Pongola has its own Nataniel. Her name is Nicky Brecher. With her Kaalkop apron, dressed in black from head to toe, she looks like a celebrity chef. She is also one of the few women on this planet who looks surprisingly attractive with grey hair. Nataniel would undoubtedly agree. But Nicky is actually ’n gewone boervrou who never thought her palate pleasers would ever be the talk of the town.
Text: Leilani Basson
Photography: Jannie Herbst
If inspiration is what she needs, Nicky Brecher just pops her head out the door of her kitchen at Dweba Lapa, an idyllic fishing and water sport farm that belongs to her and husband Laurie. The farm is simply breathtaking. And to think that the 10ha dam and reed-rich canals were all man-made – according to Laurie’s vision.
Although Nicky has always been good at cooking, as a farmer’s wife and mother of three boys, it was never a big thing in her life.
“Yes, I baked for the home industry shop and cooked for people hosting functions on their farms, but it was never in a professional or serious way,” she says.
“When we started Dweba Lapa, I took out all the recipe books I could find in the local library. Now I often do food demonstrations, and I’m invited by various clubs to show other people what I do.”
One of her winning recipes is Nyala sirloin, stuffed with marrow and rosemary butter.
“Spontaneously,” is how Nicky describes the birth of Dweba Lapa, and the way she became a fulltime chef and caterer.
“Nothing was planned,” she says. “Laurie bought this beautiful piece of land as a weekend getaway. He started building a dam, and then the canals. We then bought a sea freight container that we placed near the water’s edge, where we could lock up our weekend toys.
“When friends and family were invited to join us for a weekend or a day out, they couldn’t get enough of the place, and we realised we could turn it into a business.”
Laurie built a lapa around the container and so Dweba Lapa (meaning “here we catch fish”) was developed, with four cleverly designed chalets right on the water’s edge. Each chalet can sleep at least six people. The splash pool and deck chairs overlooking the dam would grace a five-star spa.
“We are very busy,” says Nicky while setting a table on the wooden deck overlooking a canal. Making things pretty comes easily to Nicky. The table looks stunning.
“We are booked out most weekends. If it’s not a wedding, it’s a family reunion or a party. Sometimes we have guests who want to enjoy their own private little waterfront. It’s quite something to be able to sit on your veranda with your toes dangling in the water, and a fishing line drifting a few feet away. You can literally fish in your pyjamas!”
Nyala sirloin stuffed with marrow and rosemary butter
What you need:
1kg Nyala sirloin, neatly trimmed
30ml wholegrain mustard
30ml olive oil
5ml crushed garlic
10ml finely chopped rosemary
10ml olive oil and 15ml butter to fry
125ml beef stock
30ml blackberry preserve
What you need:
6 beef marrow bones (cold)
What you need:
125g butter at room temperature
10ml chopped garlic
15ml finely chopped rosemary
15ml finely chopped parsley
5ml chilli flakes (optional)
What you do:
Mix all ingredients together and wrap tightly in cling wrap to make a 2cm thick roll. Put in freezer until needed.
Make a slit with a thin, long knife down the centre of the meat. Press the marrow firmly with your finger through the bone. Alternately, stuff marrow pieces in 1cm rosemary butter squares and stuff it down the slit with the handle of a wooden spoon, until filled.
Mix mustard, pepper, oil, garlic and rosemary. Rub all over the meat and cover with cling film. Leave overnight.
Heat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius. Heat the oil and butter in a roasting pan. Fry meat until brown on all sides. Bake in the oven, turning every 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes (medium done). Leave to rest for 15 minutes on warm plate covered with foil.
Prepare the sauce:
De-glaze the pan with port. Allow to bubble for two minutes and add stock. Reduce down to half the volume. Add blackberry preserve and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve meat. Cut into thick slices on crushed new potatoes. Drizzle with sauce. Add seasonal vegetables.
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