Local, Travel

Midlands Foodie Trail

Blueberry Hill

With a 360 degree view of the rolling green hills of the KwaZulu Natal Midlands and beauty of the Drakensberg Mountains in the distance, Blueberry Hill in Nottingham Road delights all the senses. Relax in one of the leather loungers with a cup of coffee in hand, or enjoy a meal made from fresh produce while watching the Nguni cows graze outside the window. What: Located on a scenic farm in the beloved “Notties” is Blueberry Hill - a place where art and good food meet. Visit the coffee shop for a homemade meal or wander across to the barn next door to admire the handcrafted leather bags, cushions, furniture and local artwork. Who: The Kleinloog family opened the doors to Blueberry Hill at the end of 2008 and have watched it grow as a popular stop-off on the Midlands Meander - thanks to their delectable blueberry cheesecake. Since April 2010, local foodie Luke Dillon has been at the helm of this trendy coffee shop. Where: Netherwood Farm, Nottingham Road, Natal Midlands, KZN. Why: With scrumptious food, a caffeine fix, stunning setting, must-have local items to peruse, and a gorgeous homestead for a weekend away, what’s not to like? Blueberries at their best: You’ll also discover a range of blueberry indulgences, including their legendary blueberry cheesecake, blueberry chocolate brownies, blueberry jam, blueberry spiced chutney, and even liquered berries. Yum! blueberryhillhome.co.za, 033-266-6899. Images: Neil Austen  

Cafe Bloom

Distinguished by its charming decor and delicious treats and goodies, Cafe Bloom is a stop on the Midlands Meander that is well worth making. Pass the time with a leisurely breakfast or enjoy a mid-morning snack (the brownies are rumoured to be particularly tasty!). When you’ve satisfied your appetite, why not browse the lovely botanical paintings and pottery on display? This one’s for craft and caffeine lovers alike. What: A melting pot of charming decor ideas, quirky collectibles and mouth-watering food, this quaint cafe is perfect for a mid-meander cuppa coffee. You'll no doubt find it easy to unwind in the formal courtyard surrounded by neat hedges, complete with a billowing fountain. Who: Michael and Sally Haigh, who run the cafe, are clearly dedicated to the arts as much as they are to delicious homemade fare. Michael, himself a talented ceramicist who exhibited his work at the 2009 Design Indaba in Cape Town, proudly displays his original works throughout the cafe. You'll see his distinct ceramics beautifully absorbed into the timeless decor of the space, featuring a visible influence of Classical and 8th Century Chinese ceramics. Where: Just around the corner from Blueberry Hill, on the way out of Nottingham Road, just off the R103, on the way to Mooi River. Why: This restaurant-slash-coffee shop offers food for every meal time - from the lighter options that include wonderfully healthy homemade parsnip, leek and parsley soup served in enamel mugs, to their always irresistible cheesecake and other sweet treats. If you’ve built up an appetite after all the hours of meandering, there are also more substantial meals on the menu for you to try. Farm-style all the way: The mismatched chairs and characteristic barn-style red door make it an adorable cafe that oozes personality. A delightful touch is the special, hand-written snippets of wisdom that you'll discover all over the store! 033-2666-118 Images: Vivian Hambly  

The Cooking Bear

Picture blooming greenery alongside a rustic cottage filled with character, and you've got a taste of what this tranquil dining spot holds in store. Enjoy a home-cooked meal or pass the time with a refreshment while enjoying the view. Beautiful hilly landscapes and true Midlands hospitality await. What: This cosy little restaurant has grown exceeding popular amongst those visiting the Notties route along the Midlands Meander. Extremely homely with its thatched roof and lush garden, you can also cuddle up to the fireplace when it gets chilly. On the food side, expect an à la carte menu complete with options for every taste bud - from all-time favourite country dishes like pork pie and a wholesome, delicious soup of the day, to a couple of classics, and even a hint of Eastern flavours for those who like it hot! The menu changes monthly, keeping things interesting. Who: After growing tired of Joburg's corporate world, Cathy and Peter Hall packed up and opted for a completely different lifestyle, opening shop in December 2004. Choosing the ultra laid-back Caversham Road as home, they set to work with their daschunds, creating the soothing escape they always wanted. Cathy is the multi-talented chef while Peter is the charming host. Where: 55 Caversham Road, in between Balgowan and Howick. 15 minutes from Howick, 20 minutes from Nottingham Road, 30 minutes from Pietermaritzburg, and 60 minutes from Durban. Why: Making it onto Wine Magazine's Top 20 Winter Restaurants list in June 2011 and being crowned one of the 12 Best Country Cooking Restaurants in South Africa by Eat Out in 2007, there's clearly much reason for all the buzz... Attention to detail: With a commitment to fresh ingredients and careful preparation of each and every dish, The Cooking Bear really goes the extra mile in offering a personalised foodie experience.   cookingbear.co.za, 083-326-4932. Images: Supplied Text: Kim Grové