The recently opened Sanctuary Mandela — a venture between The Nelson Mandela Foundation and Motsamayi Tourism Group — has seen the former president’s Houghton residence revitalised and converted into a multi-use venue and establishment that pays homage to the him at every turn.
Billed as a place of reflection, the venue — essentially a boutique hotel — comprises nine upmarket bedrooms, meeting rooms and a restaurant. The latter is perhaps the most exciting as it sees Mandela’s chef of 22 years, Mam Xoliswa Ndoyiya, get back into the kitchen, in the home where she first cooked for him.
As Chef de Tournant, Ndoyiya runs the kitchen for the Sanctuary’s restaurant, Insights Restaurant @ Sanctuary Mandela. The menu features a selection of Madiba’s favourite flavours and dishes, with a modern twist.
For starters go for the ravioli, filled with an iteration of one of Madiba’s most favoured of Ndoyiya’s dishes, oxtail stew. The slow-cooked meat pulled from the bone before being cooked in the pasta and served with a creamy mustard sauce and a tomato and herb salsa. The braised beef is undoubtedly the star; rich, soft and full of flavour — I’d be happy with a bowl of the meat alone.
Mains call for a twist on the traditional Xhosa dish, umngqusho (samp and beans) which, according to Ndoyiya, Mandela would eat three times a week. Adapted as a mushroom “risotto” — the being to gear it towards an international palate — is one again an immense showcase of the chef’s understanding of flavour and technique. However, much like the ravioli, it’s once again the original component that shines through; the perfectly cooked samp is clearly the hero.
Keep it classic for dessert with a malva pudding, elevated with an Amarula creme anglaise, berry compote and vanilla bean ice cream, together with a brandy snap. It’s simple but there surely aren’t many a dessert that can compete with a well-made pudding.
As the meal comes to a close, take a look around the converted home and all it has to offer. There’s a host of paintings, from artist John Meyer’s Mandela: A Life’s Journey collection — which depict the icon in a host of fictionalised portrayals from boyhood through to presidency and beyond — to the gardens where the Nelson Mandela roses bloom amid the strelitzias; there’s homage and history at every turn.
Then be sure to stop at the pass for a quick chat with Mam Xoliswa and you’ll be regaled with a short story or anecdote, certain to make your visit all the richer.