Kitchen Goddess

Mariana presiding over her kitchen.

Our senses get singing around lunchtime on a Saturday in Stanford. The occasion is a meal. A very special meal at Marianas. For the initiated one need not say more.

For those who have not yet eaten at the whitewashed Victorian cottage in Du Toit Street, let me say this: To eat there is an event, one that will stay with you even when you have forgotten everything else, including what a tweetand skaap is.

Kitchen goddess
Owner-chef Mariana Esterhuizen is a kitchen goddess. She uses fresh produce from the 1200 m2 vegetable garden. And she makes everything apart from the water and wine on the table herself including the mustard, sauce and bread. Knowing this it’s important to know her philosophy. “I believe you have to be happy when you cook. Bad mood has a way of sitting in things.”

An elegant Overberg meal.

Mariana must have been happy when she entered the kitchen this morning at 5 am. Two gleaming porcelain plates are placed on our table. Lamb shank and veggies. The lamb shank is perched upright and surrounded by plump cherry tomatoes, regal purple beetroot and ivory broad beans. It is robust fare, and served with elegance.

Mariana and Peter.

Tweetand skaap
Mariana’s husband, Peter, who looks like a Tolkien character, comes over to talk. “Lamb shank. Listen!” A mock glare. “There’s a quiz afterwards!” We’ve been eating a “tweetand skaap, he explains.  (A sheep with two teeth) “Slightly older than six months, the sheep has graduated to eating grass and has developed a distinct flavour, which is much tastier and softer than mutton.”

Regional dishes
Mariana adds that the tweetand skaap is a regional dish. “It’s what the farmer feeds his family! And then there’s sour figs. We pick them when we go for walks. Other regional food includes waterblommetjie bredie and Gruyère cheese, that is made here in Stanford.”

A small team makes up Mariana’s personnel: Sally Rooi, Louise Prins, Louise Stompies and Markie Manana.  Young Sally has been here the shortest, only six years, Mariana explains. “She used to work for an Italian restaurant that closed down. When she came here, I said: Sit down. I rolled out the dough and made her pasta. She had never eaten pasta before.”

A sensory package
It’s now nearly two decades since that historic Y2K day when Marianas opened its doors. And here we sit; satiated and privileged. So that my sometimes moody companion remarks: “I don’t have a care at the moment.”



Do you want to get the latest news from Enter your email address and click subscribe.