The Pool Room at Oak Valley

The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley
The Pool Room at Oak Valley

Have you watched the show Chef’s table on Netflix? If you have you will remember Dan Barber from Blue Hill. I recently watched the episode about Blue Hill farm and he made a statement that stuck with me. He believes that eating needs to become an ethical act. 

This resonated with me. As you may well know I am big on buying organic. In fact, it is everything. I eat mostly vegetarian and try to worry less about meat free Mondays but more about where my meat is coming from. Dan Barber also believes that if the meat is free range and reared ethically,  it will result in a better flavour. 
All produce, both meat and vegetable alike should be treated with the respect that they so richly deserve; for the simple reason that they sustain human life.
That’s a pretty big deal.  

After a recent trip to Elgin, I experienced The Pool Room at Oak Valley with Chef Gordon Manuel. It was affirming to meet someone in our very own back yard that believes in and practices these principles in the kitchen. 
The meat sourced for the restaurant is mostly reared on the farm (or at one of the neighboring farms) and all vegetables are organic and locally sourced where possible. 
All animals are free range and ethically treated during their tenure at pasture. 
The farm focuses on the Spanish and Portuguese tradition of acorn fed pork (a pig’s culinary dream) and wagyu beef and the estate also offers their own signature Oak Valley wines. 
In case you were wondering, Oak Valley gains its name from the over 4000 giant English oaks that are scattered all over the 30 hectare property. 
Naturally this provides ample acorns for the piggery, which are harvested and stored under water in large bunkers to provide feed.
This time of year (spring) the trees glow bright green in the dappled sunlight that has made its way through the canopy. The sound of the wind through the leaves rushes upon the senses offering a tangible connection to nature.
It is truly a sight to behold. 

The actual restaurant, The Pool Room is set amidst these beautiful trees and tables are arranged around a bright blue swimming pool. 
Sitting poolside you could lose your sense of time and sip away at a never ending glass of wine on a long summers day while the children play.
A family establishment that is pet friendly (Yes – Piglet joined me on the excursion and lay sunning himself while I feasted) that offers fantastic service from well trained and knowledgeable staff.
It is an ideal summers destination also offering picnics on the lawn under the trees.

Each dish was unique and had an element of country charm. Slightly rustic in their own right but elevated under the hand of professional chef. The salmon was perfect and the rich oiliness of the fish cut perfectly with the Oak Valley Chenin Blanc. 
My favourite dish and an absolute must try was the pork. It was melt in your mouth; served with creamy mash and wild mushrooms and rounded off with a jus that takes two days to prepare. 
Liquid gold if you ask me. My brother did make advances at my plate with a piece of table bread in an attempt to grab the last remnants of my dish.
Too bad I beat him to it. 
I then made my way through dessert and it didn’t disappoint. A pear and frangipane tart with the perfect crisp and soft combination!

A perfect afternoon some might say? I tend to agree.
Establishments like The Pool Room are getting it right in more ways than one.

-Melissa 

*This blog post was sponsored by The Pool Room, All opinions are my own. 

Terra Madre Elgin

Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin
Terra Madre Elgin

Tucked away in Elgin, just after Peregrine off the N2 is a little known spot called Terra Madre. 
Run by the tenacious Nicole Precoudis and her parents Chris & Koula, this slice of heaven really is all about the farm to table experience and the quality of produce speaks for itself.  

I first heard about Terra Madre through a friend. She guessed that it would be right up my alley, and she was right. 
As you arrive, you are overwhelmed with the tremendous spectacle a beautifully run farm can be.
Greeted by rows of olive trees, apple orchards and veggie gardens; I was excited to find out more about this 18,5 hectare property.

The concept of the eatery is good honest food, grown organically and prepared with oodles of love. 
Nicole shared her journey with me; from the fast-paced lifestyle of owning and running 2 restaurants in Johannesburg to the epiphany that saw her acknowledge that she needed (and wanted) to slow down and make changes in her life. 
Nicole made the move to (a then) very rural Elgin over 10 years ago, purchased the farm and has been developing it ever since.
Opening Terra Madre was a natural, organic manifestation of her innate creativity which is more than apparent in the food that she serves.
The space is open and bright with limited seating so booking is essential and highly recommended. 

Nicole set out to create a space that is warm and welcoming.
Her Greek heritage certainly shines through in the sublime simplicity of the venue and the inclusive attitude of our hosts, who were insistent that we make ourselves at home. 
My entire family ended up coming along on this excursion and I’m happy that they did! 
In a superb display of unplanned storyline congruency, we filled the venue with our own inadvertent spirit of “familia” in true Mediterranean style. 
Now what can I say about the food?...  The platters just kept coming! Perfectly tender roasted fennel bulbs, earthy beetroot salads and tender sweet roasted butternut topped with walnuts and cranberries almost caused a riot with the vegetarians in my “hunting” party.
Of course, it goes without saying that the meat dishes were cooked to perfection and were hastily devoured by the more devout members of the carnivorous variety.
I quickly realized that although it was simple food prepared perfectly, paying homage to the ingredients, it was nothing short of a ‘feast fit for a king’.

The food was simply spectacular and the passion that drives Terra Madre behind the scenes; from the pasture to the plate translates into something explosive on the palate.  

Sitting and feasting with family is one of life’s simple pleasures. To be able to share an amazing place like Terra Madre with them was truly wonderful and I can honestly say that it was the perfect location for a family get together. 
We ended our day with a stroll on the property and sipped on ciders at the farm’s quarry at sunset.
The stillness of Elgin is infectious.
Who knows, maybe one day I will become a country bumpkin and move away from the city only to serve mouth watering food that guests will travel far and wide to appreciate. 

Until then, one thing is certain… I know where to make my escape when the mind calls for slow living.

A huge thank you to my brother Hendré for this beautiful video that did justice to this wonderful location! Hit play to see more! 

-Melissa

*This blog post was sponsored by Terra Madre, all opinions are my own. 

The Hickory Shack

The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack


When last did you take a road trip? 
With spring in the air and blossoms showing their pretty faces in the country side, I recently took a shot left to Elgin. Just an hour outside of Cape Town, on the N2 over Sir Lowry's pass, the countryside changes rapidly and before long, you find yourself amidst mountaneous hills dotted with pine trees, waterfalls, rocky outcrops and lakes.
It is an exceptionally beautiful part of the country that plays host to a plethora of outdoor activities.

Did I mention the area is also rife with glorious apple orchids and vineyards?
I could not help but get lost on the farm roads and between the little dexter cows (you are going to have to google them) and the ducks waddling down the road, I was swept off my feet by Elgin. 
I had been threatening to take a trip to explore the area for the longest time, but it was only until I found a suitable gastronomic reason to put my procrastination to bed did I eventually "bust a (proverbial) move"
Whoever said food is not a grand motivator has obviously never been to The Hickory Shack.
Owned by Jay Haupt this spot is all about slow cooking Texas style. Their wildly talented pit master, Eugene nurses the pit flames like a new age alchemist to ensure the perfect, tender, juicy meat. From brisket and ribs to chicken wings and cowboy beans, I guarantee that your taste buds will never be the same.
It is a carnal, sensory and simplified space with emphasis on the quality of the meat, both in taste and ethics.

The atmosphere is as relaxed as your favourite pair of jeans with country blues playing in the background while the fire place crackles in in agreement. This is a place where you will get drawn into the slow lane and end up staying for a while.
The decor is beautiful with wood at every turn. I couldn't help but think it pays homage to the beautiful forest surroundings. 
The tables are generous in seating and definitely built for extended family style feasting. More is more at the Hickory Shack and I loved it. 
Now lets get down to business and talk food. It was absolutely phenominal. 
The meat is prepared with a Texas dry rub. No sauces or artificial flavours are added to their product. 

Locally sourced meat is smoked in a huge smoker for several hours prior to serving. The duration dependant on the cut and type of meat; namely chicken, brisket, ribs and pork with the brisket demanding the most attention at 30 hours.
The meat mains are accompanied with sides that are true to texas flavours. The cowboy beans are a labour of love and take 3 days to make. They contain brisket cut offs and their smokey flavour coupled with another side of buttermilk mash is what I would call a match made in heaven. 
They have a sweetcorn salad on offer and (my favourite) coleslaw which is prepared with vinegar, cut through the richness of the meat with such sweet perfection - I wondered how I would ever eat anything else again. 

Every side is a well thought out addition with a clear intention to compliment the meat perfectly. 
The average spend is around R250 per person including a beer or two.
I had to try the pomegranate cider which I highly recommend (and to be honest if I wasn't driving I would have had another five or ten)
So if you are wondering what to do this weekend - why not take a road trip and experience slow cooking at its finest! 
Just remember more is more so you will need an empty stomach and very big eyes.

-Melissa

*This blog post is sponsored by The Hickory Shack all opinions are my own. 
 

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/the-hickory-shack

Cape Canopy Tours

Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town
Cape Canopy Tours Elgin zip lining cape town

Have you ever dreamt that you are flying? I have. Several times. I run as fast as I can and some times I take off. 

Cape Canopy Tours in Elgin gave me that feeling. Zip lining through the Hottentots Nature reserve is up there on my top adventure experiences. I thought I would be a little scared! Truth be told, the 4 hours spent flying through the sky on zip lines was some of the most fun I have had. 

You have to make sure that you are dressed for adventure and ready for action. We stopped at Peregrines for a quick coffee and a snack on our way to the reserve, they ask you to arrive timelessly and make sure you have something warm in case it gets cold! 

Once you receive your safety briefing you will be off on a bumpy ride up into the mountains. I can see why they wanted to film lord of the rings in the reserve as it truly looks like something from another world up there! 

So what is zip lining? You are in a safety harness and via a pulley system you launch from one platform to another. In between? You are flying over untouched nature at its finest. From cliffs to rivers you get to see it all in the seconds you are zooming by! The longest zip line is 350 meters and it is a scream! 

Ending off with a short hike back to your vehicle and a peregrine pie back at base camp. This adventure is a must if you are in Cape Town and one of the top things to do in the Elgin area! 

p.s just don’t forget your camera! 

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/cape-canopy-tours

Leopold7, expect the unexpected

There is a new kid on the block in terms of craft beer and I must say I am impressed! A beer that is made with the environment in mind is my kind of beer!

With the theme of “expect the unexpected” I was whisked away to a magical night in Elgin at the Old Mac Daddy Airstream Park. For those of you that don’t know that part of the country, it really is something special. The green rolling hills and quiet forest surroundings make you feel like you are 100 miles from nowhere. Perfect for a picnic and beer under an old oak tree!

Leopold7 is a craft beer that has come to South Africa from Belgium and has hit the shores with amazing flavours of citrus and floral notes. We were treated to tasting notes to get our taste buds going (from popcorn to chocolate truffles) through out the day, which started off by listening to opera in the middle of a farm field. Very much expect the unexpected!

To see a fusion of international beer and local inspiration come to fruition in leopold7 is simply, magical. One minute we were crossbow shooting the next watching synchronized swimmers perform in a lake. All that just to emphasize the boldness that is Leopold7. With a higher than normal alcohol level this beer truly is audacious and with 3 grains and 3 hops blended together with a secret spice (that none of us could guess, let me know if you can) you can truly expect a great tasting beer that is sure to rock beer culture in South Africa!  

-Melissa