Organics are GO at the Foodbarn

Franck Dangereux has been one of my favourite chefs for many years, ever since he was showing off his refined style at the ever popular La Colombe (Constantia Uitsig) many years ago. That was before I left South Africa, and I have cooked many a meal from his cookbook (Feast) since then, which I believe is still on a shelf in my mothers kitchen.

Since being back in Cape Town I have been hearing all the wonderful news and reviews of his latest creation, The Foodbarn in Noordhoek; the brainchild of Franck’s collaboration with Pete de Bruin, the ever charming host. The two men created this restaurant from their combined passion for food and their love for their families, and it really is a place where the two come together in incredible style. The food is simple ‘French Bistro’ style food (as described by Frank), and yet it still has the flair and precision which this master chef is best known for; in addition, the restaurant has an exceptional wine menu, mostly local but perfectly matched to the seasonal produce available. There is a tasting menu available with or without wine pairings; an unconventional take on a ‘tasting’ menu, Frank chooses the dishes for you and it’s a bit of a pot-luck surprise when the meal arrives – I wouldn’t worry though, everything here tastes phenomenal, so if you’re the adventurous foodie type then this one’s for you.

I went for lunch on Sunday, which was beyond amazing; the de-shelled prawn tempura served on a confied tomato, aubergine and avo tian, finished with a chilli & red pepper syrup and basil salsa was the perfect start to the meal and I would recommend it to anyone. The second course was rack of Karoo lamb in a bread crust with an amazing chickpea flour cake or ‘panisse,’ which was finished with the most wonderful jus. My dessert was the Cocoa Millefeuille with chocolate Marquise and peanut brittle praline cream, served with vanilla sauce and salted peanut ice cream – This. Is. Amazing. I’m not normally one for peanut anything, I don’t enjoy the taste, but this combination is a sure fire winner in my books, and I hope to have it again before they take it off the menu! I might come back just for that.

The food here is locally sourced where possibly and much of the fruit and veg is grown by Frank and Pete in the restaurant garden or at home. You can taste the freshness in every meal and the flavours of each season shine through the menu as each meal is carefully crafted using the very best of the available seasonal produce available. This is taking organic, sustainable food to an entirely new height.

So, if you are in the area and looking for a really good meal, be it with family, friends, kids or your loved one, this is most certain the top of the list!

The Foodbarn Restaurant & Deli | Noordhoek Farm Village, Village Lane, Noordhoek, Cape Town, 7979 | tel: +27 (0) 21 789 1390 | |

Pure Luxury Breaks

Last week felt like it would never end, I was exhausted, worn out, and in desperate need of a break; by the time Thursday came knocking and the weekend was almost in sight I had already started planning my escape (some ideas were a bit extreme I’ll admit, particularly the one about hijacking a boat and sailing to Madagascar). I opted, instead, for a much safer and less complicated plan B – armed with 2 good books, 1 laptop, 1 iPod (complete with newly downloaded playlists) and 2 haphazardly thrown together outfits (1 smart-casual, 1 casual) all stuffed into a small overnight bag along with minimal toiletries, I headed for Franschhoek – a small and exceptionally beautiful town in the Cape wine region, about 75km outside Cape Town. The streets of Franschooek (French Corner) are lined with French restaurants, patisseries, small European clothing boutiques, wine shops and organic farm stores; perfect for a weekend getaway.

Perhaps I should have titled this post, ‘in search of perfection.’ I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I booked myself into La Residence, since this was my first time staying in the area and my first experience of any of the Royal Portfolio hotels. The hotel itself is situated on a private 30-acre estate in the heart of the Franschhoek valley and enjoys breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains as well as the private vineyards of the estate; once you get past the surrounding beauty you will notice that it boasts the most uniquely exquisite rooms, decadently decorated entrance way, phenomenal food cooked by their in house chef, and service on par with that of any true Royal residence (or at least what I would imagine Royal service might be like).

View from my awesome bedroom / balcony / palace

Despite the torrential rain and bitter cold outside, I felt as though I had just found my very own slice of heaven. Quietly tucked away in my palatial room with it’s underfloor heating and super king sized bed (the bed even has stairs, and even those have underfloor heating), I was as comfortable as I could possibly be and as warm as toast; with little to do except drink the complimentary bottle of bubbly, disappear into the pool sized tub and dive into a good book, I decided to do exactly that.

Everything about this unique property screams luxury – although perhaps luxury isn’t the most fitting description, it’s more than luxurious, it is a personal oasis; the entire place creates a feeling of euphoria and a sense of complete serenity, as if there isn’t really a world beyond it’s walls.

La Residence is part of a portfolio of three boutique establishments in South Africa, The Royal Portfolio, which was established and is wholly owned by Liz and Phil Biden; Liz Biden is considered a South African icon as well as a global hotelier of note. Before these properties were hotels however, they were once the family’s holiday homes, and each one has been entirely designed and decorated by Liz.

Liz has an exceptional eye for detail; from the moment you step into the entrance hall at La Residence you begin to notice the exquisite decoration, and the breathtaking interior design extends far beyond the main building as each of the 11 rooms is individually colour coordinated and decorated to specific design. The finishing touches are added on a daily basis by the hotels tireless staff who are on hand at all hours of the day to tend to your every need, and the hotel’s dining room is already famous in South Africa as one of the Wineland’s most accomplished.

From the very second you arrive, to the heartbreaking moment when you leave, this haven of luxury will put all of your worries at ease; from the mind-altering food and endless flow of drinks, to the warmth and hospitality of the staff at La Residence – it really is in a class all of it’s own.

I think this may possibly be the most exceptionally relaxing, purely indulgent, completely luxurious weekend I have ever had – a big thank you to the incredible staff who made my stay so unforgettable, you are one of a kind.

La Residence | Elandskloof Private Road, Elandskloof Farm, Franschhoek | +27 (0) 21 876 4100 |

Give me a Signal

The Signal restaurant at the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town has been one of the most revered and respected restaurants in the Cape for as long as I can remember, and rightly so; the hotel itself has seen many changes over the years, but has always remained the pinnacle of Cape Luxury. I’d been looking forward to finally having dinner at the Cape Grace for a long time, and when the evening finally arrived it was as though I was a small child on Christmas morning, full of anticipation and excitement.

From the moment you enter the hotel you feel as though you have stepped into an alternate world, a world of luxury and comfort which is homely and understated at the same time. The restaurant is warm and welcoming and the staff are attentive without being invasive; there is a sense of purpose to everything and each detail is overseen with the utmost care and attention.

The menu at Signal is simple; nothing is over complicated and they use only the freshest seasonal produce which adds to the overall authenticity and flavour of each dish; the wine list is extensive without being overwhelming and the sommelier is on hand at all times to help you make the right decisions. We started with a Sous Vide Quail which was exceptionally tender and flavoursome, perhaps a touch too much salt for my palate, but otherwise a rounded dish; the sesame aioli was particularly enjoyable. The second starter was a confit duck and Parma ham terrine served with mango and coconut atchar which was lovely and sweet, offsetting the salt in the terrine perfectly. If you like terrines, then this one should definitely be on your list.

For a main course we had a slow-roast pork belly with bean cassoulet  – the serving was quite substantial but it was so incredibly delicious that we managed to get through it in the end, although if you are having the 5 course tasting menu I would suggest sharing this dish. We also ordered a rack of Karoo lamb which was served on a bed of lentils with truffles creamed potato – the portion was much more manageable and the flavour just as intense and enjoyable, I strongly recommend trying both. I noticed all the while we were sitting there that the waiters floated elegantly across the room, always there when needed and keeping out of sight at all other times; the service, it must be said, is impeccable.

For dessert we had a pecan and caramel tart served with chocolate ganache, bruleed banana and vanilla ice cream; I am not a fan of pecans, or most tarts, but this really was something else entirely and a total winner. Textured, sweet and totally decadent – all the things a really good dessert should be. We then shared a cheese board which was small, light and phenomenally tasty, although I might have enjoyed more of an explanation from the waiter with regard to the cheese selections. All in all though, a thoroughly enjoyable, almost heavenly meal, and I will be back for more very soon.

Signal Restaurant | Cape Grace Hotel | 130 Victoria Wharf St | Cape Town | 021 410 7100