Yesterday I attended the Media Launch of the Leeu Estates new Afternoon Tea, which had been created by Leeu Collection Executive Chef South Africa Oliver Cattermole, and brand new Group Pastry Chef Martin Senekal. 

Leeu Collection Vice President Marketing and External Relations Nicolette Waterford has an amazing knack of organizing Media events on perfect weather days, and yesterday felt like a summer day in Franschhoek. I was met by relatively new Hotel GM Ingrid Nielsen, shown where to park, and she accompanied me into the hotel. She told me that she had previously worked at Constantia Uitsig, Singita, in Nigeria, in South Sudan, and most recently at The River Club at Victoria Falls in Zambia. 

Last year I attended the launch of Leeu Estates, and was invited to stay over earlier this year: 

Leeu Estates in Franschhoek a work of art!

We were welcomed on the terrace with a variety of beverage options: water, a refreshing Berry ice tea, and a glass of BAS sparkling wine, named in honour of the Leeu Collection founder Mr Analjit Singh, who popped into the function briefly, saying hello to each guest. I photographed him with his colleague Nicolette Waterford. Mr Singh fell in love with Franschhoek when he attended the Soccer World Cup in 2010, and was driven through to the village for lunch. He has since invested in the creation of Leeu Estates, Leeu House, Le Quartier Français, Tuk Tuk Microbrewery, and Marigold Indian restaurant, all in Franschhoek. His hospitality interests have expanded to include the Lake District and London in the U.K., as well as Florence and Milan in Italy. From the terrace we could see the newly added Conservatory, connected to the dining room, enlarging the dining space.

I caught up with Chef Oliver when he came to greet us on the terrace, and was astounded to hear that his new Group Pastry Chef is Martin Senekal, a very talented pastry chef, who had been at La Parada until the end of August, and prior to that had his own pastry shop in De Waterkant, whilst also selling his excellent pastries and cakes at the Old Biscuit Mill and at the Oranjezicht Urban Farm Market.  Chef Oliver (photograph right) and his team had created the savoury elements of the Afternoon Tea, whilst Chef Martin (photograph left) had created the Sweet treat elements of the Afternoon Tea. 

Chef Martin welcomed us to the Afternoon Tea, and went through the menu with us. He explained that they use fresh fruit and citrus harvested on the estate. He also told us that he challenged the ‘talent pool’ in his Bakery to come up with creative and spoiling Sweet Treats, based on French confectionery. The various treats (two per person sharing) are very intricate, and I could not keep up with his pace of sharing the details of the ingredients, so I was very grateful that he sat with me later in the afternoon, to explain each of the treats to me: 

#   Savoury items, on the lowest tier of the Afternoon Tea stand: I loved a wholewheat oak-smoked salmon, pickled cucumber, and dill crème fraîche sandwich, which was gluten-free. It is very unusual to see non-white bread sandwiches in an Afternoon Tea, far healthier than white bread sandwiches. This was accompanied by a Coronation Chicken sandwich. There was a garden spinach and feta quiche, as well as a mini BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) burger. The lowest tier also shared the plate with apricot scones as well as buttermilk scones. On the table were three bowls, with Jenny’s clotted cream from Montagu, gooseberry jam, and quince jam. The jams were made with fruit harvested from the estate, and are made by the Bakery team reporting to Chef Martin. 

#.  On the top level of the Afternoon Tea stand were four items: a verrine in a glass, with fresh apple in white peach jelly, lemon and poppy seed crumble, and topped with a yoghurt mousse; lime and grapefruit centre bonbons in a white chocolate ganache, coated with Valrhona Manjari 64% dark chocolate; coconut and pineapple Macarons coated with white chocolate ganache; and guava patê de fruits, a fruit sweet, made from fruit purée and pectins, coated with sugar. 

#   On the middle tier was fine pastry items, the highlight of the Afternoon Tea: Religieuse (photograph right) was an unusual treat, made with two light melt-in-the-mouth choux pastry balls, the bottom one containing Valrhona Carmella (a caramel white chocolate), and the top ball containing home-made Nutella, with an Italian meringue centre, and topped with white chocolate garnish; Millefeuille (photograph left), made with puff pastry, pistachio crème patisserie, with Dulcey Ganache inside, topped with candied pistachio covered with Matcha Green Tea powder; Chocolate gateaux, a gluten-free sponge treat, with Valrhona Equatoriale 55% mousse, Valrhona Equatoriale crèmeaux, candied hazelnuts, and Valrhona Equatoriale dark chocolate ganache; and a beautiful Strawberry Cremeaux (photograph right), with a passion fruit gel centre, white chocolate feuilletine, an almond sablé biscuit base, and topped with a very unusual aerated red velvet dehydrated sponge!  

Our glasses were topped up with water, the BAS MCC, and a choice of eight teas. I was able to order a dry cappuccino, and the Restaurant Manager had remembered how I like it made from my visit in May, a ten out of ten Service experience. 

It was a delight to see Chef Martin at the Afternoon Tea at Leeu Estates, and to see Chef Oliver again, and to see his progression as a chef over the years, since I first met him as chef at Dash restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel in the V & A Waterfront. The Leeu Estates Afternoon Tea costs R190 per person, and will change seasonally, in using the home-grown estate fruit, and the freshest produce. Visitors to Leeu Eatates can also experience an Art and Garden Tour, followed by an Afternoon Tea, at the cost of R250. 

Disclosure: we received a jar of Leeu Estate plum jam as well as a hand-crafted Diana Carmichael jam spoon with our Media pack. 

Afternoon Tea, Leeu Estates, Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 492-2222 www.leeucollection.com Twitter: @Leeucollection Instagram:@leeucollection Afternoon Tea is served daily, from 14h00 to 17h00. 

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein