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: MOOI RIVER ACCOMODATION

Duncan Hay lands fine Rainbow Trout

Duncan Hay with his 3.0kg Rainbow Trout

Duncan Hay with his 3.0kg Rainbow Trout

We are often blessed at Hartford House with the visitation of very interesting guests. This week was no exception as Duncan Hay and his lovely wife Vicki joined us for a few days.

Duncan is a researcher from the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) with expertise including; biodiversity and conservation, community based natural resource management, integrated catchment management, project and programme planning as well as rural community development.

Duncan is also a keen fisherman, as can be seen by the photo above. He caught this healthy Rainbow Trout, weighing in at 3.0kg, early on Wednesday morning in our main trout dam, Preston Pan. His tool of the trade was a "Black Leaded Woolly Hopper".

An interesting note is that Duncan was a friend of David Rattray from university, and they would spend time exploring Fugitives' Drift where survivors escaping the Battle of Isandlwana crossed the Buffalo River, where Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill lost their lives saving the Queen's Colour of the 24th Regiment and where David Rattray later established the world-renowned Fugitives' Drift Lodge.

(Photo kindly supplied by Duncan Hay)

visit
www.landoflegends.co.za

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.

THE DUCK POND: MIDNIGHT

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!

Moor Suite 1 at Hartford House

Moor Suite Bedroom / Hartford House

Moor Suite Bedroom / Hartford House

Named for the Moor family, who occupied Hartford from 1875 to 1937, and in particular the two brothers, John and Frederick. John Moor was the member of parliament for Weenen County in the old Natal Colonial government, as well as a Senator in the first South African government, and was responsible for most of the development at Hartford. His brother, Sir Frederick, was the last prime minister of the Colony of Natal prior to Union. He was the only man to emerge from the Union talks in 1908 with a knighthood, for his efforts in bringing about what we know today as the Republic of South Africa.

In its time, Moor has accommodated two Prime Ministers, the last of the colony of Natal, and the first of the Union of South Africa, General Louis Botha.

Of interest in this suite is the old marble bath, which was reputedly imported into South Africa from Malaysia towards the latter end of the 18th century, then found its way into the Durban Club, and eventually into this bathroom, together with the old church window installed alongside.

One of South Africa’s greatest artists, the late Errol Boyley, is remembered throughout the manor house in numerous fine examples, several of which were included in the compendium of his best works. Errol was a great friend of Summerhill and Hartford, and, somewhat unusually for this committed landscapist, he also portrayed Cheryl Goss in two oils which appear in the suite as well.

The truth is incontrovertible: The Best Value in the World.

hartford_zulu_dance_troupe

The Hartford Zulu Dance Troupe
(Hartford House)

paula_mackenzie

One thing you’ll always notice about the change of seasons in the Drakensberg area, is that each season has a distinct character, and this year Spring has been as spectacular as ever.

It’s not only the birds that are singing: undoubtedly the best boy’s choir in the world, the Drakensberg Boys' Choir, is situated just up the road from us and they’re preparing for their Summer and Christmas seasons. If you’re in the vicinity of Hartford House, be sure to let us arrange a visit for you to one of life’s most outstanding choral experiences. We can even pack you a delicious picnic lunch and direct you via South Africa’s art capital, Clarens, all in the same morning.

Besides a burst of greenery and the profusion of young buds, they’re foaling “royalty” at South Africa’s champion racehorse breeding establishment, Summerhill Stud. This weekend also witnessed the departure of more than 100 bouncing two-year-olds to the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale in Johannesburg, on their way to racing glory no doubt.

Most of these youngsters have never set foot on a moving vehicle in their lives, and it’s a joy to watch the skills of our young Zulu horsemen coaxing them aboard to the encouraging serenades of school children, wives and "gogos" (or grandmothers) at the loading ramps.

You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway to get among the trophy trout on this property. Just a few weekends back, two of our young guests availed themselves of our "master-class fly casting lessons", and each came away with prize trout of between six and seven pounds.

Another couple, whilst enjoying a “bomb-proof” horse ride in the direction of the Boathouse and Magic Mirror lake, were thrilled by a sudden stampede of startled Reedbuck and the sighting of the endangered Oribi.

We continue to be surprised, (but oh so pleasantly) at the pilgrimage of foreigners who travel from so far to visit with us at Hartford.

While we’ve always enjoyed a healthy sprinkling of Brits and Europeans, and a throng from the horse-loving countries to the west and east of us, we appear to have new devotees from the United States and Australia. People are supposedly rediscovering their roots, and it seems this area (Hartford House and Summerhill in particular) offers one of the warmest, most hospitable and genuinely authentic experiences on the planet.

There are others who delight in the entertainment of our Zulu dance troupe, and it’s a source of considerable pride to tell you that in a couple of weeks, they'll be winging their way to their third World Traditional Dance Championships to be held in the United States. The troupe have already achieved 2nd and 3rd in Tokyo and Hong Kong respectively and believe they now know how it’s done, and we’re confident they’ll return home the best Traditional Dance troupe in the world.

We know we don’t have to ask you to join us in wishing them well on their way. It’s the visits of our Guests that have encouraged and uplifted our people to such a degree, and we’re forever grateful for the contributions you make.

We sincerely hope this note finds you in the “pink”. If you aren’t already on your way to us, please visit us on our website at www.hartford.co.za for the latest in what’s up at Hartford. There’s just a tiny chance we might be able to lure you back before too long!

With the Rand at unprecedented levels against the major currencies, South Africans will be staying at home more than ever, and our foreign friends will find us the best value in the world, by a country mile.

Warmest regards,

PAULA MACKENZIE
HARTFORD HOUSE

Traditional Culinary Exploration for Heritage Day

Aromatic Spices / Lotus Head (p)

Aromatic Spices / Lotus Head (p)

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

As South Africans we are encouraged to celebrate our cultural heritage, on Heritage Day September 24, and to honour the diversity of the rainbow nation’s beliefs and traditions.  South Africa overflows with rich heritage and a wealth of exciting fare. The variety of influences gives us the opportunity to work from a whole gamut of dishes.  Foreigners continue to introduce us to their culinary traditions and, over the years, we have modified their recipes to suit the local taste and available products.  This results in a colourful simmering pot of flavours from Europe, Asia, Africa and America and ends in a nutritious, exciting, interesting and mouth-watering meal.

I have put a twist on traditional dishes.  Up first is a new look for our preferred South African flavours.  A dish that celebrates the essence and spirit of Durban; spicy lamb “bunny chow” with tomato and onion bredie, sour cream and fresh coriander (also known as cilantro and dhanya).  The piquant flavour is a combination of many aromatic spices and not, as is commonly believed, only the “shisa”.   The bredie and sour cream unites the flavours, with the coriander adding a freshness and final touch.

I have also put a vegetarian slant on one of the best-known South African dishes brought here by the Muslim slaves in the late 17th Century; bobotie. I have revitalised this dish substituting the mince meat for lentils and suggest serving it with amasi flavoured tzatziki, tomato relish and sambles.

I took a giant stride in the right direction when I experimented with a mielie meal made malva pudding served with nothing but an outstanding homemade vanilla ice cream and dried fruit compote. The hot and cold temperatures merge, highlighting the best of both components.

The kitchen here at Hartford House in Mooi River is a fine example of diversity. This is seen in the products used and in the team which puts together the signature dishes created. So what stirring items are on your menu this evening?

Take these recipes and try them.

SPICY LAMB BUNNY CHOW
VEGETARIAN LENTIL BOBOTIE
MEALIE MEAL MALVA PUDDING

Post your comments and food-related questions below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
033 263 2713

SPRING SOLSTICE : Photos of the Spring Snows at Hartford House

Spring Snows
(Annet Becker)

This past weekend was Spring Solstice but you would never have guessed it here in Mooi River with Mother Nature bringing us Spring Snows.

Hartford's Restaurant nominated for Prudential Eat Out Award

Hartford House Restaurant

Hartford House Restaurant

After months of adjudication across the length and breadth of South Africa, a shortlist of 20 restaurants has been released for the coveted Prudential Eat Out Restaurant Awards 2008.

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.

The awards evening, where accolades will be presented for Chef of the Year, Top 10 Restaurants in South Africa and Restaurant of the Year, takes place at the Westin Grand in Cape Town on Sunday 30 November 2008.

Jackie Cameron celebrates Women's Day with Cocktails and Dreams

ginger_and_lemon_shooter

Frozen Lemon Segments with Ginger Ale, Lemon Zest and Freshly Sliced Mint
(Jackie Cameron)

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Let’s celebrate Woman’s Day in style. Cocktails and canapés – there’s no better way.

I’m reminded of the movie ‘Cocktail’, staring Tom Cruise as a dishy barman and his ultimate dream bar called ‘Cocktails and Dreams’. A place many would like to visit.

Cocktails can be tried and tested, spicy and alcoholic (bloody Mary) or innovative refreshing and non alcoholic (ginger ale lemon shooter). Each is equally as good, depending on your preference and your mood.

Uncomplicated trouble–free rolls add flavour, texture and colour to any canapé platter.  When making smoked salmon rolls ensure the quality is the best your money can afford.  With vegetarians no longer a minority group scrumptious cucumber rolls are a delicious and refreshing alternative to meat and fish. Hartford House, the restaurant at which I am head chef, is on Summerhill Stud, so ‘devils on horseback’ (prunes stuffed with Camembert, wrapped in bacon) are appropriate to present in a new-age way.

Often people are apprehensive about using phyllo pastry (very thin, light and delicate) and spring roll pastry (light and pliable) as they are considered unfamiliar. Both are sold in a simple ready-to-cook pack. Asian spring rolls are fresh, crispy, colourful, and delicate in flavour.

Spicy potato and Camembert samoosas have a kick and the creaminess of the Camembert balances and marries all the flavours.

Phyllo tulips can be filled with a variety of ingredients; I have chosen baba ghanoush (a popular Levantine dish of brinjals cooked on an open flame and mashed) and strips of salami to enhance the smokiness of the baba ghanoush.

I have no doubt these ideas will put the wow factor into your evening. Cheers, sante and ching ching to all the woman out there.  Let the parties - cocktails and canapés - begin…

Take these recipes and try them.

ASIAN VEGETABLE SPRING ROLLS WITH CANDIED VEGETABLES
SPICY POTATO AND CAMEMBERT SAMOOSAS
BABA GHANOUSH PHYLLO TULIP
BLOODY MARY
FROZEN LEMON SEGMENTS WITH GINGER ALE, LEMON ZEST AND FRESHLY SLICED MINT
SMOKED SALMON ROLL
VEGETABLE CUCUMBER ROLL
NEW-AGE DEVILS ON HORSEBACK

Post your comments and food-related questions below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
033 263 2713

Fine Rainbow Trout fishing in Hartford's dams

Chris Helmbold displays his 54cm Rainbow Trout / Hartford House (p)

Chris Helmbold displays his 54cm Rainbow Trout / Hartford House (p)

Chris Helmbold was delighted with this fine 54cm rainbow trout which he caught in Hartford's Panjandrum Dam on the first cast with an egg pattern on a whiskey streamer dropper. This happened "on the evening rise when the fish were porpoising for snails in the sub-surface".

"I would guess the weight was around 2,72kg," says Chris. "She jumped seven times and fought ferociously for 15 minutes. After posing for the pic she was released to jump another day!"

Nhlanhla Suite 16 at Hartford House

Nhlanhla Bathroom / Hartford House (p)

Nhlanhla Bathroom / Hartford House (p)

Nhlanhla is one of the Zulu language’s most wonderful words. It really means “good luck”, but it also conjures good fortune, happiness, largesse and all the warm feelings we get when life is kind to us. Dubbed Nhlanhla by the Zulus who brighten our lives every day at Hartford, the name recalls the feelings of our team when they first saw Nhlanhla in its finished form. The suite radiates nature, the colours of our environment, warmth and originality, and as much as anything is a signal example of what the creative spirit can achieve from modest, locally sourced materials. The majority of the materials used in the erection of Nhlanhla were harvested off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, and where this was not possible, from our immediate environs.

This suite was the most recent of four comprising the Ezulweni (“in the heavens”) eco extension to Hartford House’s colonial origins. The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Nhlanhla.

In contrast to the rustic materials used in the development of the suite, the fine mahogany wardrobe housing the television and mini-bar, was imported to South Africa in the 1820’s and was acquired from a village in the Eastern Free State. The teak floors were rescued from the renovation of Durban’s “grand old dame”, the Edward Hotel, while the Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss when she was overseeing the renovation of what is now Lynton Hall. Internationally acclaimed for her work at Lynton Hall, Cheryl’s introduction of Indian antique furniture to that property recalls its association with the arrival of Indian indentured labour in Colonial Natal.

The copper bath is a creation of a customer of the racehorse stud, Summerhill, while the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another “tough” day in Africa!

Nhlanhla has become the suite of choice of His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho, ruling monarch of the Mountain Kingdom, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he keeps several horses which feed his and his nation’s passion for the equine species.

Siyabonga Suite 15 at Hartford House

Siyabonga Lounge / Patrick Royal (p)

Siyabonga Lounge / Patrick Royal (p)

In Zulu the word Siyabonga means “we are grateful” or “give thanks to”, and this suite is part of the Ezulweni (meaning “in the heavens”) eco extension to Hartford’s own colonial styled origins. The suite was named that way by our Zulu building team once complete, as much echoing their own relief at having accomplished what was for them in the nature of something unique in architectural style, as it was for the natural beauty and ambience which the suite exudes.

Built with materials harvested largely off the greater Summerhill and Hartford estates, or otherwise acquired in the near vicinity, Siyabonga is characterized by its collection of African artifacts and its stunning sleeping quarters, clad in local Drakensberg sandstone. The bathroom features romantically aligned twin tubs, and the suite is rendered with a combination of mud and locally harvested river pebbles, all of which has withstood the ravages of our summer thunderstorms and occasional winter snowfalls with surprising resilience. The Indian front door was imported by Cheryl Goss while she was overseeing the renovation of Lynton Hall, which she decorated in Colonial antiques, recalling the arrival of Indian indentured labour for the colony’s fledging sugar industry.

In recent times, Siyabongahas become the suite of choice of HisRoyal Highness Sheikh Mohammed of the Ruling Family of Dubai, during his visits to Summerhill Stud, where he stands several stallions and mares of world renown. Another visitor of fame whose name has become embedded in the lore of Siyabonga, is Angus Gold, a celebrated reveller, who is also associated with the Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum.

The intention in juxtaposing the original Hartford homestead with Ezulweni, is to provide travellers with an insight, when they are in the manor house, of our region’s colonial past, and then to transport them through an intimate glimpse of what’s possible with a touch of imagination from our Zulu staff, whose creative hands are strikingly apparent in the finishes to Siyabonga.

In contrast to the natural materials with which the suite was erected, the beds are from an altogether different age, featuring a hydraulically adjusted touch button (just below the mattress on either side), enabling guests to position themselves as their souls demand, after another “tough” day in Africa!