I was up bright and early and on the road to Franschhoek by 9am on Saturday. I arrived there a little before 10am and had to do some brisk walking to warm up (I was slightly underwarmthed for the chilly mountain weather). I explored the food and wine marquee, which amazingly was still being set up…not sure why the exhibitors didn’t get busy on Friday nite or crack of dawn Saturday. Perhaps everything is just more laid back out here in the winelands.
I am constantly amazed by the changing face of Franschhoek. Whenever I visit, there are always new restaurants or shops popping up. This time I noticed a swish champagne bar, a quaint kitchen shop next to Reubens and a coffee shop opposite called D-Essence. The entire town was adorned in red, blue and white (the French colours) and looked very festive. I went inside D-Essence all intent on a cosy hot chocolate only to become distracted by opening the newspaper. I glanced at the Travel 2006 of the Weekend Argus and I was staring back at myself (along with Vanessa, Karen and Nicole). How exciting – my Swellendam story had been published.
Check it out!!!!
After that excitement and a couple of phonecalls to share the glory, I finally got some attention from one of the extremely busy waitrons. I ordered a take away hot choc, which turned out to be an average Cadbury’s jobbie, albeit nice and warm.
Van finally arrived…after just about going through Wellington to get here and we headed to the tent to meet up with Bronwyn (who had organised the day) and crew. Van bought a tasting glass with five wine vouchers for R40. Being the last of the big drinkers, I opted to share some sips with her. Most of the Franschhoek wine estates were represented and many were quite cool about letting us taste as much as we wanted (without even exchanging a coupon)…except for the man at the Le Petite Ferme stand who was quite anal about the coupon exchange (although Van did stage whisper that his wine tasted like Ribena which may not have gone down too well 🙂
I would have liked for there to have been a couple more food tastings ..besides the ubiquitous Truckles cheese tasting, which is always nice (but as usual, I went a tad overboard as I was starving by now). Reubens were conjuring up awful-smelling chilli squid or something equally vile sounding, which put a slight damper on our tasting of Porcupine Creek, situated right next to the squid fry-up. However, we did decide that the Sauvignon Blanc from here was the nicest of the day and Van promptly bought 2 bottles.
From the marquee, we meandered our way to Grande Provence slightly out of town where Bronwyn had booked for us for lunch. It was pretty larny with heavy silver cutlery and large goblet glasses. Although the tablecloths and napkins seemed to be made out of hospital gown material with those horrible blue stripes. Some opted for the set menu – garlic soup (which apparently was way overdone with the garlic), a duck dish with bacon fondant (still don’t know what that is) and some poached pear thing for dessert.
I went for the angel hair pasta with veggies, which turned out to be fettucine with some veggies and a light cream sauce (OK, but not totally value for money at R65). Van and I shared the chocolte fondant (a warm choc pudding all gooey in the inside), which came with a yummy peanut butter ice-cream. (a bit pricey though at R40)
All wined and food-ed out, I still had to make my way back to Kaapstad. All in all a very nice day.
My Rating for Grande Provence: (out of five *****)
Ambience: *** (warm fireplace in the tasting room)
Wine: *** (angels tears is a easy drinking well priced Grande Provence staple)
Verdict: *** (probably will choose another restaurant in Franschhoek over this)