Ethically driven dining on an historical wine farm
Claim to fame: Thoughtful gastronomy + ultra posh interiors = splendiferous dining
Reason to go: An opportunity to experience farm life deluxe
To look out for: The shared-meal menu options are unique and dissolve all food envy issues
You know the produce on your plate is fresh when you can see the chef gamboling in the vegetable patch just beyond the restaurant’s kitchen and dining room. Still, this is no garden-variety nursery, pun perfectly intended. It belongs to Boschendal Estate, one of the country’s oldest working farms, established in 1685. Surrounded by the dramatic scenery of the Groot Drakenstein Valley, Boschendal is probably the finest complex of eighteenth-century farm buildings in the Cape, each a masterpiece of Cape Dutch architecture. The Werf finds its home in an old wine cellar on this 2 000-hectare estate where Executive Chef Christaan Campbell, South Africa’s very own Dan Barber, weaves between his new state-of-the-art kitchen and the sprawling estate gardens.
New energy has been injected into the revival of this homestead, and various elaborate farming plans are in place for the future. An almost 1 000-strong Aberdeen Angus herd is pasture-raised without any hormones being added to their diet. Chickens are allowed to roam freely and play an important part in eliminating pasture insects. Mountainside beehives supply the kitchen with honey, and pigs are being introduced to the forest where they will roam freely. All this lies on The Werf’s doorstep. Campbell and his team find inspiration in and are completely driven by the seasons. The flavors they play with are supercharged as vegetables, herbs and fruits are served often moments after picking, freshness and creativity are key. Menu highlights include bone broth with garden vegetables and gnocchi. Grilled octopus and pork sausage find themselves unusually sharing a plate with an oyster emulsion and parsley and lemon preserve. For non-meat eaters, a dish to behold is macadamia nut cheese, spring onions, coriander, parsley, artichokes, salsify root, chickpea and macadamia nut cream. Mains for two could be in the way of slow-cooked shin, fillet, burnt onions, bone marrow, sausage, béarnaise and chimichurri. A perfect pork dish is a combination of the neck and belly with pork sausage and kimchi.
Boschendal produces some of South Africa’s best bubbly, a great place to start getting to know the magnificent wines this estate offers. They craft some special reds and a visit here is not complete without a sip of their Cellarmaster’s Barrel Selection. Consider staying over in one of the farm’s global award-winning cottages; this way, you can slowly pace your culinary journey on one of the country’s most magical destinations.