There is a place where we believe that passion and inspiration meet. It provides you with an experience so deliciously authentic and natural, that you cant help but be entranced from the minute you arrive. We are talking about none other than Babylonstoren. It dates all the way back to 1690 and is one of the best preserved werfs (farm yard) in the Cape Dutch tradition. Even though some of the buildings date back over 300 years, there is still an undertone of the modern and it is balanced seamlessly with the historical value and enchantment of the property.
Cape Dutch architecture is distinctive with its signature white washed walls, thatched roofs and ornate gables. The emphasis at Babylonstoren is very much on serenity. As they so eloquently put it, “days are unscripted”. This is a freedom that keeps this place firmly fixed in the hearts of all that visit.
We were invited to wile away some hours on the farm and meander through the property and of course, enjoy a delectable lunch. 8 acres of a beautiful garden is populated with over 300 varieties of plants that are grown and harvested and used in the most creative fashions in the restaurants. It’s a farm to fork principle of freshness. The garden is the pulsating heart of Babylonstoren, it’s where we are pretty sure inspiration itself is grown as well as all the fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Imagine squirrels scurrying to bury their nuts, plump chickens waddling proudly and the sweet fragrances of a delicately designed labyrinth filling the air. Babylonstoren is a quintessential natural beauty. A trickling stream is home to over 7000 Clivia in spring and waterways are fed by the stream into the garden, as it was in the days of old.
Our tour included the guest cottages, thirteen in total and secluded beneath oak and olive trees. The design of the cottages is elegant and understated. Full glass windows enclose some of the guest cottage kitchens and dining areas, bringing the beauty of the surroundings into the eating area. Book shelves are lined with South African favorites and a fireplace adorns the living room. Splashed white and decorated with quaint pieces of art, it is a little slice of heaven in an already spectacular setting. The popularity of Babylonstoren is growing and and they are now in the process of building even more of these cottages to accommodate the demand.
Babylonstoren is home to two exceptional restaurants. The Green House is a special favorite that is an aesthetic wonder and is a desired choice for day visitors. They follow a first come, first served principle so it’s a wise decision to get there early and well worth it. Parts of the Green House are from Europe and are intricately melded with local materials. It houses many indigenous plants that need to be protected from winter rains and also tropical plants like pineapples, vanilla and ginger.
We were booked to eat at Babel and had already heard all about their three spectacular starter salads, the green, yellow and red and how the current site was once the cowshed. The restaurant has a white wonderland feel with an impressive kitchen that allows you to see the chefs put their creative passion directly onto your giant cow themed plate. The kitchen and garden teams collaborate daily to see what is ready for harvesting but these famous salads stay on the menu, always complimented with a seasonal twist.
A tiled wall displays a permanent marker menu and glass windows accentuate the natural light. After being offered a num num from the garden, a sweet pink fruit, we simply had to try the num num cordial. Spoilt with the likes of char grilled fillet and lamb cutlets, we soaked in the relaxed ambiance with full bellies.
As our afternoon drew to a close, we decided to end off with a stop at the old stable that was converted into the farm shop. It plays host to the bakery, charcuterie and tasting room. Freshly baked bread, cheeses, jams, puts the home in homemade and you could find yourself absentmindedly licking your lips.
After picking up a bottle of wine for the loved ones at home, a ginger preserve and sampling some of the juiciest biltong pieces, we headed off, our eyes darting back every few minutes until Babylonstoren was out of sight. We immediately agreed on when we would be visiting again.