My touring van has been parked for three months during lock down and needed a good drive to get her battery going again! So on a rainy Saturday we headed through to Franschhoek on what felt like a very long road trip after our lock down period.
LOCK DOWN UPDATE:
South Africa closed down for a strict lock down at the end of March 2020. During this time restaurants were not allowed to trade at all and the sale of hot food was forbidden. Gradually over time the government first allowed food delivery and then eventually a few weeks later collection of take aways. We are now at the end of June. The rest of the world seems to be heading back into doing business in the “new normal”. However South African restaurants have still not been allowed to open to the public. Government has announced that they will soon be allowed to trade. Sadly they made this announcement without putting the parameters into place as to what the restrictions will be. Without this knowledge many are reluctant to open their doors as the costs of running their establishments are likely to outweigh the benefits of opening. Here in Cape Town many of the restaurants changed into “essential goods” stores & delis and gradually started doing deliveries and take aways. People have been extremely dynamic in their product offerings. Chefs are cooking from home and delivering, on line stores are launching every day, restaurants are offering virtual dinners where they deliver the “elements” of the meal (offered by Matt Manning and Chef Julia from Reverie) and others are doing fresh produce delivery …………….innovating!
Last Saturday we popped into the Franschhoek area to check out what some of my favourite restaurants and people have on offer over this time.
I had read about the great work that the Chefs of Franschhoek have been doing feeding the kids and the families of the valley. This initiative brought all the chefs of the region closer together as they worked on a common mission during the lock down. Working closely with Margot Janse on this project are two of our country’s top Chefs – Chris Erasmus and Liam Tomlin. Check out an article on the work they have been doing here.
I had read that Chef Chris Erasmus had turned his restaurant into an “essential goods” deli and was championing local Franschhoek produce in his store. As such Foliage seemed like a natural spot to start our journey!
Note the black board out front! They have kept the take-away hot food options very simple! Inside they are championing the valley. They forage for mushrooms in the valley and sell them dried or you can stalk them to see if you can order fresh porcini – these need to be pre-ordered and I was not lucky to find any! Interesting products like Spicy Vadouvan Spiced Mayo, a fridge selling frozen dishes from many of the valleys chefs, interesting alcohol for sale such as Franschhoek rum and absinthe! This is a great store to shop at and to stock up! They also have pastries that you can buy to nibble as you walk through the village. It is interesting to note that Chef Chris is thinking of changing his restaurant from a restaurant into a Deli that champions his local Franschhoek Valley’s produce.
Next we popped into my favourite Coffee Shop in Franschhoek. On touring days I always start at The Hoek. This is generally the meeting point of most of the valley and the lovely team that work here know everyone who pops in! It was wonderful to see The Hoek rising to the challenge of supporting their hood! They have really upped their game! Brandon has set up a table and a cooker outside to make Bacon Rolls. They have Ann’s samosas from the market, they have a small freezer of meals from a local chef and their shelves are now jam packed with local deli items for sale! Well done The Hoek! An amazing hub for local product! Great sense of community and a happy space!
CHEFS WAREHOUSE AT MAISON
Next we wanted to check out Chefs Warehouse at Maison to see what they are up to. They have also stepped up the amount of deli products available for sale. In addition they have a great take away menu cooked by great chefs! We had the lamb croquettes – and they were an amazing treat. The concept is to take the cooked food as a take away. With the changes in the law coming now at the end of June – I am hoping that the next step will be the opportunity to take a blanket to the lawn and to be able to sit next to the vines and enjoy their take-aways. It will be interesting to see if they change back to their full menu or do a combo of all the offerings!
Last stop Babylontoren! With their restaurants shut down – they have stepped up and reinvented themselves wonderfully well! Their online shop is amazing! They do a organic vegetable box that is wonderful and offers serious bang for your buck in terms of value! It is R230 for a veg box and their organic meat from their own farm is also extremely well priced. We ordered from them and loved our farm delivery. As such I wanted to see what they were up to at their store.
It was fascinating to see that the store had been reconfigured to offer you the opportunity to really do your vegetable shopping from the farm. You could literally see that everything had been harvested that morning! Seriously beautiful veg options as you entered the door. The doors have now been removed from the room on the right to allow easier access without having to touch the doors. The room also seems more spacious – perhaps the layout is different. Here you find the fabulous Babylonstoren breads – their sourdough is R35 – a serious bargain. Also don’t leave without buying their halloumi. The best I have ever had in Cape Town. You can also stock up on their meat and the neighbour Dalewood’s cheeses. Next door they have the coffee shop – grab a coffee and head for a walk in the Gardens. Entrance to Babylonstoren is currently free and it is a great excuse for a lovely walk in nature, followed by some serious shopping. The vegetables are all very well priced. It makes the drive out there worth it to stock up for the week!
This upcoming week we will know what the restrictions will be for restaurants to return to operation. As such some of our restaurants may start operating again with restrictions in place as to numbers of people allowed on the premises.
The reality is that in order to survive everyone is going to have to keep thinking out of the box and to have many offerings in place in order to become profitable. (or just to survive)
My thoughts are that most will retain their deli option, their take out meal or delivery options, some sit down meal options, some hot take away options where you can walk on picnic in the area……
The challenges are huge. Well done to all of our foodie artisans and champions who have risen to the challenge and are fighting so hard to make it.
We are with you and want to support you in every way that we can. The only way that businesses will survive is if everyone becomes a champion of their local businesses.
Think twice before you buy. Support the small vendors and your local community.