The Autumn menu at Pierneef à La Motte seduces with its simplicity and seasonal inspiration. Executive Chef Eric Bulpitt at the helm of the kitchen has taken the food in a new direction, and it’s all good. Better than, in fact – it’s brilliant.
I’ve eaten there a few times since Chef Eric joined the team as Executive Chef, and it just keeps on getting better. This is world-class cooking, set in the lush location of La Motte Wine Estate just outside Franschhoek. Deft, assured, pared down and almost minimalist, Chef Eric’s cooking somehow manages to make his carefully sourced ingredients taste even more of themselves than nature intended. Not one unnecessary element on the plates. De-cluttered. And delicious. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for 5 Q&A with Chef Eric – he’s inspirational!)
If you’re fed up to the gills with drips, drags, smears, blobs and gels, Chef Eric’s your guy. Plain and simple food, unusual ingredients along with the familiar, all presented so exquisitely it seems almost a shame to disturb the perfect composition on the plate. But needs must, and your tastebuds are in for a WOW experience.
The new approach at Pierneef à La Motte is lighter, simpler, easier and more laidback. The à la carte menu comprises a selection of ‘plates’, from starters – Small Plates – to Big Plates, Side Plates and finally Sweet Plates with choice of a cheese course. Outside in the Garden, a light Garden Menu is served in summer, and during winter, a simple Farm Bowl or Farm Platter.
PIERNEEF À LA MOTTE À LA CARTE MENU
Salt-baked celeriac, goat’s butter, summer pickles and gooseberry juice (V) 110
Chicken liver parfait, pickled and fresh endives, pain d’epices and candied walnuts 115
Smoked snoek, crème fraiche, buttermilk pancake and Langbaken Williston cheese 115
Venison steamed pudding, root vegetables and Madeira jus 120
Beef tartare, horseradish, mushrooms and ciabatta 125
Wood-fire roasted cauliflower, curry, raisin and parsley (V) 190
Iberian pork, quince chutney and charred greens 240
Sustainable line fish, Brussels sprouts, oyster beurre blanc and parsley 240
Free-range sirloin, herb crusted confit shallot, parsnip and sauce bordelaise 250
Triple cooked chips, garlic mayonnaise 45
Roasted garden carrots, almonds, chilli, sour cream and chives 45
La Motte garden salad, from the garden 45
Creamed spinach, mature cheddar and breadcrumbs 45
Wood-fire roasted guavas, crème anglaise, rum and raisin ice cream 105
Vanilla buttermilk “cheesecake”, cheesecake ice-cream, persimmon and hazelnuts 105
Coffee, baked coffee custard, chocolate crémeux and macadamia nuts 105
Selection of South African cheese, preserves and lavash 165
The glorious gardens at La Motte are a drawcard on their own. The perfect spot for light lunch of a Farm bowl – hearty winter soup with accompaniments – or a Farm Platter – cheese and charcuterie.
From the website:
With a focus on seasonal and sustainable, locally-sourced artisan ingredients, Chef Eric Bulpitt presents a selection of starters, mains and desserts, reflecting his modern interpretation of heritage cuisine. Wine recommendations from an award-winning wine list accompany the refined menu.
During winter, also enjoy a lighter lunch in the form of a Farm Bowl, a hearty winter soup with accompaniments or a Farm Platter, a beautiful selection of local cheese and charcuterie. This option is available from Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00 – 16:00 and cost R150 per person.
CHEF ERIC BULPITT Q&A
I was so inspired by my experience of Chef Eric’s cooking, I wanted to know more about the man behind the food. I’m sure you want to, as well! Read on for the Q&A: (I’m EDCT, Chef Eric is EB.)
EDCT: Eric, you’ve recently entered the matrix of La Motte. What does this mean to you as a chef, and what are the unique touches that you are bringing to the food and wine experience at La Motte?
E: La Motte offers me the opportunity to connect with our heritage. I trained using French techniques and cooking internationally-inspired food but have always felt a disconnect with my own country, the further I delve into South African cuisine, the more I feel like I am finding myself.
EDCT: Chefs today are using techniques old and new that makes the whole dining out experience that more exciting. Which techniques are your favourites, eg smoking, curing, fermenting, salting, drying, etc and what is one of your favourite dishes using any of them?
EB: We have been very busy with fermentation and are on a quest to find umami. All the above-mentioned techniques are part of our repertoire but none more than the search for umami.
EDCT: What are your earliest taste memories, be they pleasant or not? (I remember, for example, discovering chillies at the age of 6 and just couldn’t get enough, and since my mom loved fresh herbs and taught me a lot about how to use them, I have a particular fondness for using lots of fresh herbs in my own cooking. I also remember recoiling physically at the ‘hairiness’ of dates in date loaf, and to this day I cannot stand them!)
EB: My first food memory is of my Dad and me going to the fish shop in Walvisbaai to buy freshly smoked snoek. I must have been 4/5. The smell of smoked snoek haunts my memories forever.
EDCT: Describe your perfect meal, anytime, anywhere, real or imagined.
EB: The perfect meal doesn’t exist, there are too many delicious experiences out there, it depends on the mood and time of the day. Sometimes a simple bacon and avo butty seems absolutely perfect. What makes a meal very special is the company you share it with and the loving knowledgeable hands that prepared it. Most of the time the best meals are the most simplistic and made with the freshest ingredients.
EDCT: The calibre of chefs has increased tremendously in the past 20 years in South Africa. What do you ascribe this to, and what aspects of the job do you wish you could emphasise for young chefs starting out on their careers?
EB: Travelling to international culinary destinations and working in globally recognized restaurants is a huge factor. Chefs who travel realise that we have a fantastic country with great produce and a rich albeit diverse food culture of our own. It is great to see so many return home to settle and build our own food revolution.
My advice to young chefs: If you are absolutely sure that you want to dedicate your life to this industry, think about it some more. This is one of the most rewarding and consuming careers you could follow, but only a few will make it. Are you sure?
Chef Eric’s parting words:
“My dear, find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain from you your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you, and let it devour your remains.
For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover”
(ie. travel, don’t expect quick results in terms of promotion and earnings, eat widely and adventurously, build relationships within the industry, etc.)
The à la carte lunch is from Tuesday to Sunday,
12:00 – 15:00.
The seasonal winter offer available is from Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00 – 16:00.
Closed on Christian Religious public holidays.
Reservations are recommended.
The award-winning La Motte Food and Wine Experience is presented every Friday at 10 am. Bookings are essential for this expertly guided tasting with food and wine pairing. Read more on the highlighted link to see dates and details.
La Motte Food and Wine Tasting Experience