Stellenbosch

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.

Hello Pretty at the Warwick Wine Picnic

Pretties, if you know us, you’ll know we’re no strangers to a good glass of wine. So you can imagine our glee when we were invited to the media picnic day at Warwick wine estate recently.

Over a century old under its current name, the farm itself has been around since the 1700s. It began producing wine in the 1960s, and they haven’t stopped since. These days, Warwick produces a number of truly delicious (and award-winning!) wines. The estate also has a tasting room, and organises picnics that you can enjoy on their gorgeous stretch of lush green lawn by the lake. We were given a fancy-pants picnic basket that we tore into, packed with fresh ciabbata, salads, pesto, charcuterie, cheeses, and individual cheesecakes in little jars that changed. Our. Lives.

We spent the afternoon getting our al fresco on with friends (and we bumped into the ladies from Yellow Papaya - hi gals!), drank more than our fair share of delicious Warwick wines, and found out more about the estate. Personal favourite - the legend of the Warwick Wedding Cup.

We can’t wait to go back - we can’t promise we’ll be any better behaved, though! If you haven’t been yet, I’d suggest you go right now. Good food, good wine - you just need to bring your good friends, and you’re set for a really special day.

Show Warwick some love online, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
You can see all our pics from the day here, and check out #WarwickPicnic on Twitter and Instagram.

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