SSS: The Funky Franschhoek Experience

Location: Franschhoek, Cape Winelands

A lot of our guests ask for bespoke curated experiences… and the quirky ones are definitely the most challenging! La di dah Franschhoek didn’t exactly jump to mind as the the quirk capital…but we like a challenge!

We hunted high and low (no pun intended as you will soon see) as we have quite the nose for the extra-ordinary and as it turns out, we unscrewed quite a few quirky things about this town after all.

Our beautiful abode was one such example. No 10 on Perfect Hideaways may look like the perfect la résidence (please read in french accent) but if you look a bit further, you may be surprised by the beautiful quirky items dotted throughout the house. The house is exquisitely decorated with class and elegance, but if you tear your eyes from the amazing Lionel Smits adorning the walls, you will see what we mean. Quirky, however doesn’t have to be in place of luxury, we’ve also discovered. Plonking yourself down in one of the comfy beds overlooking the mountains, a Jo Malone candle burning and watching the sun set on another ‘tough’ day in Africa, must be one of life’s greatest luxuries. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! That sunset wasn’t going to watch itself…

Suna was on food duty, and headed off to a hunt for a something off the beaten path in Franschhoek, but it seems, she took that quite literally. When she said she was bringing back lunch, my mouth was all ready watering because we were, after all, in the foodie capital. Well, was I bitterly mistaken?! All was forgiven though, because she met up with one of our favourite people of all time, Zayaan Khan. Secretly, Suna is her number 1 #fangirl and with good reason. Described as a ‘food activist’, she is a ‘keeper of seeds’, a community leader ( in actions and in thoughts) and she is doing ground breaking work to redefine the food landscape in South Africa and globally.

If you think the noun entomophagy is a mouthful, then try doing the verb part of it i.e.: consuming actual insects. That is a mouthful! If you saw us on TV, you may have turned up your nose, and TBH, so did we! However, it is actually a very common practice that has been taking place for tens of thousands of years. Billions of people eat insects all ready as part of their diet, so the idea is not so far fetched. In fact, best y’all better get used to it. With a population that is growing way too fast, food production cannot keep up to feed all the hungry mouths. The oceans are over-fished and livestock agriculture is unsustainable, which leaves us with the insects to the rescue! World hunger may be ended by the humble mopani worm… who knew?!

But back to madam Suna and Zayaan in the garden, foraging for insects. It seems Suna literally had ants in her pants, but she did it for the love of our customers. She left no stone unturned when it came to finding something unique to add to our Franschhoek experience. I think secretly, it must have BUGged her that she couldn’t indulge in a glass of red wine from Haut Espoir, but she pulled through. There is, after all, far more to this wine farm than just the wine! Their wine (which is excellent btw) goes hand in hand with conservation and they focus on having a minimal impact to the environment. You will find no fungicides, insecticides or commercially bought fertilisers on this land, so on this farm, it sure is a bug’s life! (Little did they know Suna would come and eat them…ag shêm).

So then it was time for the lovely Zayaan to show us how to cook these little BUGgers! Ever classy and kind, she said the best way to put them to sleep was in the freezer. We then went about preparing the crickets, the ants and the ‘land prawns’ , also known more commonly as woodlice (as an aside: I think ‘prawn of the land’ sounds far more sophisticated… if you want to PR this thing). Zayaan is a master of flavour and she has figured out the best way to spice up these critters. Did you know that ants taste a bit like lemon grass, and can be used to sprinkle on food to add extra zing? Well, you do now! Crickets, as it turns out, go great dipped in chocolate and a mopani worm, is delicious in a tomato based salsa. So now the question on everyone’s lips, will we be seeing an insect eatery popping up in Franschoek any time soon? Best I give the guys from La Residence a head’s up…seems like investing in an insect infestation might be the next big thing…

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Whilst all this insect foraging was happening, I paid a visit to the Old Corkscrew to uncork a few hidden quirks. I’m a big fan of vintage collectibles and I was keen to see what was on offer to make our curated experience extra special.

Old Corkscrew is the real deal. Have a look at their incredible range here. Jeremy, the owner, has been all over the world to auction and buy/sell his antiques. There is a fun story behind every item and I suggest you ask him about the ghost stories! I also recommend you sit down with Jeremy before you start browsing, as it will give you so much more insight into the significance of each piece.

Jeremy showed me his vintage telescope which is still in an excellent condition. Looking through it, you can still see all the trees and detail from hundreds of meters away. Had I pointed it in the direction where Suna was foraging, I bet you I could’ve pointed out a few bugs to her using this piece of equipment! His corkscrew collection is of course the main attraction, and it’s easy to see why. Clearly I have an eye for this sort of thing, because the one that that stood out for me the most, happened to be one of the oldest and finest of the collection. As a surprise, Jeremy lent it to me to open a bottle of local wine later that evening. Little did I know at that stage, the wine will be used wash down the bee’s knees and other insect parts!

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Suna discovered another fantastic thing to do in Franschhoek and we cannot wait to roll this out to our guests. The Kumanov family are perfume savants of the highest order! They established the first South African Perfume Museum in 2012 in this area, because TBH, I think they ran out of space to put all their bottles! At this museum, our guests will get a private tour by Daniella Kumanov herself, and also get a chance to see some of the rarest and oldest perfume bottles on earth. What’s more, the Kumanov family also offer perfume workshops where clients can, wait for it, make their own signature scent! Get out of town!!! Suna must have been in seventh heaven! Her chemistry partner was Christina, Daniella’s daughter, and the two of them concocted something very special. There are many exotic ingredients to chose from, but apparently one of them has some very invigorating properties when worn in the presence of the opposite sex! Lekker… sometimes even an old man’s spice needs some spice! I will tell you if this aphrodisiac had the desired effect or not, but that part may be PG13, so rather DM me!

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That wraps up the quirkier side of Franschhoek, and if we’re honest, even we were pleasantly surprised by what we came up with! Just goes to show, sometimes what you are looking for, is right under your nose, or in some case, under a rock! If you are keen to experience your own quirky experience in this beautiful town, you know what to do…!

Au revoir, Henk & Suna