April 30, 2021

Babylonstoren, for all seasons

Babylonstoren tours with Jenny Handley



Many moons ago, when my sons were at pre-primary school, I met two fabulous moms. They were the ones who helped lifting my kids when I was building my business. When I travelled, they kicked into super-support mode, and I still tease them that it was only for the gorgeous gifts they received upon my return! Now we have three celebrations annually, roughly timed around our well-spaced birthdays. My choice was a day at Babylonstoren.


This glamorous yet authentic working farm majestically dominates the Simonsberg in the renowned food-and-wine valley of Franschhoek. Fashioned along the lines of the Company Gardens in Cape Town, and linking to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the 3,5-hectare garden embraces nature to perfection in every season. We grabbed coffee at The Lekker Room for our walk. The Special Collections garden tour (weekdays at 11h30, after the regular tours at 10h00) with knowledgeable guide Kobus, was to be my fourth – yet again unique, informative and inspiring. Autumn hues were artfully celebrated in the vast pumpkin display – which included one weighing in at a whopping 143.5kg! The farm shop, curated with a fine-design eye, inspired us to part with more than a few sheckles. Off to The Barn where, in the Scented Room, Adrienne, an aromatherapist, waxed lyrical. Sue, I could see, kept on looking longingly at the wine tasting opposite, so we promised her a tasting after some tea and scones at the Greenhouse. They were exceptional. The Healing Garden and Spice Room were last on our agenda before we noted the time and had to head back to the gruel of the city.

We never got to taste Babylonstoren wines, which I know and love well. Gives us a good reason to return. We may not be able to plan in these uncertain times, but we sure can dream. Next time lunch at Babel and a day in the spa. Or if our ship comes in, a stay at the farm hotel.

Check out the Babylonstoren website – there are always intriguing workshops on offer. https://babylonstoren.com/

Pumpkin season South Africa


Such a versatile ingredient, but I love it best roasted.


1 small pumpkin


50 ml olive oil

1 tin chickpeas

1 t fennel seeds

1 t coriander seeds

1 t caraway seeds

100 g feta

10 g fresh mint, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 180°
  2. Leave the skin on the pumpkin and quarter, then slice evenly into half-moons.
  3. Place on a baking sheet, season well and add a splash of olive oil.
  4. Top with drained chickpeas and spices.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Add cubes of feta and chopped mint.
  7. Perfect side dish, or main dish for plant-based eaters, or served cool as a salad.


PUMPKINS – did you know?

  • Pumpkins keep good company in the Cucurbita family with cucumbers, cantaloupes and squash.
  • Because they contain seeds they are classified as fruit.
  • The word pumpkin originates from the Greek word ‘pepon’, meaning large melon.
  • The fast-growing vine requires a lot of water – slow and deep watering is best as the leaves do not like being wet.
  • Pumpkin plants love coffee grounds as a snack.
  • Pumpkin and butternut are interchangeable in most recipes.
  • They are nutritious and rich in vitamins (especially vitamin A), minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
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