Camphors, the signature restaurant at the 314-year old Vergelegen Estate near Somerset West, prides itself on locally produced, seasonal ingredients and sustainable and ethical farming and sources some of its meat from its herd of indigenous, pasture-fed Nguni cattle.
Every month, executive chef Peter John (PJ) Vadas and the estate management select two animals from the herd. These are humanely slaughtered at the nearby Grabouw abattoir. The cuts are used for dishes such as steaks and roasts, and for biltong and droëwors (dried sausage) sold in the estate shop at Stables, the family-friendly bistro.
“Much depends on careful preparation,” says PJ. “Cuts such as rump and rib-eye steak are dry-aged for six-eight weeks, others for two weeks. We have been experimenting with dishes such as a starter of Nguni steak tartare (minced, raw meat often served with onions, capers, and seasonings and a raw egg yolk) and will be trying out some sausage recipes soon.”
The estate officially registered its Vergelegen Nguni Stud in August 2010. Original stock was sourced from a local Malmesbury stud and from the Eastern Cape. Stock Nguni is known for their multi-coloured hides and hardiness under harsh African conditions. They graze on a kikuyu and clover mix that has been free of pesticides and chemicals for at least a decade.