Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go and do a tasting of the brand new Winter Tasting Menu at Granny Mouse Country House & Spa in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands.
Although I haven’t had the pleasure of staying at the hotel as a guest, I have been there before. The food is always outstanding, and it’s situated in the most gorgeous part of the midlands meander. On my drive up, there were trees in all shades of orange, gold and red (my absolute FAVOURITE part of Autumn), and the air was chilly yet fresh.
|The adorable wedding chapel at Granny Mouse.|
Walking from my car to the reception, I was greeted by several members of staff strolling past, in the most friendly fashion – even the security guard at the gate was lovely and welcomed me with a smile! It’s so rare to find this kind of warmth in every single staff member at a hotel.
I was greeted in the lounge next to reception with a crackling fire and a glass of delicious Louisvale Chardonnay Pinot Noir Rosé MCC handed to me by the General Manager, Sean Granger.
Sean explained to us that The Eaves restaurant at Granny Mouse, where you will be able to experience the tasting, is all about a unique and fresh approach to dining, and how they like to bend the rules when it comes to the way the meals are put together. You can experience ‘country-relaxed’ fine dining at The Eaves, as opposed to a very uptight and formal dining experience. This lends to it’s ‘home away from home’ feel that is guaranteed to have you coming back for more!
The creators of the amazing dishes are not referred to as mere ‘chefs’ at Granny Mouse, but rather as ‘Culinary Artists’, which is exactly what they are, as the dishes are works of art! The planning for each dish is started as a sketch, and we had these on our menu sheets that were at our seats when we sat down to begin the delicious task of tasting. So carefully thought out and planned.
The first course consisted of a Chickpea & Garlic puff pastry parcel, which was served with sour honey poached melon cubes, mildly spiced curry cream and coriander pearls, garnished with crispy coriander leaves. It was served with a glass of chilled Hartenberg 2014 Riesling.
I tried a taste of all the elements of this dish separately, and together with the wine, and they all work so well together. The pastry parcel was warming and absolutely divine, but when paired with the very gentle curry cream and the coriander pearls and sour honey melon, it was the perfect combination of sweet and savoury flavours, and the ideal cold-weather starter. The Riesling brought out the sweetness of the melon and honey too, which just added to the flavour.
The second course was a Dill & Verbena Sous-Vide Kingklip with white cabbage frittata, brandy flambeéd orange segments, maple carrot puree & candied orange peel. This course was served with a beer! The Old Main Brewery 1806 Real Ale.
Whoever would have thought to pair a fine-dining meal with a craft beer? Clearly the Granny Mouse culinary artist’s really do know how to cook outside the box, and it worked SO WELL! I’m not really a beer drinker, but this Real Ale was just light and delicious, and just bitter enough to bring out the flavours in the dish. The kingklip was perfectly cooked, and the white cabbage frittata was surprisingly delicious. But the star of this dish was the maple carrot puree – it had the most incredible smokiness to it, and when tasted with the orange segments and candied orange peel, it was sublime.
*fun fact – Old Main Brewery bottled the Real Ale especially for Granny Mouse, and this is why they are plain, dark-glass bottles with no labels!*
The third course was a House-Smoked Lamb Loin, pan fried with brussel sprouts and mint, served with toasted sunflower seed crusted oyster mushrooms, sunflower seed brittle and mint jus. This smokey delight was served with a glass of Fairview Pegleg Carignan 2009.
I am a huge lamb-lover, and this dish did not disappoint. The meat was smoked in-house by culinary artist Wyland Green, and was melt-in-your-mouth tasty. I am, however, not a brussel sprouts eater, yet I ate everything on this plate! I think the smokiness of the meat and the sweetness of the mint and seed brittle just brought out a nicer flavour to the sprouts. The sunflower seed crusted oyster mushrooms were also delicious, and I was left with a clean plate once again. All of this paired with the lovely and rich red wine was the perfect combination.
The fourth and final course was a sushi-lovers delight. An Asian Infusion of a spiced basmati rice pudding maki roll, wrapped in Rooibos jelly and stuffed with carrot puree, topped with wasabi white chocolate gel and sesame tuille, and served with cranberry ginger caviar and cucumber sorbet. This was served with straight-up ice-cold Pimms No 1.
This was just creative food at it’s best. The dessert was served as if it were real sushi, with the ‘ginger’ and ‘wasabi’ on the side – what was in actual fact pink cranberry and ginger caviar, and the most incredible cucumber sorbet, topped with verbena leaves. The ‘sushi’ itself was divine! The basmati rice in the rice pudding was the perfect amount of crunchy, the carrot puree was a gentle flavour to the slight burn of the wasabi white chocolate gel, and the Rooibos jelly wrapping was firm and delicious! When you managed to get a little bit of each aspect of the plate, onto your spoon and into your mouth at once, it tasted just like a proper Pimms cocktail with all of the trimmings, and this is why it was ultimately served with Pimms liqueur. To me, the idea of cucumber sorbet in a winter dessert was so novel, and yet with all of the other flavours it worked to create an out-of-this-world winter dessert.
All in all, this has to have been quite possibly the best meal of my life. Every element was delicious and paired together with so much thought and attention to detail.
The hotel and grounds are unbelievably beautiful, and the perfect combination of old-school charm, and modern amenities. It’s also the perfect place for a romantic weekend away with your loved one, or the ideal venue for a wedding (I myself will be attending a very close friend’s wedding there next year – great choice my friend!). They also have a spa, for those decadent pamper treatments that we all want need to get every so often.
At the moment Granny Mouse are running some fabulous specials, so please check out their specials page on their website. They have the more fine-dining restaurant, The Eaves, as well as a more relaxed Bistro restaurant, as well as an extensive wine cellar, where you can have various tastings (the brandy and chocolate tasting sounds right up my alley).
The Winter Wonder 2016 special is by far the best value for money you can get on a romantic weekend away. It consists of the following: –
- Minimum 2 nights stay in a Garden or Deluxe Room
- Bed and Breakfast
- 1 x 30min back and neck massage per person
- A R250 discount voucher to put towards any future visits
- 6 bottles of delicious wine to take home with you on departure