Mount Grace – relaxed picnic eating with gourmet food in a tranquil setting
Situated a stone’s throw outside of Johannesburg, Maliesberg’s Mount Grace Country House & Spa is becoming a foodie escape in a country setting. Lauren Hills explores their gourmet picnics.
Mount Grace recently launched its Alfresco Feasts – combining relaxed picnic eating with gourmet food in a tranquil setting. There are a number of menu options available, all priced between R150 and R250 per person. My picnic partner and I opted for the standard picnic menu which was a feast of cheeses, charcuterie, olives in pesto, mini quiches, filled croissants, mini hamburgers, a selection of wraps and a divine mini dessert platter.
With a focus on exclusivity and relaxation, Mount Grace will only allow bookings for around six picnic groups at any given time and picnic-goers are spread out around the Mount Grace estate so that you can enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the Magaliesberg as if you were in your own back garden.
A quaint wicker basket and a low table laden with our picnic goodies greeted us as we walked towards our picnic spot. A blanket scattered with soft cushions was placed under a big shady tree and we just knew that this would be an afternoon to unwind and indulge.
From the menu list I was expecting little tasters of each dish, but this was most certainly not the case. There was a huge spread of food served, perhaps too much, but we enjoyed the variety of flavours and the dishes were unfussy, but well prepared and well presented.
Favourites included the mini burgers with a juicy flavoursome patty, a thick slice of strong cheddar and caramelised onions on a soft burger bun. The nibbles of olives in pesto and the lovely selection of cheese, served with grapes and honey, was also a treat.
With the weather getting cooler and with rain showers dampening our usually perfect Gauteng weather, you can also opt for an in-room Rainy Day Picnic which includes hearty soup with bread, gooey pasta, pancakes for dessert followed by hot chocolate.
We must have spent about three hours relaxing, chatting and enjoying the food when we visited Mount Grace; it’s all about a leisurely experience.
While we could have packed a much cheaper picnic and headed off to the Zoo Lake that Sunday, Mount Grace’s Alfresco Feast turned out to be the perfect way to escape the rush of Joburg and to rejuvenate in the country with good food and friendly service in a beautiful setting.
Winter Gourmet Evenings at Mount Grace
Throughout winter, Mount Grace has a line-up of food and wine dinners at the Rambling Vine Restaurant. Priced at R450 per person, top SA winemakers will be showcasing their wines, while executive chef Vasti Wilson will create perfect menu pairings.
From the coastal terroir of Stanford Raka Wines, father Piet and new winemaking son, Josef, are celebrating not only their tenth anniversary of winemaking, but two five-star wines in the Platter Wine Guide. Visit Mount Grace on 24 May 2013 to meet the father-and-son team as they guide you through their wines while Chef Vasti pairs the wines with his inspired winter menu.
Explore biodynamic wine at the Mount Grace on 16 June 2013 as one of South Africa’s leading experts on biodynamism in wine, Johnathan Grieve from Avondale, explains his philosophy and illustrates it with his award-winning wines.
26 July 2013 sees Andrew Gunn from Iona Vineyards visit Mount Grace. Iona is one of the highest vineyards in Africa and there are some interesting new wines in the Iona portfolio this year, which will be matched creatively by Chef Vasti.
Rounding off the series on 30 August 2013 is red-wine specialist winery, Mont du Toit. The farm is in Wellington, a perfect spot to grow black grapes and owner Stephan du Toit has achieved great success with his wines, both as single varietals and as blends.