Words by: Kai Coates
Sheffield’s hidden gems
Across from Brettenwood Estate, you’ll find a gravel road that used to hold a market in the forest many years ago. Now the area has flourished and hides a few of Sheffield’s gems. I got to revisit this little dirt road and see what’s hip and happening. There is so much to offer, from food to plants to a forest getaway stay.
I spoke to Monica from Breadologie, an artisanal bakery with delicious baked goods and a unique take on pizza. Wood-fired sourdough pizza! As a lover of the saucy Italian cheesy goodness, Breadologie is now at the top of my favourite pizza spots. Monica indulged us with a Margherita pizza with fresh basil from the garden and a Prosciutto pizza with their wild rocket. The fresh ingredients made these pizzas extra flavourful; even the sourdough base had its own taste. Monica and her Swiss fiance, David, opened this space in 2020, creating their famous goods from wild yeast. To end our afternoon lunch, Monica gave us a goodie bag with a fresh sourdough loaf, cheese, chocolate and plain sourdough croissants and a ginormous Chelsea bun (which I had never had before, and now I’m a Chelsea bun girl).
Any bakery visit isn’t complete without a good cuppa, so sharing the space with Breadologie is Mellownello. You may have seen them in their mint green coffee trailer by Thompson’s Bay, and they have now expanded and will be serving the caffeine-deprived here in Sheffield! Their ethos is sustainability and pure ingredients; they want to know what is going into their drinks, and we do too. The couple sources from local farmers for ingredients, making their chocolate syrup for their creamy mochaccinos and more. We indulged in their signature drink rich in antioxidants, the Mellow Yellow, a shot of espresso with turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger, made like a cappuccino. As a non-coffee drinker, I cannot explain how amazing this drink is! We also tried their organic Rooibos and Chai latte…WOW. It was creamy and light, not your usual intense chai latte. Mellownello will become the go-to coffee stop spot!
In the same building as Breadologie, you’ll find marvellous plants at The Plant Space. Maybe you’ll gain inspiration for your home or find a new ‘baby’ to add to your plant ‘addiction’. The Plant Space houses mainly indoor, semi-sun, and a few outdoor plants for you to choose from. The beautiful plants are of a more exotic range, which just adds to my inquisitive nature to find out the names of each and fall in love with a few. After appreciating the plants’ views and smells, we moved on to the next spot.
Tucked behind the plants is a small and cosy little restaurant, Mfino, that is filled with old family collectables like framed old beer labels from World War II to a vintage record player that plays a wide range of music while you eat. The owner is a fantastic chef, Eugene, who, with his fur buddy, Moya, forage for extraordinary ingredients to create dishes you won’t forget. I got to go behind the scenes and watch him cook and taste a few main dishes, like the delicious spicy prawn risotto; the flavours blew my mind. From homemade ice creams of unique flavours to paw-paw or Amatungulu Kombucha, you can taste his love and passion for good food. With a small seating area, it’s best to arrive early, but don’t worry, you can even bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic in the garden with Eugene’s remarkable food!
Just further down the road, you’ll reach The Place, a small venue you can hire, whether it be an event, birthday or even an intimate wedding. You are welcomed by two old tree stumps that frame the walkway into the garden, up towards the flagstone steps that lead to the small venue building. The rustic yet elegant building brings the outside in with its two ‘walls’ of many squared windows with black frames. All the antique furniture accumulated by the family allows for seating, and the scents of fresh coffee from the little inside add to the already relaxing atmosphere. On a few shelves, you’ll find some trophies that the Skyes family have won through their sports, making it a home-away-from-home venue.
Right next door, you’ll find the Claremont Farm Indigenous Nursery, the owners of this whole area. Jane Strode, daughter of the family, runs the nursery with the same passion as her father, who started it back in 1978. It was built because trees needed to be planted on the embankments along our highways (reminder, this was many years ago – in the up-and-coming Ballito) to control erosion. Jane told me her father would plant seedlings and sell them at R5 a pop to get more trees planted. Soon the family nursery supplied and still does to Zimbali forestry and landscaping. They have now grown to a more diverse indigenous nursery with more than just trees. The beautiful part is that their farm used to have more sugar cane fields, but if you look at google maps now, their forest has grown, allowing a better ecosystem. When you are looking at doing your garden, try planting more of our indigenous plants, especially aloes that flower, which not only gives you a colourful winter garden but helps the bees too! Lastly, we got to
experience a tranquil night’s stay at Forested Away, owned by Louise and her partner Andrew. Hidden in trees and greenery, are these two lovely self-catering cottages renovated out of an old farmhouse and still have some old stonework that adds to the charm. Andrew displays his creativity in the cabinetry, stonework flooring, shower, fireplace, and magnificent bamboo bathroom ceiling. This place is one of a kind for us in Sheffield and makes a perfect night or weekend escape. With no TV or Wi-Fi, you can truly embrace the nature around you and fall into true bliss and relaxation – nothing to bother you but the beautiful sounds of mother nature.