Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek

Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
IMG_3939.jpg
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek
Feasting at Reuben's Restaurant and Bar in Franschhoek

I recently visited one of Franschhoek’s newly launched gems that boasts clean lines, chic interior, and food that offers a familiar yet elevated flavour journey that only Reuben Riffel can take you on – meet Reuben’s restaurant and bar, Franschhoek. 

Situated in the heart of the town, this gorgeous space is roughly 40 minutes drive from Cape Town CBD and well worth the trip. Passing gorgeous wine estates and cherry blossoms (at least this time of year) along the way, an added bonus.

The space is ethereal with bright natural light filling the restaurant from the simple bold black center barred windows. The entrance is grand yet understated with a gorgeous marble floor that bounces the light and creates a feeling of space and simplicity. Perfectly chosen artwork gives the space a finishing touch. 
I fell in love with the interiors instantly. 
The restaurant accommodates for long summer lunches outside on the patio or you can make your way inside on a colder day.  There are impeccable design choices at every turn and I must say, even the restrooms impressed me with their unique black basin and gorgeous floral wallpaper. 

The food was described by Reuben as simply “Food I like to eat” with fresh local produce taking front row and center. Each course was a taste explosion and every mouthful was perfect. I couldn’t help but fall in love with every plate, not only for the food but also for the artistry that encompassed every presentation. Simplicity is key and Reuben has taken classical flavours and reimagined them. I enjoyed a glass of crisp Chenin and ended the afternoon off with decadent chocolate fondant and the perfect coffee. 

If you are undecided about the local wines on offer, try the tea and brandy cocktail to start. It will put you in the perfect frame of mind when it comes time to order your pairing partner in crime.

Reuben’s latest offering in Franschhoek, I believe, is not only a result of the natural evolution of his footprint in the valley but an inspired, considered rebirth. 

-Melissa

Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014

Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014

I have never been a fan of avocado. 
The texture was simply something I could not accept. 
I remember being young and being told that certain things in life were an acquired taste and that an appreciation for them would more than likely come with age. 
For many years I wasn’t sure that this was true, until, lo and behold, my absolute distaste for avocado disappeared. 
Slowly but surely I invited this green fruit into my life and I started experimenting with its flavours. Strange how that happens.
How the adults turned out to know a thing or two at the end of the day.

Another food that I have had the same experience with is blue cheese. 
The thought of it when I was younger turned my stomach (and my nose).
It was off putting to know that mold was grown in the cheese (on purpose!), the taste was pungent, the smell oh-so-over powering rushing into my sinuses with a less than agreeable result and that people actually ate it AS A SPECIAL TREAT!?

Now, in my later years, I enjoy a mild blue cheese and won’t say no to it especially with a fig on top. 

My new found love for blue cheese and avocado started me thinking about the wines that I drink. 
Being a stone’s throw away from some of the best wine estates in the world have given me a unique opportunity to expand my palette and begin appreciating some phenomenal wines.  

I have always loved dessert wine. For obvious reasons, it is sweet and pleasing to a novice wine drinker. 
In the same way, I have learned to appreciate new tastes with a maturing palate, I am loathed to admit that I had forgotten the delights of some of my younger forays into dessert wine and had all but excluded it from my repertoire.

Revisiting some of my earlier favorites, I’ve fallen in love with dessert wines all over again 

Appreciating the nose of a wine and the tasting notes have definitely come with age.
I found the perfect opportunity with this Lourensford Noble late harvest to pair up some unique flavours that will not only test your palette but please it right down to its nuanced sensibilities.

The wine has a certain richness to it and could be a dessert all on its own. 
With its liquid gold colour and an inviting nose of rich tropical fruits, I decided to pair it with saffron poached pears served with blue cheese and walnuts. It’s a flavour symphony that will sing in your mouth and should be kept in your arsenal for Christmas, which is just around the corner, complete with a list as long as your arm of demands for indulgent desserts and treats.


Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 pears peeled 
  • 1 cup of castor sugar 
  • 3 cinnamon sticks 
  • pinch of saffron 
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves 
  • peel of 1 lemon
  • 3 star anise
  • 100 grams blue cheese
  • 80 grams walnuts 

Instructions:

In a medium pot add the pears, sugar, cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, cloves, lemon peel and star anise. 

Fill the pot halfway with warm water. Place on a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the pears are soft when pricked with a fork. 

Remove the pears from the pot and set aside. Reduce the syrup in the pot for another 15 minutes. You want it to become slightly thick. 

Serve warm or cold topped with syrup, blue cheese and walnuts crumbled on top and the perfect glass of dessert wine from Lourensford! 

-Melissa 

p.s this can be made the day before and the flavour gets even better! 

 

Diemersfontein Pinotage on tap and a giveaway!

This one is for all the wine lovers out there (whether they know it yet or not)!
The Pinotage on tap festival aka POT, (recently voted the best wine festival in the world) is around the corner and I couldn't be more thrilled!
On October 29th Pinotage will flow, amazing bands will play and utterly delicious food will be served to eager patrons at Diemerfontein Wine & Country Estate. 

What's not to love?
I'll be at the event with a wine glass at the ready and a suitable appetite to boot! 
Of course, I look forward to sharing an exciting day filled with a hive of activities on my social media channels.  

The festival will be held at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate in Wellington and tickets are available on Computicket
I am also going to be giving away two tickets to the value of R435 each! All you have to do is keep reading to the end of the post and follow the easy instructions.

The Diemersfontein Original Coffee Chocolate Pinotage will be served on tap - that's right out of the barrel and my type of party! It has been accoladed as one of the easiest drinking wines and will soon convert any cynical red wine drinker into a believer!
Dubbed "the peoples pinotage" it has rich coffee & smokey overtones on the nose and voluptuous fruit on the palate, along with cinnamon and chocolaty notes; this wine is completely irresistible!

If you would like to stand a chance to win tickets to this oh-so-savvy shindig; then answer the following question below in the comment section. 
Drumroll Please.....

What has Diemersfontein's Original Coffee Chocolate Pinotage affectionately been dubbed? 

Good luck and I hope to see you there.
I'll be the merry maiden sipping on South Africa's most delicious pinotage... and perhaps sharing a song or two with anyone who cares to listen.

-Melissa 

*tickets are for the Cape Town event, travel not included. 

Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc

Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc
Prawn pasta to celebrate Sauvignon blanc

Durbanville wine valley is celebrating a month of sauvignon blanc in October and I couldn’t be more excited! These easy drinking crisp white wines are often found at my table. Durbanville is a mere twenty minutes from Cape Town CBD and deserves a visit as much as its sister wine countryside’s Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The Durbanville region is filled with scenic routes, amazing award winning wine farms and superb restaurants. 

So with October celebrating the richness of Sauvignon blanc and estates such as Altydgedacht, Bloemendal, D’Aria, Diemersdal, De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Hillcrest, Klein Roosboom, Meerendal, Nitida, Groot Phizantekraal and Signal Gun each celebrating the start of white wine season in their own individual style, I had to create a dish that I believe celebrates these estates and their sauvignon blancs! The dish is rich and creamy and the acidity of the wine cuts through it perfectly. I have also chosen to pair the wines with seafood as it compliments the flavour well! This prawn pasta is beyond delicious and a great meal to feed a bigger crowd! 

If you want to explore the region you can pop into any of the estates and experience a tasting! The month of festivities draw to a close at the end of October with a festival weekend on the 29th and 30th October. All twelve wine estates will be present and it will be a hive of activities for all family members. 

Now let’s get down to business with my prawn pasta while you prepare to savour (hopefully) all 12 celebrated sauvignon blancs!


Serves 4, cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 300 grams rosa tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 400ml tomato pureé (I use the one in the glass jar)
  • 1 packet linguine
  • Salt
  • 250 grams of cleaned and de shelled prawns, patted dry with paper towel.
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 200 grams mascarpone cheese
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Parmesan cheese for serving


Instructions:

In a large frying pan over a medium heat add the coconut oil, rosa tomatoes and garlic. Fry until soft. Add the oregano and tomato pureé. Let simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat. If you would like you can feed it with a little water if it starts to dry out.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Salt the water generously. Add the linguine to the water and boil for 7-8 minutes. Do not over cook the pasta, as it will cook further in the sauce.

Once ready, remove and strain. Add the pasta to the frying pan with the tomato sauce.

In a separate smaller frying pan bring over a high heat add the knob of butter and garlic. Add the prawns and fry for 3 minutes. Don’t over cook the prawns as they will cook further in the pasta.

Fold the mascarpone into the pasta, add the prawns and spinach and fold until combined.

Zest the pasta and add the lemon juice before serving. Serve fresh and hot with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese! 

-Melissa

*This blog post was sponsored by Durbanville wine valley. All opinions are my own. 

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Have you ever visited a destination where, from the minute you leave, you're already planning on how to get back there? 
I recently visited Bartholomeus Klip in partnership with Miles For Style
Miles For Style in an online platform that offers a shopping experience like no other. You can shop luxury products, five star wines and of course beautiful accommodation like Bartholomeus Klip. The added bonus? They are a loyalty programme in partnership with SAA voyager where you can convert an (unlimited) amount of voyager Miles into their very own Style Miles and use them to shop the amazing offerings they have online. From craft beer to electronics, homeware products, destinations and more. 
Basically - what this means for us regular folk is, instead of banging our proverbial head against the wall because we couldn't get a specific flight or upgrade there is an alternative option. You can use miles for a weekend away or shop to your hearts content. And if you don't have enough miles? You can simply top up with cash. A perfect shopping experience if you ask me. 

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Bartholomeus Klip is situated a mere hour outside of Cape Town where it rests at the foot of the surrounding mountains of Riebeek Kasteel and Wellington on the Elandsberg nature reserve.
This spectacular farmhouse simply took my breath away. 
On arrival we were met with bubbles and a fireplace to warm the cockles (it was cold after all). 
Not a bad start to a two day getaway. 
The house has 5 gorgeous bedrooms and the property has two additional self-catering cottages hosting up to 8 guests luxurious rooms and true country charm!
The farm also boasts the more contemporary comforts and a quick dip in the pool is compulsory for cooling down on hot summers days.

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

The farmhouse is famous for their food. 
To put it bluntly, I was utterly blown away and I don't think I stopped eating for three days. 
The breakfasts, (which made me redefine my entire understanding of the term) were nothing short of decedent. 
Tables were opulently adorned with everything from baked muesli pies to chocolate waffles, cheese, tarts, pastries, stewed fruit, granola, charcuterie, nut spreads and more! 
The food throughout the stay was amazing. At every sitting we were spoilt for choice; be it vetkoek or eclairs at high tea or the perfect muffin before the early mornings game drive. 
Dinner was a 4 course affair showcasing the star of the show; fresh (and seasonally accurate) local produce.
Highlights were the smoked tomato soup with confit garlic, the fresh seafood chowder and of course, not one to shy away from desserts...the chocolate mousse with fennel ice cream was exquisite. I highly recommend visiting to experience the fantastic food. 

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

The farm is a hive of activities. You can choose to go on a nature walk, take a game drive at sunset or go bird watching. The gardens are teeming with birdlife and sitting on the patio pretending to be Sir David Attenborough was certainly a highlight.
The game drives depart every morning and you can expect to see bontebok and buffalo.
We took in sunset with g&t sundowners and sat overlooking the lake of breeding blue cranes. 
If game drives aren't your cup of tea - then take a canoe out onto the lake at sunset and admire nature from a unique lookout point. 
The property is on a 10 000 acre nature reserve so there is plenty to explore and see.  

For the more foodie orientated types (like me) Batholomeus Klip offers the ultimate opportunity to step into the kitchen and receive instruction from world class chefs. We were treated to a cooking class and a parting gift of the farmhouse's cook book (which I am most definitely going to be using)

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Just 15 minutes away is Riebeek Kasteel, a quaint little town that offers craft beer tasting, great little stores and one of my favourite lunch spots, Mama Cucinas. Unpretentious Italian cuisine thats an absolute must if you are in the area. 
If you are in the mood for Wine tastings, Bosman wines and Kloovenburg are worth the visit. 
Bosman have a wonderful family history and although they don't have a restaurant, their wine more than makes up for it. 
Their single block Chenin blanc is crisp and fresh and I couldn't resist buying some for home.
Kloovenburg wines and Olive products are also fantastic. 
I am a huge fan of their quality Olive Oil and believe it or not they produce the only olives that I actually eat. 
If you don't try their blueberry olives then you are missing out. 

Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style
Bartholomeus klip with Miles For Style

Isn't it fantastic that all of these activities and destinations are only an hour outside of Cape Town? 
If you take a drive out around this time of year, you will be sure to catch the rolling canola fields. 
Oceans of yellow will surround you on your drive... With a good song and good company you are in for a great adventure. 
So, the only question remaining is; what are you waiting for?

-Melissa