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Even though I’ve been living in the foodie world for a while, I still get tremendously excited about food and all the lovely places I get to experience. Eating for a living is a tremendous blessing, and I’m so lucky to get to experience all that I do. Honestly. And everyone once and again something comes along that actually makes me giddy with excitement – like an invite to experience Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek.
Mont Rochelle is Sir Richard Branson’s wine estate. And what an estate it is! It combines old school classic charm with modern luxury, perfectly blending two worlds that are actual decades apart. From tennis courts to luxurious suites and a beautiful spa to an old manor house with fireplaces, chess games, and the coolest pillows I have ever seen (more on this below), visiting Mont Rochelle is an absolute treat. I arrived at Mont Rochelle just before sunset and was treated to a glass of Graham Beck bubbles before being enthralled by the striking tones of pink in the sky that it drew me outside.
Starting a tour of the property, I explored some of the rooms, walked past the outside pool to the tennis court, back in to more rooms, up to the spa, and, then took a drive over to the manor house. This house sleeps 14 people for quite a hefty price, but includes a private chef with two meals a day and an unlimited mini bar. And, obviously, those cool pillows.
Moving on swiftly from my nerdy enthusiasm to more foodie-relevant items … After the manor house, we walked over to the Country Kitchen, a daytime deli and wine tasting venue. This is also where the Franschhoek Wine Tram (blue route and green route) stops, so you can do your wine tasting as part of that experience. I did the wine tram recently and LOVED it.
And now, finally, it was time for dinner. We drove back to the main hotel and headed straight to the Miko Restaurant to join them for an evening of beautiful dining and live music by the wonderful James Stewart. It’s a relatively large restaurant space, but still had that intimate feel to it, probably because of clever design and great interior decorating with strategically placed sofas and a roaring fireplace.
The menu is quite large, with an emphasis on home grown and local flavours. This means you’ll see uniquely South African staples such as venison, Cape Malay dishes, biltong, Karoo lamb, sterie stumpie mousse, and melktert.
To start, I opted for the highly recommended Pork Cheek and Prune Terrine. This came served with carrot BBQ sauce, quince carpaccio, kale, and honey mustard dressing. The flavours were subtle and beautiful and I was perfectly happy with my choice.
For mains, I went with the Venison Loin. This was served with beef fat potatoes, cumin-spiced apple puree, sago beetroot wafers, brussel sprouts, and gooseberry jus. Not only was this dish a dream to look at, but it was also a dream to eat. Venison can be a difficult one at times, but this was wonderfully tender, very juicy, and all the flavours were divine.
Though, even with all the yumminess, the winner of the evening was dessert. The Chocolate Fondant at Mont Rochelle’s Miko Restaurant is a true winner. Served with Frangelico ice cream, raspberry leather, and rustic truffle, this dessert was everything I could wish a dessert to be.
Everything at Mont Rochelle – everything at Miko Restaurant – was perfect. From the atmosphere to the views to the wondrous hospitality and the divine food, this evening was beyond astounding, and I’m getting all butterfly-ie just talking about it. I’m in love with food, I’m in love with great places, and I’m in love with rooms. And I’m perfectly ok with that. It goes without saying that I’d be back any day.
Written by Benike Palfi, www.ilovefoodies.com
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