Get the lowdown on Afro-fusion cuisine of Franschhoek
By Sibongile Mafu
If you’ve ever wanted to venture into a space that binds many culinary cultures together, that place is Franschhoek. Tucked away in the Cape, it’s a popular weekend-getaway destination with many venues showcasing the melting pot of Afro-fusion cuisine and world-class wines amid stunning views.
Local radio personality and travel enthusiast Sibongile Mafu jumped at the idea of heading to Protea Hotel by Marriott Franschhoek for a weekend of exploration that included a whistle-stop winelands tour and conversations with local characters. The picturesque town is easily accessed from Cape Town and Cape Town International Airport; it wasn’t long before Sibongile was surrounded by the vineyards and mountains. Sibongile’s account of her weekend offers a tantalizing glimpse of what’s on offer:
“Franschhoek is alive. That’s the only way I can describe this small town, located close to the equally beautiful Stellenbosch.
It’s only 75km outside of Cape Town, making it the perfect weekend getaway spot.
Franschhoek may appear modest and quaint from the outside, but once you take the scenic drive in, you’re in for a treat.
The only way to Franschhoek (yes, it’s a verb now) is to eat and drink your way through it. You won’t meet a restaurant, wine farm or café you won’t like. The photogenic town is unashamedly built for visitors. Pack your bags and troubles away and take a weekend to enjoy this gem of a place.
But where does one start? Dinner is a good place. You won’t regret visiting Ryan’s Kitchen in the heart of the town. This beautiful restaurant is run by a young couple who are passionate about a wide range of South African food from chakalaka to Karoo lamb and their menu reflects that. Be prepared to be blown away by dishes that include mielie pap, pulled-duck koeksusters and springbok loin. You won’t be disappointed by the cuisine and romantic setting.
There are only two pubs in Franschhoek to enjoy after-dinner drinks. This is where you’ll meet locals who’ll share their small-town stories and give you the inside info on the best places to visit. The Elephant and Barrel is always bustling with patrons who are ready to buy you a beer and have a chat. You can also stop by the more modest Franschhoek Station Pub and Grill for a quieter night out.
This is all in preparation for your Wine Tram experience the following day. For just R220 you can explore the Franschhoek winelands with convenient stops along the way. Hop on and off at Leopard’s Leap, Mont Rochelle, Rickety Bridge, Maison and many others. The choice is yours. Each of these places offer unique wine-tasting and pairing experiences.
Leopard’s Leap has an incredible Rotisserie-based lunch with tender meats, paired with wonderful seasonal salads. You’ll be going for seconds and thirds like you’re a kid again. It really is a family-first environment with plenty of space on offer for the little ones to run around and the big ones to stretch out on the lawn and enjoy multiple glasses of their famed Chenin Blanc.
End your weekend with a great breakfast and people-watching spot at Sacred Ground. The courtyard (when the wind isn’t blowing) is a great spot to enjoy The Franschhoek Breakfast with all of the trimmings as well as an enormous flat white.
It’ll be hard to say goodbye, but you’ll come back. There’s so much you haven’t experienced.”