Coun­try Restau­rants

South African Country Life - - Sumario - Map ref­er­ence F2 see in­side back cover

French and In­dian feasts in Fran­schhoek

in fab­u­lous fash­ion tak­ing taste and money to Grey­ton, Mc­Gre­gor and Prince Al­bert.

For some rea­son, this area along the picturesque R46 has largely been over­looked.

While neigh­bour­ing Ceres has al­ways drawn its share of vis­i­tors to the win­ter snow, the sum­mer val­ley haze, the trout dams, cherry pick­ing and hik­ing trails, Wolse­ley’s other neigh­bor, Tul­bagh, has only re­cently started get­ting ye olde English treat­ment of broekielace cof­fee and cu­rio shops. It helps that it’s also a wed­ding epi­cen­tre. In con­trast, Wolse­ley and its sur­rounds have stayed doggedly ru­ral and agri­cul­tural.

Un­til now. Un­til Waver­ley Hills and the man be­hind the food there, Fran­cois du Toit. Fran­cois (33) knows the area well be­cause he was born and raised not too far from here, just over the Nuwek­loof Pass in the Swart­land. “I grew up on a wine farm called Uit­sig in the Malmes­bury/Paarde­berg area that’s been in the fam­ily for three gen­er­a­tions.

“Such an up­bring­ing gives you a dif­fer­ent view when you look at food. I used to go to my grand­mother’s house and watched how she baked but­ter­milk rusks. She al­ways had

¿ she mixed ev­ery­thing. I would eat the raw rusk dough. It was amaz­ing. That’s where my in­ter­est in food started. My mother is also a very good cook and baked for the Malmes­bury Tuis­ny­w­er­heid. My sis­ter also loves cook­ing, and my dad loves eat­ing.

Fran­cois de­scribes why he loves this piece of coun­try­side. “My roots have al­ways been in the coun­try­side and this re­ally is the most

¿ stage in my life. It’s a con­ve­nient area for me and I’m not that far from my par­ents and the fam­ily.

“There is so much cre­ativ­ity around what we do here es­pe­cially with wed­dings, and there are so many farm­ers and pro­duc­ers in the area who pop in and of­fer me this and that. I do feel this is the place where

I will set­tle.”

“Set­tle.” Fran­cois is an in­ter­est­ing cat. Af­ter talk­ing to him for a bit about where he has been and what he has done, I get the

¿

It feels like he has been rest­less and has spent

¿ ¿ > way he tells it, his ré­sumé sounds like this (with some lib­eral para­phras­ing):

Study­ing? He did study cook­ing. Sort of,

but never quite got the piece of pa­per.

Food de­vel­op­ment? Did it, was suc­cess­ful, won awards and medals and brownie points and Noddy shoes de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts for brands like Woolies, but it was not re­ally where he wanted to be for­ever.

Fancy restau­rants? He could do it, has worked in a few, but wasn’t into it for the long term.

Pastry chef for a ho­tel chain? Meh.

Food & bev­er­age man­ager for a ho­tel chain? Snore.

Fruit and veg sup­plier for re­tail­ers? Pass. Work­ing at Manna Epi­cure un­der Mi­randa En­gel­brecht? Hang on a minute.

“I worked with the amaz­ing Mi­randa En­gel­brecht at Manna Epi­cure in Cape Town. I think a lot of my style and way of think­ing, and some­times un­usual quirky ways of com­bin­ing food, come from her. She is an in­cred­i­ble artist and is stun­ning with food. From work­ing with her I ended up as the head chef at the Royal Ho­tel in Riebeek-Kas­teel

' ˜

The false starts and var­ied work

Q and forms in the restau­rant/ho­tel in­dus­try

J Q than your av­er­age chef.

Yes, he can cook, but he also knows how to run a tight ship, hag­gle with sup­pli­ers and hit the bliss point (a real term used by food sci­en­tists) that brands punting the masspro­duced ob­sess over.

The dif­fer­ence is, he hits it with real food. Food that hints at the tra­di­tional (slowroasted lamb, pam­poenkoekies, roasted veg), but with in­ven­tive tweaks (slow-roasted lamb with smoked onion gravy, pam­poenkoekies with thyme and but­ter­scotch sauce, wasabi and sage-honey root veg­eta­bles). It’s fa­mil­iar enough to be recog­nis­able, but fresh and de­li­cious so you keep com­ing back.

‘ ^F J B À var­ied. “I don’t re­ally have a style. I cater to my mar­ket of the mo­ment – who pre­fer the tra­di­tional boerekos. To keep every­one happy I bring in funky el­e­ments like the smoked yo­ghurt and the roast onion gravy with the lamb. I be­lieve each and ev­ery in­gre­di­ent has its own char­ac­ter.

“Mediter­ranean cook­ing sticks to the core value of an in­gre­di­ent. And that is what

¿ too much with it, a to­mato is not a to­mato any­more. At the end of the day why use

B À a to­mato? You have to hon­our and re­spect

À

¿ a proper sauce, and I try to bring in dif­fer­ent À Q

À “ ; Fran­cois is a great lover of Asian in­gre­di­ents. “Soy sauce, ginger, lime, co­rian­der, I use them a lot. I never use recipes and to have to write them down is a bit of a kop­krap­per (co­nun­drum). I lit­er­ally have to make the dish to get the recipe. And I man­age to get con­sis­tency be­cause the stuff I do is straight­for­ward and sim­ple.

> ¿

Waver­ley Hills, which has al­ready de­vel­oped a name for it­self as a lead­ing or­ganic wine farm, does a healthy trade through the restau­rant, with plenty of reg­u­lars com­ing from Ceres and Tul­bagh, as well as

^ Q moun­tains. The area seems to be carv­ing out its own niche.

“We fall un­der the Tul­bagh Wine Route, but here you can hike, moun­tain bike and do some birding. One of our busiest times is in the win­ter, as the mecca for see­ing snow is Ceres, on our doorstep.

“While this area is not yet on the level of Riebeek-Kas­teel, I do feel we are get­ting there. I have found mov­ing from Som­er­set West, to Cape Town, to Fran­schhoek, to Riebeek-Kas­teel, and now here, that the ra­dius from Cape Town, which peo­ple see

B

Wolse­ley? On the up? Off the back of the food and drive of Fran­cois du Toit at Waver­ley Hills, you bet­ter be­lieve it. As we sit back to take in the scenery and dig into Fran­cois’ fare, the proof is in the pud­ding… as well as the starters, the mains and the wine at Waver­ley Hills.

Waver­ley Hills 023 231 0002 info@wa­ver­ley­hills.co.za, www.wa­ver­ley­hills.co.za In­sta­gram/fran­cois_chef

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE: What bet­ter venue for a day of good food, wine and sur­round­ings than Waver­ley Hills wine es­tate out­side Wolse­ley. If you take in a wine tast­ing be sure to sam­ple the Waver­ley Hills Sau­vi­gnon Blanc Semil­lon, the SMV (Shi­raz Mourvè­dre Viog­nier) and the Re­serve Shi­raz.

The Wolse­ley area is a boom­ing wed­ding re­gion and Waver­ley Hills is a pop­u­lar op­tion. Fran­cois du Toit tai­lors each and ev­ery menu to en­sure the food is unique. Waver­ley Hills ECOCERT cer­ti­fied wines are 100 per cent or­ganic. From Crit­i­cally En­dan­gered flora like Breede shale, renos­ter­veld and al­lu­vium fyn­bos to en­dan­gered fish species and birdlife, con­ser­va­tion is top of mind at Waver­ley Hills.

LEFT: Ex­pect to meet Liezel Brandt, one of Waver­ley Hills’ su­per-ef­fi­cient serv­ing staff. ABOVE: En­joy the wrap-around bal­cony for lazy sum­mer lunches and the fire­place for cozy win­ter feasts.

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