South Africa, Worcester, Breede Valley, September 2019; THERE’S a new energy in the kitchens of BOSJES estate in the Breede River Valley, as the farm shakes off its winter slumber ahead of the bright and busy days of summer.
And with an all-new team in the kitchen of the BOSJES Kombuis this stylish farm eatery is set to become a must-visit destination in the winelands.
Heading up the pass is Chef Nicholas Oosthuizen, together with wife Julandi Oosthuizen. Both boast extensive experience in the Cape winelands, and recently moved to BOSJES from acclaimed Franschhoek restaurant Foliage.
Working with Chef Nicholas is acclaimed food critic, recipe developer and award winning food stylist Abigail Donnelly, who has been brought on board to advise the team at BOSJES Kombuis on a long-term basis. As former editor of the respected Eat Out restaurant guide and former Head Judge of the Eat Out Awards, Abigail brings years of experience to the role, and is perfectly placed to assist the team in enriching the culinary experience at the BOSJES Kombuis and across the estate.
“At heart BOSJES Kombuis is a farm kitchen, but we’re creating elevated bistro-style cuisine that will set BOSJES apart in the valley. We want the Kombuis to become the first choice dining destination for locals, but also offer an experience that’s well worth the drive for food-lovers in Cape Town and further afield.”
While the faces in the kitchen may have changed, the ethos behind the BOSJES Kombuis certainly hasn’t.
“The philosophy of BOSJES has always been about offering authentic country hospitality in everything that we do,” says Carlen Vorster, Hospitality and Marketing Manager of BOSJES Estate. “At the BOSJES Kombuis, we pride ourselves on country cooking full of generosity and individuality on every plate.”
“I want the emphasis to be on bold, produce-driven food that over-delivers on flavour,” adds Chef Nicholas. “The valley isn’t a complicated place, and the people here are wonderfully down-to-earth. We want to honour that in our cooking.”
On the menu that translates into generous plates of refined simplicity: dishes where nothing is over-complicated, or overworked, yet there’s a dedication to quality evident in every element.
“You might just be ordering the hamburger, but we want it to be the best burger you’ve ever tasted,” says Carlen. “The soup of the day must be packed full of flavour, a soup you’ll remember!”
And it’s not hard to see why the Gnocchi has become a perennial favourite on the menu, the perfectly light potato Gnocchi served with umami-packed slow-cooked mushrooms and a rich Parmesan spuma. It may sound impressive, but there are no airs and graces expected in this Kombuis. Don’t be shy to use your fingers in enjoying that plate of crispy chicken wings in spicy chipotle sauce. The chefs also elevate the humble lamb ribbetjie into a plate of succulent lamb rib rolled and roasted, then carved before plating with a side of pickled fennel.
In a valley where the months are marked in the changing hues of the vineyards, seasonality is another thread binding together the menu at BOSJES Kombuis. That could mean fresh asparagus with roast free-range chicken in the springtime, fragrant citrus desserts in winter, or foraged wild mushrooms in the autumn.
“These days you have simply got to keep the menu seasonal, it’s non-negotiable,” says Abigail. “Quality of ingredients is also important, and I want to see each dish really paying homage to the suppliers and growers.”
Provenance is equally important to the culinary offering at BOSJES Kombuis, and the kitchen team have worked hard to grow their network of local suppliers.
“I grew up in this valley, and I’m really excited by the prospect of reconnecting with local farmers and producers. I plan to use produce from the region as far as possible across the menu,” says Chef Nicholas.
A prime example is the ever-popular rib-eye of Bovelder beef, a cattle breed unique to the region, sourced from nearby farms. At the BOSJES Kombuis a well-aged cut is plated with wafer-thin potato gratin and a silky pepper sauce, topped with micro-greens and herbs.
Many of those fresh herbs and garnishes are picked wild from the estate – the likes of baby watercress, wild parsley, oxalis and wild sage – while other fresh produce comes just a short walk from the farm gates.
In collaboration with the striking new Botha’s Halte Primary School, built by the BOSJES Trust in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department, extensive vegetable boxes have been planted out in the school gardens. Along with teaching scholars the principles of sustainable agriculture, fresh greens are supplied to the school’s kitchen and the surplus is purchased by the BOSJES Kombuis.
Farm welcome and mountain views
The setting at BOSJES Kombuis is nearly as captivating as the food. London-based architect Coetzee Steyn, who also dreamt up the sweeping curves of the iconic BOSJES Kapel, created the striking restaurant space. Interiors are by acclaimed designer Liam Mooney, with Scandi-chic furniture and Lee Broom chandeliers creating a perfect marriage of modern architecture and rural charm. Clean architectural lines blended with the warmth and hospitality of the Breedekloof.
Beyond the glass walls tables are scattered on the spacious terrace, and whether you’re dining indoors or al fresco beneath the oak trees, glorious views of the Waaihoek Mountains come standard.
While the setting is stylish, BOSJES Kombuis remains a firmly family-friendly destination. Along with the spacious lawns in front of the Kombuis terrace, a large children’s playground is located nearby, yet discreetly separated from the main dining area.
While BOSJES Kombuis has firmly established itself as a culinary destination worth the drive, many visitors to the farm are in search of something simpler, a more impromptu bite.
While a full delicatessen is under construction – due for completion in March 2020 – this summer guests will feel right at home in the BOSJES Tea Garden.
Set adjacent to the Kapel, the Tea Garden offers a daily selection of delicious freshly baked cakes, scones and quiches. For something savoury, generous farm platters offer cured meats, local cheeses, pickled vegetables, dips and breads. Of course, enjoying it with a bottle of fine BOSJES wine is a must.
‘I DO’ (WANT DESSERT)
The estate’s inspired culinary offering extends to the frequent events held on the BOSJES estate. Thanks to its idyllic setting and striking chapel, BOSJES has become particularly sought-after as a wedding destination, and the kitchen team weave their own magic into every event.
“While boutique weddings prefer plated dining, our most popular offering is the Family Feast, with generous bowls, salads and platters shared across the table, turning the meal into a communal celebration.” says Carlen.
And celebration is at the heart of this family-owned destination estate, whether it’s a meal in the BOSJES Kombuis, or celebrating nuptials in the Kapel. This summer, make BOSJES your first stop for enjoying a bite of the Breedekloof.
BOSJES Kombuis opens for lunch only, from Wednesdays through to Sundays. Light treats are also served at the beautiful sunken garden of the BOSJES TeeTuin. For reservations and special events, call (27) (23) 004 0496 or email email@example.com. For more information about BOSJES, visit www.bosjes.co.za
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