Head Chef at Majeka House’s Makaron Restaurant Tanja Kruger, shows real passion and commitment to ethically sourced, farm-to-table cuisine showcasing the very best produce from the Stellenbosch Winelands region and beyond. The restaurant, which is at the heart of Majeka House has been recently revamped and cleverly done so that sections can be curtained off to give the impression of an intimate room. The wine list has been complied by resident sommelier Josephine Gutentoft and the wines – and a craft beer – matched to the dishes during a recent dinner there, just showed that extra bit of interest and care to find a gem or two from the winelands.
Invited not only to dinner but to sleep over on what must have been one of the coldest nights in the Winelands for a long time we had a room which satisfied every need of a discerning overnighter. Contemporary in style with views of the most verdant of gardens.
Tanja’s food is influenced by her low kilometer approach to food with fresh, seasonal produce sourced as close to ‘home’ as possible. She says ‘I know where 95 percent of our ingredients come from. I will not accept anything but the best for the restaurant and go out of my way to find it. I am constantly trying to find new producers in the Stellenbosch region, while encouraging my staff to get involved too by foraging for specialist ingredients and helping out in the gardens. We also celebrate what the farmers have taken the time to grow or rear for us.’ Root vegetables and salad leaves come from a one-hectare organic vegetable, herb and fruit farm in Porterville owned by Steve ”The Magic Man” Botha. Fresh herbs and edible flowers, of which Tanja is an ardent fan, are harvested from the gardens at Majeka House; chickens free of antibiotics, growth stimulants or hormones and reared in a humane, environmentally friendly way come from Lazena Free Range Poultry, a family owned business in Gordon’s Bay; pork comes from another family owned business, Sweetwell Farm, located on the R44 just outside Stellenbosch; and pasture reared beef and eggs come from Angus McIntosh’s biodynamic farm at Spier.
Tanja also enjoys the benefit of being exposed to cutting-edge food trends in Europe and the privilege of dining in Michelin-starred restaurants, thanks to regular working trips to the northern hemisphere during the South African winter months. This year she spent time in the kitchens of Restaurant Frantzen in Sweden, under Bjorn Frantzen; Geranium in Denmark, under Rasmus Koefoed; and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, under the mentorship of the great man himself. Inspired once again by the incredible attention to detail she witnessed in restaurants, bistros and gastropubs across Europe, back in her own kitchen she is playing with techniques such as burning, brining, pickling, juicing and jellies in a quest to intensify flavours.
New additions to the a la carte menu include SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) green-listed hake with miso, roasted sweetcorn puree, onion, carrot butter and the surprise crunch of spekboom; free-range crown roasted chicken with mushrooms and nasturtium puree; pan- seared springbok with celery root and leaf and a chive oil; and grass-fed veal with sweetbreads, cauliflower, thyme and chive. Even the Makaron bread board has been reinvented. Always interesting, it now includes sourdough rolls, Swedish knäckebröd and dainty cheese tuilles served with organic farm butter, goat’s butter and caramelised naartjie butter.
For table and room reservations or for further information call Majeka House and Makaron Restaurant on (27) (21) 880 1549; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.majekahouse.co.za for the latest seasonal promotions.
Our warm thanks to Lloyd and Karine, the owners of Majeka House and to Lise and Ian Manley of Manley Communications who were our hosts for the night.