Aptly named, Hemel en Aarde Valley near Hermanus is certainly one of the most beautiful places you will ever visit.
In this heavily forested area, which is home to some of the finest wine estates in the country, the road curves up into the mountains with the sea lying behind you. Here you will find, at the end of a short dirt road, a delightfully secluded spot where Jenny and Julia Mogg, a mother and daughter team, have carved out their very own niche at a most special venue.
It looks almost like a scene from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a small cottage dripping with atmosphere, and, in the winter, a plume of smoke coming up from the chimney. One almost expects Jane Powell to come out of the front door singing.
Inside, the room is as rustic as can be, very real, with no attempt at anything fancy. Outside, the grass leads down to a small pond and the herb garden, something which gives their cooking the real flavours it has, a nice edge. No wonder Moggs is a favourite for country weddings and families with children.
Start with the smoked trout served with sautéed prawns with a crème fraiche and a lime wasabi dressing, nice and punchy. Then go on to the serious business of the lamb shank, very slow roasted and served with a demi glaze Port sauce — wonderful, or the pork medallions in a green peppercorn and gruyere batter on a warm green bean and potato salad.
Dessert could be excellent crème brulée topped with fresh berries—deliciously rich.
The wine list is adequate with some great wines like the Beaumont Chenin available: service is warm and comfortable with one of the owners always there.
Phone 076 3140671
Words: Greg Landman