Let’s talk about cooking with an enchanted ingredient, an elixir. This liquid gold is made from the nectar of a thousand flowers and the work of over 10 000 perfectly choreographed little bees. Let’s make magic.

You know that slightly rushed, panicked feeling that characterises most of our lives? It is no excuse. Bees have it too, in fact they live to be only six or seven weeks old. What they achieve in so little time is remarkable. Through their masterful pollination skills and their sexy little dances, they are responsible for over one third of all the food we eat. We ought to raise a toast to the incredible productivity of the honeybee.

Bee wings stroke astoundingly fast, about 200 beats per second, thus producing their legendary, jazzy buzz. They spend their time dancing, communicating, sharing, scouting and sucking it all in. After a day’s work they wiggle home, heavy with treasure — pollen and nectar from all sorts of extraordinary flowers from around the ‘hood. They then head on home to that fascinating structure we call the hive; that hyperengineered, thoughtfully hexagonal structure that has captured so many of our imaginations.


Our beekeeping story started with a fascinating visit to the Babylonstoren Bee Hotel. Kitted out with the essential beekeeping paraphernalia — a protective veil, gloves, smoker and hive tools — we were introduced to the colony of Cape Honey Bees that traverse the illustrious eight-acre gardens. The wholesome honey that is produced from Babylonstoren has its very own flavour profile, texture and taste; a bouquet of the countless plant species in the area.

A·PI·CUL·TURE āpi kəlCHər/

– Technical term for beekeeping

Whether served as a liquid, creamed or in the comb, this honey is wonderful stuff. It contains many beneficial minerals and vitamins and has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It speeds the healing process and combats infections. And it never spoils. Now how’s that for a magical potion?

Join DECO and Maranda Engelbrecht, the epicurean sorcerer, as we cook up a swarm:


serves 4-6


120ml honey

5ml rosewater

tiny drop of pink

food colouring

400g chevin or soft

goats cheese

2-4 large fig leaves

4 fresh figs

60ml honey

10g thyme

10ml toasted

sesame seeds


For the rose and honey syrup, combine honey, rosewater and food colouring. With the palm of your hands, press the goats cheese down onto a fig leaf. Use the second leaf to imprint the vein pattern onto the cheese by pressing the leaf onto it. Carefully pull the leaf away.

Place the extra leaves and the figs next to the cheese. Drizzle the honey and rose syrup and sprinkle with thyme and sesame seeds. Drizzle the rest of the honey and serve with crackers or warm bread.

Another idea:

You can use any edible leaf like spinach, cabbage or vine leaves; but make sure they are washed and pesticide free.

This article originally featured in Issue 101 of Elle Decoration

Photographs Adel Ferreira Production, Recipes and Styling Maranda Engelbrecht Text Bielle Bellingham 


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