The Garden of Eden at Babylonstoren

12 Feb

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You have to see this place to believe it. It is heaven on earth. An eight acre fruit and vegetable farm growing over 300 varieties of plants, each one edible and grown as biologically as possible. The picture below is of an heirloom variety of pumpkin called Turkish Turban.
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Fruit and veg are harvested year round for use in their restaurant, Babel. The garden is divided into fifteen areas for vegetables, fruits, berries, bees, indigenous plants, ducks and chickens. Gravity feeds water into waterways from a stream into the garden as it has done for 300 years.

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You can take a guided tour of the farm, as we did, before enjoying a lunch made from freshly picked fruit and vegetables you have just seen growing. Don't forget to stop off for a fresh herb tea in the beautiful greenhouse before lunch.

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You can pick your own blend of fresh herbs from the garden. I chose lemon verbena, pineapple sage and mint which was refreshing and light and made up for the beautiful rose water and strawberry cupcake we couldn’t resist to go with it.

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Lunch at Babel is a joyful celebration of fresh local produce served in a natural and generous way.
The maxim of the restaurant’s creator, Maranda Engelbrecht Cape Town’s food and style guru, is that the food should be served as naturally as possible, not messed about with or chopped into oblivion. Pick, clean and serve is her approach and it works. You really get that “fresh from the garden to the table” feeling.

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The restaurant is in a converted cow shed with floor to ceiling glass walls and white painted original brick. It is light, informal and incredibly chic. The menu reflects the seasons and what has been harvested that day. The salads are either red, green or yellow and abundant with beautiful produce in that colour. Speaking to Maranda she told me that she wanted the fruit and vegetables to be the main ingredients and the meat and fish to be additional. We chose the yellow which included edible lilies, passion fruit and carrot, papaya, tamarillo, pineapple, nectarines, yellow heirloom tomatoes, roasted corn and melon. You could add smoked trout, chicken or yoghurt cheese but it was perfect without.

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It is the attention to detail that makes this such a memorable experience. The freshly made bread was served with a herb oil made from a mixture of herbs from the garden.

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We were given an aperitif of chenin grapes and cheesecake mouse which was stunning.

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I ordered the Artichoke & Goats Cheese Tart with caramelised onion, tamarillo & basil for my main.

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The pastry was so crumbly and light and the filling creamy and delicious. All the main courses come with chips and vegetables. Now about those chips….

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They were the best I’ve ever tasted. The Washer Up (who makes amazing chips) was not pleased to be knocked off the top spot but these were special. Thick and chunky,hand cut, very crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle. The perfect chip served with course sea salt, cracked pepper and fresh lemon to squeeze over. The Washer Up insists it must be a superior potato to the one he uses. Something about the workman always blaming his tools comes to mind.

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After lunch we had the absolute pleasure of meeting with Maranda Engelbrecht one of the driving forces behind this incredible concept. She let us have a look around her new venture there that is almost ready to launch. Another converted barn being made into a delicatessen and bakery selling freshly baked breads, homemade charcuterie and cheeses as well as a wine tasting area. Is there no end to this woman’s talents? She is leading the food revolution in South Africa and I, for one, am definitely on board.

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Thanks Maranda, it was a pleasure….

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17 Responses to “The Garden of Eden at Babylonstoren”

  1. Kellie February 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    What a fantastic post! I could almost have been there, such are your descriptive powers. An awful long way from chill-bound Scotland, but I can dream…

  2. Chica Andaluza February 12, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    What an amazing place and what a great way to run it. The food photos are lovely but the last one of you and Maranda is gorgeous – so relaxed and happy!

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide February 12, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Wow, what an incredible place. I want those chips. But I for one am sure they are second only to the Washer Up’s! Beautiful photos. Rufus sent me another message, something about that pot being broken before he got there.

  4. musingmar February 12, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    An amazing lunch in extraordinary surroundings … thank you for the chance to experience this vicariously.

  5. veggiegrettie February 13, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    That does look like heaven on earth. You are definitely making me want to go to South Africa!

  6. Marina@cowboycountryvegetarian February 13, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    Beautiful place! I would love to taste some of those dishes, well, all of those dishes! Great post, thank you!

  7. ceciliag February 13, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    oh wow, how beautiful and well chic.. you are right.. thank you so much for the tour! c

  8. preparingtofly February 13, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    That is such a beautiful place!! I love the concept of eating fresh and being surrounded by nature. Amazing!

  9. Margarita February 13, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Brilliant description. I felt was there with you at the place. What a trip!

  10. Suzi February 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    What a lovely post and your photos are killer. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  11. Alli February 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    Looks like an amazing place

  12. Tes February 14, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    I want to eat there everyday. What a beautiful place :)

  13. magicofspice February 15, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    Oh wow, what a fantastic place! And the food looks equally as fantastic! Wonderful post :)
    Happy Valentines Day!

  14. Tammy February 15, 2012 at 6:06 am #

    Loved the post and all of your descriptions. Sort of sorry to see a washer upper dethroned but then I did it myself in our house earlier this month. Glad you are having a lovely time.

  15. Caroline Elliott February 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Judging by your superlative discriptive powers and stunning photographs it does, indeed, look like heaven on earth. All of your ‘holiday’ Blogs have maintained your very high standard and I can almost feel as if I am there with you. I can certainly ‘taste’ the food.

    Caroline

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Babel Roasted Artichoke Goat’s Cheese Tart, Rocket Pesto, Raisin Puree « Cook Eat Live Vegetarian - March 29, 2012

    [...] have already written about our day at Babylonstoren in another post . They have a huge farm on site that supplies the restaurant with fresh fruit and vegetables. [...]

  2. Roasted artichoke and goat’s cheese tart recipe - Food | Getaway Travel Blog - May 30, 2012

    [...] have already written about our day at Babylonstoren in another post. They have a huge farm on site that supplies the restaurant with fresh fruit and vegetables. There [...]

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