What a difference a curator makes! My first visit to The Gallery at Grande Provence in Franschhoek since Trent Read pushed the grape curtain firmly aside and tackled the doilies and ethno-bongo-tat of Franschhoek, perhaps the pinnacle of pretentiousness in the Platteland, is simply asemrowend. Andrew Verster’s kollektor’s kamer (below) brings a welcome blast of Banana Boy Bohemia to the Boland for R70K and for once, the images are flaccid and so suitable for families.
Banana Boys (so called because of the curvature of their members, according to urban legend) dominate GP at the moment with exec chef Darren Badenhorst (below) and his sous-chef Zayne, part of the bunch.
Darren’s food is great and hails from the KZN school of roast quail, mosaics of vegetables, domes of Springbok (Valhrona is his chocolate of choice rather than Lindt) and is heartily toothsome (below) without being twee.
But who are these aggressive German sculptors in The Gallery? Alexander von Klitzing showcasing children with bashed in noggins and Martyn Schickerling with more aggressive teenagers that the EFF.
The wine was uber-professional, as those of us who have followed the meteoric career of Karl Lambour, have come to expect. The 2013 Sauvignon Blanc hails from Maastricht in Durbanville and is packed full of dusty red grapefruit flavours. How sensible to focus on Franschhoek grapes for the things the appellation does well, like the 2010 Cabernet with super-Tuscan muscle and tight tannins and a fortified Muscat 2013 that is ace with blue cheese.
Things are changing rapidly in town with a billionaire cellphone mogul Analjit Singh building a boutique 10 room hotel behind GP on one of the three contiguous farms he recently purchased. He is sure to bump heads with the locals as he calls himself Leeu International Investments Limited – liil – and lions are notoriously territorial, n’est pas Johann Rupert? – which is why some producers use canned lion’s wee to keep the baboons away from their vineyards.
Suzanne van Dyk, the new marketing manager at GP, hopes that with a Vodafone VIP next door, cell phone reception in the Valley will hopefully improve. With a Sikh in town, the barometer indicates a shake up is immanent. For example, Driehoekigekoeliekoekie is perhaps the most difficult word in Afrikaans for foreigners to pronounce. But with samoosas popular menu items in the former food and wine capital of SA these days, how long before a Franschhoekigekoeliekoekie gets launched? Bringing Bollywood to the Boland makes perfect sense. After all, that faux-French folderol wasn’t working at all.