A visit to the Cape Winelands wouldn't be complete without seeing the Franschhoek Valley, home to some of the country's oldest estates. I first visited the area some years ago with a friend from London called Wendy, who hailed from Cape Town.
After being shown around ‘Wendy's Cape Town', including a wonderful ‘colonial' lunch at the tennis club, Wendy insisted we spend a couple of nights in the Winelands. I had been to Stellenbosch on a previous visit but hadn't had the pleasure of visiting Franschhoek.
Once there, can I suggest a lunch in the area's most picturesque restaurant - La Petite Ferme, not just for the excellent food and wine but for the most beautiful views in the valley. Wendy had booked in advance as the restaurant is so popular, it's almost impossible to find a table without booking.
It is a bonus to have contacts when travelling as of course, they know where and when to go. I wasn't disappointed; the view of the estate and beyond was simply stunning. We enjoyed a house sparkling aperitif on the lawn soaking up the surrounding beauty, and we were fortunate enough to have a table on the terrace. There's a tasting tour visitors can take prior to lunch – that's a definite for me next visit!
The lunch menu was varied and very reasonably priced. There's a great choice for both starters and mains and looking around, everyone appearing to be savouring the delights of the kitchen. I loved the fish cakes- Wendy chose the prosciutto wrapped camembert, which she said were delicious. I followed with the smoked pork belly and Wendy the slow cooked lamb. Every mouth watering morsel was washed down with quality wine from the estate, the sauvignon blanc and the merlot were excellent and surprisingly cheap too. The merlot was so good that we finished with a cheese plate. Although the desert menu was tempting, we both felt replete and enjoyed an Irish Coffee instead.
La Petite Ferme is also a guest house with rooms and suites so you can stay and enjoy even more of this delightful venue. There are Friday evening concerts which are very popular – remember to book in advance.
In Franschhoek Village, you can rely on the best steaks around in the casual bistro, French Connection. The ambiance and service is consistently good and it really doesn't break the bank. The menu also offers a selection of meat, excellent duck and fresh fish. The choice of top quality wines really does give these wonderful eateries the edge. I love the mussels and prawn tempura – mouth watering!
My last tip, or rather Wendy's, would be to try Ryan's Kitchen, also in Franschhoek, for a great all round experience including modern South African dishes, food, wine and ambiance couldn't be better.