Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Return to Babel

We had a female family lunch at Babylonstoren last week. 

I had exactly ten minutes before lunch to capture some pictures of these incomparable gardens. For the first five I stayed near the ponds and swiveled, snapping in all directions.

It was a warm day and an inversion layer of lavender air hung thickly at five feet above the beds.

The massive thyme garden near Babel, the restaurant, invited feet.

Edible waterblommetjies shared pool space with the water lilies.

In my remaining five minutes I dashed down the vegetable and fruit garden, leaving dust devils in my wake.

Above - someone is thinking of making Poire Williams, the hot clear schnapps that surrounds a ripe, bottled pear. Until these are ready, buy some when next you travel through Switzerland.

Quinces on their espaliered hedges are beginning to fuzz.

And a geometrical maze of tuteurs waits for tomatoes to rise up between them.

In the shop, artichoke flowers advertized the measuring flasks for sale (used as wine carafes in the restaurant).

And at lunch. The table gifts that arrive before the ordered courses are sometimes the best part.

The garden salad of the day.

Super-crunchy roast potatoes accompany the main courses. My salt-cured lamb ribs with buchu-infused apricots were inedibly salty, unfortunately, so no picture (I've been told they have been removed from the menu). But everyone else loved their chops with ripe, roasted plums (my mouth waters as I type this).

And for dessert I begged for some ice cream that was part of a salad dish: pineapple and chile. It was divine, perhaps made with buttermilk. The chile was barely there; personally I would have turned up the heat, but the creamy texture and the pineappleyness were memorably good.

If you can, go, and make sure to book far in advance. And give yourself a couple of hours for the garden.

A side note: Babylonstoren is what can be done by an individual with a lot of money, a vision, very good taste, and the ability to hire the right people. I wish more media moguls would leave this kind of stamp on the planet.


  1. From cold, snowy US Midwest (Wisconsin), I love your posts, both from NY and S. Africa. I first found you after I had seen your book. You warm my heart.

  2. Aaah Marie. Don found Babel unspeakably painful. Too much longing for a garden just like that, of his own. X

  3. So pretty, and delicious-looking! Love the waterblommetjies! I just bought a quince from Whole Foods, pretty much just for its fragrance, along with a fingered citron.

  4. They should hire YOU for their photos - yours are much better than their own!!

  5. Ohhhh, I was there too, last month! It was one of my favourite gardens (nothing, of course, can compete with Kirstenbosch) but I too ran around trying to hit every corner. I was certainly the last one on the bus. And I'm so glad you identified the quince - my life, thus far, has been quinceless and I was going to have to pass my photo around.


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