This post closes off the Fairest Cape for 2012. Our annual Cape Odyssey is over and for the first time in about 20 years, no Ulu-lapa. However, we will have a retrospective once we are over the therapy needed to cope with no safari. 2013 can’t come soon enough (for that occasion!).

However, one tradition we were able to continue was that Mariana’s opened after their annual holiday/sabbatical/book writing vacation, in time for us before we return to Menerbes. A lunch feast.

 

Before the event – Peter, mine host, and Will

 

Sadly, it was raining. Usually, you are able to sit on the terrace and enjoy the garden and the view of the Klein River Mountains

 

A corner of the ‘deli’ section of the restaurant. Here you can purchase many of the goodies served for lunch.

 

Eclectic decor – but still very authentic

 

Before the mayhem, Mariana (right) popped over for a pic with Madame and Will.

 

Down to business. What would Mariana’s be without Peter’s intro and repartee? Part of the fabric of the place.

 

Nibblies – some smoked duck

 

 

Much loved.

More of Cpe Town’s fantasy/fixation – the Atlantic Ocean sunset:

 

Something that sums up the Cape Town culinary delights (for me in any case) is this cheese board at Marianas.

Not a smelly cheese in sight.

Sunday dawned – slowly. The crow had flown back to his nest and we were joined by the ‘ramkatte’ as well as Stephen Inggs, photographer extraordinaire and his beautiful lady.

The purpose for the day was for Stephen to capture on film Mariana and some of her friends for a book that they are writing, photographing and publishing. However, enough of that story – all will be revealed when appropriate. What we can say is having seen some of the rushes, and Mariana’s new Taste magazine features, ‘Wow!

Die brood is gebak. The bread is baked.

 

Quite a collection of bottles, in this country hitchen

 

Mariana is not the pre-eminent Country Cook in South Africa for nothing. She plans ahead too, as the bottles of preserves testify.

 

The table is laid, the ooikatte help up front

 

Madame has played a large hand in assisting with the atchar.

 

I took a stroll outside – snowdrops! Favourite!

 

Starters of springbok (venison) rillette..

more to feast the eyes:

A few oysters to nibble on?

 

What would an Overberg dinner be without smoked snoek?

 

Dear friends – this is the absolute best: Biltong Soup. Watch out for it in Provence!

 

Mariana checks it all out, Peter and YT drink

 

Everything Cobus does is artistic to the nth degree – the cheese board!

 

Main course of rare roast beef floating in a pesto sauce

 

Colourful salad of beans and cherry tomatoes

Some months back Mariana, Peter and Cobus spent time with us in Menerbes. Now, back in Cape Town and, more specifically, Stanford it was ‘pay-back’ time in the nicest possible way. We were told to block off the weekend and drive down the N2 to Stanford.

After a lazy-ish (not possible to have a real lazy day with Madame around), Saturday, it was trendy threads for an evening at Cobus with all the trimmings. In attendance were the ‘ooikatte’, The Crow and his partner, M&P, Cobus and ourselves. A healthy, happy throng.

Cobus’ house can only be described by photographs. Situated in the old Stanford Post Office, the predominant colour is white. Cobus’ fine arts skill has been put to great effect – take it away Canon Camera:

 

Outside is dominated by a classic pond

 

The BBQ area

 

The rooster koek maestro at work

 

Decor in the lounge

 

The dining room – oh, and Cobus likes candles (don’t we all?!)

 

Juicy rooster koek

 

Peter supervising – outside at the BBQ

After lunch – no, Cobus was not helping out in the kitchen. Merely, playing the fool.

The farm de Grendel is synonymous with one of South Africa’s Grand First Families – the Graaffs. Hereditary Baronets of the English Crown for over a century, the Graaff’s main family farm is situated on the slopes of Durbanville overlooking Cape Town. It has  the classic Cape picture postcard vista.

The Graaffs have just opened a restaurant on the property and on reading the web blurb, they tell you “it’s like sitting at the Graaff’s table’. Well, let it be recorded – they eat well!

As with most stunning gastronomic treats we were invited to join leading South African Country Cook, Mariana Esterhuizen, her hubby and soul mate Peter and our great mate, Cobus, for a long lunch. This time not a FLFL but a FLSL (f-king long saffer lunch, doesn’t sound quite the same does it?).

On the way in we bumped into mine host Sir David Graaff, resplendent in very dirty farming cords, a torn jersey and the inevitable packet of Boxer tobacco. The quintessential farmer. Such a great guy and armed with many stories and anecdotes.

So, to the task in hand. Eating and drinking. This is serious business.

 

The view – from the restaurant

 

Peter in the foyer

 

There’s history everywhere, even the crockery

 

A daily special – veal sweetbreads with poached quail egg riding on top in a forest of rocket, hollandaise and raviogote sauce all on toast

 

A novel idea – a trio of lamb cuts – chop, leg and steak with white bean, aubergine, tomato, pepper and courgette.

 

Now a Cape restaurant staple. First made famous by Reuben in Franschhoek but now everybody does the trick – pork belly. This one is with apple, baby beetroot, sage and potato.

 

Squid, cherry tomato, avocado, aioli, chorizo salad. Scrumptious!

 

A fresh take on a cheese board

Mariana, Peter, YT and Madame.

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