Last week was a lucky week of spoiling, which included staying over at Leeu Estates outside Franschhoek, the signature local accommodation property in the Leeu Collection. The variety of local artwork, and top name artists, makes Leeu Estates an art gallery within a hotel!
I was invited to stay over last Thursday evening by Leeu Collection PR Consultant Nicolette Waterford, and was spoilt with Suite 6, with a bedroom, its own lounge, a his and hers bathroom, and a dressing room, ultimate luxury and spoiling. Just less than a year ago I attended the official opening of the property, where I met Leeu Collection founder Mr Analjit Singh.
I received an enthusiastic welcome at the entrance gate, and was told that my arrival was expected. I was told where to drive, to get to the entrance of the Manor House. My bags were brought to the Suite, and my car parked for me. Receptionist Clarisha was friendly, and showed me around the generous-sized suite. She promised to let me have the file with all the artwork in the hotel, and was true to her promise. I could not count the number of paintings and sculptures in the file, but the number is considerable. In the room a fruit platter, a bottle of BAS house sparkling wine, and a platter with macarons and chocolate awaited me, with welcome notes, a nice touch.
Leeu Estates was recently selected as the only new hotel in South Africa to make the 2017 Condé Nast HOT List, a considerable accolade, given the stature of the publication, and that only 75 accommodation properties from around the world were selected.
I had appointments for a Prana Vitality Massage, and a Facial, so made my way to the Spa. The Bunny sculptures by Guy du Toit are a cute introduction to the care guests experience inside. I was welcomed by Spa Manager Janine Corcuone, who offered a glass of water, whereafter another staff member offered me a glass of blended melon, raspberry, blueberry, and pineapple juice. She also showed me the change room, in which I changed into a dressing gown and slippers, and was shown to the treatment room. After a foot ritual, I closed my eyes, and enjoyed my treatments. The Prana Vitality Massage was explained to be to denote a Hindu philosophy including yoga (Prana), contrasting with the oils which generate vitality.
The Ananda Face Therapy facial was done using iLa Glowing Radiance products, an organic range made in the U.K., Leeu Estates Spa being the only spa in the country stocking the product range. My facial consisted of applications of a cleanser, a toner, exfoliation, a pressure point facial massage, a Glowing Radiance face mask, a toner, face oil, and then a moisturizer.
I had invited my friend and fellow Blogger Llewellyn Lambert to join me for dinner. Before his arrival I had time to catch up with Chef Oliver Cattermole, whose progress I have been following, since I first met him at Dash restaurant in the Queen Victoria Hotel in the V&A Hotel. Chef Oliver told me about his new chef appointments, both new chefs Calvin Metior and Oscar Gilliam being recruited from London. Chef Ollie told me that he and his team are now responsible for the meals served in the Garden Room at Le Quartier Français, given the departure of Chef Margot Janse, until the accommodation establishment closes for renovations from 22 May to 10 July. At Leeu Estates the kitchen is to be extended, Chef Ollie informed, and a conservatorium is to be erected on the dining room terrace, to protect diners against the elements.
What makes the art collection at Leeu Estates interesting is that some of it is funky, the one that intrigues me the most being Tim’ by Daniel Firman, a lifelike presentation of a man hiding against a wall with a jersey pulled over his head! Many guests think that the artwork is a real person, and go up to it to check if they can be of assistance. I went up to ‘Tim’, to ‘console’ him. In the entrance hall a sculpture by Beezy Bailey, entitled ‘Peaceman’, attracts attention with its strong use of blue contrasting with a white dove. The art file reflects other top local artists, including Dylan Lewis, Tinus de Jongh, Vladimir Tretchikoff, Irma Stern, Deborah Bell, JH Pierneef, and Angus Taylor.
As we sat down, a small chair was brought to the table, so that I could place my handbag on it, a very international touch. Our waitress presented a generous bread basket, with seed sticks, sourdough bread, gluten-free seeded bread, and five-grain rolls, accompanied by salted butter, baby marrow hummus, and whipped beef spread.
A platter of three Amuse Bouche items arrived soon after, consisting of braised beef; chicken skin topped with red wine and chicken liver; and potato soufflé with airbag, and bacon jelly. Llewellyn ordered the wine, selecting a Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2014 by the glass for me,
and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for himself. We were shown the wine cellar leading from the dining room, and we saw the first bottle of the brand new Leeu Passant wine made in the Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Cellar at Leeu Estates.
I kept my order healthy, starting with roasted asparagus, goat’s cheese, smoked panko with bonito flakes, and egg yolk jam (R100), while my main course was a delicious and colorful pea and mint risotto, the latter a little too salty for my taste (R120).
Other starter dishes include chilled leek and potato soup (R80); Daikon crunch rolls (R100); charred leeks, blue cheese, salted walnuts, and red onion dressing (R80); Moroccan-spiced fregola, tomatoes, garden mint, and crunchy chickpeas (R80); and Tempura langoustines with smoked leeks, wild garlic and parsley sauce (R170).
Llewellyn ordered Asian-style Beef Tartare with Beef crackling (R140) as his starter, and roasted white fish with capsicum gnocchi, garden spinach, with almonds ajo blanco (R220).
Other main courses offered are Tomato galette with aged Parmesan, spinach and cashew nut pesto (R120); Angus Beef, heirloom carrots, foie gras, and a green pepper sauce (R300); pork belly with black pudding, and Granny Smith apples (R180); lamb ‘skilpadjie’ with edamame, bacon, artichokes, peas, and lamb gravy (R250); and puy lentils, carrots, and coconut (R220).
Eleanor Kerwan came to check on our wellbeing, and brought us a wooden box with friandise: almond and white chocolate macarons; dulce bonbons; and walnut toffees, to accompany my dry cappuccinos.
I will write a separate Blogpost about my stay, Breakfast the next morning, and a tasting of the new Leeu Passant wines in the Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Tasting Room on the property.
Leeu Estates, Leeu Collection, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 492-2222. www.leeucollection.com Twitter: @LeeuCollection Instagram: @LeeuCollection
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter: @Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein