Travel: Stanford Valley Guest Farm in the stunning Overberg

Today we’re heading north from Cape Town through the Hemel en Aarde valley (it means heaven and earth in Afrikaans) to the Overberg. It’s a relatively newly established wine region with the first farms being developed here in the 1980s. Less than a two-hour drive from the Mother City to another beautiful region of this amazing country with undiscovered vineyards (by me anyway) to visit along the winding roads. How I love discovering new places. Our destination for the night? The Stanford Valley Guest Farm.

Nestling on the Eastern slopes of the Klein Rivier Valley, 10kms outside the quaint little town of Stanford, the farm is home to charming, whitewashed cottages, sweeping lawns, paddocks and incredible mountain views. The perfect base for a get-away-from-it-all escape. Here’s what I loved about it.

The picture-perfect setting

The whitewashed rooms and cottages are surrounded by mountains and forests with flowers and herbs growing profusely. Endless valley vistas and an incredible peace and serenity complete the picture.

Stanford Valley: accommodation
Charming whitewashed cottages in a peaceful setting

There’s also plenty to grab the attention with interesting sculptures, horses and plant life dotted around the landscape. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Stanford Valley: sculptures
Anyone for press ups? Or a look across the valley?
Stanford Valley: horses
The horses looked up curiously as I approached the paddock
Stanford Valley: swing
Comfy swing chairs to while away the hours
Stanford Valley: herb garden
A profusion of herbs to perfume the air and add flavour to the kitchen.
Stanford Valley: olive trees
Olive trees lead the way to reception and the restaurant

The spacious, comfortable accommodation

We stayed in Fynbos No 3, a large suite with views through blossoming white roses towards the lush green valley and the Akkedisberg mountains beyond.

Stanford Valley: view
A picture-perfect view to wake up to
Stanford Valley: verandah
Take in the fresh air and beautiful vistas on your private verandah

Our huge room, Fynbos 3, after the indigenous shrubs that grow here in abundance, had high ceilings, wooden floors and a mix of whitewashed walls and exposed brick. All creating a beautiful farmhouse feel.

Stanford Valley: room
The comfort of our large room and its tempting bed

The desk in the corner housed a fridge and tea and coffee-making facilities with ground coffee, a cafetiere and tea bags as well as a tasty jar of rusks. And a wood-burning stove on the wall. Sadly it wasn’t cold enough to light it…

Stanford Valley: accommodation
Loved the wood-burning stove – with plenty of wood

And then there was the luxury bathroom with a huge bath and enormous separate shower. And lovely customised toiletries. Also loved the lavender flowers laid across our towels – those little touches make such a difference. We soon settled in for a spot of rest. It’s hard work all that wine tasting!

When it’s time for dinner it’s only a short walk across the lawns to The Manor House – the farm’s incredible restaurant.

Stunning food at The Manor House

The stylish country-style restaurant sits just off reception. Windows all along one side make the most of the gorgeous view.

Stanford Valley: The Manor House
Dine in style and comfort at The Manor House

Personal service is the name of the game at the Manor House. We soon felt at home once our waiters introduced themselves and we’d exchanged names. Ready to peruse the menu with its selections described as contemporary country cooking.

Chef Janine van der Nest is a local lady and makes the  most of local, seasonal produce as well as her considerable cooking skills. As it says on the website, the dishes are created from “what’s close to their heart and close to their doorstep”. Love that! Dishes are certainly cooked with love and with the freshest of ingredients – the perfect combo.

First up this delicious still-warm pot-bread with some spiced butter. If bread always tasted as good as this I’d be eating it by the potful!

Stanford Valley: pot bread
Straight-from-the oven, rosemary-flavoured pot bread

My beef carpaccio starter was, quite simply, magnificent. Served with a Fraser’s Folly berry reduction, popped capers and a pink peppercorn mousse – an incredible combination of flavours and textures. Fraser’s Folly is one of the local beers and the reduction added a surprising sweetness which perfectly complemented the creamy peppery  mousse and saltiness of the capers. A dish with such substance and such tender, fresh meat. Possibly the best beef carpaccio I’ve ever eaten….seriously.

Stanford Valley: carpaccio
A plate of carpaccio flavour and texture perfection

The heritage beet salad was served on cashew cream with orange dressing, toasted cashews and cinnamon dust. A plate of nuttiness and sweetness with a citrussy, cinnamon finish.

Stanford Valley: beets
Beet salad nestling on creamy cashew puree

Marvellous main courses 

For mains I opted for some of the local lamb – there’s a lot of it around and it’s highly delicious. Cooked pink and with a herb crust, the lamb rack comes with a creamy aubergine puree, blatjang (chutney), vine tomatoes and courgettes. A substantial plate of food with beautifully tender lamb and the sweetest of cherry tomatoes bursting with flavour.

Stanford Valley: lamb
A considerable plate of deliciousness

Today’s line fish was Kabeljou (or Kob), a freshly, sweet local fish only caught at lunchtime. Served on a fennel cream with wilted spinach, broccoli and a dill sabayon. Such delicate, light flavours.

Stanford Valley: kabeljou
Freshly caught local fish with a buttery, creamy sauce

There’s no doubt portions are substantial at The Manor House. But even though we’d already over-enjoyed I couldn’t resist ordering this dessert. Regular readers will know I’m not much of a pudding person, but I just loved the sound of the blushing poached peaches with rooibos and fynbos honey ice cream. Wow! Such incredibly sweet and tart (I know – at the same time) peaches with a touch of basil, paired with honey ice cream – the food of the gods indeed.

Stanford Valley: dessert
If you’re gonna have pudding make sure it’s a superb one! Just saying.

After dinner we retired to the lounge for coffee and a glass of the local brandy. What can I say? We just didn’t want the night to end. The comfy lounge is packed with books and magazines – I could hole up in there for weeks. Including a pile of National Geographics – this one dating back to 1959. Awesome.

Stanford Valley: coffee and brandy
Coffee, brandy and late-night reading matter

The beautiful breakfast

After a snug night’s sleep in our enormous bed punctuated by the pitter-patter of rain we awoke to the freshness of a newly watered country. Beautiful.

Time for breakfast – and a selection to dream of. Especially when we were told by the lovely Elsabe that we really didn’t have to worry about the menu but could have anything we wanted. As she said, sometimes you just feel like a plate of sausages – yes, actually, sometimes I really do.

Having said that, their selections sounded so good we swerved the sausages! The creamy mushrooms were served on farm toasted and topped with perfectly soft poached eggs. As I said before, there’s no issue with getting a satisfying portion here – not sure I’ve ever seen so many mushrooms on one plate!

Stanford Valley: mushrooms
Mushroom heaven and softly poached eggs

The freshly squeezed pineapple and mint juice added a real zingy start to our day – and matches the view too!

Stanford Valley: juice
Fresh juice always makes the breakfast experience

My choice? A contemporary take on a BLT with crispy bacon, rocket, fresh tomatoes and aioli on toasted farm bread. I have to say an even better combination than the original – love it when a classic is improved upon. I’m still dreaming about the bacon.

Stanford Valley: BLT
A better-than-ever BLT updated

Of course no breakfast is complete (for me at least) without a frothy coffee.

Stanford Valley: latte
Getting the day off to a great start with my hit of caffeine

I loved the protea display in the dining room fireplace. Yes, they are all real flowers, I had to double check! Another lovely touch.

Stanford Valley: proteas
The local blooms make for a wonderful display

Explore the area

As well as wine tasting and enjoying great food which was the focus of our trip (more of which later), there are plenty of other things to do in the area. So enjoy lovely hiking trails or go whale watching in nearby De Kelders or Hermanus (in season of course). Visit the nearby Klein River cheese factory or go shopping in historic Stanford village.

Or just chill out, inhale that fabulous Hemel en Aarde air and take in the majestic scenery. You’ll feel instantly better for it.

And finally.

Stanford Valley Guest Farm is at just off the R326 near Stanford village. Take the Caladon exit off the N2.

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