Franschhoek is about to become a whole lot more French, when the Plaisirs de France (Pleasures of France) Celebrations kick off in the village on 15 October, demonstrating its food and culinary delights, and its French Huguenot heritage, a month-long Bastille Festival judging from the programme. A mix of Le Pique Niques, cooking demonstrations by local Franschhoek and French chefs, a weekly Country Village Market, French cheese tastings, pop-up kitchens with French-inspired lunches at art galleries, and some top class dinners form the foundation of the Festival. The Plaisirs de France Festival is part of a larger Seasons of France cultural exchange program between South Africa and France.
The French Huguenots arrived in 1688, and were allocated land in what was originally called Oliphantshoek in 1694. The farm names La Dauphiné, Bourgogne, La Bri, Champagne, La Motte, Cabrière, La Cotte, La Terra de Luc, and La Provence still exist, and were named after the settlers’ places of birth in France.
The highlight of the month-long French celebration will be a French-inspired six-course dinner at Pierneef à La Motte, costing R690 for the dinner paired with wines, which Chef Florent Boivin of the Paul Bocuse Institute in France will cook with Chef Chris Erasmus on 12 October. Chef Florent has cooked at a number of Michelin-star restaurants, including Maison Troisgros, Le Jardin des Sens, and Maison Decoret. He has also opened new restaurants at D’Sens in Bangkok, Raffles Hotel Restaurant in Singapore, and Héritage Hotel Restaurant in Mauritius. Chef Chris Erasmus has just returned from a three week stage at Noma, the world’s number one restaurant, based in Copenhagen. The dinner will combine the fresh herbs and vegetables grown on La Motte, South African produce such as springbok, and French gourmet delights such as foie gras.
Other special meals on offer are the following:
* 3-course lunches at The Bistro at Allee Bleue, R195, 15 October – 15 November. Tel (021) 874-1021
* 6-course Tasting Menu dinner at Vrede & Lust’s Cotage Fromage, paired with Vrede & Lust wines, R299. Wednesdays from 17 October – 14 November. Tel (021) 874-3991
* Cooking French Pastries at Le Quartier Français, 20 October, 10h00 – 13h00, R795.
* 6-courses paired with wines, Le Quartier Français Dinner, 25 October, 19h00, R950.
* 6-courses dinner paired with wines at La Motte Owner’s Cottage, 18 – 20 October, R950. Tel (021) 876-8000.
* French Tarts at Bread & Wine, 17, 24 and 31 October and 14 November, 10h00, R395. Tel (021) 876-4004.
* French Canapés at Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa stand at the Village Market 20 and 27 October, 3 and 10 November, 9h00 – 13h00.
* Macaroons, Meringues and Charcuterie at Bread & Wine stand at Village Market, 20 and 27 October, and 3 and 10 November, 9h00 – 13h00.
* Le Pique Nique at Rickety Bridge: R148 per person, 24 hour booking ahead.
It appears that very few of the Franschhoek restaurants are participating in the Plaisir de France promotion!
Pierneef à La Motte, La Motte, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (21) 876-8000. www.la-motte.com Twitter: @PierneefLaMotte
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio : www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage