Nestled in the scenic Franschoek Valley, Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards is a relatively new kid on the Cape Wine Route. This is undoubtedly evident in the design and architecture of its beautiful restaurant and wine tasting room. I got the opportunity to taste their new menu experience, The South African Table Experience. If you are looking to get an authentic taste of traditional South African food on a whole new culinary level, then read on.
Leopard’s Leap Restaurant
The restaurant opened its doors in 2012 and aims to create experiences that culminate the brand’s foundation principles of “wine, conservation, literature and food”. The restaurant houses a bar, kitchen, dining areas, bars, buffet and bakery all under one roof and within one open social space. The ambience created is warm and open while offering a new perspective on wining and dining within a traditional vineyard.
The architectural design allows light to always naturally filter through the restaurant even on an overcast and stormy day. Walking into the restaurant you will enter the restaurants vast interior bathed in natural light that creates a wonderful open air atmosphere. A more private area to the right, offers a cosier ambience with smaller dining tables and lounge chairs surrounded by all round panoramic views of the beautiful vineyards within the Franschoek Valley.
In true South African style, Leopards Leap is a very much focused on wining and dining being a social experience for the whole family. Kids can run freely around on the lawns while parents can relax while safely watching their little ones enjoy the outdoors
Leopards Leap Experiences
Leopard’s Leap restaurant offers visitors more than just wine tasting and a walk through the vineyards, it also offers a variety of amazing culinary experiences. These experiences look to bring together history and culture through food, drink and learning.
I was invited to their new South African Table Experience which is presented on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The South African Table brings together South Africa’s favourite traditional dishes using the best locally sourced produce while innovating on old recipes and pairing them with the best of their wine selection.
The SA Table Experience at Leopard’s Leap
Created and made by the amiable Chef Pieter de Jager, guests are treated to a delectable and hearty two-course meal while sipping on some of Leopard’s Leap finest wines. The table is set up right along the open-plan kitchen where you can watch the chef plate up and prepare the meals. Before servings, we are given a brief history of the inspirations on the dish, their origins in South Africa and his own personal experiences with these dishes.
The Appetizer Chacuterie
On arriving we were welcomed with a sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, while nibbling on a one of a kind chacuterie. Usually a chacuteries comprises of your typical meats, cheese and breads. However, at SA Table you will instead get a local version of a chacuterie with baked mosbolletjies bread, crumbed springbok meat bites and of course biltong!
The Sosatie Starter
Combining two local dishes comprised of two local cultures, we were treated to a traditional sosatie Cape Malay style kebab with pap. It was my first time eating pap, as it’s not a common dish served in the Cape. The pap was served in butter and cream to boost its flavour and texture. This ended up being my favourite dish, and it was delicious. I found the unique combination a winner and its taste still lingering in my mouth after I left.
This dish was also paired with a Chardonnay Pinot Noir like the previous one, but it was the regular still wine.
For the main dish were served a hearty combination of beef marinated stock and carrots. This warming combination showed off a delectable dish that boasted the best of fresh farm produce straight form the farm to the kitchen. We had a serving of meat covered in stew, surrounded by carrot dressing with baby carrots. I’m not a cooked carrot fan, but the combination was tasty. It was filling, as these two dishes are usually served on their own in various versions of home-cooked meals in South Africa.
This dish was paired the Grand Vin, a rich woody red wine that complimented the rich meaty stew.
Dessert was a traditional malva pudding in custard, with crushed almonds and sprinkled generously with coconut.
For those who know me, I don’t have a sweet tooth so dessert very rarely pleases me and the dessert wine is never my favourite. However, the dessert wine served here completely took me by surprise. I think its rich flavour of apricot and peach really took away that super syrupy tinge that usually comes with a dessert wine. It was refreshingly light and didn’t taste like diabetes in a glass!
Overall the SA Table Experience is a wonderful way to get a true and intimate taste of South African cuisine. These dishes will give you a wonderful insight into the private kitchens of South Africa’s homes. Travellers visiting South Africa can defiantly delight in the unique diversity of these dishes while sampling he amazing produce made from our soil. Locals can still delight in discovering new tastes and stories from this menu, after all it was my first time eating pap!
Where is Leopards Leap
Leopards Leap Family Vineyards is located along the Cap Wine Route in Franschoek along the scenic R45.
Reservations can be made in advance at email@example.com or +27 (0)21 876 8002.
Visit their website at: https://www.leopardsleap.co.za