Durban - Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in the Kamberg area is a five-star gourmet getaway that attracts foodies not only from KwaZulu, but well beyond our borders.
Once a holiday home transformed by owners Richard and Mouse Poynton into a five-star gastronomic adventure, it also offers spectaclur surroundings, an ambiance of utter tranquillity and comfortable and luxurious rooms.
One night at Cleopatra and you’ll feel a new person.
The Midlands always seems to look even more inviting in its autumnal overcoat and “The Lady” Cleopatra was no different, looking magestic among the tall autumn-coloured trees.
As our attentive and friendly hostess Phillipa explained, Cleopatra bakes twice a day, and our late-afternoon arrival was greeted by an enticing waft of fresh muffins from the kitchen.
But we had to restrain ourselves as a five-course dinner was around the corner. Phillipa begins each dinner by taking guests through the menu, and the first evening included a brief history lesson, which revealed that the Cleopatra Mountain had got its name from a lovesick British soldier, who looked up at the rock face, and saw the image of a beautiful lady.
That beauty was matched by the plates presented to a dining room full of eager travellers.
Each presentation was greeted with “oohs” and “aahs”, as a perfect red onion tartlet was followed by sumptuous tomato soup and an intriguing artichoke and salmon marriage before a granita cleansed the palate for a main of duck confit.
There was barely any room left for the zabaglione that wrapped up the meal in sweet style.
On returning to our room, we discovered that the attentive Sihle and Clinton had got the fire blazing in our “Classical” cottage. Each of the 11 rooms has a different theme, and we couldn’t have asked for more, with the complimentary sherry being the perfect nightcap.
Breakfast was a fruit compote and a cheeky “bubble and squeak” which more than filled up our tanks before a hike up one of the many trails in the area.
Cleopatra has over 500 acres (about 200 hectares) to explore, most presenting stunning vistas of the seemingly endless folds of mountain range, climbing up to the impressive Giant’s Castle in the distance.
You can also take the short drive to the Kamberg reserve where guided walks take you to caves with original San drawings where guides will explain the history behind the drawings.
For those who don’t feel like walking, there are horse rides or, for those with even even deeper pockets, helicopter tours that come complete with a champagne stop on top of a mountain.
After our energetic trek, there was just enough time left for my companion to unwind with a book and a cup of coffee on the deck over the pond.
It really is a place of retreat for all the senses.
But taste is top of the agenda, and the second dinner topped the previous night’s, in our lip-smacking opinion.
Creamy chicken livers and pumpkin soup with just out-the-oven rolls, followed by king prawns with two different sauces, and then a heavenly lamb fillet Wellington.
We could only manage a spoon or two of the lemon curd baked cheesecake, as our entertaining waiter and part-time sommelier, Max, regaled us with lengthy tales of how Richard prides himself on putting as little “rabbit food” on the plate as possible.
By the time we sat down for our final breakfast, which included perfectly dainty lemon pancakes, as well as corn fritters with Parma ham and a gorgeous tomato relish, we had fallen completely in love with Cleopatra Farmhouse, and Richard’s disregard for diets.
Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse is a food-lover’s paradise, and Richard and his team have imaginations as expansive as the surrounding mountains.
Go hungry, because every bite is an experience.
l Call 033 267 7243 /033 267 7013, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.cleomountain.com
Adrian Rorvik, Sunday Tribune