Nestled in the heart of Franschhoek village, Le Quartier Français has been known to far exceed guests expectations and the unique menu at The Tasting Room creates a dining experience unlike any other, one where surprise and nostalgia take center stage.
The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français happens to be the stage for award-winning chef Margot Janse and her unique eight-course, contemporary African-inspired surprise Tasting Menu.
In 1995, Margot Janse joined the culinary team at Le Quartier Français and it became evident that her creative talents would meld perfectly with this South African culinary phenomenon.
Margot continues to thrive in her career and provides a memorable experience for dining guests. She finds it difficult to put her style in a box as it is her belief that food is constantly evolving, and that unforgettable dishes should always come as a bit of a surprise. She prefers to allow herself the room to be creative and experiment with new things.
“I have no signature dish, South Africa is my signature.” – Margot Janse, executive chef
Q & A:
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration derives from working with a fantastic, hardworking and creative team. Not only that but South Africa itself is full of inspiration.
What ingredients do you favor?
The indigenous ones. We celebrate South Africa through our food and service at The Tasting Room. I love sour figs, Kapokbos or wild rosemary, Noem Noem fruit and Baobab fruit. Baobab fruit is extremely rich in nutrients and Noem Noem fruit can be eaten out of hand or made into pies, jams, jellies, and sauces.
Describe your cuisine?
It is honest and playful with huge respect to our beautiful ingredients. When you combine fresh, exotic ingredients and the desire to captivate the hearts and minds of diners, something magical happens.
If you’d like to get a taste of Margot’s renowned cooking for yourself, you can try your hand at her recipe below. Or better yet, plan a trip to South Africa and Le Quartier Français soon.
Beetroot sponge, spinach and onion puree, buttermilk labne, dill and cucumber granita
- 50ml Beetroot Juice
- Pinch of salt
- ½ gelatine leaf
Take 1 flexi pan half sphere mould (600 x 400 mm / 400 x 300 mm)
Place the gelatine in a small bowl with ice water and set aside.
Place the beetroot juice and salt in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat and add the softened gelatine leaf.
Place a fine strainer over a medium mixing bowl and strain the beetroot juice
Take a medium bowl and fill with ice, poor the beetroot mixture into a slightly smaller bowl and place it on to the ice.
Whisk the beetroot mixture continuously until it is aerated and cold. The gelatin will have set it.
Scoop the mixture into a piping bag and pipe into flexi pan half sphere mould. (spray with ‘Spray and Cook’ first) Scrape all excees off, using a spatula – so the tops of the half sheres are flat.
- 50gr Panko crumbs
- 20 ml Beetroot juice in spray bottle
- Preheat oven to 80C
Spread the crumbs in a thin layer on an oven tray and spray with the beetroot juice, making sure all the crumbs are pink, but not soaked. Dry out in the oven for 30 minutes.
- 200gr fresh buchu, leaves picked off the stems
Leave the buchu to dry and blend until very fine using a spice grinder.
- 500 ml Buttermilk
- 40cmx40cm piece of muslin cloth
Hang the buttermilk overnight in the muslin cloth.
Once drained, discard the extra whey and place the buttermilk in a small piping bag.
Spinach and onion puree
- ½ Onion, thinly sliced
- 125ml Single cream
- 100gr Baby spinach
- 10gr Unsalted butter
-for onion puree
Warm up a medium pan, add the butter and sliced onions and sweat until soft without getting any colour on the onions. Season with salt. Add the cream, and reduce over high heat for 5 minutes.
– For spinach puree
Boil a pot of water add some salt.
Blanch the spinach in the boiling water for 1 min
Remove the spinach with a large slotted spoon, drain and place directly into a blender jug.
Blend until very smooth, add the creamed onions and blend again.
Pass through a tamis.
Cucumber and dill granita
- 150gr Cucumber, diced
- 10gr Dill, stems removed
- 5gr White wine vinegar
- 2gr Salt
- 1gr Xanthan gum
Blend all the ingredients in bar blender and pass through a fine sieve, pour into a tray with a wide base, and freeze.
Scrape the frozen mixture with a fork to form fine flakes.
Scoop the centre out of the beetroot sponges and fill it with some of the spinach and onion puree, then take the two halves and stick them together. Carefully roll in the beetroot crumbs.
Pipe 1 tablespoon of buttermilk on the plate and drag across with a small spatula. Place the beetroot ball on the plate, scoop some of the granita next to the ball and sprinkle with some buchu powder.
Happy Eats and Happy Travels!
– The JG Black Book Team