Tuesday, November 25, 2008

“F” is for Food

As foodies, there is one place that springs to mind automatically when planning the perfect weekend getaway; Franschhoek! There are few other South African villages where one can drift along decadently from one spectacular meal to another. Ours started with an early lunch at the Salmon Bar. Sash went for the Smolax* with bilins and smoked salmon roes, I decided on Gravadlax, and to drink we had Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose. Our orders came with a side of baby salad leaves and freshly baked bread which was also delicious. The Salmon Bar deli also offers a range of tasty foods to take away with you – the smoked trout pate is a must!

After wine tasting at Haute Cabriere, we had a predinner snack at Le Quartier Francais. The Charcuterie was scrumptious, particularly the deep fried capers. This was washed down with a perfectly chilled Pinehurst Chardonnay. We were due to go to Grande Provence as we have been unable to get a reservation at The Tasting Room, our first choice. However fortune shone upon us – a late cancellation meant that we managed to sneak in. We both decided on the 6 course tasting menu. As expected, the courses were very innovative (think tuna tartar on meringue), intricate and nothing was spared in terms of ingredients. However, as we have heard from others before, dishes seem to be designed to impress the mind rather than please the palate. Overall, we enjoyed the experience, but were not entirely sure about the food as there were some dishes that were rather disappointing (the tomato sabayon with parmesan sorbet and basil comes to mind). As a benchmark, we had Jardine’s tasting menu a month prior, and at half the price the courses were far more synergetic and enjoyable.

After a visit to Rickety Bridge (recommend the Semillon 2006, Cabernet 2003, and Cabernet 2002 – only in Magnum), we paid a final visit to Bread and Wine. The restaurant was fully booked, so we settled with the deli section. Although the deli only has a small offering, everything is fresh and tasty and we soon had a number of appetizing morsels in front of us – fresh west coast oysters, charcuterie (which was once again delicious as Neil Jewell supplies Le Quartier Francais as well), along with freshly baked foccacia filled with basil pesto and peppers. A glass of Môreson Blanc de Blanc rounded it all off very well and left us contemplating the next trip to Franschhoek. Roll on December – the Champagne Festival awaits!

*Smolax is Salmon Bar’s take on smoked trout; a very tasty combination of Gravadlax and normal cold smoking

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