A First Look at Jan Franschhoek Season II
One of the many perks of working for the JAN brand is that you get a lot of first glances – you see every Journal long before it hits the shelves, get a first taste of the next season’s signature dishes, and more recently, a first visit to the newly reopened JAN Franschhoek! The invitation in our inboxes specified smart attire, so we knew this wasn’t just going to be another Studio meeting in disguise, this was about getting the full JAN experience, just as our guests would. But no matter how often you get that rare, insider access, it never gets old.
THE WAY THERE
It starts long before you arrive at La Motte Wine Estate. Leaving the city, the traffic gets lighter and lighter as you head north into Cape Winelands territory. By the time you take turnoff 47, your surroundings suddenly become completely pastoral. Half an hour later as you take a corner a couple of ticks after the train track on the outskirts of Franschhoek, a lavender field reveals itself to your right, and Veepos glows white in the early evening light.
OVER THE THRESHOLD
But this is not where it starts. To your left, a regal-looking gate guards a tree-lined lane leading up to the Estate’s manor house. This is where you leave your car and surrender to the charms of this one-of-a-kind soiree. Upon reaching the stairs, we were welcomed with a flute of sparkling La Motte Méthode Cap Classique and JAN’s signature biltong lamingtons. Working together, our conversations inevitably resembled a team huddle at first, but soon turned into a party. By the time the minibus pulled up to whisk us away, back to the little house in the lavender fields, we were properly giddy with excitement.
THERE AND BACK AGAIN
By the time we approached the old farmhouse from the road, the sun was beginning to set, and the path to Veepos was lit up with tiny floating lights. Alighting at the farm gate, the air was fumed not with lavender, but with the smell of freshly baked mosbolletjies moments before they came out of the oven. Past the point of no return! We galloped to the table where an antique basin and pitcher awaited us – the classic JAN handwashing ceremony – and felt instantly refreshed as we gravitated towards the house.
STEPPING INTO THE PAST
Ducking to enter, it wasn’t unlike Alice’s first steps into wonderland. With foraged fynbos lining the ceiling beams, candles lighting up the cheese table on the opposite wall and an understated long table taking centre stage, running from the fireplace to the left to an antique cupboard filled with fine glassware to the right, we entered a fantasy from the past wrapped in a cocoon. There was no doubt that this would be a feast for the books!
Like a sacred ritual, every course took us through a different part of our shared heritage, evoked stories from our childhoods, our fondest memories from our travels, and as the main course was laid out on the table, we began dishing up for each other – filled with good humour and playful innuendo.
By the time we got up to sample the array of local cheeses and preserves that the chefs made on site just the previous day, we were more than teammates, but old friends. And as we drifted into the dessert course, a wave of nostalgia struck each and every one of us with each mouthful.
MIDNIGHT AT THE MANOR
We got to our cars at exactly midnight. Making our way back to Cape Town in convoy, the experience lingered, bringing satisfied smiles to our faces. We got the unmistakable sense that we would carry this night with us for a long time, and no matter where we found ourselves years from now, we would remember the night we dined in the lavender fields and feasted on friendship.