Dining Country: The South Africa Western Cape’s Babylonstoren is more than wine & food

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A working farm that is also a luxury hotel and innovative restaurant, Babylonstoren has earned its meaning: “Tower of Babel”. One of the winelands’ oldest estates, its rolling lawns, farm animals that include donkeys, chickens and turkeys, its array of wines and signature dishes and the opportunity for guests to pick their own fruit and vegetables are just some of the reasons why the ambience at the farm is difficult to recreate elsewhere.

Nestled in the South Africa Western Cape’s Paarl region, not far from the more famous city of Cape Town, the farm sees at least half of its guests travelling in from abroad from all over the world. Its South African visitors are just as loyal.  One visit and it’s not difficult to understand why.

Wild olives and oaks litter the large plot, which features a henhouse and pigeon loft, wine cellar, stables and workshops. A stream from the Simonsberg flows through the 300-year-old plot as farmers and wine makers go about their daily business.

“Babylonstoren is a historic farm with elements of the restored building reaching back 300 years. Yet the outlook is decidedly modern. Today it is a farm, a farm hotel, spa, a restaurant, greenhouse, bakery, charcuterie, larder and cellar,” explains the farm’s beautiful cookbook, curated by Maranda Engelbrecht.

The cookbook takes after the Farm’s restaurant, Babel, which is renowned for its fresh fruits and vegetables, its complementary wines and its mouth-watering menu. The chefs play with unusual flavour combinations and include new varieties of vegetables in every meal. Engelbrecht says, “It’s not so much a signature dish as a signature style. Our style of food leans towards simplicity. We maintain integrity by keeping it whole as far as possible – slicing, slashing and pounding are kept a minimum.”

The food served at Babel is closely tied to its origin: the garden. “Red, green and yellow is a theme that you will see repeated. We have red, green and yellow salads in babel and fresh red, green and yellow juices in the Greenhouse and red, green and yellow cordials and preserves sold in the farm shop.”

While Babylonstoren is an abundant farm from a food perspective, the wine is not to be overlooked. Cellar Master Charl Coetzee says that they have discovered that their farm offers diversity with multiple different terroir pockets that has enabled them to match every variety with the most suited growth surroundings.

“We produce healthy and flavoursome grapes that enable us to make wines that are reflective of this area and its origin. Delicious, elegant, expressive and balanced wines that are made to be enjoyed everyday and be paired beautifully with food – our other love,” says Coetzee.

For those looking for a longer taste experience at Babylonstoren, it doubles as the perfect country getaway. The farm’s five star cottage suites are equipped with their own kitchen and dining areas, featuring views of the garden and trees.

The spa offers a range of treatments, and is the ultimate way to unwind amongst eight hectares of fruit and vegetable abundance.

Divided between fruit orchards and vineyards, Babylonstoren is a blend of good food and great wine. The history of the farm adds charm and an authenticity, while the atmosphere is quite simply laid back and relaxing. It may not be a tower as such but the farm certainly is the height of country dining. 

This article was written by [TAM SUTHERNS]

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