Even though I’ve been living in the foodie world for a while, I still get tremendously excited about food and all the lovely places I get to experience. Eating for a living (well, half of a living, as my actual job as an actress requires me to do quite the opposite) is a tremendous blessing, and I’m so lucky to get to experience all that I do. Honestly. And everyone once and again something comes along that actually makes me giddy with excitement – like an invite to experience Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek.

Mont Rochelle is Sir Richard Branson’s wine estate. And what an estate it is! It combines old school classic charm with modern luxury, perfectly blending two worlds that are actual decades apart. From tennis courts to luxurious suites and a beautiful spa to an old manor house with fireplaces, chess games, and the coolest pillows I have ever seen (more on this below), visiting Mont Rochelle is an absolute treat. Yes, I did go as a media guest and got the grand tour, but many of the areas I visited are open to the public. That said, I do think staying over would be the complete grand experience. Doing that has definitely made it on to my bucket list.

mont rochelle franschhoek tennis court

My camera isn’t the greatest and it was already pretty dark when I took this – but you’d never tell with all the lights!

mont rochelle franschhoek water fountain

Probably my favourite moment …

The Beauty of Mont Rochelle

We arrived at Mont Rochelle just before sunset, were treated to a glass of Graham Beck bubbles … and I’m sure something important happened then with the rest of the group but I was so enthralled by the striking tones of pink in the sky that it drew me outside like a magic force to I breathe in all of its beauty. Check out the first picture waaay above for a glimpse of that.

I wasn’t left behind though (yay). The group called me over when the actual tour of the property started. We explored some of the rooms, walked past the outside pool to the tennis court, back in to more rooms, up to the spa, and, then took a drive over to the manor house. This house sleeps 14 people for quite a hefty price, but includes a private chef with two meals a day and an unlimited mini bar. And, obviously, those cool pillows.

Now, I may be a nerd, but I’m obsessed with The Awkward Yeti. If you’re familiar with it, you’ll know that this is all about the big yeti and his insides. The Brain has conversations with the Heart. The Tongue appears sometimes to argue with the Brain. And then there’s the little Gallbladder, who always holds up a pile of rocks and proudly proclaims, ‘I maked these’. It’s cute. Check it out. But the pillows in the kids’ room of the manor house literally look like pebbles – and EXACTLY like what I imagine the little Gallbladder is producing. They’re so freakin cool I can’t contain my excitement.

mont rochelle pebble pillows

Pebbles? Or pillows? See why I’m so excited?

mont rochelle manor house bedroom

A room in the manor house

mont rochelle rubber ducky

Each room has a little Mont Rochelle rubber ducky. Isn’t it the cutest?

mont rochelle franschhoek sunset

Sunset views

Moving on swiftly from my nerdy enthusiasm to more foodie-relevant items … After the manor house, we walked over to the Country Kitchen, a daytime deli and wine tasting venue. This is also where the Franschhoek Wine Tram (blue route and green route) stops, so you can do your wine tasting as part of that experience. I did the wine tram recently and LOVED it. Check out my Insta Stories for the full experience.

Miko Restaurant

And now, finally, it was time for dinner. We drove back to the main hotel and headed straight to the Miko Restaurant to join them for an evening of beautiful dining and live music by the wonderful James Stewart. It’s a relatively large restaurant space, but still had that intimate feel to it, probably because of clever design and great interior decorating with strategically placed sofas and a roaring fireplace.

The menu is quite large, with an emphasis on home grown and local flavours. This means you’ll see uniquely South African staples such as venison, Cape Malay dishes, biltong, Karoo lamb, sterie stumpie mousse, and melktert. (Check out the full dinner menu here). But the less adventurous international eater or the local ‘don’t give me local’ diner will also find a variety of ‘normal’ flavours on the menu. The combination of the two worked perfectly for me the night I went.

mont rochelle miko restaurant

The Miko restaurant

The Dishes Of The Night

To start, I opted for the highly recommended Pork Cheek and Prune Terrine (R95). This came served with carrot BBQ sauce, quince carpaccio, kale, and honey mustard dressing. Terrine is an interesting dish. If made well, it can be utterly delicious. If not, it’s disastrous. The first time  I had good terrine was at Reverie Social Table – still my go-to if I’m in the mood – but I’m happy to say that the second time I had good terrine was at Mont Rochelle. I was a little wary of the pork and prune combination, but the flavours were subtle and beautiful and I was perfectly happy with my choice.

For mains, I went with the Venison Loin (R270). This was served with beef fat potatoes, cumin-spiced apple puree, sago beetroot wafers, brussel sprouts, and gooseberry jus. Not only was this dish a dream to look at, but it was also a dream to eat. Venison can be a difficult one at times, but this was wonderfully tender, very juicy, and all the flavours were divine. Definite yumminess.

Though, even with all the yumminess, the winner of the evening was dessert. I know, right? I never thought I’d say that either. Given my very well known dislike of things too sweet, it’s pretty hard for me to be absolutely blown away by dessert. I’ve had a few great experiences, obviously, but it’s seldom that I go gaga over the sweet things. And even more unusual is that I chose a chocolate dessert – never my first choice. But, alas, the Chocolate Fondant (R90) at Mont Rochelle’s Miko Restaurant is a true winner. Served with Frangelico ice cream, raspberry leather, and rustic truffle, this dessert was everything I could wish a dessert  to be.

mont rochelle miko restaurant pork and prune terrine

Pork and prune terrine

mont rochelle miko restaurant vension loin

Venison loin

mont rochelle miko restaurant chocolate fondant

The most decadent chocolate fondant

Sad Goodbyes

After all of these shenanigans, none of us really wanted to go home. We elongated the evening a little more and had some coffee, and then begrudgingly made our way back to the shuttle that would take us back to town. Because, honestly, why would we want to leave? Everything at Mont Rochelle – everything at the Miko Restaurant – was perfect. From the atmosphere to the views to the wondrous hospitality and the divine food, this evening was beyond astounding, and I’m getting all butterfly-ie just talking about it. I’m in love with food, I’m in love with great places, and I’m in love with Mont Rochelle. And I’m perfectly ok with that. It goes without saying that I’d be back any day.

And, special bonus, you’ll also be able to listen to the sweet acoustic sounds of James Stewart. He’ll be performing from 19:00 – 21:00 on Wednesday 25 July, Wednesday 22 August, and Tuesday 25 September 2018. Whoop whoop. (You’ll still get a sneak peek of the sounds on my Insta Stories highlight reel on Mont Rochelle).

Thank you to the whole Mont Rochelle team for the delightful experience, James, the Mont Rochelle General Manager, for your attention and for taking the time out to show us all around, and to Alice and Virgin Limited Edition for giving me the opportunity to join you all. I truly am blessed.

Visit Mont Rochelle and Miko Restaurant

Mont Rochelle

Website: www.virginlimitededition.com/en/mont-rochelle

Call: +27 21 876 2770

E-mail: info@montrochelle.virgin.com

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Written by Benike Palfi

Article Date: June 2018


All information correct at time of publication. We do not accept any liability caused by errors, including, but not limited to, changes in price, menu, opening times, address, or other contact details.