Craft beer comes to Franschhoek

The Franschhoek valley is famous for its French cuisine and fine wines, but a craft brewery with Asian owners and a Mexican bent is breaking all the rules.

Franschhoek is about wine. Any tourist knows that. And if your day of meandering through genteel estates ends at a cosy French bistro lifted from the streets of Paris? Well, so much the better. It’s a tried and trusted recipe in this scenic winelands valley an hour’s drive from Cape Town.

But Tuk Tuk Microbrewery is hoping to spice up that recipe a little. Craft breweries are all the rage in Cape Town right now, but this is the first in a valley more famous for its pinot noir than its pale ale.

Part of the acclaimed Leeu Collection, which includes the superb boutique hotels Le Quartier Francaise and Leeu House, Tuk Tuk will soon start turning out its own range of craft beers from a state-of-the-art microbrewery. Beers are brewed using spring water from the nearby Leeu Estates’ mountain spring, local and imported hops and malts and bespoke cultured yeasts.

“The choice of ingredients is the first step to creating exceptional craft beer,” says Dewald Goosen, brewmaster at Tuk Tuk. Goosen started brewing at home, before cutting his teeth amid the tanks of Woodstock Brewery and Cape Brewing Company (CBC).

“Tuk Tuk is a very nice little brewery on steroids, especially when it comes to technological advances and energy savings,” adds Goosen, who plans to release a Lager, Weiss, Dunkel and Pale Ale.

While the Tuk Tuk brews are maturing quietly in their steel tanks, the brewery will be serving up a range of CBC beers; a perfect match for the delicious taco offering.

Yup, there’s no Frenchified food on offer here: the taqueria alongside dishes up beer-friendly Mexican fare. Think spicy tacos, fresh ceviche and cheesy nachos all whipped up by Leeu Estates’ Executive Chef Oliver Cattermole.

Fancy a glass of light Sauvignon? No thanks, make mine a lager…

Find a true taste of the Cape at classic Franschhoek fine dining restaurant La Motte

Cape Town’s fine dining restaurants offer a delicious mix of influences from France to Malaysia, but for a taste of Cape winelands cuisine there’s only one restaurant to head for.

There’s no shortage of great fine dining restaurants in the small French-influenced town of Franschhoek, a charming town in the wine-growing region on the outskirts of Cape Town, where foodies are always spoilt for choice. Bistros, artisan bakeries and local chocolatiers all tip their hat to centuries of the French culinary influence in the Cape.

But at the La Motte wine estate outside Franschhoek, chef Michelle Theron is channeling the rich history of the region into a unique culinary offering she likes to call Cape Winelands Cuisine.

The menu at Pierneef à La Motte restaurant is adventurous and yet familiar, with well-trodden foodie favourites given a new lease on life. Her Cape Winelands Chicken comes baked with a pâté and a quail egg in the middle while the hay-roasted quail and rose-glazed sweetbreads are remarkable new takes on popular bistro classics. Theron focuses on using local and sustainable food ingredients, much of them with a heritage connection to old-style Cape cookery. In particular, plenty of fresh produce comes straight from the estate’s gardens and into the kitchen, so don’t miss out on the wonderful ‘Cape Salad’, which changes daily.

This is heritage cuisine given a thoroughly modern facelift. Set on one of the most charming wine estates in and around Cape Town, the unique approach to food at this stylish fine dining restaurant makes it a top choice for travellers planning their stay in and around the winelands town of Franschhoek.

Foraging and Foliage: finding fine food in Cape Town’s Franschhoek

Foraging for wild ingredients is on-trend in kitchens across the world, and one acclaimed chef is bringing a taste of the wild to his Franschhoek restaurant in the heart of the Cape winelands.

Franschhoek has long been one of the culinary hotspots of the Cape Winelands, the wine-growing region an hour’s drive from Cape Town’s city centre. With its long French heritage many of the restaurants here tend to be inspired by France and classical continental cooking.

Chris Erasmus, chef of Foliage restaurant, finds his inspiration a little closer to home: in the hills around the quaint winelands town of Franschhoek. Erasmus has a strong ‘field-to-fork’ philosophy that informs the food at Foliage restaurant. His meat and fish are sourced from ethical and sustainable farms and producers, while the backbone of the menu comes from the ingredients growing wild.

“At Foliage, anything goes and we build the menu around what’s growing now, what’s available, and we play with that,” says Erasmus.

That could mean wild mushrooms in Cape Town’s Autumn (March to April), flour made from hand-collected acorns, or an incredible Waldorf salad using fiddlehead ferns collected from the high slopes of a nearby Cape wine estate.

While the ingredients at Foliage are sometimes unconventional, the food isn’t. Foliage is a bistro at heart and although the menu changes almost daily you’ll always find comfort food with bold flavours on offer at this restaurant: think risotto of wild mushrooms and lardons of local bacon; perhaps steak tartare given a lift by Cape Malay spices, the traditional flavours brought over by the slaves in the early years of Cape Town’s history; don’t miss the pan-fried yellowtail, a firm-textured local fish, served with a pesto of dandelion and pumpkin seeds alongside local waterblommetjies, a flower that grows wild in farm ponds.

The cooking techniques and ingredients at this Cape winelands restaurant are accomplished and innovative, but there’s a welcome lack of pretension on the plate. The open kitchen lets you glimpse the top chef and his crew at work, and Erasmus is always on hand to explain the menu if needed.

Is this the most famous restaurant in Franschhoek? Not yet. Is it one of the best? Absolutely.

This 300-year-old wine farm is hot right now. Here’s why…

After several years in the doldrums a major revamp has seen Boschendal Farm, an hour’s drive from Cape Town in Franschhoek, transformed into one of the hottest destinations in the winelands.

Boschendal farm traces its history back to 1685, marking it as one of the oldest estates in the Cape winelands. However, an injection of new investment has made this dynamic estate in Franschhoek a must-visit stop on the wine route.

The heart of the estate is the rejuvenated Werf precinct, where there’s no shortage of wonderful food and wine to experience. First enjoy a tasting at the stylish tasting room, where tables spill out onto the shady terrace and well-informed staff will talk you through the range of wines produced on this vast estate. Don’t miss the reserve collection’s Syrah and Chardonnay.

A few steps away you’ll find the chic farm shop, which sells local produce and homeware; it’s a great spot for souvenir shopping. Across the lawns you’ll discover the remarkable food garden, which stretches over three hectares and provides fresh produce for the estate restaurants and surrounding community.

Speaking of restaurants, you’re spoilt for choice here: The Werf is fine dining under the knife of acclaimed chef Christiaan Campbell. This is accomplished upmarket cuisine, with a firm focus on seasonality and farm-to-fork cooking.

Across the courtyard, the Bistro is the more relaxed option and offers country-casual cooking. Alongside you’ll also find a well-stocked deli and farm butchery if you’d like to take a few goodies home.

Your last option here is one of the most popular: Le Pique Nique offers gourmet picnics under the pine trees, a popular choice on hot summer days.

Cape Town Helicopters gives you the Franschhoek experience

Departing from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in the highly professional and capable hands of Cape Town Helicopters phenomenal pilots, you will have the incredible opportunity to view the divine vista not only the smallest wine region which is the Durbanville wine region but also to fly over the beautiful Bottelary Hills, as well as over the Helshoogte pass right onto the Banhoek and Franschhoek Valley. It is here that you may enjoy an incredible luncheon on your own account whilst the pilot from Cape Town Helicopters awaits your return. The Franschoek wine lands tour is one of not only incredible sights but exceptional tastes and is definitely a memorably amazing one. There are three magnificently unique Estates to choose from when going for your luncheon, these three are listed in detail below. Continue reading “Cape Town Helicopters gives you the Franschhoek experience”