Tag Archives: Le Bon Vivant

TripAdvisor announces 2019 Top 10 Travellers’ Choice Awards ‘Best Fine Dining Restaurants’ in South Africa, La Colombe makes a meal of it!

It amuses me how much weight La Colombe places on the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, clearly because it is the only awards ranking in which it comes first, and in which it beats its arch enemy The Test Kitchen, despite most serious restaurant diners knowing how questionable a TripAdvisor rating, and therefore this Award ranking, is! Continue reading →

Conflict of interest: La Motte Culinary Director reviews Franschhoek restaurants for Eat Out

Eat-Out-mag-coverEarlier this year I was shocked to see that the La Motte Culinary Director (and wife of its red wine maker Edmund Terblanche) as well as Kokkedoor judge Hetta van Deventer had reviewed De Warenmarkt for Eat Out. Now it appears from the new Eat Out 2016 magazine that she reviewed a number of Franschhoek and other Boland restaurants (many on wine farms too) that are in direct competition with Pierneef à la Motte restaurant!

At the time that I saw the De Warenmarkt review by Van Deventer I Continue reading →

Franschhoek Cellar undergoes complete image transformation, pity about design and poor service!

Franschhoek Cellar exterior 2Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Franschhoek, and used the opportunity to visit the completely transformed Franschhoek Cellar, for which re-opening I had received an invitation, but could not attend the Monday evening function last month.  The redesign led to the closure in October and November last year, and the Franschhoek Cellar re-opening in December.  What has emerged is a monster, not suited to brand ‘Franschhoek’ at all!

For the first time I noticed yesterday that one can no longer park in front of the building, an area which was shared with that for The Stall.  There is no entrance into the wine tasting centre off the R45 entrance to Franschhoek anymore.  Instead the walkway to the centre has been turned into a garden, with a rose garden, another with protea varieties, and a fountain wall.  To the left of the building are some unusual looking ‘umbrellas‘, as if they are Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 15/16 March

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   TravelMedia.ie has been appointed to handle the marketing of our country for SA Tourism in Ireland, with the number of tourists from Ireland expected to increase.  The marketing focus will be on our country’s music, art, fashion, adventure, and culinary travel.

*   The USA Department of Agriculture predicts that our country’s vine harvest will decrease by 5%, to 1,42 million metric tons, and that production will decrease to 1,1 billion bottles this year.  The export of wine is expected to decrease to 500 million litres.  Last year was regarded as a record year for South African wine exports due to the good harvest and the depreciation of the Rand.

*   The inaugural AfrAsia Bank Cape Wine Auction, which was held at Delaire Graff yesterday, raised a phenomenal R8,9 million for three charities related to education. (via Twitter and Facebook) (NOTE 17/3:  the Auction total has been officially revised to R7 million this morning)

*   Receiving only 5% of the world’s 1 billion  tourists, Africa needs to develop itself as a tourism brand, the Tourism and Culture Minister of the Seychelles has said.  Minister Alain St.Ange called on African leaders to enhance Africa’s tourism awareness.  ‘The African continent needs an African Brand. We need a brand that will promote our region in tourism trade fairs. We need a brand that will work hand in hand with United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the UNWTO body‘, he said.  Africa must work with Africa, he added. South African Tourism Minister van Schalkwyk appeared to disagree, calling for each African country to do its own destination marketing.  He did however call for easier visa application processing for travel within the continent.

*   Hard Rock Café has returned to South Africa, and has opened in Johannesburg.  Branches in Continue reading →

Streetsmart smart move for restaurants and beneficiaries!

StreetSmart Banner Whale Cottage PortfolioI have not been a great fan of the forced R5 addition to one’s restaurant bill without permission in Streetsmart restaurants, but after attending the presentation of monies to support the good community work for street children it is funding, and hearing what a difference the money makes to the less fortunate at a function held at The Salesian Institute on Thursday evening, my perception about Streetsmart has changed completely.

Established in 2005 by tour operator Margi Biggs as a means of helping street children, and now chaired by committee junkie Nils Heckscher (he has been or currently serves on the board of FEDHASA Cape, Cape Town StreetSmart Nils Heckscher Whale Cottage PortfolioTourism, the former Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and Tourism Marketing of South Africa), Streetsmart generated just over R900000 in the past year, and a total of R7 million since its establishment.  R5 is added to the restaurant bill per table, irrespective of the number of patrons seated at the table.  This money is transferred to Streetsmart once a month.  Streetsmart is also collected in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and in India.

Heckscher suffers badly from being in the shadow of his very well-known Continue reading →

Many Mediterranean-style restaurants open in Cape Town!

La Parada Kitchen with Bull head Whale Cottage PortfolioDespite one of  the worst winters ever experienced by the Cape hospitality industry, most restaurants appear to have survived it. A surprise trend is the number of Mediterranean style restaurants opening, with true Spanish and Italian owners and/or staff. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   The Harbour House group has opened La Parada Spanish Tapas restaurant on Bree Street, with a subterranean bar/nightclub (above).

*      Café Puerto Cabo has opened on Loop Street, a Spanish eatery and men’s clothing shop.

*    The House of Machines has opened on Shortmarket Street, building motorcycles, offering good Evil Twin coffee, and serving very healthy food.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Equus restaurant on the Cavalli stud and wine farm on the R44 has opened. Continue reading →

Franschhoek Fireplace Route offers warm restaurants and tasting rooms

During the first sharp winter spell earlier this week, questions were asked on Twitter about restaurants with fireplaces in Franschhoek.  As a service to the Franschhoek visitor, I have compiled a list of warm and cosy restaurants and wine tasting rooms with fireplaces:

Restaurants with fireplaces

Allora Restaurant: Italian style menu with pizza, pasta and other Italian dishes   Tel (021) 876-4375

Bistro Allée Bleue:  cosy atmosphere in this blue-decor bistro at the entrance to the wine estate. Tel (021) 874-1886

Café BonBon:  Very cosy room, home-cooked style food (right).  Tel (021) 876-3936

Common Room: Tapas style restaurant at Le Quartier Français. Tel (021) 876-2151

Country Kitchen: Second restaurant at winetasting center of Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyards  Tel (021) 876-3000

Dieu Donné:  Large fireplace for the large restaurant with a view, menu varied style  Tel (021) 876-3384

Dish: Restaurant at Le Franschhoek Hotel. Tel (021) 876-8900

Dutch East: multi-style menu.  Tel (021) 876-3547

Elephant & Barrel: pub tucked behind French Connection, good spot for sports match broadcasts.  Tel (021) 876-4127

Franschhoek Kitchen: two rooms, one with a large fireplace, good fresh cooking from Chef Bjorn Dingemans. Tel (0-21) 876-2738

Franschhoek Station Pub & Grill: with its 1915 fireplaces (above), must be Franschhoek’s oldest.  Tel (021) 876-3938

French Connection: French style menu Tel (021) 876-4056

Grande Provence Restaurant: smallish fireplace but warm restaurant with excellent fine dining menu. Tel (021) 876-8600

Grillroom:   steakhouse that also sells meat.  Tel (021) 876-2548

Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant:   cosy eating in a cave-like cellar restaurant.  Tel (021) 876-3688

Kalfi’s Restaurant: the fireplace caused a fire in the restaurant, closing it down for two days earlier this week.  tel (021) 876-2520

La Petite Ferme: this long-established restaurant with a view, located at the foot of the Franschhoek Pass, has a fireplace in the entrance room of the extended restaurant space.  Tel (021) 876-3016

Le Bon Vivant:  highly creative chef Pierre, but disappointing service, tucked away one block from main road, behind ABSA.  Tel (021) 876-2717

Le Coq: Two fireplaces, one each for the Grill and Light Meal sections of the new restaurant on the main road.  Tel (021) 876-4404

L’Ermitage Restaurant: restaurant at L’Ermitage Hotel, at foot of Franschhoek Pass. Tel (021) 876-9200

Mange Tout: fine dining restaurant inside Mont Rochelle Hotel. Tel (021) 876-2770

Monneaux:   multi-style menu, located within Franschhoek Country House.  Tel (021) 876-3386

Pierneef à La Motte: soon-to-be award winning restaurant with creative chef Chris Erasmus, Cape cooking with a modern twist.  Tel (021) 876-8800

Reuben’s Restaurant: large fireplace in this well-known fine-dining restaurant (right). Tel (021) 876-3772

Rickety Bridge Restaurant in the Vines:  hot and hearty meals served include curry and casseroles. Tel (021) 876-2016

Winetasting Rooms with a fireplace

Boekenhoutskloof: Home of highly regarded Boekenhoutskloof wines, as well as of Chocolate Block, The Wolftrap and Porcupine Ridge.  Tel (021) 876- 3320

Glenwood: Cellar tours at 11h00 daily.  Chardonnay Vignerons Selection is flagship wine.  Tel (021) 876-2044

Grande Provence: Both Grande Provence and Angel Tears wines sold.  Tel (021) 876-8600

Haute Cabriere: Cabriere Pinot Noir and Pierre Jourdan sparkling wines. Cellar tour and Sabrage on Saturdays at 11h00.  Tel (021) 876-8500

La Bri: Its labels are inspired by colourful flowers.  Tel (021) 876-2593

La Chataigne: Three wines are made – a Sauvignon Blanc, the Kastanje white blend and Marron red blend.  Tel (021) 876-3220

La Petite Ferme:   Cellar tour and tasting offered.  Tel (021) 876-3016

Le Manoir de Brendel:   Produce Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz wines.  Tel (021) 876-4525

Maison: excellent Chenin Blanc and Shiraz with very friendly wine-tasting in Weylandts-interior cottage (left). No charge for the tasting, and blue cheese and biltong are served with the wine tasting.  Tel (021) 876-2116

Mont Rochelle Mountain Vineyards:  Miko is the flagship wine, named after the late owner of the estate. Cellar tours three times a day.  Gourmet food and wine tasting.  Tel (021) 876-3000

Rickety Bridge Winery:   Cellar tours by appointment. R15 tasting fee for five wines, but waived if wine is bought.  Tel (021) 876-2129

Topiary Wines:   First Platter 5-star for their sparkling wine in 2010.  Tel (021) 867-0258

Vrede en Lust:  No tasting fee is charged at this wine estate at the entrance to Franschhoek, in Simondium. Known for Boet Erasmus, Mocholate Malbec, Marguerite Chardonnay, and more. Tel (021) 874-1611

It was interesting to note that a number of restaurants and wine estates called said that they were waiting for the delivery of their wood, and would only have their fireplaces blazing from next week onward.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Franschhoek chefs will be cooking (with wine) at ‘Cook Franschhoek’ in June!

A number of hands-on demonstrations by some of the top chefs in Franschhoek will take place over the weekend of 10 -12 June, the chefs sharing their knowledge and passion for their craft, in what Franschhoek Wine Valley is calling ‘Cook Franschhoek’. 

The chefs that have been included in ‘Cook Franschhoek’ are Margot Janse of The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, Neil and Tina Jewell from Bread & Wine, Bjorn Dingemans from Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz wine estate, Judy Sendzul from the Salmon Bar, Ryan Smith from Ryan’s Kitchen, Leigh Trout from Mange Tout at Mont Rochelle Hotel, Darren Roberts at Grande Provence, Chris Erasmus at Pierneef à La Motte, Pierre Hendriks of Le Bon Vivant, Matthew Gordon from Haute Cabriere, Adrian Buchanan from Freedom Hill, as well as representatives of L’ermitage, Huguenot Fine Chocolates, Le Franschhoek Hotel, and Franschhoek Country House and Villas.   Each course will accept 8 – 30 participants, depending on the size of the demonstration venue.   Each demonstration will be paired with a Franschhoek wine.  Most, but not all, of the demonstrations will be held at the Franschhoek Kitchen.  The cost per course and the venues will be announced tomorrow, and will be added to this blogpost.

Franschhoek’s best wine estates will participate in ‘Cook Franschhoek’ too, including Franschhoek Pass Winery, La Motte, Grande Provence, Cabrière, Haut Espoir, Anthonij Rupert Wines, Mont Rochelle and Môreson. 

Accommodation will be available at a variety of accommodation establishments over the ‘Cook Franschhoek’ weekend.  Whale Cottage Franschhoek is offering ‘Cook Franschhoek’ participants a special reduced winter rate for the weekend.

Franschhoek is re-asserting its positioning as the Gourmet Capital of South Africa.  While it may no longer have the largest number of Eat Out  Top 10 restaurants, it has just launched the Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route, and ‘Cook Franschhoek’ is another demonstration of Franschhoek’s culinary leadership.

‘Cook Franschhoek’, 10 – 12 June.  www.franschhoek.org.za. Tickets can be bought at www.webtickets.co.za

POSTSCRIPT 18/3: The Franschhoek Wine Valley has not dotted all its i’s nor crossed all its t’s, and therefore is not yet able to provide cost, chef and venue details, as was promised for yesterday.  Darren Roberts from Grande Provence denies being a participant of the ‘Cook Franschhoek’ programme, not the first time that they have been erroneously listed on a Franschhoek programme, Roberts says. 

POSTSCRIPT 6/4: The program for Cook Franschhoek has been finalised.  Most of the demos will take place at Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, the exception being those at the Salmon Bar, Le Quartier Français, Allora, and Pierneef à La Motte.  At each demo a chef and a matching winemaker will participate.  Prices range from R 30 for a chocolate tour and tasting at Huguenot Fine Chocolates, to R 225 each for two demos by the Salmon Bar, hosted by Judy Sendzul of the Salmon Bar and Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof: a Farmed versus Wild-caught salmon cook-off on 11/6, and a Salmon and Trout Tasting on 12/6.   On average the prices for the other demos range between R100 – R150.   Grande Provence and Le Bon Vivant are no longer participating in the event.  The full Franschhoek chef and winemaker list is as follows:

*   Adrian Buchanan of Freedom Hill restaurant, and Dieter Sellmeyer of Lynx

*   Chris Smit of Café Bon Bon, with Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir

*   Bjorn Dingemans of Franschhoek Kitchen, and Mark Carmichael-Green of Holden Manz

*   Leigh Trout of Mange Tout at Mont Rochelle Hotel, and Dustin Osborne of Mont Rochelle 

*   Judy Sendzul of Salmon Bar, and Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof

*   Ryan Smith of Ryan’s Kitchen, and Neil Patterson of Antonij Rupert Wines

*   Matthew Gordon of Haute Cabriere, and Takuan von Arnim of Cabriere

*   Daniel Botha of La Verger at Le Franschhoek Hotel, and Susan Erasmus of Vrede & Lust

*   Neil and Tina Jewell of Bread & Wine, and Clayton Reabow of Môreson

*   Chris Erasmus of Pierneef à La Motte, and Edmund Terblanche of La Motte

*   Louis Jansen of Monneaux, and and DP Burger of Glenwood

*   Philip Aplas of Allora, and Terra del Capo (Anthonij Rupert Wines)

*   Ethne Booysen of L’Ermitage Hotel, and Wynand Grobler of Rickety Bridge

*   Margot Janse of Le Quartier Français, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Restaurant Review: Le Bon Vivant one of most creative Franschhoek restaurants, but probably poorest service!

When I first came to Franschhoek seven years ago, to set up Whale Cottage Franschhoek, Le Bon Vivant was already operating off the main road, on Dirkie Uys Street.  Dutch  Chef Pierre Hendriks impressed me then with his cuisine creativity, long before it became trendy.  I was always bothered about the poor management of the restaurant, Chef Pierre leaving the running of the restaurant to his waiters, with no strong manager to run the restaurant.  Sadly nothing has changed since my last visit to the restaurant about five years or so ago.

What has improved greatly over the ten year history of the restaurant is the interior of the renovated house converted into the restaurant, it having been painted in an interesting combination of yellow and a tomato red/orange colour in different sections.   New furniture in beige and a reddish fabric has been introduced, as well as the most interesting chandeliers, one made from a colander and graters, which cleverly suit the restaurant theme.   The tables are set apart with a lot of space, at the cost of creating cohesion, and are covered with good quality tablecloths, a material serviette is offered, but the cutlery is pedestrian.  An unbranded bottle of olive oil is on the table.  If one sits inside, one can see the chefs preparing the food behind glass, and I think that Le Bon Vivant was one of the first restaurants to open up its kitchen to its patrons.   It would be great if Chef Pierre could use his glass window to look out to the restaurant too, to see what is happening inside his restaurant.   The three chefs were hard at work to cope with the busy restaurant.  As the owner and chef, Pierre is in the kitchen all the time, and has no time to leave the kitchen to sort out any customer issues.  

It was not very busy when I arrived, and I requested an outside table due to the hot evening, but I was told that all the tables were booked.  I was seated inside at a window, but it got hotter and hotter inside.  There are no big doors to open to the garden, to let in more fresh air, nor are there any airconditioners, unforgivable in terms of how hot Franschhoek can get. 

It was not clear that Sheralee is the manager, as she did not introduce herself, and was running back and forth herself, as were all the waitresses, instead of checking her guests’ satisfaction.  She only came to my table because I asked my waitress who the manager is.  She wore a black and white top, whereas her staff all wear black tops and slacks, and I should have probably made the deduction.   Four waitresses dealt with me in the hour that I was there, and there was no carry-over between them, in knowing what had been discussed between myself and the colleagues.   No one asked how I had enjoyed the two courses I had eaten.   A question about the starter to Chef Pierre via a waitress came back as a ‘broken telephone’ response, Chef Pierre refusing to answer my supposed question as to what was in the duck foie gras – my question had been what was in the ‘parfait’, as per my waitress, which actually was a praline, when I checked it on the menu, a bad ‘Lost in Translation’ incident, reflecting that the staff do not know what they are serving.   When a waitress brought what I assumed to be an amuse bouche, and I confirmed with her that it was, she said no, and insisted that it was a beetroot sorbet!   She clearly did not know the term, and also did not explain why she had brought this to the table, and only rattled off its content.   The same waitress, who moved from Camps Bay to Franschhoek two months ago, stretched in front of me to place additional cutlery (including a fish knife for the crayfish for the main course, as well as a sharp knife for the pork), instead of coming around to the other side, there being enough space.

The restaurant has always had an odd old-fashioned illustration as its logo, and its menu/winelist looks old-fashioned with the illustration on the front cover (behind Chef Pierre in the photograph on the left).   The typeface and presentation is not as modern or sophisticated as the restaurant decor.   On looking at the menu, one sees immediately how creative Chef Pierre is, in what he combines in a dish, sometimes complementary, sometimes a surprise “opposition” of ingredients.   The ingredients of each dish are clearly stated, including the vegetables, so there should be no surprises, or so I thought.

A plate with three self-baked bread items was brought to the table, containing a roll, and a slice of white bread and brown bread.  No explanation was given of the bread types.   With it came a duo of vegetarian salsa (an odd combination of carrot, tomato and baby marrow) and a boring looking anchovy paste, the latter not to my taste at all, anchovies being one of the few items I don’t eat.  Then the amuse bouche of beetroot sorbet and apple crumble with a basil leaf arrived.  I remember how impressed I was five years ago when Chef Pierre served a finely chopped chicken salad as an amuse bouche in an egg shell.   I had not finished eating the amuse bouche when the starter arrived already, demonstrating poor co-ordination between the kitchen and the waiters.   The amuse bouche was more successful than the vegetarian salsa, having a distinctive beetroot taste, and served ice cold, good for such a hot evening.

In retrospect I should have ordered the ‘surprise menu’, a five-course menu costing R360, with Chef Pierre deciding what he will serve.  Interesting and innovative is a “combination” starter, which allows one a taste of all the starters, excluding the two oyster options, at R75 for a smaller portion and R 90 for a larger one.  The starter that I ordered was described on the menu as rouleau of foie gras and crispy duck leg confit with praline and caramelized popcorn (R95).  It must have been the popcorn that swayed me in choosing this starter, and the popcorn tasted just like I remembered it from Baker Street Snacks’  Jumping Jack, once a PR client of mine.  The dish did not come with toast or a specialist bread, and I used some of the content of the bread basket to eat with the foie gras, but it was not ideal for the fine foie gras.  Chef Pierre can present dishes beautifully, and the praline wore a ‘crown’ of the finest onion rings.   It was an excellent starter choice.   Other starters are Saldanha oysters, at R15 each, and ‘oysters three ways’, served as tempura, with foie gras and Thai, at R70.   Goat’s cheese and beetroot (R70), tuna and mango (R90), crab and chorizo, as well as beef and pork (both cost R85), prawns and scallops and salmon cost R90, and soup R60.  These are very high prices for starters, and the portions are small.    As the restaurant filled up, the service slowed down, and a table next to me, arriving half an hour later than I did, left after losing patience with the poor service.   After the speedy arrival of my starter ahead of me finishing my amuse bouche, it took another half an hour for someone to clear the dishes on my table and to bring the main course.

My main course choice should have been a winner, given its unique combination of braised pork belly and crayfish tail, with butternut substituting lentils that I did not want, but it had a curry sauce that was not mentioned on the menu for the dish, a sharp off-putting taste.  When I fed this back to one of the waitresses, and she told Chef Pierre, the message I received back was an apology, but that there was no curry in the sauce, a contradiction in itself.  There was no correction as to what could have been in the sharp sauce, and after the ‘praline’ communication performance, I did not bother any further about trying to communicate with Chef Pierre, who is ‘locked’ in his glass kitchen cage!   The dish is expensive, at R155, with two half crayfish spring rolls and two small pieces of pork belly topped with crayfish, placed on top of the butternut, and accompanied by tiny pieces of delicious crackling.  A pity that all of this was marred by the sharp and unnecessary sauce.   Other main course choices are Lamb (served four ways as rack, loin, black pudding and shepherd’s pie – R130), Veal (a trio of loin, osso buco and sweetbread – R130), Chicken and Duck served with curry rice (R90), Springbok loin and shank (R135), Kingklip and dried olives (R120), Salmon and Sole (R125), Beef fillet (R155), and Suckling pig (served as a trio of loin, rib and rilette, with apple – R125).

I did not have a dessert.  One can taste a taste of all the desserts at R90, or pay R55 – R75 per dessert, including Lemon and Orange, Soufflé, Chocolate, an interesting sounding Strawberry and Basil, Sorbets, two cheese platter options at R80, and coffee and friandises at R26.

The winelist forms part of the menu, and I did not initially see the wines by the glass in the Aperitif section.  Wines are almost exclusively from Franschhoek, and are very well-priced.   I ordered a jug of water, and a glass of Lynx Blanc de Noir, most reasonably priced at R26.  But they had run out of the wine, and offered me a Boschendal Blanc de Noir instead, at the same price, usually only sold by the bottle.  Pierre Jourdan Brut is the only sparkling wine available by the glass (R35/R165), and Colmant Brut Reserve costs R220. Eikehof Chardonnay costs R24/R95, Klein Dassenberg Sauvignon Blanc R26/R95, Stony Brook Semillon (R36/R155), Terra del Capo Pinot Grigio (R30/R120), Chamonix Rouge (R36/R90), La Bri Affinity (R36/R130), Eikehof Cabernet Sauvignon (R28), Bellingham Pinotage (R36/R140), and Porcupine Ridge Syrah/Viognier (R28/R120).  

Despite asking the waitress for the bill, it did not arrive.  I stood at the Reception for 10 minures, until a waitress (who had not served me at all) prepared the bill and took my payment.    A flurry of waiters as well as the Manager had passed me in this time.  It is such a shame that Chef Pierre’s culinary leadership is destroyed by unknowledgeable waiters, whose service does not match what he and his chefs create in the kitchen, and therefore does not justify the prices at Le Bon Vivant, expensive even for Franschhoek!

Le Bon Vivant, 22 Dirkie Uys Street, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-2717.   www.lebonvivant.co.za  (Surprisingly modern website, menu available, and commendably lots of photographs in the Image Gallery, which would sell the restaurant to any prospective customer).   Thursdays – Tuesdays lunch and dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage

New Franschhoek Wine Valley Food and Wine Route puts Franschhoek restaurants and wine estates on the map

The Franschhoek Wine Valley (the new tourism body name, the “Tourism Association” part of the name recently having been dropped) Food & Wine Route has been launched to the media, and soon will be presented in a new map, that will reflect the wealth of 42 restaurants, 48 wine estates and 3 delis and shops that sell foodstuffs in and around Franschhoek. The new Food & Wine Route is a good marketing reaction to the increasing dominance of Stellenbosch as the new gourmet center of South Africa, and its large number of wine estates, even though the tourism association’s website still refers to Franschhoek as the “Gourmet Capital of South Africa”!

Last year we wrote about the Food & Wine Route when it was first announced, and from the initial information it appeared to have a broader focus initially.  Now the Route is more focused, and will incorporate mainly the restaurants and wine estates that are members of Franschhoek Wine Valley.   Interestingly, the geographic delineation of Franschhoek has been broadened to incorporate the wine estates and restaurants on the R45 between Klapmuts and Simondium, including Noble Hill, Backsberg, and Babel at Babylonstoren, on the basis that they have become members of the Franschhoek Wine Valley association, even if they fall under the Paarl wine district.   Strangely, Glen Carlou has not chosen to be part of the Franschhoek Food & Wine Route, it being one of the first properties one passes when driving to Franschhoek on the R45.

Tania Steyn, the Marketing Manager of Franschhoek Wine Valley, explained that this new project consists of two parts.  The first is the Food & Wine Route map, in A3 size, which will list all the restaurants and wine estates, the one side featuring those in the village, and the other side those that are outside Franschhoek.   The Food & Wine Route map will replace the most handy Franschhoek Wine map, which guest houses and their guests have found to be useful in highlighting all the Vigneron members in Franschhoek.  The second part of the project is an e-commerce platform for specific Food and Wine Route Experiences, that one cannot visit spontaneously without a booking.  The bookings will be made on the website, and it is hoped that visitors to Franschhoek will book a number of such experiences, and will therefore stay in the area for longer.

The wine estates on the new Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route are Akkerdal, Allèe Bleue, Anthonij Rupert Wines (L’Ormarins and Protea brands, and home of the outstanding Motor Museum), Backsberg, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal Wines, Chamonix, Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, Dieu Donnè Vineyards, Franschhoek Cellar, Glenwood, Graham Beck Franschhoek, Grande Provence Estate, Haute Cabriere (with Pierre Jourdan sparkling wines), Holden Manz (previously Klein Genot), La Bri, La Chataigne, La Motte (with Pierneef art gallery), La Petite Dauphine, La Petite Ferme, La Manoir de Brendel, Leopard’s Leap, Lynx Wines, Maison, Mont Rochelle, Moreson, My Wyn, Noble Hill, Plaisir de Merle, Rickety Bridge, Solms-Delta (with interesting slave museum), Stony Brook, Topiary Wines (newest Platter 5-star sparkling wine in Franschhoek), Val de Vie, and Vrede & Lust.   These wine estates can be visited without appointment.

Those estates for which one must book a winetasting are Eikehof, Franschhoek Pass Winery (Morena sparkling wine), Haut Espoir, La Bourgogne, La Roche estate, La Vigne, Landau du Val, Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons and Von Ortloff.  Bellingham Wines, Klein Dauphine, La Chaumière and Veraison Vineyards are not open to the public at all, but their wines can be bought at the highly regarded Franschhoek wine shop La Cotte Inn on the main road in the village.

The Franschhoek restaurants and food outlets on the Food & Wine Route are Allora, Babel at Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Boschendal Restaurant, Boschendal Le Café and Boschendal Le Pique-Nique, Bread & Wine, Café Allèe Bleue, Cafè BonBon, Col’Cacchio Pizzeria, Cosecha Restaurant at Noble Hill, Dalewood Fromage (but not open to the public), Dieu Donnè Restaurant, Dutch East, Elephant & Barrel, Essence, Fizz Affair Champagne Lounge, Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, Freedom Hill Restaurant, Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta, The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Haute Cabrière, Huguenot Fine Chocolates, Kalfi’s, Fromages de France (La Cotte Inn),  Le Bon Vivant, Dish @ Le Franschhoek, Le Verger The Orchard Restaurant (Le Franschhoek Hotel), The Common Room, The Tasting Room,  L’Ermitage Restaurant, Mon Plaisir at Chamonix, Mange Tout, Monneaux, Reuben’s, Rickety Bridge, Ryan’s Kitchen, Salmon Bar, The Country Kitchen, The French Connection, The Grill Room, The Jam Jar, The Olive Shack, and The Polo Club Restaurant (at La Vie). Oddly, Pierneef à La Motte is not listed, and one hopes this is just an oversight.   Other missing restaurants are Café Benedict, BICCCS, Chez D’Or, Cotage Fromage at Vrede & Lust, Crepe & Cidre, Café Le Chocolatier, Café des Arts, and the Franschhoek Food Emporium.

The Franschhoek Food & Wine Route Experiences which one can book include the following:

*   Solms-Delta Cape Music Tour, teaching participants about “Cape rural and vernacular music”. R 50 (minimum of 6 persons).  Monday – Sunday.

*   Plaisir de Merle “Award-winning wines wine tasting”. R 20, and R40 if cellar tour added. Monday – Saturday

Plaisir de Merle Flavour Sensation Tasting, food and wine pairing. R 50.  Monday – Saturday

*   Plaisir de Merle Wine & Chocolate Tasting. R 50. Monday – Saturday

*   Charcuterie Tasting with Neil Jewell. R 25 – R105. Daily before 11h00 and after 15h30

*   Franschhoek Cellar Cheese and Wine pairing. R 35.  Daily

*   Huguenot Fine Chocolates Chocolate Tour and Tasting. R 25.  Daily 11h00 and 15h00

*   Chamonix Grappa & Schnapps Tasting. R15.  Daily

*   Dieu Donné Micro-brewery and beer tasting. R15 beer tasting and R 35 for full bewery talk and tasters.  Daily

*   Babylonstoren Guided Garden Visit. R 20, Wednesday – Sunday 10h00 and 15h00.

*   Le Bon Vivant Surprise Menu. R 485 for 5-course meal and wine, R360 without wine. Daily except Wednesdays.

*   Food and wine pairing at Pierneef à La Motte. R 195 for 5 pairings, extra R 50 for glass of La Motte MCC. Tuesday – Sunday 12h00 – 14h00.

*   Cape Gourmet Delights Tour, with stops at Grande Provence, Moreson and Vrede & Lust. R1995 per day includes “light lunch”. 10 persons maximum.  Monday – Friday.

A walking tour as well as a talk on ceramics are part of this programme, but seem out of place in not having anything to do with Wine or Food.

One hopes that the Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route map will indicate which wine estates, food shops and restaurants sell foods, such as the vegetables, breads and chocolates at the Farm Shop at Pierneef à La Motte; salmon products and breads at the Salmon Bar; the Mediterranean delicacies at The Olive Shack; wonderful freshly baked wholewheat bread at Grande Provence; breads and sweet treats at Café BonBon and Café Benedict; olive oils and balsamic vinegar at Allèe Bleue; heavenly chocolates as well as breads at Café Le Chocolatier; Truckles cheeses at Franschhoek Cellar; and a selection of home-made pies, preserves, dips, cold meats and breads at the new Franschhoek Food Emporium.   It would be good if the fortnightly Farmers’ Market at Holden Manz also be listed.

We salute the Franschhoek Wine Valley for putting together this initiative, and trust that the Food & Wine Route map will be finalised and printed as soon as possible, given that the summer season ends in two months’ time.   We encourage Franschhoek Wine Valley to add the names of the omitted Franschhoek restaurants, by encouraging them to sign up as members, so that the map can be as representative of the food and wine delights in Franschhoek as possible.

POSTSCRIPT 22/4: The new Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route maps have been made available, and can be collected from the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau, or from Whale Cottage Franschhoek.  Oddly, it lists the two Pick ‘n Pays too, under the ‘Franschhoek Restaurants & Food section”.  Following our recommendation above, the Franschhoek Food Emporium was added, but Café Le Chocolatier, Café Benedict, BICCCS, Chez d’Or, Cotage Fromage, Crepe et Cidre, Café des Arts, and the new Le Coq are not on the map.  Other sources of food to buy, as listed two paragraphs above, are not indicated on the map.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage