The Franschhoek valley is seldom more beautiful than in its autumn hues of orange, gold and pink, and as we move slowly into our mild winter, the Haute Cabrière Restaurant is planning some very special menus to entice visitors.
The first of these offerings is the Pierre Jourdan Breakfast on Saturday mornings, available from 9h30. It is an ideal way for visitors to line their stomachs before embarking on the famous traditional 11h00 cellar tour, tasting and swashbuckling sabrage demonstrations led by either charismatic Cellarmaster Achim von Arnim or his eldest son, Takuan.
The experience, at R150 a person, including the cellar tour - and naturally some of the delicious Pierre Jourdan Cap Classique, will be served individually for each table with delectable gourmet platters of home-made mini croissants, mini custard Danishes, mini bran muffins and rye bread; smoked salmon roses from the Franschhoek Valley; Parma ham; smoked beef; two kinds of cheeses and honeyed yoghurt.
Guests will be able to add even more sparkle to the experience with caviar on request. For the ultimate experience, arrangements can be made to arrive by helicopter or be chauffeur -driven there and back in vintage cars. Booking is essential.
Because the Cape enjoys mild winters, Haute Cabrière will be taking advantage of the beautiful balmy afternoons with a newly introduced terrace menu, to encourage guests to linger after their tasting room experience. Guests can enjoy oysters, cheese or duck liver parfait plates, with home baked ciabatta and a selection of tapas. This menu is available only on the terrace (weather dependant) and served from 15h00 to 19h00 on Fridays and Saturdays, and weekdays (excluding Mondays) and Sundays until 17h00.
On those rarer, chillier days, when it's time to move indoors to the roaring fire, there is the Table d'Haute menu - its name derived from the "Table d'hôte" concept, a French phrase which literally means "host's table", where guests are served a multi-course meal, created by the host.
Table d'Haute will be served for lunch Tuesdays to Fridays, in addition to a la carte, at R150 a person (excluding wine) for four courses which Chef Ryan will be specially selecting daily, using locally sourced ingredients, and designed to suit the weather.
Haute Cabrière is famous for its exquisite range of Pinot Noirs so what could be better than putting together a tasting menu paired with these gorgeous wines? The culinary adventure of the Pinot Noir Tasting Menu begins with the glorious Haute Cabrière Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011 with curried prawn consommé, pickled calamari, salted salmon and coconut cream. The signature Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose MCC - which is 100% Pinot - follows with steamed mussels in a Belle Rose and harrisa cream, a match which Ryan feels is made in heaven.
Pinot Noir bacon and pea risotto with mascarpone mousse will be accompanied with the Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 2008, while the main course of garlic crusted lamb loin, olive pomme puree, aubergine caviar, roasted cherry tomatoes and caramelised lime jus will be honoured with a glass of the rare and highly desirable Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir 1998.
To finish, the sublime Pierre Jourdan Ratafia will be paired with a trio of Valrhona chocolate desserts. The Pinot Noir menu will be served on Fridays and Saturdays for dinner, and lunch on Saturdays and Sundays for R495 a person including the wine.
Ushering in and overseeing all these exciting changes in the restaurant is new manager Alton van Biljon, whose food and wine career started at a young age. "I think my first 'job' was when I could just see over the table and having to polish all the glasses and cutlery settings for a 400-seater wedding - mother, who along with my grandmother, was in the food industry, felt that I was the perfect height to see the finger marks," he smiles.
"My philosophy on what makes a good restaurant great is that it places the guests' enjoyment of the overall experience as the central focus of all our efforts. I want to bring to Haute Cabrière a culture that in everything we do we place our guest at the forefront."
During autumn and winter (May to August), Haute Cabrière Restaurant is open for lunch Tuesdays to Sundays, and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays.
During spring and summer (September to April) lunch is served Tuesdays to Sundays and dinner Tuesdays to Saturdays. To book your table, call +27.218763688 or email email@example.com.