UNFORGETTABLE TIMES FOR SUMMERHILL AND HARTFORD
Summerhill Stud has had one of the best few weeks in its racing history, with two Guineas winners in Pierre Jourdan and Fisani, an international ace in Imbongi, a thirty-one time winner in Hear The Drums, and the winners of the Egoli Mile in Smajemanje and the Fairview Mile in Vangelis.
No to be outdone though, Hartford House has earned a few more stripes. Just last week, the celebrated gourmet and luxury travel website, Eatsplorers, named Hartford in both its top ten restaurants and its top ten accommodation establishments. For the record, it was the only establishment in the country to make the top ten in both categories. This is what Eatsplorers had to say about Hartford :
"We were in KZN for a wedding and decided to make use of the opportunity to spend some time at one of KZN's top getaways and culinary destinations. It is not a long drive from Durban and if you are living in Gauteng it is pretty easy to get there, but coming from the Cape, it takes a bit more planning and travel. The effort to get there however is certainly worth it, idyllic living in the middle of a very impressive stud farm with horses and other animals surrounding you. We arrived in the afternoon and were given a refreshing cocktail before retiring to our room for a well-deserved nap after the previous evening's wedding festivities. We awoke, all ready for the dinner that evening and joined the rest of the guests for pre-dinner drinks in the main house.
We had had a glimpse of the five-course menu and were really excited to see what was to be produced. We enjoyed a glass or two of bubbly with some canapés, which wet our appetites for the main attraction. The wine list is excellent with a host of fantastic wines to choose from at what must be the best pricing I have seen in quite a while. They really allow you to enjoy your food with very reasonably priced wines. To illustrate this point we enjoyed a bottle of Chocolate Block on the Friday night and Meerlust Rubicon on the Saturday night without getting a call from the bank manager. I am surprised though that a wine pairing was not offered with the dinners, as this would certainly elevate the experience even higher than its current lofty heights.
Mick Goss, the owner, took us through a brief history of Hartford House and then left us in the extremely capable hands of Jackie Cameron. What a feast, it was exceptional. The caramelised onion soup was fantastic, so was the salmon main course, the dessert and the cheeses, but the standout dish for me on the Friday night was the spicy lamb bunny chow which had a wonderful richness and depth in flavour that left me thinking that I would certainly like a main portion of that. A wonderful elegant interpretation of what is a favourite dish in South Africa.
This left us very excited about the Saturday evening meal as it would be a completely new menu. Before dinner Mick Goss, with his wonderful story telling ability, gave us a history of the area including the many wars that have been fought there and we were then treated to some Zulu war dancing by the local youngsters, very very impressive indeed. Jackie had a lot to live up to and did not disappoint, we thought she even outdid her efforts of the Friday night.
Again, all courses were delicious, but the one that stood out for us and was probably the best dish of the weekend was the fillet with shitake butter, truffle infused potato crème with a fantastic truffle sauce. This dish really set itself apart from the others with its wonderful textures and stunning flavours. In fact, the truffle sauce was so good that we requested some bread to mop up what was left on the plate. Hey, if the Europeans can do it then so can we!
Not only does Jackie provide fantastic dinners, she also provides the most different, in a good sense, breakfast menu I think we have ever seen. It really is very funky and we spent some time deciding on what to eat. Luckily we had two days of breakfasts so that we had a number of goes at trying out different dishes from her menu. They were all very good and we really enjoyed the banana smoothie, jungle oats with whisky, cream and sugar, the omelet and the traditional English breakfast. To top the main breakfast off we enjoyed the desserts, particularly the bucks fizz as it was cold and refreshing on a hot spring morning.
Hartford House really is a fantastic venue and is highly, highly recommended if you have the chance to visit. The setting, surroundings and best of all, the food is fantastic. This fact is borne out by it screaming into our top 10 destinations and restaurants. A very special destination indeed!"