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Gourmet Zone - Eat out

Situated a mere twenty-five minute drive from the relative buzz of Hermanus,Stanford is a picturesque village, characterised by pretty Victorian cottages, complete with broekie lace and wrap around balconies. Life here is slower than in the city, so it’s no surprise that many ex-urbanites now call this village with a river at its heart, home.

Cheese haven
In more recent years, Stanford has become a foodie haven, with first-rate producers and eateries helping to put this unassuming village on the map. On the produce side of things, many a pilgrim make their way to Klein Rivier Farm where a small dairy concern started ten years ago has mushroomed to become one of the most important cheese makers in the Cape.

Klein Rivier Gruyere regularly wins awards at international cheese festivals, and once you’ve tasted a nugget of this hard and nutty cheese, you too will understand. Their cheese shop sells a large variety of options to satisfy your cheese cravings.

Boutique wines and golden ale
Though wine is an obvious bet for cheese (and the nearby Elim Wine Route is a great option for learning about the boutique wines of the region), the nearbyBirkenhead Brewery offers tours and tastings for lovers of golden ales and old-school style lagers. Still on the outskirts of town, there is plenty to whet the gourmand appetite.

Gourmet decadence at the Blue Gum
The reason why guests book into Blue Gum Country Estate is certainly for the unspoilt surrounds, uninterrupted views of the mountains and luxury suites, but the afternoon high teas and gourmet dinners prepared byNicole Dupper and her talented team make a weekend visit an utterly decadent experience.

Farm-style at Madre’s
For farm lunches with rustic appeal, pop into Madre’s Kitchen, take a seat at one of the red and white checked cloth tables and take your pick from the small chalkboard menu for lunch. Real farm-style food is the order of the day – from roast chicken with all the trimmings to Mediterranean bakes and casseroles. Great for kids �� there’s plenty of space for them to run around, and there’s also a wooden jungle gym and a giant trampoline.

Seafood and organic at Grootbos
If you bypass Stanford altogether and carry on towards Gansbaai, you’ll come across one of the most sophisticated destinations in this part of the world. Grootbos is an eco-lodgeof world-class standards. It’s green principles are reflected on the menu at the Red Indigo restaurant where chef Duane Lewis makes the most of local produce (much of it organic) and of course, the freshest seafood from Walker Bay.

Stanford village
In Stanford itself, there are a number of eating and dining opportunities to be had. Parents with young children pop into The Maze, a family-friendly setup with plenty to keep kids occupied and a laidback menu with tramezzinis, salads and great big hunks of home baked cakes. Locals tend to congregate at Paprika, where the menu brims with decadent flavours from around the globe – try the deep fried feta with balsamic figs or go for broke with their famous Greek lamb.

If you’re looking for something a lot more laidback, head for Hennies Pub & Grill, where the beer (and the brandy and coke) flows freely and the steaks are perfectly seared and enough for even the biggest man-sized appetite.

Bliss at Mariana’s
And then of course, there’s the reason why the faithful book ahead and devote at least one day of their visit’s activities to it. Mariana’s Home Deli & Bistro is a wholly unassuming name for one of the Cape’s most well loved country eateries.

Winner of numerous Eat Outawards for best country kitchen, owners Peter and MarianaEsterhuysen originally set up shop when their veggie garden produced more seasonal vegetables than they could hope to deal with – their veggie garden’s proliferation matches the faithful’s appreciation in equal measures.

You’ll find this cosy eatery tucked away in a small Victorian cottage, complete with large stoep at the back, a view towards the Klein Rivier Mountains and across green lawns and the veggie garden that started it all.

Mariana cooks salt-of-the-earth food – with a sophisticated twist, always uses seasonal offerings and many of her dishes are served along with a homemade pickle or preserve. Though breakfasts are undoubtedly special, the reason why most wait out the weeks-long waiting list is for a long, leisurely lunch, where the fruits of Mariana’s labour are brought in on mismatched plates and served with a healthy dose of charm from Peter.

The simplest dressed salads with unexpected jewels of flavour pepper the summer menu, along with the lightestKlein Rivier Gruyere soufflés or savoury tarts and perfectly prepared seafood. The winter months sees the likes of slow-braised ox tail and traditional bredies provide rib-sticking sustenance for the colder weather (and mandatory bottles of red wine).

A definite foodie must do, you haven’t visited Stanford till you’ve paid your Mariana’s dues.

Words Vicki Sleet


South Africa’s best country dorp - Getaway

Stanford is a strong contender for South Africa’s best country dorp. A short drive from its more touristy neighbour, Hermanus, it’s got that quiet country charm of pancake stands on the main road on Saturday morning, food markets with organic farm-fresh produce, broekie-laced quaint pubs, and friendly locals. Stanford also offers fantastic restaurants, including the award-winning Mariana’s, a wine route with some up-and-coming wineries, and a renowned microbrewery. There’s a wealth of activities for outdoorsy types. Just beyond the town are scenic mountain biking trails, there’s canoeing and cruising on Klein Rivier, and Salmonsdam Nature Reserve has scenic hiking trails amongst mountain fynbos, forests and waterfalls. There’s something to please everyone in Stanford, and coupled with its convenient location in the Overberg (it’s close to Gansbaai, Elim, Cape Agulhas and De Hoop Nature Reserve) means that if it’s not at the top of your dorp to-do list, it should be.

While you could easily spend a weekend in Stanford chilling out at one of its charming guesthouses or B&Bs, there are so many things to do in and around town that you’d be missing out. Here are 12 things to do in Stanford (try and fit them all in to one weekend if you’re one of those ‘can’t sit still’ types).


1. Beer tasting and pub grub

The Birkenhead Brewery produces some fantastic microbrewery beers: do a tasting of their six beers (see if you can handle the Black Snake – a blend of ale, brandy and stout), and then decide on your favourite to accompany great pub grub such as calamari and chips (my favourite dish), hake in Birkenhead beer batter, and Birkenhead beer pie. Tel 028-341-0183.


2. Italian dining

Couple Catch and Jero Revette run the Graze Slow Food Café, a fantastic Italian restaurant, which is only open on the weekend (book in advance). They serve up scrumptious seasonal meals cooked with ingredients from their garden – homemade pastas, mouth-watering risottos and sensational gelati for dessert. Cell 082-491-8317.


3. Country cooking

Mariana’s, is probably South Africa’s best country kitchen (it’s won Eat Out the award for best country kitchen numerous times), is booked up weeks in advance (and I mean weeks), and it’s easy to see why: the food is excellent and the service quirky and personal. Mariana Engelbrecht cooks in a tiny kitchen, while husband Peter serves up her creative yet simple seasonal dishes: think perfect chicken pie, springbok ragù, spinach and gruyere roulade, and gorgeous puddings: I loved the mulberry platter of mulberry cake, ice cream and sorbet. Tel 028-341-0272.


4. Cheese, glorious cheese

Go for a cheese tasting at Klein Rivier, and try the award-winning Havarti, Raclette and Gruyere. Between November and April, the cheese farm offers picnics on the lawns – a great idea for kids, as there’s a playround and pen with farm animals. Baskets are R220 for two adults (children’s picnic baskets are also available), which include salads, cheese, cold meats, cake, tea and coffee. Tel 028-341-0693.


5. River cruisin’

River cruises on the Klein Rivier are a great way to while away a sunny afternoon, and spot the 129 species of birds in the area. Platanna (cell 073-318-5078), African Queen (tel 028-341-0929) and River Rat (cell 083-310-0952) all offer guided river cruises.


6. Hiking and mountain biking

Salmonsdam Nature Reserve, 20 kilometres east of Stanford, has three one-day hiking trails, ranging from three to seven kilometres. There are also mountain biking tracks. Buy a permit at the gate which costs R30 for adults and R15 for children (two to 13). Tel 021-483-0190,


7. Wine tasting

The Stanford Wine Route encompasses Springfontein Wine Estate, Raka (try the Biography Shiraz), Brunia, Boschrivier, Sir Robert Stanford, Stanford Hills, and Lomond Wines. Meander through the wine farms and stop for lunch at Madre’s Kitchen on the Sir Robert Stanford estate. For information about the Stanford Wine Route, call tel 028-312-1785.


8. Beaching

Head to the dune-lined windswept Mierkom Beach to the west of Stanford for whale and dolphin spotting and walks along the coast. If you’re in a 4×4 you can do the Walker Bay Fisherman’s 4×4 Trail (be careful – the sand is very soft). Contact Cape Nature, tel 021-483-0190.


9. Tree hugging

Go hiking in or take a guided tour of Platbos Indigenous Forest, home to 1000-year-old trees, such as wild stinkwood, millkwood and wild peach on the slopes of the Baviaanspoort Hills. Entrance fees are R50 an adult and R20 a child. Call beforehand to book a guided tour. Accommodation for six people is in eco-friendly tents with a fully-equipped kitchen. Rates start at R700 for the camp (for six people). Cell 082-411-0448, email


10. Horse riding

Go horse riding along the beach or in the mountains around Stanford. The African Horse Company offers one-, two- and three-hour rides starting at R200 a person, as well as multi-day horse rides, which start at R5700 a person for three nights. Cell 082-667-9232, email


11. Shopping

Stanford’s Victoria Street is lined with antique shops stocking all manner of treasures, from jewellery and furniture to old trunks and bric-a-brac. Stop in at the New Junk Shop (tel 028-341-0797), Stanford Trading Store (tel 028-341-0449) and Sir Robert Stanford Antique Shop.


12. Fabulous weekend markets

If you’re in Stanford on the last Friday of the month, don’t miss the market held on the village green in the late afternoon. The whole town seems to be there, accompanied by kids and dogs, in what is the social event of the month. Sip Birkenhead beer and local wines and sample the smorgasbord on offer, from pancakes and Prego steak rolls to Provencal quiches and vetkoek with perlemoen. Stock up on pinotage jam, fudge, kudu boerewors, bottles of wine, and creamy homemade feta cheese. Cell 083-604-0808. The Saturday morning market on Stanford’s main drag, Queen Victoria Street, exemplifies country living at its best – locals catch up on gossip while a band plays in the background. There are hard-to-resist cupcakes and tarts and cakes (my favourite were the apple-and-peanut-butter muffins), freshly baked artisanal breads, bunches of country flowers, organic veggies, cheeses, jam and preserves, including tasty chilli marmalade. Tel 028-341-0499.


Accommodation in Stanford

Stanford River Lodge is just outside town, set on peaceful 300 metres of riverfront (borrow one of the canoes for a paddle). Owned by Valda and John Finch, a friendly couple who are more than happy to give you suggestions for things to do and book you restaurants, the lodge has five cosy rooms and two self-catering cottages, all with views of the river. Rates start at R590 for a room in the guesthouse or a self-catering cottage (sleeps two), to R790 a room for the honeymoon suite, which has the best view in the lodge over the river. A full English breakfast with all the trimmings can be ordered for R85 a person. Tel 028-341-0444, email

Rolling green hills surround Stanford Valley Guest Farm, a 10-minute drive from Stanford on the R326. The organic working farm (guests are invited to pick their own veggies) is a wonderful place to stay if you’re looking for the restful quiet of the country. There are walking trails on the farm, as well as dam for swimming. There are 19 cottages, of which 10 are en-suite and nine self-catering. Rates start at R595 for the ensuite cottages and R650 for the self-catering cottages. Tel 028-341-0574, email


For more accommodation options in Stanford, go to


Who to contact

For more on Stanford tel 028-341-0340, email

Getting to Stanford

From Cape Town take the N2 towards George, and then take the R43 – exit 90 (Hermanus turn off). Carry on this road through Hermanus towards Gansbaai/Stanford. Stanford is 22 kilometres from Hermanus. Stanford is 144 kilometres from Cape Town.

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Author : Sarah Duff

Food heroes of Stanford -

A few weeks ago I was honoured to visit and feast at the personal home of Innes and Brydon from Havercroft’s . The food was out of this world, as it always is, but there I met Cath who introduced me to Food heroes. Food heroes focus on creating a platform for food producers of the Overberg area, especially Stanford, to reach their full potential.

We always rely on the big supermarkets to get our necessities but why not buy directly from the producer ,save money and get everything as fresh as it possibly can be. I would especially keep this in mind if I am staying, vacationing or planning a function in the Overberg area.

Below you will find some more information provided by Cath about Food Heroes. I personally have sampled some of the food produce below as some of them are stationed at the Saturday morning market in Stanford. I can 100 % guarantee top produce and quality.

Bringing the local back into our homes

Just east from Hermanus is a rich and fertile valley nestled between the Kleinrivierberg mountain range and the sea. The Kleine River valley has long been known as the ‘pantry of the Cape’ and its fertile potential continually attracts and inspires individuals to start up food activities.

But it is often difficult for these small-scale food producers to raise awareness of what they do. You can sometimes find them at local markets but the rest of the time you are forced to buy mass-produced food products from those huge supermarkets we both love and hate.

In Stanford, a small town on the Klein River, two women have started up a campaign to bring local consumers and food producers together. By knowing who to contact to buy local cheese, eggs, breads, meats, honey and preserves, they believe it should be easier for consumers to buy locally and easier for these local food producers to make a better living.

They also believe it’s time to bring the local back into our homes. Why buy a lettuce grown just 4kms from your home but shipped across the country and back to your local supermarket. Wouldn’t you rather buy it direct from the producer? It’s not good for the producer who receives little for their product, it’s not good for the consumer who pays more for something less fresh, and it’s not good for the environment thanks to the resources used to ship it round the country.

There are already 15 local Food Heroes on the Stanford Food Hero list and this number is growing. A brochure has been distributed with photos, stories and contact details of all the Heroes and they are running a market stall to promote the campaign. And this is just the beginning.

For more information about the campaign, contact Cath Croxton on (078 254 5693) or Jenny Sauer on (076 257 9983)

Mareé Hugo :


Top spots in the Overberg

I thought ten days would be more than enough to take in a few of the towns and highlights of the Overberg, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Ten days is but a dress rehearsal for the performance, and we could easily return for another two weeks and still not have captured the essence of the Overberg.




Stanford is a delicious not-so-small, but very fashionable town, and a lot of Capetonians have second homes here. A lot of the original buildings have been restored and there is an historical walk one can do (pick up a brochure at the town’s information tourism office), followed by lunch in at least three highly recommendable restaurants – Mariannas, Madré’s Kitchen and graze (make sure to book ahead, as at least two of these are only open over weekends when trade picks up).


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