Tag Archives: Ratafia

Restaurant Review: Haute Cabrière frames beautiful Franschhoek view!

imageAs part of a three-day stay in Franschhoek last week, I made a point of revisiting some older restaurants. One of them was Haute Cabrière, a restaurant which I had heard little of, other than its appointment in November last year of new Chef Dennis Strydom, of late. Continue reading →

Franschhoek Uncorked toasts long-awaited Spring!

After one of the wettest winters in a long time, Franschhoek is ready to welcome Spring with its ‘Franschhoek Uncorked‘ festival on 1 and 2 September, and has laid on a wine and food tasting feast in its honour. Nineteen wine estates are inviting wine lovers to meet their winemakers and taste their wines on their estates, at a cost of R100 for the weekend pass, covering both days.

Each participating wine estate will offer its wines for a free tasting (some have ‘bespoke‘ tastings too, at a fee). Each estate has some form of musical entertainment, and they all serve food to buy.  The wine estates participating, and their programme for the two days, are as follows:

*   Allée Bleue: live entertainment, fresh herbs of the estate to buy, new vintage Brut Rosé, and enjoy a meal at the Bistro

*   Anthonij Rupert Wines:  Taste Protea and Terra del Capo wines for free, or attend a ‘bespoke‘ tasting of Anthonij Rupert wines at R50.  Half price entrance to Motor Museum, at R30.

*   Boekenhoutskloof:  Taste new release Chocolate Block 2011, enjoy the band, and taste Reuben’s BBQ

*   Dieu Donné : cheese platters and spit braai offered, live music

*   Franschhoek Cellar: jazz band, free tasting of wines, cheeses, chocolates, and olives. Cheese lunch at R100 for two.

*   Grande Provence: free tasting; buy 11 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Shiraz and get one free; taste the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, and Chardonnay 2011; tapas; Marimba band; art exhibition ‘Walk this earth alone‘; five-course degustation menu on 1 September paired with Grande Provence and New Zealand Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, at R495.

*   Haute Cabrière: Ratafia ball throwing competition, wine tasting, restaurant offers a la carte menu

*   Holden Manz: ShenFM performs, Chef Cheyne’s menu, taste wines

*   La Bri: offers cheese platters, olives, homemade bread and chocolates to buy, five year vertical wine tasting R100, chocolate and wine pairing R50.

*   La Chataigne: 2012 vintage, guitarist, boules, ‘Swedish street food’

*   La Vigne: wine tasting, art exhibition by Lötter de Jager, Pasta Fresca, outdoor chess.

*   Leopard’s Leap: free tasting, and introducing two cocktails: Chardonnay Margarita and Shiraz Cocktail

*   Lynx: tapas, Spanish guitarist, taste new Lynx Viognier 2012

*   Maison: taste Chenin Blanc 2011, Shiraz 2010, and new Blanc de Noir 2012, jazz band, slow roast pork belly with pickles, ciabatta and mustard (R85)

*   Noble Hill: taste first Rosé, gourmet taco, live music.

* Plaisir de Merle: sweet and savoury pancakes, live entertainment

*   Rickety Bridge: Reggae band, eat pork belly fingers, rib eye, mini burgers, tempura hake goujond

*   Solms-Delta: Kaapse music, Kaapse food, Kaapse wines!

*   Vrede & Lust: decor for sale, baguettes and mussels, Lindt chocolate.

Franschhoek Uncorked, 1 – 2 September, 11h00 – 17h00.  R100 weekend pass. www.webtickets.co.za

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

Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant breath of fresh air, exciting new chef

The Haute Cabrière wine cellar and restaurant are an institution in Franschhoek, having opened sixteen years ago, with a location on the slopes of the Franschhoek Pass that has one of the best views of the village.  Chef Matthew Gordon’s departure earlier this year allowed the Von Arnim family to take over the management of the restaurant, creating an opportunity for the restaurant interior to be redone, and for new chef Ryan Shell to be appointed, re-opening on 1 September.

The best part of the refurbishment is that the restaurant has received permission from the powers-that-be to serve guests outside, to capitalise on the beautiful view over the Franschhoek valley, which one does not see much of when sitting inside.  Winetasting too can now be done outside at special tables and chairs, outside the next-door cellar, home to the Saturday morning 11h00 cellar tour which ends with the Sabrage highlight.  Christiane von Armin, daughter-in-law of flamboyant legend owner Achim von Arnim, took on the restaurant project, and her first step was the furnishing.  She has added the most comfortable white leather chairs, and two white couches with a coffee table with a vase of deep red roses are a friendly homely welcome as one enters through the massive glass doors.  Achim is a painter too, and his works are hung in the restaurant and the wine cellar.  New chandeliers have been added, the glass crystals having an almost identical shape to the chair backs.  The winetasting room and restaurant are now visibly connected, in that a new window allows each side to see the other, and creates a display space for all the Haute Cabrière wines, best known for the Pierre Jourdan sparkling wines. Tables have white table cloths, and the abundance of white in the restaurant makes it look fresh.  French-style café music plays in the background.

Having tried to eat at the restaurant on Thursday evening (they only open in the evenings on Friday and Saturday in September), I returned yesterday for lunch and arrived just as Achim’s wife Hildegard, son Tamo, Christiane,  Jos Baker, and Ian and Lise Manley arrived, and I was privileged to be spontaneously invited by Christiane to join their table.   The Manleys have been appointed to handle the publicity for Haute Cabrière. Jos Baker was the first shareholder of the wine estate, and was a good friend of ‘Omi’ Theodora von Arnim, Achim’s mother, and Tamo regaled us with stories about what sounded like a wonderful colourful character. Jos still judges the San Pellegrino World’s Best 50 Restaurants, and is off to Europe shortly to do her judging. I got to know Jos as a member of Cape Town Slow Food, and she was the most creative planner of exciting events for the club.  Sadly she is no longer involved.

Exciting is the young chef Ryan Shell, who will position the Haute Cabrière restaurant as one of Franschhoek’s best again. Chef Ryan left the Prue Leith Chef’s Academy as a lecturer, and has worked in Franschhoek before, with Chef Margot Janse at Le Quartier Français, with Chef Chris Erasmus (now at Pierneef à La Motte) when at Ginja, and with Mike Bassett at Myoga. He has also worked at the Michelin-starred Longueville Manor on the Isle of Jersey.   His inspiration to cook came for his aunt, who encouraged him to go to chef’s school. Ryan says he is part of a team of eight making the cuisine magic happen, and that it is easy to do so in the beautiful cave-design building, to which guests come because they want to be there, making them easy to please.  His menu will evolve, much like the wines in the cellar next door, he says, and he has made three changes to the menu in the past ten days already, ensuring that it remains fresh.  Zelda Oelofse-Cornthwaite is the manager, and she has retained most of the previous Haute Cabriére restaurant staff, and has added Desiree, the previous manager of Bouillabaisse.  Staff wear white shirts and black pants, with a strongly branded red Haute Cabriére apron.  Their service is friendly and efficient.

The menu and wine list are presented in a black leather holder.  The menu introduction refers to the changes that have taken place in the restaurant, but that it is still committed to established traditions and the ‘true marriage between food and wine, setting the scene for our food to dance with our wines for your enjoyment’. What was started by Chef Matthew Gordon has been carried on by Chef Ryan, in that almost all dishes, even the desserts, are available in full and half portions, allowing one to taste a larger number of dishes, and making eating at the restaurant cost-effective.  Most of the Haute Cabrière wines are available by the glass too.  The table setting has a glass of sparkling wine on each table, and probably would make one order a glass of bubbly as a start.  We were offered a glass of Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose.  The menu has a wine pairing recommendation for each dish, and dishes containing nuts are marked.

Chef Ryan impressed by coming to the table, to introduce his amuse bouche of a trio of roast tomato soup, prawn beignet, and buffalo mozzarella, tomato and onion salad.  His lovely freshly-baked bread was quickly finished.  The starter choices are Malay curried butternut soup with a lime prawn mousse and coconut (R30/60), very yummy duck liver parfait (left) served on blueberry toast, and a celery and orange salad (R45/65), confit lamb terrine filled with apricot (R40/60), and pickled beetroot salad (R35/55).   The six main courses offer a variety of choices, including meat, fish and vegetarian: braised pork belly is served with peach pommes puree, roasted porcini and a peanut froth (R60/R100), Beef Wellington (R76/R125), a beautiful light and healthy lasagna of Franschhoek salmon trout (right) with orange-buttered baby vegetables (R65/110), tomato and buffalo mozzarella tart (R50/90), crown roasted chicken breast with sweet corn couscous (R65/110), and porcini-crusted wildebeest loin served with a bitter chocolate jus (R75/145).

It is on the dessert side that Chef Ryan’s creativity really comes to the fore, in the elements the desserts are composed of.  I chose lemon thyme panna cotta, for its unusual addition of butternut anglaise, and was served with a blueberry tuille and grilled vanilla chiffon (R40/55).  Other options are bitter chocolate crème brûlee served with banana and rosemary beignets, mint syrup and sour cherry sorbet (R40/60); Pierre Jourdan poached pears served with molasses pudding and vanilla and rooibos ice cream (R30/55); and strawberry and champagne jelly served with spicy walnut ice cream (R40/60).  Coffee is by LavAzza.

The Pierre Jourdan Cap Classiques Brut, Cuvée Belle Rose, Brut Savage, and Blanc de Blanc range in price from R32/R129 to R42/R169.  The Cuvée Reserve is only available by the bottle, at R264.  Pierre Jourdan is honoured in the brand name, having been the first owner of the Cabriére wine estate.  Haute Cabriére Chardonnay/Pinot Noir 2010 (R27/109), Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011 (R30/119), Pinot Noir 2011 (R47/189); Pierre Jourdan Tranquille lower alcohol wine (R21/82); Pierre Jourdan Ratafia (R16/129) and Fine de Jourdan potstill brandy (R27/R219) are also offered, all at very reasonable prices.

Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant is an exciting reinvented rediscovery, and Chef Ryan is a breath of fresh air in this well-established restaurant.  It offers a good variety of creatively prepared dishes as well as wines at affordable prices.

POSTSCRIPT 30/10: Lovely lunch at Haute Cabriere today, and well looked after by Desiree and her staff. Spoilt with glass of Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose.  Excellent tender fillet in Beef Wellington (starter portion), and interesting sour cherry sorbet, with cherry and cinnamon soup for dessert.

Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant, Franschhoek Pass, Monday – Sunday lunch, Friday and Saturday dinner (in September, from October lunch and dinners daily).  Tel (021) 876-3688. www.cabriere.co.za

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

Franschhoek pops the corks at ‘Franschhoek Uncorked’!

This weekend Franschhoek will celebrate its fourth ‘Franschhoek Uncorked’ weekend, and all indications are that the weather will be reasonably kind to the event.  Eighteen Franschhoek wine estates invite visitors to Franschhoek to visit them, not only to taste their wines, but also to enjoy the unique food and entertainment at each estate.

The Franschhoek wine estates offer visitors the following:

*   Noble Hill: Eat at Cosecha Restaurant, gourmet Tachos on grill, music by The Studebakers.   Tel (021) 874-3844

*   Vrede en Lust: Cocktails with strawberries, to celebrate Spring.  Tel (021) 874-7611

*   Plaisir de Merle: One of the wine estates capturing the French heritage of Franschhoek the best.  Serving pancakes, live music.   Tel (021) 874- 1071

*   Allée Bleue: Live jazz, free wine tasting, French foods (Flammkuchen, Bouillabaisse, cheesecake with strawberries), fresh herbs for sale, new vintage Brut Rosé, picnics at R145 per person, meals at The Bistro.  Tel (021) 874-1021

*   Solms-Delta:   Celebration of ‘van die Kaap’, with Cape music, food, wine and traditional music.  Pairing of ‘Cape fusion cuisine’ with Cape wines.  Tel (021) 874-3937.

*   Anthonij Rupert Wines: Complimentary tastings of Protea and Terra del Capo wines.  Boules.  Franschhoek Motor Museum displays and demonstrations, as well as drive in vintage and classic cars.  Tel (021) 874-9000

*   Graham Beck Wines: Fresh oysters, fresh basked breads, cheeses, charcuterie, from Oude Bank Bakkerij to complement tasting of wines and Mèthode Cap Classique.  Master classes by winemakers Pieter Ferreira and Erika Obermeyer, at 11h00 on Saturday and Sunday, at R75 per person.   Tel (021) 874-1258.

*   Lynx:   Spanish fiesta includes tapas, live Spanish band.   Tel (021) 867-0406

*   La Chataigne:   Live music, Boules.  Tel (021) 876-3220

*   La Motte:  Live music, Special menu for the weekend Festival at Pierneef à La Motte.  Tel (021) 876-8000

*   Rickety Bridge: Live band, Boules, chipping competition, braai.  Tel (021) 876-2129

*   Grande Provence: Marimba band, Boules, art exhibition, Oriental Tapas. Tel (021) 876-8600

*  Franschhoek Cellar: Truckles cheese tasting, Huguenot Fine Chocolate Tasting, La Bourgogne olive oil and olive tasting, Pick ‘n Pay sushi bar, cheese lunches at R85, live jazz band.  Tel (021) 876-2086

*   Dieu Donné: Cellar tours, live music by Adagio,  Micro Brewery beer tastings, bridal exhibition, freshly baked produce stall, Sunday Brunch 10h30 – 15h00.  Tel (021) 876-2493

*   Haute Cabriére:  Ratafia ball throwing competition, Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011 tasting, cellar tours and sabrage Saturday and Sunday at 11h00, and at 14h00 on Saturday.  Special ‘Uncorked’ menu at re-opened Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant.  Tel (021) 876-8500

*   La Bri: Art by Hamlin, sale of plants, bulbs and seeds, fresh baked breads, cheeses, soups, picnics, three course dinner with winemaker on Saturday evening at R350 per person.  Tel (021) 876-2593.

*   Holden Manz: Live band, cocktails, fun activities, Official Uncorked After Party, Saturday, from 5 pm.  Tel (021) 876-2729.

*   Boekenhoutskloof: Release of Chocolate Block 2010. Barbeque Extravaganza by Reuben’s. Kitchen Jamming Blues Band.  Tel (021) 876-3320.

Franschhoek Uncorked, 3 – 4 September.  R100 allows multiple entries to the wine estates over the weekend.  Book via www.webtickets.co.za Franschhoek Wine Valley supports responsible drinking, and has a number of shuttle services listed on its website www.franschhoek.org.za.  A number of wine specials are available this weekend, and are listed on the Franschhoek Wine Valley website too.

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