An Unforgettable Gourmet Educational

Jo, Chania, Sophie, Kim and Julie met me at Heathrow on a sunny afternoon in March.  Check-in went smoothly and everyone was really grateful that Gary Kershaw the new SAA London Manager had arranged lounge access for us.  SAA now use the Star Alliance lounge at Heathrow Terminal 1, which is conveniently situated on the ground floor, near all the shops.

The flight was quite full, but being a new aircraft, with comfortable seats and good inflight entertainment, the flight went relatively quickly.  I must say I was impressed by the service and the food and was proud to overhear some of the girls comment that SAA was much better than they imagined it would be.

On arrival into Cape Town, we drove to Steenberg, an easy drive through the leafy suburbs of Newlands and Constantia.  Time for a shower, before lunch at Bistro Sixteen82 – the first of many incredible meals.  We sipped Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc and enjoyed the lovely setting, while trying some of the delights and then afterwards sampled a few more wines, while being told the story of Catharina, the original owner of the farm.

The attention to detail, the beautiful rooms and the calibre of the staff make Steenberg stand head and shoulders above most other properties in Cape Town.

After a hotel inspection, we had a little free time, before meeting up for a ‘bubbly’ tasting at Gorgeous by Graham Beck.  South African winemakers are not allowed to use the French word for bubbly, so they use the term MCC – Methode Cap Classique – made the same way as the French stuff, just a different name – and just as good (if not better)!

Dinner at Catharina’s was a sumptuous delight.

We left Steenberg after a lovely breakfast and drove to Franschhoek and the awe inspiring setting of Mont Rochelle.

The meal at Mange Tout was amazing.  We had some incredible food on this trip, but this meal was probably the most memorable – especially the Chocolate Fondant!

The wine tasting was very professionally done – great being able to go into the cellar and get the royal treatment.  The wines went down well too.

After a nail biting drive to Cape Town Airport (we had not considered the traffic on Friday afternoon), we boarded our plane for George.

The Manor House at Fancourt is amazing – the suites literally take your breath away – more space than most people have in their own homes in the UK.  Another lovely welcome, this time with bubbly and canapés – the gorgeous food is starting to get to me … I have to decline (sadly).

Dinner that evening is Italian style, at La Cantina.  A lovely relaxed atmosphere and more great food.

After breakfast, we got everyone on-board the extra-large golf cart for our inspection of the Fancourt estate – we only saw a very small bit of the 613 hectares – but got the idea of how big Fancourt is from the model in the main hotel reception area.

Fancourt has gone through an amazing transformation over the last couple of years and the final phase will include a complete refurb of the Kids Club in April.

The rest of Saturday was spent in Oudtshoorn visiting the Cango Caves and Safari Ostrich Show Farm – some of the must do’s when you are on the Garden Route.

We returned to Fancourt in time for yet another incredible meal, this time at Henry White’s.  Henry Fancourt White was the original owner of Fancourt and this restaurant is one of the new improvements at Fancourt.

The story of the Knysna elephants has always intrigued me.  These beautiful creatures have almost been wiped out in the forest near Knysna and much has been done to try and save them.  The Knysna Elephant Park was established to try and help elephants that have been badly treated and need rescuing in various parts of southern Africa.  It was an incredible experience and the group left, feeling that they wanted to donate something to this project.  Glad we had the opportunity to be taken around by Greg; his passion for the elephants is amazing.

The yacht experience on the Knysna Lagoon was fantastic. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery, while sampling some Knysna oysters – more food!

A South African Braai (BBQ) was the final dinner – sadly the weather did not play ball, so we had to move indoors – but being Fancourt this meant moving into the Presidential Suite and more VIP treatment!

The final morning was spent trying out the spa, the treatments are world-class!

The final meal was at Morning Glory, some of the best sushi I have tasted!  It was so lovely sitting out on the patio looking over the golf course.

What an amazing trip – I have never been so spoilt!  Next time – we must allow for more activity – bike-ride maybe – something to burn off those calories?!

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