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 Tag: International Wine and Food Society


hartford local seared beef fillet

Seared local beef fillet with fresh horseradish plus creamed potatoes enlivened with horseradish, roasted garlic, juvenile green beans and herbs with a red wine sauce.(Photo : Sally Chance)


Derek Taylor dines grandly at the International Wine and Food Society's dinner at Hartford House an on, um, gourmet bunny chows. Yes, that's possible.

"After a marathon weekend of eating and judging, my most urgent ambitions have now narrowed down to two. First to get star chef, Jackie Cameron at Hartford House to enter a gourmet bunny chow at the next annual festival celebrating KZN's unique food contribution to the world.

Next, to talk the International Wine and Food Society's Durban chapter into launching at this successful celebration of good real food next year. The IWFS members are a delightful group of omnivores but the pleasure of strolling over the grass alongside a row of eager curry-makers' stalls may take some selling.

But first to Jackie's latest IWFS dinner. A chilly Midlands night honed the appetites for the five course dinner and Diemersfontein wine tasting - including a couple of Jackie's edible jokes.

First came a complex meeting of brown mushroom soup with shiitake mushroom powder and Midlands truffle oil. This was a welcome warming soup with a remarkable depth of flavour but I couldn't find much contribution from the shiitake powder. Nevertheless, an auspicious beginning enhanced by the perky flavour of the 2007 Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Shiraz which accompanied it.

On to a warm salad of springbok loin seared with pink peppercorns, spoom, candied walnuts, foie gras terrine and black lava salt. Spoom is a sort of Italian sherbet made with syrup and wine for fruit juice mix and then, when nearly frozen, lightened with a whipped in dose of uncooked meringue to give it air and texture. The dish was excellent, the meat cooked to perfection. Black lava salt is a new one to me, but whatever its provenance, it has a good earthy contribution to flavour.

When it came to the 2007 Diermsfontein Carpe Diem malbec - a rush of big flavours, most satisfying. This is a most interesting growth and hard to find on its own and hard to find on its own : most malbec goes to invigorating other growths in blends.

Then a tartare of Norwegian salmon with Swissland goats' cheese (Swissland is a glorious Midlands source of goats' cheese in several styles,) campfire smoked olives, micro herbs with lemon croutons. This excellent train-crash of flavours and textures with Dimersfontein's Carpe Diem chenin blanc 2009 was a pleasing and lively young partner.

The main dish of seared local beef fillet with fresh horseradish plus creamed potatoes enlivened with horseradish, roasted garlic, juvenile green beans and herbs with a red wine sauce won my instant gratitude. I am an unsuccessful fresh horseradish addict doomed to a life of mostly disappointment in my search for the magic root. The beef was outstanding - obviously grass-fed with some grain finishing from its flavour and texture. A declarative, brightly flavoured 2007 Diemersfontein pinotage supported the dish well.

"Peanut butter and syrup on toast" was Jackie's jokey introduction to the dessert. In it she had combined peanut butter with maple syrup ice-cream, sugar-glazed bananas and a vanilla crème anglaise into an intriguing nougat effect within and around the melange. A good joke, delicious in fact. A nicely edged 2009 viognier from Diemersfontein contrasted effectively with this excellent end to a memorable dinner.

Jackie Cameron is one of our top 10 national chefs and still surprising her fans. We are lucky to have her here".

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land rover and food and wine society

Chef Jackie Cameron
(Photo : Land Rover / International Wine & Food Society / Hartford House)


Hartford was host to two completely diverse yet highly prestigious gatherings on the weekend. The one came in the form of two visits by Land Rover, who brought more than 59 guests to the hotel as part of a promotion of their exceptional new range of vehicles.

The other was the International Wine & Food Society, comprising some of South Africa's leading "foodies". Both, it seems were "happy campers", and judging by the compliments of the Wine & Food Society it was up there with the best outings ever. Katherine Reardon, Chairman, wrote :

"Jackie, your menu was superb and it was truly one of the finest functions that I have ever enjoyed in my 21 years of membership in the Society. The menu was a delight to us prior to the event. However, it was only at the actual dinner that we were able to appreciate the nuances and subtleties of the menu design.

Each course was a masterpiece and I will long remember the intensity of the mushroom soup with that Shitake Powder and the delicious pungence of the truffle oil. The loin of Springbok was perfectly presented and was so fresh and captivating. We were all very intrigued by the black lava salt!

I'm still salivating at the memory of the Salmon and your wonderful Midlands Beef was outstanding. Lastly, your delicious "Peanut Butter on Toast" was a complete triumph!

We were very impressed with the wines from Diemersfontein and the way each wine complimented the various courses.

Finally, thank you to you Paula and your team for providing us with such excellent service. It was a seamless affair and all the guests commented on the subtle and discreet service from your staff.

Thank you for making our Midlands weekend such a success - it was a real triumph thanks to Hartford House!".