LA PETITE FERME
It was during unseasonal spring downpours that we cosied up in one of the 10 beautiful refurbished luxury vineyard suites at La Petite Ferme. I have fond memories of this beautiful property, having celebrated a wedding anniversary there about a decade ago. The view and privacy of the suites remain unparalleled. Modern decor and all the bells and whistles that one expects from a top-class property, are discreetly evident. A private pool and deck is a must for those hot summer days. General Manager Riaan Kruger runs a tight-knit team of dedicated people who endeavor to make each small interaction matter.
Our experience began with a wine tasting, conducted by passionate and well-informed Ryno, in the intimate wine-tasting room. He lead us through their range of white, red and Methode Cape Classique wines with charm and interest, providing nuggets of information about the previously family-owned estate that is a pillar of the community. We moved to our comfortable window seats in the restaurant to admire the sweeping vineyard, valley and mountain views before tucking into a hearty lunch. Chef Kyle Norris and his team are devoted to showcasing local produce, and satisfying appetites for South African fare. The saffron-smoked lime and chilli prawn proved a good start, with the Assiette de la Semaine being a perfect choice for me, the lauded La Petite Ferme classic of slow-roasted lamb pleasing my man. The rose and white chocolate mousse ended a generous meal. At midday there was not a soul in the restaurant, we thought it had been opened specially for us, but an hour later there was a steady buzz of international dialects, smiling faces and a lot of khaki clothing! It is the perfect place for a visitor to enjoy everything that the valley offers – warm hospitality, good country cooking and local wines.
WARWICK WINE ESTATE
Taking refuge in a picnic pod on a wine estate that boasts a beautiful lake, is no hardship. Warwick Wine Estate in Stellenbosch has a full spectrum of venues, from the lawns, forest courtyard and picnic pods to the deck, tasting room, boardroom and bistro. There is even boules if you are bored, a safari option and a heli pad.
The pods are perfect for an intimate gathering. They’ve created a sanctuary of wooden structures that allow a level of privacy yet retain uninterrupted views of the water and surrounds. Their gourmet picnic lunch, R550 for two, accompanied by estate wines, is generous, the box of artisanal goodies is sure to satisfy most palates. Start with a home-smoked Norwegian salmon and summer quinoa salad, work your way through their charcuterie, cheese, bread and biltong pate, and finish off with a sweet carrot cake and cheesecake jar.
The casual setting is conducive for relaxing on the lawns on their soft furnishings with an after-lunch, wine-induced nap. Book early if you plan to unwind there in season.
The Groot Constantia Wine Estate in Constantia is another that holds a piece of my heart. Not my beating heart, but my business heart. I remember being called in to re-launch the restaurant, told that it was to be transformed from a dark and dingy tavern where an oompah band played on Sundays, to a sophisticated restaurant. It was to be called the Groot Constantia Restaurant. I went away and (before Google) did some research, and decided we needed to trade on the history and connection with Simon van der Stel. After much persuasion we convinced the owners to relaunch it as Simon’s.
I digress! Jonkershuis is ever-popular for families and visitors. The traditional menu is appealing and showcases Cape cuisine. We gathered there for my godson’s birthday, a collection of family who had come from as far as Botswana and ranged from very little to almost-old. It was a happy day of everyone gathering around one table savouring stalwarts like samoosas to a succulent roast lamb. Good old-fashioned fare that never fails to create more family memories.
A TOUCH OF PINK
Back in the Mother City where the action is hotting up, and it’s the season of new beginnings. The Belmond Mount Nelson started the silly season off with its pink centenary. It was 100 years ago that she started to blush in a delicate shade of pink. An afternoon of sipping Veuve Clicquot, reacquainting with old friends and making some new, was of course accompanied with excellent cuisine. The landmark hotel was painted its unique shade of pink at the end of World War 1 by the then Italian GM, Aldo Renato, to symbolise peace and the dawn of a new era.
They say if you cannot take the heat, get out the kitchen! Well the Gourmet Guide kitchen is a-cooking, with KitchenAid. Recipes are being tested using the KitchenAid artisanal mixer, the gorgeous measuring jugs, whisk, tin opener, vegetable peeler and amazing food processor. Never before have we had so much fun! The fruits of our labour will be enjoyed in a cookery class on Thursday 22 November, from 10h00 to 13h00, in Bakoven.
Be there – “Simple” is the theme, and many of the recipes have been inspired by Ottolenghi.