Location: Stellenbosch, Cape Winelands.
Albert Einstein himself said that play is the highest form of research, so with research our top priority, Suna and I got an opportunity to play again in this Wonderful Stellenbosch experience.
They say it’s never too late to have a happy childhood, and we know just the place to get started on this journey back to the whimsical and the magical. Le Jardin is a kingdom built for adults who said to hell with adulting. It’s a place where everything exists, and anything is possible. A grand manor house indeed, but ordinary? Never. This delightful property has ‘Alice in Wonderland’ written all over it, and down the rabbit hole you will go the minute you enter through the gates. It really is a perfect hideaway as it invites you to go and discover hidden secrets and get lost in the garden playground. And if anyone is asking, yes, we are all mad here, the bar stool told me so.
If you don’t believe in magic, you will… as soon as you see the glass house built on the front lawn. In this case, the ‘glass house effect’ is nothing short of breathtaking, and if you see it lit up, you will be forgiven for thinking that you are in a magical land, far far away, where Peter Pan may just come flying through any minute.
We were convinced the Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum would soon arrive for tea, so Suna and I decided to dress up for a Mad Hatter’s tea party. The magical brush strokes of Carla Gouws from Varsity College, soon transformed me into the man himself, sporting a particularly strange nose… and much bigger than the one I currently have!
And Suna was, well, I actually don’t even know what she was...but the Queen of Hearts seemed to have attacked her with a deck of cards - see below pics to see what I mean. She looked like she was dragged backwards through a bush by the Queen’s guards!
So all dressed up and nowhere to go, you might think? At this location, you wouldn’t want to leave, so we decided to let us all just eat cake, and who better to bring cake, than the cake connoisseur Kanya Hunt (who also, clearly, has one of the coolest names ever). So Kanya from The Hunt House Kitchen specialises in whimsical and wonderful cakes decorated with the best quality Belgian or Lindt chocolate available. We did, however, have to ‘help’ a little bit to decorate the cake before we could taste this magical creation. To be honest, we were quite sad to cut it, but, a special occasion like this, called for a special cake, so yes, we had our cake and ate it too!
But actually, I thought this was a little bit unfair, because Suna, before she pitched up for the cake, had a very special day at Hazendal Wine Estate, where she also had culinary delight upon culinary delight. This beautiful wine farm combines the best of South African and ….Russian traditions, and offers a magical Russian tea ceremony. The farm is owned by the Voloshins, a Russian family who brilliantly decided to bring a little bit of Russian tradition to South Africa. Simone Voloshin was Suna’s host for the ceremony, and Suna was all too thrilled to get the scoop (and more cake) from Simone in person.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know that much about Russian culture except for the usual mentions like Vodka and Babushkas. Therefore, we were so intrigued to check out this ceremony, and off course, Suna was first in line to sign up for this one!
The tables are beautifully set, using the finest Russian porcelain, amongst many other typically Russian artefacts. The tea is served from a steaming Samovar, which is basically a tea urn, and around this Samovar, hangs a necklace of biscuits. You see now why Suna was so keen to go, two of her favourite things combined in one item. So despite learning more about Russian culture, the food is also out of this world. Executive chef at Hazendal, Michelle Theron, has off course, perfected Russian tastes, and but per own unique spin on it, like only she can.
There is much more to do at Hazendal, once you’ve finished the tea ceremony, and despite what Suna might say, it involves more than just drinking champagne on the lawn. If you have kids, then you must check out Wonderdal, a place bound to ignite a child’s sense of wonder and curiosity.
And that wraps up our WONDER-ful Stellenbosch experience, and to be honest, we think it’s out of this world. So, if you are ready for some magic, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves!