mother city fine dining
A review by Bianca Coleman
(picture: Classic Arancini – Photo by Bianca Coleman)
When you visit Anthonij Rupert Wines in Franschhoek, you have a choice of two tasting rooms offering a range of experiences as well as the option of shuttling in a tram over the back roads to neighbouring L’Ormarins to visit the Franschhoek Motor Museum.
All of this can work up a healthy appetite and that too is taken care of at the Terra Del Capo tasting room. This is near the main entrance to the estate, and on a beautiful summer’s day there’s no better place to sit than on the couches beneath the shade of olive trees and umbrellas overlooking the manicured lawn.
The menu of hot and cold antipasti, as well as platters – cheese, charcuterie, vegetarian – encourage sharing a long leisurely lunch, accompanied by the full range of Anthonij Rupert wines. Almost all of them are available by the glass as well as the bottle, and at cellar door prices, which are very reasonable. It also means you can sample many – from the fabulous Italian-inspired Terra Del Capo range, to the L’Ormarins brut bubblies.
If you’re just stopping for a snack, there are nibblies like olives, grilled peppers, and marinated artichokes. From the cold antipasti selection I recommend the white anchovies with olives, zucchini ribbons, salsa verde, parmesan, and pine nuts. Other options include line fish carpaccio with pink pepper, citrus, radish, horseradish and dill dressing; and seared venison carpaccio – Graaff-Reinett kudu – with rocket, pickled beetroot, and pesto Genovese, which is a fancy way of saying basil pesto.
Despite the gloriously warm day, most of our meal came from the hot antipasti selection. The delicious and classic arancini is made from risotto and stuffed with ragu in a smoked paprika and tomato sauce. This is the way Italians use their leftovers, and wives send their husbands off into the fields and out on the fishing boats with these crumbed, fried balls of heaven.
The beer-battered zucchini fries are another great snack, served with aioli, as is the fritto misto – a selection of seafood including hake, calamari, and prawns dipped in batter, with lemon aioli.
Last but not least we had a bowl of Sicilian sausages in a cannellini bean stew. On the menu it is referred to as “al fiasco” which intrigued me enough to look it up. This is what I found: “Cannellini al Fiasco literally translates from Italian to English as ‘cannellini in a flask.’ This is a traditional, Tuscan form of cooking that mirrors the texture and flavours that a modern pressure cooker would. Originally a glass bottle would be filled with the ingredients, sealed with a cork stopper, and left to cook overnight on the embers of a dying fire. The slow cooking method allows the beans to slowly absorb the flavors of the simple herbs, garlic, and olive oil, intensifying the flavour.”
So as you can see, there are strong Italian influences at work here, deeply rooted in the style of home cooking and peasant-style food. It’s perfect for a lazy afternoon, with lots of fabulous wine and sunshine.
* Where: Terra Del Capo tasting room is situated at Athonij Rupert Wines, R45, Franschhoek. Call 021 874 9041 for more information.
When: Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 4.30pm.