Fairview Homestead | Philda Benkenstein
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I love a good cup of coffee…Remember, we lived in Namibia for 13 years and there we were introduced to a European style cafe culture. Often the coffee there is served with milk enriched with evaporated milk. We could buy imported coffee brands long before our coffee taste buds were developed to the degree that they are today in South Africa.

At the breakfast table, I will often have guests express appreciation at the good coffee I serve. We buy our coffee, freshly ground, on a weekly basis from a local roaster. Which also means that I can order coarser ground coffee to go with the plungers that I put out in the rooms and finely ground for my Bialetti pots – my preferred method of serving the coffee at breakfast.

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Our son Eckart is a spear-fisherman of note. His dad and brothers are not too shabby as sea-hunters either.

When the Benkenstein men bring home  fish we eat fish for three days in a row. This is one  recipe that I can honestly claim as my own and it works perfectly with frozen fish too.  I’ve even substituted fresh fish for tinned tuna and it is still fool-proof – let’s face it: every fish brought home represents 3 that ‘got away’! This is just one of those recipes you are going to write and thank me for sharing…

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This December I’ve had a guest make the booking and then mention as an afterthought that she had a little Yorkie;  surely I would not have a problem with that? My reply: ” If your little Yorkie can handle my big Bull Mastiff then we do not have a problem… “. I’ve had guests threatening to sneak our one-year-old Bull Mastiff into the bedroom and I’ve had guests reeling back in horror at the sight of a dog.

Bull Mastiffs turned out to be perfect guest house dogs: they are non-territorial, not unnaturally aggressive and hardly ever bark.

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(Text and photographs by Alex Cremer)

Because it was partly hidden behind high boundary walls, the true beauty of Fairview only became obvious once I drove through the new gates. Then the regal proportions and straight-lined design of the double storey dwelling, built around 1865, could be properly viewed.

To me, the old place had a rather Georgian flavour that was further enhanced by the symmetry of the quite formal front garden, or perhaps I simply sought a scenario where traditional European elegance blended with the typical colonial style of the Victorian era.

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This morning I found an envelope with 2 photo’s of the Knysna Dwarf Chameleon that was taken in our garden in 2004 by British guests – herpetologists Alan Francis and his wife Heather. I could not resist adding the recent photos of the bright green Chameleon that my son found on the same day as he spotted the tiny little frog hiding in an agapantha flower.

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As the once proud owner of a 1958 Volkswagen and belonging to the local Old Car Club, I am forever encouraging guests to visit the local Railway Museum just up the road, where private vintage car owners can display/store their vehicles amongst the Railway exhibitions. I chanced upon the following passage in the delightful book by Victor Smith called ‘Open Cockpit over Africa’ in which he tells of his adventures flying more than 13 000 miles from George to London and back. Arriving back in George he was welcomed back as a hero by the locals. (Fairview is, of course, the Mayoral home mentioned…)

Uncle Jack Smith (JK), who had once claimed expenses from the tax-man for ‘lubrication of the best machine in the factory’ (brandy for himself), arrived in great style in his new six-cylinder Studebaker. But, despite his weakness, never let it be said that uncle Jack was not a man of his word. I think the reader will agree when he or she reads the story which I will now have to tell.

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Older residents of George still remember raids into the apple orchards at Fairview -when it was finally decided to develop the suburb of Bergsig there was much debate whether to call the suburb Appelboord or Bergsig! We still have one apple tree left. I would like to share the easiest apple crumble recipe you will ever try. Foolproof, with such basic ingredients that you’ll be able to whip it up in a flash.Delicious served with custard, cream or ice cream.

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breadandbutterpudding-300x200That actually stands for Bread and Butter Pudding.
This recipe is perfect for turning left-over croissants into a delicious dessert, but consider this: made in an individual ramekin and offered as a little breakfast starter – with plain yoghurt and a berry or prune compote? Why not? It has all the breakfast ingredients: eggs, croissants, fruit, orange juice, milk, butter… What about the chocolate I hear you ask?

Well, when I walked the Camino through Spain in 2007 I stumbled on a Chocolate Museum in Astorga. They had a collection of vintage posters advising mothers to give their children the perfect breakfast- a bowl of drinking chocolate. I’ll drink to that – chocolate is good for you. The Spaniards think so, the French think so and the Germans took it one step further by spreading chocolate on their bread. (Recipe for home made Nutella below…)

Chocolate & Orange Bread & Butter Pudding

Ingredients
4-5 Croissants, torn into pieces
100g-450g Dark Chocolates, broken into pieces
4 Eggs
1/3C (90g) Castor Sugar
1C (250ml) Milk
1C (250ml) Cream
½ tsp Grated Orange Rind
1/3 C (80ml) Orange Juice
2Tblsp coarsely chopped Hazelnuts

Set oven at 180°C. Grease and line a 20cm deep sided cake tin. Layer croissant pieces into the baking tin. Scatter chocolate pieces evenly amongst the pieces. Beat eggs and sugar until pale & creamy. Heat milk and cream on the stove until almost boiling. Remove from heat. It will curdle if it boils. Gradually pour egg mixture over it stirring all the time. Add orange juice and rind and stir well. Slowly pour this over the croissants, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Sprinkle Hazelnuts over the top and bake for 45-50 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean when inserted).

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and invert onto a plate. Serve with cream or ice-cream.

TIPS:
I put hazelnuts into the croissants with the chocolate
 I use Lindt Orange dark chocolate
 If using more croissants make more custard

Today’s children can’t imagine that there was a time when Nutella was not for sale in South Africa.(In Namibia one could find it in the shops that specialized in imported produce.) My brother’s children found it fascinating that their Namibian born cousins could be as decadent as to eat chocolate spread on bread! For years a jar of Nutella made a perfect Christmas gift.

At Fairview’s  breakfast table I always have a jar of chocolate spread and a jar of peanut butter – for the odd children staying over. But most of the time it will be the business men reaching out for it with exclamations of: ‘ah, I haven’t had this for years!’

Homemade Chocolate Spread (about 3 jars)

200 g Hazelnuts
1 can Condensed Milk
255 g good quality dark Chocolate
125ml hot Milk

Roast the hazelnuts for about 10-15 minutes either in the oven or in a dry pan over the heat.
When the nuts are ready (golden brown) let them cool down a little.
Chop fine in a food processor until they reach hazelnut butter consistency.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over boiling water.

When the chocolate has melted, you pour the condensed milk in and mix well.Add the mixture to the hazelnut butter and process it some more. Add some hot milk if you find it too dense.

The following article appeared in Tourism News.

“Beer is made of barley and hops. But why is a hop called a hop? No-one on the Hop Route in George was able to tell me, and even a dictionary of etymology (the history of words, Miranda) was tantalisingly vague. Seeing that hops were first grown about a thousand years ago in the area of Europe now called Bavaria, it is likely that it comes from a Teutonic word ‘hoop’ (heap) which indicates the way in which hops were left to dry.

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Secrets first: we cook apple slices in a small quantity of water with one heaped teaspoon of sugar. These apple slices go into the bottom of the cake tin. This is how Probst Bakery used to do it in Walvis Bay and the Benkies love cheesecake this way. Bake a day before you want to serve it to allow the flavour and texture to develop.

Geheime eerste: ons kook appelskywe (so 2 appels) in bietjie water met 1 opgehoopte teelepel suiker in en sit dit onder in die koekpan. Dis soos Probst Bakkery in Walvis dit maak by en vir die Benkies net ‘n lekker ekstratjie. Bak dit ten minste een dag voor jy dit wil bedien sodat die geure/tekstuur kan ontwikkel.

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