Oooh, I do love a restaurant that serves loose leaf tea in real teapot. How lucky am I that my friend, Jen, serves real tea just along the road? The red velvet cupcakes are decorated with a spotted gumboot – Jen doesn’t do ordinary. That’s probably why I like her.
She grew up in Dargle, wearing gumboots to splash in the streams and hang with the Herefords. “I’m Dargle bedonnered.” she says with a grin!
Since she was tiny, she was quite determined to be a chef. One of her first experiments (aged 4) in using local products was inspired by the original Dr Dolittle movie. “I collected lots of garden snails, mashed them with a little soil and leaves, picked my mom’s prettiest Tupperware and baked them in her new oven.” Oops, the resulting melted mess completely destroyed the oven and needless to say, no one offered to try her creation. Nowadays, her pear tart has a lot more takers.
By the time she was six, she was starting to complain about her mother’s cooking. “That noodle pie was an abomination,” she recalls, so she whipped up a Neopolitana sauce with the abundant tomato harvest from the veggie patch and they served it with everything for days. Her spot as a champion of local produce was sealed.
“I remember being so disappointed that the mielies I picked in the fields absolutely refused to be turned into caramel popcorn.” Jen has since learnt (at chef school and various jobs in the catering world) that you can’t pop any old corn but is still adamant about celebrating our astonishing Midlands produce. She uses only her dad’s chicken, eggs and beef; cheese, yoghurt and milk from her neighbours; giant garlic grown just up the road, and many of the salad ingredients and other greens are picked outside her kitchen door.
Jen wants to feed everyone, so her restaurant in Tweedie – aptly called The Farmer’s Daughter – gives her an opportunity to do just that. Here she has created a truly happy place with gumboots on the garden steps, staff that grin incessantly,
where local ingredients are treated with respect and birds feast on the crumbs.
There are couches for bored housewives to dream in, cappuccinos to savour, and sweetie jars for the kids.
While the veggie beds are flourishing already, Jen dreams of using only produce from a big garden filled with absolutely everything she needs – from figs and fennel to goats and granadillas. Like at the inspirational Babylonstoren.
After a long day of making many people smile, nothing beats sourdough toast topped with garlicky mushrooms and fresh rocket on the couch with her best friend/husband, Ryno, and precious pup Petal Piggy Jackson Pretorius. Not a bad supper for a boer and his dog to get out of the bakkie for. I wouldn’t say no either.
Find The Farmer’s Daughter at Patchwood Elephant on the R103 between the Everything Store and the Mandela Monument.