Sunday, February 17, 2013

Frolicking in Franschhoek, South Africa

Most of my trip to South Africa was spent in Cape Town, but I actually spent the first few days in the Stellenbosch Winelands just outside the city, in a small town called Franschhoek (which means "French Corner").

south africa winelands franschhoek stellenbosch
South Africa's breathtaking winelands region

We were there for a wedding and visited a few of the local wineries for a variety of wedding-related events. First was a wonderful lunch at La Petite Ferme. The meal was a delightful mix of local, South African fare and French-inspired dishes. Here's a quick photo summary of the highlights:

la petite ferme franschhoek south africa escargot appetizer
Appetizer: Escargot on a bacon wrapped brown mushroom, stuffed with creme fromage
la petite ferme franschhoek south africa malaysian fish cake appetizer
Appetizer: Malaysian Fish Cakes with a vegetable atchar, yoghurt raita, baby marrow and coriander salad
la petite ferme franschhoek south africa venison loin entree
Entree: Venison Loin served with a butternut harissa puree, roasted beetroot, thyme jus
la petite ferme franschhoek south africa mango passionfruit cheesecake dessert
Dessert: Mango and Passionfruit cheese cake

With our meal, we enjoyed their Sauvignon Blanc, a "Double Gold Michelangelo" award winner - yes, it's a bit of a ridiculous-sounding title, but the wine was really good!

la petite ferme franschhoek south africa sauvignon blanc
La Petite Ferme Sauvignon Blanc, after spending some quality time in the ice bucket

The wedding itself was held at the Grande Provence wine estate. As one would expect, the grounds were beautiful - and the food and wine were excellent. I particularly enjoyed their Pinotage - my favorite South African varietal.

A beautiful setting for a wedding - the Grand Provence wine estate

The town itself is also quite charming - with a number of cute shops, restaurants, and cafes. It's expensive by South African standards, but still reasonably affordable for visitors from most other countries given the exchange rate. We didn't have that much down time, but walking through town and stopping for coffee did become one of our daily rituals.

cappuccino and macaroons
Good cappuccino, disappointing macaroons

Franschhoek is a very small town, and doesn't have any big hotels where you can earn or burn points. The most common lodging choice is to stay in one of the many small guest houses that are sprinkled throughout the area. We stayed at the Ivy Apartments, which I would highly recommend for it's comfortable furnishings, as well as it's convenient location in the middle of town.

Have you ever been to South Africa's Winelands? If so, what were some of your favorite places?

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