” This working farm is a fresh, chic whitewashed retreat with kitchen gardens to dazzle and happy chefs to fill your tummy.” Tatler.
No words can describe how overwhelmed I was when I stepped onto a piece of heaven called Babylonstoren, which means “The Tower of Babel”, lying at the foot of the Simonsberg mountains, Western Cape , South Africa. Here in the spectacular gardens, the climate is perfect for the cultivation of grapes, olives and an abundance of fruit, vegetables and herbs. The Gardens are like a work of art, framed by the breathtaking mountain views.
Babylonstoren is a heritage site, and is one of the best preserved farmyards in the Cape Dutch Tradition. The main house dates back to 1777, yet the hotel, restaurant , greenhouse, bakery, charcuterie and larder are modern and classy. The organic food garden spans eight acres in a formal design, with over 300 varieties of edible plants. It is divided into fifteen clusters with vegetable areas, indigenous plants, bees, berries, a prickly pear maze, ducks and chickens. Visitors are free to wander the orchards and herb gardens, preserved fynbos, or lie on a chamomile lawn . Food is picked fresh from the gardens for the delicious meals served in the two restaurants Babel ( for which you have to book 3 months in advance ) and the Greenhouse.
Quality fish is supplied by a local trout and salmon farm in the Franschoek Valley, which focuses on sustainable fish farming. They are smoked with imported oak shavings to produce a variety of delicious smoky flavours.
The salads are made from a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit picked fresh each day from the gardens and adorned with edible flowers like calendula, waterblommetjie, elderflower, nasturtium and geranium. Food reflects the colours of the season, as well as vegetable juices in orange, red or green.
Naturally fermented sourdough bread is available at the shop , and is visually so appealing, you cant resist buying a loaf. It is also served as sandwiches, in the casual greenhouse restaurant.
When I was there it was baked around whole pears with gorgonzolo cheese, and others around whole onions and garlic. Artisinal cheeses are brought in from a family run dairy farm in the area. Their cheese contains no preservatives, colourants or flavourants, and the milk is processed naturally.
When the gardens were first developed, shards of old Delft crockery were found deep within the soil, a reminder of the farms inhabitants of the 17th and 18th century. It was then common practice to throw broken crockery onto the rubbish heaps in the garden, and many Cape Dutch farms are still unearthing this remnants today . Babylonstoren has followed this theme throughout the gardens and restaurants with blue and white mosaics, resembling plates surrounding persimmon trees in the garden, and menus and placemats in blue and white,with delft teacups , crockery and tableclothes on display and for sale.
Delft inspired birdfeeder
Because I believe in a world as a unified whole where each thing or creature has its place and function, and strive not to destroy or upset nature’s delicate balance, the thing that caught my eye , and which I loved the most, was the beautiful insect hotel.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit the Cape, this is one place you do not want to miss.
- Lettuce leaves,watermelon,peach,fig,cucumber,apple,carrot ,granadilla
- thinly sliced red onion
- cherry tomatoes
- ¼ roasted butternut
- optional add blue cheese
- Beetroot, shallot and Rasberry dressing :
- one cooked beetroot
- ½ shallot
- 125ml white balsamic vinegar
- 10ml honey
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup mashed raspberries
- Roast the butternut with skin on.
- Cut Carrot and apple into batons
- Thinly slice red onion
- Slice cucumber lengthwise
- Layer lettuce, and add fruit and vegetables as per the image
- In a blender combine ½ cooked beetroot, ½ shallot, 125ml white balsamic vinegar and 10ml honey and blend until smooth.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Remove from blender and add ½ cup mashed raspberries.
- Toss through.
What’s in it Edible flowers, carpaccio of pineapple, grilled and fresh sweet corn, fresh butternut, granadilla, carrots, papino with a citrus, cinnamon and medjool-date dressing. Cost R75 What we love Everything you see in this salad is fresh from Babylonstoren’s eight-acre garden. X-factor The garden-to-table experience; the papino, citrus, cinnamon and medjool-date dressing – name one other place with that on its menu! Opening hours Wednesday – Sunday, 8.30 – Contact 021 863 3852 Location Babylonstoren, Franschhoek