My childhood memories all begin and end with food. Hamm & Uys rekindles that child-like excitement for your mom’s cooking with a Sunday lunch spread that will fill you with a tinge of nostalgia, a dash of sentimentality and a generous sprinkle of wonder.
I recently received an invitation to dine at Hamm & Uys at Blaauwklippen Wine Estate for their opening feast. Endlessly curious about the name alone, I simply had to accept the offer of a Sunday lunch in the winelands, especially when it promised a contemporary-traditional marriage of nostalgia and heritage.
Dynamic TV chefs and creative caterers, Johnny Hamman and Marius Uys, are bringing South African heritage food with global, modern flair, to historic Blaauwklippen wine estate with their restaurant Hamm & Uys, which opened on Sunday, 8 September, in Stellenbosch.
Hamman and Uys met on the set of the second season of reality cooking show Kokkedoor, which Johnny went on to win, and are well known for their bespoke catering company Slippery Spoon Kitchen which specialises in tailor-made events and unique food experiences for weddings, private and corporate gatherings.
The new restaurant is part of extensive revitalisation underway at Blaauwklippen, one of the original Stellenbosch estates, founded in 1682 (press release).
Probably completely overused and underappreciated as a concept, I’ve always appreciated the true “country-chic” inspired theme when it comes to the arrangement of a space. The rustic and slightly rugged wooden beams and naked brick walls, the seemingly careless arrangements of “veldblomme” in ceramic water jugs, the sets of mismatched crockery and heavy, silver knives and forks. Polished sideboards and ball-and-claw dressers just like my Ouma used to have.
Exposed dark-wood rafters and wide, wooden window frames with sills in which you can sunbathe. Delicate delft-blue mosaic inserts on table tops and rich, woven rugs scattered across the floor. Rattan furniture that smells just like you remember and pot plants in earthenware scattered across the room.
I delighted in this charming space from the minute I walked into Hamm & Uys to the moment I reluctantly had to leave. True to their ethos, the space reminds of an eclectic manor house decorated in such a way that you can’t help but feel as if you’ve finally come home.
A round of hearty hello’s and nice to see you’s, a glass of Blaauwklippen bubbly and a delicious bread course later and we were ready to be called to the table. The smell of oven-baked vegetables and roasted meats invited us to investigate the Sunday feast table. It was laid out in the middle of the restaurant on oversized ceramic serving platters with Johhny himself adding the finishing touches.
As I made my way around the table, I couldn’t help but relish in the memories these dishes promised to offer, but I also delighted in the unexpected twists that have been added to these heritage food staples. Pampoenkoekies with boerenkaas, fire roasted lamb cutlets, roasted leeks with amasi and thyme ricotta, micro carrot and scorched pineapple salad, game denningvleis bobotie with saffron custard, corn and beetrood salad, to name only a few.
For the better part of the next hour, a companionable silence fell over our group, with only hushed expressions of appreciation punctuating the laden table every now and again. Our glasses were kept full with Blaauwklippen’s two unique expressions of Zinfandel, a varietal I did not know much about until that day at Hamm & Uys. Zinfandel has become the estate’s flagship grape, and they have recently given these two sought after wines a compete overhaul.
The 2015 Red Zinfandel consists of only the finest Zinfandel grapes, hand selected and spontaneously fermented in French Oak Cask and matured in French Oak barriques, giving you wines of distinction.
In contrast, the 2017 White Zinfandel has only the finest Zinfandel grapes handpicked and transported to the cellar for processing, with light pressing and cold spontaneous fermentation to ensure preservation of the aromatics.
I have to say, I was completely blown away by the white Zinfandel. Deliciously creamy yet deeply textured and layered, this was a refreshing taste of something exciting. With hints of earthy minerals and pops of bright stone fruit and a zesty acidity that lingers, this is an all-round excellent companion for the pending long summer nights.
A Sunday lunch is not complete (or over!) without dessert. Lots of it. Our noses and sweet teeth lead us to the groaning dessert table across the room, piled high with all of your childhood favourites. Carrot cake, lemon cheese cake, pastel pink rice crispies squares, puffy hertzoggies and chocolate traybakes with a caramel topping and sprinkles. Lamingtons, koeksisters and jars of shortbread cookies. It’s after a visit to the sweets when the Afrikaans saying “magie vol, ogies toe” becomes incredibly relevant and fitting in the situation. To round off our lunch on this sweet note, we were treated to a tasting of Blaauwklippen’s range of spirits, including their gin, brandy and ever so popular B&A.
Without a doubt one of my best dining experiences of 2019. This was an afternoon I will remember for many years to come, and I’m already looking forward to the next time I can sit down for a Sunday feast. The “wow” factor is simply unparalleled in the way that simple, quality ingredients are transformed into precious heirlooms in the Hamm & Uys kitchens.
Hamm & Uys will surely be winning over the hearts of Cape Townians and tourists alike with their simple, honest interpretations of classic South African fare. The super relaxed feel of the eatery will envelope you like your ouma’s knitted blankie on a cold winter’s morning, whilst your palate slowly awakens to true innovation and creativity in the skilled hands of Johnny and Marius.
Thank you so much for this generous helping of heritage, and for a walk down memory lane as I got up for seconds.
The fine print
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00-17:00, opening until late on Fridays with special dinners to kick off the weekend, and the classic roast table for relaxed Sunday lunches.
For bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org
Second photographer: The Tall Hedonist, aka Timothy P. Gibson
The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.
The casual restaurant, or ‘eatery’ as they like to refer to it, with classic winelands elegance and modern touches, will focus on “the good, honest food we grew up with” combined with their global culinary experiences and inspiration. “We want the classic feel of the farm to be visible in the food,” Johnny said.