I’m very much a townie and don’t often wander out of the city. Not because I don’t like the rest of the greater Cape Town area, of course – the Western Cape is one of the most beautiful places on earth and offers so much! But with life and routine, it’s easy to get stuck in the humdrum of work and not take the time to head out. Sure, Cape Town is still no London, and the hustle and bustle I experience here is a mere fraction of what I experience there. And yet, every now and then, it feels good to step outside the comfort of familiarity and drive out to a different part of this gorgeous city. If I can combine that with an I Love Foodies adventure, well, then even better. So I was only too excited to visit the Spek & Bone pop-up on fire, held at Le Grand Domaine in the picturesque Devonvalley in Stellenbosch.
Finding Our Way To Le Grand Domaine
I had never been in this area before, and was a little worried when my GPS took me through back roads and up gravel paths. But Sabine and I were so mesmerised by the scenery and had given ourselves ample time to get there, so we enjoyed the little detours and mild confusion the GPS led us to. Eventually, though, we found Le Grand Domaine. If you’re searching for an overly-constructed and touristy wine estate, you’d be in the wrong. Le Grand Domaine is the opposite of that, and therein lies its charm. There was no massive car park (we all found little spots along the road to stop, often dangerously balancing between the safety of the road and the endless vineyards below), no commercial welcome centre, and certainly no constructed glitz and glam.
The glitz and glam that Le Grand Domaine offers, though, is in its mesmerising views. Standing at the top of the hill, overlooking what I’d say almost the whole of the Devon valley, it may seem as if you had stepped into a postcard. It’s that perfect. There’s nothing but nature all around you. During the day the sky is bright and blue but as soon as the sun sets, you’re treated to the starry night sky. It’s exceptional beauty at its best.
The Spek & Bone Pop-Up On Fire
But, of course, we were there for the food. What is the Spek & Bone pop-up on fire? The secret is in the name: The Spek & Bone team, headed by Bertus Basson, has set out to impress by cooking a whole array of dishes over a fire. The smell of a good ol’ South African braai greeted us, along with a glass of Le Grand Domaine MCC. I was particularly impressed that the team had taken out their magnums to pour from, adding that extra oomph of excitement. Nothing beats a good magnum, even if only visually.
Whole-Baked Brie To Start
While mixing and mingling and certainly enjoying the views (and the bubbly), we also got to enjoy the welcome snacks. Here we had roosterkoek with apricot whipped butter and a whole-baked brie, served with figs. The brie was beyond divine – full of cream and flavour! And I was also a big fan of the apricot whipped butter. I’m generally a fan of good butter but this hardly tasted like butter at all. It was light and fluffy, and perfect with the drier bread and creamy cheese.
The First Fire Course
The two main courses are all prepared on the fire, and as soon as these were done, we were asked to sit down. All dishes are served with the intention of sharing, but there is plenty of food for everyone. The first course served included fire-grilled aubergine with tahini dressing, cucumber, mint, and roasted almonds; spiced, charred corn ribs with macadamia sesame; and a whole sustainable fish with palm sugar, chilli, and coriander.
Something happens to food cooked on an open fire. If I knew the science behind it, I’d impress you with it. But I don’t, so I’d simply say that the angels of taste kiss everything made on an open fire and it tastes the better for it.
I’m not a fan of aubergine, but even I had a few pieces of this, as the smokey flavour was too good not to experience. The corn was great, crunchy and full of flavour. The fish was delicate and gentle, more smoked than chargrilled.
The Second Fire Course
The second course included ‘hang hoender’ (chicken) with smoked chilli, and fire-roasted cauliflower, ‘sout ribbetjie’ (ribs) with sorghum and chickpeas, and crispy potatoes with a miso and chive cream. The ribs were lovely – so tender and absolutely fall-off-the-bone. The chicken was a little on the spicy side for me (I am a lightweight when it comes to chilli) but I did enjoy a piece, which was very soft and delicate. I think I do prefer my chicken to be more flame-grilled and crunchy though, the way my dad makes it. I may be biased.
The real winner of this course was the potato dish. This may sound odd. After all, it’s just a potato, right? Wrong! These potatoes weren’t just potatoes. Apparently they were fried, dunked in an ice bath, and re-fried, instantly transforming them into the most magical potatoes you could ever have. Megan, from Life With Me, described these best: Crunchy potato skins filled with the softest mash potato you could imagine. And that’s literally what they tasted like. Divine.
There’s Always Room For Dessert
After the braai adventure, it was dessert time. Again, these were served in sharing portions, and you could enjoy brioche and apple doughnuts as well as lemon posset with raspberry. And, of course, there was post-meal coffee, served in those very South African camping metal cups. You even had the option of adding in condensed milk instead of normal milk! Always a winner.
Dessert was lovely. I stuck to the lemon posset, one of my absolute favourite desserts ever, and the Spek & Bone one certainly impressed. I stopped drinking coffee four months ago, but I had to have some of the condensed milk as a childhood treat, which was totally worth the sugar content.
All in all, this was a delightful evening. I don’t think I’ve had such a beautifully relaxing evening in a long, long time. There was no pressure, no pretence, nothing that would drag you out of the moment. The crowd was lovely – from the Spek & Bone staff to the La Grand Domaine team to the many guests, some of which I knew, most of which I didn’t. It was an evening of great conversation, exceptional views, and wonderful food. And at the end of the night, it felt like we had spent the evening at a dinner with family and friends. And that’s worth a million bucks.
Visit The Spek & Bone Pop-Up At Le Grand Domaine
The Spek & Bone pop-up on fire at Le Grand Domaine runs over five weekends until 29 March, open to the public from Friday, 28 January 2020. You’ll be able to visit them Fridays and Saturdays for dinner and Sundays for lunch. Tickets are available on Dineplan at R500 per person. The ticket price includes a welcome drink, snacks on arrival, and 3 flights of food (as above). Le Grand Domaine wines can be purchased at the event. And booking, of course, is absolutely essential.
Le Grand Domaine
Address: Devon Valley Road, Devon Valley, Stellenbosch
Call: +27 64 689 0049
Article Date: February 2020
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