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Q&A with Louzel Lombard of Waterval Farm

Q&A with Louzel Lombard of Waterval Farm

You probably know some of the Lombard family of Cradock from the first My Kitchen Rules SA season. Here’s an interview with Louzel Lombard. 

Questions by Julienne du Toit. Image by Chris Marais.

Favourite food as a child 

This is a difficult one… but I think a childhood favourite was – and still is – plain old eggs on toast. It’s such a humble yet comforting meal. Also, on Friday afternoons when we were collected from boarding school, we’d always eat ‘Vetkoek en Kerrie-mince’ on the farm. Now THAT was a favourite too, especially after eating hostel food.

Do you have a cookbook bible?

I don’t really. Google has replaced recipe books, especially for silly convenient things like pancake batter etc. But there are certain books I turn to when I need to master something technical, like sugar. Then I use that ‘Nagereg Boek’ in my mom’s recipe book stack for guidance on when sugar is just right for making fudge, or nougat, or lollipops.

Favourite restaurant?

Yikes, another difficult one. My mom’s Karoo Restaurant in Cradock, True Living, tops the ranks however. Not because it’s fancy or anything, but because it’s the most honest and authentic representation of Karoo food you can ever get. And it feels like home to me, and to many people who come to experience it. In Cape Town, there are too many to mention. The Restaurant at Waterkloof for fine dining. The flagship Col’caccio in the foreshore for pizza. Jerry’s for burgers. La Frasca Restaurant in Gardens for freshly made pasta. Knead for breakfast. Sloppy Sam’s for Greek cuisine. The list goes on…

Local ingredients you love?

I love all things local, and in South Africa, we literally live in the land of milk and honey when it comes to food and farming. Local milk, honey, butter, beef, lamb, cheese, our export fruit and veggies and mostly, lemons and herbs I can pick from my own yard. The closer I am to the source, the more I love it. There are a few local South African ingredients worth celebrating the world over, however. Our regionally ‘varietal’ lamb is perhaps the closest to home. It’s like the incredible wines we make in SA… each area’s signature so unique and so different, and so worth celebrating. I love that lamb from the Northern Cape is so vastly different from the lamb I grew up with in the Midland Karoo. I also love how passionately the lamb farmers from different regions would punt their regions’ taste as the best there is.

What defines Karoo food for you?

Hmmm. Not a dish, specifically. More the way food in the Karoo has an effortless way of erasing barriers. In the preparation of our foods, many techniques have been adapted from the many cultures that have influenced and shaped South Africa. Take good old Karoo Lamb Sosaties for example. My ouma has the best recipe, and I’m sure your Ouma has one too… but the origins of our beloved Lamb Sosaties are deeply grounded in Malay cuisine. Roosterkoek is borrowed from our Xhosa and Zulu roots. Karoo Wors – with its marvelous toasted coriander seeds – an ode to French cuisine. The local ingredients and ingenuity of our ancestors – and those who choose to embrace this – are what defines Karoo food for me.

What do you like to eat when you’re at home?

On the farm, we love to make platter consisting of everything that make our mouths water. Mini wild boar sausages with mom’s homemade sweet mustard, ‘lewer-in-netvet’, biltong, fresh bread, butter etc. When I’m in Cape Town, my husband and I like eating freshly made pasta, my signature spicy lamb stew and other more Italian-inspired dishes, I guess. And then Louis is a massive sweet tooth and I like to bake – so there’s usually something decadent in the house too.

Do you have any signature dishes?

I don’t actually know… but my husband says my ice-cream is the best he’s ever had – even after travelling through Italy! I guess that would be one of my signature dishes.

Your fantasy food holiday?

I have many food holiday dreams – luckily most of them are real foodie destinations. I’ve been very lucky to travel to a few of these. We went to Italy and Vietnam mostly for the food, if I’m being honest. And it did not disappoint. Next up for me is Mexico and India – I need to experience real heat. I also love South-East Asian cuisine – how fresh and balanced everything is.

Any accidental successes?

In the kitchen, you mean? Honestly, I’m very impulsive and every time I get something right in the kitchen almost feels like an accidental success to me. The other day I was making nougat for the first time, and it worked like a bomb. When I tried again, horror. The sugar just crystallized every time – and this time I had used a sugar thermometer!

What would your last supper be?

Well first of all there’d be lots of good wine at this supper. And then also my whole family, because they are absolutely chaotic and perfect, and what would a last supper be without a little political arguing? In terms of food, there’d have to be warmed-up tongue with breadcrumbs and sweet mustard sauce. Or perhaps pulled Karoo lamb with hummus and warm pitas, pickled curried peaches in a savoury yogurt. Slaphakskeentjies and Kerrieboontjies are also welcome. For dessert, Ouma’s cassata ice-cream, and then also perhaps a board with local cheeses and very strong coffee.

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