No report would be complete with a little food porn…
All the above are salad entrees – colour coded as is the want of Babel and freshly picked from the gardens. As delicious as they look.
5-star luxury in renovated labourers’ cottages. So what’s new? When it is at Babylonstoren, it is new. It’s different. It’s 8-star. Some (very dear) friends gave us a night in the Cottages, along with dinner and breakfast.
The only complaint? Madame felt that her hairdryer could have been placed a mere 10cm to the left for easier pick up. But that’s splitting hairs. You cannot fault the place. On anything. World Class.
Our ultra-progressive Equestrian Centre, together with over 40 kilometres of bridle paths is a dream world. Whether mastering an intricate dressage movement, fine-tuning your jump approach, or enjoying an exhilarating out-ride canter, it is all about moments in the saddle.
Other premium facilities include a lungeing ring, jumping shed, warm-up arena and a main arena for show jumping and dressage events. The total infrastructure includes 36 stables, feed and wash areas, tack rooms, office, medical rooms and groom accommodation.
My comment : There is SERIOUS money here!
“One man’s folly is another man’s wife.”
“The follies which a man regrets most, in his life, are those which he didn’t commit when he had the oppertunity.”
Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922.
One man who has not held back in any way, a folloy or not is Insurance magnate Douw Steyn, think ‘Compare the Market” and “Meerkats” on UKTV.
On the edge of Sandton, connecting Fourways to Lanseria, Broadacres and Midrand, lies the parkland residence of Steyn City. Steyn City Parkland Residence comprises some 2000 acres of land currently being developed to create the largest parkland residence in South Africa. Phase 1 of the development has already seen the completion of many aspects of the development, including, but not limited to:
Two six-lane gatehouses
19 luxury cluster homes
97 upmarket apartments
14 exclusive freehold houses
100’s of stands in 6 suburbs
A security network second-to-none
Equipped outdoor trimparks and gyms
Walkways and promenades that keep pedestrians away from the roads
…and much more
Our particular interest was the sculptures done by old friend Charles Gotthard – spread around the vast estate they tease, entertain and inspire. Much like Charles!
The Prickly Pear plantation at Babylonstoren got me thinking about the Prickly Pear or ‘Turksvy’, in Afrikaans, literally meaning ‘Turkish Fig’.
Prickly pears are delicious on the inside but vicious on the outside. Here’s how to get past their prickly exterior and into their sweet, succulent soul.
You’ll need kitchen tongs, a sharp knife, a fork, a cutting board, a big bowl, a plate, and a food mill.
You’ll probably also want some tweezers or duct tape on hand to remove the inevitable hairy thorns that will get stuck in your skin despite your best efforts.
The cactus itself is dangerous with its sharp needle-like thorns. But the fruits are really nasty, looking so coy and friendly with fuzzy dots on them. Those fuzzy dots are actually zillions of hair-like thorns that will sneak into your skin like shards of glass. Trust me, you don’t want to touch them.
There are a few ways to get the fruits off the cactus. You could wear thick gardening gloves, but the problem with that is that your gloves will then be covered with insidious hair-thorns that will attack you next time you touch them. I opt to use kitchen tongs that keep me at a safe distance and can be washed clean without ever touching my skin.
Grab a prickly pear in the tongs and gently twist it off the cactus. Ripe ones are more red and will easily release from the tree. I gather a bunch of fruits in a large bowl and run the whole thing under water before the next step. 10 good size fruits will yield about a litre of juice.
Holding the fruit with your tongs, slice off the skin and then slice in half and squeeze. Just avoid those thorns!
As many people know, the Portuguese influence in South Africa is very big. Close by are two former Portuguese colonies, Mazambique and Angola. Add to this the explorer Bartholomew Diaz who rounded the Cape in the 1490s, and it is no surprise that Portuguese food can be found on many menus.
The Espadata is one of our favourites…
The espetada is a typical Portuguese dish made usually of large chunks of beef rubbed in garlic and salt, skewered onto a bay leaf stick cooked over hot coals or wood chips. Other meats including pork and chouriço are also commonly used, but there are also other types like those made from squid but this is not a typical dish from Madeira.
The dish can be served on a skewer which hangs from a hook on a stand as it is presented to you.
On the island of Madeira it is a very popular dish with many differing kinds of recipes and meats used. Bay leaf is usually used in the countryside as well as the bay leaf stick as a skewer, bolo do caco is usually eaten with it or milho frito, fried squares or triangles of firmly set polenta, to soak up the juices of the meat.
The turkey is a large bird in the genus Meleagris, which is native to the Americas. One species, Meleagris gallopavo (commonly known as the domestic turkey or wild turkey), is native to the forests of North America, from northern Mexico, throughout the midwest and eastern United States, and into southeastern Canada. The other living species is Meleagris ocellata or the ocellated turkey, native to the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula. Males of both turkey species have a distinctive fleshy wattle or protuberance that hangs from the top of the beak (called a snood). They are among the largest birds in their ranges. As in many galliformes, the male is larger and much more colorful than the female.
Of course, now turkeys are found all over the world such as the beauty above, seen at Babylonstoren in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Cape Malay cooking is known for its rich and intense spices and flavours. It has its origins in Malaysia, Java and Bengal, whose people were brought to the Cape of Good Hope as slaves in the late 1600s by the Dutch East India Company. They brought with them many spices that were not common in the newly settled South Africa at the time – many hot peppers and chillies, as well the liberal use of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and all-spice in their cooking.
Today the Cape Malay style of cuisine is still best described as regional, and very prevalent in the Western Cape. However, any South African mother-in-law will tell you that a cook who doesn’t know how to make a decent bobotie, is not worth their salt in the kitchen!
Many of the Cape Malay recipes are now a regular feature on many a local dinner table. Bobotie, for instance, is a spicy mince dish baked in eggs. It’s often eaten with chutney, a sprinkling of desiccated coconut, sliced banana and finely chopped onion and tomato – particularly if it contains chilli. Hot, hot, hot! Chutney is a thick, sweet sauce that is made from fruit, and can also come in spicy varieties.
Another favourite from this unique style of cooking is the sosatie – which is small pieces of meat, usually lamb, that are skewered on a stick, and have been marinated in a curry sauce overnight. Sosaties are often included in that popular South African tradition – the braai!
Yet another Cape Malay stalwart is the ‘bredie’. A tomato bredie, for instance, is basically a lamb and tomato stew. A waterblommetijie bredie is a lamb stew that is made with a waterblommetijie – which directly translate in English as a ‘water flower’. A waterblommetijie is a type of water plant that grows in the shallow marshes of the Cape, and is sometimes also called the Cape asparagus.
The koeksister is also a popular Cape Malay treat, although it is made differently from the Dutch method, which is plaited. The Cape koeksister is in a rounded, oval shape and is rolled in coconut before being served.
Here’s a recipe for a Waterblommetjie stew: Delicious!
serves 4 – 6
1 kg lamb – knuckles, neck or rib
1 large onion – chopped
2 cloves garlic – crushed
30 ml olive oil
20 ml crushed coriander seeds
1 kg waterblommetjies – cleaned and dirty bits cut off
500 g potatoes – peeled and cubed
250 – 400 ml lamb stock
salt and pepper
Heat a cast iron or heavy based pot on the stove and add the oil. As soon as the oil is hot, brown the meat in batches until it has a golden brown color. Remove the meat from the pot and in the same pot saute the onion, garlic and spices until the onions are soft. Add the meat and stock to the pot and on a very slow simmer cook the meat until soft. This take up to an hour! I put my meat in the oven, because it yields a lovely flavor and color to the final dish. After about 1 hour, add the waterblommetjies and potatoes to the pot and if it needs more stock, add a little, just enough for the vegetables to steam until cook. You do not want a watery stew.
When ready to serve, adjust the salt and pepper if needed, add a little lemon juice and serve on fluffy white rice and a sweet and sour cucumber salad on the side!
At the rear of the garden, tucked away between the oak trees, the Greenhouse offers guests the perfect place to rest and enjoy delicious home-baked cakes, coffee, tea and fresh garden juices. They also offer more substantial meals of artisanal breads with handcrafted cheeses and dressed meats, served with homemade herb oils, chutneys, preserves and relishes, as well as delicious, fresh garden salads.
The 26 metre vintage conservatory in dark green steel was custom built for Babylonstoren in France by Serres et Ferronneries d’Antan. Paired with a collection of brick-red tables and colourful green Luxembourg chairs (the classic park chair design), the Greenhouse is a surprising but thoroughly logical refreshment station for guests who have completed the garden tour.
The Greenhouse menu subscribes to the self-same “pick, clean and serve” philosophy as Babel, with a strong emphasis on honest food with little to no fuss. All food is served picnic-style in wooden crates with the preserves, jams and salads packaged in weck jars, while fresh bread from the wood-fired oven, come wrapped in the iconic blue-and-white Babylonstoren paper.
Despite its obvious aesthetic appeal and its function as a refreshment station, the Greenhouse also performs a vital role in the garden. It is here where plants or varieties are brought when they struggle to make it in the formal garden due to the Western Cape’s winter rainfall or the lack of humidity in summer. And so you’ll find that exotic granadillas, ginger, cardamom, pineapples, dragonfruit, vanilla and even a baobab all reside here.
First it is the scent room – now it’s the Saly Room. Situated in the very 5-star Manor Huose accommodation, we had never seen one of these: