Our fourth and final stop on our Stellenbosch outing is the very famous restaurant Haute Cabrière just outside the city of Franschhoek. Having spent most of the day jumping from one interesting place to another, we all feel a certain need, lust if you prefer, to just sit down and relax. Haute Cabrière is just such a place. The restaurant is beautifully located at the end of the Franschhoek canyon, and so from the restaurant’s piazza you have the most magnificent look of the entire valley.
We are very warmly greeted by Hildegard von Arnim, who arrives with the bar far largest sabraging tool I have ever seen – it’s a full sword. Most sabrage sabers that you can buy in your average, middle of the road wine shops are quite tiny, more like an oversized knife. But this one is full length. I want one of those.
After talking at length about the history of the restaurant and her family, which I sadly do not remember that much of (I was looking at the sword), Mrs. von Arnim sets out to demonstrate how to sabrage a bottle of sparkling wine. Up to this point I have always thought it quite ridiculous to sabrage sparkling wine; I mean, what is the point? It would be one thing if you just could draw your sword, epee, or saber and just give the bottle a well-aimed blow. But the thing is that you need to remove not only the foil, but also ease up the muselet! And I tell you, once you have removed that wire collar, you have lost all control of the cork – it could pop at any time. The reason for this is that the inside of the cork, i.e., the part of the cork which is stuck down the bottle, is coated with wax. Otherwise the cork could easily get stuck in the bottle and you would actually need a sword to get it open! So in ancient times, people would truly go about striking bottles just in order to have a drink!
Mrs. von Arnim starts the countdown and I set my camera at multiple shots. At the third try, the corks flies into the sky. I look at the monitor and realize that I have been shooting with the “P mode.” Although having caught the flying cork just leaving the bottle, the photo is blurry! Such a beginner’s mistake! Since we are over twenty people the first bottle is quickly finished, and for this second sabrage I set the shutter speed at 2000. Unfortunately, the cork flies between the frames this time. Mungamo!
Anyway, maybe I shall say something about the wine itself – it is a Pierre Jourdan Brut. Very nice. I saw it at the La Cotte shop, and was going to buy it, had not I seen the dessert wines. Anyway the wine is very nice, more complex and slightly more alluring than the Môreson sparkling. Another price range yes, but nonetheless a better wine.
After these sword-rattling exercises we are shown to our table. For starter we have duck liver parfait. Very smooth and rich in taste! I could eat this every day… Then we have a pepper-crusted sirloin steak. Also superb. For dessert a very tasty lemon tart. The wines that accompany each dish accompany it well. Not being that fond of red wine, I enjoyed the initial sparkling wine best. But that is me.
A few hours and many laughs later the sun sets over the valley and I escape the eating for some shots. Using my tripod, I think I got some nice pictures of the place! Hope you agree. Thank you so much Hildegard von Arnim and the rest of your staff at Haute Cabrière for your warm hospitality and for serving us this wonderful dinner! Thank you!