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.
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.
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