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Durban - My eyes have never been too big for my stomach, or so I thought, but that was tested on a visit to Hotel iZulu in Ballito. So, too, was my lack of fondness for salmon.
We arrived on a baking summer’s day in time for lunch and a dip in the pool. Lunch was Salmon Waldorf – honey-marinated salmon with Waldorf salad and gorgonzola soufflé. Despite my antipathy for salmon, I enjoyed it.
A brief nap in our cool suite was followed by a thorough going over by Stacy Moodley in the Impilo Spa. I had done myself a bit of a mischief the morning before our visit and she did a great job ironing out the kinks.
That evening Senzo ushered us through Gigi’s Brasserie into a glass-walled room in the kitchen. We were welcomed by executive chef Karel Jacobs and, after donning our aprons and chefs’ hats and ordering a bottle of wine off the extensive list, settled in while chefs Karel, Ashley and Ndumiso prepared a feast.
Vegetarian Illa was delighted with her carefully devised menu. Most of the vegetables are grown on the property. My menu began with another fishy surprise, Norwegian salmon tartare with mint and yoghurt tzatziki with a fennel tulle (Karel is passionate about salmon).
It was the first of six inventive courses. Standouts for me were the sultana and caper dressing, asparagus tartlet, blueberry chutney – and the magnificent vanilla chocolate and avocado mousse with lemon coulis in a dark chocolate casing.
Ashley was devising a fitness challenge (which he won) as we were finishing dinner. All the staff were friendly and personable.
The five-star Hotel Izulu is built on what was the home of South Africa’s first Miss World, Penny Rey Coelen, and sits high above the sea. The hotel consists of double storey buildings set among green lawns and lush sub-tropical vegetation.
Our suite was spacious and comfy with a huge bathroom. Each villa – or block of four suites (three in the villa, with the royal suite, which takes up a floor) – has a Jacuzzi downstairs. Great after a day at the beach.
Ballito is a holiday destination with blue flag status and outstanding winter surf. It’s quiet out of season and abuzz in season.
Whenever you visit, the hotel’s warm, friendly atmosphere and attentive staff will ensure you a relaxed stay. There are conference facilities and a lovely venue for weddings or ballroom dancing. The wine cellar is great for tastings and meals by candlelight.
l Rates start at R1 695 each sharing and the chef’s table is R385 each (maximum six).
l Call 032 9463444 or visit www.hotelizulu.com. - Sunday Tribune