Reunion


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Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Franschhoek
January 6th 2013
Published: September 30th 2017
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Geo: -33.906, 19.1148

South African wines - though quite renowned, our experiences with them prior to arriving in South Africa have been less than stellar, even when sampling their pinotage, the country's signature grape. Thankfully, things have been different since arriving, when we started to find some truly excellent wines available here, perhaps because intelligent South Africans keep most of the good stuff here for themselves?

Over eight hours after bidding adieu to Mai and Prince Albert, we finally rolled into Franschhoek, in the heart of the Winelands near Cape Town, after a long and slow drive on gravel roads through the Karoo's famous Swartberg Pass, followed by hour after hour along Route 62, a drive known for being one of the most beautiful in all of South Africa.

It's a good thing we weren't late, as we had a reunion planned with the Warlords Yeow, who had made their microflight escape from Zambia to South Africa, via a detour to Botswana. You don't want to be late for a meeting with these ruthless people, who may punish insolence by cutting off our toes and stuffing them into our ears.

Franschhoek is considered to be the most beautiful town in these Winelands,
Driving the Swartberg Pass ...Driving the Swartberg Pass ...Driving the Swartberg Pass ...

... though the Meiringspoort Pass was pretty awesome, the Swartberg Pass is even more famous, and even more beautiful. Also a more thrilling drive, as it is nearly all on steep, winding gravel roads, with few guardrails and several sharp drop offs.
with an air of sophistication lent by its various art galleries and fine restaurants, purported to be some of the best in the country. Overall, Le Bon Vivant, tonight's choice for dinner, did not disappoint - for the most part, things were excellent, especially the wine, and the ridiculously large dessert platters we each had.

It ended up being a nice evening, though a bit chilly, sitting outside in the garden, over a leisurely meal, catching up on each other's African adventures. In addition to agreeing that it was supremely cool to have been able to meet up once more in Africa, we also reached consensus that Africa has been an amazing experience, worthy of a return visit in the not-so-distant future. In fact, the Warlords Yeow intend to break their own rule of not doubling back to a country, as they already have ideas of returning to the Chundukwa Lodge in Zambia.

While I understand their rule and agree with it for the most part, it's a good thing I don't subscribe completely to it, as that would have meant wiping out my subsequent nine visits to Spain! But if there is one rule of travel, it is that rules are meant to be broken ... especially if you're Zimbabwean Warlords!


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Amuse Bouche at Le Bon Vivant ...Amuse Bouche at Le Bon Vivant ...
Amuse Bouche at Le Bon Vivant ...

... not normally a huge fan of gazpacho, this version was pretty good. The star of the dish was the feta - though different from the feta you will find in Greece or the Balkans, the South African version has been amazing so far.
Quail ...Quail ...
Quail ...

... a chunk of it in the background, and also in an Asian-style broth, with a quail wonton, and mushrooms. Very good broth.
Foie Gras ...Foie Gras ...
Foie Gras ...

... nothing beats a rich chunk of foie gras, perfectly seared, as it melts on your tongue. I thought they tried to do too much with the foie gras here, trying to almost make a candy out of it - not digging it so much ...
Springbok ...Springbok ...
Springbok ...

... another African game meat crossed off our list, in a dish featuring both the loin and the shank. Far more tender than the kudu and impala we tried in Jo'burg, it still wasn't as tender as the Zebra we had last night, but delicious, nonetheless.
Duck Breast ...Duck Breast ...
Duck Breast ...

... though a bit more cooked than I would've liked, it was juicy and bursting with flavour. Not a big fan of the Indonesian fried rice cake, the atjar was quite nice, a South African sweet and sour vegetable dish, which was served with duck confit. It reminded me a bit of the duck you would have with Chinese lettuce wraps. The Asian theme continued with the flavour of the mushrooms which were a bit like thicker, meatier enokis, and the shrimp chip was a nice touch.
Pure Gluttony ...Pure Gluttony ...
Pure Gluttony ...

... there were six desserts listed on the menu, but were any of them good enough for us? No! So we ordered the sampler platter, featuring a bit of each and every dessert. The problem? We ordered one platter EACH, and were nearly ill after trying to cram it all down. The highlights were the creme brulee, so smooth and creamy, and the souffle, tasty beyond words. The chocolate cake was a little too sweet, and the donuts a bit dry, but everything else was good, though with such a huge selection of desserts, you kind of lose track of what's what after eating a few.
Another South African Picnic ...Another South African Picnic ...
Another South African Picnic ...

... gouda, papaya, fresh mango juice, and bread drizzled with the remainder of the avocado oil.
Huguenot Memorial ...Huguenot Memorial ...
Huguenot Memorial ...

... a tribute to the French Huguenots that immigrated to South Africa, particularly to Franschhoek, whose name translates to French corner.
Biltong ...Biltong ...
Biltong ...

... the ubiquitous South African cured meats, made from all manner of animals, it's somewhat similar to beef jerky, but is also available shredded, or in sticks.


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