A gourmet feast at Hartford House in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

Posted on 27 June 2011

Hartford House is known for its food: executive chef Jackie Cameron has won numerous awards for her innovative cuisine and has placed Hartford House on South Africa’s top 10 restaurants lists for years. A foodie trip on the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander would not be complete without a visit to this gourmet treasure. It was the third stop on a gourmet road trip I was on with my colleague Christie Fynn.

After settling into our super luxurious romantic suite overlooking the estate’s lake (picture a suite as big as a flat: lounge, bathroom, walk-in cupboard, shower as big as my office, with two huge egg-shaped his ‘n hers baths, under-floor heating and cool modern Afro-chic decor) we headed to the main house (old colonial mansion, fittingly decorated with antique things) for dinner.

What a feast it was! Five courses of beautiful, interesting, deliciousness. We started off with caramelised onion soup served with wholegrain mustard and sesame seed ice cream, then smoked salmon salad-nori terrine with quail eggs, micro herbs and caper berries, and while the meat-eaters tucked into pan-seared beef fillet with horseradish potato creme, roasted garlic and red wine sauce, I had local trout with mashed potatoes in a rich buttery sauce. We ended off with a local cheese platter and then ‘peanut butter and syrup on toast’, a really creative and fabulous pudding of peanut sauce semifreddo, maple syrup ice cream, sugar glazed banana and vanilla creme anglaise.

As if that wasn’t enough gourmanding, after a beautiful early-morning run the next morning through misty tree-lined paths on Hartford’s gorgeous stud farm (we had to try and burn off last night’s dinner somehow) we sat down to a three-course breakfast. Have you ever had a breakfast with a menu of starters, main and dessert? Well, neither had I. Not one to miss out on new foodie experiences, I went the full hog and had three courses. Christie opted for two (weakling).

For starters, I had fruit with berry coulis and honey-glazed yoghurt while Christie had a luscious banana, yoghurt and cinnamon smoothie. While that could have been more than enough for us, we moved onto mains: we both had omelettes with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes and pesto. Rich and delicious. For pudding, I was curious to try the Maltabella ice cream with Amarula cream and prune compote, which was interesting: the ice cream had a nutty flavour (not too sweet) which paired well with the indulgent cream sauce with a hint of liquor. Not what I’d have for my usual weekday breakfast, but a memorable experience and one which filled us up so much we considered putting on stretchy tracksuit pants for the next leg of our journey.

I wouldn’t suggest staying longer than a weekend at Hartford House, because you may well not fit into your clothes when you leave, but for a weekend foodie break it’s fantastic. Splurge (if you can) and stay in one of the suites – they’re actually great value for money (especially in winter) and super romantic.

Obviously, if you’re staying at Hartford House, you have to have dinner in the restaurant (the price is not included in your stay). Just make sure you have a light lunch that day!


Contact details and rates for Hartford House

Tel: 0332632713
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.hartford.co.za
Rates: Lakeside suites cost from R1370 a person sharing, and suites in the house cost from R550 a person sharing, both including breakfast (winter rates till 30 September 2011).

Read about my Kwazulu-Natal Midlands foodie trip in the August 2011 issue of Getaway Magazine.

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