By Naushad Khan
Amazing mountain vistas, paired with crisp fresh air and blue skies – all of this in the middle of winter in the Cape. Hard to believe, but that’s what you would have experienced if you were in Franschhoek during the past week or so. I think that most people just block their social calendar from June till September as they fear the Cape Winter, but this need not be so.
After thirteen Cape Winters, I have worked out that yes, we do have a few wet (in fact very wet days and weekends), but there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the best of the Cape all year round and winter offers some amazing value for money deals across a the province.
Living in Cape Town makes accessing these so easy and a mere 45 minutes in any direction out of Cape Town offers one a variety of amazing experiences, food and accommodation.
We spent June 21, which of course is mid-winter, in fabulous Franschhoek at Holden Manz Wine Estate. The Country House offers five 5-star suites and is the perfect getaway for a romantic weekend or for a group of friends to spend a great weekend in a stunning manor house.
Each suite has a built in fire place and under-floor heating to ensure maximum comfort for their guests. As always, country properties offer the most spacious accommodation and Holden Manz uses their space tastefully.
No clutter and unnecessary pieces here; just luxury, comfort and warm country styled hospitality from the moment you walk through their doors.
As always, if there is a spa on any property that I stay in, I just have to get a bit of the rub and touch, or pampering as others would call it. Holden Manz has a beautifully appointed Spa that surprised me for a boutique estate. The facility and the treatments are really impressive and I have added them to my diary, as I definitely intend to return for a second visit.
Franschhoek has become known as the culinary capital of South Africa and rightfully so. The culinary expertise that can be found in this picture perfect town is not easy to challenge. The Franschhoek Kitchen situated at Holden Manz has definitely invested in keeping the flag flying high for the region.
Executive Chef Maryna Frederiksen is passionate about food and equally passionate about her dinner guests. Besides taking us to new highs with her culinary skills, she made regular visits to the restaurant to ensure her guests were happy. Using local produce is the mark of a good chef, as it really puts the emphasis on what’s seasonal and fresh. One such item on Chef Maryna’s menu, a lentil soup with local apples, really knocked me out.
I did not expect this combination to work, especially as it also mentioned as being spicy in the description. The soup did not disappoint at all and could easily be a hearty main meal with some good old fashioned farm style bread, but it was an excellent starter on a cold and wet winter’s night.
My main course was a perfectly presented Oak Plank Salmon Trout with a honey mustard glaze served on a parsnip and potato mash together with roasted vegetables. The fish was deliciously done with a hint of a smokey oak flavour yet not at all overpowering the overall taste of this dish.
The choice of desserts included Panna Cotta, coffee and doughnuts and a chocolate fondue that won my heart quite easily.
All in all, a really amazing overnight stay in one of the secrets gems in the Franschhoek Valley. It is definitely worth a visit.
* Visit www.holdenmanz.com for more information.