The Cape culinary scene is magnificent, there are no doubts about that. Affordable? Not so much. Every now and then I unearth a treasure trove filled with priceless service, rich flavours and gold-quality food.
There’s a part of me that wants to keep these secret spots hidden, but I have never been good at keeping a secret and such luxury is best shared and enjoyed.
Franschhoek is filled with unforgettable food experiences, but in the age of trying to be different, too many fall into the trap of being the same. There’s a very clear difference between good food and great food. Terra del Capo Antipasti Bar at Anthonij Rupert Wine Estate falls well within the great food range.
The restaurant is set in an architecturally unique stone building, surrounded by rolling green lawns courtesy of the recent rainfall. The entrance is closely guarded by two cheetahs.
Terra Del Capo has a small tasting room with big aesthetics and gigantic flavours – the tables are a fair mix of modern and classic furniture, elegantly draped in soft lighting and large paintings.
The menu is relatively small, but don’t be disappointed, because the food is large on flavour.
First up, the truffled polenta chips with parmesan and aioli. Polenta is a tricky food, it is generally tasteless and doesn’t have the best consistency. But… infuse some truffle oil and parmesan, and you have a dish that didn’t cost a lot to start with elevated to a level of excellency. Perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and luxurious on the inside. The truffle infusion is key and what you end up with is a mouthful to savour.
The carrot arancini, with cumin boerenkaas filling, is a meal best tasted to be understood. I could tell you about the warm and gooey rich flavour of the boerenkaas when you bite into the carrot-shaped finger food… but it is so much better when you actually experience it for yourself. The dish mimics a potted carrot, and the soil is a delicious addition to it. Crispy, crunchy, textured and melting flavours work together to create a wondrous bite.
The next dish of Franschhoek Trout ceviche, gooseberry, honey, lime and ginger, is where my tastebuds heard angels sing. And if you think that’s way too much expectation of any dish, you would be totally wrong.
This is possibly one of the best dishes I have tasted in 2018. The dressing, with indecent amounts of trout, succulent pops of gooseberry, and a copious amount of skill transforms an otherwise ordinary dish into something even a notch above extraordinary. Yes, it is that good. I swabbed up every last bit of the dressing up with my finger, I couldn’t help it and neither would you.
This was the star dish, but most of all, besides the combination of these flavours, the price flummoxed me – R75 is all you have to pay for this greatness. It’s worth every cent of the drive to Franschhoek.
Dessert is an uncomplicated affair and is dependent on the kitchen’s special or use of star ingredients for the week. On the day that I visited, there was ice-cream – simple but delicious – vanilla bean, berry and apricot. And it bowed out the tapas menu tasting elegantly.
The genius behind the culinary wonder is Chef HW Pieterse and his food is all about hearty, homemade, Italian flair.
Pieterse and his team plan on highlighting hero local ingredients during the winter months, with the introduction of various winter specials. Some ingredients are uncompromisingly sourced from Italy for their superb quality.
The dishes are carefully thought out, perfectly constructed and decadently enjoyed, but my mind boggles that anything this great could be this cost effective. Three tapas dishes are enough for two people. Try four or five though, because everything is so absolutely delicious.
The Terra del Capo Antipasti Bar is open from Tuesday to Sunday (lunches only) and, as the estate operates on a ‘By Appointment Only’ basis, pre-booking is essential.
Contact: 021 874 9074
Website: Anthonij Rupert
Pictures: Nidha Narrandes