Stellenbosch and Le Quartier Francais

Trip Start Nov 21, 2008
Trip End Dec 07, 2008

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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Friday, November 28, 2008

We woke up to a cloudy day but by breakfast it had brightened up. I popped into the spa for a manicure and pedicure and Steve had a snooze on the loungers by the unheated pool. The area around Wedgeview is very green so it was akin to lying in a sunny park - very pleasant.

We decided to drive into Stellenbosch for some lunch and a mosey round. Stopped off at "Oom Samie Winkel" that old fashioned shop that sell everything from dried fish to feather dusters to old Singer sewing machines! We were there the same time as a coachload of French speaking tourists so it was a little exasperating that it was so full and people blocking the way etc. I think the heat and crowd of people made me somewhat crabby so we drove into town and had a drink at Mugg and Bean to calm down. We then decided to walk back in the direction of "Oom Samie Winkel" and went to the the café next door called Melissa's for lunch. I know, bit of a circuitous route involving the need to park twice but by the time I came out of "Oom Samie Winkel" I really needed to get away but then when we'd seen "Melissa's" it looked really appealing so once I calmed down it made sense to walk back! We had the lunch buffet where they weigh how much food you put on your plate and it was yummy.

Spent the rest of the day at Wedgeview on the loungers and Steve split his shorts! Too much food and wine on this holiday methinks!

We'd arranged a dinner transfer to Le Quarter Francais in Franschhoek which is 45 minutes away. A massive van turned up for the two of us! The driver dropped us off at the back where the hotel is so we walked through and it looks like a lovely little place to stay. Next time I think we'll stay in Franschhoek - it's so pretty. We were a little early so we had a drink in the bar and watched the people in the Bistro. My strawberry daiquiri was enormous and very much like one of those Slurpees you get in America at the 7-11. Dinner at the Tasting Rooms at Le Quartier Francais was very exciting. Service is very polite and thorough and the interesting taste combinations made for good conversation - we had the 8 course tasting menu which I will describe below. Those that know us, know that Steve isn't the most talkative and doesn't use superlatives very often to describe things but dinner brought out the hidden conversationalist in him. I guess the wine helped too!

Lemon poached crayfish tail, prawn wafer, marshmallow
The crayfish tail was beautiful. I found the prawn wafer an odd combination of fishiness and sweetness but Steve liked it and I don't like marshmallow anyway so that was strange but I did eat it all. I could have just eaten lots of the crayfish though!

Franschhoek salmon trout tartare, avocado, beetroot, pineapple and ginger air
Another strange one.The beetroot was a tuile (thin crisp) that went round the circumference of the salmon and avocado tian and the "air" was a fruity mousse that was on the top.  I enjoyed the salmon and avocado and the pineapple and ginger air but not together. I think there was too much "air" compared to the salmon. The beetroot tuile added an earthiness to the fruit that was unusual. It was very pretty though as the tuile looked like stained glass in a pretty violet colour.

Parmesan and vanilla risotto with a sous vide egg
I like egg and rice so this was a good combo! Bit more sophisticated than what I do at home! It was delicious - one of our favourite courses. There was a real depth of flavour to the risotto so probably cooked with a strong meaty stock and good parmesan. The egg added richness and the vanilla was a scent rather than flavour so it didn't add any sweetness which was good as the first two courses had quite strong sweet flavours. We loved this!

Foie gras and prosciutto terrine, blueberry relish
Do you know, now that I have to think back, I can't remember this one. We had such memorable other course so maybe that's indicative of the impact of this course. I do remember we had a glass of white port with this one which I did enjoy. Very much like a dessert wine rather than a port; quite marmaladey orangey in flavour.
Springbok and bilton consommé, chilled pumpkin and buchu foam
This was good. Served in a China cup there was a "meaty" teabag and the consommé poured into the cup and left to brew. Very tasty - posh Oxo we called it! Obviously it wasn't Oxo at all given strength and delicacy of the flavours. The foam was served in a shot glas and was a sweet contrast to the savoury flavours. The differences in temperature was unusual too.
Trio of lamb, porcini dust
Another favourite! Two teeny tiny discs of lamb with a really yummy jus. I guess by this time we didn't need bigger portions! Plus more food was on its way.

Whipped gorgonzola, vanilla sable preserved fig, truffled sabayon
I can't comment on this one as I don't like blue cheese. They offered me a choice from the main menu for my cheese course and I went for smoked cheddar fritters which were delicious - all gooey. I thought the fritters would be crunchy but they were more doughy. Either way, I like them.

White chocolate cheesecake, cherry gel, choc mint ice cream
Lovely ice cream - would have liked more. Cheesecake was ok but it was baked and I prefer the chilled ones as the mousse bit is smoother. Cherry gel was too sour for my tastes. I liked the Graham Beck sparkling wine that came with it though!

After all that food, oh and we had petit fours, I could only stomach one tiny doughnut though and only because Steve forced me, I was dreading the bumpy drive back. Our driver had waited there the whole time for us! I closed my eyes and slept all the way back so before I knew it we were at Wedgeview so in hindsight, need not have dreaded the journey back. After all that food and wine, we slept like babies!

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