by Heini Wehrle, Switzerland (Elephant Plains Guest)

by Heini Wehrle, Switzerland (Elephant Plains Guest)

Just when we thought that winter was over, we got hit by a last cold front. Why we always choose to ignore the weather man, I do not know… He did warn us not to pack away all our warm winter’s clothes, but like every other year we ignored his warnings and had to unpack again! After the cold front we had three days of intense heat, followed by four days of very early rains. We don’t normally have such early rains, but we are not complaining at all as now all the dust have been washed away and the vegetation has received a kick-start into summer. The last time we had such early rains during the month of September was in 2007. This first rain snuck in like a ghost in the darkness. Normally these first storms are violent, with strong winds and the most amazing electrical thunderstorms. But not this year. The first of this rainy season’s 45 millimetres fell in a soft, noiseless drizzle.

Buffalo bull after his mud bath - by Morné Fouché

Buffalo bull after his mud bath - by Morné Fouché

We decided to do a bit of maintenance burning this month. The Wetpatch section just east of the lodge had not been burnt for many years. The amount of fuel load that was lying around started to become a bit of a concern, because a runaway fire on a windy day could pose a threat to the entire lodge.  So on the 12th of September we burned an area of just under 200 hectares. The old plant matter burned very well. Two days after the burn the heavens opened, injecting fresh water into the charred earth. Four days after the rains the entire eastern section was transformed into a brilliant green mass as new shoots started growing out of the black earth. Because it was such a successful burn, the entire area can now go for a number of years before it is burned again. Thank you to everyone that helped us with this project.

Trapcam photo of the month. Young elephant bull drinking at Bushcamp open area

Trapcam photo of the month. Young elephant bull drinking at Bushcamp open area

The new summer menus are up and running. I must say that we’ve had wonderful feedback so far.  Not only do the new menus look good, they also taste delicious! Because we have changed the menus entirely, I felt the need to taste every single item on the menu – leaving me with no choice but to adjust a notch or two on my belt after the first two weeks.

This month we say good bye to Chef Roxanne, who will be moving to Dullstroom to open a coffee shop. We wish her all the best with this new endeavour! We are looking forward to seeing Chef Linda develop and grow even further with these added responsibilities. I know that she will do great and I am looking forward to working side by side with her.

To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays during this lovely month of spring, we hope that you had a fantastic day filled with love, happiness and laughter. May your future hold many more! At the lodge we also celebrated a few birthdays. Linky, who works in the Rondavels, celebrated her birthday on the 5th. Meriam, who works in the Luxury section, celebrated her birthday on the 11th.  Saphia, one of the cooks, celebrated her birthday on the 11th. Last but not least, Onnie, one of our waiting staff, celebrated the day of her birth on the 16th of September.

Deconstructed Lemon Tarts

Deconstructed Lemon Tarts (24 servings)

Deconstructed Lemon Tarts (24 servings)

For the recipe of the month, we chose some delicious Deconstructed Lemon Tarts. This is an all time favourite with a modern twist. The recipe makes 24 individual servings, or one big tart.

Lemon Cream

250ml lemon juice
200 g sugar
224 g soft butter
250 g white chocolate
320 g whole eggs

Italian Meringue

240 g egg white
480 g white sugar


100 g of cold butter
100 g of white sugar
200 g of white flour


To make the lemon cream

  • In a pot, bring the lemon juice and sugar to a boil
  • In a bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy
  • Incorporate a third of the hot lemon liquid into the eggs, so as to temper the eggs
  • Return this mixture to the pot with the remaining lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute
  • Add white chocolate and butter and mix well
  • Set aside to cool
  • Preheat oven to 180°C

To make the crumble

  • Combine all dry ingredients in a mixer.  Slowly mix in the butter until pea sized crumbs form
  • Pour the mixture onto a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown
  • Set aside to cool

To make the Italian Meringue

  • Heat the sugar in a pan with 40ml water, until it reaches 120°C.
  • Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. With the machine running on low, slowly add the hot sugar mixture.
  • Whip the egg whites until a meringue mixture forms and cools – this usually takes around 6-7 minutes.

To assemble, place a small amount of lemon cream on the bottom of the serving dish of your choice, sprinkle on the crumble, then pipe on some of the meringue. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!

Wayne Dovey