Where: D685 Camperdown, off the R56 to Umlaas Road
When: First Sunday of the month
Call: 082 872 2049
“Try some single cow cheese,” says horticulturist Richard Haigh as he offers me a slice of Mozzarella in his open-plan farm kitchen.
I had heard of single-estate coffee or single-vineyard wine, but single-cow cheese takes things to a whole other level.
The single cow was Blossom, and one of two milking cows on his farm. “It’s still quite young,” he says, but it’s beautifully creamy and has a lovely tang, unlike the tasteless bought Mozzarella from the supermarket. He’s rightly proud of it.
Ingrid Shevlin and I have been invited to Haigh’s Enaleni Farm where, once a month, he creates exciting meals from produce that comes from his farm. It takes the whole farm-to-fork movement to another level.
The farmhouse is a homely space, taken up by a few large tables in the living area with everything spilling out onto a wide verandah that overlooks the garden and the vegetable garden. It’s popular, with about 35 people coming to relish what he calls his four-course long lazy Sunday lunch. With so many interesting things on the menu, I would bill it as five courses. The cost was R380 a head.
We’re encouraged to explore the farm. There are chickens and ducks roaming around the lawn, and goats in the neighbouring paddock. The vegetable garden is a riot of leaves and plants in various stages of growth, all overseen by a mosaic mannequin that acts as a scarecrow. Two baby donkeys roam the garden, one shy and the other super friendly, the amiable one giving Ingrid a fright as it muzzled up to her from behind.
The gong goes to summon us all to the table.
First up is a selection of “nibbles” served on a piece of Zulu pottery. There’s a sweetcorn cracker with smoked globe beetroot pesto, and a seed cracker with Marigold the cow’s matured “Angazi” cheese. A chilli chicken liver sits atop a slice of ciabatta, while the raw vegetables on a thorn ‒ which turned out to be a toothpick ‒ included the freshest of peas and a leaf of spekboom. All delicious and interesting.
The next offering was a “breathing” green salad. We were not sure how it was breathing until Haigh informed us it was picked minutes ago. Simply dressed with a lime and kombucha dressing, the result was breathtaking. The freshness of the leaves and the dressing made the salad exceptional. As someone who’s not a fan of heavy vinegar dressings, I need to get Haigh’s recipe. It was served with a good slice of umdoni “olive” ciabatta, so called because umdoni berries from a tree in the garden were used in the same way one would normally use olives in the recipe. It came with a beautiful thick and creamy farm labneh rolled in vegetable ash.
Starters consisted of chicken and ricotta cannelloni topped with a tomato and basil sauce ‒ and that single-cow Mozzarella I had tasted earlier. A substantial dish, this was most enjoyable, although might have benefited from a little more of the lovely smokey tomato sauce.
We’re encouraged to take another sojourn of the garden in a little gap between courses. For many, it’s a time to charge their glasses. You bring your own drinks by the way, with bottles of water provided at the tables. Ingrid and I are happy to soak in the afternoon sun. Friendly donkey makes sure it gets petted, while foodies discuss the meal so far. The gong goes again.
First up is a chicken or pork broth. In keeping with the philosophy of using the whole animal, a good broth is always a part of proceedings. All animals are slaughtered humanely on the farm, Haigh tells us. The broth is served in little Chinese tea bowls. My pork broth is rich and deeply flavourful. It bodes well for the pulled Kolbroek pork to come.
This is a lovely flavourful dish spiced up with a rhubarb purée, and served with a pearl millet couscous, pickled green beans and wood-roasted pumpkin. The pumpkin had been cooked whole in the pizza oven overnight. Ingrid enjoyed her vegetable option of roast brinjals and halloumi.
Dessert was the highlight. It was simply one of the best baked cheesecakes I have had in a long time. It was accompanied by good coffee and lime and almond biscotti.
It was late afternoon when we left, well nourished by a great meal and a beautiful day in the country.
Ambience: 4 ½
The Independent on Saturday