Lunch at WaterkloofPosted: May 7, 2012
I was lucky enough to spend half a day in the winelands two weeks ago with three fellow journalists, learning about the sustainable practices at Waterkloof Restaurant and wine estate.
I’d never been to the estate before but after chatting with my editor about her own experience, it was inevitable that I began to create rather high expectations in my head. Well, it did not disappoint! In fact it far exceeded my expectations. All of them.
Waterkloof is situated in Somerset West, just off the Sir Lowry’s Pass Village Road and from the buildings’ extreme elevation overlooking False Bay, one really has to stop. Listen. Look. Breathe and take in the breathtaking surroundings. I now know what they mean when they describe it as ‘the vineyard in the sky’.
Gregory Czarnecki is the Chef de Cuisine and I met him for the first time towards the end of last year at the sustainable seafood dinner that was hosted by Wild Peacock in Stellenbosch. He’s extremely down-to-earth, exceptionally talented, incredibly French, and rather easy on the eye. As luck would have it- he’s also married.
Waterkloof is known for its biodynamic approach to viticulture which links with the notion of sustainability. It was evident, when chatting to Gregory, that he finds it a challenge to get hold of “basic” ingredients for his menu. Being French, he’s used to herbs that we don’t often have available here in South Africa (like French tarragon). So he tries to grow his own fresh stuff in a garden not far from the restaurant. There are also plans in place for a formal permaculture garden. So far it looks impressive.
The farm’s manager, Christian Loots was generous enough to take us on a guided tour and we were able to see just how effective a biodynamic viticultural practice is, where much insight and understanding is required into how the earth works in relation to the moon. Christiaan is a mindfield of information, leaving us with many “wow” moments.
Of course no man is an island, and so it makes sense that the restaurant follows this earthy and holistic approach. Gregory gets his eggs every day from the farm chickens. Not only are they guaranteed free-range, but he knows with absolute certainty that they are the freshest he will get. They made their way onto our plates in the form of a simple homey yet highly satisfying starter, executed to perfection.
In terms of seafood, the restaurant is SASSI approved, although our specific lunch menu featured orange-listed items; prawns and monkfish.