Archive for May, 2010

Daf running Comrades for Mrs. Ndaba Friday

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Daf, a friend of mine from Harvard, is running the Comrades Marathon this Sunday. As he runs he’ll be raising funds for Mrs. Ndaba. How Fantastic?

If you’d like to track Daf’s progress, during the 2010 Comrades Marathon, check out our Facebook Fan Page where we’ll be posting regular updates.

Thanks Daf, this is a truly amazing gesture. Good luck from everyone here at Le Quartier Français!

Dining at Noma – The Owner’s Perspective

Friday, May 28th, 2010

If you’ve read Margot’s blog post, about our dinner at Noma, you’ll already know that it was fantastic. In fact it was so fantastic that I just had to write about it too.

The entire Noma experience is phenomenal but there are a few things that were standouts for me.

Image courtesy of paz.ca (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pazca/4065853316/)

Image courtesy of paz.ca (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pazca/4065853316/)

The first standout – the décor:

Noma’s décor is minimalist. It showcases beautiful, simple Scandinavian design and there isn’t a tablecloth in sight! In many ways the decor is not what you’d expect from the best restaurant in the world. But it is very true to its heritage and, as we rediscovered throughout the night, Noma is all about being Nordic!
The second standout – the ingredients:

All the ingredients, used at Noma (which incidentally stands for Nordic Food), are from Nordic countries. So, for example, no olive oil is ever used! In fact René and his team (from 21 different countries) spend time foraging on the local beaches for natural and different ingredients.

The third standout – the food:

We indulged in Noma’s 12 course menu. What I experienced was a series of flavours and textures each more extraordinary than the last. From the moment you, as a guest, arrive at Noma you receive food starting with tastes from smoked quail eggs to chicken skin sandwiches. Then the courses start arriving and they ranged from crayfish tales, that have to be eaten by hand, to marrow bones wrapped in brown paper and filled with smoked toffee … all exceptional!

The fourth standout – the plating:

All tastes and courses, at Noma, are served in unusual containers including: old cake tins, felt and rocks from the sea-bed. At Noma the plating is as intriguing as the food. The cutlery, on the other hand, is simple. Only one style and size of knife and fork are used throughout the meal. Then there is the fantastic interaction that guests have with the chefs who come to the table and actually pour the sauce, they’ve created, into the plate. At Noma the artists don’t hide in the kitchen!

The fifth and final standout – the juice pairing:

As someone who doesn’t do wine pairings I find that I end up drinking glass after glass of water with a great meal. As you can imagine this can get a little boring so I absolutely loved the fact that I could have my 12 courses paired with different juices. This made me feel, like I too was experiencing something very special!

The trip was worth every minute and, if you get a booking at Noma, you have to go! This might be a feat in itself because after being named no.1 in the San Pellegrino World Top 50  Restaurant Awards their website crashed, their emails gave up and their phone stopped working. They could be fully booked for the next 3 years but, luckily, they only take bookings 3 months in advance. For more information visit the Noma website.

Are the days of hand luggage nearly over?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Thanks to the airlines tough new stance on hand luggage traveling, without having to check luggage in, is becoming increasingly unavoidable.

Image courtesy of Shanghai Daddy (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shanghaidaddy/4206816335/)

Image courtesy of Shanghai Daddy (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shanghaidaddy/4206816335/)


When you take into account that the weight of most hand luggage (the kind on wheels) is a 1/3 to a 1/2 of your allowance it’s no wonder that so many of us keep overstepping those pesky weight restrictions.

It is incredibly challenging to pack for a trip, especially those to freezing climates, when you’ve got only a few kilogrammes to spare.

I’m a fairly frequent traveler and I don’t get it right most of the time! I was wondering if there were any frequent travelers who manage to get it right all of the time? If so please share a few of your tips.

What are your hand-luggage-only traveling secrets?

Eating at D.O.M in Brazil

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Just under a month ago we were in Brazil, South America. We were there to experience their culture and cuisine and introducing them to Franschhoek, South Africa.

One of the highlights of our trip was our meal at D.O.M. The unique cuisine offered at D.O.M is the brainchild of the incredible, Alex Atala. He’s a passionate man and, from the moment you set foot in D.O.M, you can feel his love for both Brazil and food.

Chef Alex Atala in his restaurant D.O.M. Photograph by Cristiano Madureira.

Chef Alex Atala in his restaurant D.O.M. Photograph by Cristiano Madureira.


D.O.M offers diners a menu that highlights indigenous Brazilian flavours. Ingredients, herbs and spices are used to showcase everything that is Brazil. When we dined at D.O.M we experienced Priprioca essence with amazing little squid and beetroot cream, liquid coconut risotto with Dendê oil and mint, Paca fried crispy with manioc and Madeira sauce, Brazil nut cake with dark chocolate whiskey sorbet and a dusting of curry and more.

It is an exceptional restaurant and one that, if you find yourself in South America, you simply have to try.

What should top hotels realistically expect guests to pay for?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I recently read a short article – you’ll find it here – and it got me thinking.

As hoteliers I believe that we often forget what is really important and what adds real value to a guest’s experience. Somehow, and I think this happens in all industries (not just tourism), we believe that in the hallowed-halls of our own establishments the things that irritate us – when we are paying customers elsewhere – don’t apply.

When I’m a guest there are a few specific things that don’t work for me and I’ve worked hard to ensure that Le Quartier Français guests never have to experience them. Because, apart from the fact that they irritate me, I think that they have the ability to ruin a premium hotel experience.

I’m very interested to find out what your pet hotel peeves are? What has the ability to ruin your entire stay at a luxury establishment?

De Toren

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

We participated in the tasting of the De Toren blends for the Fusion V 2009 Directors blend. This blend will be released in 2011.

There were a total of 12 guests at the tasting. Each guests was given two flights of seven blends, a score sheet, a pencil and a spittoon.

The first five wines were relatively easy to score but after these I started to battle. I had to focus and work hard not to find and identify the same characters in each wine. Given that we were working with the five bordeaux blends this was very challenging.

At the end of the process we were asked to rate our top three blends and our least favourite blend. The combined scores (provided by the 12 guests) were saved and the process was repeated in Johannesburg and Durban. The two overall top scoring wines will be the ones that are released in 2011.

By the end of this tasting I had earned myself a set of purple stained teeth, spittoon back-splash in my left eye, a myriad of flavours swirling around my mouth and huge respect for those that taste professionally. It’s definitely not easy work!

The day finished off with a perfectly paired menu – created by Margot – where the Fusion V 2002 and the Z 2004 were highlighted; and then I was introduced to a rum … I am not a rum drinker. I have always associated rum with hooligans but I have been converted.

Pyrat Rum XO Reserve, a sipping rum from Jamaica that – with each sip – makes you think of secluded tropical island beaches, hot sun and a sexy waiter bringing on the cocktails.


Travel with Purpose

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The Mrs. Ndaba programme has forever changed the way we look at travel.

We are now constantly looking for new experiences that enrich our lives but, at the same time, make a significant difference in the lives of others.

In Buenos Aires we found another great Travel with Purpose Experience. A friend of mine, Milagros, has opened a wonderful restaurant. This restaurant offers diners great local food  and at the same time it helps makes a difference in the lives of countless homeless children.

Milagros is doing something phenomenal, she’s changing lives.

Local is Lekker: 2010 Le Quartier Français Accommodation Special

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Stay at Le Quartier Français between the 3rd of May 2010 and the 31st of August 2010 for just R895pp*.

Each person will also get an additional R150 worth of Le Quartier Français Currency to spend – during their stay – in iCi, The Tasting Room, The Treatment Room, The Screening Room and Bread & Wine**.

To book call 021-876 2151 Ext: 341 or email: res@lqf.co.za

* This rate includes bed & a scrumptious breakfast.

**This offer is subject to availability and terms and conditions apply.

Winter Warmer Menu in iCi

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

From 3rd May 2010 for both lunch and dinner (Monday – Friday)

  • 2 Course Menu – R120 pp
  • 3 Course Menu – R150 pp

Winter, in Franschhoek, has never looked like so much fun!

To book call: 021 876 2151 Ext 440 or email: restaurant@lqf.co.za

Exclusive Books & Le Quartier Français Literary Festival Giveaway: 14th – 16th May 2010!

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Spend R200 (or more) in one of our restaurants – over the 2010 Literary Festival – and receive a 10% discount and a bottle of Miss Molly wine (to take home) or a R100 Exclusive Book voucher.

You will also be automatically entered into the main draw where you could win one of three great prizes!

1st prize: R2 000 worth of Exclusive Book vouchers and a night (for two) at Le Quartier Français.

2nd prize: R500 worth of Exclusive Book vouchers and lunch for two at Le Quartier Français.

3rd prize: R250 worth of Exclusive Books vouchers and breakfast for two at Le Quartier Français.

If you’re planning of spending the Literary Festival weekend in Franschhoek why not book the Le Quartier Français Literary Festival Package? We have limited space available so, if you’re interested, please don’t wait too long to book!

We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

For more information visit the Le Quartier Français website.

*Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply.