A FESTIVE CELEBRATION AT THE BELMOND MOUNT NELSON
It was with mixed feelings that I initially considered this festive season. Like many South Africans, we cannot be united with family as planned. Having hosted Christmas for most of our married years, combining our families around a table, amidst loud noises that depict love and unity, this is the first that will be a celebration for two. I want the day to be memorable, a real treat after quite a turbulent year.
I popped into the Belmond Mount Nelson to have a quick chat to Executive Chef Rudi Liebenberg about what is on their menu for the holiday season. Walking into the gracious Nellie immediately made me feel festive. Their opulent Christmas tree is a welcoming sight. The lush gardens have never looked better. The staff are smiling, ready to welcome the tourists trickling in and to show authentic home-town love to locals.
LUNCHEONS AND DINNERS, INDOORS AND OUT
There are many celebratory options to choose from – sumptuous luncheons and dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, to a Boxing Day jazz brunch. This year Cape Town’s darling, the Pink Lady, will be making the most of her sterling setting and majestic view of Table Mountain from the gorgeous gardens by also having Christmas picnics and a harvest table amidst the greenery and floral backdrop. The Harvest (farm-to) Table is the perfect place at which guests can celebrate life, love and local, with lunch and dinner every day, for six to 12 guests. It includes two bottles of SA Cap Classique plus access to the heated Oasis pool, tennis courts and the supervised Kids’ Club.
“For me Christmas is traditional, and our luncheons and dinners shine a spotlight on the festive elements. There is a sense of abundance in the ever-popular High Tea, elevated to celebrate with eggnog on arrival, mince pies and Christmas pudding. Not everyone loves turkey, so we will be serving brioche-baked chicken Camembert and cranberries, a la Wellington. The steamed bao bun with prawn tempura is delicious. The black forest eclairs with cherries in season, is also a special addition,” says Rudi. My mouth begins to water…
“Last year the picnics were a huge hit, it was wonderful to see guests all dressed up, a sea of floral and white dresses adding cheer to the occasions. They were relaxed enough to lounge on the comfortable poufs, glasses in hand, when not tucking into the celebratory fare,” reminisces Rudi. “Guests loved the open space and the infectious sense of celebration.”
I asked Rudi what he personally is looking forward to devouring this Christmas. “I love our smoked salmon, which is done in-house. Turkey with the traditional trimmings my favourite – a toss-up between the roast turkey breast on the crown with sage and butter, and the deboned leg with a sage and onion stuffing. The pork chipolatas and fondant potato are a must,” he says, smiling at the thought.
MORE THAN TEA FOR TWO…
There’s so much to choose from. Dining on the terrace al fresco, with hydrangeas (aka Christmas flowers) in bloom and a sweeping view of the garden over the trickling fountain, is where Rudi’s daily surprises on the blackboard menu never disappoint. Expect indigenous ingredients, plant-based and slow-food dishes.
Christmas is looking promising, inviting and exciting. Christmas for two in a world-class setting, no stress, prep or washing up – I can do this! The only dilemma is what to do – breakfast, lunch, dinner or tea? I sat on the terrace trying to make up my mind. Watching chef Rudi jump up to help a young mom carry her baby and pram up the stairs made my mind up. Here people treat others as if they are family.
Decision made. Agenda finalised. Wake up and count my blessings. A morning of delivering home bakes to those who deserve some cheering. No presents – I will give my man a voucher for the Librisa Spa and he can do the same for me. Then High Tea for two, followed by sundowners at the newly curated Planet Bar, no doubt the end to a perfect day.
FOR CHRISTMAS EVE IN THE LOUNGE
- To start, refreshing prawn salad with mango and pawpaw, hint of chilli, coriander and a curry leaf dressing.
- In-house smoked salmon with horseradish cream.
- Our favourite roast turkey with all the trimmings, sage stuffing chipolatas, cranberry sauce and corn bread.
- For plant-based diners, Jeera Aloo-stuffed cannelloni in a korma sauce with saffron-baked brinjal.
- To finish? Decide between cherry clafoutis and Christmas pudding.
OASIS BUFFET ON CHRISTMAS DAY
An abundance – look out for fresh salads, prawns, oysters, smoked salmon, hot roasted turkey and lamb, and Yorkshire pudding.