The Babel Supper – An everlasting blind date
After a long day of exploring and harvesting seasonal fruits and vegetables, we worked up a strong appetite. It had been my dream to dine at Babel, I wanted to experience fresh seasonal flavors groomed by hand, feel the texture of unadulterated pickings and of course it was a reason to dress up.
Appetisers served were, fresh guava and orange halves harvested from the farm. You’d think the orange would leave you scrunching your nose, instead you subtly smile and lifting your eyebrows, noting the sweeter taste of the Babylonstoren satsumas. We dined with Lizé and her husband, Daniel. The supper lasted over three hours, so it’s safe to say the four of us enjoyed more than just the food, the ambiance fuels conversation and elbows on tables.
We sampled their latest menu, Autumn 2017. You can view the menu here. The dinner menu is 3 courses: Stirrings, Progression and the Culmination (You do not have to opt for all 3). The menu is easy to read, no need to bring your translator. They have vegetarian options for each course too.
Through the evening, Lizé spoke to us about her travels around Europe, Daniel about how they met and got to married life. We never once noticed time passing or hoping for the next course to arrive, ample time is given for conversation and you never feel rushed to leave-why would you want to, after trying their Nebakanestur wine.
Among us, we sampled most of each course-the presentation was sui generis and typical Babylonstoren. Fresh, complete, exciting, daring (granadilla, guava and calamari daring) and important-each baby carrot crunch, rosa tomato burst and lemon squeeze you are reminded how much is missing from modern diets (Mine included).
For dessert, three of us opted for their off-menu chocolate fondant with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, Daniel went for the spicy and salty chocolate chili ice-cream. As usual, we all sampled the odd dish, we left Daniel with the garnishing; it was just that good.
After viewing a variety of creative efforts by a single kitchen, it raises the question of how, or more rather why, are other high end establishments charging inflated prices for a smilier standard received at the Babel? You could easily find this R250 ($20,€17,£15) main at upwards of R300-the reason? Quality, portion size, flavor and everything is organic, grown at Babylonstoren. Perhaps I am biased, but please do view the images.
After a stretch and striking my hand through my hair, it was now time for bed. We said the well known, post meal, lethargic but genuine goodbyes and began our short walk back to the room.
The Babel Breakfast – Catch the worm
Waking up at Babylonstoren your alarm clock consists of: the soft sound of squirrels’ rummaging through autumn leaves, the smell of mist and light footsteps around the estate as hikers head for the mountains. The morning was extremely cold, but refreshing-you don’t really want to layer your clothing, rather find the sun peaking through the overhead trees for warmth. Crunching old foliage, hands tucked under my light-jacket and exhaling clouds, we were on way to the former cow shed, The Babel Restaurant.
The Babel carries a smilier trait to all of Babylonstoren, we are nature’s guest. Instead of artificial lighting, see-through glass panes form the walls and a milk white interior add to the fresh start of a day. Unlike a usual restaurant/hotel, at breakfast time, there is no scurrying or plate guarding around other guests; everyone is enjoying a slow start, between the roosters and Babylonstoren staff.
Most noticeable, in the all white room, is freshly harvested rainbow, personified by fruit and veg. Every single item is created, grown and picked by hand for the breakfast table. Some of the seasonal items include: figs, satsumas, granadillas, berries, kiwi, rentals, sprouts, organic honey and baby carrots. My favorite was the freshly baked bread from their new bakery, which also serves as a restaurant.
We opted to sit outside, even though we were of warned of the much needed rain. We sat underneath semi-naked trees, enjoying our flat whites and our poorly measured muesli cups (I love yogurt more than muesli). Left-overs spread across our table, we ordered from the á la carte and gazed across the table toward the unawakened and damp greenery. Four plates of food arrived with extra freshly baked bread along with a side order of rain, lots of extra rain. We procured our valuables, the french toast (with bacon and boerenkaas) and the farm-breakfast leaving our phones and satchels behind; we headed inside with small droplets lingering on our hair strands.
We laughed at the ordeal and continued our breakfast. Full bellies, invigorated senses and a caffeine driven excitement we were off on the Garden Tour (Which takes place each day at 10am, free of charge).
The short: Amazing array of fresh produce from the farm, beautiful setting, exclusive (Babylonstoren does not host a large amount of guests), you can pick freshly dropped eggs from the farm and have them cooked for you and the dining area is extremely spacious!
I would like to say a special thank you to: Lizé, Jerome, Warren, Nhyleen, Kurwin, Justin, Constance and all the staff that played a role in making this memorable experience one that keeps me in awe. You’ve raised the standard on hospitality. Your subtle warmth, individuality and exclusivity has created a utopian in which we all feel welcomed.
I do not rank establishments I have visited, but I do have a list of those I will return to. So far only two occupy my list, Babylonstoren (Cape Town) and Hotel Florhof (Switzerland).