After hearing so many good things about Babylonstoren, I would have been surprised if I’d found anything short of perfection. I didn’t. With former ELLE Decoration editor Karen Roos behind it, how could it be otherwise? Babylonstoren is breathtaking and with Karen’s impeccable sense of style, it is a large slice of heaven.
Named one of Tatler magazine’s best hotels for 2012 for its food, Babylonstoren lies in the Drakenstein Valley between Franschhoek and Paarl and has panoramic views of the three mountains surrounding it and an enormous garden (the showstopper) with fruit, vegetables and herbs for the farm’s restaurant, Babel. It’s a place where you’d want to sit back, relax, take it all in over a glass of wine and basically never leave.
I started with a visit to the cheesery, bakery and charcuterie and couldn’t resist a loaf of the pear and gorgonzola bread which was wood-oven-fresh to take home. Every detail has been considered, even the packaging is a sight to fall in love with.
The Farm Shop is well worth a visit too. You’ll find the most beautiful pieces such as ceramics and vases, even panama hats, as well as the Babel cookbook (which is a must), Babylonstoren aprons, handmade soap and a selection of homemade jams, pickles, cordials and chutneys, all made from fruit and veg harvested from the garden. I left with a bottle of Babylonstoren Extra Virgin Olive Oil – and I admit it was the packaging that got me. The oversized plates decorated with bull’s heads (which the food is served on at Babel) are a décor must too. Make sure you have deep pockets if you intend buying, though, but just browsing is a treat too.
A bit of shopping, a long walk through the garden with more than 300 kinds of edible plants and a meal at Babel, which is highly recommended, take it from me. Each meal is unique and beautifully plated and every bite an explosion of tastes, not to mention the insane colours that make every order an artwork. I recommend the green salad (the day’s harvest of garden greens, fruit and vegetables topped with Huguenot cheese ribbons and dressed in a minted poppy seed and yoghurt dressing) to share for a starter. For mains, try the grilled double lamb cutlets with roasted plum and coriander pesto or the fillet on the bone with a creamy white wine and mushroom sauce served with flash-fried Babylonstoren exotic mushrooms. Look out for their winter menu from 1 June.
You won’t want to leave, so do as I did and let your food settle before taking a stroll around the latest addition to the farm, the glass conservatory that doubles as a teahouse from where you can watch the resident turkeys, ducks and donkeys cruise the farm.
Take my word for it, you’ll want to spend the day on this boutique farm but do take a sun hat and walking shoes so you can really get into it. Perhaps my only complaint is that Babylonstoren is just too perfect.
Babylonstoren Wine Farm, Simondium Road, Klapmuts
Farm Shop and Green House: 10am – 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday
Babel Restaurant (Monday to Saturday)
Breakfast: 8am – 10am; lunch: noon – 4pm; dinner (Friday and Saturday): 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Restaurant bookings: 021 863 3852
For more on Babylonstoren click here.