This article first appeared in House & Leisure Online and is entitled “Druk My Niet Stud: Where Agriculture meets Epicure”. Here I’ve adapted my original post slightly in order to make it blog-relevant.
A short drive from Cape Town – an especial treat with Springtime’s golden fields of canola – and you’ll find yourself accommodated on a working farm that offers utter relaxation without compromising on quality. Druk My Niet Stud in Tulbagh is the consummate getaway for a group of friends looking to take in the countryside. Expect a weekend of laughter, the cooking of far too much food and the consumption of Druk My Niet’s excellent range of cheese and wine. What more could one want?
Nestled in the valley between the Winterhoek and Obiqua Mountains, the small town of Tulbagh and its outlying farmlands feature myriad guesthouses and places to stay. Known for its historical Cape Dutch architecture and celebrated for the wine born of its vineyards, Tulbagh is beginning to be recognized as a sought-after destination for weddings, wine tasting and weekends away alike.
It was for the latter that I got to experience the accommodation on offer at Druk My Niet. Set on a working stud farm and partner to the Druk My Niet wine estate in Paarl, the remote setting, pastoral surrounds and introspective quality of the farm creates the ideal ambiance for a relaxed weekend away. The sprawling farmhouse sleeps 8 comfortably whilst an extra adjoining cottage means that Druk My Niet Stud is able to accommodate 10 guests in total – making the farm an optimal choice for a birthday weekend or small celebration.
Run by partners Peter Rose and Arthur Malan-Murison, Druk My Niet Stud caters to lovers of art and the outdoors alike. Both avid about horses, interior design and their three dogs – German Pointers Odin and Otto, and rescue pup Ollie – Peter and Arthur make wonderful hosts. We were plied with Druk My Niet’s excellent range of wine varietals and introduced to the outdoor entertainment area (complete with pizza oven) and the many rooms of the capacious guesthouse.
The house itself takes inspiration from tradition with screed floors, roughly plastered walls and a corrugated iron afdak roof. That being said, it has been furnished in such a way so as to bring together classic and contemporary pieces in a space that is more modern pastoral than French provincial. Think zebra and Nguni cowhide rugs paired with masculine leather armchairs and mid-century side tables. Industrial pendant lights hang from exposed steel rafters and the walls, painted either a smoky charcoal or acid chartreuse, are adorned with horse-related art. Enticingly weighty books are set upon every surface, and a snooker table, darts board and retro bar lend an entertaining “old boy’s club” atmosphere to the house. Three double bedrooms are sumptuously furnished, with the largest containing an ample fireplace and open-plan bathroom – all done in the same attractive African farm meet New York-style loft. The true heart of the home is the kitchen – expansive and yet warm, it encourages cooking with its stainless steel gas hob, selection of pots and pans suspended over the centre island and large wood-burning fireplace. Abundantly equipped with myriad cooking aids, spices and serving platters, the kitchen at Druk My Niet is built for entertaining – second perhaps only to the spacious verandah, where guests can sit in the evening, watching the dying sun turn the tops of the distant mountains a dusky pink. The fact that Druk My Niet also happens to be pet-friendly is another attraction – my Pugs spent the weekend romping through the house’s indigenous garden and getting better acquainted with the farm’s own dogs.
While the house itself may the primary drawcard, it is impossible to forget that it is situated on a working farm. Surrounded by paddocks, stables, a foaling shed and a picturesquely dilapidated chicken coop, the farm is home to many a prize racing stallion and brood mare. It is also home to a gaggle of geese (new parents at the time of my visit, so we made sure to give them a wide berth), chickens, pot-bellied pigs and a herd of nanny goats – the latter of which produce the milk that allows Druk My Niet to create their fine artisanal cheeses. Cheesemaker Annie Christensen creates cheese for the Druk My Niet brand on a freelance basis and her talent and care for the process is evident in each cheese that is produced in the farm’s small factory. Using both the milk from the goats as well as milk from a herd of nearby Jersey cows, each step of the process is an ethical one, with Annie using only unpasteurized milk that has been acquired naturally and ethically. This technique makes for a richer cheese with a full-bodied flavour – perfection when paired with a selection of Druk My Niet’s award-winning wine cultivars. We were lucky (and hungry) enough to sample the full selection of cheese made by Annie and while it was certainly not an easy task to choose between each cheese, some favourites included the silky smooth goat’s cheese known as Chèvre, the buttery crumbliness of the German-style Bergkäse and the lusciously cloven-hoofed Camembert. The latter, although perfect in flavour, was a mere two weeks old – a detail that Annie informed me was due to the use of unpasteurised milk. As it matures at a faster rate that pasteurised milk, one needs to keep tasting the cheese to ensure the optimal eating period. Which, fortuitously for us, was immediately. The following evening I got stuck right into putting together a cheeseboard to have with a few glasses of wine and I can be sincere when I say that the cheeses made on Druk My Niet Stud are some of the most delicious I’ve tasted yet.
Inspired by their top-selling Chèvre, I decided to incorporate the creamy goat’s cheese into a recipe of my own creation – enter my Venison Jaffles.
The humble jaffle is able to invoke many a happy childhood memory of weekends spent camping. The anticipation while waiting for the bread to brown, the impatience at having to wait a little more for the filling to cool and finally, the pain-pleasure felt at the first deliciously scalding bite. The appeal of the jaffle lies in the amalgamation of treats that it recalls – sandwich meets pie. A crisp outer shell that contains a wealth of saucy goodness at its centre, the jaffle is the ultimate comfort food that can be made with relatively little fuss.
Essentially no different from a sandwich, the key to a good jaffle is the bread; choose a thickly sliced white farm loaf to ensure that the filling doesn’t ooze out and that the crust crisps up for that desired crunch.
As far as fillings go, the sky is the limit. Traditionally, cheese and tomato, savoury mince or creamed mushrooms held sway – here I’ve embraced the jaffle’s heritage in a different way by using slow-roasted Springbok leg, pulled and made into a rich ragu, and combined it with the earthiness of a fresh goat’s cheese. Although a little more timeous than the other fillings, stuffing a jaffle with venison takes the rustic favourite into gourmet territory.
Prep time: 20 mins / Cook time: 4 hours / Serves: 4 to 6
You will need:
- 1kg Springbok leg roast
- 2 bulbs of garlic, cloves peeled
- 8 to 10 sprigs of fresh rosemary, washed
- 1 bottle red wine
- Coarse ground salt and black pepper
Place the springbok leg into a large roasting dish. Tuck the garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs in and around the meat and pour over the red wine. Season the springbok with salt and pepper and cover with foil before placing into a preheated 160°C oven for 3.5 hours. For the final 30 minutes of roasting, remove the foil and ramp up the oven to 220°C to allow the liquid to reduce and the meat to caramelize. The springbok is done when it falls off the bone without difficulty. Using two forks shred the meat and discard any bones or gristle. If you need to reduce the liquid further, simmer the mixture over a low heat until bubbling and thickened.
Venison-filled Jaffle with Chèvre
Prep time: 15 mins / Cook time: 20 mins / Serves: 4 to 6
You will need:
- Springbok ragu (about 50g per jaffle)
- Goat’s cheese (I used Druk My Niet’s Rosemary Chevré) or mozzarella, grated or crumbled
- 8 to 12 slices of fresh thick-sliced white bread
Butter the bread on both sides and place one slice into the jaffle iron butter side-down. Add in a helping of the springbok ragu and sprinkle over the cheese. Top with another slice of bread, butter side-up and close the jaffle iron securely. Break off the corners of the crust that stick out of the iron. Place the jaffle iron either over hot coals or a gas hob and cook on both sides until the bread is crisp and golden and the cheese has melted. Usually this takes about 5 minutes per side. Using a knife, gently loosen the jaffle and serve immediately with a full-bodied red, such as Druk My Niet’s Malbec.
For those who want to awaken at dawn to the call of the many resident guinea fowl, drink a pot of coffee brewed on the kitchen fire or spend the entire day sunning oneself on the verandah, the environment that has been created by Druk My Niet Stud is one that offers recreation in the form of relaxation – good food, beautiful views and a memorable time with friends.
To get in contact and book your own stay at Druk My Niet Stud, email firstname.lastname@example.org.