There are places that you just fall in love with the minute that you arrive and, for me, Babylonstoren was one of those places.
After a few days of flu and rain, I was fed up with being stuck indoors in Cape Town and needed a change of scenery. Cue being whisked off to Babylonstoren, an amazing organic farm in Paarl, just an hour outside the city. It was raining for most of the drive (not that I would know because I was definitely asleep for most of the journey…) and we arrived on a dark and dreary night, not looking forward to the mad dash to reception in the rain. But, all of those fears were quashed by the time that we got to to the covered car park, where we were met by a lovely gentleman with umbrellas and a torch, who took us directly to our lodge, gave us a quick tour and then left us to it. That’s what I call an efficient check-in. A few minutes later, whilst we were still taking in the sheer luxury that is a Babylonstoren cottage, we had another knock at the door. Another smiling face, this time with two glasses of sherry and some salmon canapés… such a lovely touch. And the first of many.
For dinner, we were invited to have fresh, homemade pizza in the bakery or to have the pizza delivered to our cottage to avoid the rain. As tempting as that was, we decided that we needed to explore this place a little more and so opted to pop on some wellies, grab a brolly and head to their bakery building. They make the pizza in their bread oven, where they bake all of the bread for their gorgeous restaurant, Babel (more on that to come in a subsequent post). The pizza was served with their own Babylonstoren wine after a delicious vegetable soup starter accompanied by some home baked bread. All this was followed by a ridiculously amazing nutty dessert – kind of like a baklava but made with large nuts and no pastry. We didn’t have much space left, but it was one of the most amazing dishes I have ever eaten – I need the recipe! I don’t have many pictures from the bakery as it was a dark, warm and cosy room that wasn’t very iPhone-friendly. That wasn’t a bad thing though, because it was such a gorgeous evening. Why ruin it with my blogger tendencies?!
After dinner, we went back to the room to enjoy a lovely log-burning fire, before I slipped into one of the most amazing bathtubs with homemade handpicked ‘bath salts’, a gorgeous bunch of herbs and lavender to drop into the bath. Then, after that tantalising experience, the bed itself was quite possibly the most comfortable that I have ever slept in in my life. Which would explain why I ‘forgot’ to set an alarm the next morning for the Farm Walk, but the reception dutifully called us at 8am and held off a few minutes whilst we grabbed some jeans and wellies before heading outside – to glorious sunshine! Goodbye rain, we weren’t going to miss you.
The Farm Walk was amazing. Well worth getting up for, though I would recommend waking up at least 5mins before the time so as to play with the Nespresso machine tucked cosily into the corner of your room. We really enjoyed getting out on to the farm, seeing where all of the produce was made, how they utilised the land and where they grew the vines for their organic wine. Our guide was fantastic. He was very knowledgeable about the methods used on the farm as well as each plant and vegetable that they grew. There’s nothing better than picking fresh, organic guava and eating it in the morning sunshine.
Now, this may be getting a little repetitive and I may be running out of superlatives, but breakfast was really really good, as in oh-my-gosh-good. The eggs were poached to perfection and the fresh juices were just that – so fresh. I loved the fun menus too, they had news and weather of the day, plus a fun crossword & sudoku puzzle to play whilst you were waiting for your food. It was like getting a mini morning paper, which I thought was, yet again, a lovely touch.
The staff were very polite and knew all about the menu and the glass walls of the building not only let the sunshine in, but also serve to remind you of the nature that surrounds you and the fresh organic produce being used in the kitchen. But more of that to come! Because two hours later we were back in Babel, the onsite restaurant gaining fans and quite a reputation amongst Capetonians, who wait up to 3 months for a lunch reservation. Luckily, if you have a room there, they can find space for you the day before… even if it is at 12.15 and 2hours since you enjoyed a hearty breakfast with them. Oh well. Stay tuned for a review of Babel restaurant, where I got so snap happy that it really wouldn’t have fit into this blog post…!
To find out more about Babylonstoren, visit Babylonstoren.com.