A couple of Fridays ago I ventured out to Stellenbosch to visit Cavalli Estate and sample Chef Michael Degs Winter special menu. It was hours before a massive cold front hit Cape Town so we were lucky to arrive while things were still clear and sunny so we could see the spectacular views of the Helderberg Mountains on the long drive up to the restaurant. ‘Cavalli’, which is the Italian word for ‘horses’, Is an uber stylish Winelands destination that offers so much more than the world-class equestrian facilities. The very modern and minimalist restaurant is designed to bring the outside in through floor to ceiling glass doors and has a view over the dam, vineyards, paddocks and mountains.
I have always enjoyed Michaels refined style of cooking which is seasonal and fresh produce-driven, and his 4 course winter food and wine pairing menu did not disappoint. It was an elegant while packing flavour and texture without too many unnecessary frills. In addition to the 4 courses you can expect a bread course, and amuse and petit fours with tea or coffee so this is a robust meal that will leave you satisfied in the most glorious winter-comforting way.
The starter was slow-cooked octopus, fermented black garlic aioli, squid ink crisp and radish served with a Fynbos dressing followed by a barley & mushrooms, Parmesan custard dish. For mains I loved the classic confit duck leg served with orange, red onion marmalade, mustard pommes mousseline and black kale. For dessert, the Tonka bean crème caramel palmier is the perfect ending to this dining experience.
Vegetarians also catered for and a starter of parsnip, truffle and honey velouté, 65°C free range egg, mushroom ragout and crispy enoki served with smoked crème fraiche. The main a pearl couscous risotto, dressed with red pepper, homemade almond yoghurt and pickled naartjies served with a kale crisp. I have also heard rave reviews from a vegan friend who ate there recently which is no surprise given Michaels food philosophy:
“The garden is the inspiration for every plate,” says Deg. “Whether it’s beautiful bok choi or fresh celeriac we use this incredible fresh produce as the starting point for each dish on the menu, focusing on seasonal ingredients.”
“We purposefully keep the menu small, as it allows us to focus on whatever is fresh and at its best, at that particular time” says Deg. “I love cooking vegetarian food, and we’re seeing huge interest in our vegan and vegetarian dishes at the moment. It comes down to sustainability, but as a chef it also makes you push your boundaries of creativity.”
Deg also embraces a root-to-tip zero-wastage philosophy in the kitchen, whether it’s pickling excess produce or finding creative ways to use the off-cuts other chefs would simply discard. “It’s about using the whole plant, but also getting as much flavour as possible out of each and every ingredient,” says Deg, who has created the winter menu to be paired with wines from the estate.
I really enjoyed the Cavalli wines that were paired with the menu and expertly delivered to the table by sommelier and front of house manager Farai Magwada.
The winter menu is available from 1 May all the way through until the 30th of August 2019 for lunch or dinner at R350 for the 4-course menu, R425 with Cavalli wine pairing and the 4-course vegetarian menu at R300 or R375 paired with Cavalli wine. Bookings are limited to a maximum of 15 guests.
Here are the pictures of our lunch:
*I was invited as a guest for lunch at Cavalli
Cavalli Estate is situated at R44 Highway (Strand Road), Somerset West. For more information call 021 855 3218, send an email to [email protected], visit www.cavalliestate.com or make contact via @CavalliEstate #CavalliEstate
Cavalli Restaurant is open from Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, as well as Sundays for lunch only. For bookings email the reservation team on [email protected]
Wine tastings are offered from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm. Tasting fee of R60 for five premium wines, R40 for ‘Passions’ wines. For bookings or further information send a mail [email protected]
High Tea is offered in The Conservatory from Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm – 3pm. R220 per person, with a minimum of 10 guests.
Stable tours are offered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 11am – 12pm. Carriage rides (one hour) across the estate are available on request and can carry up to four passengers. R2000 per carriage, including a bottle of Cavalli Estate wine. For bookings send a mail to [email protected] call 021 855 3218.
The Cavalli Private Collection of South African Masters is frequently rotated in the portico situated within the main gallery and two memorabilia rooms allocated in close proximity showcase a remarkable collection of rugby and sporting memorabilia.
The gallery at Cavalli is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10amto 6pm. For all enquiries or a catalogue of available artwork, please contact [email protected] call 021 855 3218.