I spent this last week-end ensconced at Boschendal enjoying as many parts of the inaugural Farm to Table Festival as time would allow. You couldn’t get a better winelands setting to host a food festival of this nature. Nestled on the outskirts of Franschhoek with 3 mountain ranges in the distance, its jaw dropping beautiful. This farm walks the talk in terms of producing ethical food. From their organic food garden, to their free range eggs and pasture reared Angus beef. This is food of the highest quality and Boschendal played host to a handful of their own and other local experts who came along to share a part of their own food stories.
I stayed in one of the beautiful Werf Cottages which was bitter-sweet in that I didn’t get nearly enough time to hang out there. I wouldnt have minded moving in for a week. Each cottage has its own equipped kitchen, indoor fireplace and separate main bedroom with bathroom en suite, so this is very feasible. As a guest on Boschendal you can pick the fruit and vegetables on the farm and make your own supper. That is if you can resist the delectable cuisine on offer at the Werf Restaurant, Rhone Restaurant, the Deli or the picnics.
First up on Saturday I attended the charcuterie workshop with Neil Jewell from Môreson which was more of a charcuterie tasting and wine pairing. Neil is a master at his craft and I’ve been a long time fan of his restaurant Bread & Wine in Franschhoek.We tasted a few inspired flavours of cured meats made from only the best quality free range pigs.
It was then onto a wheat, bread and malting workshop where we learned the bread making techniques from the owner of Schoon De Companje in Stellenbosch, Fritz Schoon. He is one of the most passionate people I have ever met and his stories were so captivating nobody wanted to leave at the end of the demo. I think I could listen to Fritz and watch him bake for days. Maybe forever.
I would have loved to learn how to make sausages from Boschendals own butcher Mark Muncer, or attend a composting workshop with Karen Parkin, but I will have to save that for next year.
The other talks I missed at this years Farm to Table Festival were:
• Probiotics and Soil Health Talk by Nico Uys
• Mozzarella Talk with Wayne Rademeyer
• Agri-landscaping Tour with Jan Blok
• Farmer Rico Pasture Raised Chicken Tour
• The Naked Farmer Talk with James Moffett
The farm Feast dinner on Saturday night was served at long communal tables with a festive, harvest style atmosphere in the Olive Press barn. Food was served on platters heaped with seasonal farm produce. Main course included porchetta which had been smoked the whole day, smoked chicken and the moste deletable sausage links. Most of the food we ate on the weekend was prepared over fire. The guest speakers and Boschendal experts joined the table so it was a great opportunity to chat to them about what they do.
I was up early on Sunday to catch Megan McCarthy on her tour of the Boschendal food garden. This talk made me want to move to the burbs and find a house with a large piece of land. We nibbled our way around the garden while gleaning amazing insights from this experienced gardening expert.
It was then onto a quick scrambled egg and bacon in the Deli before learning how to smoke brisket from Piet Marais from Santa Anna’s in Gordons Bay. They make a fabulous range of Mexican food products that I’m lucky enough to procure at my local Spar. I’m a gigantic fan of both smoked and Mexican food, so I loved this highly informative session by a man so passionate about cooking slowly over fire. It was great to pick up a few tips on the science of pit smoking and what local woods to use. I have my heart set on one of their hand make smokers (it’s the little one the left of Piet in the picture below).
The festival and day ended off with a BBQ picnic where the centre piece was a pasture fed Angus cow that was spit roasted for around 14 hours. Guests spread out on the lawns and could buy wine, Darling Brew craft beer or Tribe coffee. It was a very chilled vibe.
I thoroughly enjoyed the festival and look forward to seeing how the event evolves over the years. In the meantime, it’s the most beautiful estate to visit at anytime of the year, maybe even more so over Autumn and Winter.