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: Drakensberg Restaurants

Weather conditions to expect at Hartford House, Giant's Castle

Lazy summer days at Hartford House

Lazy summer days at Hartford House

The weather:

The altitude of the uKahlamba-Drakensberg (11 000 feet) and Midlands region keeps summer moderate, with temperatures rarely reaching 30 degrees Celcius.

Summer (December to February), the rainy season, is characterised by daily thundershowers. As a result the area takes on a healthy green hue – “green are the hills of KwaZulu-Natal”,

Winter days are warm – usually about 19 degrees Celcius while the night temperatures can plummet to below zero. Snow regularly illuminates the peaks of the uKahlamba-Drakensberg.

Autumn, some say is the best time to visit. This is when the rainfall drops and the lush green mountain slopes change to golden blonde.

Spring is a time of abundance. Showers are the precursor to summer rains. Buds burst into blossoms – the area is alive with activity.

The seasons and seasonal activities on the farm:

Summer: December to February - Relax at the pool – fly fishing – cocktails at sunset

Autumn: March to May - A leisurely walk – horse riding – catch up on the

region’s history

Winter: June to August - Crackling log fires – good conversation – fine wine

Spring: September to November - Familiarise yourself with the horse breeding industry

Average temperatures:

Summer 15-28

Autumn 11-24

Winter 0-19

Spring 11-24

Suggested essentials:

When visiting the area in summer, it is imperative to have a hat and sunscreen. A light-weight raincoat is suggested. A light-weight jersey might be needed on a cool evening. Bring out the woolies in winter – but not too many because the days are glorious. This is a farming community so dress is casual – we, however, ask that you add smart to casual for meals. Walking shoes would come in handy, as would a camera and binoculars. A healthy appetite is a must!

Easy cooking for the Durban July

Hartford's Health Bread / Jackie Cameron (p)

Hartford's Health Bread / Jackie Cameron (p)

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Hartford House in Mooi River is on Summerhill Estate which is buzzing with activity as the “Vodacom Durban July”, at Greyville Racecourse, approaches (July 5).  This premier horse racing event showcases a few of the niceties of life – thoroughbred champions, striking fashions, as well as innovative ways of presenting stylish food and fine wine with a elegant-picnic slant.

I have included ideas to keep dinner effortless after a busy day of socialising.

First up is a selection of meats and a Midlands’ cheese board with pickles and preserves to tantalise taste buds.  The caramelised onions are one of my favourite side dishes.  Pickled vegetables are seen to be old fashioned but, when it comes to the marriage of meat and cheeses, I think they are essential compliments.  Tomato and onion relish can also be eaten on toast and with curries.  These three dishes can be bottled for future use. I have included Hartford’s health bread recipe which is a firm favourite with guests who visit this country house.

A meal isn’t the same without a sweet ending.  Always take seasonal fruit into account. At this time of the year there is nothing to beat a red wine poached pear with caramel sauce, marinated cinnamon and star anise orange segments, oven roasted pineapple slices with coconut sorbet and fresh grapefruit sprinkled with vanilla sugar.  So uncomplicated!  Now onto an easy panna cotta recipe.  Try it: It really works!  Always, keep in mind when making a panna cotta it must have, as we say in the kitchen, sexy hips – the perfect amount of gelatine.  This dessert can be served with fresh berries, an assortment of fruit or a tasty fresh sorbet.  It can also be varied to suit your palate by infusing any flavour of your choice into the cream.  Suggested ideas include coffee, mint, cocoa, strawberry and the list continues…

I hope this selection of food items will make your eventful weekend less stressful.  Enjoy the greatest racing and social event of the year - the July experience.

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

High praise from discerning Hartford House guests

Hartford House Lounge / Patrick Royal (p)

This is what some of the journalists who have visited Hartford House had to say about their sojourn:

“Extremely impressive. Thanks for being wonderful hosts. I’m coming back!” – Lance Benson: Parade Magazine

“Wonderful to experience your gracious house and caring professional staff.” – Marion Whitehead: Getaway Magazine

“What a beautiful place. Thank you for reminding me what a special place Hartford is and re-instilling my faith in this beautiful country.” – Natalie Danks: Elle Decoration

"Fine dining and true olde worlde hospitality in one of the most beautiful places on earth.” - Philippa Cameron: Midlands Life

“Great food, great hospitality, great service – and truly spectacular roses. A five-star treatment.” – Frank Chemaly: Sunday Tribune

“Thank you for sharing your piece of heaven with us.” – Abigail Donnelly: Taste

“Wonderful – thank you.” – Kym Argo: Leisure Options / Get It!

“The food was beautiful – so innovative and a wonderful palate experience. The staff is so friendly and professional.” - Noor-Jehan YoroBadat: The Star

GIANT'S CASTLE : Majestic presence entices local and international visitors

Ezulweni Suites on the Lake / Hartford House (p)

Ezulweni Suites on the Lake / Hartford House (p)

Giant’s Castle’s majestic presence, although shrouded in the blue haze of distance, is a sure sign you’re close to Hartford House. This award-winning, boutique country house is steeped in history dating back to 1875. It’s on the greater Summerhill estate, one of South Africa’s renowned racehorse stud farms and four times national breeder of the year. Here fine dining, the wellness centre and various outdoor activities make up an holistic Hartford experience. Search the world over there is, arguably, no other property like this.

Hartford is soon to celebrate the launch of its greatest work, Ezulweni. This is a compendium of suites of a mould nobody has known before. Built exclusively from materials harvested from the greater Hartford and Summerhill estates and the immediate environment, Ezulweni is a fine example of what’s achievable when local Zulu craftsmen, raised in a spirit of originality, are given the freedom to express the full extent of their talents.

Hailed as a triumph for creativity, these suites are proof of the compatibility between the natural influences of Africa and the sophisticated elegance of the colonial era.