I often forget how old I actually am. I definitely do not feel old. However Norm and I had our 25th wedding anniversary on July 5th so obviously I am really, really old. On the evening of our actual anniversary it was a bit of a disaster. It was load shedding and we both worked so we did not fancy going out as we were going away for the weekend. We agreed to use a delivery app (Mr D) and I was allowed to choose the restaurant. Of course I chose Cheyne’s Mexicola Locale.
I ordered 4 pulled pork tacos (the El Pastor Taco) and an order of the Tierra Locale Nachos. On the app you can track the delivery guy via GPS. I watched him drive all the way to the end of the valley and I got annoyed and then I reigned in my arrogance and thought maybe he had another delivery and I was his second stop. Except then I watched him drive all over Hout Bay. Finally he arrived and apologised profusely as he handed over our ice cold food. Heat it in the microwave you suggest? Well if he had not taken over an hour to arrive I could have. It was load shedding by the time our food arrived. It was ice cold and we just had to look at each other in the candlelight and shrug and laugh about it all. Life happens.
On Friday we finished work early and had some friends come to stay with the dogs for the weekend. We drove down to Franschhoek. It is a charming little village, about a 2 hour journey if you mosey down slowly, or hit traffic getting out of the city, or have a pee or get food, or it can be done in 1.5 hours if you are young and have a heavy foot or are in a rush.
I had decided to splurge a bit on our accommodation and the dining experiences as it was our anniversary and a special occasion. We work hard, so why not reward ourselves? I had a moment of guilt when we arrived and I was thinking about how so many people are struggling financially and Norm reminded me I am not capable of mothering the world. We do our bit.
The apartment was right in the center of an area called “The Yard” in the middle of the village and we could see the big Franschhoek sign from our balcony. When we saw the designated parking that came with the apartment, we freaked. It was underground and you wound deep around a narrow, steep path and I could not have gotten my car in there if I were on my own, but Norm is a great driver.
Getting up to the room was a challenge for us crippley, arthritic old fogies as it was up about 3 flights of narrow steep stairs in the dark, hauling our bags. The room itself however was so stunning!
It was freezing cold all weekend, but I can imagine in the summer this room is the best place to be in the village! Sitting on the little balcony with jazz playing below you, sipping a glass of wine with your love? Heavenly! We will definitely come back in summer.
We unpacked and got settled in then went for a walk to find somewhere to eat as we were ravenous. It was well before 6pm so we hoped we were early enough to get a table without a booking. We spotted Hussar Grill and decided to give them a try. We were in luck and they sat us on the veranda.
I ordered a strawberry daiquiri and as we were on foot, Norm ordered a nice bottle of wine.
I chose a simple 200g fillet steak with a side of onion rings but Norm decided he would try the chateaubriand. It was a 300g fillet which they doused with brandy and set alight at the table for a bit of drama. It came with chips and a side of Béarnaise sauce.
After the sun went down it was freezing cold and we decided to order a dessert as they had warm Malva pudding with custard and we hoped that might warm us up. It did not but it was yummy!
We headed back to the apartment and built a big fire and cozied up for a bit of together time. When walking back to the flat we could hear live music echoing in the distance. Long gone are the days of our youth when we would have followed the sound of the music to it’s destination and then been out dancing, drinking and staggering home at 2am.
On Saturday we had a leisurely morning. We slept until 10 then Norm popped out to get us a nice coffee and then we got dressed and went for a wander in the village. The previous evening we had seen a sign announcing that there was a Saturday market at the church and so we made our way in that direction. The church itself is a beautiful old Cape Dutch design with lovely gardens.
At the market there were lots of different vendors selling pretty much anything you can think of from art, food, clothing, jewelry, shoes to toys.
In the centre of the stalls there was a seating area with painted picnic tables. There were lots of people but not so many that my anxiety kicked in. Everyone seemed to be in a happy mood and there were acrobats tumbling, music playing and a very festive air.
There were a few things that caught my eye, but of course I fell in love with the stall with a variety of little metal bird baths, feeders, and birds on sticks for your pot plants. There was a very happy and friendly African guy who was working the stall with his small son on his hip. I had a hard time choosing which of the different styles I wanted but finally settled on a bird bath with two little red birds perched on the edge. As soon as we arrived home I placed it on top of a ragged old wooden stump and I love it.
Norm found a handmade belt at a leather artisan’s stall. It was a beautifully made stunning piece of warm brown leather and it matches his casual brown loafers perfectly. The belt has a lifetime guarantee. I assume that is for the lifetime of the artisan dude who already looked about 80, so that is a bit limiting but it is really well made so we should be fine. (That is a joke before anyone gets all ageist on my arse.)
After we finished wandering around the market Norm was hungry so we went to Smitten, a gorgeous little café directly below our apartment.
It had such style! The décor was meticulous. When I researched the restaurant for my blog I discovered that the very debonair man who was running the café is apparently well known in SA. Partners Chris Smit a chef, and TV host, Imraan Vaga are the owners. I have not heard of either of them but they have great taste and serve delicious food in their little venue. Every plate going past our table looked so tasty!
Unfortunately I was not terribly hungry but I fancied something sweet so I just had a coffee and a cinnamon bun.
Norm ordered their Parisian Gnocchi with Sweetcorn, described as ‘Light-as-air Parisian-Style Gnocchi served on a Creamy Cheese Sauce with Grilled Sweetcorn & Slow Roasted Tomatoes’. It was tasty and oh so pretty. Norm really enjoyed it and gave it 5 Kitten Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.
After lunch we had a bit of a wander around the village and of course I had to ask Norm to take a pic of me in front of the angel wings painted on the side of a building a block up from our flat.
Our main event for the weekend was dinner at La Petite Colombe in Leeu Estates that evening. The restaurant has won many awards and this group of restaurants are regularly placed in the list of the World’s Best Restaurants with the Constantia branch placing 56th this year. It is a special occasion sort of place, not a casual ‘pop in for a burger’ sort of place. They have a few different menus to choose from but as I can only eat so much in one sitting these days we opted for the ‘Reduced Menu’ which has 9 smallish courses.
First they took us through to a lounge area and sat us at a small table.
I was vastly confused how we were going to eat there without making a mess but they explained it was a stop off for the ‘snacks’. They brought us drinks and then one of the chefs came to serve us and to tell us about the food. When I saw the green tower of leafy amazingness I told her I felt like I should be a goat as they love this sort of grub, especially marigolds. I am not sure if she got my humour, many people do not. I am also not sure whether goats eat marigolds in particular but they eat pretty much anything so I am probably accurate on that one.
The chef poured steaming water from a gorgeous Chinese teapot onto two little bundles placed on a bowl of stones and they unfolded like magic to become hand towels for using after we finished eating. She then told us what was on each of the layers of the display shown above.
The top layer is: beef tartare, chipotle, smoked aioli. The middle layer is: crayfish, caviar, ponzu tarts. The tart casing was light as air and so crispy. The ‘eggs’ in the nest at the bottom are actually little balls of liquid olive-ness, coated with an olive oil – a bizarre and amazing experience in your mouth!
They were all 3 complete taste explosions and were absolutely delicious!
Next they took us through to our actual table which was really private as it was located in the corner of the main dining room. We were surrounded by floor to ceiling windows and we could watch the rain drizzle down.
The next course they brought out was the Cape Malay Smoked Snoek and toasted bagel. The little ‘bagel’ was served in a teeny little terracotta plant pot which reminded me of an Atlanta restaurant I used to love called Pittypat’s Porch where they also baked their bread in a terra cotta pot. #FoodMemories The snoek pate and pearls were served in a little ‘caviar’ tin. It tasted delicious and the presentation was so charming. I did not snap the pic of the dish, just my darling spouse devouring it with deep concentration.
Then the chef came back over to show us how they prepare the confit mussels.
The chef then whisked away the cooked mussels to clean in the kitchen. She then returned to the table to serve the next 2 items together.
The mussels and some parsnip bits were added to a little ceramic shell and a coconut broth was poured over them and some chicken fat croutons scattered on top while we watched. I LOVED this dish!!!
The other item on the display was duck liver pate with a layer of apricot jelly and chestnut on a lovely slightly sweet chewy cracker type stuff (yeah, I know. What do I look like, Gordon bloody Ramsey?). Norm loved this dish.
The next course was a plated one. It was Quail, langoustine, and roasted cauliflower in a tandoori sauce. I was not very keen on the texture of the quail. I ate a lot of the other items on the dish and Norm finished mine off so it was not wasted.
The last savoury dish was lamb which Norman loves and I am not usually very fond of as it is usually a bit gamey. It was locally sourced from the Karoo and was served with celeriac and Kapokbos (wild rosemary). The lamb on the skewer was delicious as were the combinations of flavours, however I gave Norm half of my lamb loin portion (I assume it is a loin…. that roundy bit).
The last plated dish they served was pear, rooibos and dulcey (which is caramelized white chocolate according to Mr Google). I detest the sickly bitter taste of rooibos and I am not a fan of pears so this dish did not appeal to me at all. And yes I tasted it, I did not base my opinion on the description like I usually do. Luckily, Norm was happy to have a bit extra of this too.
For the final presentation of drama, the server brought around a sweets trolley decorated in a Willie Wonka theme. You were able to choose 3 items from the trolley but I only chose 2 as I was so full. There were a variety of different bars of fudge, little ice cream cones with various flavours and a bright red and white spotted egg with blueberry filling.
I chose 2 cones: first, coconut and pineapple and then chocolate and pistachio. Norm chose a bar and a tiramisu cone and a chocolate and pistachio one as well. The chocolate was too rich for me so Norm ended up eating that one too!
The evening was a solid 5 Kitten Stars. It is as if you are at the theatre but the actors are edible. Don’t think too much about that one………..
When we finished eating it had stopped raining. The restaurant is attached to the Everard Read Gallery so after dinner we went for a bit of a stroll around the gardens looking at some of the statues. Norm and I made silly guesses at what this piece was. Norm thought it was 2 love birds kissing. I thought it was a rear shot of a Rhinoceros’ bottom and his bollocks. And that sums up mine and Norm’s different life perspectives pretty well. #ClassVsSass
Brett is a South African artist known primarily for his satirical sculptures and ‘The Spear’, the controversial portrait of our uneducated, barely literate, sexual predator of a past president, Jacob Zuma.
The next day we had to be out of our apartment at 10am and our plan was to wander around the village until our lunch appointment but it was pouring rain and the idea of mooching about the galleries while getting soaked lacked appeal. I messaged the owner of the flat but she said it was booked for another guest that day and we could not extend our check out time. So we showered and packed up the car and moved it over to the other end of town where we were booked in for lunch at 12pm at Reuben’s.
While we were waiting on Reuben’s to open we strolled down the main road and popped into a few of the shops and art galleries. In one of the galleries, Norm spotted a few pieces by Tania Babb, an artist whom I have collected for years. I admired one in particular and while I was viewing the paintings in the gallery Norm purchased it for me as a surprise. I adore it!
Just before 12 we headed over to the restaurant. It is one of the venues owned by celebrity chef Reuben Riffel. We love his food, it is always rich in flavour and often highlights our local South African dishes with a twist. We had not been to his restaurant since it had moved across the street to it’s new location and it is really lovely. I love the rustic vibe and the earthy finishes.
We were seated by the fireplace and we had a look at the menus to decide which we wanted to try. There is a Winter Set Menu with a choice of 2 or 3 courses or you can order ala carte.
While we were deciding they brought over some delicious fresh bread with garlic butter and truffle butter to munch on.
We decided on the set winter menu and opted for only 2 courses as it was lunch time and we did not think we had space for all 3.
We both chose the French Onion soup topped with a piece of gruyere cheese toast. The soup had a rich broth and a slightly sweet taste from the caramelisation of the onions. It was a perfect choice for the ice cold weather.
We both chose the Braised Beef shin served with saffron bone-marrow risotto, gremolata and jus. I am not a huge risotto fan as it is often chalky and poorly prepared, but I knew our handsome Mr Riffel would not let me down. The risotto was perfectly cooked and the sauce was very interesting and full of flavour. I thought the beef shin was also a wee bit sweet, but since I stopped eating sugar most things are sweet to my palate now. It was not unpleasantly sweet, it was absolutely delicious.
The only negative I have about the lunch was about the fireplace which had a bit of a tantrum resulting in a plethora of smoke in the dining room. I had to go outside as my eyes were running. But that does not detract from the quality of the food or the experience and I give our meal 5 Kitten Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.
I had decided that I would not worry about what I ate while I was away and I was very surprised to find I had lost another kilo when I weighed this morning! I have now lost 17.3kg and 38.6lbs in total. I still kept mostly to one meal per day and on many occasions I gave Norm half of my food, but it was still a very pleasant result!
Today Norm and I went for our 2nd Covid booster shot. Mom is still feeling fit and is free of any symptoms since her exposure. Thank you ancestors for protecting her!
Norm and I were both back at work today too, trying to get back into the swing of every day life after so many spoils is a challenge!
I hope to get my posting schedule back on track, but until next time, stay safe and Kisses from the Kitten xoxoxoxoxo