Contrary to belief that Winter in the Western Cape is a time to stay indoors and hibernate, a recent day out in Franschhoek has shown that the exact opposite is true indeed! Franschhoek with its cozy warm fireplaces, robust red wines, soul comforting food and so much more is the perfect destination to discover in Winter.
Our first stop of the day was at the new home of Terbodore Coffee Roasters. In addition the the roastery, they also opened the Big Dog Café where you will find delicious breakfasts and lunches to enjoy with your freshly-brewed coffee.
I can definitely recommend the Ricotta hotcake topped with fresh fruit and a beetroot parfait – gorgeous and tasty!
Next we headed of to Haut Espoir, one of Franschhoek's boutique wineries. They recently added a brand new tasting room on the farm where you can sip on their delicious wines whilst you enjoy the breathtaking views over the Franschhoek valley and surrounding mountains. Rob Armstrong first took us for a short walk on the farm where he shared the stories of their journey towards biodiversity on the farm.
Winemaker Marozanne then took us through a tasting of their wines. The Gentle Giant red blend was one of my favourites and at only R90 a bottle this wine presents incredible value for money.
Lunch at La Petite Ferme followed. There is no denying that this restaurant boasts one of the most exquisite views over Franschhoek and on a perfect Winter's day like today it is even more spectacular.
A brand new team recently took over the kitchen and cooking duties and their new menu is highly recommended. For starters we enjoyed a Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi with Smoked Butter, Pickled Mushrooms and Miso Mushroom Puree, followed by Pan seared duck with honey and wild pepper roasted parsnips and butternut mash. We ended off on a sweet note with the Valrohna Chocolate Torte, Mocha Panna Cotta, Orange Gel and Roasted Fennel Ice-Cream.
At De Villiers Chocolate Café chocolatier Nicolette took us through the journey of making chocolates. All De Villiers Chocolate’s beans are sourced from sustainable farms and farmers, who respect people and the planet.
The recently opened café in Heritage Square Franschhoek takes visitors through a chocolate tasting experience and also offers coffee and ice cream tastings. All their products are available at the shop and are great gifts to take home. My favourite bar is the Sea Salt and Caramel milk chocolate bar.
Just before dinner we ventured out to the Tuk Tuk Microbrewery on the Main Road. Their bespoke brews are made from carefully selected local and imported hops and malts, specially cultured yeasts and crystal clear spring water, regularly sourced from Leeu Estates’ mountain spring. We tasted a selection of four of their Tuk Tuk beers – Lager, Dunkel, Weizen, and Pale – all of these craft beers are highly recommended but the Lager turned out to be my favourite. To add on to our experience we tasted some freshly prepared snacks from their tasting menu. I especially enjoyed the seared tuna tacos with guacamole, pico de gallo and cabbage.
We ended off with dinner at Marigold with a feast of aromatic and spicy North Indian cuisine. Seasoned Chef Vanie Padayachee presented us with a selection of the best from her menu which amongst others included Aloo Matar Samosa (Potato and peas with ginger and fragrant spices, fried and served with tamarind chutney), Palak Chaat (crispy spinach leaves in gram flour batter topped with sweetened curd, tamrind, chilli and onion), Murg Malai Tikka (chicken thighs marinated in yoghurt curd with ginger, garlic, green chillies, garam masala and Indian herbs) and Mutton Rogan Josh (a robust, spicy curry of mutton knuckles, Kashmiri chillies, spices and yoghurt). For dessert we enjoyed Vanie's tandoor-baked pineapple and saffron crumble with coconut and fennel see kulfi.
With its beautiful intimate inside setting, roaring fireplace and hot curries, it was the perfect opportunity to truly enjoy what is best about Franschhoek in Winter!
After my culinary journey through Franschhoek, it was a pleasure to walk the short distance to our guest house Mont d'Or to reside for the night. The guest house has been recently refurbished and offers everything to make for a comfortable stay. For families I highly recommend their beautiful family room with an upstairs loft for the kids.
There is also a swimming pool, beautiful boma area and a dedicated spa treatment room.
The next morning we were treated to a delicious buffet breakfast at Miko at Richard Branson's Mont Rochelle Hotel. The view over Franschhoek from their restaurant in the morning is spectacular too. It is the ideal venue to celebrate a special occassion with a group of family and friends.
To make your visit extra special, book into one of their tastefully decorated rooms and spend the evening!
This is just a sampling of what visitors can expect to find when exploring Franschhoek this Winter. With all these to offer and more, Franschhoek is the perfect destination to escape to during Winter. For more information follow Franschhoek Wine Valley on social media (#OpenforWinter) or visit our website at www.franschhoek.org.za.