I was invited by the fabulous Ian Manley of Manley Communications to join him and some other JHB-based bloggers for a weekend of extreme luxury, amazing food and lots of spa pampering. I contemplated it for all of 2 seconds before replying straight away with a big YES!
I had been to the Mount Grace before and was really excited to be able to stay over for the night as well as experience chef Franc Lubbe’s amazing food once again. The cherry on top was to be able to experience the spa which I have heard such good things about. And I am very happy to report that I was not disappointed. The spa has beautiful views (amazing really) and is extremely calm and peaceful. The moment I stepped foot inside I could feel the tension slowly melting away. I was whisked away for a full-body Swedish massage and I have to say, it was one of the best massages I’ve ever had!
After the massage I was taken back to our room where Chris (the husband) and I lazed around. We were tempted to try the heated private pool on our deck but the bed was more enticing and with a weekend to ourselves with no toddlers running around and demanding peanutbutter sandwiches, sleep was a much better option! Besides, we had to prepare for an 8-course meal paired with Dog & Fig beers that night!
At 18h30 we met up with Ian, the other bloggers, Cathy from Dog & Fig and chef Franc for pre-dinner bubbly before sitting down to our meal in the gorgeous Rambling Vine restaurant. The moment I opened the menu, I knew we were in for something special. We started with a delicious Amuse Bouche consisting of a sweetcorn fritter served with Madagascan vanilla pod ice cream. This was served with the Baldadige Buchu beer from Dog & Fig microbreweries. The fritter had lovely texture while the sweetness of the ice cream went perfectly with the fruity, pineapple (and slight fynbos) flavours of the beer. This was followed by one of two Heston Blumenthal moments of the night when we were presented with a bowl of re-hydrated mushrooms, a syringe with a creamy mixture inside and clear mushroom consommé in a little jug. Chef Franc explained that we would be making our noodles with the syringe and that we were to pour the consommé on top of the mushrooms and then squirt the mixture inside the syringe (consisting of Agar-agar, truffle oil, thyme and cream) into the consommé. I’m not normally a fan of consommé as I find it to be generally bland and I always feel like I need to add a good pinch of salt to it. Not this time though. The consommé was like mushroom extract it was so flavourful and rich. The noodles were delicate and light and the re-hydrated mushrooms added a perfect chewy texture. This was paired with Dog & Fig’s Alternatiewe Alt.
We were then served a light seafood stew of Scottish salmon and prawn steamed in a fish cream. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night and was paired with my favourite beer of the night, the Wafferse Weiss. Sommelier West described this as the “Kama Sutra” of beer. It is utterly delicious with a spicy, fruity taste whilst still being really refreshing. The seafood stew was everything I thought it would be with the fish cream being perfectly flavoured and gentle, paired with the delicious salmon, prawn and crab. It was served with Heston Blumenthal moment #2 which was a Pernod flavoured gel/jelly capsule that we were told to put in our mouths and pop. The texture is incredibly strange and the liquorice flavour of the Pernod was very delicate. Not everyone was a fan of this though and Chris described it as “liquid vaseline”. Very strange but just delicious.
After a palate cleanser of Apple sorbet on top of a apple & cardomom chutney with an apple chip (essence of apple as I called it), we were served Grilled Giant Scallop and Foie Gras on top of Brioche with Raspberries which was paired with the Aardige Ale. The beer has a very fruity aroma but is surprisingly dry and thus worked so well with the rich Foie Gras and Brioche. This was followed by Beef shin braised in Stewige Stout served with homemade Puff Pastry and Wild Cepes (it was also served with the Stewige Stout). This was my other favourite of the night as I’m such a fan of beef shin. The beef was rich and buttery and the coffee flavours of the stout really came through. Served with their homemade puff pastry it was pure heaven and I have to commend the Rambling Vine’s pastry chef as she does incredible work!
Our meal was finished off with a Three layered Caramel Bavarois served with Raspberries, honeycomb and liquorice foam. This was paired with the Sluwe Saison. Absolute art on a plate with a little surprise in the middle of the bavarois. When cut open, liquid caramel oozes out which had Shahil of Finding Jozi exclaiming: “It’s bleeding!” Never in my life have I seen anyone more excited about dessert which in turn made him feel a little sad about the boxed hake he would be having when he returned home. The meal was incredible and one of those really memorable ones. I enjoyed every minute and loved the company just as much as the food.
Sunday morning found us heading out for more food at Twist where we were served a seriously impressive breakfast buffet. Everything from fruit & yoghurt, sushi & smoked salmon, omelette and waffle stations and cheese plates were on offer and it was hard to choose which we would go for first. The same awaited us at lunch time when we headed to Twist again and were met with a full carvery with fresh Yorkshire puddings, cold meats, cheeses, salads and a seriously impressive dessert buffet. The white chocolate and pistachio cheesecake was something from the gods, I’m certain of it.
All-in-all, we had an amazing weekend filled with lots of laughter (you know it’s good when your stomach gets sore), fabulous food and lots of R&R which was definitely much needed. I’d like to thank Ian Manley for yet another wonderful experience and also all the other bloggers who made it so much fun. Links to all of their blogs can be found below. For more information on the Mount Grace Country House & Spa can be found below as well.
Mount Grace Country House & Spa : Rustenburg Road, Magaliesburg, Magaliesburg Region, Gauteng, South Africa
HOTEL Reservations: Tel:+27 (0)14 577 5600 | [email protected]
SPA Reservations: Tel: +27 (0)14 577 5600