Hilda’s Kitchen Groote Post

In the ten years since their first release, Groote Post is an efficiently run, established and dependable brand.

Their salmon-pink, Old Man’s sparkle is the only méthode cap classique (Brut, R75) in the ward, and most unusual for its 59% merlot base (as opposed to the classic pinot noir). I predict this new wine is going to go places. They do have pinot noir growing on their south facing slopes, and they have the only bottling of this savoury wine in the region (2008, R112).

The Old Man’s red blend, sold also in magnums for R90, is a very quaffable, cabernet-based, red ‘cool drink’ with minimal consequences the next day.

Recommended among the whites are: the light, almost effete weisser riesling 2008 (R67) in a dry style, while the 2010 just released is sweeter; the award-winning chenin now back in stock (2010, R45) sheds a whole new light on this jug varietal; the reserve sauvignon (2009, R95) made only when the best grape quality is present (previously in 2005 and 2007);the unwooded chardonnay (2009, R62) is hugely welcome after so many bloated, over-wooded chardonnays of recent years.

All this tasting, entreats one for lunch, and Hilda’s Kitchen is the star restaurant in the district. Named after Hildegonda Duckitt (1840 – 1905), Groote Post manor house, now a national monument, was this grand dame of Cape recipe’s birthplace and home. Slaves liberated off the coast by the British squashing the trade were indentured as farm labourers. One of them was Duckitt’s cook. These days you’ll find cordon bleu chef Debbie McLaughlin at work in the kitchen.

You can dine in the homestead or al fresco. The staff offer the best Cape farm hospitality. Hung from the umbrellas are see-through plastic bags filled with water, apparently to keep the flies way.

The food is unfussy but not rustic and the portions large. If you ever come across Hildegonda’s original recipes you have to divide by four; they had large families and enormous appetites back then. The springbok carpaccio (R56) starter has sole-size slices (R56). In Duckitt’s day duiker was commonly used as springbok were rare in the Western Cape. Today, the 2000-hectare farm offers drives to see kudu, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, bontebok, springbok, eland and gemsbok.

For mains, the chicken (R90) cooked in wine with bacon, onions and button mushrooms (in which the drumsticks fare better than the thighs) is best eaten with its flowering basil garnish on top.

The tender lamb shank (R110) comes in a light gravy with tomato, carrot and green beans. The pork belly (R110) has a shy plum sauce, served with Asian noodles, sprouts and tatsoi, which seems to be more about having fun than creating fusion tastes.

Open in July for the first time, their special winter menu includes braised beef, lamb osso bucco and chicken tagine.

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