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.

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Hearty winter recipes for Fathers' Day

beef and corn pie

Beef-and-Corn Pie
(Photo : Jackie Cameron)

Head Chef Jackie Cameron

Head Chef
Jackie Cameron

Men are tricky to buy gifts for - especially fathers. They seem to have everything they need and what they don’t have is completely out of reach of my pocket. I’m reminded that a well-fed man is a happy man and I organise a selection of tasty treats that will illustrate my appreciation of all he’s done for me.

As the mornings get colder and the days shorter so hearty winter recipes come out. Your dad deserves a warm beef-and-corn pie with caramelised onions sitting on wilted, green vegetables. This is a combination of slightly sweet-and-savoury flavours with a crispy puff pastry topping. Tastes we all enjoy.

And if it’s a braai your father is wanting, no matter the weather, then add Thai marinated chicken skewers to your menu. Skewers are inexpensive to buy and with a little imagination you can create your own combinations. A smart way to use left-overs.

Males have a sweet tooth. This makes it easy, and the safest bet is lemon meringue tart. Men love it! The tart is made up of the intense, sweet-and-sour flavours of lemon curd; the light, spongy but crisp-textured meringue and the rich-flavoured biscuit base. A sugar high of note!

Over the years, I have cooked for a number of South African culinary events held abroad, and it has become apparent that South Africans are accustomed to eating rich, syrupy desserts. The best example of a proudly South African dessert is the koeksuster. This syrup-coated, plaited doughnut is fun to make and worth the effort. Your dad will never buy another koeksuster again!

Beef-and-corn pie, Thai marinated chicken skewers, lemon meringue tart and koeksusters... this will surely make him happy.

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

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.

Five-course dinner party... nothing less.

strawberries and champagne

"Ruby-red, plump strawberries topped with reduced balsamic and freshly ground black pepper, served with Champagne"
(Photo : Jackie Cameron)

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

A five-course dinner party sounds extremely lavish. My guests, however, expect nothing less! With little available social time on my hands I wow my friends with fresh flavours and quick, clever substitutes. Food that is stress free allows me to enjoy my dinner party.

I begin with pen, paper and an idea. Then I head for the local grocer. The result is a menu expressing the finest produce obtainable.

My choice of arrival nibble is irresistible ruby-red, plump strawberries. Topped with reduced balsamic and freshly ground black pepper and served with Champagne, it is an out-of-the-ordinary extravaganza of sweet and savoury combinations which mingle with the lightness of bubbles. Simply delicious!

The aromas from the melon shelf alert and entice me. I allow the fruit’s natural flavour to develop in my mind and the result is a chilled melon and coconut soup. A perfect summer starter, complemented with lightly toasted pine kernels, finely sliced sushi ginger and fresh mint. This new-age soup has a depth without the kick of richness.

In order to make a fabulous dish, the ingredients you are working with need to excite you. The main course is a perfect example of my favourites: beef fillet, fresh asparagus, roasted Mediterranean stuffed butternut with Pringles crisps. The texture of the crisps adds a fun element to this dish. This is a homely main course with a touch of style.

It is summer fruits that make me wish we had only one season! Dessert therefore is made up of roasted nectarines served with cinnamon-crème fraiche, honey, pine nuts and “Lindt” mint chocolate. The difference in textures, temperature and flavours makes this mouth watering and memorable.

My palate doesn’t allow me to end on a sweet note. This to the horror of any French wine connoisseur; so to end with a cheese selection, pickles, preserves and biscuits is perfect – for me!.

An evening set to succeed.

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

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)

Tempest de Frederickz 90th birthday celebration

Tempest de Frederickz

Tempest de Frederickz

Last Sunday witnessed another gathering of Hartford connected people, this time the 90th birthday of Tempest de Frederickz, (who was born Ellis in 1918). The Ellis family acquired Hartford as long ago as 1939, and they lived here until early 1990, when the Gosses took over.

During that time, Raymond Ellis Snr manifested his all-conquering racing operation on the farm, and proceeded as an owner/breeder to outstrip the achievements of any of his kind in all of history. From this property, the Ellises bred, raised and trained the winners of every major race on the South African racing calendar, and enjoyed the recognition from no less an author than Sir Mordaunt Milner, as ranking with the all-time elite of the private breeding and racing game. They’re the only South Africans in history to enjoy mention in the same breath as the Aga Khan, Lord Derby and the Sheikh’s Maktoum in English racing, Coolmore in Ireland, France’s Boussac and Italy’s Tesio, and America’s Hancocks and Phippses.

Besides being sterling breeders, the Ellis family were richly endowed when it came to the arts, and Tempest was reputedly a fine musician, while Graeme Ellises’ “The Duck Pond: Midnight” reveals his prowess.


Tonight, if you will walk beyond that lonely tree
And stand quite still, perhaps you'll see
Cloud shadows spun by moonlight; cool
Breezes lulling sleepy flowers;
Three ducks splashing silver in the pool
To while away the evening hours;
And at the water's moon-kissed brink,
Two sleepy cranes that sit and think
Of summers spent in unknown lands,
And waves that lap on silver sands.
By Graham Ellis - 1943

Written at Hartford

The Perfect Midlands Meander Destination

breakfast view

"Breakfast on the verandah, overlooking the beautiful gardens, is also a highlight of any visit to Hartford..."

“For a moment, there’s a lull in the noise of the city. Bird song comes to the fore, a hadeda is heard overhead and for a few seconds my mind retreats to Hartford. This is a place so special that even being transported for a few seconds brings refreshment from the busy pace of life.

There are so many aspects to Hartford House and each of them has the special qualities that combine to make one’s stay unforgettable, however many times one visits. It is the personalities of you, Mick and Cheryl, your vision, enthusiasm and guidance that has made Hartford so special.

On entry down the long driveway with fields and paddocks on either side and Giant’s Castle up to the left, life begins to slow after our four hour drive from Joburg or three hours from the South Coast. The smiling welcome at the gate and then the warmth and friendliness of the staff on arrival and throughout one’s stay at Hartford gives a relaxed comfortable feeling to new visitors and those like us who return as often as we do. The people in the office, the front staff, Jackie and the kitchen staff, housekeeping and gardeners are equally friendly and are genuinely happy greeting visitors.

Then there are the gorgeous rooms into which you have put so much thought and detail, each so different but equally comfortable. We have stayed in every room you have and it’s always exciting on arrival, to see which room will be ours. Nothing has been spared and one feels the luxury of indulgence relaxing in the room or sitting outdoors enjoying the tranquility of the surroundings.

Dinner is always the most special delight and, I think, the best in South Africa. Comparing meals with some top restaurants in Europe, Hartford is still the best. Breakfast on the verandah, overlooking the beautiful gardens, is also a highlight of any visit to Hartford and the menu is amazing.

After the indulgence and tranquility of a Hartford stay, one reluctantly leaves, knowing there will be a time to visit again, and in between visits, cut out the noise of life and transport oneself back for a moment of peace.”

Said by a connoisseur.Veronica Jagoe (and husband Sean) are veterans of more than 150 visits to Hartford House (yes, that’s about a dozen a year, every year, since we opened).Apart from being our most treasured guests, they’re also among the nicest.And they must have taste!

Hearty and flavoursome Christmas Lunch

Glazed Christmas Gammon garnished with pineapple rings and cherries / Jackie Cameron (p)

Glazed Christmas Gammon garnished with pineapple rings and cherries / Jackie Cameron (p)

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Christmas is about family and friends around one table, and a meal that will simmer in their minds for the year to come. Dishes, specifically for this occasion, should be hearty and flavoursome, depicting the Christmas spirit. The occasion, the table and the meal should say ‘Merry Christmas’.

Christmas lunch is one of the most stressful meals of the year but with adequate preparation it can be hassle-free.

Let me help you…

Spicy egg nog sets the tone when handed to guests on their arrival. It’s usually served to toast one’s health; and that’s what we all need for the coming year.

Sticking to tradition, I like turkey. It’s juicy and delicious if cooked correctly. Should you browse through Larousse Gastronomique - the world’s most famous culinary reference book – you’ll see turkey described as “a farmyard bird raised for its delicate flesh”. A rich, pungent and textured stuffing completes and complements roast turkey. I promise, your guests will be back next year!

A pickled or smoked hind quarter or shoulder of pork, commonly known as Christmas Ham, can be boiled or baked. The final touch is to stud the ham with cloves, and garnish with pineapple rings and cherries. Oh so pretty!

Christmas pudding is a must. Make it… buy it… but ensure it’s on your menu.

A simple, silky-textured brandy sauce will add zing to your rich dessert.

After the feast, coffee with shortbread is the perfect final touch. Shortbread, known by many to have originated in Scotland, is traditionally made in a round shape and cut from the centre in wedges. This symbolises the sun, a relic of the ancient New Year cake.

I explore as much as there is to know about an ingredient before cooking it. This, in my opinion, adds interest and depth to the product and the “relationship” with the components results in a superior culinary creation.

With these tips and the festive-season spirit, I’m confident your Christmas lunch will be memorable.

May the love and camaraderie generated during the next few weeks overflow into 2009 and beyond.

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 voted Top 10 South African Restaurant

Hartford House Head Chef Jackie Cameron / Patrick Royal - Hartford House (p)

Hartford House Head Chef Jackie Cameron / Patrick Royal - Hartford House (p)

On Sunday evening South Africa's Oscars of Cuisine descended on Cape Town's Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays Hotel. This year's Prudential Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants Awards evening was once again a glittering occasion with seven new restaurants making the final Top 10 list.

We are proud to announce that the Hartford Restaurant, with Executive Chef Jackie Cameron at the helm, was voted into the Top 10 Restaurants in South Africa. A special note is that Hartford was the only restaurant in KwaZulu Natal to receive this coveted accolade.

Congratulations to Jackie Cameron and the Hartford House Restaurant team on this extraordinary achievement.

The 2008 Prudential Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants results are as follows :

  • La Colombe (Cape Town) - Chef: Luke Dale-Roberts
  • Jardine (Cape Town) - Chef: George Jardine
  • Terroir (Stellenbosch) – Chef: Michael Broughton
  • Overture (Stellenbosch) – Chef: Bertus Basson
  • Restaurant Mosaic at the Orient (Pretoria) – Chef: Chantel Dartnall
  • Rust en Vrede (Stellenbosch) – Chef: David Higgs
  • The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français (Franschhoek) - Chef: Margot Janse
  • Roots at the Forum Homini Boutique Hotel (Joburg) - Chef: Philippe Wagenfuhrer
  • Bizerca (Cape Town) – Chef: Laurent Deslandes
  • Hartford House (KwaZulu-Natal Midlands) – Chef: Jackie Cameron

Prudential Eat Out Restaurant Awards this Sunday

Jackie Cameron / Patrick Royal (p)

Jackie Cameron / Patrick Royal (p)

The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays Hotel will this Sunday play host to the Prudential Eat OutRestaurant Awards,the Oscars of the South African restaurant industry. South Africa's top restaurants will be celebrated and tribute paid to the Nation's finest chef's.

Hartford House is one of the 20 nominees for the 'Oscars of Cuisine' and Executive Chef Jackie Cameron and her team are delighted to be amongst the finalists.

Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, together with funnyman Marc Lottering, will announce the Prudential Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants, as well as the Eat Out Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year.

Restaurant lovers are invited to read about the event and nominated restaurants, as well as to predict the Top 10 Restaurants on www.eatout.co.za.

The 20 nominated restaurants in the 2008 Prudential Eat Out Restaurant Awards are:

9th Avenue Bistro (Durban) - Carly Goncalves
Aubergine (Cape Town) - Harald Bresselschmidt
Bizerca (Cape Town) - Laurent Deslandes
Bread and Wine (Franschhoek) - Neil Jewel
Food Barn (Cape Town) - Franck Dangereux
Hartford House (Mooi River, KZN) - Jackie Cameron
Jardine (Cape Town) - George Jardine
La Colombe at Constantia Uitsig (Cape Town) - Luke Dale-Roberts
Linger Longer (Johannesburg) - Walter Ulz
Mosaic Restaurant (Elandsfontein, Pretoria) - Chantel Dartnall
Myoga (Cape Town) - Mike Bassett
Overture (Stellenbosch) - Bertus Basson
Reubens (Franschhoek) - Reuben Riffel
Roots at the Forum Homini Boutique Hotel (Johannesburg) - Philippe Wagenfuhrer
Rust en Vrede (Stellenbosch) - David Higgs
Saxon (Johannesburg) - Rudi Liebenberg
Showroom (Cape Town) - Bruce Robertson
Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais (Franschhoek) - Margot Janse
Terroir (Stellenbosch) - Michael Broughton
Zachary’s at the Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa (Knysna) - Geoffrey Murray

SIMPLY SWEET : Three Simple Sweet Recipes

chocolate mousse

White Chocolate lined Brown Chocolate Mousse with White Chocolate and Pecan Nut Biscotti, Sherry and Fresh Berries
(Jackie Cameron)

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

This is an indiscreet way of reminding family, friends and colleagues that my birthday is around the corner!

At the same time it is the perfect opportunity to give you birthday ideas for that someone special in your life.

To be woken with a tasty, out-of-the-ordinary breakfast is the way I believe a birthday should begin. An excellent start to a memorable day is a mound of crepes. This thin pancake can be prepared in advance and should be allowed to stand to ensure the batter doesn’t rise. The result is a fine and even crepe. Plenty of fresh, seasonal fruit and homemade muesli give a healthy kick start to what will be an eventful day.

I have, over the years, had a different birthday cake every year, each one as delicious as the last. My current favourite is an orange citrus cake that we often make for christenings and weddings here at Hartford House in Mooi River.

Picture a slice of syrupy orange cake served with a feel-good cup of spicy chai. This is a spiced, milk tea from the Indian subcontinent made by brewing tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. Shared with family and friends this is a perfect combination.

But what is a birthday without chocolate and a shot? With this in mind the ideal birthday dinner should be rounded off with a straight-forward chocolate mousse, Sherry shot and biscotti. The word “biscotti” is Italian for biscuit and originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice baked”. This dessert allows for the smooth, stress-free running of an evening’s celebration because it can be prepared in advance.

These three simply-sweet recipes are my contribution to your happy birthday!

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