P won a weekend at a five-star hotel in Franschhoek so we were able to celebrate her birthday in style.
As you can see, the Mont X is a beautiful hotel set in the Cape winelands and it also boasts its own boutique winery. The weekend came with a complimentary five-course meal (with wine at every course), wine-tasting, cellar tour and so on.
P was ecstatic at her prize, although it did take some getting used to being treated as treasured guests. When we arrived in the trusty Tazz, we were whisked off for a complimentary drink while a porter lugged our bags into the suite. The maitre’d was hilarious. He oohed and aahed over us as if we were royalty and punctuated his exclamations with some fine hand-wringing and lots of superlatives.
“The King and Queen! I’m honoured! How has your stay been so far?”
“Fine thanks. We’re very happy.”
It was a little disconcerting having a slightly manic bald man approach us at regular intervals to enquire about our enjoyment of the meal. But I soon saw that he treated most of the guests this way and the old dears seemed to appreciate it, leaning in for some of that infectious enthusiasm.
At dinner on Saturday night, I looked around carefully at our fellow guests to see what kind of people can afford to stay in this kind of luxury. The model couple at the table behind us looked like they’d stepped out of an American soap opera (except with less bosom) and I couldn’t help thinking they regarded us as the poor relatives. I don’t get out much and so having another beautiful woman’s cleavage in my line of vision was a little unnverving. As much as I tried to give P my undivided attention, I was pretty curious to see what the other patrons were up to.
Across the way was a woman I could only imagine as Ferial Haffejee’s mean younger sister (FH is a highly regarded local newspaper editor). Whenever I glanced their way she gave me the evil eye as if to say, “Who YOU looking at? We black folk have just as much right to be here as you!” Which is ironic really, since of all the patrons we were clearly the least well-off. I did notice that FH’s mean younger sister and her husband had a moment during the Michael Jackson medley (movingly played by our Italian pianist Alfio). As soon as I made out the opening bars to “Heal the World” I noticed that evil eye and her consort were holding hands and feeling touched by the memory. (I’m not being bitchy here I promise.)
The couch was, if not to die for, one of the highlights of my stay. If that sounds camp or slightly sad then so be it. We also had a pretty funny after-dinner drink with a couple from Constantia. The husband was drunk as a lord and name-dropped shockingly. As he clipped his cigar and sipped his cognac, he let it slip that he mixes in the same company as Charles Davy (Chelsea’s dad) on his shooting trips to Zimbabwe. I actually liked him a lot (name-dropping and business ethics aside) and was rather disappointed the next morning that they seemed to shun us out of embarassment.
“J was terribly garrulous last night,” said Mrs Constantia when we passed them at breakfast. Since we were rather badly hungover ourselves, we could only nod in sympathy and try to reassure them that we weren’t about to trash their reputations.
The main restaurant at Mont X has the ever-so-slightly pretentious name of Mange Tout (which refers to a snow-pea and also apparently means “eat it all”). This is the other one, the more downmarket Country Kitchen. Well yes. If downmarket means that it comes with its own boutique wine cellar with fantastic wines and is decorated in the style of Provence.
All in all, we had a fabulous time and were quite disappointed to return home. I guess there’s always Betty’s Bay hey dad 😉