The story of Rosalie the sheep

Part of the chattels of the purchase was that we inherited a donkey called Cesar and a sheep called Rosalie. However they are not what they appear to be. Originally there were two donkeys called Cesar and Rosalie but unfortunately Rosalie (the donkey) died leaving Cesar all alone and feeling lonesome. So to give him a chum to brighten up his loneliness they bought a ram (male sheep), but for continuity they decided to call the ram Rosalie. Whether this trans-gender naming has had an effect we are not quite sure – but certainly Rosalie does not appear to be very cheerful.

 

Perhaps another reason for Rosalie’s grumpy demeanour could be due to the fact that his woolly fleece had not been shorn and in the hot season it cannot be pleasant wearing a thick woolly coat. So we decided to give him a surprise and remove his many years of growth. Well as you may have gathered Rosalie does not like to be ‘interfered with’ so it took Ricardo and three of the estate workers supervised by Cade (the cameraman) to persuade him to lie down and submit to a de-fleecing. You can imagine that this did not go down too well – but it did get to a point where surrender seemed to be the best option.

 

And bravo! A new sheep appeared from underneath the woolly coat – so slim and handsome and not nearly half as grumpy as before – in fact I think we even saw a few jumps for joy – well a few jumps anyway.

Now what to do with the fleece? – There have been lots of suggestions – you may even see woolly jumpers and hats on sale when you next visit!

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Residents in the fynbos

Having a 1300 acres (550hectares) estate in the Western Cape, especially as it is located on the slopes of the Langeberg Mountains, it is no surprise that quite a large percentage of the land is covered by native fynbos and renosterbos. Whilst we have established and maintain a number of walking trails, which prove to be very popular with our guests, there are still huge areas of undisturbed ‘bush’ that provide a natural habitat for a good selection of mammals.

 

As many know Walter is an avid wildlife expert who delights in spotting and monitoring anything that moves (whether walking, running, jumping, flying or crawling!) so will not be surprised to learn that he has already compiled a list of his ‘sightings’.

 

His ‘mammals’ list already contains Karoo Bush Rat, Four-striped Mouse, Cape Crested Porcupine, Cape Hare, Scrub Hare, Hewitt’s Red Rock Rabbit, Rock Hyrax, Aardvark, Striped Polecat, Striped Weasel, Honey Badger, Cape Gray Mongoose, Yellow Mongoose, Caracal, African Wild Cat, Leopard, Bat-eared Fox, Black-backed Jackal, Common Duiker, Klipspringer, Cape Grysbok, Grey Rhebok, Large-spotted Genet, Reddish-grey Musk Shrew, and Chacma Baboon.

Whilst all these mammals might not be able to be ‘ticked off’ in one visit – and we agree it is hardly ‘the big five’ – it does provide a significant moment of excitement for our guests walking on the estate – especially the leopard!!!! Unfortunately (or fortunately) it is usually a Leopard Tortoise.

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Our favourite bubbles

One of the most pleasurable duties of launching the new Galenia is the sourcing of supplies for our guests from this incredibly rich and varied region of the Western Cape. It really is difficult to decide amongst the many growers and producers of food and wine in our immediate area just who to feature on our menus and wine list. Of course we try to support as many of our neighbours as we can as we feel that there is something extra special about consuming food and wine in the location where it is grown and produced. In Italy they call it Kilometre Zero – eating as close as possible to the point of production. We cannot claim to be Kilometre Zero (our guests might be munching on ‘Fynbos’) apart from our own estate-produced Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but certainly the majority of our supplies come from the Langeberg area.

 

It is really a delight to meet the diverse and fascinating people so passionately committed to producing such high quality food and wine.

 

One of our recent ‘finds’ is a superb sparkling wine (Methode Cap Classique) from Silverthorn Wines called ‘Jewel Box’. In true champagne fashion it is fermented in the bottle and a classic combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. It is obviously the creation of a truly gifted winemaker – John Loubser- from grapes grown on his farm located between Robertson and Bonnievale.

 

The handpicked grapes are ‘bunch pressed’ producing a precious, if meagre, 550 litres per ton of grapes. The Chardonnay is then given its primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks and also French oak barrels whilst the Pinot Noir is fermented in stainless steel only. This separate fermentation process gives a selection of wines to build a complex blend of the 60% (Chardonnay) and 40% (Pinot Noir) that is then bottled for its secondary fermentation. This wine then stays in the bottle (on the lees) for a minimum of 42 months before ‘degorgement’.

silverthorn_jewel-box-02Jewel Box is described as ‘dry, rich and full on the palate with a soft toasty creaminess – a nose of complex roasted almond and marzipan with a hint of cherry compote and strawberry with a zesty citrus finish’. We agree with all of this, even though we might not be able to be so articulate. Suffice to say that this superb quality MCC wine would leave any champagne aficionado confused but delighted to find that it comes from our native South Africa.

 

We recommend a glass or two as a sundowner or as an aperitif.

Come dine with us

 

 

As we have mentioned already we are pleased to say that we are no longer just a bed and breakfast guest house but now are happy to serve platter lunches and also dinners by candlelight.

We are the first to admit that we are not a restaurant – that is not our aim – we like to think that our dinners are more like ‘dining with friends’ with the accent being on freshness, quality and taste. We are also keen on presentation but more like ‘looking nice and tempting to eat,’ rather than ‘art on a plate’ in fact something you might like to find when dining on a country estate.

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Our kitchen is small, so we cannot offer a lot of choice, but we can be flexible and always offer a vegetarian option – which is not something often found in ‘meat loving’ South Africa. We try to source our food from neighbouring producers wherever possible and intend to ‘grow our own’ as soon as we are able to do so.

Being so close to the Robertson wine valley we are spoilt for choice when it comes to the wines to complement our dinners – we have chosen some of what we think are the best available varietals and blends for our small but constantly updated wine list. Our dinners are an ‘unhurried pleasure’, relax in our comfy dining chairs, enjoy the view (in the summertime), let our cheerful and friendly service staff attend to you whilst our kitchen staff delight your taste buds. We know that our guests do not have to drive home so why not an after dinner brandy, local liqueur or grappa with the coffee?

Our menus change daily, depending on our food supplies, so two or three night stays mean that those lucky guests get to experience our candlelight dinners over and over again! Here is a copy of a sample menu to give you an idea of what it is like to dine at Galenia.

Dinner Menu

Starter

Halloumi & Avocado

With Baby Salad Greens & Dill Vinaigrette

Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Main Course

Slow Roasted Pork Belly

Served with Potato & Leek Bake and Seasonal Garden Vegetables

Accompanied by a Pineapple Chutney

Or

Pumpkin Gnocchi

With Sage & Parmesan Butter

Dessert

Strawberry Sorbet & Limoncello

Our ‘new look’

We are now open for business and have already hosted several guests – some returners from previous years and some just passing by and looking for a room for the night (and ending up staying for three!!!). The initial opinion has been very favourable from the newly refurbished suites to the main house and especially the ‘glass enclosed’ dining stoep. For us it is a delight to welcome guests again after being closed for four months and to show off the new look Galenia and to feel like a proper estate house rather than just a bed and breakfast.

Nowadays we do not have to ask guests where they would like us to book them for dinner in Montagu but are proud to offer our own dinner menu served on our own candlelit dining stoep.

Here are a few ‘sneaky peaks’ from the recent photo shoot.

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S A Olive Awards – 2016

We are thrilled and delighted to announce that in our first attempt to produce Extra Virgin Olive Oil we have been awarded TWO Golds and a Silver by the South African Olive Association.

Each year the association holds a competition where olive growers can submit their oils for tasting and assessment by a panel of experts and then gold, silver and bronze awards are presented in early September. We had the feeling that our ‘estate pressed’ extra virgin olive oil was of very good quality following the laboratory tests, but as this was our first year of production we dared not dream of winning an award. To end up with THREE leaves us all very pleased indeed!

Our ‘gold award winning’ Estate Blend is a combination of the oils of the three different cultivars grown on the estate – Frantoio, Mission and Manzanilla. The olives from each cultivar are picked and pressed separately which enables us to assess the qualities and flavours of each oil and to blend them together to produce a particular flavour that we think represents Galenia Estate. This season’s Estate Blend is a subtle balance of pungency and bitterness with a soft finish and grassy aroma.

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The ‘gold award winning’ Director’s Blend is a combination of just two of the cultivars – Frantoio and Mission, blended in a proportion which gives a more intense aroma and pungency and a greater depth of flavour.

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The ‘silver award winning’ Frantoio is a single cultivar Extra Virgin Olive Oil unblended and ‘straight from the tree’. The 2016 harvest has produced an oil of good aroma and pungency with low bitterness.

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We are also pleased with our new Galenia logoed labels featuring a map of Africa (in gold, silver and bronze to differentiate each type of oil) in order to emphasise that the oil has been produced in South Africa. Not everyone associates Africa as a continent that grows olives and produces high quality extra virgin olive oil, but we hope that our new Galenia oils will add to the existing brands and create more awareness of the superb quality.

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We are open (as of 1st September) but a little patience required to actually see what we look like – unless you pay us a visit.

The final touches have been made and the new ‘Galenia’ is now open and ready to welcome guests- but of course it has to be photographed for our website and media publications. Who better to do this than one of the finest photographers we know – who coincidentally is based in Johannesburg and has done the ‘photoshoots’ of our East African properties for the past twelve years – the delightful Merwelene van der Merwe.

A photoshoot with Merwelene is a ‘big production’ needing a mountain of equipment, cameras, lenses, flashes, reflectors, battery packs and of course an assistant to work alongside her shooting at different speeds and exposures. On this shoot it was the colourful and zany Nicole Louw working alongside the ‘master’.

For four days we explored the estate – looking for ‘angles’, the correct composition and the special ‘light’ to portray the property and its surroundings to the best advantage. Nature was assisting by sending a heatwave with temperatures up to 38 degrees, nice blue skies and fantastic views of the Langebergs and the Klein Karoo.

Now we are in the ‘post production’ phase and we expect the new images next week. This will allow us to complete the new Galenia website and to give you a preview of the renovations and allow you to see what we have been doing for the past four months.

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