Mother City Fine Dining
By Bianca Coleman
Franschhoek is a valley filled with magic in the earthly form of outstanding wines and spectacular food. As such, it’s not easy to get a Sunday lunch booking at the last minute but as with most things, it’s all about who you know.
Some strings were unashamedly pulled and the next thing we knew we were having lunch at The Kitchen at Holden Manz wine estate. It’s located above the tasting room, where large windows offer a view of the vineyards literally on the doorstep. The most prized position, however, is the balcony, especially on beautiful summer days. Naturally, this is where we sat.
Being a sustainable family farm, seasonal produce heavily influences the cuisine in the same way it influences the vineyards, and pride is taken on the inclusion of locally sourced ingredients and delicacies. The menu therefore changes regularly to reflect this.
Menu descriptions are enticing, and presentation is exquisite. For starters I had asparagus and ginger terrine with an intriguing chilli rooibos naartjie, licqorice emulsion, and black sesame gel. It was prettily garnished with nasturtiums, which I ate for the first time.
The other members of the party had cream of corn soup with a polenta crouton, parmesan parfait, and pepper “diddle daddle” – popped corn; and a fabulous cheese and mushroom tart comprising pecorino cheesecake, Portobello and goat’s cheese wonton, shitake mushrooms and marshmallow. Although my dish was lovely, I must admit to some order envy here.
For main course, both my companions had the pork duo – slow roasted belly and fillet – with pickled cabbage, chilli mash, apple compote and mustard panna cotta. Sirloin steak is one of my favourite things to eat, and here you get a wonderful 250g piece, served with marinated beetroot, smoked cauliflower puree (divine), potato crisps and the dealmaker – marrow crumb. I’m always thrilled to find this on a menu, whether as a complementary ingredient to a meaty dish, or simply on its gorgeous gooey own.
Lemon is one of the best ways to finish off an extravagant meal. Not being in possession of a sweet tooth, I let my friend order the lemon pie topped with swirls of coconut meringue, sprinkles of lemon and poppy seed crumb, and a flourish of ginger syrup. “I’ll just taste one spoonful,” I said. The end of this story is that I ate it all and we had to order another one for her. I think that speaks for itself.
In addition to The Kitchen, a more casual option is available in the form of picnics which can be enjoyed under ancient oaks on the banks of the idyllic Franschhoek River. Booking 24 hours in advance is required and when you arrive you will find a basket waiting, filled with yummy goodies and estate wine. Self-drive to the farm, or take the Franschhoek Wine Tram (winetram.co.za).
* The Kitchen at Holden Manz is open for lunch noon till 3pm, and dinner 7pm till 9pm (closed: Wednesday dinner and Thursday lunch and dinner June, July, August).
Green Valley Road, Franschhoek. Telephone 021 876 2738, email firstname.lastname@example.org; more info at holdenmanz.com.