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: Midlands Meander


The state-of-the-art Land Rover Freelander 2 fleet / Sally Chance (p)

The state-of-the-art Land Rover Freelander 2 fleet / Sally Chance (p)

By Wanda Henning

Thirty TASTE readers got to test drive Land Rover's Freelander 2 and visited Hartford for some delectable KwaZulu-Natal country cuisine.

We meet in the dappled sunshine of the courtyard at Florida Road's Quarters Hotel on a balmy Durban winter's morning in June. With us are TASTE Assistant Food Editor Hannah Lewry, events co-ordinator Lauren Artus and Land Rover'

Andrew Brown and his team. And, most importantly, there are 30 TASTE readers with a penchant for fine food and adventure, who are about to drive a fleet of state-of-the-art Freelander 2 Land Rovers to the Midlands for lunch at Hartford House.

I notice the generous head, shoulder and legroom and the viewing advantages of the stadium-style rear seating when I jump into a Freelander behind committed foodie Robyn May, who I learn is a newly qualified doctor, and her partner, Nick Badenhorst, a recently qualified dentist, both KwaZulu-Natal newbies. They have visited the Midlands, but never Hartford House.

Beyond the forest-mantled hills of Howick, we leave the tar so that the drivers can experience the off-road capabilities of the Freelander. A flick of the rotary control changes the Landy's Terrain Response system's General Driving setting to Grass/Gravel/Snow, which desensitises the accelerator, re-maps the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, puts some pre-load on the centre E-differential and alters the gear-change mapping. We arrive at Hartford House at around noon.

The boutique hotel's sweeping landscape is wearing winter colours after recent frosts and a string of Summerhill Stud thoroughbreds gallop in one of the estate's fenced paddocks not far from where we park. After we've quenched any thirstiness with silky-smooth freshly squeezed orange juice and assorted BOS iced teas, we choose our seats on a day warm enough for alfresco dining on the wraparound verandah; perfect for viewing the Zulu dancers who entertain us with gusto between courses. Lewry, introducing Hartford House Chef Jackie Cameron, tells us that this restaurant was chosen because of its magical setting and "because they keep things simple and seasonal and take a lot of care when selecting local produce and building relationships with suppliers. As such, they share the food values of Woolworths."

Then it's over to Cameron. "I've travelled overseas 17 times in the past eight years and consider myself extremely lucky to have eaten all over the world. And I can tell you, there is nothing like Midlands beef fillet," she says, explaining her succulent and substantial main course choice. "We get ours from a local butcher and age it ourselves. There's also oxtail on the plate, which we cooked for nine hours. It's so tender, you could eat it with a spoon." Complementing the meat, along with tiny freshly picked veggies, was a smooth potato mash "like granny used to make it with lots of cream and butter", a classic red-wine sauce and, to cut the richness, a tomato and onion bredie - "a family recipe".

The dessert, Cameron says, was inspired by kumquats she spotted in the herb garden. "I poached them six times in a sugar syrup to remove the bitterness and made a tart but sweet sorbet." A Belgian dark and white chocolate mousse and a "soil" cream with sweet and savoury herbs - lemon verbena, mint, sage, pineapple sage and thyme - impart a fresh earthiness with flavours that Cameron says "remind me of picking fresh herbs after a  thunderstorm". "Ninety-five percent of my suppliers are located within 25km of here," she adds. "But I don't use local for the sake of using local. The quality has to be world class."

In creating the perfect meal for TASTE readers, Cameron took a diversion from her usual path with her starter of scrumptious Norwegian salmon, cured for two hours in soya, lemon "and lots of ginger and garlic". The bite-size chunks were paired with avocado "from my parents' tree. No avo in the world can compare with our homegrown ones" blended with cream cheese to enhance their creaminess, and offset by the slight acidity of red cherry tomatoes. Herbed croutons and red caviar created a texture explosion. For fun, she topped the dish with a tomato spoom.

The verdict? TASTE readers Reshma and Shane Narainsamy, who came for the food and "bribed" their son Nirav with the promise of the Land Rover ride, commented, "After the first course, the meal had already surpassed our expectations."

It is with reluctance that we leave after lunch. Oh, to spend the night!

Extract from TASTE Magazine

Woolworths Taste Magazine


Monis Fortified Wines


Think again! Join us for a complimentary tasting of Monis fortified wines paired with a selection of fabulous foods and experience an incredible taste selection.

Date : 11 May 2011
Time : 18:00
Venue : Hartford House

Canapes will be served after tasting.

Limited numbers so make sure we have your name on the list!

RSVP to Emma on 033 2632713 or by sending an email to emma@hartford.co.za.

hartford house logo

For more information please visit :


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!".


midlands meander seasons


As autumn slowly crispens into winter, the change of seasons invites a less frenetic pace, a slowing down and taking stock of life. Hartford House is just the place to do that in. Enjoy wines from our award winning Platinum Wine list, or indulge in the five star cuisine of our own renowned chef, Jackie Cameron.

Being situated on Summerhill Stud, five-time champion racehorse breeders of South Africa, there’s plenty to do at Hartford House. The changing seasons have transformed the farm into a riot of colours and moods, and there are numerous walks on the property which take in the beauty of the farm and the glorious changing colours of the trees.

If you are feeling particularly energetic, and wish to venture off the farm, there is plenty to do in the surrounding Midlands area. There’s the Midlands Meander which showcases some of the best Arts and Crafts in the country and provides endless pleasures and opportunities. Of course, one cannot miss the Royal Show at the Pietermaritzburg Show grounds which runs from the 28th May to 6th June. The show has something for everyone’s tastes; from tractors and farm animals to food halls and crafts.

Once you’ve finished your daily Midlands adventures, you can return to the warmth and comfort of a world-class hotel and indulge in some of the finest cuisine around. Our winter specials make the pilgrimage to Hartford House all that more worthwhile. 

hartford house kwazulu natal south africa

For more information please visit :


Leopard / Philip Mackenzie (p)

Leopard / Philip Mackenzie (p)


There are people who pay independent fortunes to find leopards and their cubs in the wild reserves of Africa. At Summerhill, we’ve long preserved the fauna and flora around us in conjunction with our neighbours, and we are the proud possessors today of a rich legacy and a deep diversity in the animals and plant types that characterize our environment.

Among the predator creatures that frequent our territory are Caracal (Rooikat), several packs of Jackal, the occasional Cape Fox, and Serval. We’ve been known in the district to have the odd rare visit from a Leopard, and our horse breeding colleagues up the road at Camargue Stud once suffered a loss of several yearlings as a result of their taking flight when a male of the species passed through their paddock several years back.

We don’t recall any reports of sightings on Summerhill though, so imagine our surprise on Monday evening when our hotel manager, Paula Mackenzie, spotted a female leopard and her three cubs on the roadside at the junction dip between our two properties, The Springs and Summerhill. What a sight, and what a pleasure to know that she should feel comfortable raising a family in our neighbourhood. Leopards are strongly territorial animals, and operate within a well defined range. They have been known to pitch up at the strangest places, but seldom venture beyond the kloofs and forests that provide cover for them during the day. There’s little that will prey on their cubs at Summerhill, and it says something for our conservation practices here that this lady should feel free to roam as she has, to our eastern most boundary.

Something for visitors to look forward to at Hartford House, as she’s likely to be in the vicinity for some time, while the youngsters grow up.


Troy Mellet and John Cleese / Leigh Willson (p)

Troy Mellet and John Cleese / Leigh Willson (p)


When John Cleese visits your hotel, you’d be hoping it won’t turn out to be a repeat of Basil Fawlty and Fawlty Towers.

We get some extraordinary visitors at Hartford, and followers of this column will recall the visits of many of the who’s who of the political, the business and the sporting worlds. Last night was the turn of the performing arts, when the cast, the author, the sponsor and the production crew of what looks like a blockbuster movie in the making. Spud arrived for dinner. Performers they may be (before Jackie Cameron 10 star dinner), but they witnessed a spectacular performance by our Zulu dance troupe.

There are many names in the world of movies that stir the mind, but somehow John Cleese, at 71, still maintains his ratings. One of the few people to turn The Queen down when offered a CBE, he’s still in pretty good shape for a man of his age and achievement. Accompanied by his South African partner Jennifer Wade, he settled at the one end of the table with young “Spud”, an Australian-based South African-born youngster of 14 by the name of Troy Mellet.

Spud’s author, ex Michaelhouse pupil John van de Ruit, is a charming fellow. He’s obviously enormously creative, and has a god-given talent for writing. He says he was no great star at school, and graduated with a “C” in English. But he says he went through three life-changing events in a very short space of time, which lead him to jot down some of the things that had happened in his lifetime on a simple notepad. The first of these events, was the sinking in 20 seconds of a Kariba houseboat in a violent storm, followed by a dramatic escape from a Zimbabwean war veterans farm attack a few days later.

While you might find it hard to believe, within a few months he was faced by the great tsunami of 2005 whilst holidaying in the east, and was one of those who walked, entranced, towards what he thought was a miracle of nature. He survived.

As a past Durban High School pupil myself, I was more than proud to meet Ross Garland, a barrister by profession who’s miraculously put all of this together. What a helluva nice bloke, and what a great production team he has in Brad Logan and Lance Gewer, the man who put “Tsotsie” together for its Academy Award.


Michaelhouse / Flavio Della Torres - Michaelhouse (p)

Michaelhouse / Flavio Della Torres - Michaelhouse (p)


Yes, the much-loved show "A Handful Of Keys" by Ian Von Memerty and Roelof Colyn, is back at the Schlesinger Theatre for the third time. If you have not seen it or heard of it, you cannot miss this once-off visit. Two grand pianos, 2 hours of musical entertainment, 2 consummate performers! They sing, dance, tell a few jokes, change costumes and moods with ease. Von Memerty and Colyn are truly outstanding.

Tickets are selling fast by word of mouth and seating is limited

Schlesinger Theatre
24 February 2010
Tickets: R150
Bookings: Michelle on michun@michaelhouse.org or 033 234 1139


Drakensberg Mountains / Nigel Reid (p)

Drakensberg Mountains / Nigel Reid (p)


My wife and I spent 3 nights at this wonderful hotel on our recent visit to South Africa. While many tourists to South Africa head straight to the Game Parks, fewer tend to visit this region of South Africa which gets less publicity in the tourism literature.

Located in KwaZulu Natal, a 4 hour drive from Johannesburg or 90 minute drive from Durban on excellent roads,Hartford House is situated within a half-hour drive from the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains.

The accomodations are luxurious, the food is gourmet (voted South Africa's best restaurant in 2009) and nothing is too much when it comes to satisfying their guests. There is a Wellness Centre offering spa treatments and massage at reasonable rates.

There is lots to explore in the region including the Battle Fields from the Boer War, walks in the Drakensberg Mountains (from an easy stroll to serious hiking) and the Midlands Meander (a day trip spent exploring the local Arts and Crafts in the area). Fly Fishing is popular in this area. We were particularly impressed by the beauty of this region and the Drakensberg should not be missed.

The hotel is located on the famous Summerhill Stud Farm which is world renowned for its race horses. A tour of the farm is available.

In summary : A memorable stay in a beautiful part of South Africa. Highly recommended.



open gardens 2009


The garden of Rose and Revell Sivright “Glengarry Park.”
Self catering chalets.
Phone: 033 267 7225 Cell 082 7833445.
OPEN 10/11, 17/18  and 24/25 October and during the week by request

This large English country garden features stunning young beeches, birches, maples, nyssas and dogwoods. Thatch cottages are surrounded by borders of viburnums, azaleas, rhododendrons, pieris, kalmia and many russell lupins, astilbes, hostas , hellebores with a sprinkling of annual poppies and pansies. Donations to a charity of the gardener’s choice. Glengarry often opens during the year by appointment , please call in advance if you plan visiting outside of Open Gardens.

Directions: Turn off the N3 at Nottingham Road and continue onto Rosetta along R103 (old main road) At Rosetta turn left onto Kamberg Road and continue for 31 kms, turning left at Glengarry/Highmoor Road. “Glengarry Park” is 500 metres along this road - tar to the gate.

The garden of Veronica Ratsey “Uskia Garden”, Defence Farm.
Phone: 033 267 7442 OPEN 3/4, 10/11 and 17/18 OCTOBER

This garden features many varieties of well established English trees, rhododendrons and pink and white dogwoods. Other plants to look out for are the gunnerer, acers, holly, clematis, irises and beech trees. Some indigenous plants have been added over the past years and spectacular views over the whole Drakensberg mountain range make this an exceptionally scenic spot. Plants are on sale and donations to the SPCA are most welcome.

Directions: From Rosetta proceed 14 kms up the Kamberg Road, turn right when you see the signboard stating Defence Farm, continue till the blue and white sign stating house/nursery to the left, and shed to the right - proceed left and continue up the driveway - it will be signposted.


The garden of Priscilla and Peter Francis “Milestone Forest.”Phone: 033 234 4190. OPEN SPRING & SUMMER ENJOY A DAY IN THE COUNTRY!

This portion of indigenous KwaZulu-Natal mist forest is a National Heritage site. The Balgowan Conservancy and the Wildlands Trust have over the years developed a tree walk which has been enjoyed by numerous visitors and organized groups – the trees are named and it is well worth the visit. The forest also attracts numerous birds so be sure to take your binoculars and wear good walking shoes. Spectacular Cape chestnuts flower in late spring - the garden is a woodland and informal with many hydrangeas, azaleas and rhododendrons. Highlight: Picnic baskets welcome – have a picnic at the dam and spend a day in the country enjoying the tree walk and have an informal stroll through the garden.

Directions: From N3 take Balgowan turn off left. At the T junction turn left at Caversham sign turning left again into D533 - Milestone is just over 1 km on the left.


Mick Goss enjoys a moment with Ben Jonsson

Mick Goss enjoys a moment with Ben Jonsson
(Photo : Hartford House)

Among many anecdotes to have emerged from the Jonsson 80th birthday celebrations, were these two. According to the Guinness Book of Records, there is only one other set of living triplets who are slightly ahead of the Jonssons, the threesome having chalked up 93 years. The Jonssons trail by just 13 years, but knowing their history of longevity, it’s a good bet our “triplets” still have a good bit of wind in their sails. Either way, it’s a remarkable story of triumph against the odds, and it’s our bet the Guinness Book is in danger of having its pages rewritten. For the record, an elder sibling Hugh, was the breeder of Jet Master greatest South African stallion of all time, who’s just recorded his third consecutive Sires championship.

The second anecdote worth repeating is the connectivity in racing between Ben and the Goss family. As a young man recently out of school, Ben made his first investment in a racehorse, acquiring a colt from Mick Goss’s grandfather, Pat Goss Snr, in the mid 1940’s for the princely sum of £50, quite a bit of money in those days.

Legend has it that Ben had only £35 from his savings to spend, and had to borrow the remaining £15 from his employer, which he redeemed at £2 a month. Unable to afford the training fees, Ben leased the colt to the grandfather of David Pianel, famous for his association with the studs of the Rowles family (Ivanhoe) and Sydney Press’ Coromandel Stud.

For what its worth, Ben’s colt won two heats on the same day at the Lions River gymkhana, and then promptly suffered a heart attack which put him down. Prior to that he hadn’t been able to pull off a win at the major courses, hence his dispatch to a gymkhana meeting, though we shouldn’t demean gymkhanas too much, because they were quite competitive affairs in those days.

Either way, we’d like to think we’ve moved on at Summerhill!