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Favourites Series part 1: Wine Farm

Living in the Cape, you just have to have a favourite one of these. There are so many to choose from and I can’t think of a more pleasant way to spend a good-weathered Sunday. Sigh…

Steven at Solms Delta

Steven doing his thing that he does so well...

My favourite wine farm is Solms Delta in Franschhoek.

Like a visit with old friends, there’s an equal sense of familiarity and excitement when you drive past the rock walls and roses leading up to the tasting room and museum. As we walked up on the perfectly Autumn day, Steven welcomed us with a big smile and a firm handshake. I felt so at home I almost said “long time no see!”

We tasted all the wines as we sat at rustic wooden tables in the garden overlooking the vineyards. Steven is a Wine and Heritage Guide, and he lived up to his title with authentic, honest and hilarious anecdotes about the farm and the area. Solms Delta employees live on and around the farm and have come from the area for centuries. To say there’s a sense of community sounds a little facetious… the farm is the heart of the area and everyone seems to benefit from its, uh, fruits, for lack of a better word.

And the heart of any home is in the kitchen. You have to visit Fyndraai restaurant. It’s labelled “hearty Cape cuisine” but its so much more. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s like your ouma and some gourmet French chefs got together and came up with this beautiful but honest menu.

Chef Shaun Schoeman came to chat to us about the overpowering wild garlic and herbs he has growing in his garden outside the kitchen. He says it takes some restraint and patience to fully appreciate their flavours. Well, he’s got it right already so we’ll leave the cooking up to him.

I ordered the Springbok shank with parsnip puree and sweet potato chips.

Springbok Shank at Fyndraai Restaurant

Springbok Shank at Fyndraai Restaurant

So tender, so complementary, so boldly comforting. Look, I’m nto going to even try to recreate the sensation for you, because it’s simply impossible. You have to try this. No, they’re not paying me to say this. I’m just so excited to have found good quality food, served in the most beautiful place, with the warmest service. Not having had a proper family Sunday lunch in many years, this is the closest I’ve come to it outside of well, family homes.

Ag, dis net so flippen lekker hier, hoor?!

On our way out we picked up a CD called “Hiervandaan”, a name also given to one of the estate’s prize wines. It’s lovely local folk music that will take you back there even when you’re sitting in your CBD loft.

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Pepper Club perfection

I’m not in the habit of blogging about OTHER people’s food. This is essentially vanity fare, so I like the focus to be on ME. However, every once in a while, you come across something so simply sublime that it cannot go unmentioned.

Ginger Crème Brûlée with Brandy Snaps from Chef Gabriël le Roux at The Pepper Club in Cape Town

Creme Brulee

Every custard's dream job

Apologies for the below-par picture – I only had my cellphone camera on me.

First of all, I’ve never really been much of a crème brûlée fan, perhaps because I’ve never had a good one. Just glorified custard to me, really. But this was not just any set custard with burnt sugar on top.

The consistency was stiff enough not to wobble off your spoon, but still incredibly light and airy. The layer of caramelised sugar on top was thin and crisp; no sharp bits to hurt your mouth and the flavour complemented the custard instead of overpowering it. Clearly you can tell that my previous experience of this dessert favourite hasn’t been pleasant.

Okay, I went back for another one. I had to make sure it wasn’t just the wine that was warming me up to this little cup of heaven. It was lots of fun dipping the rolled brandy snap into the cup and scooping out the custard, instead of using a spoon. Not so glamorous maybe, but that’s rather inconsequential to my enjoyment at that very moment.

No, we didn’t only have dessert. The meal began with starters ranging from oysters to fig and camembert phyllo cigars and lamb kebabs dipped in a yoghurt and apricot raita of sorts.

Main course consisted of beef fillet with fondant potato, red onion chutney, creamed leeks and a wild mushroom sauce.

Here are some of the other desserts that were on offer:

Banana Tarte Tatin

Banana Tarte Tatin

Berry Compote and Vanilla Mascarpone Pavlova

Berry Compote and Vanilla Mascarpone Pavlova

Look, it’s no secret that I love to complain. As such, my only disappointment for the evening was that I had nothing to bitch about on the way home. Nothing! I must be losing my touch… 😉

Executive Chef Gabriël le Roux was at the Paranga group (Paranga and Bungalow in Camps Bay) before heading up at The Pepper Club.


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