the bread we serve each week is invariably accompanied by butter, and those who have visited us will know that we set a lot of store by our butter. we are very proud to serve real farm butter at The Table, as it is something that Camilla and Jason grew up not only using, but making themselves from their two dairy cows on the family farm. It’s hard to find really good butter, and even though any butter is preferable to margarine, farm butter from a happy, grass-fed Jersey herd is sheer pleasure.
early last year, when the restaurant was still a twinkle in our eye, I came across Ben de Villiers. my assistant and I were in George to interview a Dutch cheese maker and saw a sign for Myst Hill. out of curiosity, we followed the sign and drove into the rolling hills on the Airport side of George which were dotted with grazing Jersey cows. yeah! dairy country.
we went up and knocked on the door at Myst Hill and were greeted by the very personable Ben. He immediately invited us to lunch, and while extra places were being set, he gave s a tour of the cheesery. Through an open door we spied something even more intriguing than cheese making, a guy making butter in what had to be the butter churn of King Solomon. alright, it wasn’t that old, but it was certainly over a hundred years old with lots of wooden moving parts. ben had come across it in a shed and restored it to run on a little motor and it became the heart of his little butter business based on the cream from pastured Jersey cows.
The butter was churned and washed repeatedly, resulting in a very creamy texture. From the churn it is packed in wooden moulds, weighed off and wrapped simply, by hand, in grease proof paper. Such a lovely farmy sort of thing to do, such a reminder of how we used to live. I decided before tasting it that I loved Myst Hill butter. needless to say, the lunch was superb, with loads of luscious butter and some of Ben’s excellent cheese.
anyway, time passed, the restaurant got under way and we started to look for a butter supplier. i remembered Myst Hill, but had no idea how to secure a supply, as our weekly order was so tiny. but the god of butter is a benevolent one, and help was soon at hand. a couple of months after we opened, on a visit to Sue Baker at Wild Peacock in Stellenbosch, Jason spied some rough, obviously farm-made butter in a display fridge and bought some to taste. imagine my delight when we discovered it was from Myst Hill and that Sue had been taking butter from him for a while – and had a regular supply.
so, on your next visit, when the bread comes to the table, take a moment… whack a big smear of butter on your first slice. pop it in your mouth, close your eyes and just imagine rolling green hills full of happy, pretty Jersey cows. this is butter at its best.