Good Morning

Unlike the city, places to eat are few and far between out here. But each and every one of the few is exceptional.  The apple crumble ice cream at Zest on Beaumont Wine Estate is indescribably fabulous. As is there kale salad with gruyere tart. When we are not cooking for guests, we often indulge in Zest’s Made at Home range. The paneer curry and fish pie are our favourites. The newish Beaumont Wines piazza and tasting room, and Zest Kitchen, are designed by my one and only, Barry Gould (pictured). Green Mountain Trail hikers end their experience lunching on this historic and special farm.

The Paul Cluver family have recently opened a casual yet fine dining restaurant where you eat alongside unpretentious farmers responsible for some of the largest businesses in our beloved country. I grew up on Glen Fruin Farm, opposite Paul Cluver Estate. In those days there was not a single restaurant in Elgin. Not opposite us, not anywhere. Friday evenings at Paul Cluver’s are a treat.

On Sunday we picnicked on Oak Valley Estate with friends to the tunes of Sonkind, with burnt orange autumn Oak leaves falling on our heads and into our Melting Pot picnic boxes. We felt youthful and lucky.

Hikers are treated to Terre Madre’s frozen apple or pear juice. Nicole Precoudis (pictured) has her own juicer and adds nothing but love. We have recently added her Spanakopita to our menus. Nicole’s spinach grows in long rows between the olive trees.

Years ago Melville’s Chaplins’ restaurateur taught us that the only way to perfect food is for your entire team to eat it and taste what can be improved. This we do and when one of the dishes is not as good, we all eat again and try and figure out what made the difference. It’s indulgent and fun. Liz Wood, of Christmas Cake and Wedding Venue fame, gifted us a bucket of white brinjals this week. Today we made melanzane parmegiana from our regular brinjals and Liz’s white ones, tasting the velvety difference of the melanzane bianche.

Once a year our wisteria pods explode with the sound of a pot of popping popcorn. This happened last Saturday. I tried hard to photograph one caught in the action of exploding, but was unsuccessful as you can see.

PS: no less than thirty seven species of bird were spotted by last week’s delightful hikers. Cooler months bring a greater fynbos bird activity, this as the protea begin to show. More on this next time.

PPS: we have six spaces on our 24 May four day Green Mountain Trail.

With love,