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, and 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

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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

Picture: RoamAfrica

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

picture36

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

 

Photo Copyright: www.funkyfynbos.co.za

Fantabulous Fynbos Flair

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 and just gush in general about Stanford’s natural beauty (not to mention its world-class accommodation, restaurants…).

So small wonder that here’s yet another part of Stanford I want to tell you about: The Cape Floral Kingdom.

Of the six floral kingdoms in the world, South Africa’s might be the smallest, but, as the old adage goes, it’s not the size that matters. You see … it’s also the only floral kingdom occurring entirely within one country.

Photo Copyright:  mosaicsouthafrica.com

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

The Cape Floral Kingdom is composed mostly of fynbos, a biome (that’s basically science talk for a really big family) that is endemic to the region. It is these particular plants that give the region its impressive biodiversity bragging rights, as well being interesting in their own right.
Fynbos species are pretty unique in their reproductive and fire-adaptive strategies, making the Cape Floral Kingdom incredibly valuable to science. Many fynbos plants contain oils and resins that make them extremely flammable, and fires are undoubtedly important natural factors in the evolution and maintenance of fynbos vegetation. Many fynbos species can resprout after a fire, while others depend on fire for a chance to flower and set seed.

Photo Copyright:  stanfordvillage.co.za

Photo Copyright: stanfordvillage.co.za

I came across an article in the Splash Magazine highlighting facts about different types of fynbos. Strictly speaking not all the plants mentioned are fynbos, but you will find them growing in the fynbos region of the Western Cape. They were included in the broader appreciation of fynbos. Just too highlight a few…

*The term fynbos (or fynbosch), recorded in the Tsitsikamma area by John Noble in 1868, was first formally used only in the early 20th century, when ecologist John Bews cited it as “applied by the inhabitants of the Cape to any sort of small woodland growth that does not include timber trees.”

*The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay is unique – in that it encompasses a complete river system, from its start in the mountains to its mouth at sea level.

*Artemisia afra (Wilde-als) is one of the most well-known indigenous medicinal plants used in South Africa. It is primarily the leaves that are used as a treatment for fevers, colds and chest problems. Nasal congestion and headaches is said to be alleviated successfully by placing rolled-up leaves into the nostrils or by inhaling the dried powdered form of the leaves.

*Buchu is great for hangovers. Although challenging to grow (plant it after first rains and you will have more luck) buchu attracts bees and butterflies to the garden, and is a natural insect repellent if rubbed on your skin or bedding. To deal with hangovers simply add a handful of the leaves to boiling water and drink as a tea.

*Eat the sour fig raw. The dried fruit often sold on the side of the road in Cape Town is great for sprawling quickly over undesirable banks and areas of the garden you want to cover. But you might not know that you can eat the fruit raw (bite off the bottom and suck out the syrup) and that drinking the leaf juice will help with indigestion, toothache, vaginal thrush and earache (although not necessarily in that order). It also helps subdue insect bites and bluebottle (man-of-war) stings.

*There are 23 different species of honeybush, only 9 of which are used for tea. Honeybush produces an exciting pea-shaped yellow flower in spring that is a feature for any garden. The plant grows quickly, needs pruning, and looks best when planted in groups at least one metre apart. To make a tea simmer the dried leaves and shoots for 20 minutes.

Photo Copyright:  mosaicsouthafrica.com

Photo Copyright: mosaicsouthafrica.com

Incidentally, the Cape Floral Kingdom also happens to be strikingly beautiful. So even if all this information means nothing to you, you really need to get yourself out and into the fynbos to see what we mean. Conveniently (isn’t nature ever so accommodating?) you can see and walk in the Cape Floral Kingdom in Stanford and its surrounds.

Comes to no surprise that even early visitors to the Cape was also overwhelmed by the diversity and beauty of our local flora. Lady Ann Barnard, wife of the Secretary to the First British Administration, notes in her diary entry for 10 October 1799

“…I was more than ever confirmed in the opinion that a botanist here must live a
year or two in the country…for he must be in many places at once as the plains, the
marshy or dry soils, the tops of the mountains or the gullies all produce very
different flowers from each other in the same season”.

Toodles

#visitstanford #thinkstanford #tourismforall #fynbos #capefloralkingdom #capewhalecoast

Charming Stanford

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

Stanford hills 2

Winter Wonder Winelands in Stanford

The Stanford Wine Route was recently launched, and there is no shortage of wines and entertainment on this fantastic little route. There are 8 wine farms on this route, and while they are close enough together to complete in one go, I would really recommend taking more time! I recently took the opportunity to explore the different wine farms on this route to see how they are in winter. Many of the wine farms have wonderful welcoming log fires, pleasant restaurants and spectacular views, and there are lots to do for kids on some of these wonderful farms. I’m certainly not a wine connoisseur, but it was definitely an experience to taste some of the outstanding wines that are made in this region! Here I discuss the estates and what they have to offer in the order in which I visited them over a period of two days.

Boschrivier Wine EstateBoschrivier compile

Set at the foot of the Klein River Mountain range and about 17 km from Stanford on the R326, this picturesque wine estate belongs to Dr NJT De Villiers and his family. The estate bottles between 5 000 and 6 000 bottles per season. 6 Hectares are used for Cabernet, and 3 hectares of Shiraz is grown on some of the finest terroirs in the area. Wine consultant Mike Dobrovic and his able support team ensure that the grapes are always of the highest quality and that Boschrivier is a true competitor in the Overberg wine industry. This relaxing wine farm also provides a restored charming, luxurious 4-bedroom farmhouse with a spacious stoep from where the surrounding vistas can be taken in with a glass of Boschrivier Shiraz, while soaking up the stunning Overberg winter sunset.

What we loved: The small home kitchen provides outstanding toasted sandwiches and is the perfect place to stop for a rest. The shop sells crafts, jams and other produce home made by the local residents, and these are all top notch! The spacious yet cosy farmhouse is the perfect place for a luxurious country winter break with the family.

Raka WinesRaka Wine Farm

About 14 kilometres outside Stanford you will find the statuesque Raka wine estate.  Here, 16 different wines are created from 70 hectares of vines. The farm is a huge 600 hectares but they also plant wheat and other produce here. Piet Dreyer’s first love is the sea, and when he bought this farm he named it after his black fishing vessel. Now, his son, Josef Dreyer, is the winemaker, and he has made some serious inroads in the wine making industry over the last few years. I tasted five of the wines which included the 2 flagship wines – the Bordeaux and the Shiraz. With prizes being awarded and a mention in the Platters 2016 wine guide, these are some of the best wines on the route. The estate itself is picturesque and welcoming, and even though there is no restaurant here, it is possible to purchase a range of snacks and nuts to go with the wine tasting.

What we loved:  The place is beautiful and views of the vineyards nestled in the value are charming. Melanie, the hostess, is super friendly and knowledgeable about the wine and the estate, and her wine tasting was enjoyable and interesting. The wines are also superb!

Walker Bay WineWalker Bay

Walker Bay Wine Estate is situated at the beautiful Birkenhead Brewery, and here I was lucky enough to be given a personal wine tour and tasting by Reinhard Odendaal, the winemaker. In addition to the tasty beer created here at the brewery, they also produce 5 outstanding reds and 3 white wines, and I believe they now have a bubbly in the pipeline, which I’m looking forward to! I found it very interesting to learn how the different wine making methods and the different yeasts they use create exceptional flavours and textures in the wine, and I had a chance to taste wine from the tanks in various stages of maturation. I was fascinated to learn that a Merlot could be stressed or relaxed! Reinhard believes in drinking his Cabernet only after 5 – 6 years, whereas other winemakers tend to sip and sell them earlier. I tend to agree with Reinhard.

What we loved: While the wine is great, you should also do a beer tasting for some exceptional artisanal tastes. Birkenhead has a lovely bar with a huge fireplace – perfect for winter! They also serve a basic bar menu with delicious food which is reasonably priced, and if it is sunny enough it is a pleasure to dine outside to admire the magnificent views while the kids run about.

Springfontein Wine EstateSpringfontein Wine Estate

A wine tasting in Stanford is simply not complete without a visit to Springfontein! Dr Johst Weber started out here with virgin soil in 1994, and realised his dream of creating a wine estate that involved, in his own words, “a combination of nature and human craftsmanship”.  Here, the wine is matured in Hungarian, French or American wood barrels, and the elegant flavours developed here are something to behold. Only 28 hectares of vines are planted, and these grapes are minded and pressed with all the love in the world to create wines that are truly exceptional. Winemaker Tariro Masayiti hails from Zimbabwe and is one of the jewels in Springfontein’s crown – his passion for winemaking is intoxicating and evident in everything he does – and it shows in the bottles produced at this wine estate! Many of the wines are imaginatively titled by Jennifer Weber, the marketing Director and co-owner, and the names echo her and Johst’s love for rock music. Here you can find the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and a ‘Whole Lotta Love’ in a bottle!

But Springfontein is not just known for fascinating wines. Springfontein Eats is a gastronomic experience on a grand scale, and if you are a fan of locavore food, with a hint of molecular gastronomy and fascinating imported wines, this is the place to eat! Then there is also the informal Springfontein Barn where they host wine tastings and serve hearty German fare or cheese platters in front of a crackling fire in the cosy, rustic barn. Simply divine for winter!

What we loved: The fine food and wonderful country atmosphere of the Barn is hard to beat on a cold winter’s day. They also have stunning cottages that have been lovingly renovated with all the mod-cons and romantic fireplaces for the perfect winter country break. And the food rocks!

Sir Robert StanfordRobert Stanford

With about 120 hectares of vines, this is one of the biggest wine estates in the Overberg, and is also a biodiversity site. Here you will find 4 Cutters Cove and 2 Sir Robert Stanford wines, and these are created off-site by the expert winemakers at Kleine Zalze Wine Estate. Their market is mainly local, and is a firm favourite amongst visitors and locals alike. Named after Sir Robert Stanford who founded the village of Stanford, this estate has a long history and manages to produce inviting flavours from their excellent terroir. For those who are hungry, their Royal Oke restaurant next to the tasting room is the perfect place to enjoy fabulous family country fare in a stunning setting. There is also plenty of space and a playpark for the kids. The Grappa distillery stokes an interesting range of Grappa and Witblits, and a visit to this wine estate would not be completed without a Stokehouse tasting. At the large gated entrance of the estate you can also find the brightly coloured candy-striped Padstal, a farm stall that stocks everything from biltong to home-made produce, as well as organic vegetables from the estate and locally-grown fruit.

What we loved: This is a great place for kids! Lots of space to run around, a pond, ducks, fish, trampoline, and wonderful food for old and young. Kids can learn to squeeze their own orange juice up the road at Die Padstal. For adults there is a roaring outside fire, a cosy seating area and the Grappa is the Greatest!

Vaalvlei Vaalvlei compile

When the Terblanche family moved here to purchase this small estate in 2005, they quickly realised how special the varied soils on the farm were. As a result they were able to produce some outstanding white and red varietals that are more classic than modern. Vaalvlei, the smallest wine estate on the route, it consists of only 3 hectares, which gives the wine made here a real boutique feel. Only 2000 bottles of white and 3000 bottles of Shiraz are produced by Naas Terblanche, and they are the only wine farm on the route that produces their own version of Port – which is special indeed! The rest of the farm is dedicated to the two cottages and numerous fly fishing dams where guests can angle for bass and trout. Naas is an avid student of frogs and is the resident expert on all the species of frogs that can be found in the area. He also knows practically everything about the endangered Western Leopard Toad and other rare species of Western Cape.

What we loved: The port is exceptional in winter! And do take the time to go through the fascinating presentation about the frogs in the area – it includes clear photos, frog call sounds and lots of interesting information. Kids love it. Vaalvlei has two rustic farm cottages for guests and their pets, and if you are looking for a rural country getaway with some fishing, country vibes and good wine, this is the place to be. In addition to this there is also a wonderful variety of Bonsai trees that are for sale.

Misty Mountainsmisty mountains compile

Set on the R43 between Hermanus and Stanford, Misty Mountains is 46 hectare estate produces about 5 hectares of grapes, and most of the rest is dedicated to olives and also honey. All the reds are created in French Oak barrels, and the rich, mature taste appeals to the huge Chinese market to which most of these are exported. Other wines like the Sauvignon Blanc are very popular with the UK market. Tastings are free and done in a spacious and stylish tasting room/ladies bar by the estate manager Robert Davis, and delicious cheese platters are for sale to go along with the tasting. Winemaker Neil Patterson ensures that all the wines coming from this estate are well balanced and creates a delicious French style Rosé – it is light in colour with a fruity nose, yet divinely dry. They are currently working on producing their first MCC which is very exciting.  You will also find a variety of olives for sale here, and the honey from this estate is out of this world!

What we loved: They create a very unique product called Vino Cotto, which is basically a concentrated grape reduction with the most distinctive flavour! It can be used in savoury or sweet dishes, as a cordial, in cocktails, for marinades and salad dressings, and it is so popular that they simply cannot keep up with demand. Get your hands on a bottle if you can!

Stanford Hills Wine FarmStanford hills compile

Stanford Hills was well known for excellent Jacksons Pinotage which was initially made in small quantities, but since Peter and Jami Kastner bought it, this estate has grown exponentially to produce more award winning stuff. They now make an additional two whites, an excellent rosé, a saucy Shiraz and a firm local favourite – the Veldfire range under the Stanford Hills label. They have also recently come up with the most fabulous MCC, which my friends fondly describe as ‘biscuity’. A tasting here takes place in the Tasting Room, which was initially just a small little tasting area but has exploded over the last 3 years to become one of the most popular eating spots around. It is immensely family friendly, and on cold winter days warm fires provide a cosy atmosphere in the basic but very comfortable restaurant. The magnificent views are very hard to beat, and during the autumn and early winter there are often one or two hand-fed orphan lambs running around, and bottle feeding them brings great joy to any city kid. The outstanding wine, together with great food, happy kids and a warm and welcoming atmosphere makes this one of the best seasonal wine locations. There are also several rustic cottages and a magnificent manor house to choose from for the perfect, romantic midwinter break. And they grow the most awesome Proteas for export and the local market.

What we love: One of the best wine farms around for children during the winter. A well-equipped play park, super hiking trails, horse riding, rowing on the dam, lots of space, great views, kid-friendly menu, good food, roaring fires and great wine all help to keep everyone superbly satisfied. And the very friendly, hands-on hosts and staff are delightful!

The Stanford wine Route is popular all year round, and it is really worth a visit any time you are in the Overberg!

 

 

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Going Green with Greenpop Family Fest Weekend

HeaderI have always wanted to attend the Greenpop Family Festival at Platbos Forest Reserve, and finally this year I got around to it. It was wonderful! This festival is all about bringing kids and adults closer to nature and to foster a better relationship with the natural world around us. There is also a Greenpop Friends Festival that takes place at Platbos a couple of weeks later, and this weekend draws more adults, even though children are allowed.  Greenpop is an organisation that plants trees and educates people about best practice tree care in many different areas in South Africa and Zambia, and in March they were reforesting at Platbos Forest Reserve.  This ancient, wizened forest still exists for the enjoyment of all because of the green fingers and passion of special people.  You can visit Platbos all year round, or even better; book your extra special GreenPop experience for next year!

Volunteers who attend the festivals spend a day planting trees, and during the weekend there are a lot of interesting talks, workshops and other fun activities to participate in.  Unfortunately I could only attend on the Sunday, but we had so much fun that I would definitely recommend spending the whole weekend! This year, 437 happy campers descended on Platbos to take part in planting and festivities.

Images courtesy of Jay Badenhorst (47 Sundays)

Images courtesy of Jay Badenhorst (47 Sundays)

Festival goers usually bring their own tents and camp in demarcated areas, but it is also possible to rent a tent at the festival.  Those who prefer not to camp may choose from a variety of self-catering options at Platbos and a variety of establishments nearby.

Friday evening is all about setting up camp and settling in.  There is a food court with a selection of food trucks and vegan vendors that provide fresh, delicious meals.  The Family Weekend provides the option of a catered Meal Plan ticket that provides 6 vegetarian meals throughout the weekend (Friday dinner through to Sunday lunch), but this option has to be purchased in addition to the festival ticket. Meals are prepared in the common kitchen for those on the Meal Plan and the meals looked utterly delectable!  No self-made fires are allowed in the camp, so there are no cooking facilities, and campers can choose between the food plan and purchasing food from the vendors.  Boiling water is provided free of charge.Food stalls combined

Friday evening is very relaxed – think crackling campfires and gentle tunes, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.  People with musical instruments are highly encouraged around the campfires, and other fun stuff such as hula-hoops, drums, mad hats, crazy outfits and face paint help to create a really fun atmosphere.  Mornings start with a yoga session open to all.Images courtesy of Jay Badenhorst (47 Sundays)Images courtesy of Jay Badenhorst (47 Sundays)

Saturday is action packed and thousands of trees are planted by teams in different areas around the forest to help restore the very rare and delicate ecosystem. This year they planted a total of 2,420! At around 16:00 the planting is done, and teams head back to camp for a shower, tasty food and a forest party to celebrate! Great musical acts are lined to perform on the intimate main stage and a talent show provides many awesome moments.  Everybody loves this celebration and there is plenty of entertainment for old and young. We arrived early on Sunday morning when the camp just started to wake up and started the day with delicious freshly pressed fruit juice and a vegan burger from the food trucks.  At the common area a delicious looking breakfast was being served to those who booked the meal option activities combinedand we were more than a little jealous!

During the morning we were entertained by a variety of interesting talks – I attended one on bees which I found particularly fascinating.  There is a range of workshops for old and young – my 11 year old did the Improvisation workshop and loved it.  There were also guided forest walks and yoga classes, and the meditation session under the 1000-year old Milkwood tree was the best!  Kids are also kept busy with a variety of activities ranging from woodcarving to beading.  Wonderful stalls provided a variety of colourful items for sale.stalls

The program for the weekend comes to an end at 14:00 on Sunday after lunch has been served, although some people choose to pack up and start the journey home during the course of the morning to avoid the Sunday afternoon traffic.  We had a lot of fun and decided that next year we will certainly camp and use the meal plan.  Can’t wait!

Points to note:

  • Take warm clothing and extra blankets – it gets chilly at night!
  • There are no shops or ATM’s nearby, so bring all the food and cash you need.
  • No self-catering facilities – the Meal Plan option works very well, especially if you bring children
  • There is no drinking water, so bring around 2litre per person per day – rather bring tap water from home than buy bottled water.
  • Cellphone signal is not very reliable and there are no charging facilities, so bring a car charger if you need to charge your phone.
Enjoying the views

My Big Fat(Bike) Summer Sunday

Seeing as my new year’s resolution was to participate in as many activities in and around Stanford as possible I recently read about the new fat bikes at Mosaic and was keen to spend a Sunday with my 11 year old son to give this a try.  It was fabulous!  Not being much of a bike person I viewed this as a daunting adventure and sincerely hoped I could have a decent run without having to involve the paramedics.  I was pleasantly surprised!

Meeting our fatbikes

Meeting our fatbikes

The Fat Bikes can be likened to the Rolls Royce of mountain bikes – its fat wheels cushion shock and are made to deal with particularly sandy conditions, and as a result the ride was a lot less bumpy than riding on a normal mountain bike.

Big Fat Daddy

Big Fat Daddy

Even though they look quite intimidating they are easy to steer and ride, and my 11 year old had no problem propelling himself around at high speeds and tut-tutting at me pushing the bike up the steeper parts of the road (they aren’t steep – I’m just incredibly unfit).

Enjoying the views

Enjoying the views

Upon arrival we were met by Mosaic’s manager, Marcelino, who patiently fitted our helmets and explained the best routes to ride and where everything on the bike was – including a puncture kit.  (In the end I just took his phone number and said that I’d call him for help if needed as I am incapable of fixing anything more complicated than a sandwich).  And then we were on our way.  We rode out towards the beach, about 5km away.  First on a dirt road and then into the Walker Bay Marine reserve where a comfortable sandy path led us towards the beach.  The road was easy to follow and the natural beauty was magnificent – and I had plenty of time to admire the flowers and the mountains because I had to stop to rest quite often (to the great disgust of my son).

Fire bursting from the scorched earth

Fire bursting from the scorched earth

We passed an area where it recently burnt and from the scorched earth burst most beautiful blood red flowers.  Once we reached the beach we climbed up and over the huge dune and had a swim in the sea and took a short walk on the vast Walker Bay beach that stretches from Hermanus to Gansbaai.  Other guests from Mosaic were already there on a game drive and offered us cold refreshments from the Mosaic cooler box.  It was heaven!

The lovely Walker Bay Beach

The lovely Walker Bay Beach

After a decent rest and a small picnic, it was time to get back.  By now it was sweltering hot but somehow the road back was easier than the road in – except for my backside getting a bit sore.  Once we got back to Mosaic Lagoon Lodge we stopped for a snack and a cold drink in the shade of the thick milkwood trees and it was blissful.

Cool shade of the Milkwoods

Cool shade of the Milkwoods

We returned home exhausted and agreed that we had the most fantastic adventure and a lovely bonding session.  There is nothing like doing something outdoorsy and physical with your child!  I highly recommend this adventure and am certainly keen to do it again as soon as possible.

Points to note:

  • Remember to put sun lotion on your hands, arms, neck and shoulders. The back of my hands and my neck got terribly burnt because I forgot about these areas!
  • Ask them to help you adjust the bike to your height before you pull off – I was too impatient to get out there and didn’t have my seat adjusted. As a result it was too high and I got neck-ache from looking up all the time.  Rather take the time and have a more comfortable ride.
  • Wear a swimming costume or take one along for a dip in the sea
white water fish

A Country Fare Christmas

The upcoming Festive Season allows many of Stanford’s restaurants the opportunity to put their best foot forward with innovative Christmas Menus and merry delights. This also highlights what is, for many Stanford food creators and lovers alike, the philosophy of food itself – from farm to table. Perhaps it’s the setting of the village that lends itself to this attitude – rolling farmlands and vineyards side by side, a quaint historic village boasting weekly fresh produce markets (both Graze Slow Food Café’s Wednesday morning market, and the Saturday morning market on the stoep of the Stanford Hotel are great for weekly greens and delights), and a monthly Stanford Sunset Market that also tickles taste buds.

Many local wine farms are also represented at the market so guests looking to explore the flavours before heading out to the farms can do so on the village green each month. A group of foodies have formed a collective called the Stanford Food Heroes, who work to promote and “increase community access to fresh, sustainably-grown foods.” Members can be spotted at the Saturday Morning Market or contacted via their website.

There is no shortage of restaurants in Stanford – here you have lots of options ranging from a quaint coffee shop to award-winning country restaurants in the middle of ‘suburbia’, or a lazy lunch at one of the nearby vineyards or farm-style restaurants. On the road leading out of Stanford towards the beach you can find a Michelin-star chef’s restaurant, and beyond that, a daytime café on the banks of the Hermanus Lagoon. No matter the location, farm fresh produce, with a small footprint, is top of mind for many of the village’s dining establishments.

Food should be fresh, plentiful and shared at a table with lots of laughter, friends, family and wine. – Jami of The Tasting Room, Stanford Hills

Join the merriment this Christmas with the villagers of Stanford and dine on local cuisine while soaking up the sights and sounds of one of the Overberg’s best-loved villages. Read about Christmas specials HERE.