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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

Rev up your engines: discover the R326 and the Akkedisberg Pass.

For those of us addicted to roads, roadtripping and stupendous scenery, we’re privileged to be able to enjoy various mountain passes in the Western Cape. It’s total roadcandy.

Driving through a mountain pass carries with it a certain symbolism. More than just the exhilarating sense of freedom that being on the open road evokes, it’s the physical act of passing from one place into another. It’s almost as if the lie of the land echoes the state of your mind… heading towards something new and leaving something else behind…

Picture: Tracks4Africa

Picture: Tracks4Africa

Interestingly enough, there’s the southernmost mountain pass – Akkedisberg – right on our doorstep (R326). The pass is one of the oldest in South Africa, dating back to 1776. Detouring on the R326 to Napier/Bredasdorp/Arniston, the raw features and breath-taking views of the Akkedisberg are simply jaw-dropping!

This small, scenic pass is almost worth planning your entire holiday around, that’s how stunning it is. There is so much to see and do on the R326 and the Akkedisberg Pass. Here are some top tips (just too mention a few. Wording abridged from their websites)…

Picture: Boschrivier Wines

Picture: Boschrivier Wines

Boschrivier Wines
Boschrivier Wines is located on two farms that lie at the foot of the Klein River Mountain range on the R326 near Stanford. The first farm, Remhoogte, hosts the vineyards from which Boschrivier wines are produced and a manor house turned into a wine house/coffee shop that is open to the public for wine tasting.
The manor house on the second farm, Boschkloof, is available for guests to rent. Home to blue cranes, takbokke, fynbos and other wildlife, the Boschkloof manor house makes for a true farm getaway.

Picture: Raka Wines

Picture: Raka Wines

Raka Wines
The Raka brand was named after Piet Dreyer’s black fishing vessel. Piet’s first love has always been the sea. For some 36 years he braved the storms and challenges of the coast, ever in search of the best catch. It is with this same passion that the Dreyer family now pursue the art of winemaking. With the rich blessing of earth and elements, the help of a dedicated workforce, the enthusiasm of winemaker Josef Dreyer and the advantages of a modern gravity flow cellar, Piet Dreyer produces his award-winning Raka wines.

Picture: Stanford Valley Guest Farm

Picture: Stanford Valley Guest Farm

Stanford Valley Guest Farm
Stanford Valley Guest Farm nestles in the valley of the Klein Rivier, 10km outside Stanford village. They offer comfortable accommodation as well as conference facilities. Enjoy upmarket country cuisine, prepared by renowned chef Madre Malan and her team at the Manor House Restaurant whilst soaking in the glorious scenic landscapes.

Picture: Klein River Cheese

Picture: Klein River Cheese

Klein River Cheese
Klein River Farmstead offers an array of exceptional, high-quality and award-winning South African cheeses. The farm is open to the public and you can taste and purchase cheese as well as a variety of gourmet products in The Cheese Shop; enjoy a delicious picnic on the banks of the river; all while the children enjoy the extensive playground or pet and feed the many farm animals.

Picture: White Water Farm

Picture: White Water Farm

White Water Farm
Historic White Water Farm is a welcoming rural haven with magnificent mountain scenery in the Klein River valley. This historical venue is the ideal place to escape – whether it is for a much needed rest, an adventure, a business conference, a wedding or a private retreat. White Water has its own “chapel” as well as restaurant on the premises.

Picture: Blue Gum Country Estate

Picture: Blue Gum Country Estate

Blue Gum Country Estate
Named after the 140-year old Blue Gum tree that grows on our front lawn, the estate is both a working farm dating back to 1839 and a private, family-run guest house. Whether you stay in the old Manor House suites, the more private Mountain View Cottages or our Blue Gum Family Rooms, you’ll discover a tranquil retreat that offers something for everyone from honeymoon couples to solo travellers and large family groups. With this in mind there is also two restaurants on the estate.

Picture: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

Picture: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve

Phillipskop Mountain Reserve
Unwind, explore and discover at this mountain reserve that occupies the southerly slopes of the Klein River Mountains just to the east of Stanford. They offer spacious chalet-style self-catering cottages, perched on the slopes of the Klein River Mountains with sweeping views across the Overberg, as well as opportunities for guests and day visitors to explore the reserve and discover more as they do… Various hiking trails on offer as well as guided botanical walks.

Picture: Boeredans Cottage

Picture: Boeredans Cottage

Boeredans Cottage
The “Boeredans Cottage” is 2.5 km from the village and is an easy drive for city vehicles. It is also only 30 meters from the Klein River and sleeps 5. The cottage is located on a working farm; sheep, Nguni cattle and Emu’s roam freely and which adds to the farm style atmosphere.

Picture: Walkerbay Estate

Picture: Walkerbay Estate

Walkerbay Estate includes Birkenhead Brewery
This is the first wine and brewing estate in the Southern Hemisphere. Visit their vineyard and winery where they produce Walker Bay Vineyards wines, and enjoy their delicious food and freshly home-brewed beer.

And then it’s so true: here in Stanford, we’re really quite proud of all the cool stuff our village and surrounds has to offer. You’ve heard us wax lyrical about our river, mountains, our wine, our wildlife, our heritage, our cape floral kingdom and just gush in general about Stanford’s natural beauty (not to mention its world-class accommodation, restaurants…)

Just remember the following tip when revving up your engines for a scenic trip:

“Here’s the secret to a good mountain view: leave your camera behind. You’ll never see all the beauty of the landscape through your lens, and when you upload your photos at home you’ll be disappointed in the pale colours which only hint at the gorgeous rock hues you’ve witnessed. Drink the view with your eyes and remember that when you need another look you’ll be better off taking another drive than paging through an album. The lofty mountain heights will be there to enjoy long after your photos fade.”
-Jen Hoyer, Getaway Magazine: October 17, 2012

Picture: Tracks4Africa

Picture: Tracks4Africa

Toodles

Stanford Retail Therapy – with a Difference!

Choosing a favourite pass-time in Stanford is surely impossible because you are spoiled for choice with all the world-class attractions right on our doorstep.

However, one of my favourites is to indulge in retail therapy – with a difference!  Simply taking a walk through Stanford village in search of delightful and interesting antique shops, galleries and gift stores where you can browse and buy.  And then it’s so true…

“We don’t mind if antiques is old and chippy, we don’t care if it is faded, rusty or worn, we simply love the story behind it, the history within it and the patina on it!”

-Anon

Photo: #stanfordcountrycottages

And whilst browsing, I always ask myself…is it Vintage, Antique, Retro…or is it just out of style? When you buy something how do you know if it’s vintage? Or just someone’s old clothes that went out of style, like the chunky square toed heels your mom used to wear in the 90’s? What is the difference?

Some shop-owner even told me once that cars only need to be 25 years old to be considered antiques – I was stunned because according to that definition I am already an antique!

The words antique, retro, and vintage still leave collectors in open combat as their meanings and their proper use. Our language is ever changing, and we continue to redefine words and use them in different ways.

Photo: #stanfordcountrycottages

As per a resident Stanfordian, modern conversation has attributed these definitions to the following words:
Antique. Something that is really old, dusty, possibly made of carved wood… maybe it came from your grandma’s parents attic or basement.  My niece equates antique with old and ugly, i.e. “That dress is practically an antique!”…but vintage is old and totally adorable…or “totes amazeballs.”
Vintage. Old but cute enough to charge double the price for it. Usually nostalgic in some way or could be useful as a movie prop.
Retro. Either something that is in the style of something from the past and its brand new or it’s something that is outdated and coming back into style.

As you can see the above definitions is totally inconclusive.  Easily interchangeable in common conversation their true meanings have been lost except when we look in the dictionary.

But although antique or vintage or retro…if you love it and you like the excitement of taking something old and giving it a new life – then look forward to happy hunting days in Stanford village.

Photo: #stanfordcountrycottages

A few useful tips for Antique & Collectibles Hunting

Trust your gut

If something calls out to you, don’t ignore it. Often if you decide to wait on purchasing an item, someone will beat you to it. Don’t risk the chance of letting something you really love slip away from you. If you’re not entirely sure, write down the booth number and come back to it later.

Value the structure over the colour

When looking at things like chairs or tables, remember that they can be reupholstered or repainted. The shape, engravings, and style are more important than the colour. Try to imagine the chair you’re looking at with a fresh coat of paint and new fabric. Sometimes an ugly chair just needs a little work to be perfect.

Picture the piece in your home

Sometimes it’s hard to visualize what a furniture item will look like when it’s not surrounded by an odd assortment of flea market goods. When looking at your potential new chair or armoire, try to imagine it sitting in your living room. The piece of furniture’s potential might be hidden when it’s surrounded by rusty buttons and old baseball cards.

Browsing or buying in Stanford – you will love all the vintage and antique things that spark nostalgia.  Several collectors of decades and promoters of antiques is on offer in Stanford village.  They are time travellers, hunters of history and builders of memories.  Come see for yourself and happy hunting folks!

Toodles

Shops to visit in Stanford: *Stanford Trading Store *Stanford Upcycle *TAT Antiques & Vintage Décor*De Kleine Rivers Valey House *The New Junk Shop

Photos: #stanfordcountrycottages

 

Photo:  #stanfordcountrycottages

 

Amazingly Awesome Things about the Stanford History

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything.

You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
Michael Crichton

I recently joined the Hermanus Historical Society on a Historical Stanford on Foot Tour.  It was an absolute source of delight to me.  And no, it does not make me feel old.  It makes me feel special to be living in history that others will one day read about.

There’s a particular joy, for me at least, to rummage through articles, books, websites and more to cure my need for more information on history and heritage.  And only like-minded people who have the same interests as myself will connect with me on that point.

And further reading brought me to the following amazingly awesome things about Stanford that I never knew about:

Charming Architecture

The original layout of Stanford dates to 1857 when De Kleine Rivier Valey Farm was subdivided into a typical rural village layout: a simple orthogonal (right-angled) grid with large erven and a central public square. This simple layout remains today.

Stanford’s architectural styles range from the late 1700s to the early 1900s, and include the following: the simple cottage; the Victorian barn (simple or adapted, and thatched); and the eclectic villa or gabled house (either Victorian or Cape Dutch Revival).

Stanford Architecture (Photo Credit: Stanford Conservation Trust)

Did you know?

In 1919 a municipality was formed in response to a threat to the village’s water supply.  The village received its water from “Die Oog”, a freshwater spring issuing 1 250 000 gallons (4,7 million litres) of water daily on the farm Oogbosch of Hendrik Taljaard, who lived in Caledon Street where he grew grapes for the making of wine and for distilling witblits.  When Halley Moore heard that Taljaard was planning to sell Oogbosch to a certain Mr Swart from Uilenkraal, he realized that something had to be done to retain the town’s water supply.  A municipality was formed, Halley was elected mayor and Oogbosch with its spring was bought for £2 000.

Born an Anglican

St Thomas Anglican Church proudly sits on the corner of Stanford’s heart – the commonage, or the “market square” as it is referred to by Stanford residents.  It is the oldest church in Stanford and was built around 1880.  The small building next to the church served as the St Thomas Mission School.  By 1914 the school had two classrooms and more space was needed.  In 1939 the school was moved to the present site of Die Bron primary school in Stanford South.  The building was still used as two classrooms for Sub A & B until 1983.

St. Thomas Anglican Church, Stanford (Photo Credit: Stanfordinfo.co.za)

St. Thomas Anglican Church, Stanford
(Photo Credit: Stanfordinfo.co.za)

A long juicy tale

The Long House in Queen Victoria Street was purchased by Michael Walsh in 1903, and he converted the original cowshed into a house.  Mr Walsh’s parrot, kept on the front stoep, would often bring a passing horse-cart to an abrupt halt with his shrill, “Hokaai!”

Birkenhead survivors at De Kleine Rivers Valey house

The farmhouse on de Kleine River Valey was built by Christoffel Brand in the late 1700s.  Lady Ann Barnard stayed here in 1798 when she conducted her tour from Cape Town to the interior.  The house belonged to, among others, Sir Robert Stanford who leased the farm to another British officer, Captain Thomas Smales.  Ensign GA Lucas, one of the survivors of the troopship Birkenhead which was wrecked off Danger Point in February 1852, in a letter to his father from “Smails farm on the Kleyne River”, said that he could “never say enough of the kindness…where they were put up and cared for.  Had I been their own son better care could not have been taken of me.  Twice a day I was put into a hot bath and then rubbed with coconut oil…”

De Kleine Rivers Valey House (Photo Credit: Portrait of a Village by Annalize Mouton)

De Kleine Rivers Valey House
(Photo Credit: Portrait of a Village)

Alan Bennett of the ‘History Boys’ sums my curious nature up beautifully:

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”

Toodles

#stanfordheritage #overberghistory #visitstanford #capewhalecoast

Sources:  Stanford Conservation Trust;  A portrait of a Village by Annalize Mouton

 

A Walk by the Klein River

After a hard day’s work,  nothing is more refreshing than a quiet walk along the bank of the Klein River. While walking is good for our bodies, the sight of the river seems to have a peculiarly peaceful effect upon our minds.  Every sight and sound inspires a spirit of rest and peacefulness.

“Gonuga Goggo” (meaning: Klein River) as described in Jan Hartogh’s Journal in 1707 – meanders through Stanford and is home to an abundance of fauna and flora.  And although the Klein River is 80 km long,  it is the river with the shortest distance between its origin and mouth in the world (5 km as the crow flies)!

#sunset #nature #beauty #visitstanford Photo Credit: Stanford Tourism Facebook Page

#sunset #nature #beauty #visitstanford
Photo Credit: Stanford Tourism Facebook Page

Oh, and what a delightful time I had by the river!  Walking along the bank of the river I enjoyed the rippling surface of the water, the birds singing their delightful notes in the trees.  The lovely bushes growing all around, the tall trees waving their branches and a lonely boat sailing smoothly on the surface of the river filled with me deep joy.

Clearly Stanford is giving you a taste of village life.  It is real.  It is safe.  It is tranquil. It is vibrant. It is authentic. It is unpretentious.  It is charming.  It is green.  It is scenic.  It is a lifestyle.  More importantly, it is easy and not the big city!

I enjoyed especially the beauty of sunset over the river.  The spectacle presented by the setting sun as it sinks beneath the surface of the water, is one of the greatest charms of an evening walk by the riverside.  The clouds are lit up with a thousand brilliant colours. And the rays of the setting sun were touching the high branches of the trees.  I even saw children playing around on the grassed area against this beautiful background.

I returned home full of impressions, rich and vivid, gathered during my walk by the Klein River.  Surely, Stanford offers us as residents and visitors so much more…

#visitstanford #capewhalecoast

#sunset #nature #perfection #visitstanford #capewhalecoat Photo Credit: Anton Duivestein

#sunset #nature #perfection #visitstanford #capewhalecoat
Photo Credit: Anton Duivestein