Not much compares to the magnificence of mountains. Growing up I would spend a lot of time with my family visiting the Drakensberg mountain area; I was always in such awe of the character each mountain held. This is one of the reasons I love living in Stellenbosch - South Africa, to be so privileged to wake up each day to the beauty that is right in front of me, it never feels repetitive.
I have visited Delaire Graff Wine Estate numerous times, previously for my grandmother's birthday celebration and now & again for a tasting or meeting, each time I enter the oak lined drive my breath is taken away for a moment, as you exit your car and turn to see a theatre of the most incredible lush perfect vineyards and farmsteads, you have another feeling; you never want to leave.
This time arriving to the cool and rainy setting, which was such a relief after the long hot days we have had, was just as beautiful, if not more as arriving on a hot summers day. This time Indochine restaurant would be the oasis for the afternoon. I was joined by my friend Emma, who may not be able to boil an egg, but has the most impeccable taste buds and style I have had the pleasure of being surrounded by in a long time. It is always great sharing a food experience with someone who is like-minded and appreciative of the finer things. Don't get me wrong both of us won't turn away a juicy burger with perfectly cooked fries, but now and again a carefully executed and pretty plate is always welcome to our taste buds and Instagram feed.
We were welcomed graciously and from the moment we entered the restaurant where attended to, but also given the space needed. The decor is simple elegance, with much attention to detail and flowers by Okasi - perfect as usual. We were seated in the cutest leather blue booth that was facing out towards the garden, looking onto the most perfectly manicured gardens and a cluster of cheetahs by Dylan Lewis the famous South African sculptor, proudly standing to attention being admired by other visitors.
The first person to come to our table was the Sommelier. What I loved the most was I could see the passion and interest in his eyes, he wasn't just doing a job he was there to make us happy and to celebrate his passion and craft. Not much of a drinker I opted for a glass of the Delaire Graff Rosé, something light and an easy drinking. Apart from that sparkling water was the order of the day (you can never have enough water).
It was such a welcome relief not to have a bread-basket put down in front of us with different flavoured butters (although this is sometimes yummy and filling, it does get boring. You can only do so many smoked and flavoured butters!). Instead of beautiful wooden platter of different Asian inspired elements was placed in front of us, with a dainty handmade jug and chargrilled lemon half. The waitress explained the dish, it was I take on a lettuce wrap instead using spinach, chili, lemongrass, red onion, lime segments, coconut, dehydrated prawn, toasted almonds and coriander. I love the idea of this concept, as it was interactive and would make one comfortable and relaxed at the beginning of the meal.
We proceeded to create our spinach wraps and were not disappointed (hold back on the chili though if you're not into the spicy stuff, it’s hot).
Shitake & Edamame Potstickers
Then came a hard task of deciding what to eat. To begin we both ordered the Shitake & Edamame potstickers. A well presented plate, though the sauce was slightly overpowering to the potstickers and we would have also preferred slightly more crispy potstickers. Overall, a good start to the meal.
Next we decide to share a dish as we weren’t super hungry, deciding on the coconut and ginger broth composed of chicken, turmeric pickled mushrooms, salted egg and a pickled ginger salad. I really enjoyed this dish as I am a total ginger addict, although I felt that the mushrooms were slightly too sweet and the dish needed a touch more salt.
Coconut & Ginger Broth - Chicken, turmeric pickled shimejhi mushrooms, salted egg, pickled ginger salad
Moving on, my choice was the cured duck breast salad with star aniseed pickled beetroot, Szechwan pepper jellies and compressed plums with celeriac. This was my favourite dish of the dining experience; I felt everything was balanced in texture, flavor, temperature and colour.
Pan seared scallops, smoked line fish crockets, pickled cucumber, black garlic, pickled celery and a cucumber and lemongrass broth was Emma’s choice; it was enjoyable but the broth could've been loaded with more lemongrass in my opinion.
Cured duck breast salad Pan seared scallops
By the end of these delicate but filling courses there was no way we could each have our own desert, so we opted for the Gulab Jubam which is a coconut panna cotta, saffron & rosewood jellies, coconut crumble, cardamom ice cream and the most delicious doughnuts. We really enjoyed this dish, as it was light simple and refreshing. Not much of a fan of the star shaped jellies and the jelly could've been slightly less firm, but those doughnuts! WOW a perfect lemony flavour and oh so moreish.
Gulab Juman - Coconut panna cotta, saffron & rose water jellies, coconut crumble, cardamom ice cream & doughnut
As we sat enjoying lunch at Indochine restaurant with the rain hitting the windows and the chatter behind us, I realized how lucky we are to be able to just travel not very far and have the most amazing dining experiences right on our doorstep. Definitely give Indochine a try. Be prepared it’s not cheap, but a dining experience for a special occasion or just one of those rainy afternoons when you’re in the mood for good food and great wine it's worth it.
To make a booking visit http://www.delaire.co.za/dining/indochine/