Spring in Swellendam
It’s Spring in Swellendam and we are gearing up for high season. However we’re offering a sweet winter special (stay two nights and pay for one) until end of September. Need more reason to come celebrate spring in Swellendam? Read all about guest blogger, Thaya Bedford‘s, Swell escapades below. Thank you, Thaya for a beautiful article!
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I fell head-over-gumboots for Swellendam a few years ago…and I’ve had issues letting go ever since. In fact, you might even call me a Swellenstalker. But if you’ve seen her snow-capped mountains, walked through her forests, meditated in Marloth Nature Reserve, tasted her fine food and wines and slept in her cotton sheets, you’d understand why the long-distance romance has endured. And for those of you reading who may be foragers, let me not even get started on Swellendam’s prolific mushroom hunting potential!
It was a response to a call for bloggers organized by now Swellengram owner, Amanda, that first saw me feeling the Swellenlove, which was followed by a personal invitation from Alison, the owner of Schoone Oordt. Alison has extended the invitation every year since, and so when the wonderful, open-faced walking smile of a man, Fidney, welcomed us ‘home’ last week, I smiled back, albeit with a mouth full of the decadent cake that Schoone lays out at tea time.
Fidney walked us to our newly refreshed Luxury Rooms, where we ooh-ed and ah-ed at the warmth and special touches that make this 5-star boutique hotel so memorable. From the exquisite Flyinghorse photographs of Swellendam printed on canvas mounted above the Victorian baths through to the private ‘champagne’ (I’m calling them that) balconies adjoining our suites, I could feel the enduring love that Alison and Richard have put into this beautiful, old world place.
Alison let the new, young chefs at La Sosta know that we were in town and they invited us to a chef’s table experience. We were completely overwhelmed to discover that they had fired up the entire restaurant for us (I was expecting a table in the kitchen, a table cloth and a candle or two) and printed a special menu, titled ‘Sneak Peek’ just for us. It was a gesture just as generous and lovely as they are. Owner and host, Chris, was the warmest host, who made us feel like part of the family while his daughter Nina and son-in-law, Salvatore, were creating our heavenly five course meal.
What followed was hours of moans and gluttony (on our parts), as we tasted dish after beautiful dish of gorgeous perfection that were as easy on the eyes as they were on the tongue. The savoury crème brule amuse bouche was a tease that I’m pretty certain you’ll add to your ‘I cannot live without this now that I know that it exists’ list, while every leaf, petal and ingredient was prepared and presented to perfection. The saffron risotto was more-ish; the soft, homemade ‘tortello’ pasta filled with Norweigan salmon and pistachio pesto, resting in Reggiano sauce, melted in my mouth. Pan-seared octopus with potato cream was an absolute favourite, while Lauren’s Beef short rib and roasted polenta dish with black garlic mayonnaise looked dreamy. We paired almost every course with one of the wines from a carefully curated wine collection, which we walked over to linger amongst and pour over before choosing them. Chris shared anecdotes about the wines, winemakers and the wines’ origins, which made us choose Life from Stone (always a favourite), and Jupiter.
We finally met the two adorable chefs over our Tiramisu, before I could barely keep my eyes open thanks to the threat of food-i-cide that was crashing in on me like an avalanche. La Sosta is most definitely not a fine dining restaurant that will leave you searching for a burger and chips joint after leaving! Suffice it to say – we loved La Sosta so much that I actually day-dreamed about being there, while I was still there. We curled up in our crisp sheets warmed by water bottles back at Schoone Oordt and got a great night’s sleep, leaving the handmade truffle turn-downs for the first time in history because we had become Swellendamsels within a few hours (Still thinking of you, truffles. RIP.)
The next day was a BIG day in Swellies. It was the annual Lentemark at the Kerk and we had tombola and white elephants stalls to raid. We were on a tight schedule and departed for Barrydale after a quick browse – because beer wasn’t going to taste itself.
Maker’s Brew was such a find and I was so glad to find a space in Barrydale that was not only NOT orange, but a calm, minimalist space. Owner Ryno poured us tastings of each of the divine beers he makes, while I ogled the beautiful ceramics his wife displays in a gallery off the tasting room.
We grabbed a few bottles for ourselves and headed to Barrydale Weavers for a quick gawk and then onto Joubert-Tradauw for lunch. Known for their epic platters, JW did not disappoint. We sat under the latte-shaded tables and enjoyed their chardonnay in the fresh country air. We highly recommend these activities for your stay at Schoone, as Barrydale is only 45 minutes away and makes for an epic road trip along the pass.
We returned in time for scones and vanilla tea at Schoone before resting up for dinner in The Conservatory. Candlelight twinkled while Edith Piaf ‘s recognizable vibrato put everyone in the mood for a little romance. I ordered some bold red, the carpaccio and the beef filet for mains, which was perfectly prepared to medium rare.
We left full, happy and ready for wood-burning fireplaces in our rooms, hot baths filled with Rain rose petal bath salts, truffles and movies. We have friends who live nearby so that evening was not to be, but one can dream!
After another decadent 3 course breakfast and bidding our beloved Schoone Oordt goodbye, we raced to our 10am outride with Amy at Appelsbosch Stud Farm only a few minute’s drive away.
The weather was playing up but our steeds remained unshaken as we rode through the pines and up towards what felt like the mountain top. The view gets me every time. Those gorgeous, rolling mountains. Please do yourselves a favour and add outrides at Appelsbosch to the same list where you scribbled down the savoury crème brule from La Sosta, and Schoone Oordt!
Thank you for having us, Alison and everyone at Schoone who makes it the incredibly special 5-star boutique hotel that it is! Trace our steps when you book the #LoveSwellendam 2-for1 special, from R2425 per room (Luxury Room), and R3435 (Family/Honeymoon Suite) – for 2 nights! This never-to-be-repeated special is only on until the end of September, so please grab it with both hands.