Groote Post’s ‘Grande Dame of Cape Cuisine’, Hildagonda Duckitt, returns to her ‘Dear Old Home’

Monday, 30 September, 2013
Groote Post
With ‘Hilda-esque’ recipes featuring on the menu at the award-winning Hilda’s Kitchen eatery
With the West Coast spring flowers ablaze in bloom and summer knocking on the door, the Pentz family invites you to head out to the country and join them in celebrating the change of season at Groote Post. In honour of the estate’s very own ‘Grande Dame of Cape Cuisine’, Hildagonda Duckitt, whose favourite seasons were spring and summer, Groote Post is featuring some of her well-loved dishes on the menu at Hilda’s Kitchen, the award-winning restaurant that was named after, and inspired by her.

Hildagonda Duckitt, Groote Post’s first lady of food was born at Groote Post in 1840 and spent more than half her life at this historic farm. A celebrated hostess, Hilda’s impressive collection of recipes, Hilda’s Where is it of Recipes, was published in 1891, followed by her Diary of a Cape Housekeeper some years later. Both of these cherished historical manuscripts contain not only Hilda’s treasury of Cape Cuisine at the time, but also delightful cameos of Victorian life. In her Diary, Hilda writes about Groote Post with great affection and evocative nostalgia, referring to the farmstead as her ‘dear old home’. She refers to spring and summer as her ‘best months’, teeming with fond memories ‘indelibly etched on her mind’ with ‘soft balmy sunshine, flower-scented air, laughter and happiness’. To her this time of the year was synonymous with ‘hospitality’.

This spring and summer, Groote Post seeks to resurrect this time of reverie and carefree simplicity by emulating this old-world charm and warm hospitality. And what better way to revive this fervour than to recall Hildagonda Duckitt’s culinary expertise and hospitable presence at Hilda’s Kitchen. As a dedication to this spirited matriarch, food fundi and indomitable personality, Hilda’s Kitchen’s daily menu will include a dish from her well-loved recipe books, interpreted by internationally trained cordon bleu chef, Debbie McLaughlin, to suit modern trends.

Hilda’s Kitchen Menu

Visitors can expect Hilda’s historic culinary delights with suggested wine pairings from Groote Post’s fine range of wines. Hilda’s West Coast Mussels in a white wine and cream sauce is sure to pair delightfully with the well-balanced and elegant Groote Post Reserve Chardonnay. And Hilda’s Chicken and Mushroom Pie is a perfect partner for the bright, lively freshness of Groote Post’s Chenin Blanc. Hilda's Springbok and Red Wine Pot Pie, and other farm-sourced venison dishes, coupled with the estate’s gorgeously crafted Merlot, will almost certainly be a popular choice. Her baking prowess will be attested to by the estate’s preparation of seasonal fruit tarts, such as Hilda’s Plum and Nectarine Tart, served with Darling’s inimitable fresh cream. The skilful balance of the Groote Post Riesling’s extended fruitiness and purity is the ideal complement to these appetizing pastries.

Other spring selections include: 

  • A selection of Darling cured meats coupled with Hilda's Indian apple and raison relish. With fruitiness undergirded by balance and length, Groote Post’s Chenin Blanc is a faithful complement;
  • Wasabi pancakes, with smoked trout,  best enjoyed with the tangy, lime-spiked flavours of the Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc;
  • Tomato, goat’s cheese and poppy-seed tarts, an ideal counterpart to the full-palate of Groote Post Reserve Sauvignon Blanc;
  • Wild mushroom and potato tarts and the fresh loveliness of the Groote Post Unwooded Chardonnay create an ideal synergy. 

Main Course 
  •  Grilled chicken with butter bean purée and pan-fried chorizo with roasted red peppers, best paired with the vibrant Groote Post Unwooded Chardonnay;
  • Sticky pork with spicy Asian slaw, for which an ideal counterpart is the Groote Post Riesling, beautifully complementing the sweet and sour ensemble;
  • Lemon chicken and marinated artichoke pasta, best complemented by the fullness of the Groote Post Reserve Sauvignon Blanc;
  • Spring lamb with a pea salsa verde, perfectly paired with the elegance of the Groote Post Reserve Pinot Noir.

For dessert, in addition to Hilda’s seasonal fruit tarts, Hilda’s Kitchen offers patrons delicious treats like buttermilk tart coupled with toasted coconut ice cream and drizzled with granadilla coulis, or a white chocolate cheesecake, all best enjoyed with the Groote Post Riesling. 
At Hilda’s Kitchen, Groote Post’s superb range of wines is available at cellar door prices. And there is always at least one ‘kiddie’s meal’ on the menu – for example, a steak roll and chips, tomato pasta, hamburger and chips and the ever-popular macaroni cheese.

Hilda's Kitchen is the only restaurant to be nominated in more than one category in its region in the 2013 Eat Out guide. The categories are Best Bistro and Best Country Style. This is the fourth year in a row that this restaurant has been nominated in the Best Country Style category. 

Hildagonda Duckitt

The sixth sibling of ten, Hildagonda Duckitt was born and raised at Groote Post over a-century-and-a-half ago. Her father was a member of the first Cape Parliament, and consequently numerous high society receptions were hosted at Groote Post. Hildagonda’s celebrated success as a charismatic hostess at these illustrious affairs prompted her to write and publish two books: the “Where is it of Recipes” and “The Diary of a Cape Housekeeper”. These two titles became household names in Victorian England and are presently highly sought-after Africana. 

Spring and summer were particularly special seasons to Hilda. In her Diary, she praises the West Coast’s magnificent tapestry of flowers, Groote Post’s incomparable view of Table Mountain, the verdant valley below, and the white-washed gabled home in which she lived. This time of the year abounded with musical evenings and dinner parties that quickly transformed into dancing, picnics with friends, horse-riding over the hills, ‘happy hours spent walking through the flower-carpeted veldt’ and trips in the beloved ‘buck-wagon’, drawn by ten horses, to ‘The Grotto’, a sheltered, secluded cove bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. 

A visit to Groote Post

In addition to a wide range of award-winning wines and Hilda’s Kitchen’s superb culinary experience, Groote Post also offers:

Cheese platters at the cellar;    
Picnics in summer (to be ordered a full day in advance from the cellar);
Farm drives through the vineyards and the 2000-hectare game camp;
A child-friendly area with a jungle gym and rolling lawns;
Spectacular views of the Atlantic coast and Table Mountain;
Nature walks and bird-watching.

Bring the whole family and soak up the rich heritage, inimitable rustic charm and country hospitality synonymous with this family estate. 

Opening hours and bookings

Groote Post is one of the few wine cellars, let alone wineries with restaurants, open on Sundays in the Darling district and surrounding wine routes.

Hilda’s Kitchen: Open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday (Booking essential). Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Wine-tasting &sales: Open Monday – Friday: 08h00 -17h00.
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 10h00 - 15h00.
Farm Drives: Monday to Sunday starting at 10h00.

Bookings must be made 24 hours in advance.
Cost: R120 per adult and R50 for children under 12.
Minimum number 6 and maximum number 10 people.

Groote Post closed: Easter Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
Contact: Tel: +27.224922825 • Email: ¦