Welcome to the 2nd instalment in our Fine Dining For Less series where we bring you gastronomic experiences without astronomic prices.
Nadine from Living It Up CT is back with a delicious deal in a stunning town a little over an hour’s drive from Capetown, and we’ll take you to the heart of Copenhagen and Sydney.
The spotlight is on lunch so let’s begin by catching up with Nadine in Franschhoek.
Franschhoek Kitchen: A Feast of Flavours & Textures an Hour from Capetown!
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve reached heaven when you pass through the gates of Holden Manz Wine Estate. Located in the picturesque Franschhoek Wine Valley, this breathtaking wine estate is home to one of the leading restaurants in this culinary hotspot, the Franschhoek Kitchen Restaurant. And this is where I found myself on a cold, winter’s day in June, indulging in their enticing four-course winter menu.
The scene was set with a crackling fire welcoming us as we entered the gorgeous restaurant overlooking the vineyards and mountains. I had been told that Executive Chef Ricardo was a culinary wizard but nothing could prepare my taste buds for what was to come.
Their food philosophy is close to my heart – the use of fresh, local, seasonal produce is what influences their cuisine. Much of the fruit and vegetables are home-grown so they arrive fresh, healthy and vibrant on your plate. They are drawn to the pureness and simplicity of the ingredients they use, resulting in authentic homemade dishes that guests enjoy time and again.
We started off with a tasty and light Citrus, Salt and Mint Salad which paired well with the HM Chardonnay 2016.
Next up was the sublime Romesco Risotto topped with Prawn, Artichoke and Mustard Croquette and Olive Tapenade, paired beautifully with the spicy Bordeaux blend HM Visionare 2013.
My Norwegian Salmon was perfectly cooked with a Spicy Almond Romesco, Lyonnaise Potato and Salsa Verde. Paired with the HM Big G 2013, this was a match made in foodie heaven!
I couldn’t pass on dessert as the Chevre Terrine sounded and looked intriguing – Preserved Fig with Raspberry, Fennel Feulletine and Saffron. Paired with the HM Syrah 2014, this sweet treat was the perfect ending to a truly superb and memorable meal.
You too can enjoy Chef Ricardo’s winter feast, along with Holden Manz exquisite range of award-winning wines. Take a leisurely drive out to the gorgeous Franschhoek Wine Valley this winter, marvel at the majestic mountains and vineyards while soaking up the cosy atmosphere beside the fireplace.
To fine dine for less, choose from two to five-course menus that range from R295 p/p to R550 p/p (excluding wine). The menu is subject to change due to seasonality and availability of produce.
Aamann’s Etablissment: A Smørrebrød Extravaganza in the Heart of Copenhagen!
What, you may ask, is smørrebrød? It’s an open-faced sandwich, developed long ago when farmers took last night’s leftovers to the fields for lunch. Bread, initially used as a plate and thrown away, eventually became part of the meal. Smørrebrød has evolved into gourmet flavour combinations with artistic presentation.
Adam Aamann has taken Smørrebrød to a whole new level. Opening his deli & takeaway in 2006, he received the Danish Gastronomic Academy’s award for his smørrebrød in 2007. By 2009, he had opened Aamann’s Etablissment allowing diners to leisurely partake in his creative flavour combinations. With local pork, salmon, and marinated cod on the menu, you’ll be totally enamoured by the smørrebrød choices.
Aamann’s Lunch is a Smørrebrød set menu for a minimum of 2 people. To begin, select your preferred pickled herring option and that’s followed by the fresh daily smørrebrød board. Our Elderflower pickled herring with crème fraiche, pearl onions, buckwheat and ash balanced tart, salty and floral flavours beautifully.
On the board, Cured salmon, pickled fennel, gem salad and dill, a timeless classic with a twist.
Next, Marinated cod married pickled rainbow chard with peanut and potato chip crunch. Braised pork shank with beets, apple, hazelnuts and nasturtium combined tender moist pork with hazelnut crunch and a peppery finish.
The tartar of the day was beef with lovage, sea lettuce and rye crumbs. Creamy chicken with mustard, honey, little gem salad, and celery leaves topped us off.
Organic rye bread, baked in-house, is served separately for self-assembly or for low carbers with the strength to resist the intoxicating fresh bread aroma. We certainly couldn’t.
To fine dine for less, Aamann’s 7-course Smørrbrød Lunch extravaganza is kr295/- for a taste of pure Denmark. Located at Øster Farimagsgade 12, you can work it off strolling Copenhagen University Botanic Gardens.
Mercado: A Nose to Tail & Farm to Plate 10-Course Feast in a Basement in Sydney’s CBD!
Co-owner and son of a smallgoods producer, Chef Nathan Sasi honed his skills with the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Neil Perry, Peter Doyle and Moro’s Sam and Samantha Clark prior to opening Mercado.
His philosophy is the revival of traditional kitchen skills, whole animal butchery, meat curing, preserving, pickling, cheesemaking and baking using fresh local ingredients. Presented with a Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat shortly after opening, Mercado has continued to wow diners with their produce-driven menu.
Changing seasonally and relying on small farmers, growers, and producers, Mercado reflects the Spanish markets it’s named for. To get a true sense of the culinary effort behind-the-scenes in Mercado’s kitchen take on the 10-course set menu challenge.
A selection of starters served tapas style arrive. Marinated olives, buffalo milk ricotta with honey & oregano, truffle mortadella served with pickled guindillas peppers and on our visit, an amusing take on “fish & chips”.
Turkish Ravioli with yoghurt & burnt butter was up next alongside BBQ Chorizo & Salsa Mojo Verde and Roasted Prawns drizzled with shellfish oil & bottarga. All 3 superbly executed.
The main course is whatever Chef has decided to whole spit roast on the day. In our case lamb and wow! Sides of green leaves & herbs in house made “everything” vinegar and roasted carrots, almond dukkah & tea smoked currants will be tweaked daily based on produce availability.
The sweet treat of Pedro Ximenez bread pudding & vanilla sauce was accompanied by dulce de leche ice cream, butterscotch & candied bacon. Yes, candied bacon!!
This relaxed fine dining experience is perfect for an afternoon with good friends sharing excellent wine surrounded by efficient and knowledgeable wait staff. One to definitely add to your Sydney foodie itinerary.
To fine dine for less, this absolute feast is incredible value at AU$80 pp. Offered for lunch & dinner, the only stipulation is for the whole table to partake.
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