(Images courtesy of Allée Bleue)
Well, I say ‘picnics’ but apparently that’s not what you do at Allée Bleue. Instead, you ‘chicnic’ so if you want to know the difference, read on…..
Set at the end of the Pniel Road with plenty of blue branding a-blaze, Allée Bleue is halfway between Paarl and Franschhoek. It’s quite a large estate with lots of different areas – many people get no further than the tasting centre and bistro at the front gates. But continue down the winding road and you get to a large enclosed grassy area with shady trees and large umbrellas. A jungle gym sits in a corner (full in the sun – cream your kids before you go) and in the other (shadier on the day we went) corner sat a jumping castle. What makes this a ‘chicnic’ is the fact that there are large, nicely-spread-out tables in the shade so you don’t have to sit on the floor (although they will give you a blanket if you prefer). A great idea if you are lunching with elderly people for whom the floor is just that bit too far away.
Is relatively-standard picnic fare – which isn’t to say it’s not very good, indeed, far from it. Some highlights were delicious bobotie pies, a meaty beef wrap (there are veggie chicnics available too) and a heavenly salad dressing for the micro-herb salad – all grown on the estate. Other highlights also came from the estate – a bloody good pesto and an excellent olive tapenade were available in huge quantities to enjoy with crusty bread, cheeses and cold meats. Some time ago when I reviewed another picnic venue, I was vocal in my disapproval of the amount of packaging left over at the end. Luckily, things seem to have changed and most venues, Allée Bleue included, now serve dips, spreads and pates in re-usable glass jars. I would tentatively suggest that they could use somewhat smaller jars than they do now – they are HUGE! I am sure there must be lots of wastage which is a tragedy for spreads as nice as these.
Kids' food comes in a cardboard platter and was imaginative and appealing to parents and kids alike. Our only criticism was that the cheese used on the homemade pizza – Emmenthal – was a bit strong for all our kids so perhaps mozzarella or cheddar could be used in future. Other than that – nice finger foods, stuff on sticks – the kinds of things kids enjoy, all rounded off with enormous ice creams.
Is really very good indeed. Van Zyl du Toit is doing a fine job out there, foraging afield to get the right areas for some varieties (Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc for example) and staying at home for others. I didn’t see the cellar door prices and forgot to ask, but if there is a mark-up, it must be a very small one because the prices were more than reasonable and very encouraging of ordering a second or third bottle. I think I could drink Starlette White and Starlette Rosé forever – the epitome of summer drinking.
Couldn’t have been friendlier. Very accommodating with kids, quick and efficient and smiling all the long, hot day. We chilled and drank, the kids played and ran – the perfect Sunday lunch.
Highly-recommended for a lovely, leisurely lunch with family aged 2 to 92.
Cathy was invited as a guest of Allée Bleue.
- Cathy Marston