Tag Archives: Grande Provence

Rambling Litchi’s best of 2016

Just when you thought I was done for the year, I decided a ‘best of’ compilation post was necessary.

See the list below for some of our favourite things from 2016, all in and around Cape Town obviously, and expect an annual update*. Some categories will remain, others will change. Note that most of these came to mind instantly, but some were dismissed as we experienced them last year, not this year, and others I had to manually search my blog(s) for mentions and reminders – links included if you want to walk down my memory lane again. If there are any categories you feel I’ve left out, let me know! 🙂

Milkshake: There’s no denying milkshake is my favourite treat. This year, I’ve learned that if an establishment goes so far as to title something a ‘Freek shake’ best you believe it. Gibson’s Peppermint Caramel Freek Shake was enormous and I probably should have shared it. Ditto with the Festive Underground Eatery or FUE‘s cocopine shake much earlier this year.

Gibson's peppermint caramel Freek shake.
Gibson’s peppermint caramel Freek shake.

Burger: What goes with milkshake? Burgers, of course. You just can’t go wrong at Jerry’s. The patty is tasty, cooked to perfection on a brioche bun and the side of fries doused in Sriracha is a treat in itself. The bacon, cheese and onion ring-topped buccaneer beef burger at Catch22 also gets a thumbs-up from me.

The cheese, rocket and caramelised onion topped 'Jerry' burger at Jerry's, with fries doused in Sriracha sauce.
The cheese, rocket and caramelised onion topped ‘Jerry’ burger at Jerry’s, with fries doused in Sriracha sauce.

Hike: We’ve done quite a few hikes this year to work off all those burgers and shakes – most recently the Skeleton Gorge version up Table Mountain – but our faves all involved caves. That’s because you want a good view, sense of accomplishment and a body that’s not on the point of collapse once you reach your destination. Wally’s Cave in Lion’s Head was this year’s hidden hideaway gem.

Wally's Cave in Lion's Head
Wally’s Cave, conquered! If you know where to go it’s quite an easy climb up Lion’s Head.

Conference venue: It’s not all about weekend activities though. Conferences are the lifeblood of my worklife. The Artscape Theatre and trusty CTICC are always a good bet for Wi-Fi, tasty snacks and temperature control, but my best was the Vineyard Hotel.

Vineyard Hotel
The distracting view from my seat in the Vineyard Hotel ballroom, where I attended a few conferences this year.

Night away: Living in Cape Town is a little like living in paradise, but everyone needs a break away from their daily routine once in a while. For us, the best version of this was at Majeka House in Stellenbosch. Just over an hour from our front door, the suites are enormous, the spa treatments are heavenly and the food is simply superb.

Majeka House pool
Chandelier-style lights lit up the spa and pool area at Majeka House. I spent a lot of time in the jacuzzi at the far end.

Romantic dinner: You also need to celebrate special occasions as they arise. Maybe just because we went there to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary, maybe because they’re just up the road, but Homespun is at the tippy top of our ‘lovey-dovey locations’. The food, drinks, setting and service are all commendable.

The lamb shank at Homespun.
The lamb shank at Homespun.

Once-in-a-lifetime meal: This category is for those breathtaking meals that cost quite the pretty penny and offer course after course of plates you simply can’t help but take photos – and videos – of. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek was our winner here. Go soon if this is something on your foodie bucket list, as chef Margot Janse is leaving these kitchens early next year.

Posing with the wire win glass to prepare for the eight-course pairing dinner at Le Quartier Français' Tasting Room.
Posing with the wire win glass to prepare for the eight-course pairing dinner at Le Quartier Français’ Tasting Room.

Road trip: Whether you’re staying the night or just out for a few hours on the road, there’s nothing like a few empty hours to fulfill your wanderlust. We did so a few times this year, enjoying a few afternoons in the unspoilt beauty of Gordon’s Bay and Langebaan, both around two hours from home.

Beautiful views along the road that hugs the coast from Pringle Bay to Gordon’s Bay.
Beautiful views along the road that hugs the coast from Pringle Bay to Gordon’s Bay.

Winter special: One of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets is that many of its fine dining establishments offer warming meals at pocket-friendly prices in the cold winter months. Some of this year’s best include the half-price chicken curry specials at Inside in Eden on the Bay.

Chicken bunny chow and korma at Inside Lounge, Eden on the Bay
Two of our half-price winter chicken curries of 2016, at Inside Lounge in Eden on the Bay. That’s a bunny chow and a mild korma.

Alcohol tasting: You’re really spoilt for choice if wine is your thing, but those who prefer a more refined tipple are also in for a treat in the Cape. Val du Charron in Wellington does so with beautiful legends behind each wine blend, and many wine farms offer an MCC tasting of their bubbliest bubbly, but it’s the KWV brandy tasting that got Husband’s seal of approval this year.

KWV's ‘brandy and Huguenot chocolate' pairing.
KWV’s ‘brandy and Huguenot chocolate’ pairing.

Weekend lunch: This list proves it’s not all about the bustling CBD. In fact, on weekends there’s lots of appeal in driving a little off the beaten track to find a new venue where you can spend a few hours eating, drinking and laughing with loved ones. Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch is a beautiful spot for this, with panoramic views of the estate’s 123-hectare vineyards, an adventurous menu and their own wine varietals on The Vine Bistro‘s menu.

View of the vineyards from Glenelly Estate
View of the vineyards from Glenelly Estate.

Seafood meal: Unless you’re allergic to it, a meal out in Cape Town should include seafood. I passed the baton the Husband on this one, and a few of his favourites were the fettuccinne marina and platter for two at Panama Jacks in the Cape Town harbour.

The seafood platter special at Panama Jacks.
The seafood platter special at Panama Jacks.

Wild meal: Eating out in South Africa often means eating unusual dishes. The tasting menu at Catharina‘s on Steenberg Estate is an excellent way to do so. Though seasonal, you’re likely to find delicacies like wild boar, crocodile and zebra on offer.

Grilled zebra with aubergine maize meal and spicy chakalaka, part of the eight-course wild tasting menu at Catharina's.
Grilled zebra with aubergine maize meal and spicy chakalaka, part of the eight-course wild tasting menu at Catharina’s.

Eggs benedict: Husband’s weekend breakfast staple, we’ve sampled quite a few this year. The ones we kept going back to were the salmon version from Company’s Garden and the pork-belly bacon benedict at Steenberg’s 1682. Tart Hollandaise, yolk that pours at just the right pace and not-your-average toasted base. Yum!

Eggs benedict with Steenberg's 1682 pork-belly bacon.
Eggs benedict with Steenberg’s 1682 pork-belly bacon. Yes.

Dessert: Sometimes you don’t want a full meal. Sometimes it’s just your sweet tooth looking for satisfaction. I seem to have a mouth full of sweet teeth as I’ve had a jaw-dropping amount of desserts this year. My best have been the caramel bar at Majeka House’s Makaron, and the winter chocolate fondant and the summer raspberry ice cream sandwich at Grande Provence’s The Restaurant. Beautifully plated, these are the type of sweet treat you swirl around in your mouth with your eyes closed, and follow with a sip of strong coffee to enhance those flavours.

The Restaurant at Grande Provence's 'berry ice cream sandwich'.
The Restaurant at Grande Provence’s ‘berry ice cream sandwich’.

Speaking of…

Coffee: My bloodstream is coffee. I’m not fully functional before at least a cuppa or two, so the weekend hasn’t officially started before I’ve had a caffeine-filled cappuccino or latte. My favourites this year include the cappuccino at Village Place Cafe, with a shot of toffee syrup, and the regular cap at The Hart Breadhouse and Eatery in Melkbos.

Cappuccino at The Hart Breadhouse and Eatery in Melkbos
I’d expect nothing less than a heart swirled into the foam of my strong cappuccino when breakfasting at The Hart Breadhouse and Eatery in Melkbos.

Over and out, folks! Here’s to sampling the very best of 2017, watch this space…

*All photos my own. Disclaimer: Some of these were experienced free-of-charge as I reviewed them for work, but most came from our own pockets. No payment was considered for this ‘best of’ list as it’s all based on personal preference.

Steenberg’s 1682 benedicts and Grande Provence’s sensory summer lunch

This past week was very foodie, so we tried to get in a fair bit of exercise too with a few dog walks, beach visits and dips in the sea. See for yourself below…


Friday, 25 November 2016: Post-work doggy beach walk

Dacshund in car.
Bassie was excited to be in the car, despite not being 100% sure where she was being taken just yet.
Dog at the beach
Both were singing with excitement when they realised we were stopping at Kreeftebaai. The beach was deserted due to the wind. Here you can see Husband leading Bertie along the rocks.
Dog at beach.
Even though it was quite windy last Friday, the doggies thought it was a wonderful idea to go for beach walkies. Bertie frollicked in the waves and along the rocks, where he met a seal.
Sandy-nosed dog
This glazed look complete with sandy nose is always a sure sign that Bassie had a lovely time at the beach.

Saturday, 26 November 2016: Steenberg breakfasts and beach visits

Coffee at Steenberg's 1682.
Saturday morning we took the parents to 1682 at Steenberg Estate for breakfast. Here’s the menu and some of our breakfast coffees…
Steenberg 1682 breakfast.
Their pork belly bacon is such a win that we both ordered the standard benedict, as did father-in-law. Mother-in-law went for the salmon version, and we loved the hot honey rolls served as a breakfast starter.
1682 wine.
Some of the flowers and bottles on display at 1682.
Steenberg Estate.
Just look at that view, perfectly picturesque.
Coffee shake and lemon meringue at Peacocks
Later that afternoon Husband had to pop into work so I fitted in some early Christmas shopping at Bayside. This was my midway treat of coffee shake and lemon meringue slice at Peacocks’ Perfect Cup.
Table Mountain and kite surfers.
When we met up again late-afternoon it was such a perfect beach day we couldn’t resist a quick run down to dip our toes in the icy water, and gazed at the many kite surfers bobbing about in the breeze.

Sunday, 27 November 2016: Summer lunch sampling at Franchhoek’s The Restaurant at Grande Provence

Fod Lover's Market Sunningdale breakfast
We planned ahead and decided on a shared breakfast at our local Food Lover’s Market on Sunday morning. I had a cappuccino, Husband his standard breakfast Cola, and we shared the pesto halloumi toast. Good idea, as we lined our stomachs just enough and the bill came to less than R100, including tip!
Grande Provence, Franschhoek
The road is long, the lavender tall and the shrubs a deep green as you turn into Grande Provence from the Franschhoek main road.
The Restaurant at Grande Provence
We sat outside under the trees in the Sculpture Garden – good thing as it was a 34’C day. This is the striking table setting.
Grande Provence restaurant bread board.
First up, their signature bread board. Those cheese straws are some of my favourite things!
Chardonnay at Grande Provence.
Husband sampled a glass of their Chardonnay, which was fruity and light.
Tuna yukhoe at Grande Provence
First starter: tuna yukhoe. Such bright colours, such a good mix of flavours! Mine was served without the tuna.
Asparagus salad at Grande Provence
The asparagus salad starter on beautiful light-blue plate.
Pork belly starter at Grande Provence
Husband made light work of the 18-hour smoked pork belly (his second serving of the weekend), beneath all the pastel crunch – also still a starter.
Kingklip at Grande Provence
We needed to stretch our legs before we could tuck into the mains. Husband started with the kingklip.
Blesbok shank at Grande Provence
I had the blesbok shank, with lots of seasonal veg and peppery crunch.
Beef short rib at Grande Provence
For second mains we were both presented with the beef short rib with Asian mustard and potato two ways and a bed of sweet date paste. Both scraped our plates clean.
Dessert at Grande Provence. Berry ice cream sandwich and pot au creme.
And then, dessert. Creamy caramelised white chocolate pot au creme on the left, berry ‘ice cream sandwich’ on the right. Amazing and highly recommended.
Grande Provence trees.
Franschhoek main road is back along this tree-lined driveway.
Swimming in Cape Town sea.
We stopped off for a quick dip in the sea on our way home as it was still so very hot.

Mid-week evenings

Dog watching TV
Bertie demonstrated his ‘cat skills’ by sprawling along the top of the back of the couch, and was very interested in a nature show we watched with the parents.
Dacschund
Little Bassie insisted on sitting with us at the table while having dins.

That’s all, folks! Click here to read my review of Grande Provence in full.

Slow-cooked winter lunches & chocolate mushroom forests at Grande Provence

Last weekend was all about savouring extremely slow-cooked deliciousness at Franschhoek’s Grande Provence. Click here to click through the galleries of their official owned pics that I added in my official review, or scroll through the ones we took below…

Saturday, 11 June 2016: Sampling Grande Provence’s slow-cooked Winter delights

Dog licking human nose
The day dawned cold and grey but that didn’t dampen our spirits as we were excited about the lunch we’d be filling our bellies with soon. Bertie also shared some morning kisses to broaden our smiles.
Grande Provence in Franschhoek
Our wonderful lunch venue for the day – Grande Provence in Franschhoek. Highly recommended!
Grande Provence vineyards
The vineyard, Franschhoek mountains and wintery grey sky.
Cheese straws at Grande Provence
Just look at that fire – we were seated at the closest table to it. Those cheese straws were the stuff of legends.
Millionaire's bacon and eggs at Grande Provence
My ‘Millionaire’s bacon and eggs’ starter. Full description here in my official review.
BBQ lobster at Grande Provence
Husband went for the BBQ lobster starter.
12-hour beef cheek at Grande Provence
My 12-hour beef cheek mains.
18-hour Karoo lamb at Grande Provence
Husband’s 18-hour Karoo lamb mains.
Chocolate forest mushroom dessert at Grande Provence
Husband’s ‘chocolate forest’ dessert, complete with sweet mini mushrooms.
Chocolate mousse at Grande Provence
Lovely kisses of hazelnut pot au crème, hidden by the disc of tonka bean semi-freddo.
Hot fondant dessert at Grande Provence
My hot fondant dessert, complete with salted cocoa twig and a pipette of Amarula. Yes.
Cappuccino
My cappuccino with chess board sugar cubes and mini chocolate fondant truffle.
Franschhoek streets
Tree-lined streets just begging to be explored as we slowly rolled out of town, so explore them we did…
Boschendal in Franschhoek
We ended up having a wander around Boschendal, another gorgeous afternoon setting.
Chairs at Boschendal
These chairs are just asking to be lazed in! You can order a picnic on the grounds and do just that. We were obviously too full to do so on this visit, but watch this space!
Boschendal squirrel
With such woodsy scenery, little wonder the grounds are riddled with little squirrels, running here and there.
Boschendal squirrel
A little Boschendal squirrel trotting up a tree trunk with acorn in his mouth. So sweet.

Sunday, 12 June 2016: Breakfast at The Daily Cafe, Eden on the Bay

Tin cup a The Daily
Surprisingly we were hungry when we woke on Sunday, so we followed our noses towards the sea and ended up at The Daily Cafe in Eden on the Bay. I had to try the ‘tin cup’ – espresso sweetened with condensed milk. No sugar required!
lemon poppy seed berry cheesecake' pancakes at the Daily Cafe.
To eat, t’was a very tough choice but I settled on these ‘lemon poppy seed berry cheesecake’ pancakes. Such a good choice, definitely going back for these again!
Breakfast wrap at the Daily.
Husband opted for the breakfast wrap. He made appreciative noises after every mouthful.
Coal at beach
The weather had brightened a bit after the previous day’s gloom, so we decided to go coal picking. Here is Husband trotting along and picking bits of coal out from among the mussel shells strewn along the coastline.
Table Mountain and cloudy sky
Gorgeous streaks of cloud over Table Mountain.
Springbok milktart
After the Springboks were thrashed in the rugby on Saturday, it seemed only fitting to eat this ‘Springbok milktart’ at Mum’s on Sunday eve. Teehee we’re a vengeful bunch.

Thursday, 16 June 2016: Youth Day eggs benedict

Eggs benedict at The Daily
I was rather snuffly on this week’s public holiday so unfortunately neglected to take lots of pics, but you’re not missing much as we slept in very late and t’was a day of relaxing and retail therapy… and we went back to The Daily. Here is Husband’s salmon eggs benedict post-peppering but pre-Tabasco saucing.

That’s all, folks! I’ll likely not budge far from the laptop for the next few weeks as Cannes Lions 2016 has just kicked off, so we’re in for a recap of this post from last year, but Husband will hopefully drag me away for the odd treat, which I’ll try remember to photograph for you.

*Disclaimer: Obviously our meal at Grande Provence was part of their review package. All else came from our own pockets. All enjoyed equally. Click here for a reminder of other things to do in Franschhoek.