Franschhoek is beautiful any time of the year, but in mid-winter even more so: The lovely autumn-coloured trees, the misty mornings and rainy skies, add a special touch to anything one does in this small town in June. We opted to attend a cooking class at a local restaurant as part of a weekend-long cooking extravaganza entitled Cook Franschhoek. Initially, I was a little disappointed that the pasta making lesson would not be on one of the wine farms, and that it wasn’t a hands-on experience. But the ambiance of the lovely Allora more than compensated for my unmet expectations. And the food, oh the food …
The whole experience started with a wet walk from the nearby pancake house where we had some fresh coffee and lightly cinnamoned pancakes for breakfast. When we reached Allora a friendly owner opened the door, offered us wine and a place by the fire. The pasta making class was very informative: For someone who has only ever seen pasta made on television, I was able to touch the dough at various stages of the process to get a sense of how it should feel when I try it at home.
The chef showed as how to make tagliatelle, lasagne and ravioli. In-between the demonstration, we were offered wines from La Couronne to taste. I especially liked their Merlot, which tasted silky and juicy, and their Unwooded Chardonnay was light, fresh and enjoyable despite the cold weather. The wine warmed us from the inside as rain continued pouring outside the airy yet cosy restaurant.
After the demonstration was complete, we were offered the menu with the option to order any of their pasta dishes. And while we waited for our food, we tasted more wines, and talked with our fellow Cook Franschhoek goers. Some of the other people had been to a demonstration on a Weber (a local type of outdoor grill) that they thought were really impressive, and a pilot sitting across from me was to head out for some mushroom foraging a bit later (in the rain, poor girl).
The next thing we knew, waiters placed focaccia and a gorgeous salad in front of us, and for the minutes to follow, everyone was enjoying the splendid cuisine, with only approving sounds interrupting the feasting. And who could blame us.
The main course was, as I’ve mentioned, own choice. And while I won’t comment on some of the other people’s choices in terms of animal cruelty, mine and my partner’s were sublime.
Needless to say, by the time we were finished, we were very happy. And each of us received a bottle of wine and the recipe for pasta as a gift afterwards. What bliss! Next year I hope to attend more than just one event, and to see you there as well. This is one not to miss.