AT Grande Provence in Franschhoek, there is a 2018 Merlot which is quite simply out of this world, for something so young. It was but one of the many joys experienced on the day we visited for the launch of the Spring Heritage tasting menu created by another youngster, head chef Marvin Robyn.
If one could choose the weather to suit one’s needs, it would have been done this way: it was the very definition of spring – sunny and warm, not too hot, no wind – and just right for the lunch at a long table set in the garden under the dappled shade of the trees, surrounded by Anton Smit’s striking sculptures.
We’d begun with bubbly, then more bubbly and oysters over at The Bistro, which is a relaxed, less formal venue which is suitable for families (with children who have the space to be unfettered without being annoying). Here, you can have breakfast – like eggs benedict, omelettes, smoothies and granola bowls – from 10am till 12pm daily; and lunch from 12pm till 6pm on burgers, fish and chips, sharing platters, and salads, as well as daily specials like pitas, wraps, and the glorious cakes.
The Bistro hosts a variety of wine tasting pairings. These include Angels Tears wines with pistachio and apricot, passion fruit, smoky almond and raspberry and dark chocolate truffle nougat; the Heritage Experience, which pairs a selection of Grande Provence and Angels Tears wines with four traditional Cape canapés such as bobotie samosas and malva pudding; and the ultra-elegant Méthode Cap Classique and three uniquely-dressed West Coast oysters. Also, happy hour oysters at the oyster bar between 5pm and 6pm – for only R10 each.
For fine dining, look to The Restaurant where Marvin has created some superb dishes, as fresh and pretty as spring itself, and twice as tasty. That Merlot was served with the first starter of beetroot, pink beetroot puree, honeycomb walnut praline, and chevin with sour fig dressing. There are certain ingredients in this world which simply belong together, and these are some of them.
Sadly, I am no longer able to eat oysters, so I skipped that course (an oyster with Fynbos-infused kimchi, fresh plums, oysters kaiings, and dune spinach) and instead had heirloom tomatoes, with mozzarella bavarois, basil pesto, and Kalamata.
For main courses, we sampled the beef ribeye with biltong, cauliflower, button mushrooms, asparagus and kapokbos jus; free range chicken breast with stewed apricot, pickle curried onions, creamed cabbage and gingerbread jus; and catch of the day with papaya, sweetcorn, grilled cos, a smoked snoek croquette and chilli caramel.
Other dishes on the new menu include ostrich tataki and springbok loin served with mieliepap, chakalaka puree, honey and buchu jus; and carrot risotto with heritage carrots, blue cheese and white chocolate spuma.
Throughout the meal, Marvin popped out the kitchen to tell us a bit more of the inspiration behind the dishes, and wine maker Thys Smit guided us through the wonderful wines. Thys is a finalist of the 19th Diner’s Club Young Winemaker of the Year Awards which take place on November 23, 2019, on the strength of his Grande Provence Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, both 2018 vintage. The competition focuses on the white wine category this year.
For dessert we had 70% Valrhona chocolate fondant with Amarula crème and apricot, and chocolate sorbet. Another option is blueberry parfait with white chocolate, toasted marshmallow and berry compote; or vanilla bean panna cotta, strawberry sorbet, meringue shards with strawberry emulsion. Too sweet? Have the local artisanal cheeses served with preserves, “crispies”, fruit and nuts.
The Spring Heritage Tasting Menu is R495 and R595 for three and four courses respectively without wines, and from R780 and R880 with a Grande Provence wine paired with each dish. To book for The Restaurant or The Bistro, call 021 876 8600 or email [email protected]
FEATURED IMAGE BY BIANCA COLEMAN ©
Grande Provence will host the inaugural Summer Classics concert entitled African Inspired Sopranos presented by the Rotary Satellite Club of Franschhoek Valley on Sunday, November 24, 2019.
Featuring the multi-talented New Zealand soprano and guitarist, Deborah Wai Kapohe, and South African performers, soprano Janel Speelman and pianist Arno Jones, the afternoon concert sees the merging of classical opera with African rhythms in the Grande Provence wine cellar. Supporting the trio will be the heavenly voices of the Sinothando Arts and Culture Choir from Langrug in Franschhoek.
All proceeds of the concert will go towards local community upliftment projects supported by The Rotary Satellite Club of Franschhoek Valley.
From 11am, visitors can look forward to bubbly on arrival. The cost of the concert is R250 per person. Pre-paid booking is essential. Email [email protected] call 021 876 8600.