Valentine’s plans

What’s cooking, good looking? Are you dazzling your date with a homecooked meal, making a homemade card, and decorating your lounge with tea lights and rose petals? For those of you who are all thumbs when it comes to crafts, more boerie-on-the-braai than fillet steak, and are about as romantic as a beige pair of secret socks, we have some suggestions to help you surprise your Valentine.

To book for a comedy evening with Mary Steward at the Tasting Room at Stanford Hills Estate, and enjoy this midweek Valentine’s Day with Date Night for the whole family, click here. A blackboard menu and local wines will put hearts in your eyes.

Feel like a romantic meal for just two people, in the restaurant or courtyard at Coffee Corner? Enjoy the welcome bubbly and 3 intimate courses click here.

An al fresco picnic basket packed with lovely treats and a waiter on hand as your recline on the bank of the lily pond will fill your heart with pleasure at Zesty Lemon at Sir Robert Stanford Estate. For more information or to book, click here

For something a little more on the wild side, why not book a special Valentine Sunset Visit at Panthera Africa and feel the deep rumbling roaring of the big cats at sunset? For more information or to book, click here.

Klein River Cheese has decided to stretch Valentine’s Day right from 14-17 February, so if a basket brimming with cheesey treats and a blanket thrown open on a lush lawn sounds like heaven to you, make sure you extend your Valentine time to include this.

You can pack your own picnic basket with charcuterie from Erwin or Martin’s Deli, mature cheeses from Klein River Cheese and buttery bakes from Ou Meul. The Fynbos Distillery sells delicious grappa-based liqueurs, and Stanford Harvest has a wine shop with beautifully labelled wines that will knock your socks off. The Stanford Wine Route has some specials so pop in to one of the 9 boutique farms and choose your favourite. Welgesind has a special offer on their Romanse Blanc de Noir and Boschrivier is offering a cheese platter and bottle of wine at a show-stopping price!

If fresh flowers are the best way to your Valentine’s heart, why not keep them local and ditch the long-stem roses? Fresh bunches of fynbos are available in the village from OK MiniMark and the Village Emporium. Ou Meul has some beautiful wild olive saplings for the gift that will bear fruit year after year. And for an exquisite orchid grown right here in Stanford at Eikenhoff Nursery, call Debra to make an appointment and surprise your love with one of these beauties!

Antjie’s Handmade Naturals are available from the shop on the stoep of the Stanford Hotel – sprinkle some of the Rose Geranium bath salts into a semi-shallow waterwise bath, balance a glass of Cap Classique from one of the local Stanford Wine Route farms on the edge of the bath, and let the evening follow its own path.

And if you are single, footloose and fancy-free this Valentine’s Day, we strongly recommend the bath with bubbly anyway!

Words by Phil Murray, Stanford Tourism 028 341 0340

Stanford Food Heroes in partnership with FoodforUs

The Stanford Food Heroes is a collective of Stanford growers and producers who live and work in the area surrounding Stanford. You can inhale the scent of their herbs and aroma of their buttery bakes, roll their tomatoes and lemons around in your hands and breath in the spices of their charcuterie at the weekly Wednesday Morning Farmers’ Market at Graze, and the Saturday Morning Market on the Stanford Hotel stoep. Besides these markets, some heroes supply or run their own restaurants and delis. Their identity is that they hold home-grown, local produce dear and believe in keeping the supply chain local and lekker. They believe that the best things in life take time.

In 2017, a small group of ideas people identified the Stanford Food Heroes and the increasingly foodie identity of Stanford, and approached them to ask if they were interested in being a part of a new phone application trial aimed at marketing fresh surplus to the closest market, and reducing food loss. What a great idea for a communications app to team up with a group of growers and producers – the Stanford Food Heroes could really sink their teeth into this partnership.

The new FoodforUs app is a United Nations-funded application that links local growers and buyers. It was designed to ensure that edible and nutritious food is not wasted at farm level but instead fulfils its primary purpose of feeding people. It will do this by linking local groups of growers (farmers at all scales) and buyers (feeding schemes, early childhood development centres, restaurants, guesthouses and individuals) through a convenient mobile app. The app will provide an overview and images of what is available from each grower and enables growers and buyers to communicate on payment and delivery methods.

Food is wasted at farm levels for a variety of reasons. Retailers sometimes cancel orders at the last-minute leaving farmers unable to find appropriate markets for their produce in time, or farmers can produce a surplus that they have not planned for in terms of marketing and sale. The FoodforUs app provides farmers with immediate access to a group of local buyers.

The app is available on the Google and iTunes play stores. Once registered, participants will be sent a password that they use to log into the app to view the produce available. This research trial is being conducted in Stanford, Worcester and two pilot sites in the Eastern Cape. Once the initial phase is complete, users’ feedback will be incorporated into a revision of the app’s features and the platform will be released to a wider audience.

Follow the project on Facebook @foodforusza or contact the team directly on info@foodforus.co.za.

FoodforUs looks forward to working with Stanford’s innovative food networks to trial the app that helps to reduce food waste by linking local growers and buyers. More information can be found on the project at www.foodforus.co.za.

*For more on the Stanford Food Heroes, click here

Words by Phil Murray and Stephanie Swanepoel

Having lunch at Havercroft’s

If you like the idea of a sitdown Sunday lunch, soaking up winter sunbeams outside in a sunny courtyard, or inside next to the crackling fireplace, then Havercroft’s is the perfect cottage restaurant to be. The simple white-washed walls and cotton table cloths, with unpretentious clay water jugs, and even a bit of peely paint, allow guests to linger and feel quite at home. Innes welcomes guests in her brusque but warm way, throwing a few jokes and witty comments their way to make sure they unwind and loosen their collars. Havercroft’s is about good food, relaxed chatter, loud laughter and warmth, and Innes’ unique brand of humour and sarcasm is meant to put people at ease. She proclaims she is an unwilling waitress but she is attentive and alert, topping up every sipped wine glass and drained water jug. Her anecdotes and impromptu poetry performances make her part of the experience as she works the floor effortlessly.

The chalk board menu is short and simple, but don’t assume that will make your choice any easier. Innes says she has not been able to take the starter of Devilled Lamb Kidneys off the menu in 15 years so we had to try them. The kidneys kickstarted the meal with a clout of red wine and paprika, served on a crispy, savoury  rosti of potato and parsley – packed with flavour and a sensory mixture of textures. We also ordered the creamy cauliflower soup which came with nubs of strong blue cheese and buttery cheese straws shaped like paddles, perfect for swirling through the velvety velouté!

The main course was equally difficult to choose so we settled on trying the Chicken Ballotine and the Pork Belly. The chicken was soft and tender, and the stuffing – sweet and savoury with onions, garlic and dates. A pomme dauphine of choux and mashed potato whipped together to form a quenelle was served along with a mustard cream sauce – quite exquisite! The belly of pork was an enormously generous serving, served with  nutty lentils, winter veggies, beetroot and apple chutney, and two spears of flawless crackling – a sensory experience.

We were certainly sated after mains but it is not every day one gets to eat Brydon’s food, so we put good manners aside and dived into the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream and nutty brittle sprinkles. It made us sigh with pleasure.

Brydon packs full flavour into every dish. He and Innes work hard and are proud of their cottage restaurant. They share their best food, favourite local wines and their energy with their guests, and the experience of eating at Havercroft’s is an intimate one. People leave with bellies full of great food, and warm chuckles.

 

By Phil Murray

 

The Story of Creation in 7 chapters

 

Not far from Stanford is the seaside village of Hermanus – a great day trip destination with seaside cliffs, world class land- and water-based whale watching and a beautiful hidden valley called Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, heaven on earth! Excellent restaurants and wine farms are tucked along this valley, now more accessible than ever because of the R320 upgrade.  Creation Wines is one of these stunning and surprising estates which brims with creativity, passion and fun. Not only can you taste wine and go on a traditional tour through the vineyards and fynbos, you can blend and label your own wine, sample the Creation wines and menu through a selection of pairings, order from the blackboard menu, or indulge in the newest pairing – 7 courses of food and wine served to the table in a story format – the Story of Creation from the egg to the Big Bang!

The Story of Creation is part adventure, part witty comedy as the chefs weave their magic to pair food with Creation wines. Nothing is left to chance. The glassware is elegant, the plates and dishes are earthen and organically shaped, and the sommeliers are relaxed and eloquent, reading the mood of the diners well. The view is out-of-this-world, and the experience is heady and hedonistic…this is well worth booking as it will feed your soul with earthly pleasures and abundance.

Proudly locally sourced produce is conjured into dishes that show off elegant wines. Take a deep breath and dive in – immerse yourself in the fun. And book a shuttle to drive you back to Stanford so you can really let your hair down.

Words and photographs by Phil Murray

Quality Rural Education in Stanford

One would agree that Stanford is one of the most beautiful small towns in the Western Cape. It is also the centre of a diverse farming community that is home to a number of communities.  Unfortunately these communities face a host of obstacles including poverty, lack of transport, substance abuse as well as the lack of quality education.  All too often, rural schools focus on quantity to keep their heads above water, rather than quality.

Koos and Joanie Smith, founders of the Fynbos Community Foundation

That is where our story starts. Koos Smith started a Fynbos export business on Langverwacht farm on the Papiesvlei/Elim road in 1991.  From here, Langverwacht Fynbos grew to the successful business it is today with its head office in the industrial area of Stanford. Soon Koos saw the desperate need of the communities he worked with and there the dream of a rural school with small classes and individual attention was born.

The Fynbos Community Foundation (FCF) was officially registered as an NPO in November 2012. The FCF has developed and implemented the Rural Education SA (RESA) program, to address the educational, social and vocational needs of rural children in South Africa. The ultimate goal is to equip our children to become self-sufficient, well rounded individuals.

Fynbos Career School students learning how to arrange Fynbos centrepieces

The program has successfully been piloted in three schools namely Fynbos Academy and Career school on Langverwacht Farm, Hoopland Academy in the industrial area and Blouvlei Academy and Career School outside Wellington. The schools are all operated by RESA and Joanie, Koos’ wife and experienced educator, visits all three sites every week to provide academic support.

Thriving, vibrant, positive learning environments have been created and will continue to grow from strength to strength. Many lives have been impacted positively as the RESA schools provide a beacon of hope in struggling communities.

In 2017 FCF established two Career Schools for young people between the ages of 14 and 18 years of age where the focus is on both academic and practical development. This is a 4 year course where learners are enabled to qualify in preparation for entering the employment market, or equipped to engage in entrepreneurial activity.

Grade R learner, Marihano Jacobs, enjoying his lunch of spaghetti bolognese

The RESA programme caters for transport with 4 busses to and from school, provides nutritious breakfast and lunch and most importantly, provides rich and individualised educational, cultural and sporting instruction and assistance, in the lives of our children.

If you have time to spare and a willing heart to serve then please do get in touch with us as we would love to hear from you. You can find our head office in Centro Jardim next to Spar in Victoria Street. Pop in for a quick hello or book a visit to one or more of our schools.

Alternatively, email Elizabeth at elizabeth@ruraleducationsa.com

Winter Long Table at Beloftebos

The Winter Long Table and Wine Pairing at Beloftebos was a magical night that saw 150 guests seated under twinkling lights, enjoying an elegant meal that was full of surprises. The rain beat down on the soft top of the ivory bedouin tent while the wind battered the wall of glass windows reminiscent of London’s Crystal Palace at the turn of the last century. Sparks flew from crackling braziers creating a natural fireworks display in oak tree garden, and inside, guests were toasty and relaxed, warmed by the enormous fireplace, gas heaters and smooth local wines.

Chef Corneli pulled out all the stops as guests were greeted at sundown with glasses of Hermanuspietersfontein Bloos, Raka Sauvignon Blanc and trays of canapes around the braziers. Smoked salmon served on cucumber discs, bobotie springrolls, and amuse bouches of braised beef got the juices flowing before guests were invited inside to a table cleverly laid with bite-sized roosterkoek, Klein River cheeses, local honey and preserves.

Three long tables of raw sanded wood were simply set with an array of simple vases and fynbos, and guests slowly found their way to their places, each lovingly labelled by hand with a simple sprig of rosemary. Andries de Villiers welcomed everyone in his warm, relaxed and cheerful manner, thanking his wife and the close family team at Beloftebos. The local Stanford Mill cut all the local wood for the venue renovation, while Grant Anderson helped with the architectural drawings. Beloftebos is now an all-weather venue which can comfortably accommodate weddings, conferences, and parties all year round.

And you feel like family when you go to Beloftebos. The venue and decor has captured country chic at its best without any rustic stumblings and rusty excuses. The sense of simplicity and beauty is visible everywhere from the outdoor and indoor lighting and garden pathways, to the bathrooms. The warm easy smiles and laughter of the staff, and comfortable couches put everyone at ease. The band played an excellent line-up of fresh covers, and the vocals and harmonica added quality to the two guitars.

Four courses which cleverly mixed salty, sweet and savoury tastes of modern South African cuisine showed off the wines, grown by neighbours and friends of the de Villiers family, Hermanuspieterfontein and Raka. The guinea fowl risotto was a first for many, while the orange and ginger glazed and roasted patats were a triumph in themselves. The snoek samoosas would have impressed Marco Pierre White himself, but Chef Corneli had one more surprise for everyone after the 4th plated course. Wooden boards laden with little espresso cups of Crème brûlée with glazed oranges and chocolate brownies were set down the middle of the tables and completely stole the show!

The Winter Long Table and Wine Pairing was an utterly delightful evening filled with sensory spoils. Beloftebos is the perfect venue for all seasons.

 

by Phil Murray

 

Visit the Grootbos Foundation

Stanford is fortunate to be a mere 10km from Grootbos, an astonishingly beautiful guest lodge that reclines discreetly on the fynbos slopes above the Walker Bay Whale Sanctuary. Built from earthy materials like stone and wood, with huge glass windows to maximize views, Grootbos blends into its natural surroundings. Winding pathways curl through ancient milkwood groves, and bright and smiling staff welcome visitors to Forest Lodge and Garden Lodge, two halves of the same destination. Grootbos is also the home of the Grootbos Foundation which is a non-profit organisation fully committed to empowering and uplifting local people by developing sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism, enterprise development, sports development and education. Everyone benefits.

Greener futures for all through learning and growing

From the staff and students at the Green Futures Programme, to the children on the sports fields in Gansbaai, Stanford and Hermanus, to families in Masakane, Gansbaai who have access to a community garden where they can grow and then sell fresh produce, the Foundation is committed to giving back. The Foundation creates jobs, and teaches people sustainability in a world which is only gradually beginning to consider introspection regarding our consumerism. The Grootbos Foundation offers in-house training with certifications in eco-tourism, with the emphasis being on preserving and even expanding the indigenous flora and fauna of our surroundings. One team is working on linking the pristine fynbos nodes in a continuous corridor from the Walker Bay Conservancy all the way to the Agulhas Plains and the Southernmost Tip of Africa. This will not only create jobs and preserve nature, but it will create an experience for visitors to travel, and will improve the knowledge of locals and farmers so that farming and livelihoods can become more sustainable and successful in the future.

A Grootbos Foundation Project: The Community Garden in Gansbaai where people can plant and tend their own allotments, growing food for their families and for sale.

The team at the Grootbos Foundation dreams big, and it puts its money where its mouth is. No plastic or straws are permitted on the property which now bottles underground spring water in glass reusable bottles for lodge guests. The nursery is full of cuttings and seedlings lovingly borrowed from nature. Volunteers and students help coach sport at local schools wherever they are invited, including the Stanford Canoe Development Academy. The general optimism and enthusiasm of everyone at the Grootbos Foundation is inspiring.

Grootbos herbarium filled with every plant species found at Grootbos

Michael Lutzeyer, owner of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, believes that everyone can grow food, anywhere, and his passion for fynbos and conservation is evident everywhere. The Grootbos Foundation is prolific in the work they do to help people in this region. Their imagination and generosity knows no bounds – all we need to do is to take their hands and walk with them on this amazing eco-tourism conservation journey. This is exactly what Stanford Tourism and Business intends to do.

View from Grootbos

 

By Phil Murray

Secret swimming pools of Stanford

Cool, liquid, floating relief from the heat of summer comes in many forms in Stanford. These glorious pools are tucked away at guest houses, self-catering cottages, and on farms. Don’t forget Stanford’s very own Klein River, perfect for cooling off. Go on, take the plunge!

Jump in at Stanford Valley Guest Farm

White Water Farm has a magnificent pool that brings the Indian Ocean islands to Stanford, and it also has a great dam, perfect for bomb drops! http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/white-water-farm/

Aquamarine pool at White Water Farm

Top dam at White Water Farm

Stanford River Lodge has a pool with a view, and private access to the Klein River. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/stanford-river-lodge-bb/

Stanford River Lodge

Private access to the beautiful Klein River from Stanford River Lodge

Phillipskop Mountain Reserve is open to day visitors and overnighters. Fancy a dip in a natural lily pond or at the bottom of a waterfall? https://www.phillipskop.co.za/activities/swimming/

Phillipskop:  Nerine Pool

 

Swimming in the Lily Pond, Phillipskop

For a top-notch farm dam, Stanford Valley Guest Farm boasts one of the best. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/stanford-valley-guest-farm/

Perfect farm life at Stanford Valley Guest Farm

Let your troubles float away at Stanford Valley Guest Farm

And within the village, many holiday cottages will delight you beautiful swimming pools like this one at The Country Cottage. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/the-country-cottage/

8 metre pool at The Country Cottage

The Little Farm House has a dam perfect for a dip. http://www.stanfordinfo.co.za/item/a-little-farmhouse/

Children playing at the Little Farm House

And Stanford boasts the Klein River, a cool, winding ribbon of water that flows from its source in the mountains outside Caledon, just 5km as the crow flies to its mouth on the outskirts of Hermanus. The Klein River is fun for swimmers and paddlers who need to cool off on lazy, late summer afternoons.

Klein River at the bottom of King Street

 

By Phil Murray

 

Kiwinet – as good as it nets

 

Front of house team

Stanford is home to a uniquely South African product. Kiwinet has been growing from strength to strength, draping the bedrooms of local homes and luxury boudoirs of guest lodges in Southern and East Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean Islands with their elegant yet functional mosquito nets. From Out of Africa white that gently billows in the breeze to highly customised nets, dip-dyed in shades and hues or beaded to match individual requirements, the Kiwinet team is dedicated to delivering flawless nets that add romance to any bedroom, daybed or outdoor living area.

Front of house

Robyn Lavender bought Kiwinet in 1998 from Sharon Jevon, a New Zealander (hence the name Kiwinet) living on a farm near Elim, who started the company in 1994. Robyn based the business on Boschheuwel Farm near Stanford until she moved the business into the village in 2005, and then secured its current premises which were opened to the public on 1 April, 2015.

Kiwinet

 

Natural linens and a Traditional Kiwinet in simple white and grey with button detail

Three Standard Ranges – Basic, Classic and Traditional – will accommodate your needs and budget to ensure you have a peaceful night’s sleep. If you can dream it . .  . Kiwinet can make it.  The Hoopnet and Suspended Four-Poster, Kiwinet’s two standard designs, are designed to dress cots through to king and custom-sized beds. Robyn’s flagship Suspended Four-Poster Kiwinet floats over ones bed to create a four-poster feel that is magically light and airy.

Tutus for the playful at heart

Robyn is immensely proud of her team. She is always expanding her product range and is currently adding beautiful natural bed linen and other speciality bedroom accessories to the shop, situated near the entrance to the village on Daneel Street. She is dedicated to conservation and the environment and plans to build on her range of Consol solar jars to include other sustainable items. To minimise wastage and landfill, offcuts are used to make cushion covers, travelling, washing or lingerie bags as well as children’s tutus so that no fabric goes to waste.

Kiwinet employs a team of local women and men who work cheerfully to the background rhythm of the radio. The constant snipping of scissors, hum of the sewing machines and swish of each net being hung and checked for imperfections while Kiwinets float on the line in the sun makes Kiwinet a vibrantly busy and yet calm place to visit.

Cutting

Sewing

Checking

Testing

Sanding

Painting

Open to the public Monday – Friday 08:00 – 17:00, Saturdays 10:00 – 14:00

Contact: 028 341 0209

Email: info@kiwinet.co.za

Website: www.kiwinet.co.za

 

By Phil Murray

Lunch with Neill Anthony

Neill Anthony breezed into Stanford, cool as a cucumber. His casual T-shirt and jeans, and easy smile made him seem right at home at Haesfarm in the creative home of architect Harry Poortman and Steyn Jacobs. Guests were greeted by the cat on the driveway before gathering on the lawn which overlooks the Klein River Mountains and the Stanford valley. Harry and Steyn kept the champagne flutes filled with Wildekrans MCC as the small group made our introductions, got to know each other, and played with the dog, Ginger.

champagne-small

Haesfarm

And then it was time for us to go inside. The bright spaces inside the crisp and yet comfortable home are quite breathtaking as enormous glass windows show off the best views of the valley. The seams between inside and outside are barely there as wood, mortar and glass blend into the fynbos. The understated art collection and modern house music played by djtessprins instantly captured the imagination of the guests, as we chose our seats at the tables set with tall glass beakers of fresh spring water flavoured with springs of rosemary and fresh ginger root. This was not going to be an intimate lunch for couples, but rather an experience shared by a group of relative strangers who found ourselves caught in an incredible moment. Our excited smiles gave away how thrilled we all were to be there, despite the effort everyone had made to dress down, wear sandals and tousle our hairstyles.

the-crowd

Harry and Steyn’s home

Chef Neill’s menu was a line-up of eleven courses! How does anyone really eat eleven courses? Well, I’ll tell you how…with relish! We were in for a treat in which our senses would be indulged. From the get-go, we were put at ease when the first course to be served arrived on the tables. It was announced as the bread course, and wasn’t even on the menu. Crusty hunks of warm sour dough bread were placed on the table alongside frying pans of nut brown butter and wild sage. Usually a sneaky treat reserved only for the cook in the house, we were encouraged to break off pieces of bread and dunk them into the melted herby butter. There is no way one can do this with a knife and fork, or remain elegant, so we rolled up our sleeves, dunked with gusto and relaxed for the rest of the adventure.

The second course arrived in little nests of marjoram and wild flower petals. Crispy slim cigars of phyllo pastry filled with cool, nutty humus and fragranced with cumin were the second cutlery-free course. We were getting the hang of the meal, and getting into the spirit of sharing, laughing and delighting in the show that Chef Neill had cooked up, which stimulated not just the sense of sight, but also of smell and taste.

cigars-small

Chickpea cigars

Neill’s third course was called Tuna Taco. While this sounds like an understated name, the course showed off great ingredients, and great ideas. This plated course was delicate and witty, playing on our misconceptions of what Mexican food looks like. The raw, semi-translucent tuna was placed on and inside miniature tacos, next to plump dollops of silky avocado and funky chipotle mayo – no grated cheese or lumpy guacamole in sight! Messy Mexican became modern in the hands of Neill Anthony, and the Hermanuspietersfontein Bartho Sauvignon blanc/ semillion blend, with its smokey minerality was a delicious compliment to the fish. Make no mistake, we all licked our fingers and mopped up every smudge of taste from our plates.

Tuna

Tuna

Yellowtail

Yellowtail

Course number 4 was Cured Yellowtail. This was a triumph of flavours from bold, sharp fish and sweet red onions to brilliantly green yet nutty broad beans and punchy aubergine puree perked up with sumac. I did not think this taste sensation could be beaten, not even by this private chef who was clearly on a roll, and I was torn between tasting each individual flavour independently or together, as a symphony. Springfontein Terroir Selection Chenin Blanc 2012 was the perfect accompaniment.

Plate number 5 was an enticing plate of emerald broccoli puree and a decadently crispy, nutty ever-so-slightly salted sprout of tempura broccoli sprinkled with miso crumbs. The miso crumbs were a knock out, and transformed the green earthy flavours into something exotic and Asian.

broccoli-small

Tempura broccoli

DJTess got a giggle when she said she would match her music to each course, but she seemed to pull off some kind of wonderful magic. Her cool house tunes skipped seamlessly from sounds reminiscent of the pings of underwater submarines to the whirring of wind and keening of whales, all to the rhythm of chic city loft parties.

djtessprins

djtessprins

The next plate arrived looking like a party on a plate. Smoked ham was shredded and served with gently boiled quale eggs, pea puree, jewels of roughly chopped peas, grain mustard and a confetti of pink and white corn flowers. The pork was deeply and decadently smoked and salty, and yet the slightly sour taste of the flowers were a perfect match. Another perfect match was the smooth plummy Walker Bay Amesteca 2015 with its lingering cigar box flavour.

Chef Neill Anthony

Chef Neill Anthony

ham-small

Smoked ham

Course number seven made us sit up and rethink some traditional dishes. Chef Neill served mixed grains which included lentils and barley with mushroom ketchup and parmesan chips, a generous sprinkling of salty grated parmesan and purple flowers. A wonderful nuttiness filled our mouths and noses, and the textures and richness outstripped even the most authentic risotto. And that mushroom ketchup far surpassed tomato ketchup as we know it. Neil explained that mushroom ketchup actually precedes tomato sauces and has partially fallen out of modern consciousness…well, not any more. The mixture of earthy mushroom with acidic vinegar, salt and sugar made this a truly exciting relish to accompany this clever course.

grains-small

Mixed grains

The quail was served like a Jackson Pollock painting on a plate of cobalt blue. Slivers of kolrabi, turnipy in taste, and hazel nuts joined an avalanche of olive oil snow which turned the meaty, almost sweet roasted quail into a heady treat. The bitter celeriac puree, sweet roasted celeriac and sour wild sorrel meant that every taste note was on the plate. And the olive oil snow was as exciting as the first snow fall before Christmas. What a fun dish this was to eat.

quail-small

Quail

harry-pouring-wine-smallThe nineth course was a brainteaser. It looked like a dessert but smelt like baked potatoes. The delicate sea bass and crispy skin which smacked of the minerals of the sea were placed on a light creamy pillow of baked potato puree, spicey tomato fondu, sprinkled with savoury potato skin dust and a bloom of blue cornflowers. Chef Neill had only just begun to show us the diversity of his tricks and kitchen gadgets, and his syphon gun was a show stopper. Springfontein Daredevil Drum Chardonnay Juices Untamed accompanied this magic act perfectly.

sea-bass-small

Sea bass

Chef Neill then served a little surprise called Carrot. This simple plate showed off a sweet and mellow sticky roasted carrot in a carrot and orange sauce with paper thin slices of black radish. This whimsical dish redefined carrot as simultaneously sweet and also savoury, reminiscent of the sweetness of peanut brittle but with a gentle warm spiciness from the radish. It would have been impolite to lick our plates, but everyone found a discreet way to slurp up as much of that delicious golden sauce.

Carrot

Carrot

intercourse-stretch-small

Overlooking Stanford Valley

Course eleven was rich shredded beef cheek, grilled nutty and bitter cauliflower, sweetly roasted onion and a sharp, fiery herbaceous relish of parsley, capers and chilli. The relish cut through the deep indulgence of the beef cheek perfectly and the little wedge of sweet, irony beetroot heightened the taste experience.

beef-cheek-small

Beef cheek

Chef Neill was not yet finished as he charged his syphon gun for the ginger Espuma with honeycomb. This course was a show in itself, served in rock ‘n roll bowls which danced on the table. The cloud of light creamy foam which pulsed with the heat of fresh root ginger, and the sweet shards of honeycomb had everyone speechless with wonder. What a triumph, just when we thought we could not eat another thing.

ginger-pudding-small

Ginger espuma

Next up: almond olive oil cake which was aerated by the syphon gun before being cooked and served with dollops of tart, buttery yellow lemon curd and a caramelised pear. By this stage, guests were requesting extra lashings of the lemon curd, unable to resist the hedonism of the food.

Almond and olive oil cake

Almond and olive oil cake

And finally, the fourteenth course was a perfectly neat square of baked custard served with a sweet and heady nectarine poached in rose geranium syrup and served with fresh flowers and cream. This visually striking course, packed with flavour and scent made a perfect finale to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Baked custard

Baked custard

intercourse-view-small

The view from the balcony

Fynbos Distillery grappa

Fynbos Distillery grappa

Sir Robert Stanford Fynbos Distillery brought a selection of grappa-based liqueurs to round off the modern, country chic South African Sunday. The food, wine, music and view made this a series of magical moments stolen out of real life. Harry and Steyn made everyone feel truly welcome in their own home and we all knew exactly what they meant when they said, ‘We know everyone thinks we are crazy, but we like to do crazy things in spectacular places.’ What a perfect day to be able to share with them, Chef Neill Anthony and Jeanae, and what a stellar showcase of local talent and local flavours.

Words by Phil Murray

Chef Neill Anthony

Chef Neill Anthony