Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lunch at Mariana's, Stanford

After our visit to the Elim Festival, we spent the night at a friend’s daughter’s holiday house in De Kelders, where we had a lovely relaxing evening and morning, reading papers and our books, cooking huge prawns for supper, watching whales and poachers, getting some sun while doing the crossword and then it was time to head over to Stanford, where we had managed to get a reservation for lunch. We have not been for several years, as this small restaurant is amazingly popular (deservedly so) and bookings are hard to get. We were warmly welcomed by Peter Esterhuizen and given a lovely table outside on the vine-covered terrace, facing Mariana’s legendary vegetable garden. Then came the wonderful food.
A whale in the bay with its calf
Chilling with the Sunday Times crossword
The entrance on Du Toit Street, Stanford
The impressive vegetable garden, flanked by mulberry trees laden with fruit and birds
The stoep
Overflow seating in the garden
Our table for (most of) lunch
Chef Mariana bringing fresh herbs to her kitchen
The lunch menu. It is fresh, real food and there is something for everyone. We loved the literal - Peter had not noticed that he had written Waterblop soup instead of waterblom.
Peter explains the food
and takes our orders
We took wine from our cellars. The first bottle was an excellent Oak Valley 2011 Sauvignon blanc, which was followed by one of Lourens van der Westhuisen’s magnificent 2011 Barrel-fermented Chardonnays
Then, from our cellar, a magnificent 2001 Malbec from Fairview. A bit of sediment, but glorious fruit
The cork broke on removal so it had to be strained and presented in a jug. Lovely aromas, no faults and its flavour lasted in the jug
The very beautiful broad bean quiche
We shared two starters. The first was the Stanford starter: Dolmades, good salami, olives and fresh-from-the-garden broad bean humus
The second was the savoury and rich Springbok Rillette served with seed bread and cucumber pickle
The Waterblom soup with a breadstick
Rows of broad beans and beans in the garden with the mountains in the distance
Tempting broad beans
And lovely lettuces interplanted with what looks like tarragon and a rouge arum
Their house is the other side of the garden
Umbrellas up under the pergola as rain was expected
A wheelbarrow planting
Lynne having a laugh at the weather. What was supposed to be a forecasted minute of rain turned into rather a long and heavy thunderstorm. We didn’t mind at all
Main courses arriving. Confit duck for John on a bed of carrots and grains, a broad bean salad and some preserved kumquats
Perfectly cooked trout with waterblom, braised leeks and new potatoes
The cheese roulade stuffed with spinach with oven baked tomatoes
Lynne had the simmered lamb shoulder with a great green pesto, fresh beetroot, white butter beans and roasted tomatoes
The rain made it impossible to stay outside, so we moved, with nearly everyone else, inside
The chef, Mariana Esterhuizen, who is the heart of the establishment, came to see if we were enjoying ourselves. We were
There was one table who braved the elements on the stoep. It was cosy inside, but all were having a good time
Rabbit décor
The garden in the rain
An important notice at the front door
Um, I thought that said "no dogs"? A cute Boston terrier puppy, carried in a bag by a young customer. Maybe she was too small to count
Dessert choices
Mulberry season in the garden
enjoyed by an olive thrush
“We really don’t mind the rain”
Welcome shelter from an early summer storm
Of course, John had the chocolate "Chocup"! Rich, warm and gooey, served with marmalade and almond Langue de chat biscuits
Ronnie could not resist the Doodskoot (lit. translation Dead shot) Double Espresso, served with a shot of local grappa and some homemade vanilla ice cream with almond cantuccini biscuits
It’s so rare to see Mulberries on the menu, so Lynne and Loraine had to have the Mulberry Trio. Dark and intense mulberry sorbet, a mulberry marshmallow and a tiny mulberry tart with superbly crisp pastry. A superb lunch
The sun came out and all was fresh and new
We will definitely be back. This is the food that all the top chefs are trying to achieve
Text and Photographs © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014

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