With temperatures regularly hitting the high 30s and low 40s in the Boland in the past month, few visitors to the winelands and their stylish restaurants have been in the mood for hot and hearty dishes.
No matter, many restaurants offer lip-smacking charcuterie platters that perfectly accompany their alcohol offerings … ideal for the middle of a hot day with beer, wine or bubbly. Also what better way to go into a balmy night than with a cheese platter partnered with an exquisite brandy?
Vegans and vegetarians look away! (You can still do drinkypoos, though.)
There’s nothing better than a “pig and pint” on a hot day, says Stellies brewmaster Todd Trytsman. He gets no arguments from me because I’ve been going to Klein Joostenberg for the best part of five years and regularly opt for their predominantly pork platter.
All meat is sourced from the onsite butchery which is famous for its quality pork products and inexpensive prices.
Everything on the platter is made in his kitchen to original recipes, says food ops manager Garth Bedford. On the table is (apart from bread and pickles) home-cured coppa, chicken liver parfait, a wedge of pork, apple and cider pie, pork brawn, rillettes, shoulder ham and a springbok and prune terrine.
The beer (the Born Free Pale Ale) is a different and delightful accompaniment.
Spier Wines. Picture: Jim Freeman
There are very good restaurants on this ever-popular estate but there’s no need to leave the tasting room to have a gleeful culinary adventure. The cheese and meat platter is meant to be enjoyed by two people as they sample the Spier range but management indulged me …
I started off with the Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut MCC bubbly whose dry fruitiness complemented the rich and fatty prosciutto and salami. The meat products are made on the farm by “Farmer Angus” McIntosh who is one of two grass-fed, pasture-reared beef producers in the province.
The cheese was from Dalewood Fromage near Klapmuts and provided the standout pairing of the day, the Wineland Brie Green Fig and Two Gables Sauvignon Blanc.
Louisvale’s tasting room which doubles as the restaurant, is modern and airy, offering stupendous views down Devon Valley to Stellenbosch mountain and the Helderberg.
It is the perfect setting for a colourful and tasty platter with cold cuts (coppa, gypsy ham, Black Forest ham, paprika salami and pastrami) accompanied by piquant peppers, pickled cucumber, hummus, Cabernet onion jam, wholegrain mustard and homemade olive focaccia bread.
The estate is renowned for its chardonnay, not a cultivar I particularly favour but I allowed myself to be cajoled into trying last year’s unwooded vintage. I was very glad I did, it was a perfect match.
Louisvale Wines. Picture: Jim Freeman
Situated in the “golden triangle” between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, Peter Falke doesn’t have a kitchen, per se, but instead offers hungry visitors cheese and charcuterie platters to share as well as springbok carpaccio, Parma ham and melon, fresh oysters and a selection of salads.
As with the other estates visited, the meats and cheeses are artisanal and locally sourced.
The area is known not only for its beauty and tranquillity but also for producing among the best examples of Cabernet Sauvignon in the world, so I was encouraged to enjoy the extravagant platter with PFW’s new flagship, Kailani. If this is life at its simplest, I’m all for it.
Peter Falke Wines. Picture: Jim Freeman
Last year, ebullient TV chef Pete Goffe-Wood raised the curtain on a new act of fine dining in Paarl when he opened Viande (“meat” in French) at the refurbished and repurposed Grand Roche Hotel.
The menu is meat-focused and hearty to cater for Boland tastes and on a hot evening after demolishing a springbok shank, there was no space for pudding – even though a craving to end the meal with something special remained.
A cheese platter is usually accompanied by a sweet and fortified wine. In this instance, though, a Sydney Back 10-year-old brandy was exactly the right complement for savoury cheeses and sweet fruit preserves.
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