Clever Capetonians stay far away from restaurants over the Festive Season, given poor past experiences with service and food quality. It seems that many locals are brave enough or naive enough to go out during the Continue reading →
Julia Hattingh is the fourth chef at Franschhoek Kitchen since Holden Manz bought the previously named Klein Genot wine estate, and it was renamed after the owners’ surnames. She is a breath of fresh air, and the restaurant will attract back customers, as Chef Julia settles in and takes the restaurant to a new level.
Security is stricter now, one having to fill in a sheet at the boom, but friendly. One walks through the downstairs tasting room to get to the upstairs restaurant, and I chose the smaller room with the fireplace. Front of House Manager Cobi Bosch is new, and he and I did not gel at all. He previously worked at Rhapsody’s at Cape Town International and in Bloemfontein. I knew that Manager Wayne Buckley would pop in, and I did want to meet Chef Julia, which made me stay. Cobi also served as the waiter on Monday. He recommended to a neighbouring table what his favourite dishes are, in guiding them what to order (they ordered a cheese platter to share in the end), but did not offer me this service. He brought two wine lists, one with Holden Manz wines, and the other with wines from their ‘friends’, being other wine estates in Franschhoek and one in Stellenbosch, telling me that the Chardonnay on the list was sold out already. He seemed most put out when I requested butter instead of the bottles of Willow Creek extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, for the slices of olive oil bread which he had brought to the table. Continue reading →
New Chef Maryna Frederiksen is focusing on her vegetable and herb garden and fruit orchard at Holden Manz, to offer her Franschhoek Kitchen clients the freshest possible fare, a dream come true for chefs seeking to be sustainable as far as possible. She has brought the herbs and vegetables grown at Holden Manz into her new menu, and is planning to expand what she has planted and what she can source in Franschhoek.
She is so passionate about using the freshest ingredients in her ‘farm to fork food‘ cooking that she has already met with Daniel Kruger from La Motte, who created and manages their herb and vegetable garden, and sells produce to the leading restaurants in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Daniel has advised Holden Manz about which herbs and wild edible flowers such as stinging nettles and wild sorrel to plant, and has provided seedlings. La Motte supplies vegetables with greater quantity requirements, being root vegetables in the main, but also runner beans, Chinese long beans, golden beets, purple carrots, and more. Chef Maryna is challenging Daniel to source vegetables which she got to know in America, including burdock root, for which she was able to source seeds from Germany. While she would love to cook with tropical vegetables, Franschhoek is not suited to them. Chef Maryna loves to infuse her dishes with herbs such as thyme, mint, lemon verbena, and geranium.
Maryna grew up in Sasolburg, and qualified at Potchefstroom College at the age of 20, thereafter setting off to see the world by becoming an apprentice chef on cruise ships. She was encouraged to continue in this field, her bosses saying that she showed talent, and she went to Switzerland for French culinary studies. She moved to San Francisco, working at a seafood restaurant, and a six month planned stay became a 23 year love affair with America, including nine years in Seattle, and five years at the Herb Farm restaurant in Woodinville Washington. She knew she would return to South Africa some time, and did so because she was missing her family in Pretoria, taking on the running of the restaurant Lucit. She had spent some time in the wine country in California and Washington, and had a dream to work in our wine region, jumping at the opportunity to join Holden Manz, food and wine being her passion: ‘you can’t have the one without the other’, she said.
Chef Maryna has evaluated what was on the Franschhoek Kitchen menu with GM Wayne Buckley, and some Holden Manz favourites have been retained but redesigned by Chef Maryna, for example the ‘Franschhoek Kitchen Trio’ (R150), which consists of the linefish piccata, chilli jam squid, and grape vine smoked pork belly. Chef Maryna said that she is a ‘Slow Food cooker’, and proudly shared that she cooks her sauces over two days to get the reduction.
The menu is printed on recycled A3 board, with an imprint of the Holden Manz elephant trunk logo. Starters include a soup of the day (hot pea and mint, and cold Gazpacho) at R45; a beautifully plated Ceviche de Veracruz which Gideon enjoyed, yellowfish having been marinated in a lime, coriander, tomato and jalapeno salsa (R65); Portuguese spiced squid with a most unusual lychee and rocket salad, a sweet chilli jam, and green garlic aioli (R65), a Caprese salad (R60), sardines (R60), a five spice duck salad served with pickled shimeji mushrooms, local berries, and a garden fresh herb salad (R100); a crispy prawn salad enjoyed by Wayne, with sugar snap peas, strawberries, ginger and coriander (R100); and a steamed garden vegetable platter with lemon butter sauce (R45).
The Franschhoek Kitchen Trio is one of the most popular main courses on the menu. I ordered the Duck Duo, being a duck breast scaloppini and a citrus-stuffed duck braciale confit with a Holden Manz Good Sport sauce, and parsnip purée (R155); a pan-seared fillet mignon with crispy duck fat fried new potatoes, king oyster mushroom, and Bordelaise or Jack Daniels sauce (R155); linefish of the day costs R120, served with a saffron mussel sauce; Pasta caprese (R80); and Sicilian prawn marsala, with fennel, carrots, capers, tomatoes, and currants topped with marsala sauce (R120).
I loved the unusual ‘Coffee and Doughnuts‘ dessert, being an espresso semifredo served with mini cinnamon doughnuts. One can also order a Pavlova, served with meringue, rose geranium cream, fresh berries, and Holden Manz Port gastrique; coconut panna cotta with passion fruit gelée; chocolate mousse cake with brandy and a berry couli, all desserts costing R45. The cappuccino was made with Terbodore coffee, a special Holden Manz blend roasted in Franschhoek.
After only a month at Holden Manz, Chef Maryna is already showing her passion for fresh and seasonal produce, and this can only develop as her own vegetable and herb garden grows at Holden Manz, and she sources more unusual vegetables from Daniel Kruger at La Motte.
Disclosure: Holden Manz GM Wayne Buckley refused to accept my payment for the dinner.
Franschhoek Kitchen, Holden Manz, Tel (021) 876-2729. www.holdenmanz.com Twitter: @Holden Manz @MarynaChef Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Yesterday I met new The Franschhoek Kitchen Chef Cheyne Morrisby at Holden Manz in Franschhoek for the first time, not having had the opportunity to do so when he owned Cheyne’s in Bree Street before closing it down last year. I was very impressed with the tapas he prepared for lunch yesterday, and their exceptional value for money. I also chatted to new winemaker Schalk Opperman and to Karl Lambour, the new Holden Manz wine production, marketing and sales director.
Chef Cheyne started at the Franschhoek Kitchen last Tuesday, and was busy making the tapas when I arrived. He told me that they will vary the tapas menu every week, depending on what they have available, and what the clients enjoy. The tapas feedback will help him to develop his own menu over time, retaining those dishes that have been a particular hit at The Franschhoek Kitchen, which was started by his predecessor Chef Bjorn Dingemans. One senses that he wants to spoil his clients, and the three item tapas portions, at a mere R35, is unbelievable value. He said that ‘the more one can enjoy, the better’, the policy he wants to offer his clients! Chef Cheyne is Cape Town born, worked at Blues for two years, and a planned one year job in London became an eleven year one, working at the Conran Group restaurants. In this time he cooked for Kate Moss, Kylie Mynogue, and Robbie Williams. He travelled to the East, including Thailand and Indonesia, and he said that his cooking style is that of the Pacific Rim. He loves their cooking methods, their simple approach to ingredients, and keeping food simple, fresh, clean and uncomplicated. They use base flavours to give food a good foundation. He decided to return to Cape Town with his family, wanting them to ‘feel’ Africa, and also wanting to give back to his home country. He set up Cheyne’s on Bree Street, with a R 1½ million Miele kitchen, and one table of 20 seats, around which all his clients enjoyed his cooking. In retrospect he is happy that he did not open a restaurant in Hout Bay, a difficult suburb in which to make restaurants survive. He had come to scout a wedding venue for his brother, and looked at Holden Manz. A week later he came back for an interview, and a week later he started the job. Chef Cheyne is a very confident and energetic person, not taking any nonsense from anybody he said, and seemed at home in his new kitchen already. Chef Cheyne lives in Hout Bay, but will spend six days a week on the wine estate to settle in.
Chef Cheyne is working with the existing kitchen team, and he will be allowing each of his chefs to develop their own signature dishes over time. The tapas menu offers six options, written up on a blackboard. It was hard to choose between the tapas dishes, and each one was beautifully presented. I started with a prawn tempura, with nice plump prawns, and pea risotto, delicious but a little too salty for my taste. I had to double check with GM Wayne Buckley if the price quoted at R35 was correct for the three item tapas dish, and he confirmed it. The beef tataki was served with Asian salad and wasabi mayo, the beef delicately rare, contrasted with the bite of the mayonnaise. The seared duck was served with a honey soy reduction and chilled watermelon, a most unusual combination. Other tapas choices were pork belly served with pea puree and topped with mange tout tempura, chilli salt squid with ponzu mayo, linefish with cucumber noodles and soy, and lamb and sushi rice balls with sesame. Even though I had already eaten enough, I couldn’t resist trying out the chocolate brownie tapas, small slices topped with a strawberry, and served with an unusual ginger and caramel sauce.
Karl Lambour and I had been trying to meet for a while, and it was luck that he was at the restaurant too. He lives in Camps Bay, and has a holiday home in Greyton to which he was heading back. He was excited by Chef Cheyne’s positive influence and energy. Karl was the cellarmaster at Constantia Glen for five years, and worked at Fleur du Cap’s Bergkelder for two years prior to that. His vision for Holden Manz is to express what the farm is capable of, in using predominantly their Franschhoek grapes and to make Franschhoek a region that becomes synonymous with excellent wines again. He wants to focus on Holden Manz’s red wine varieties of Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. They will develop their iconic wine Big G even further, adding small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot to make the wine a true Bordeaux blend. The new Rosé is doing well. Karl is proud of their terroir, shared with their neighbours La Bri, Boekenhoutskloof, and Stoney Brook, the stony soil giving their wines complexity. The mountain nearby stops the wind and cools down the temperature compared to other parts of Fanschhoek, where temperatures can exceed 40°C in summer. They are also looking at what they can do differently in the restaurant, with a Shiraz-themed winemakers’ dinner planned for Wednesday, serving four courses, each paired with a Holden Manz, Mullineux, Eagle’s Nest, and AA Badenhorst Shiraz. This is the second winemakers’ dinner they have organised. Karl said that while he is not the winemaker, he is making two wines – a Chardonnay for which he is buying in grapes, and a special Shiraz blend.
Schalk Opperman apologised for his beard and moustache, saying that he is a member of the Franschhoek Moustache Association, winemaker members having decided to not shave from the first day of their harvest until yesterday. The competition was won by Jean Smit of Boekenhoutskloof, having grown the biggest moustache in this time. He said that he originally had mixed feelings about moving to Holden Manz from Rust en Vrede, where he had a secure job for six years, but stood in the shadow of the winemaker. He was pleasantly surprised about the role which he can play in improving the grapes at Holden Manz, having a good structure, and he is working on developing the Holden Manz brand as wines to be reckoned with. He is a Shiraz maker first and foremost, but sees making blends as a far bigger challenge for a winemaker. He complimented Karl for his skills in wine marketing and brand building, and is happy that Karl leaves the winemaking to him, but is available to him as a sounding board. They will use their own grapes in winemaking only, only buying in a small quantity of Malbec and Petit Verdot to improve the Big G. They will use barrel fermentation in future, which was not done before, keeping the wine in the barrel for a year and in the bottle for another year. In two years time the Holden Manz wines will show the effect of the new winemaking production techniques and winemaker, Schalk said.
It was a busy restaurant at The Franschhoek Kitchen yesterday, and the energy generated from Chef Cheyne was reflected by Karl, Schalk, Wayne and the serving staff too. Having been at the Franschhoek Kitchen a week ago, it was incredible what a change the new chef at Holden Manz has made! There is a promise of great things to come, given that this has only been Chef Cheyne’s first week.
The Franschhoek Kitchen, Holden Manz, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 876-2729. www.holdenmanz.com Twitter:@HoldenManz01
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:WhaleCottage