September 14, 2020

A weekend idyll in the Stanford Valley

A WEEKEND IDYLL IN THE STANFORD VALLEY

you’ll arrive as a guest, but leave as a friend

A genuinely warm welcome from Reinder and Elsabe Nauta, owners of Stanford Valley Guest Farm, an idyllic getaway in the sleepy hamlet of Stanford, gives a heartwarming first impression. We were shown to our little cottage, simply but tastefully furnished, where first item on the agenda was an afternoon nap. A pleasurable morning of wine tasting at first Raka and then Springfontein had rendered us comatose. At Raka we had stumbled into a family stork party in the wine-tasting room – fortunately I had resisted the urge to wander over to what I thought was a harvest table before realising that it was laden with cakes that included a nappy cake! The wine tasting was informative and engaging; their Sangiovese had whet my appetite for some Italian dishes, and the Quinary had me reaching for a pen and order form.

INSPIRATION GALORE

Bliss was waking to the sound of tweeting birds and a feeling of calm. We headed to Manor House Restaurant, the drawcard of the farm, to sit at the crackling fire and enjoy sundowners and the owners’ art collection. Most of the paintings and sculptures have a story worth sharing, some for sale, others prized possessions. My favourite is an impressionist painting of a red vase that Elsabe bought when she was a student instead of stocking up of necessities, enduring an empty fridge instead!

BIRTHDAY DINNER DATE

Dinner was a birthday celebration with cherished friends who have a home nearby, so lively, animated conversation accompanied our hearty, generous country fare. Manor House Restaurant is renowned for showcasing local produce with simplicity and generosity; you will always leave sated. I looked for the lighter dishes on the menu, going for the salmon with a pea and asparagus bruleé followed by the line fish with a creamy sauce and crunchy, ‘bashed’ potatoes. An envious taste of another’s risotto and I was steadfast, refusing delectable-sounding desserts like a gooey chocolate fondant. Next time…

A MORNING WANDER

Beyond the farmers’ cottages are paddocks of horses grazing, there are mountain-bike trails and walks. We woke early, had our first cup of coffee and rusks in our room, then grabbed a cappuccino in the restaurant.  Other guests were trickling in to devour a robust farm breakfast as we set off in the slipstream of Reinder to explore the mountain beyond. A joyous exploration of the tranquil dam, the fynbos and unveiling of some exciting plans in the pipeline, made for a memorable morning. Our third stay there, the first with offspring in the double family cottage with a well-appointed kitchenette, the second when I took a girlfriend as part of our annual Thelma-and-Louise getaway, and now as part of a wining-dining couple. Stanford Valley offers something special for everyone.

HOW GREEN IS MY VALLEY

Another birthday celebration followed, this time a Sunday lunch at nearby White Water Farm, on their opening day. A place that promises to add value to the valley with their farm-style food with finesse. A meander home to avoid the roadworks between Stanford and Hermanus meant a detour through Caledon, giving my inner artist a treat with the sprawling, bright yellow canola fields amongst the rolling green hills.

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