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Finding Positivity

We’re all filled with feelings of confusion, concern and uncertainty of what to do not to mention general anxiety since Coronavirus COVID-19 burst onto the scene! Our norm is no more our reality and everything is rather surreal at the moment, filled with uncertainty and crazy scenes like bulk buying – directly from out of what seems like a sci fi movie. The recent government mandate for lockdown has been a tad overwhelming, there’s no denying it, especially if you’re the type that loves to be out and about. Cabin fever is real, together with the threat of failing businesses and peoples livelihoods being directly affected.

HOWEVER, we need to reflect and focus on the POSITIVES, to make the most of the downtime … not only is it for the greater good of all, but by doing our bit for our families, our community, our planet, a lot more good can come out of it. We live in a world where we have become far too busy, our diaries (and those of our children) are constantly jam packed, we’re working too hard and stress and exhaustion is real. So back to the positive … we should see this forced downtime to have quality time with our families, to be creative together, to get around to sorting out our cupboards, decluttering for charity, get around to those shelved projects, cook and bake, play board games, have evenings of long conversation with those significant others, instead of either rushing to another social engagement or feeling too exhausted to connect with those nearest and dearest. Exercise … go for long walks, take in the sunsets and picnic on the beach. We just need to get more inventive and creative during this enforced down time. And who knows, perhaps these practises will then become our new norm.

∼ Mother Earth too needs this time to recover ∼

So while we are extra vigilant for our families and have empathy for those who have been affected so far or will be in future, let us do our bit and make the most of this down time and see the positives it can bring. Focus on the most important things – health and wellbeing of our families and everyone including Mother Nature to take this time to recharge. For now, take care, stay safe and let’s face these new challenges both collectively and with positivity. With love, Stanford Tourism Manager

Home deliveries and online orders in our area have been set up to make things simpler for us during these trying times. Take advantage of these fabulous adaptive initiatives by our local businesses …

And of course … don’t forget to wash your hands and not to touch your face …

 

 

Overberg’s Hidden Gems Revealed by Stanford MTB Classic

The 2020 Stanford MTB Classic, an Overberg MTB Events race, is set to take place on the 29th of February and 1st of March this year. In order to ensure that newcomers and returning riders alike are treated to a spectacular weekend of mountain biking the event’s route has been revamped. It now boasts more singletrack than ever and more opportunities to immerse oneself in the stunning Stanford Valley Guest Farm and Paardenberg surrounds.

 

Offering two days of riding, with a longer (±50 kilometres) and a shorter (±25 kilometres) route options, the Stanford MTB Classic is the perfect active family getaway. Located just 155 kilometres from the Cape Town city centre the race village is an easy Friday afternoon drive away. All entry options include lunches at the Stanford Valley Guest Farm race village and accommodation be can booked separately through Stanford Tourism.

The Stanford Valley Guest Farm and Paardenberg farms have been building new singletracks at a frantic pace since to 2019 Stanford MTB Classic to ensure the riding is better than ever in 2020. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Off the bike the atmosphere is one of relaxed country life. The vast lawns of the race village are dotted with oaks under which riders can unwind in the shade post-stage, sharing stories from the trails or revelling in their shared love of the outdoors. Family members are welcome too with extra meal tickets available to purchase for non-riders. Alternatively, tables can be booked at the venue’s Manor House restaurant; allowing supporters to relax in comfort over a scrumptious meal and a glass of award-winning local wine while the mountain bikers take on the trails. As well as being open for lunches throughout the race, the Manor House will also be open for pre-race breakfasts and sunset dinners.

 

On the bike the riding at the Stanford MTB Classic has been refined. The opening day now features a 40-kilometre loop, which takes in 630 metres of climbing. It starts at Stanford Valley Guest Farm, before heading south towards Óak Grove Farm and the first of the event’s Strava sections, Lucerne Sea. After passing through the Vaalvlei vineyards the route turns towards Stanford itself, passing through the Sir Robert Stanford, Welgesind and Stanford Hills farms. From the highest reaches of their vineyards the valley floor spreads out in an emerald carpet to the south east, showcasing natural fynbos, flower farms and vineyards bordered by mountains to the north and low hills, which separate the valley from the ocean, to the south. After passing the high fences of Winding the route crosses the Kleinrivier and heads for home at the Stanford Valley Guest Farm. The day’s short route option is 27 kilometres in length.

Day 2 now starts with a climb which takes riders past the Stanford Valley Guest Farm dam and along a new singletrack to a spectacular view point. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Stage 2 is the race’s action-packed play day. On the Stanford Valley Guest Farm and Paardenberg farms in particular trail building has been taking place at a frantic pace since the 2019 Stanford MTB Classic. In 2020 it is 53 kilometres long and features 950 metres of climbing. Starting and finishing at Stanford Valley Guest Farm once again; Day 2 begins with a climb, turns left at Lucerne, and takes riders around the Stanford Valley Guest Farm dam and up the new singletrack to the bench. From there it flows down to the start of the new Slipstream singletrack which takes riders over three bridge crossings and snakes all the way up to the Beloftebos Bitterbal Bult singletrack. This features beautiful fynbos and rock formations overlooking Stanford Valley Guest Farm and the Raka wine farm. The trail drops towards Beloftebos to follow the Wabooms River. Skirting the Paardeberg farm lands the route loops south and then west, traversing the Hartebees and Protea Link singletracks on the way back to Stanford Valley Guest Farm.

The existing trails on the Paardenberg farm are still included in the event to ensure there are familiar favourites to reward returning riders. Photo by Oakpics.com.

“It is important for us to showcase the spectacular riding, in a region not traditionally associated with mountain biking” event director Anneke Jacobs explained. “Stanford Valley Guest Farm have put in an exceptional amount of work, building new trails, which mountain bikers will now be able to visit throughout the year. Permits to ride the trails can be purchased at Stanford Valley Guest Farm; which also boasts a restaurant which is open for breakfasts and lunches, as well as accommodation options. The Stanford MTB Classic is thus a first taste of the adventures the Stanford area offers and we hope that participants in the event return for weekends in the platteland later in the year.”

Each climb in the Stanford MTB Classic is well worth the effort as it provides rewards in the form of thrilling downhills and breath-taking views. Photo by Oakpics.com.

“The distances in the Stanford MTB Classic may be short” Jacobs continued. “But the terrain is deceptively tough at times. The longer route option is certainly not for inexperienced mountain bikers. We believe it is perfect though for long-time riders to take part in for the simple pleasure of riding their bikes and for experienced mountain bikers who have yet to take part in a multi-day race to experience their first stage race in. The short distance routes feature much of the longer route’s best scenery, but with less of the exertion. They are ideal for riders with competent bike handling skills but who find themselves short of the fitness required for a three hour, plus, ride.”

The new singletracks wind through pristine fynbos and marvellous sand stone formations. Photo by Oakpics.com.

The Stanford MTB Classic is not a race, in the traditional sense. Times are taken via Strava for designated sections on the route. Each day the man and woman with the fastest combined time for the day will be rewarded with a prize, as will the fastest man and woman, overall, after the two stages.

 

Entries to the event are open, and will remain so until Wednesday the 26th of February. Thereafter riders can enter at registration, but a late entry fee will apply. To enter the 2020 Stanford MTB Classic, which takes place from the 29th of February to the 1st of March, please visit www.stanfordmtbclassic.co.za.

Stanford: What’s in a name?

In Stanford we just love uncovering history – whether it’s a building’s architectural past, or something about its tenants, function or its geographical positioning. It comes with being a heritage village – we have a natural curiosity for ‘what was’, a curiosity we so enjoy sharing with visitors and friends of our little part of the Overberg. Let’s take a look at the origins of some of the names of establishments, wineries and natural gems in and around Stanford.


Did you know, Springfontein Wine Estate is named for a natural spring found on the property (responsible for keeping the 25 hectares of vineyards irrigated). Follow them on Instagram here.

Just down the road from Springfontein at Mosaic Private Sanctuary, the 1892 Spookhuis is named for well, yes, being haunted (Spook is the Afrikaans for ghost). Follow them on Instagram here.


Blue Gum Country Estate
owes its namesake to a 150-year old Blue Gum on the property. The estates farm roots date back to 1839. Follow them on Instagram here.

Platbos Forest . This ancient forest is named after the Afrikaans word for ‘flat forest or bush’ – when looking down on the property from an elevated road, the forest resembles a “flat green swath of fynbos”. Follow them on Instagram here.

Bodhi Khaya Retreat. A combination of the words enlightenment (or perhaps ‘awakening’ translates closer to the original meaning) coupled with the Zulu word for “home”. Follow them on Instagram here.

White Water Farm. If you think this name dates back to cascading waterfalls, think again. The farm’s chapel is “converted from the old distillery barn, where Witblits (a local liquor like Grappa) used to be made, hence the historic farm’s name – Witwater or White Water.” Follow them on Instagram here.

Bugler’s cottage in the heritage part of the village was one of the original labourer cottages on Sir Robert Stanford’s Farm. Dating back to the early 1860s, it “is the only cottage in Stanford that is still true to its original form, except for internal changes and the addition of a bathroom at the back.”

If you’re looking to supersize your historical knowledge on Stanford, pop into the Tourism Office for a copy of Historical Stanford on Foot (for just R10), then head on to one of our local wine farms and grab a few bottles of their finest, and you’re on your way to being the most interesting person at your next dinner party!

 

 

Hidden treasure and a fynbos adventure in Stanford

Stanford, the place where fynbos, family and freedom are abundant.

By this we mean the freedom to explore the vast landscapes we have filled with the most incredible display of indigenous fynbos.

Did you know that we are even fortunate enough to have two unique species of Fynbos, found nowhere else in the world: The Erica irregularis, growing on the foothills between Stanford and Gansbaai, a gorgeous pink species, and Erica aristata, growing on the Klein River Mountains between Hermanus and Stanford.

Erica aristata. Image: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

So, what better excuse to gather family and friends and set out on a Fynbos adventure?

We start this series of exploration with a highlight on an activity that may entice even your tech-addicted teenager to join you in the fresh mountain air.

If you’ve never tried geocaching, or you’re looking to stay and explore Stanford’s newest hiking trail, crossing over the Klein River Mountains, pack your hiking boots and head to Phillipskop Mountain Reserve, a sho’t left from the historic village centre.

Adding to an already jam-packed list of activities and near-by attractions, Phillipskop Mountain Reserve’s new Haarkapper (Hair Cutter’s) Hiking Trail route connects the private reserve with Tesselaarsdal, nestled behind the Klein River Mountains, via Elzaksa Farm.

The Haarkapper Trail will take you over the Klein River Mountains. Image: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

The unusual route name honours the weekly journey of the famous Tesselaarsdal barber, Jannie Willemse. Jannie was a farmer from the valley and walked 20 km over the mountains to Stanford every Saturday to cut the villagers’ hair.

The 15-km trail follows a figure-of-eight route, offering visitors the option of a longer fynbos-filled mountain hike, says Phillipskop Mountain Reserve owner and manager, Chris Whitehouse. “You can also hike just one way over the mountain if you arrange transport on the other side. Or enjoy a delicious lunch in the historic village of Tesselaarsdal at De Poskantoor (The Post Office),” he says.

Haarkapper Map courtesy of Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

The Haarkapper Hiking Trail is billed as “straightforward but still challenging for anyone with reasonable fitness”. There is an initial steep climb up from the reception at Phillipskop but, after that, the path takes a more gradual ascent towards the ridge before descending via Elzaksa Farm. The return climb follows the same route up the mountain as the 2017 Cape Epic bike ride. On a clear day, views stretch from Sir Lowry’s Pass across to the Langeberg above Swellendam.

“Beginning in 1926, Jannie did this walk every Saturday for over 20 years without fail, faithfully serving his Stanford customers, and clocking up 42,000 km on foot – more than the distance around the Earth,” Chris explains.

Caring for flora and fauna at Phillipskop Mountain Reserve, a 246-hectare (608 acres) privately-owned property, is a labour of love for owner couple, Chris and Anna. English-born, the married pair both completed their doctoral degrees in South Africa – Anna, a Zoologist, specialising in the study of the Addo elephants, and Chris, a botanist who qualified at the University of Cape Town.

Anna and Chris, who have three young sons and bought the farm four years ago, converting the chalets to self-catering accommodation and creating activities to get guests out and exploring. On a hot day, cool off in the reserve’s lily pond or upstream in the Nerine mountain stream pool, visit the picnic tree and play on the rope swing.

More than 700 fynbos species have been identified on the reserve so far. Walking paths range from a four-kilometre picnic option to a six-kilometre route around Phillipskop peak. There’s also an eight-kilometre hike to the highest point on the property, Haarkapper Peak, or scramble up the shortest path to the summit of Phillipskop if you don’t mind a steep climb.

In 2016, ancient rock art was discovered in Phillipskop Cave, the only recorded rock art on the Cape Whale Coast. The site is open to the public.

In the rainy season, a small waterfall flows on the reserve, and there are a pair of fascinating rock stacks, which the family have called ‘David’ and ‘Goliath’.

“We produced a series of bi-monthly guides, which shows 20 common flowers of plants that guests will find on their route at that time of year. Even children can do it and love ticking them off!” adds Chris.

That’s just one way Phillipskop engages young explorers. There’s also geocaching – a GPS-enabled treasure hunt and international craze drawing millions of followers (called ‘geocachers’) around the world.

Using GPS technology, participants find their way to certain points around the reserve. At the location, a watertight plastic container is hidden, containing a logbook to record the finder/finders’ name and the date. A small trinket or souvenir is also hidden inside. If you decide to take anything away, participants must leave something of equal or greater value for the next person to discover.

Geocache box. Image: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

“It has been interesting seeing the engagement,” says Chris, of the concept. “We aren’t avid geocachers ourselves. However, we set up a little loop with six geocaches on the trail via the waterfall and back via the rock stacks. The first day we made it live, two geocachers turned up within two hours in torrential rain.

“What we have found, is families come here, and they’ve never done geocaching before, but they love the experience,” he continues. “It used to be a bit ‘specialist’, and you needed a dedicated GPS unit, but, now, most smartphones have GPS.”

Chris says plenty of geocaches are hidden near Stanford, which opens up even more possibilities for hobbyists to explore more of the village and the Overberg region.

“If you say to the kids, ‘we’re going on a walk’, they might plod along. But, as soon as they’ve got an objective, they run on ahead… they want to get on and find the next one. They’ll want to visit David and Goliath because there is a geocache there. Families really enjoy that aspect.”

Day visitors are welcome at Phillipskop Mountain Reserve (conservation fee R40 per adult, R20 per child) and there are guided walks of approximately two-hours, from R125 per person (minimum four people). Gates open from 08h00 until 17h00.Due to the resident wildlife, dogs aren’t allowed on the reserve. You might see Klipspringer, Black Eagle, or baboons, and keep an eye out for leopard spoor on those trails!

To hike or trail run the new Haarkapper trail, permits need to be purchased in advance at https://www.phillipskop.co.za/permits. These cost R60 per adult and R40 per child under the age of 18.

For overnight stays, Phillipskop offers five self-catering chalets that sleep six adults comfortably in three separate bedrooms. Each unit has a large dining room and kitchen with a living area. Rates are from R1,400 for up to four people and R200 per person extra.

There are regular updates via the Phillipskop Facebook page (@Phillipskop). “We try and educate visitors about fynbos each month via our blog,” Chris adds.

Chris talks excitedly about the future of the business but, conservationists at heart, the family’s priority is clearly to maintain and care for the land. They aim to educate others about responsible fynbos management.

“Apathy is one of the biggest dangers to fynbos,” Chris maintains.

“In the past, fynbos was a self-sustaining ecosystem, but, because of invading alien plants, without correct management we will lose this amazing flora. A lot of what we do here is clearing alien vegetation from our property. We will never be totally clear, but we have made great progress since we arrived.”

For more information about Phillipskop’s range of activities, over-night accommodation and permits to explore the trails and new Haarkapper route, visit www.phillipskop.co.za. Share stories from your stay on Instagram (@PhillipskopSa), Twitter (@PhillipskopSA), and Pinterest (Phillipskop).

Mead and the Medieval Feast

Stanford’s Home of Mead and the Harvest Kitchen celebrated the revelry of the Middle Ages

Noble knights and their lovely ladies descended upon Stanford Harvest on Friday, 27 July, for the launch of a ‘Meadieval’ Feast during the Blood Moon eclipse. The decor consisted of flags, shields and weapons, and long wooden tables decked with earthenware, goblets and candles. Outside, the fire pits, stocks and banners transformed the restaurant and surrounds into a magical, medieval setting filled with magic and excitement.

Going Medieval at Stanford Harvest

Young maidens welcomed the noble guests with song and dance on the lawns, whilst wandering minstrels serenaded the handsome crowd. All enjoyed the sunset whilst sipping Athol McOnie’s centuries-old, family recipe for Mead, described as the Drink of Gods.

The staff of Stanford Harvest together with Viv & Athol looked striking in their cloaks, masks, tights and hats. Raucous laughter could be heard as more people arrived, dressed in magnificent costumes, wearing crowns and jesters’ colourful, pointy hats. The mood for revelry was set!

And then the Vikings arrived! Outrageous and strapping men carrying long staffs with horns, and sexy warrior women, rolled in looking like they stepped off the set of Game of Thrones.

The Vikings arrived

Royal trumpet fanfare announced the arrival of King Peter & Queen Jami from Castle Herriot descent as they made their way to the top table, lording it over the wenches and lackeys.

Queen Jami and King Peter from Castle Herriott

Viv McOnie and her kitchen team spoilt everyone with a magnificent spread of four courses – most would gladly pay double for that meal. Athol kept the mead flowing, made from bee hives kept on the farm.

Belly dancer, Alyssa Bellingan, and troubadours, Jerry Fourie and John Gnodde, entertained throughout the evening. Guests took home prizes for best dressed, best morale, best cleavage, best limerick, scariest outfit and cutest couple.

Revelry and shenanigans

Stanford Harvest knows how to throw a bash that will live on in the memory books. Book now for birthdays, stag nights, bachelorette parties and end-of-year functions. The Stanford Harvest Team will work its magic to conjure up the most fun you can have in one place. Contact us on 083 409 8126

Words by Janet Marshall and Phil Murray

Recipes through the seasons: Koffie en melktert

While it sleets, snows and hails across the Western Cape, we are staying snug with coffee and milktart, Stanford style. Thank you to the Stanford Food Heroes at the Grootbos Foundation for this perfectly timed recipe.

 

INGREDIENTS
Pastry
2 cups flour
1 egg
½ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
125g butter
pinch of salt

Filling
4 ½ cups milk
2 ½ tbsp cornflour
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
pinch of salt
2 ½ tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
a big spoon of butter

METHOD
Pastry
Cream butter and sugar well together and add the egg, before beating well.
Add all other ingredients – making a stiff dough.
Press into one or two round cake tins/pie dishes.
Bake blind for 15 minutes at 180°C (use wax paper to cover the pastry and place dry beans/rice over the paper to weight the pastry down). Then remove the paper and beans/rice and bake for an additional 5 minutes until light brown.

Filling
Bring milk to a gentle boil.
Beat eggs well and add sugar, flour, cornflour and salt.
Mix well.
Pour boiling milk into the mixture and stir well.
Return to stove and stir for 10-12 minutes on medium heat until the mixture thickens.
Add butter and vanilla essence and mix through, then pour into cooked shell.
Allow to cool in the fridge (you do not need to cook the tart any further)
To decorate, sprinkle with cinnamon.

We are pairing this South African favourite with a local Cuppa-Jo. Choose your favourite local brew and smuggle it home in travel mug where you can kick off your gumboots, slip into your stokies and curl up on the couch with a slice (or 2) of melktert!

For tip-top posh coffee in Stanford, try Ou Meul BakkeryCoffee CornerYum Eat CafeGraze or La Tratorria or just outside the village at Stanford Harvest.

Words: Phil Murray

Keeping up with the Stanfordians

Have you noticed how it never rains, and then it pours? The beautiful drenched Market Square in Stanford is testament to how much it has been raining in Stanford, and the puddles and deep cool tussocks of grass fill us with childish glee. The wild sprouting mushrooms push their way towards the sunlight 3 days after the rains so keep your eyes peeled for those illusive mushroom foragers who are trying not to make eye contact and give away their hunting ground secrets.

And another thing that fills us with glee is the up-and-coming weekend which is about to sweep us off our feet. Are you ready for it? This is how we plan to fit it all in and you are invited to catch us if you can…

WEDNESDAY

Aerobics Revival in Stanford. See you there in lycra as the village meets in the Community Hall from 18:00 – 19:00. R10 per person is practically still 80s rates!

THURSDAY

Stanford Full Moon Tree Walk

Join our monthly Wandelpad Stroll and learn how to join the heritage Committee’s Significant Tree Survey. Afterwards…sherry!

FRIDAY

Take a deep breath, light a fire and drink some local wine. We are going to need our energy for tomorrow…

SATURDAY

First thing’s first, don a hat for Haturday and post a selfie using the hashtags #Haturday #Visitstanford to stand a chance to win a prize.

Then it is time to browse through the treasures on display at the Stanford Junktique Market in the Tourism Courtyard, 09:00 – 12:00. Breeze a little further down Queen Victoria Street to fill your basket with weekend foodie treats at the Saturday Morning Market on the stoep of the Stanford Hotel, also 09:00 – 12:00.

 

There is also time to take a slow drive on the Papiesvlei Road to the Open Day at Eikenhof Orchid Nursery. It will take you just over 10 minutes to drive there, but it will be oh-so-worthwhile to see the orchids and cymbidiums in full bloom, and for sale at special prices.

And then, pack a jersey for Hops at the Hills, a celebration of local craft beers at Stanford Wine Estate. This afternoon event is full of live music, fun for the kids, good food and beer, and usually sees people dancing under a rainbow, alongside a roaring bonfire. Make no mistake, Hops at the Hills is full-on fun.

SUNDAY

This day is for winding down. Make it about good food at one of Stanford’s restaurants, or good clean air as you walk off the ultimate weekend on one of the walking trails inside, or outside the village. Do the self-guided heritage walk around the town with a map available from the Tourism Office, and drop in at the shops open along the main street.

Phew, what a great week!

*Make sure you read our weekly ‘What’s on’ every Thursday for all events in and around Stanford. Ask to join our mailing list by emailing ask@stanfordinfo.co.za

Words: Phil Murray

Recipes through the seasons – Sorrel Pesto in Winter

This great, seasonal recipe has been generously shared by Rishi, one half of the dynamic duo at Goodwill Mountain Farm.

Sorrel Pesto 

Sorrel pesto is a quintessential Stanford Food Heroes recipe as it’s local, seasonal and sustainable. These days, sorrel grows abundantly everywhere around Stanford, so get your scissors and baskets out and go hunting for these heart-shaped beauties. The great thing about foraged food is that it is, per definition, organic and super fresh, which is more than you can say about most of the food in the supermarkets! Sorrel is a nutrient powerhouse especially rich in Vitamin C which is great for a mid-winter immunity boost, and the nuts and seeds in the recipe are high in fats to keep you warm on these cooler days.

Ingredients

A big bunch of sorrel (approx. 120 g)

15-20 leaves of kale with stems removed (spinach would work too)

1 cup cashews, soaked for 30 mins in hot water and drained

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

1 tsp salt

Dash of olive oil

Method 

Start by dry-roasting the sunflower and pumpkin seeds together on a frying pan. They’re done when they start cracking and splitting. Let them cool off before adding to the rest of the ingredients to avoid the pesto oxidizing too fast. Add all other ingredients to a food processor and pulse until it has a creamy texture with some chunks left – pesto texture, basically. If the pesto is too tart for your liking, more kale can be added, and if it’s not creamy enough, more cashews can be added. This pesto goes well on pasta and sandwiches and can be loosened with olive oil to make a salad dressing. Also excellent to eat on crackerbread standing by the kitchen counter late at night! Store in an airtight container in the fridge where it will keep for at least a week.

*Wood sorrel (genus Oxalis) has heart-shaped leaves and is often confused with clover. The leaves are a little bigger and taste sour, as do the yellow flowers. Kids in Stanford call them sour flowers. Go on, try them!

Words by Rishi from Goodwill Mountain, and Phil Murray

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