I was so excited for the Hidden Valley Wines Gourmet Braai and Wine Festival this weekend that I stayed in on Friday night! Hell must have frozen over! Come hell or high water (clearly Cape Town weather was trying to keep me back this weekend) I was off to Stellenbosch on Saturday morning.
Stellenbosch roads are always a little treacherous, however, it was special to explore lesser known roads into the mountainous region. The mountains and their secret troughs really are spectacular. After winding our way up the Annandale road to the Hidden Valley vineyards we found Overture, tucked away on the mountain ledge.
Headed by celebrity gourmet chef Bertus Basson, from the moment we smelt the fynbos and looked upon the curated green hillsides, it was a pleasure to be there.
Upon entering we were politely greeted and offered a glass of Hidden Valley Sauvignon Blanc or Hidden Valley Pinotage. Although Pinotage is my preferred red wine, I generally drink white so Sauvignon Blanc it was for me.
We found our table and sat down for the feast – 13 offerings on the menu? Wow, at R350 a ticket, I don’t actually know how the kitchen makes a profit? Here’s what we had:
Roosterkoek with Apricot & almond butter – Deliciously sweet and I know it’s bad to say bread and butter is my absolutely favourite when presented with so many gorgeous plates, but, for some reason, it really does make my heart sing! The butter had a mousse texture. The sour dough bread recipe is available on the menu so ensure you take it away with you.
Smoked Hidden Valley Olives & Tapenade – I’m not an olive fan but it’s always special having olives when one can actually see the trees surrounding the restaurant. Talk about fresh ingredients!
Grilled Squid with Salsa Verde, Chilli, Capers and Fennel – I have to confess to hating 4 food items: seafood, curry, fennel and coriander LOL! Having said that, my food policy in gourmet restaurants is, “If a master chef can’t convert me, no one can!” So I tasted everything. I noticed that the caper berries were open and soon learnt that they had been dropped into hot oil which causes them to “bloom”. They were delicious as the usual brine flavour had been toned down.
Pickled Fish with Coriander Emulsion and a Gem salad – The gem salad had an amazing mustard vinaigrette that was delicious. The fennel had lost its strong liquorice flavour (my true enemy) and the coriander emulsion was gorgeous. The condiments added a fresh dynamic to the seafood starters, really lovely.
These were the first course dishes. For mains:
The Lamb Wors with Tomato and Crisp Waterblommetjie – The lamb was braaied perfectly, full of flavour and incredibly juicy, rich. I was, however, disappointed with the waterblommetjies. Being of British decent, waterblommetjies are uniquely South African which means my Mother does not cook them. Here they had been deep fried in batter and unfortunately the deep fried taste had washed out the waterblommetjie flavour.
Bourbon Basted Smoked Pork Loin with Flour tortillas, sweet corn and avocado – I made a wrap as I presumed should have been done. The maple roasted sweet potato with pecan nuts was a fantastic combination with the pork but the sweet corn and avocado didn’t really match the dish as well. Flavour full, they just didn’t match the sweet pork as well. I think eating them separately (not in my wrap) may have been better. Since it was a gourmet braai day, the pork was beautifully rich with that good ol’ braai flavour. Best crackling I’ve ever had.
Smokey chicken wings with a blue cheese cream – The cream was incredibly rich but a perfect combination for those blue cheese fans.
Ash-roast Beetroot, pumpkin seeds, labneh and slaw with dill and mustard cream – These were the veg that accompanied the mains but were nearly a main themselves. The labneh (sour cream type food) was sublime with the dark, purple beetroot and sweet pumpkin. The pumpkin seeds added the needed crush, it was one of my best of the day. I enjoyed the slaw but missed the high notes of apple or celery that wasn’t present.Dessert and cheese board:
Tannie Hetta’s Apple Pie with custard cinnamon ice cream – Lovely BUT I don’t think a single table finished their pie. It could have easily been served in slices or a smaller portion and saved on the cost of ingredients! The custard had a touch of cinnamon and the homemade vanilla ice cream was a delight.
I must say that the Hidden Valley Sauvignon Blanc, that I had throughout the meal, suited all the courses perfectly well. What a delicious day out!
After lunch we went for a little scroll around the farm. There was a slow flowing dam enclosed by a garden path. We found a bench at the top of the hill called the Sentinel. It offered the most beautiful view across the farm, past Overature to Cape Town. The sweet smell of the various flowers, the view, with a fully tummy was just sublime. I never get sick of seeing Table Mountain at a different angle either.
A huge thank you to Chef Basson and his team for all their hard work. There were so many components to each dish, it took us four hours to eat! Can you imagine how long it took them to prepare and serve? I highly recommend driving through to Overture for a lunch. We saw a rolled car on our way through and a Porche/Golf accident on the way back, both on the N2. So make a day of it, take time to scroll around the farm and enjoy a full day out with the safety of driving home during daylight.
To Hidden Valley Wines, thank you for the invitation and the beautiful wines. Your staff were also very helpful, cheerful and polite. It was a wonderful day out. I’d suggest booking for the next event but it’s already sold out!