Thursday, 10 January 2013

Eating in the Cape Winelands

‘Franschhoek is the foody capital of South Africa.  You will have no problem finding excellent restaurants there.’

How true.  We had so many recommendations we were spoilt for choice.  We were warned that many places required booking, but we decided to take a chance because we didn’t know exactly where we’d be at ‘lunch time’.  And we got lucky.

We’d arrived early at La Chataigne, before the lovely Chestnut Cottage was ready, so we left our bags at the office and headed into Franschoek.  Until recently this was a sleepy village, now it is a thriving street of restaurants, craft shops and other foody and drinky places.  Then we headed to one of our host’s recommendations – Dieu Donne.  And, being early, we managed to get a table, with a magnificent view.

View from our table at Dieu Donne restaurant

The service was friendly and excellent, the food heavenly and the wine delicious.  We had a glass of SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012* to go with our starters (smoked salmon salad, pear and stilton salad) and chose a glass of MERLOT 2010* to go with our mains (roast sirloin and ostrich fillet, both delicious).   We finished by sharing a platter of three sorbets to cleanse our palettes before the business of wine tasting.

Our wines lined up for tasting at Dieu Donne

*To add to the two we’d tasted over lunch, we tasted a cabernet Sauvignon, shiraz and and voigner.  The voigner was a lot less sharp than one we’d tasted earlier in Franschoek, but don’t think it’s one for us.  The shiraz and cab sav were both good mid-week chilli wines, but we’d already fallen for the merlot – rich and fruity, I wrote down ‘Magnum ice-cream and raspberry coulis’.   We bought a bottle, about £8.  We also bought a bottle of the sauvignon blanc for less than £6 – lovely grassy nose, crisp and fresh.

Then we went next door to Chamonix, which is Platter’s 2013 winery of the year.  We sat in the shade and waited for our choice of wines to be brought out.  We loved the sauvignon blanc, liked the Chamonix blanc, weren’t keen on the oaked chardonnay (but I heard someone at the next table say it was  ‘faboulous’), found their Rouge 2010 perfectly drinkable and the cabernet sauvignon full and rich. 

Wine tasting in Chamonix

Next day, on the recommendation of our host, we tried a picnic at Warwick.  This is a fairly new idea, where you choose a spot, either at a table in the shade, on the grassy bank where they bring out cushions and rugs, or in a secluded ‘pod’, the option we chose.  We sat in the shade and ate wonderful pates, breads, cheeses, meats etc while sipping an excellent PROFESSOR BLACK SAUVIGNON BLANC, of which we bought a bottle.  After we’d done the wine tasting.

The wine tasting was taken under the shad of a huge spreading chestnut tree.  It was very busy and we had to wait quite a long time between wines.  But each one came with its own story – of particular interest was the ‘Three Cape Ladies’ named for the first female wine makers in South Africa.

A picnic 'pod' at Warwick
On the way home, we passed Dalewood Fromage and went in for a bit of cheese taasting. Here they have their own herd of Jersey cows described as ‘pampered’, who produce all the milk for the cheese.  We came home with the cheese for our supper, washed down with our bottle of Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc.

On our final day, we tried another recommendation – Moreson’s winery and its restaurant Bread and Wine.

Although they had no tables, we were told to try again after a bit of wine tasting.  We tried six wines and ended up buying two:

METHODE CAP CLASSIQUE CHARDONNAY PINOT NOIR.  A sparkling white that we found drinkable and refreshing, and cost less than £10.

DR REASON WHY UNWOODED CHARDONNAY.  I’ve mentioned that we’re not fans of oaked chardonnay, but drink a lot of Chablis.  We found this chardonnay had a lovely fresh nose with hints of butter and lemon, plus excellent palette that left a hint of sweetness.  It cost less than £6.

By the time we’d finished, we were told there were still no tables, but we could sit on the comfy sofa used as a waiting area.  And that is where we sat to enjoy yet another excellent meal, washed down with a glass of the excellent IN MY BED SAUVIGNON BLANC*.

Bread and Wine at Moreson's winery

And when we’d finished, we bought a loaf of their homemade bread to go with the cheeses we’d bought the day before.

*As you may have guessed from the sign we passed on the way in, Moreson’s winery is very fond of its dog, Molly.  So fond that they have named a range of wine after her, including the above mentioned IN MY BED SAUVIGNON BLANC.  

Miss Molly Kitchen Thief Sauvignon Blanc from Moreson's 

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