It’s not enough to produce South Africa’s best wines. Or to have one of the most welcoming homes I’ve ever set foot in. Or to be a totally charming couple and warmest of hosts. No, they have to be great cooks, too. Meet Olive and Anthony Hamilton Russell. A week ago I was sitting on their veranda overlooking the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, with a glass of their stunning Chardonnay. I mean, pinch me.
As you drive up to the farm, there are wildflowers are far as the eye can see. They are every bit as chic in a vase on the table.
It was the last day of crayfish season. Lucky, lucky us.
Olive had made an insane risotto, sprinkled with an intense powder ground from five types of mushrooms from their farm. Sometimes she and Anthony take a picnic down to the farm’s forest to hunt for mushrooms. Then Olive oven dries them overnight and grinds them into a fine powder.
There was also roast chicken, green beans with black sesame. And a cheese course with local Gruyère scooped from a big wheel (like Parm) and served with figs from the farm that Olive cures in sugar with ginger.
This time of year the couple harvests honey near the heath and heather on the property, and Olive mixed some of that honey with cream and white chocolate, reduced it for 40 minutes and mixed in slivered almonds and poured over fresh peaches with berries and mint. Served with a glass of 2008 Bisous Noble Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, this was pretty much heaven.