Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

Filtering by Category: FINE DINING

Reflections of Anna Trapido

anna trapido hunger for freedom

Anna Trapido
(Photo : Jacana/AP Photo)

"FURTHER GLORY from an inspired source"

Following inclusion in House & Leisure’s top five, Wine magazine’s dine top ten, one of Africa’s top food critics, Anna Trapido and her husband Richard graced us with a visit a few weeks ago. She is of course, among numerous other distinctions, the author of Hunger for Freedom: The Story of Food in the Life of Nelson Mandela. Anna’s note on departure was a telling testament of her experience here. Her reflections included a suggestion that the Hartford restaurant was not only a national treasure in its own right, but it was deserving of a place in the World’s Top Fifty. Now this is serious talk, as the world’s top fifty includes every eatery on the planet, and that runs to millions.

Of course, these things are always the product of one’s subjective judgment, but it’s a comforting thought that increasingly the critics beliefs are converging in a single direction.

Thank heavens for these mercies. Times like these call for moments like this.

WORLD TOP 50 RESTAURANTS : South Africa makes its mark

hartford house desert

Hartford House Restaurant
(Photo : Sally Chance)

We always knew that it was a “big deal” to make the top ten restaurants in South Africa, but its international significance has only just dawned on us. The release recently of the world’s top 50 restaurants included three of South Africa’s Top Ten, Le Quartier Francais, Rust en Vrede and Aubergine. Some accomplishment for a relatively small country at the southernmost tip of what our civilized friends to the north call “the darkest continent”.

For Hartford House and its little “super chef”, Jackie Cameron and her team, this is especially significant, as our restaurant not only counts in South Africa’s Top Ten, but it’s the only one to enjoy that exalted status on this side of the Drakensberg. Somewhere out there, perhaps just beyond the Top 50, Hartford House can justifiably think of itself among the leading restaurants in the world.

Of course, you’ll never know why till you’ve tested it for yourself!

Mother’s Day - "IMPRESS MOM"

Mille Feuille

Mille Feuille
(Photo : Jackie Cameron)

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Pamper your mother with a memorable meal using methods which will transport her on a journey of creativity. After all, all she ever does is spoil you. Create this gastronomic experience in your home.

A welcome, ice-cold, glass of refreshing, fruity flavoured tea will be received warmly. Tea’s full potential is often overlooked as many only know it for its “hot cuppa” properties.

The savoury kick from a Caesar salad is a great start to any meal as it stimulates the salivary juices. Over the years this dish has evolved into a typical everyday table salad. Disgraceful, if you ask me! This is a grand serving of food that was created in 1924 by an Italian chef, Caesar Cardini, at a restaurant in Tijuana Mexico. It was traditionally prepared at the table, with the greatest attention to detail and, today, it should be made with respect for its longevity. Interestingly, the original recipe was without anchovies… which suits me perfectly. The crisp romaine lettuce leaves, crunchy herbed croutons, salty capers, rich-creamy dressing and finely shaved parmesan makes this my favourite salad. The textures excite my palate. I often add sautéed bacon and onion or sliced sesame chicken breast or smoked salmon to this enticing salad. Scrumptious.

You have heard of risotto but have you ever cooked a moist, creamy, textured portion? A quaint description of this short grain rice in the Larousse Gastronomique says:“Each grain should retain its separate identity with a little bite.” This is a food many are anxious about cooking but once perfected it can be used as a main component, a starch helping, a filling for squid tubes and also a dessert – the options are endless. Up next is a vegetarian delight. My home-grown beetroot risotto with toasted walnuts, beetroot sprouts, wild figs and creamy Gorgonzola. Tempting flavours! Even carnivorous South African males agree...

Mille Feuille, when translated means “a thousand leaves”, is a classical dessert consisting of thin layers of puff pastry separated with layers of custard or Chantilly cream (flavoured cream with vanilla extract and castor sugar) and fresh fruit and/or berries. With the variety of fruit available this is the ideal dessert to round off a delectable lunch.

Mothers of any age will enjoy this menu for its use of traditional flavours and, at the same time, it's originality and freshness. Mom’s day off will result in the whole family’s culinary enjoyment. Bon appetité.

Take these recipes and try them.


Post your comments and food-related questions below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
033 263 2713

Shopping with Head Chef Jackie Cameron

Jackie Cameron / Sally Chance (p)

Jackie Cameron / Sally Chance (p)

The following is an extract from a candid Q&A interview with our Head Chef, Jackie Cameron, which was recently published in the Travel & Food supplement of The Times.

Favourite things?

Recipe books; kitchen equipment (exciting kitchen gadgets always win me over); improved ingredients and products; I also love handbags, shoes and earrings.

Best thing about shopping?

Finding that something that puts a smile on my face.

Worst thing about shopping?

The hustle and bustle.

Cash or Credit Card?

I always pay... cash. With the arrival of the credit crunch, I’ve... become very aware of every transaction I make.


Jean Paul Gaultier.

Best gift?

A cap gun at the age of three.

Worst gift?

A chocolate-dipped scorpion.

Earliest shopping memory?

Begging my mother for a chocolate at a grocery store. I’m always reminded of that when I hear other children trying their luck. Just the other day, while standing in the queue at Woolworths, I overheard a young boy telling his mother how much he loved her. I was taken aback by his honesty and caring nature, only to hear two seconds later how much he would love a chocolate. I had to laugh.

Whats in yor fridge?

In my fridge I always have... a selection of Midlands cheese and homemade pickles and preserves.

Perspective on 'Green'?

To me going green means... contributing in a positive light. Believing that every individual can make a difference.

Best shopping companions?

My mother and sister.

Worst shopping companion?

A person who is irritated and in a huff and rush.

Best all-time purchase?

Larousse Gastronomique, “the world’s most famous culinary reference book”.

Most expensive purchase?

My studio flat.


R500 : A meal for one at a top restaurant.

R5000 : A coffee machine and beans... together they make a full-bodied espresso with a perfect crema.

If the sky’s the limit?

I would buy only the best quality, state-of-the-art equipment to furnish my dream kitchen. A good chef is a prepared chef and a prepared chef is a fast chef.

Could this be the Great Trek?

the great trek

The Great Trek?
(Hartford House)

Anyone visiting Summerhill this week could be forgiven for thinking they were witnessing a pilgrimage. While there will no doubt be others who pitch randomly, already we are expecting visitors from several different directions of the world.

The English are here in force, headed by Sir Bruce and Lady Hester Martin, Stuart and Adele Silvey, Commander and Mrs John Ford, while the Welsh, who lowered the English flag at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, are represented by the Mercers and the Dawsons of Usk Valley Stud Farm. Gold Circle are here with an Mpumalanga delegation on Thursday, local trainers Mike Miller, Garth Puller, Dennis Drier and their respective spouses were here on Monday.

Riding legend Michael Robertsand his wife Verna were diners at Hartford the same day. Summerhill stalwart Steve Sturlese was accompanied by his racing manager, Peter de Marigny and his newly acquired son-in-law, top jockey Brandon Lerena, whilst shipping supremo, Brian Roux, Arthur and Vynettevan der Heijden and Standard Bank will all have darkened the portals of the farm before the week is out.

No wonder we know so few people in the neighbourhood! Yet we wouldn’t trade it for anything: these are the people that bring the colour to our lives.

Food Trends for 2009

Tea-smoked chicken breast sandwich / Jackie Cameron (p)

Tea-smoked chicken breast sandwich / Jackie Cameron (p)

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Extensive research reveals the obvious: the economy dictates people’s eating and shopping budgets. People swipe less and save more. Food will be cooked by the people for the people, so family meals and stay-at-home dinner parties will be the next "big thing". Knowledge of seasonal ingredients and the use of local produce are essential in impressing your company.

Peruvian food is the new Thai, so Ceviche, or “Cebiche,” to be phonetically correct, is perfect. Ceviche is the Peruvian style of marinating seafood in soya and lime. The benefits of this chilled seafood dish include a cure for hangovers, and is reputed to be an aphrodisiac. Oh boy! Fresh ginger, garlic and coriander form an integral part of the dish and the pantry gossip is that ginger is pushing mint right off menus.

Recognizing that unhealthy eating habits in children result in unhealthy adults, grown health awareness demands a new emphasis on the value of sensible nutrition over convenience foods. Get into the habit of “double” cooking, where possible, and freezing the surplus, so that healthier food is available when time isn’t. When I think excellent value-for-money, I think homemade macaroni and cheese. Plain or schussed up, both are scrumptious.

The new trend is for smoking your food rather than frying, a blast from the past. Imagine a stylish, healthy, tea-smoked chicken breast sandwich for lunch.

Thinking of what works and what is best, remember how your grandparents used to source and prepare their food. They were the trend setters of all time, to the point that today we are looking back to what they did, and more often than not, we nick ideas from yesteryear.

Take these recipes and try them.


Post your comments and food-related questions below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
033 263 2713

Hartford House is PUMPING

hartford veranda restaurant

"The home of good conversation, fine wines and classic horses."
(Hartford House)

Living by its slogan “the only world class hotel on a world class stud farm in the world”, dinner on any evening at Hartford House in January and February is a cosmopolitan affair. Adorned with candles, its great colonial verandah is alive with the conversation of as many as six different tongues, though a gathering at the Summerhill table of Australians, British, French and South Africans, demands one universal language. It’s about horses, of course (who might have guessed?) and it’s this time of year when the horse nations of the world converge on us, and Hartford fondly remembers its other slogan “the home of good conversation, fine wines and classic horses”.

Naturally, there’s many a pilgrim who’s been magnetised by the space, the peace, the tranquillity, the beauty of our countryside, and of course, the culture of the only people on earth whose name is known to every airline pilot, “Z” for Zulu.

Guests this evening, include Jonathan D’Arcy and Simon Vivien from Australia’s time honoured auction house, Inglis & Son, here on their annual African sojourn; Xavier and Natalie Bozo, prominent French breeders, Patrick Mitford-Slade, whose connections go back to the great English stallion Petingo; National Spirit’s breeders, Dr Allen and Robyn Bechard, and a rotation of delegates from the Summerhill team. We use the word rotation intentionally: with the best will in the world, we could not dish up an “A” class repertoire, lunch-in-and-dinner-out, day after day as times demand, without a fresh contingent to carry the cudgels.

Jackie Cameron on walkabout in Bremen

Jackie Cameron with Gabi Kirschke and her friend Monika from Berlin

Jackie Cameron with Gabi Kirschke and her friend Monika from Berlin

I have recently returned from a trip to Germany (Bremen) to cook for the Kirschkes. Gabriele Kirschke celebrated her 60th birthday in style. The South African themed evening included Zulu dancers, music and Waterford Kevin Arnold Shiraz. A perfect evening that was filled with friendly faces, fine wines and food.

Gabi’s South African Birthday menu:

*Roasted Butternut Soup with Pear Custard Ice Cream, Pumpkin Seeds and Curry Oil

*Sweetcorn Fritter with Springbok Carpaccio, Fresh Rocket Leaves, Sun dried Tomato, Sour Cream and Balsamic Reduction

*Poached Ostrich, Caramelised Onions, Gorgonzola flavoured Dauphinoise, Chiffonade Spinach and Red Wine Sauce

*Malva Pudding with Dried Fruit Compote and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Proudly South African flavours! I am always amazed by the quality of South African goods that can be found overseas. Well done to the team at “Restaurant CAMPUS” especially to Marc and Frank for always making my time so pleasurable.

This unforgettable experience was made possible by the generosity of Gabi and Rainer Kirschke. Thank you.

(Photo kindly supplied by Rainer Kirschke)

The magnitude of Hartford's Top Ten Restaurant Award

Cheryl Goss and Jackie Cameron / Paula Mackenzie (p)

Cheryl Goss and Jackie Cameron / Paula Mackenzie (p)

"Form is temporary : CLASS IS PERMANENT"

There’s an old saying in the racing world that you might fluke the odd big performance, but it’s the ability to consistently achieve at the top level that’s the real mark of quality. The magnitude of Hartford House’s Top Ten Restaurant Award last Sunday evening, is only just beginning to sink in, and the extent of it is quietly coming home to us.

The reality is that none of these achievements are overnight occurrences, and they’re no different to winning Breeders’ Championships. We know what it took to put a team together capable of landing the spoils in the horse business, and the sustained record of four consecutive championships has been the product of almost 30 years of blood, sweat and tears.

In Hartford’s case, the journey started almost eight years ago, with the recruitment of a man by the name of Richard Carstens, who came to us with the option of working at Hartford or at our new venture at the time, Lynton Hall. As it turned out, despite Hartford’s own requirements, we felt that Lynton’s need was the greater because it was in its infancy, and after eight months at Hartford, Richard relocated to the coastal resort, where he took Lynton to a top ten finish in the national awards, and in the end, was elected the nation’s top chef.

As Richard was departing for Lynton Hall, we discovered a waif-like Thespian, who had already spent a year at the Mount Grace Country House & Spa, in the form of Pietermaritzburg born and raised Jackie Cameron, and she proceeded to beaver away as industriously as anyone we’ve ever come across in an already industrious team. Though wet behind the ears, Jackie quickly revealed an underlying potential that’s rare not only in people of her age, but uncommonly so in older people too. It wasn’t long before local critics nabbed onto her coattails, and began to invest in her growth. People like Mechthild Yorke-Mitchell, then restaurant critic for Wine Magazine, Anne Stevens of The Mercury, Derek Taylor of the Sunday Tribune, and latterly and very significantly, Victor Strugo of The Saturday Star, who has been a powerful personal mentor to Jackie. All of them caught onto the fire that was raging at Hartford.

Of course, there's been many other accolades, and last year the Hartford restaurant made the Dine Top 10: Deluxe 2008 voted by Diners club international & Wine magazine, but the Prudential Eat-Out Restaurant Awards are the summit of them all, and to have achieved this is the ultimate for any young chef or restaurant anywhere.

The point of this is that under Cheryl’s tutelage, in the relatively short space of 12 years, we’ve seen the emergence of two national celebrities in the culinary game, and it’s all a result of a sustained obsession that goes beyond perfection.

There’s no team in the world that can appreciate the significance of Hartford better than that at Summerhill. We know what it takes, and we understand what it is that keeps you there. Class, class and more class, and nothing less than class.

Mike Tarr sends Warm Wishes

Lunchtime dining at Hartford House

Lunchtime dining at Hartford House


Hello Jackie and Cheryl:

Just a short note to thank you both and Gold Circle and Gill Simpkins for the wonderful experience of being at Summerhill this week and the great lunch in a perfect setting. Jackie you are a genius, pea soup and ice cream!! such invention. I love it. And the Norwegian salmon was superb and the desserts sublime. I hope to come back and do a proper crit and also take in more of the amazing atmosphere of Summerhill. We are truly blessed as South Africans to have a place like this. Thank you for a memorable day.

I saw Mickey briefly on our tour but would obviously like to interview him and get an in depth view into his thoughts on the farm and subjects in general. I am told he has a wonderful way with words and views about our country.

Best wishes and thank you again.

Michael Tarr

(Eminent Journalist : The Daily News)