Hierdie is die LitNet-argief (2006–2012)
This is the LitNet archive (2006–2012)
Paul Murray - 2010-08-24
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.