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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Kos & Wyn | Food & Wine > Rubrieke | Columns > Paul Murray: Murray's Food Trails

The Kersefontein Trail


Paul Murray - 2010-08-24

Kersefontein Guest Farm
Between Hopefield and Velddrif
Cape West Coast
PO Box 15
Hopefield
7355
South Africa

Telephone and fax: 022 783 0850
International callers: +27 (0)22 7830850
Mobile: 0834541025
info@kersefontein.co.za
http://www.kersefontein.co.za/contactnew.htm

 

Getting away from the city for a weekend is always a good idea. The beauty about our fair Cape is the choice of places. The West Coast became our designated port of call because we wanted to sample veldkool, a rare experience for the discerning yet venturesome diner. You get it only when it’s in season, and that is for a short time in late July. Hence thirteen people descended for the weekend on Kersefontein, one of the West Coast’s most sought-after addresses.


Figure 1. The trip to Kersefontein takes one across the Breede River.

 

Figure 2. Kersefontein’s gate shows the date it was established – 1744.


The first impression is the gatepost with the date inscribed. It’s clearly a place that lives on, from a bygone time. The Cape Dutch Manor House nestles on the banks of the Berg River, majestic in scale. Kersefontein’s relaxing ambience and its “unique and romantic heritage” is something any visitor loving the countryside should explore. The georgic setting provides for relaxing and breathing in the rolling air. Thousands of hectares of farmland and river plains deck the beautiful landscape, providing “peace and magic of a wonderful place”.
 
Visiting the farm is going back into the 18th century, the time the farm was purchased by Martin Melck. Not much has changed since then. The original Melck bought the land to farm cattle to supply fresh provisions to the VOC at the Castle. The main business was supplying meat, and there are still cattle on the farm today. There is also wheat, small livestock and wild boar! Eight generations have lived on the farm and Julian Melck, the current owner, perpetuates the family tradition with pride.

Dinner was preceded by drinks in what used to be the bakery, now a pub called the Turn and Slip, adorned with flying memorabilia, dedicated to proprietor Julian Melck’s passion for flight. The farm even has its own landing strip.

Figure 3. The façade of the manor House at Kersefontein

 


Figure 4. A close-up of the main house

 


Figure 5. A side view of the manor house

Unique to the farm is its honey, harvested from the hives along the banks of the Berg River. The bees feed off the wild flowers as well as the tall eucalyptuses that grow along the banks. The apiary is carefully attended to by maestro Heinrich Grunder, who harvests twice during spring. Badger-friendly honey is then bottled in situ with the farm’s label.

 


Source: http://www.kersefontein.co.za/farm-honey.htm

 

The accommodation is so comfortable you just find it hard to leave. Imagine how over aeons people have come here to be refreshed – so it was with our group. The best is the walks on the farm to absorb the air and excite the olfactory senses from nature. A walk to see the graves in the cemetery or just to stroll along the roads is a walk into nature. The farm has horses for the rider and on the day we were there the riders came in late in the afternoon, having galloped across the expansive landscape.

 

Figure 6. Staff preparing the horses for the afternoon ride

 

Figure 7. Ready to go!

The main purpose for visiting one weekend in late July was to enjoy veldkool (wild asparagus), which is ready for harvest at that time. The farm chefs served up a delectable meal literally fit for a king, with fine claret to accompany. The starter was West Coast snoek paté; that was followed by waterblommetjie soup, beef shin bones and marrow on toast. The main course, veldkool and wild boar, were a true culinary experience. Desert was malva pudding with a rooibos tea caramel sauce. The manor house’s stately dining hall, adorned with period furniture, was the perfect setting for the 13 guests that descended on Kersefontein. This was the highlight of our stay – certainly the dinner. We had planned it six months before, specially for the veldkos, the idea for which came from Leipoldt.

 

Figure 8. Veldkool. Photo: JP Rossouw

 

Figure 9. Veldkool resembles asparagus. Photo: JP Rossouw

Figure 10. The waterblommetjie soup.



Figure 11. Marrow bones – these accompanied the waterblommetjie bredie, served on toast.




Figure 12.
Wild boar and veldkool – the main dish of the meal



Figure 13. Guests at the dinner – a meal fit for a king

Veldkool grows just after the Cape winter rains, when the veld is adorned with yellow sorrel. Veldkool is a type of lily belonging to the family of aloes. It’s the sandy soil of the West Coast that makes this zone a special place for veldkool. How to prepare it for the table is a special process. According to Leipoldt, soak the freshly picked flower buds for a quarter of an hour in a bowl of salt water – in this way you get rid of the sand. Then place the veldkool in an iron pot – never aluminium, since that would spoil the taste. Cook the buds slowly and then slowly add some pieces of mutton, from the rib side, with a bit of fat – but be careful to place only a small portion of fat in the cooking dish, since veldkool should never end up fatty. Add salt and pepper to the braised dish. Then add some yellow sorrel leaves from the veld, finely chopped. Enjoy the dish with a dry white wine. Veldkool and wine are inseparable.

Breakfast the next morning was in true farm style, in the breakfast room, the walls  adorned with dried pressings from the farm.

 

Figure 14. The breakfast table in the breakfast room at Kersefontein


Figure 15. The walls of the breakfast room are adorned with pressed flowers from the farm.


Moments like these remain indelible on the mind. The food, ambience, conversation, the walks and rides, make Kersefontein an unforgettable experience and certainly one that will be repeated. This is West Coast hospitality at its best. The veldkool was certainly worth the outing.