le quartier français

Piñatas have never been this glam …

Today we were introduced to CONFETTI SYSTEM. Their art is phenomenal and, if they read this, we’d love to have them come stay with us and exhibit in Franschhoek at is art.

P.S. We’re trying to work out how exactly we’d ship one of these stunning piñata to S.A. We want one so badly it hurts. Aches in fact.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Inspiration,
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Travel with Purpose

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.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Community, Inspiration, Mrs Ndaba, Travel,
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Dining in Paris at Le Chateaubriand – the World’s 40th Best Restaurant

While I was in Paris I ate at the world’s 40th best restaurant – Le Chateaubriand – located in the 11th Arrondisment.

It was intimate, there were no pictures on the wall, the tables were wooden and packed closely together. There was only one menu – 5 courses – and absolutely no choice!

The only way to maybe have something changed or removed from the dish was for allergy reasons (and even this wasn’t guaranteed). Simple dislike of a food type i.e. tomatoes did not warrant it being removed from the dish.

Le Chateuabriand - image courtesy of Meg Zimback (http://www.flickr.com/photos/megzimbeck)

Le Chateaubriand - image courtesy of Meg Zimback (http://www.flickr.com/photos/megzimbeck)

I didn’t think I’d enjoy the inflexible menu as much as I did. I loved the fact that I did not have to choose my meal! It was really easy – the food was all very enjoyable – and we had a great evening.

Diner-proof menus are something I’ve noticed are appearing in a number of the top restaurants world-wide. Are they a trend or are they here to stay?

My personal opinion is that they’ll be around for a while. The customers that visit the top restaurants in the world all lead exceptionally busy lives and, when you’re that busy, it’s nice to have a few hours where you’re not required to made decisions. Plus when the menu has been diner-proofed the emphasis is placed on enjoying spectacular dishes the way they were meant to be enjoyed.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Cuisine, Experience, Inspiration, Le Quartier Français, Travel, Trends,
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The Delancey Street Foundation

This weekend past we had Dr. Mimi Halper Silbert and her team stay at Le Quartier Français (Dr Silbert is, among other things, a master chef and she came to experience The Tasting Room).

Dr Silbert is phenomenal women who, in 1971 with only a thousand dollar loan, decided she wanted to create a place where substance abusers, former felons, the homeless and others who had hit their rock bottom could – through their own efforts – turn their lives around. It is her belief, and the belief of the Delancey Street Foundation (which she founded), that the people who are the problem can become the solution.

Through Dr Silbert’s Delancey Street Foundation Project thousands of American lives have been forever changed and she is here to advise on setting up a similar programme in South Africa.

It is really so inspiring to meet someone who is making such a life changing and sustainable difference in people’s lives.

Dr Silbert checking on one of the Delancey Foundation Projects - a Christmas Tree market.

Dr Silbert checking on one of the Delancey Street Foundation Projects - a Christmas Tree Market.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Community, Inspiration,
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Eben Sadie

Margot and I recently took part in an invitation only tasting with Eben Sadie. He only does four a year – at the family farm so – it’s not the type of invite any wine lover says no to!

Eben Sadie is a man overflowing with amazing oenological philosophies and remarkable commitment to producing exceptional wines that are both honest and pure. In fact, in this regard, Eben Sadie’s wines take after him.

During the tasting – overlooking the Swartland and Paardeberg – we learned about soils and terroir, both of which are the not-so-secret ingredients of Eben’s magic.

To illustrate the importance of terrior Eben had us taste three Shirazs. All three were farmed using the same methods, same vines and same oak. The only difference was the soil.

The three Shiraz’s were all totally different – everything from their colour to their flavour and texture was unique to that particular wine. This was the first time that I’ve really experienced the differentiating effects terroir can have on a wine.

Another first – for me – were Eben’s concrete egg tanks which he imported exlusively for fementing his award-winning Palladuis.  These egg tanks apparently maintain the minerality and the concrete – being natural – keeps the purity in the wine.

Eben, I soon discovered, does not believe in spreadsheets, he dislikes producing “oak soup” and his wines never see a machine. He believes in “capturing a place and locking up time” – which is what he does with his wine.

We got to sample this time capsule wine and my new favourite is the Columella 2006. Here each berry is hand-selected then basket pressed. The beautiful colour, a gorgeous purple hue, and the layers of texture and flavours created a smooth and oh so subtle wine. Phenomenal!

Posted by: Linda Coltart
Posted in: Experience, Inspiration, Le Quartier Français, Wine,
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San Patingnano

Believe it or not, little towns like Rimini really battle with traffic (As we discovered first hand)!

On the first day of the show we only got back to the hotel around 20h00 and were informed that we need to be back on the coach by 20h45 for dinner. At this time of the evening, after a full day of work, the question often asked is “do I really want to go?”. Well, in this instance, I am so pleased we decided to go! Because we were taken to a restaurant situated in an old Monastery in Rimini.

This is no ordinary restaurant. Instead it’s a life changing experience – one that touches the mind, soul, heart, and the taste buds!

The restaurant – Vite – is situated in an institution (San Patingnano) that aids addicts and others that need help; from drug addicts and alcoholics to the homeless struggling to find their way in life or those that are just down and out. These individuals (men only) are taken into San Patingnano to learn a trade, make friends and discover how to make themselves effective members of a community.

The programme offered is three and a half years and, as a program participant, you do not leave the property and you do not recieve phone calls. You cannot smoke, you recieve no funds or money. All your necessities are supplied – as the institution is self sufficient – from the soap to wash with to the cleaning materials.

San Patingnano is consistently making a world of difference to a group of individuals. The visit was uplifting, inspiring and – I must admit – it’s going to drives me to do more in our own community.

Inspiration aside we also experience a five course dinner – at the Vite the San Patingnano restaurant – and it was remarkable. So good that it deserves it’s own blog post.


Posted by: Linda Coltart
Posted in: Community, Inspiration, Travel,


The Vendy’s

The Vendy’s – or Venda Awards – are “an intense cook-off between the best sidewalks chefs in New York City for the Vendy Award trophy and the title of Vendy Award winner”.

This is a fantastic concept! Probably one of the coolest things I’ve stumbled across while I’ve been in the USA. I just love how New York has, using these awards, placed street vendor cuisine on the culinary map.

Perhaps something along these lines could work in South Africa?

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Experience, Inspiration, Travel, Trends,
comment-notesComments: 0


The Grande Rooms are Oui.Oui.Oui

I just love this advert:

Our Grande Rooms are definitely Oui.Oui.Oui!

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Inspiration,
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Happiness is: a Grande Room’s wallpaper

Room 7, at Le Quartier Français, is one of the three original Auberge Rooms we recently extended, renovated and converted into a Grande Room.

We’ve just completed wallpapering the wall, behind the over-sized headboard, and it’s looking positively scrumptious!

The French Wallpaper

French Wallpaper. Looks good enough to eat.

Posted by: Sue Huxter
Posted in: Hotel, Inspiration,
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