Gourmet

Heritage Day spoils at La Motte Winery in Franschhoek

We had the great honour of being guests at La Motte in Franschhoek for a family day on Heritage Day last year. Jen (who helps with Hello Pretty's social strategies and planning) attended with her husband Philippe, and their little girl Frankie. And, lucky for us, this was already one of our favourite wineries - their red wines are really good.

If you thought South African wine estates were only about wine you'd be mistaken. Visiting a winery in South Africa is a rich experience that offers a bit of history in the estates themselves which are commonly established in the 1600s, a bit of horticulture where they explain some of the science of what is planted where and why, a bit of theatre when you do the tasting and get a passionate explanation of the wine and it's notes, and a culinary spectacular at the phenomenal restaurants (I've never had a disappointing meal and dining experience at a winery restaurant).

La Motte's wine, their restaurant, their art and their estate are all magnificent. But don't believe me, taste and see for yourself.

La Motte has a close association with, and admiration of, one of South Africa's most well-known artists, Jacob Hendrik Pierneef. Bizarrely, I recently found my primary school workbooks and discovered that in 7th grade we had learnt about him and the familiar South African landscape paintings that he's most famous for.

They celebrate Pierneef and his work in a variety of ways. They have a gallery of his work, a range of Pierneef wines in tribute, and a restaurant called Pierneef à La Motte's Chef's Table, led by chef Michelle Theron.

First let's talk about...

The Restaurant

Or rather, let us look at some photos of what we ate, and drool and daydream about plowing through this food like a swarm of rabid locusts (I'm not proud. I can own this behaviour.).

And honestly if this hasn't sold you on the place then I don't even know what to think about you. But just in case, here's a little more:

And since you are reading this post you are obviously someone who enjoys and appreciates wine. We have a tonne of fantastic wine-themed things on Hello Pretty that you'll love. Some for you, and some that just make really excellent "different" gifts. Here's a tiny selection of the things we ? :

[ 01 ] Wooden Word - Wine
[ 02 ] Name Monogram Wine Box
[ 03 ] Eat Drink and be Married Wine Bottle Signage
[ 04 ] Wine Fanatic Bamboo Coasters
[ 05 ] "Pic-Wik" Table (Picnic + Wine = Pic-Wik)​
[ 06 ] Large Reclaimed Oak Wine Barrel Cheese Board
[ 07 ] 2 Piece Wine Rack (Black)
[ 08 ] Shhh... There's Wine in Here Mug
[ 09 ] Wine Shopping Carrier Bags
[ 10 ] Rhino (Whino) Wine Holder (check out this store - there are loads of animals to choose from)

Thank you La Motte for including us in your beautiful Heritage Day celebration. As you can see, a ball was had, particularly by Frankie ?

? Photographs taken by Jen Morin and Philippe Morin.

Dinner at Rust en Vrede

I recently had the good fortune to be taken for dinner at the phenomenal Rust en Vrede restaurant, as a belated birthday gift. The friends who invited me treat birthday gifts like interest - the longer you leave them without claiming them, the more valuable they get! Since my birthday was in January, I got treated to a meal at an award-winning restaurant that was quite easily one of the best dining experiences I've had in my life.

I didn't take many photos, as it's the sort of atmosphere and service that makes you want to lean back (in one of their incredibly comfy armchairs) and take it all in. The restaurant is housed in a national monument, and they've done the edifice justice by making sure that every single aspect of the meal and the service has been considered, right down to the smallest detail.

Someone offers you a blanket in case you get chilly while sipping your glass of Champagne (yes, the real stuff, with a capital C) on their porch, before offering to carry that glass inside, where a beautifully appointed table is laid out for you. Your seat gets pulled out. Buttonholed napkins (who says bibs can't be classy?). Riedel stemware. Laguiole knives. Orchids in Roederer buckets. Crockery monogrammed for the restaurant and hand-fired by the wonderful David Walters from Franschhoek. (As a side note, my new life goal is to be successful enough to afford a set of monogrammed crockery.)

And that's before I've even begun to talk about the meal. There's a reason Rust en Vrede gets awards practically thrown at them. We settled on the four course menu, but were so enamored by the look of a cheese soufflé on the six course option, that they agreed to do five courses for us.

The wine pairings were taken care of by their extremely talented sommelier, whom I may or may not have flirted with egregiously. (Spoiler alert: I did.) Their wine list is a heavy and comprehensive tome, with wines by the bottle and by the glass from all over the world, and chosen to suit every pocket.

The world's tiniest egg on toast - poached quail egg on rye croutons.

What followed was one of those meals where no one at the table talks, so absorbed are they by what's on their plate and in their glass. Conversation happens solely between courses, unless it's to say "You must try this" to your neighbour. 

Throughout the evening, I had so many questions about the restaurant's amazing local produce, that when we were presented with our bill (handwritten on monogrammed paper and sealed), I was given a handful of things to take home: Names and contact details of their suppliers, and a tub of the goat's milk butter that I'd raved about at the start of the meal.

It's rare to have a meal (or any experience) where you cannot fault even the smallest part of it, and Rust en Vrede went over and above that. I've already warned my friends that we're going back next year, but pretties, you should get there as soon as you can.

You can find Rust en Vrede online, and follow them on Twitter.

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