Tag Archives: stellenbosch

Top 10 Winter Winelands Taste Adventures

3 Aug

The spectacular view at Jordan, as taken a few weeks ago at a brunch. Beautiful winter's morning.

The spectacular view at Jordan, as taken a few weeks ago at a brunch. Beautiful winter’s morning.

It is mid-Winter in the Winelands and it’s one of the coldest ones in a long time. But the locals aren’t moaning, they’re smiling. Why? Because we’ve been looking forward to this: the magical comfort of a dreary, rainy, icy Winelands winter. “Kaggel-en-rooiwyn” weather, we call it.

I’ve put together my list of the top 10 places in the Winelands to visit this winter, specifically because they make us love winter even more. Places where you’ll find roaring fire places, more than enough of the very best red wine and the most delicious winter fare in the district. So get your car insurance quotes online, make sure your vehicle is covered and get out there!

  1. Boschendal – Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein
    • The Werf Restaurant is super cozy with a fire place that roars like a dragon. From wine tastings to visiting the deli or even staying over in one of the cottages (also with fire places and heaters), this is a winter haven.

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from www.boschendal.co.za)

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from www.boschendal.co.za)

  2. The Bakery @ Jordan – Stellenbosch Kloof Road
    • There’s just no substitute for a late morning breakfast in a place that smells like freshly baked bread all the time. And just in time for a wine tasting afterwards, because hey, wine in the morning is fair game in the Winelands. And did I mention they now also have luxury accommodation facilities?
  3. Cuveé Restaurant @ Simonsig – Kromme Rhee Road, Koelenhof
    • Ever had oysters and Kaapse Vonkel in the middle of winter next to a crackling fire? These guys will show you how.
  4. Glen Carlou – Simondium
    • The red wines at Glen Carlou keep me coming back for regular tastings during the cold months in the Winelands. Their huge glass doors leading to the stoep keeps the cold at bay (with breathtaking views right through the year) and a fireplace oozes warmth right through the tasting area and restaurant.
  5. Terroir @ Kleine Zalze – Strand Road, Stellenbosch
    • Heaters are placed around every corner of this understated gem of a restaurant. Winter specials include 2 or 3 courses with a glass of wine and is excellent value for money. A must-visit.
  6. Tokara – Helshoogte
    • With a massive fireplace in their tasting area and views to die for, this is also one of my favourite wine tasting venues during winter. Stay on for lunch at Tokara Restaurant or move a little further along to Tokara Deli for more roaring fires and kid-friendly zones.
  7. Terra del Capo @ Anthonij Rupert – R45, Franschhoek
    • Ask for the private tasting area on the first floor that has a fire place – just magnificent. Don’t miss out on the tapas downstairs, as well as a beautiful drive to the motor museum and a second tasting at the Anthonij Rupert tasting area. A full day of wonderful wine-induced activities.
  8. Makaron @ Majeka House – Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch
    • With a fire places in the lounge and heaters in the restaurant, you won’t even feel the chills of winter. Remember to try their Sunday roasts for lunch, or opt for one of the best breakfast experiences in the Winelands over the weekend. They always have Winter stay-over specials at their hotel, so check out their website for more info.

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from www.majekahouse.co.za)

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from www.majekahouse.co.za)

  9. Waterkloof – Somerset West
    • With a crackling log fire all winter long, you’ll feel right at home at Waterkloof. They offer delicious platters at their wine tasting lounge, or opt for a cheese and wine tasting. The restaurant is spectacular and a must-visit destination.

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from www.waterkloofwines.co.za)

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from www.waterkloofwines.co.za)

  10. Clos Malverne – Devon Valley
    • One of the best value for money three course meals with wine pairings in the Winelands, but don’t forget the magnificent views through the glass panes as well as the fireplaces and the authentic Devon Valley hospitality. Bring the whole family – you’ll feel truly welcome.

This post was written in collaboration with Dialdirect.

A midweek family getaway at Boschendal

25 Jul

The beautiful centre of Boschendal, surrounded by the Werf Restaurant, the deli, farm shop, butchery and manor house.

The beautiful centre of Boschendal, surrounded by the Werf Restaurant, the deli, farm shop, butchery and manor house.

Stellenbosch is an amazing town to live in. We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants, coffee shops, wineries, sights to see and views to enjoy. But escaping this bustling town is sometimes just what you need.

I was invited to Boschendal Farm for a midweek dinner and stay-over with my family. Boschendal is situated off Pniel Road in the Groot Drakenstein between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Over the past two years the new owners have revamped the farm, historical buildings and restaurant to establish a more contemporary and ethical destination that offers one of the best quality all-round experiences in the Cape Winelands.

Only a few kilometres across the Helshoogte Pass lies a working farm destination fit for royalty, but accessible to many. With a choice between many different cottage accommodation options adjacent to the main farm buildings or higher up in the mountain (closer to the bike trails), you’ll certainly find something to suit your pocket and your needs. Starting from R700/p sharing, the cottages offer between 1 and 4 bedrooms.

Our beautiful accommodation for the day: Brinkhuys Cottage.

Our beautiful accommodation for the day: Brinkhuys Cottage.

Brinkhuys Cottage, one of the Werf Cottages at Boschendal.

Brinkhuys Cottage, one of the Werf Cottages at Boschendal.

The three of us stayed in one of the Werf Cottages – one bedroom with a double bed (and a day bed), fire place, self-catering kitchen, dining area, stoep with shaded seating and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The beautiful Le Creuset cookware was a nice touch for an avid cook like me.

Upon arrival on a Thursday afternoon we couldn’t help but explore the breathtaking gardens – a paradise for children and adults alike. After a drive amongst the massive farm’s fruit orchards, we checked out the accommodation options further away from the main buildings (perfect for mountain biking enthusiasts), then headed back where we settled into our cottage with a cozy little fire and a complimentary bottle of wine. After dark we took our seats at the Werf Restaurant next to a roaring fireplace where we were treated to Boschendal’s famous “farm-to-table” shared eating experience and some of Boschendal’s best wines. Although executive chef Christiaan Campbell was on a well deserved holiday, his professional team operated seamlessly. All ingredients are ethically sourced and produced (mostly directly from/on the farm). It was one of the best meals that we’ve shared as a family and the friendly staff left a lasting impression on all of us.

Entrance to the Werf Restaurant.

Entrance to the Werf Restaurant.

Inside the Werf Restaurant.

Inside the Werf Restaurant.

The Spanish interior of the Werf Restaurant.

The Spanish interior of the Werf Restaurant.

The second starter:

One of our starters: grilled octopus, pork sausages, oyster emulsion, parsley and lemon preserve.

Our shared beef platter with marrow bones, aioli, potatoes and much more.

Mains for two: Our shared beef platter with fillet, marrow bones, boerewors, aioli, salad, potatoes and much more.

After dinner we walked back to our cottage (with a provided flashlight) and snuggled into our luxury beds – pre-heated with electric blankets.

For breakfast we opted for the packed basket which came brimmed with charcuterie, cheeses, fresh orange juice, bread, butter and preserves, muesli, yoghurt and more. Ground coffee and a large plunger sorted us with a proper caffeine fix for the day. Breakfast can also be enjoyed at the deli – just book when checking in at reception.

This one night stay-over on the other side of the mountain felt like a much longer break-away adventure in one of the most beautiful places in the Cape. There is so much to do and see and experience at Boschendal, and all of it is great: the best droëwors I’ve ever tasted at the butchery shop, horse rides for kids, fly fishing, hiking trails, wine tasting, farm shop with fresh veggies and meat from the farm – the list is endless. It is truly accessible to locals (not only international guests) and is highly recommended for people and/or families who are keen to explore the majestic Groot Drakenstein outdoors. Boschendal’s honest approach of “local, seasonal, ethical” is a shining light in a very competitive market.

Thank you to the Boschendal team and to Atmosphere PR for making our stay possible.

One of the roads on the working farm side of Boschendal Farm. Magnificent scenery.

One of the roads on the working farm side of Boschendal Farm. Magnificent scenery.

The Orchard cottages on Boschendal Farm, perfect for outdoor lovers and mountain bike fanatics.

The Orchard cottages on Boschendal Farm, perfect for outdoor lovers and mountain bike fanatics.

Book your mid-winter farm retreat now on 021-870 4290 or accommodation@boschendal.co.za and profit from the winter-warmer special at one of the Boschendal Orchard Cottages, valid 1 May to 30 September 2016: 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom at R1500 per night B&B for 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 16 or 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms at R1900 per night B&B for 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 16. Please use the reference Bosch002 when booking.

The Werf Restaurant: +27 (0) 21 870 4206 / werf@boschendal.co.za

Winter opening hours:

Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday 12:00 to 14:30  (Seated by 14:00)

Dinner: Thursday, Friday & Saturday 18:00 to 21:00 (Seated by 20:30)

Booking is essential. Download the Winter 2016 menu here.

Dinner at Makaron Restaurant with new chef Lucas Carstens

5 Mar

Chef Lucas Carstens with consultant Pete Goffe-Wood and sommelier EsméGroenewald

Chef Lucas Carstens with consultant Pete Goffe-Wood and sommelier EsméGroenewald (picture supplied by Majeka House)

After a magnificent era with head chef Tanja Kruger at Majeka House‘s Makaron Restaurant, chef Lucas Carstens took over the reigns in November 2015. Under the guidance of Pete Goffe-Wood as their consultant, the Makaron team is now presenting a lunch and dinner menu that is more focused on ‘special’ rather than ‘special occasion’ dining.

“We’re into food that’s more about ‘origin’ rather than ‘process’. If you take a beautiful braised shoulder of lamb as an example, it definitely won’t be manipulated in seven different ways. The aim is not to dazzle or intimidate diners,” says Pete, “but to create a relaxed, inviting environment in which to enjoy a delicious plate of food that relies on excellent sourcing.”

I was invited by the Makaron team to experience their new offering earlier in February this year as a three course dinner with wine pairings. As all of my previous experiences at Makaron were superb, I was interested to see what the new team had up their sleeves.

Majeka House & Spa is situated in Paradyskloof, a quiet leafy suburb in Stellenbosch. Tranquil surrounds have always been a great backdrop for luxurious hospitality experiences, and if you take a look at the nearby majestic mountains and adjacent vineyards you’ll know that you’re in the centre of the glorious Winelands.

We kicked off the evening with cocktails next to the pool, then moved into the dining area where we were seated outside on the terrace. It was a perfect evening in Stellenbosch. We scanned the menu and asked for recommendations from our very well-informed waiter. Here is our dinner in pictures, each accompanied by sommelier Esmé Groenewald’s suggested wine pairings.

Cocktails next to the pool at Majeka House & Spa.

Cocktails next to the pool at Majeka House & Spa.

The brand new menu at Macaron Restaurant.

The brand new dinner menu at Makaron Restaurant.

Bread board at Macaron.

Bread board at Makaron.

Amuse bouche from chef Lucas Carstens.

Amuse bouche from chef Lucas Carstens.

Trout ceviche, melon, sea lettuce - served with Thelema Verdelho 2015

Trout ceviche, melon, sea lettuce – served with Thelema Verdelho 2015.

Steak tartare, onions, horseradish - served with Sutherland Pinot Noir 2014

Steak tartare, onions, horseradish – served with Sutherland Pinot Noir 2014.


Springbok, butternut ravioli, spiced jus – served with Longridge Pinotage 2013.


Pork belly, celeriac, apple – served with Super Single Vinyards “Pella” Malbec 2013.


Caramel bar – served with Blaauwklippen Noble Late Harvest Viognier 2012.

Schalk had the Sesame Panna Cotta for dessert, but the light did not allow me to take a deserving photograph.

It would be my absolute recommendation that you take the wine pairing option with your choice of dishes as it elevates the dining experience to new heights. I especially loved the Blaauwklippen Noble Late, the Pella Malbec and the Longridge Pinotage pairings – superb suggestions.

My favourite from this dinner was the Springbok main course – meltingly soft meat, beautifully presented, perfectly seasoned. The Sesame Panna Cotta with nectarines and miso was also a total hit, served with Signal Hill Straw Wine 2011.

Makaron Restaurant continues to deliver invigorating and stylish food with their new menu and new team, although it is uncomplicated and truly accessible. I specifically enjoy their attention to detail when it comes to service – friendly, informed, attentive, knowledgeable staff. They are comfortably situated on the outskirts of town, close enough to make your journey just a handful of minutes from the centre of Stellenbosch.

Majeka House & Spa: 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch.

Lunch: 11:00 – 21:30

Dinner: 18:30 – 20:30

For bookings call +27 21 880 1549 or e-mail reservations@majekahouse.co.za.

For more information, visit www.majekahouse.co.za

For press assistance contact Ian or Lise Manley of Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539), email to premierbrands@publicity.co.za or visit the Press Room of Manley Communications at www.manleycommunications.co.za.

Bistro 13’s Summer Menu Preview

30 Nov

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the first birthday celebration of Bistro 13 just outside Stellenbosch, owned by chef Nick van Wyk and cricketer Faf du Plessis. Nick and multitasking PR/marketing/front-of-house powerhouse Roxy Laker received us in style with bubbly and gave us a preview of their upcoming summer menu.

Nic was recently seen on tv as judge and mentor in Kyknet’s Kokkedoor, a popular Afrikaans reality cooking show. His love of robus flavours from France and North Africa is combined with a love of nostalgic South African favourites.

Here’s Bistro 13’s summer menu preview in pictures, as I ate my way through it:

Roxy Laker & Nic van Wyk – the dynamic team from Bistro 13.

The Bistro 13 summer menu preview with wine pairings.

Crumbed goats cheese, summer salsa, olive oil and honey vinaigrette

Bistro 13 Bread board, before we start. How I love a good bread board!

Smoked paprika dusted calamari, vinaigrette baby potatoes, avocade, pickled cucumber, rouille. The pickled cucumber was one of the favourites for the day.

Monkfish, green herb crust, tomato sauce (black and red), crispy potatoes.

Crispy sweetbreads, carrot puree, brown caper butter. This is one of their signature dishes and you are going to LOVE it.

Braised lamb shoulder and rib, asparagus barley, thyme & garlic sauce, broad beans.

Three chocolate terrine with caramel sauce and praline. This is a 5 star stunning dessert and I’ll totally be back for more.

If you love discovering the best of local Stellenbosch cuisine in an unpretentious, bold, yet relaxing package, you will fall in love with Bistro 13 and the team that keeps this place buzzing. I look forward to spending many more lunch and dinner hours here.

Bistro 13 has new opening hours:

Breakfast: Sat & Sun 08h00-10h15

Lunch: Mon-Sun 12h00-15h00

Dinner: Mon-Sun 18h30-21h30

Starters range from R70-75, main courses from R120-R160 (sides charged extra) and desserts from R50-85. Tasting menu options also available, and they are kid-friendly with a lush lawn outside.

Contact them on reservations@bistro13.co.za or 021-8813044.

Deep-fried aubergine fingers with herbed yoghurt

24 Mar

Fried aubergine fingers, dusted with paprika & served with a fresh herbed yoghurt sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fried aubergine fingers, dusted with paprika & served with a fresh herbed yoghurt sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

One of the best ways to spend a lazy afternoon/evening in Stellenbosch, is to sit on the stoep at Helena’s restaurant at Coopmanhuijs in Church Street. Here you can watch people walk by in the most beautiful part of town, and feel the buzz of Stellenbosch’s nightlife coming alive at dusk.

When we dine at Helena’s, we always start our meal with their mezze platter. It’s a selection of delicious Mediterranean-style snacks and spreads, perfect for two people to share. One of the best snacks on this platter is their deep-fried aubergine. It is served at room temperature, and just melts in your mouth.

This is my humble attempt at recreating the delicious aubergines fingers from Helena’s that I love so much. I dusted them in paprika flour, then deep-fried them in canola oil. To lift the flavours, I made a bright and fresh herbed yoghurt for dipping – absolutely delicious.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a snack)

  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper
  • 1 large aubergine, cut into 1 cm thick fingers/chips
  • about 750 ml canola oil for deep-frying
  • 1 cup double cream yoghurt (or Greek yoghurt)
  • 1 cup mixed herbs (coriander, mint & parsley), finely chopped


  1. In a shallow wide bowl, mix the flour, paprika, salt & pepper. Dust each aubergine finger thoroughly and tap off excess flour mix, then set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium size pot to roughly 180 C (test one of the fingers – it should take about 2-3 minutes to cook and form a light golden crust). Drop batches of aubergine fingers in the hot oil, then cook for 2-3  minutes until soft and lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve warm or at room temperature with herbed yoghurt.
  3. For the herbed yoghurt: mix the yoghurt with the chopped herbs and season lightly with salt & pepper.


Recipe, text & food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Dinner at the Kitchen Table, Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House

17 Nov

With chef Tanja Kruger at the Kitchen Table, Macaron Restaurant

With chef Tanja Kruger at the Kitchen Table, Macaron Restaurant

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to experience the newly renovated “Kitchen Table” at Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House, Stellenbosch. I was over the moon, because for years I have been supplying these guys with trout via my brother-in-law’s trout farm on Lourensford. I’ve seen their hotel and restaurant, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to experience their newly renovated kitchen and exclusive Kitchen Table. The invitation also included accommodation at Majeka House and breakfast the next morning, so I grabbed my husband and fellow food enthusiast Schalk to join me on this journey on the 2nd of November. It was his birthday two days after, so we had a big reason to celebrate.

The beautiful view from our balcony.

The beautiful view from our balcony.The kitchen table at Makaron Restaurant is a brand new experience: after recently renovating the kitchen at Majeka house, two guests at a time can now experience an exclusive food and wine adventure every night directly from the head chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier ……. inside the kitchen. Yes, inside the actual working kitchen. For food novices this might be a foreign concept, but for food lovers it is an absolute must food adventure.

Majeka House is situated on the edge of Stellenbosch’s residential Paradyskloof suburb, almost hidden beneath the lush trees with a strong feeling of privacy. We were ushered to our “mountain view room” which was situated on the first floor and had a magnificent view of the majestic Stellenbosch mountain. The room was spacious and luxurious with the most beautiful wall paper, free wi-fi, private balcony and a freestanding victorian bath. We opted for a swim in one of the private pools with sundowner drinks to soak up the tranquility and the beautiful weather. After a quick freshening up we were ready to clock in at the Kitchen Table at the restaurant.

A selection of cookbooks next to the Kitchen Table.

Chef Tanja Kruger’s photo album from her recent trip to Spain where she walked the legendary Camino.

In the middle of the action: a view from our table.

There is only one two-seater table inside the kitchen, which makes this experience quite unique and exclusive. We were greeted by head chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier Esmé Groenewald, who proceeded to tell us more about what we could expect on the evening. We were in for a 5-course tasting menu that came with many surprises – a night of excitement, laughter and loads of food fun.

Chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier Esmé Groenewald.

Chef Tanja Kruger and sommelier Esmé Groenewald.

Chef Tanja explains her elaborate bread board with different butters.

Chef Tanja explains her elaborate bread board with different butters.

Tanja and Esmé make a great team in letting the food and wine shine along one another, and Tanja’s inventive mind along with her well-traveled soul makes for some very creative and forward-thinking dishes. We were taken on a journey that included “ancient grains”, pink vienna sausages, chicken and corn, sea bass  and even dried milk skins. There was no red meat to be seen – such a fresh take on the usual fine dining menu. Here’s a look at our 5-course menu with wine pairings that evening:

2010 Villiera “Natural”

Ancient grains, cauliflower velouté, courgette, romanesco (2012 Nivo van der Merwe White)

Mauritian Seabass, Laksa Foam, Carrots, Cashew, Coconut (2014 Paul Cluver “Close Encounter” Riesling)

Pork Belly and fillet, jewel sweet potato, apple, mebos (2014 Neetholingshof Gewurztraminer)

Free range chicken, dumplings, corn, buttermilk, chive (2011 Vriesenhof Grenache)

Milk mousse, salted caramel popcorn (2010 Lammershoek “Cellarfoot”)

(PS: After our first course, we were served a surprise extra course that was not on our menu. It was a small tin filled with something pink, and next to it a bite of real pink vienna on a fork. Around the tin, there was a printed label that read: “Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Mine is viennas, the nasty pink ones just to clarify if there were any confusion. My grandfather used to call them “gwapse” because of the sounds they make when you bite into them. I think I like them so much because of the memories of going to the butcher as a big shopping day once a month. We would buy loads of these viennas and sit around the table and eat them as a simple supper the same evening – just like that, no mustard of bread or tomato sauce. So I hope tonight you feel like you are sitting around my table and enjoying a meal with my Makaron family.” What a joy!)

Ancient grains (quinoa ring) cauliflower velouté, courgette, romanesco)

Mauritian seabass, laksa foam, carrots, cashew, coconut

Free range chicken, dumplings, corn, buttermilk, chive.

Pork belly and fillet, jewel sweet potato, apple, mebos.

The "surprise" second course of pink viennas.

The “surprise” second course of pink viennas.

Milk mousse, salted caramel popcorn.

The experience as a whole was one of my favourites of 2014 so far – a total must if you consider yourself a fine dining lover and an adventurous eater. The service was impeccable, yet friendly and relaxed.

Our king size bed for the night, inside a mountain view room.

Our king size bed for the night, inside a mountain view room.

The breakfast buffet spread at Majeka House.

The pastry section at breakfast.

Our stay at Majeka House was top quality and I can certainly recommend the hotel to anyone who loves a luxury boutique accommodation experience. Their attention to detail is commendable. The next morning, we were treated to probably the best breakfast spread in town –  French pastries (I think I had about 8), homemade yoghurt, beautiufl charcuterie and smoked fish, fresh fruit, veggie juice to nurse the indulgence of the night before, great coffee and a great selection of hot breakfast options.

Majeka House is a great example of how a hotel should be run in a highly competitive environment like Stellenbosch. The owners are hands-on, their staff have a strong sense of “family”, and they do everything properly. The restaurant can hold its own against any of the best restaurants in South Africa, and there is a reason why they currently feature on the top 20 nominated restaurants for the Eat Out Awards 2014.

Thank you Majeka House and Manley Communications for the opportunity to experience this.

Contact Majeka House:

Tel: 021-8801549

Email: reservations@majekahouse.co.za

26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch


A dried fruit feast with Cecilia’s Farm

23 Sep

A few weeks ago I hosted 12 guests at the demo KITCHEN in Stellenbosch for a night of deliciousness in colaboration with Cecilia’s Farm. These guys make the most amazing selection of soft dried fruit and nuts, and recently also launched their online store.

I decided on a menu that would showcase their fruit to the fullest:


Turkish apricot delights with goat’s cheese, basil, almonds & honey


Bon Chretien pear & blue cheese salad with roasted almonds & rocket

Main course:

Fragrant lamb tagine with prunes, peaches & figs


Apple tartlets with almond paste & vanilla ice cream

Click on the images below to view:

As part of the meal, we enjoyed the most delicious wines from Koelfontein Farm – a wooded chardonnay and a bold shiraz. The guests each got to take home a goodie bag filled with vouchers for Cecilia’s Farm’s online shop, and a homemade luxury breakfast bar to enjoy the next morning.

Thank you so much Cecilia’s Farm and Hatch PR for providing me with this delightful opportunity to discover these superior products, it was such a pleasure to cook with.

Here is a short video of how we made the salad on the night:

Check out how we made the lamb tagine:

And last but not least, here’s a peek into the dessert on the night:

And here are the recipes for our three courses:

Pear & cashew salad with blue cheese & rocket (serves 6)
• a large bunch of rocket leaves
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
• Salt & pepper
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm Bon Chretien pears, sliced
• 100 g Cecilia’s Farm cashew nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
• 120 g blue cheese, crumbled
1. In a large mixing bowl, add the leaves, olive oil, lemon juice and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper, then arrange on a large flat salad plate.
2. Top with sliced pears, warm nuts, and crumbled blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Lamb tagine with prunes & peaches (serves 6)
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 cinnamon sticks
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
• 1,25 kg boneless lamb (shoulder or leg), cut into 5cm cubes
• ½ cup (125 ml) white wine (or water)
• about 2 cups water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• freshly ground pepper
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm prunes
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm peeled cling peaches
• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
• cooked cous-cous, to serve
• fresh coriander, to serve (optional)
1. Pre-heat oven to 170 ˚C.
2. Add oil in a large iron pot or authentic tagine over medium-high heat, then add onions and fry until soft. Add spices and fry for another minute, stirring.
3. Increase heat to high, then add meat cubes and fry until the meat changes colour (you don’t have to brown it too much). Add wine/water, stir and bring to the boil. Cover pot with oven-proof lid, then roast for 1 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper, then add the peaches, prunes and honey. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 45 minutes or until the meat is completely tender and the fruit are plump and soft.
5. Serve the tagine with cous-cous, topped with toasted sesame seeds and fresh coriander leaves.
Note: Tagine can be cooked 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Reheat gently, thinning with water if needed.

Pink Lady Apple and Almond Tartlets
Makes 12 tartlets
For the almond paste:
• 100 g (250 ml) ground almonds
• 250 ml icing sugar
• ¼ teaspoon almond essence
• 1 egg white (large egg)

For the tartlet:

• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm apple rings
• 400 g all- butter puff pastry, defrosted
• 125 ml apricot jam (to glaze)
• vanilla ice cream (to serve)
1. For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients together in a food processor. Process until it comes together into a ball (add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove and refrigerate (for at least an hour) in an airtight plastic bowl.
2. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
3. Bring 1 litre water to the boil in a small sauce pan, then add the dried apple wedges and boil for 5 minutes to soften. Drain the water off and set aside.
4. Lay the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface, then cut into rectangles of 12 x 6 cm each.
5. Prick each of the rectangles carefully with a fork, leaving a border of about 1 cm around the edges, unpricked.
6. Grate the almond paste generously over each of the pastry rectangles (within the borders), then lay about 6 cooked apple wedges on top of the paste of each tartlet.
7. Place the tartlets on a baking tray lined with baking paper, then bake for 10 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and brush with fine apricot jam, then return to the oven for another 2-5 minutes to turn brown on the edges. Remove from the oven, then allow to cool slightly and serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream on top.


25 Jul

the demo KITCHEN - interior (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

the demo KITCHEN – interior (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

After months of planning, dreaming, building and visualizing,  it gives me tremendous pleasure to introduce my brand new project to you. Situated in central Stellenbosch, the demo KITCHEN is a multi-faceted new food studio where I’ll continue to host my demo dinners and generate food content in the form of recipes, text and photographs. The space is also partly a kitchen retail outlet where you will find an array of KitchenAid appliances, Wusthof knives & utensils, Riedel glassware and much more.

I'll be hosting my regular dinner demos from the demo KITCHEN (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I’ll be hosting my regular dinner demos from the demo KITCHEN (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Co-owned by myself and Mari Kleynhans, the demo KITCHEN hosted invited guests and media earlier in July for two exclusive launch events. Our shop is now officially open to the public, so please come by and we’ll tell you more about our in-store specials.

The lab sink and walnut shelves (photography by Tasha Seccombe)While the demo KITCHEN is not a restaurant, it is a unique addition to the growing culinary offering in Stellenbosch. the demo KITCHEN will also cater to foreign guests who want to experience and learn more about local Winelands heritage food. Situated inside a recently restored official heritage site in the center of town dated to 1785, the demo KITCHEN is also a landmark destination for guests who appreciate the rich history of Stellenbosch.

We are situated in the center of historical Stellenbosch (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

We are situated in the center of historical Stellenbosch (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates on upcoming events, demos and workshops. We can also host your private function or showcase your product, so talk to us for a tailored experience.

Thank you to Tasha Seccombe for taking these beautiful pictures of the demo KITCHEN.

Opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 09h00-17h00
Sat: 09h00-13h00

Demo dinners: Tue & Thu, 19h00-21h00
Closed on public holidays.
Contact us:
info@thedemokitchen.co.za / ilse@thedemokitchen.co.za
Tel: 021-813 5932
Address: 3a Drostdy Street, Stellenbosch, 7600
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedemokitchen
Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_demoKITCHEN

Our kitchen was designed by Dave Leatt.

Stellenblog: my unforgettable week in pictures

12 May

Last week, I had the privilege of joining the #Stellenblog group of bloggers on an amazing journey of discovering the magic of Stellenbosch. Acting as the local host, I had the opportunity to show them around the streets and sights, and tell them more about my home town as one of the top destinations in the world.

It was a whirlwind week of fine dining, wine drinking, street hopping, spa pampering, local food discovery, sight seeing, breathtaking views, and making friends. While the rest of the world were enjoying the content on a digital platform, I was experiencing everything first hand with real people. It wasn’t only the Stellenblog group that left an impression, but also the winemakers, restaurant hosts, chefs, local food experts, hotel staff, tour managers, and drivers. Stellenbosch truly is a magical destination with unforgettable people and mesmerizing offerings!

Here are my #Stellenblog highlights in pictures – I’ve picked my favourites from the week, as taken by myself, Niamh Shields, Matt Long, Norman Roehlig, Keith Jenkins and Natalie Roos. You can track all of the #Stellenblog social feeds here.

Thank you Stellenbosch Wine Routes and Destinate for an unforgettable week!

See more pictures of the official media tweet-up and launch party here.

Click on the thumbnails below for a larger view.




#Stellenblog is coming…

30 Apr

StellenblogAs some of you might know, I am very excited and honoured to be involved with the upcoming #Stellenblog campaign as the local host blogger – I’ll be the one showing the rest of the group around my town! For those of you that don’t know what #Stellenblog is, you can follow the hashtag on various social media platforms, and quickly find out more.

The group of international and local bloggers will be living in the heart of Stellenbosch wine country, in a soon-to-be-revealed villa on a working wine farm. From there they will explore and uncover Stellenbosch as a multi-layered destination, and experience some fantastic local food, wine, people and places.

“The itinerary of discovery planned for #Stellenblog is complex and full of surprises, for the bloggers to peel away the layers of Stellenbosch and share their first hand experiences with the world. It will also aid in collecting authentic content for the region to use on our own web platforms and for promotional activities,” explains Annareth Bolton, CEO of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes.

“Through #Stellenblog we aim to expose Stellenbosch beyond the veneer of its Cape Dutch history and the wine bottle. We want to introduce the world to a place that has a far more interesting story to tell and invite visitors to come and discover the warm heart of South Africa’s wine and gourmet capital.”

This campaign was designed by Mariette du Toit-Helmbold from Destinate for Stellenbosch Wine Routes. Says Mariette: “Word of mouth through social media is now the most powerful tool for any destination marketer today and this is being utilised fully through the campaign.”

As I cannot reveal too much of the upcoming secret adventures yet, I thought I’d give you some hints as to what the group can expect during the #Stellenblog week:

  •  one of the best launch parties the Winelands have ever seen (I’ve seen the food and wine contributors for this event, and it’s going to blow your socks off…)
  • a lekker intimate local braai at the villa, cooked by one of Stellenbosch’s top chefs (actually, one of SA’s top chefs)
  • the chance to learn how to cook local Stellenbosch cuisine, using age old recipes passed on through generations
  • dinners at some of the best fine dining establishments in town
  • experiencing historical Stellenbosch on foot
  • a secret vineyard lunch experience
  • a luxury pampering session
  • exploring surrounding wine farms by alternative transport…

Need I say more? This is only the tip of the iceberg. #Stellenblog is coming!