Joanne Gibson: Yule Thank Us – Christmas in the winelands
By Joanne Gibson, 23 October 2018
If the thought of slaving over a hot stove this silly season has you feeling more Claus-trophobic than Santa-mental, there’s no need to brace your elf. There are several wine farms offering Christmas Eve dinners, Christmas Day lunches and festive picnics, which means all you need to do is eat, drink and be merry (before Ubering home). Some are already fully booked (including Lanzerac, Steenberg and Delaire Graff, the latter at R1450 per person) so you’re advised to ho-ho-hurry!
ALLÉE BLEUE, FRANSCHHOEK
Christmas Chicnic: from R670 per couple, R125 per child. Christmas Lunch: R385 per person, including a welcome drink
On 24, 25 and 26 December, Allée Bleue’s popular ‘Chicnic’ picnic hampers which will include ‘a touch of Christmas tradition’ (think gammon, mince pies and Christmas cake) in addition to the usual fresh produce, sourced from the farm and its immediate surrounds. You can opt to be served at a table under the oaks (R695 per couple, R150 per child) or you can collect a Chicnic-On-The-Go and find a spot in the gardens. Alternatively, enjoy a set Christmas lunch menu at the Allée Bleue Bistro. www.alleebleue.com
Christmas lunch: R795 per person, R250 for children under 12 (prices are inclusive of gratuities)
Backsberg’s weekend lamb spit braais are legendary and on Christmas Day they will pull out all the stops. You can expect a glass of Brut MCC or Rosé on arrival followed by a selection of home-baked breads with various pestos and pâtés before the main event: lamb, glazed gammon, roast turkey, hake goujons, Franschhoek smoked salmon terrine, roast potatoes, vegetables and salads galore, plus mini pies, quiches, springrolls and samosas. Try to leave space for dessert: berry Pavlova, trifle, chocolate roulade, peppermint crisp tart, seasonal fruits, Christmas cake with custard… www.backsberg.co.za
BENGUELA COVE, NEAR HERMANUS
Christmas Eve dinner: R520 per person, Christmas Lunch: R600 per person (including a welcome drink and crackers)
At Moody Lagoon restaurant, chef Annie Badenhorst’s four-course Christmas Eve menu reads as follows: Let’s Break Bread (breads served with cheeses, charcuterie, pâtés and preserves), The Garden (salt-baked beets, goats curd, watermelon, basil, sesame and chive vinaigrette), The Christmas Cow (slow-braised beef short rib with smoked apples, deep fried snails and celeriac) and Grandpa’s Eggnog (eggnog flan with melon sorbet, maple comb, salted caramel and white chocolate). The Christmas lunch carvery has something for everyone, from roast turkey and gammon to baked fish in a white wine, mussel and Pernod sauce and whole roasted beef sirloin with all the trimmings. Desserts include Christmas pudding with brandy butter, Malva pudding with caramelized butternut and Amarula custard, homemade sweets, seasonal fruit salad and a selection of ice creams and sorbets. www.benguelacove.co.za
CAVALLI ESTATE, STELLENBOSCH
Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day lunch: R950 per person (children’s menu available)
Head chef Michael Deg’s summery seven-course Christmas menu looks like this: crispy prawn dumpling (with miso aioli, daikon, edamame beans and nan prick dressing), local asparagus (with goats cheese croquette, cured egg yolk, cauliflower and brown butter mousse), herb crumbed tuna (with cucumber, fennel aioli, caviar, herb oil and brick pastry), line-caught hake (with steamed Saldanha Bay mussels, coconut, ginger, lime & chili broth), seared springbok loin (with braised leg & lentil faggot, sweet potato purée and tender stem broccoli) and Christmas bombe (with mince pie ice cream, ginger biscuit and praline crème) followed by petit fours (cranberry macaron, pistachio blondie, Christmas cake and cherry pop). Vegetarians are equally well catered for (think crispy vegetable dumpling, mushroom ravioli, dukkha-roasted aubergine…) www.cavallistud.com
Christmas lunch: R620 per person (vegetarian options available on request)
At this farm eatery in a restored stable, chef Martin de Kock’s festive offering may be less simple than you expect – from the bread course (raisin loaf, sweet potato sourdough and focaccia with smoked whiskey butter, chimichurri and aioli espuma) to the palate cleanser (eggnog granita with coconut and pomegranate). The tuna crudo starter is followed by your choice of slow-braised beef short rib (with smoked parsnip and honey, green bean and king oyster salad, and caramel roasted onion tart) or pork belly (sous vide fillet, roasted plum glaze, savoy cabbage, apple, walnut, puffed tanglewood ‘crackling’ and cherries), with a dessert of white chocolate, pistachio mousse, strawberries, cucumber and basil to finish. www.diemersdal.co.za
GRANDE PROVENCE, FRANSCHHOEK
Six-course menu available from Christmas Eve until dinner on Family Day: R1650 per person (includes a special gift and glass of bubbly on arrival, excludes drinks and gratuity)
It’s the most expensive Christmas meal on offer (that we could find, anyway) but chef Guy Bennett promises ‘a yuletide feast fit for a king’, starting with a variety of canapés followed by a ‘caprese twist’ of heirloom tomatoes with roasted pinenuts, basil, mozzarella and kalamata olives. His ‘play on seafood’ then combines grilled freshwater crayfish and saltwater prawn with a smoked linefish croquette and ‘oriental touches’, followed by slow-cooked beef short rib with truffle-braaied cauliflower, herb gnocchi and kimchi. After some local artisanal cheeses with roasted nuts, olives, crispies and preserves, dessert is a 70% Valrhona chocolate éclair served with stone fruit ice cream, tonka bean namelaka and summer berries. www.grandeprovence.co.za
GROOT CONSTANTIA, CONSTANTIA
Christmas lunch: R840 per person (R945 including 12.5% service fee)
On arrival at the Jonkershuis, you’ll be served a Woodstock petit baguette and rosemary salted grissini with flavoured butter, citrus and garlic olives. This will be followed by a starter of farmed salmon trout with rainbow baby beets, micro herb salad, toasted almonds, avocado mousse, horseradish crème fraîche and fynbos reduction. Then you’ll have a choice between the Festive Christmas Plate (Oak Valley smoked pork belly and oven-roasted free-range chicken with all the trimmings), a sustainable fillet of fish with prawn & citrus velouté or a 200g prime beef fillet with a peppercorn reduction. After dessert – a summer berry plate with crushed Turkish Delight meringue, double cream, baked spiced nut crumble, real vanilla pod ice cream and pouring white chocolate – the feast will end with coffee, mince pies and chocolates. www.grootconstantia.co.za
KUNJANI WINES, DEVON VALLEY, STELLENBOSCH
Christmas lunch: R650 per person, R325 per child under 12
To start, three salads will be served on the table for sharing: one with smoked turkey, cranberry sauce, shaved asparagus, red onion, strawberries and toasted cashews; one with grilled peaches, blue cheese, basil, marinated cherry tomatoes, dried olives and baby leaves; one with salmon trout, baby beetroot, shaved fennel, avocado, grapefruit, cucumber and chive dressing. You can then choose between aged & roasted Chalmar ribeye steak, chipotle-rubbed line fish or slow-cooked pork belly in ginger and apple, served à la carte, after which two desserts will be presented on the table for sharing: Valrhona chocolate fruit pudding and baked mango cheesecake. www.kunjaniwines.co.za
LA PETITE FERME, FRANSCHHOEK
Christmas lunch: R950 per person (includes welcome drink)
You can expect live music and a small Christmas gift in addition to chef Kyle Norris’s Christmas menu, comprising a plated starter of cured Franschhoek trout with tarragon crème fraîche, smoked exotic tomatoes, quail egg and crispy kale, followed by a variety of mains served ‘family style’, including roast lamb with blackened harissa and lime gremolata, sage & biltong stuffed pork belly with pistachio and baked apple, orange & five spice gammon with smoked black cherries, and roasted vegetable terrine with basil pesto and blueberry marzipan (not to mention plenty on the side), finishing off with Bûche de Noël for dessert. www.lapetiteferme.co.za
LE POMMIER, HELSHOOGTE
Christmas lunch: R450 per person, R225 per child under 12
Specialising in South African dishes with a Cape Malay twist, Le Pommier will have curried fish, pumpkin fritters and Malva pudding on its three-course Christmas menu alongside slow-roasted leg of lamb, honey-glazed gammon, chicken and mushroom pie, trifle, berry pavlova, chocolate mousse, lemon tart and ice cream with toppings. www.lepommier.co.za
Christmas Day lunch: R495 per person, R250 for children under 10
This year Eat@Simonsvlei is offering some deliciously retro Christmas fare: choose between prawn and avo cocktail, deep-fried camembert with cranberry jelly, and tongue with mustard sauce, before tucking into the Christmas Plate of glazed gammon with grilled pineapple, stuffed turkey breast parcel wrapped in pancetta, and mini lamb and feta pie (plus green bean and bacon bundles, glazed baby carrots, roast potatoes, and red wine and redcurrant gravy). After dessert (either summer fruit meringue nests or Ferrero Rocher brownies, both served with ice cream), finish off with tea or coffee and date balls. www.simonsvlei.com
Christmas Courtyard Lunch: R850 per person, R300 per child under 12 (including all beverages except spirits). Christmas Lunch at Eight: R580 per person, R290 per child under 12 (excluding beverages and gratuity)
You’re spoilt for choice at Spier, where you can join a communal table in the courtyard, listening to the Jazz Trio, while tucking into a buffet featuring Christmas favourites, or you can head for the Harvest Table at Eight, Spier’s farm-to-table restaurant, which sources ingredients from the farm and nearby (bookings via Dine Plan). On 25 and 26 December, you can also collect a hearty farm-inspired picnic hamper from the Spier Farm Kitchen to enjoy on the lawns of the historic Werf or along the banks of the dam. Cost is R700 per basket (serves two) or R200 per child. www.spier.co.za/food/picnics
Christmas lunch: R450 per person for three courses, R500 per person for four courses. Christmas picnic: R600 for two. All prices exclude beverages and gratuity.
Highlights of executive chef Nadia Roux’s menu include duck breast with mulled wine curd, baby salad and a pear macaron, crispy pork belly with sweet potato mash, cherry and cinnamon jus, and dark chocolate marquise, fresh berry salad and smoked vanilla ice cream. But there’s also smoked salmon, beetroot carpaccio, lamb shank, Chalmar beef fillet, eggplant Parmagiano, mango parfait and honey-roasted stone fruit with gingerbread crumble to select from the menu, all followed by cheese. Alternatively, relax under a tree with a special Christmas Picnic Basket. www.webersburg.co.za
ZEVENWACHT, KUILS RIVER
Christmas buffet lunch: R550 per person, R275 per child under 12, free for children under 4 (service included). Christmas picnic: R600 per basket (serves two)
A Christmas buffet will be served in the restaurant, located within the manor house, as well as in the Al Fresco and Lapa function facilities, and the feast will include beef carpaccio, prawn cocktail, whole poached Norwegian salmon, oak-smoked gammon, slow-roasted leg of lamb, chicken pie, roast potatoes, veggies and salads galore, followed by croquembouche, chocolate and caramel trifle, mango and mascarpone tart, and a traditional ‘doek’ pudding with brandy sauce. Some of these dishes are also included in the picnic, among other goodies, while vegetarians can enjoy a roasted Mediterranean vegetable wrap, a homemade butternut and feta quiche, and a platter of grilled artichokes, vegetable crudités, olives, peppadews, exotic tomatoes and pickled mushrooms.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MYRRH…
If you’d like to celebrate the end of 2018 on a wine farm, here are a few options:
Allée Bleue is hosting a ‘casual and fun’ New Year’s Eve celebration in its 250-seater ballroom, Le Grand Hall. Space is limited to 120 guests (no under 18s) and the cost of R1000 per person includes a welcome drink, dinner, music, a glass of MCC for the countdown, a midnight snack and a beverage on departure. There will also be food stalls offering various local delicacies and sweet treats.
At La Petite Ferme, they’re planning ‘a sophisticated celebration of the year past and exciting beginnings of the year to come’. For R1550 per person, you can expect cocktails and canapés, a four-course menu curated by chef Kyle Norris, live music and a glass of bubbles for the countdown.
At Spier, you can enjoy welcome drinks and canapés as Mix Flava’s tunes get you in the mood before tucking into a buffet feast at long tables under beautiful festoons. Cost is R1400 per adult (including beer, wine, water, soft drinks and a special gift to take home) and there will be a special menu and supervised play area for children (R350 per child). Bookings via Dine Plan.
- Joanne Gibson has been a journalist, specialising in wine, for over two decades. She holds a Level 4 Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and has won both the Du Toitskloof and Franschhoek Literary Festival Wine Writer of the Year awards, not to mention being shortlisted four times in the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards. As a sought-after freelance writer and copy editor, her passion is digging up nuggets of SA wine history.