is casually high end – informal but premium, with contemporary masculine wooden furniture and rich leather accents. The outside seating area is a lush reflection of leafy Constantia. With a really cool playlist, a bustling lunch vibe and fantastic food revealing punchy flavours and skilful plating, this is a place that I’d love to frequent way more often. The open kitchen reveals a calm and professional team, and front of house service is immaculate. I cannot recommend the wine pairings highly enough – they were an absolute highlight.

Note: Menu might change according to seasonality and availability.

 

SPRING SPECIAL SAMPLE MENU from Foxcroft’s website:
Foxcroft bread, 2 tapas, 1 main course, 1 dessert
***
Foxcroft Oyster
R30 each

First
Yellowfin Tuna
Salsa macha, whipped avocado, jalapeno, tostada
~ Silvervis Smiley Chenin N.V. ~

Guinea Fowl Ballotine
Chicken skin, dill, beats, sage sable
~ Spiderpig Grenache Noir 2018 ~

Carrot hummus
Roasted feta, shaved carrot, Baharat, lavash
~ Oldenburg Viognier 2018 ~

Second
West Coast Mussels
Pickled squid, succotash, mayu oil, chowder
~ Arendsig Chardonnay 2018 ~

Braised Beef Shin
Polenta, burnt rosemary velouté
~ Mullineux Kloof Street Rouge 2017 ~

Tandoori Turnips
Lemon pickle, curry leaf, goats labneh, chickpea crisp
~ City on a Hill Muscat 2018 ~

Main
Sustainable Linefish
Sweet potato, fennel, chorizo, smoked tomato
~ Luddite Saboteur 2017 ~

Oak Valley Pork
Kimchi, charred cabbage, spicy peanuts
~ Thorne & Daughters Copper Pot 2018 ~

Karoo Lamb
Sunchoke, spiced apricot, burnt onion, buckwheat
~ Fable Mountain Night Sky 2014 ~

Dessert
Malt Cake
Caramel banana, Kidavoa 50%, malted milk
~ Thelema Vin de Hel 2014 ~

Pear
Poached & roasted, Bostock, honey, rooibos, crème fraiche
~ Miles Mossop Kika 2017 ~

Aged Boerenkaas
Forest Phantom, mushroom, quince, oat biscuits
~ Catherine Marshall Myriad 2009 ~

Foxcroft bread course – baked in cast iron mini-pans and filled with a delightful middle layer of melted herbed butter.

 

My first course: Carrot hummus, roasted feta, shaved carrot, Baharat, lavash. Paired with Oldenburg Viognier 2018. A bold and spicy dish, rich in textures.

 

Schalk’s first course: Yellowfin Tuna, salsa macha, whipped avocado, jalapeno, tostada. Paired with Silvervis Smiley Chenin N.V. (Photography by Claire Gunn.)

 

Our first class waitress, Amelia, as photographed by Claire Gunn.

 

Schalk’s second course: Tandoori Turnips, lemon pickle, curry leaf, goats labneh, chickpea crisp. Paired with City on a Hill Muscat 2018.

 

My second course: West Coast Mussels, pickled squid, succotash, mayu oil, chowder. Paired with Arendsig Chardonnay 2018. This dish blew me away completely, and was my highlight of the day. Sweet and roasted flavours of the mielies underneath, creamy delicate seafood flavours, incredibly comforting and delicious. Immaculate wine pairing too.

 

My main course: Sustainable Linefish, wweet potato, fennel, chorizo, smoked tomato. Paired with Luddite Saboteur 2017. This is a great example of seasonal produce being cooked with integrity and finesse. The smoked tomato sauce was a fantastic addition, and I now want it all summer long instead of ketchup or mayo on everything.

 

Schalk’s main course: Karoo Lamb, sunchoke, spiced apricot, burnt onion, buckwheat. Paired with Fable Mountain Night Sky 2014. Again, a spot-on pairing of a fantastic wine that we discovered for the first time, and one that we’ll certainly look up in future.

 

My dessert: Malt Cake Caramel banana, Kidavoa 50%, malted milk. Paired with the incredible Thelema Vin de Hel 2014. This is a heavenly dessert, perfect for lovers of dense, silky textures and deep, caramelized flavours. Also one of my favourite courses of the day.

 

Schalk’s dessert: Karoo Blue, preserved figs, walnuts. Paired with Eikendal Classique. A phenomenal cheese-course dessert, and again a very successful pairing.

 

Thank you to Chef Glen and the team of Foxcroft for one of our most memorable meals and wine pairings of 2019. We cannot wait to be back soon. Constantia is once again proving to be a hot spot for incredible food, service and hospitality. Book online and make sure you don’t miss out this summer.

Foxcroft is a reservation-driven restaurant serving lunch and dinner daily.

Address: Shop 8, High Constantia Centre, Constantia.

Tel: (021) 202 3304

reservations@foxcroft.co.za

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Lunch at Gåte Restaurant, Quoin Rock

11 Oct

One of the lunch courses at Gåte Restaurant, Quoin Rock.

 

A few weeks ago I was invited to visit Gåte Restaurant at Quoin Rock on the Knorhoek Road outside Stellenbosch. I’ve heard quite a bit about this upmarket, modern estate – the Ukranian Gayduk family bought the property in 2012, and reopened it in 2018 after 6 years of careful renovation and restoration. The estate now boasts a very modern wine lounge, function venue, restaurant and revamped manor house accommodation facilities.

Gåte Restaurant is headed by chef Nicole Loubser who gained experience at JAN Restaurant in Nice, France. We sat down for lunch in their impressive space, and what followed can be described as a premium culinary adventure filled with surprises, paired with fabulous wines. The 6-course set lunch experience is called “Journey around the world” (R800, or R1100 with wine pairing – pairing highly recommended). Take a look at the menu:

Here’s our experience in pictures. Chef Nicole and her team certainly lives up to the “dialogue between art, tradition and technical craft” that they’ve set out to deliver. Service is efficient, smooth and friendly and diners can be sure of an all round luxurious, premium experience. This is certainly not an everyday eatery, but for special occasions and those in search of the best new offerings it will impress and delight.

 

The entrance to Gåte Restaurant at Quoin Rock.

 

The partly shaded restaurant terrace, also used for wine tastings.

 

Cream leather chairs and modern wooden accents coupled with large glass window-walls provide a modern, comfortable environment with incredible vineyard & mountain views.

 

 

Caffe Macchiato with Gate Cigar. The “macchiato” is a tomato soup with basil foam, the “cigar” is a cleverly made potato bread stick, and the “ash tray” is a delicious edible mousse with flavoured powders and paprika.

 

The potato flour “cigar” bread stick steals the show. Beautiful!

 

 

Gate`s signature Saldanha Bay Oysters – beautifully presented on fresh sea grass and delicious served with their MCC.

 

 

Gate`s signature Caprese Salad: fior di latte disguised as tomatoes, a frozen milky mozzarella dome, tomato flavoured meringue, basil oil – what a clever spin on a traditional Italian favourite. Served with spongy bright green basil bread.

 

 

 

Lamb croquette, cranberry and smoked cheese tuile.

 

 

Oryx meat with smoked potato pure and veggies – my favourite dish of the day. Stunning flavours, expertly prepared and plated.

 

Pina Colada dessert with coconut – a light, delicate ending to the journey.

 

We took a quick tour through the kitchen to meet chef Nicole and her young team. The vibe in the kitchen was very calm and tranquil, and the facilities were impressive, spacious and modern.

 

 

A quick visit to the cigar lounge (without having cigars) to admire the views. Schalk has a special affinity for a Chesterfield couch.

 

The Helderberg mountains and surrounding vineyards provides an awe inspiring backdrop to the experience at Quoin Rock.

 

Contact Gåte Restaurant: Tel: +27 21 888 4750 / gate@quoinrock.co.za

Address: Quoin Rock Wine Estate, Knorhoek Road, Knorhoek Valley, Stellenbosch, 7600

Lunch: Tues – Sun, 12:00 – 14:00 (6-course at R800 excl. wine pairing)
Dinner: Tues – Sat, 18:00 till late (7-course at R1000/person excl. wine pairing, or 14 course/person at R1600 excl. wine pairing)

Thank you to the Gåte team for hosting us.

 

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Babylonstoren launches 12-year-old balsamic vinegar (video)

26 Sep

My favourite way of enjoying aged balsamic vinegar is with a classic caprese salad – fresh tomato, fior di latte (or bocconcini, in this case), fresh basil, salt flakes, the very best extra virgin olive olive oil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Food from the heavens.

 

I had the privilege of recently visiting Babylonstoren for an up-close look at the bottling of their newly released balsamic vinegar. The team at Babylonstoren have invested in importing traditional Italian barrels (cherry, acasia, chestnut, oak, mulberry and ash wood) for their vinegar battery, made by F.Rensi of Modena. To get going, they imported genuine 12-year-old DOP balsamic vinegar from Modena, then started their own run using Babylonstoren’s shiraz grapes. To taste this, they’ll have to wait another 12 years!

In Italy, real Aceto Balsamic Tradizionale DOP is made only in Modena or neighbouring Emilia (“protected designation of origin”). This unique style of vinegar must be experienced first hand to appreciate the difference in taste (and price) to an everyday young balsamic vinegar that are commonly found in most supermarkets. It is rich, thick and intensely flavoured with complex yet softer notes, and can be easily enjoyed as is (a few drops in a spoon), a few drops over your favourite cheeses or charcuterie, salad or even over ice-cream. A small bottle will last you a very long time as it is used sparingly – perfect for really special occasions.

The process in a nutshell: grapes are picked, berries de-stemmed & pressed, must is boiled & pumped into a tank to ferment, 15% (maximum) wine vinegar is added, then the mixture is aged in barrels, each year being transferred to smaller barrels as it loses volume. After 12 years maturation, a small portion is drawn from the smallest (oldest) barrel and bottled each year. Babylonstoren limits bottle volume to 100 ml to comply with traditional regulations.

This product is available from Babylonstoren’s Farm Shop at R450/100 ml.

Take a look at my recent experience:

 

Shiraz grapes are used for Babylonstoren’s own batch, infusing a South African element into their imported DOP. (photo supplied by Babylonstoren)

 

The balsamic vinegar is bottled by hand in very small batches each year. (photo supplied by Babylonstoren)

 

Black gold, bottled. (photo supplied by Babylonstoren)

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A heritage of sharing: The new menu at Pierneef à La Motte

24 Sep

The entrance leading to Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant.

 

Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant has always been about sharing. Sharing food stories and sharing food favourites. It is this personal concept of heritage cuisine that is the inspiration behind the restaurant’s new offering. Everything served in the restaurant shares a creative line from the South African food story.”

I was recently invited to experience this new offering at Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant – a refined Franschhoek destination rich with cultural heritage. After an inspiring guided tour in the La Motte Museum of the current exhibition by MJ Lourens, titled “Land Rewoven” (as a conversation with the existing collection of Pierneef’s works), we made our way to the restaurant. Chef Eric Bulpitt’s new menu invites guests to start with shared dishes inspired by the various food cultures and stories from South Africa’s rich culinary heritage – a variety of breads, spreads, salads and meats, accompanied by condiments from “Granny’s pantry” – fruit and vegetables pickled or preserved, chakalaka or chutney, kaiings or kluitjies. It’s amazing how simple items like curried beans or pickled beetroot can conjure up clear memories from my childhood – items that I despised as a child (yet it always landed on my plate courtesy of my dear Mother) but these days adore as an adult.

Keeping with the heritage theme, Pierneef à La Motte’s à la carte menu offers a choice of individually plated main courses with Chef Eric’s signature modern approach. While this menu changes regularly according to the season, availability of ingredients and the Chef’s inspiration, options might include celeriac baked in a salt crust, lowerland grains and truffle sauce (a stunning vegetarian dish that I can highly recommend), free-range pork, slow cooked for 12 hours, broad beans from their garden and pork broth, as well as wood-fire roast spring chicken brushed with fermented chilli and creamed mielies, or aged beef rump from Bonnievale with roasted shallots and baby carrots.

All dishes are offered with La Motte Cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche’s wine recommendations, available at estate prices. However, the acclaimed wine list also includes other interesting South African as well as international wine choices.

The two-course menu of a shared starter and main course costs R335 per person (wine and service fee excluded). Dessert can be ordered as an additional course at R115. The dessert menu is a trip down memory lane, revealing a legacy of nostalgic sweets in a way that charms and comforts. Decadent baked dark chocolate with chocolate biscuit and rose ice cream (reminding me of a refined combination of “bazaar pudding” and chocolate fondant), lemon meringue with lemon curd, burnt meringue and vanilla tuile, or sago pudding, honey and boerenmeisjes (probably the best sago pudding I’ve ever tasted). A selection of South African cheeses, preserves and lavash is also available.

Our lunch was the best I’ve ever experienced at Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant – I was in a state of pleasure and nostalgia by the end of our desserts which I didn’t want to end. Well done to Chef Eric and his team for hitting the flavour nails on the head.

The restaurant also offers a lighter option to enjoy after a wine tasting, mountainside hike or visit to the La Motte art gallery. Choose between the Winelands Cheese Platter or a seasonal Farm Plate – both including a glass of wine at R150 per person.

In line with the principle of heritage food, menu choices are ethical and sustainable, making use of seasonal, local and artisan ingredients.

  • Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant is open for lunch from Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00 – 15:30.
  • Reservations are recommended and can be made online, T +27(0)21 876 8800, E pierneef@la-motte.co.za
  • The charming La Motte Farm Shop hosts an array of delicious South African-inspired baking and confectionery to be enjoyed in the estate gardens or as a take-home treat.
  • Current menu (subject to change)
  • Current wine list

High ceilings and delft plate installations dominate the elegant spaces at Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant.

 

A photo wall with some of the Rupert Family’s portraits provides a personal touch.

 

Plush seats and contemporary wooden tables.

 

The delightful shared starter offering at Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant – an array of salads, bread, vetkoek, pickles, spreads and whipped beef fat.

 

La Motte’s range of wines are carefully paired with each course and comes highly recommended.

 

Celeriac baked in a salt crust, lowerland grains and truffle sauce – my choice of a main course (vegetarian). This was my dish of the day – a fantastic celebration of simple ingredients, varied textures and that luxurious base note of fresh truffles infused in the sauce. I’ll be back for more.

 

Schalk’s main course: Free-range pork, slow cooked for 12 hours, broad beans from their garden and pork broth. Exceptionally tender and delicious.

 

Schalk’s dessert: sago pudding, honey and boerenmeisjes. Take note of the glass bowl that reminds of your ouma’s house, as well as the paper doilie. This was the best sago pudding I’ve ever taste. A must on the menu.

 

My dessert: baked dark chocolate with chocolate biscuit and rose ice cream. The pudding is hidden underneatht the biscuit (see next photo).

 

Reminiscent of a dark chocolate fondant mixed with an old-school “bazaar pudding”, this dessert was exactly what I hoped it would be: warm, decadent, soft and oozing in the middle, with the delicate hit of rose water ice cream.

 

Having a quick chat to thank Chef Eric Bulpitt at the end of our meal.

 

The entrance to the charming Farm Shop at La Motte. Well worth a visit.

 

The entrance facade at La Motte.

 

Thank you to chef Eric Bulpitt and the team of La Motte for hosting us.

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Lunch at Viande with Chef Pete Goffe-Wood

12 Sep

Chef Pete Goffe-Wood at the bar counter, Viande Restaurant, Grande Roche. Photography by Charles Russel.

 

After three decades of offshore ownership, Paarl’s iconic Grande Roche Hotel is back in South African hands. The hotel has been acquired by entrepreneurs Hansie and Theresa Britz. Both born and raised in Paarl, the couple shares a life-long association with the Grande Roche as most locals do. This historic five-star property at the foot of Paarl Mountain has recently been fully transformed to return it’s status as one of the Cape’s premier destinations.

Apart from a complete overhaul for the hotel side of Grande Roche, the restaurant previously known as ‘Bosman’s’ has also been totally refreshed to become a more accessible destination: ‘Viande’ is the brainchild of Pete Goffe-Wood, a respected and loved television personality (ex-Masterchef judge), author and consultant chef. Pete wasn’t looking to start another restaurant, but when he heard the new owners’ passion for the hotel he realised it was something he could get behind. “I loved the fact that they wanted to make Grande Roche accessible to locals again, and the more their vision unfolded the more I realised I wanted to be a part of it. It’s been wonderful to see this property given the love and respect and investment it deserves.”

The contemporary new interior of Viande Restaurant at Grande Roche.

 

The culinary-themed 3D artworks by Mitch Mitchell of Scotch & Sofa by Mitch and the Machine, featuring a hog’s head here.

 

Chef Pete is now responsible for all food and beverage operations across Grande Roche. With Viande becoming a major draw card for the estate, Goffe-Wood worked with interior designer Francois du Plessis to completely re-imagine the interiors, adding a more contemporary and approachable feel to the new restaurant while acknowledging the heritage of the building. Gunmetal grey walls are offset by the landmark crystal chandeliers, bespoke monochrome wallpaper creates an eye-catching scene along one wall, while wooden floors brighten the space. Furniture is by design studio Houtlander, and there’s Goffe-Wood’s quirky humour in the culinary-themed 3D artworks by Mitch Mitchell of Scotch & Sofa by Mitch and the Machine: a hog’s head, kitchen scale and a burly pair of chef’s arms clutching cleavers.

That modern approach is mirrored on the brasserie-style menu, where meat is unashamedly the star. Viande means ‘meat’ in French – an apt title for this meat-focused restaurant offering contemporary nose-to-tail dining. On the menu you will find items like pan-fried calves liver, slow roasted pork belly, seared hangar steak, 28-day dry aged prime rib and roasted free range chicken. Chef Pete and his capable kitchen crew are even curing and smoking new delicacies, with selected cuts dry-aged on site in imported German meat-fridges.

Mobolletjies, ciabatta, beef fat and flavoured butter.

 

My choice for a glass of wine to go with my lunch: Underoaks Three Twenty 2015 – a premium white blend, lightly wooded.

 

I was invited to experience Viande for lunch, and want to share my photographs with you. I’ve been a fan of Chef Pete’s food for many years, having tasted a few of his nose-to-tail menus before, also including the best vanilla custard I’ve ever tasted (yes, he makes fabulous desserts too). Chef Pete has a knack of putting a menu together that will surely be a hit with many. Items like traditional bouillabaisse are hard to find on menus these days, and although it’s a surprise to find it on a meat driven menu like Viande’s, it was my choice for a main course. Served with a bright yellow rouille, it was the perfect cherry on top. For starters I went for a classic mushroom risotto (relatively easy to get right, difficult to get immaculate) and it delivered in every way possible. For dessert, I tried the profiteroles – something Pete added to the menu from childhood memories. I also have strong childhood memories of eating custard-filled eclairs topped with a runny chocolate icing, so having these beautiful profiteroles freshly topped with warm chocolate, filled with delicious French-style vanilla custard and grilled banana was a joyful ending to an extraordinary meal.

Viande at The Grande Roche, Paarl, is a bright new beacon on the highly competitive Winelands dining scene.

Starter: Wild mushroom risotto, parmesan & gremolata.

 

Main course: Bouillabaisse with toasted ciabatta & rouille. (The rouille only arrived after I tucked in, so I didn’t get a photograph of it. It was the highlight of this dish – absolutely delicious. This dish is not on the regular menu, but will be featuring now and then on the set menu for Sundays.)

 

Dessert: White and milk chocolate profiteroles.

 

The view from Viande’s entrance.

Viande is open 7 days a week for breakfast between 07h00-10h00, lunch between 12h00-15h00 and dinner from 19h00-22h00, with Sunday brunch on the cards as well. Book online (Dineplan app) or by calling Grande Roche on 021-863 5100, or emailing viande@granderoche.co.za. Starters vary from R90-R120, mains from R120-R250, and desserts from R80-R120 (click here for a menu).

The Grande Roche Hotel is located at 1 Plantasie Street, Paarl.

#Viande #GrandeRoche #GRANDgranderoche

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