Friday 17 August 2012

The Heavenly Macaroni Cheese

another version of the ever-changing wall

the macaroni cheese

I adore Jacques Erasmus. I wrote a blogpost on him and his Hemelhuijs October 2010 and the only thing that has changed is the menu and that I like him even more than I did then. I also wrote a press release for him recently, which I'll post as is because I'm lazy and it's weekend and I'd like to get of here and onto the road. I'd also like to hurry up and eat the leftover Macaroni Cheese before we pack up the car and the dog. Because this Macaroni Cheese is sublime.  It's the Macaroni Cheese served at Hemelhuijs. Enough said. But in case you're still wondering, it's nothing like the one your mother made or the one that you ate at boarding school. Jacques gave me his recipe. He's wonderful that way. And I'll give it to you, so that you all think I'm wonderful as well.

Hemelhuijs - A Heavenly Space

‘It is at the crack of dawn each day that we add the happiness of bubbling yeast to flour.  Strong hands knead soft dough and heirloom bread tins are gently filled to the brim with the day's manna – in anticipation of a the warm oven.  The coffee grinder groans with the perfume of coffea rubusta and citrus fruits sacrifice their last moments of wholeness…’ This is Jacques Erasmus’s reply when asked if the breakfast bread at his restaurant is freshly baked. He has the soul of a poet, is an artist, a designer, a stylist, a chef, a baker, a curator and creator of all things beautiful and Hemelhuijs is his home from home. It is in this welcoming, beautiful restaurant that serves as a showcase of all that Jacques does so exceptionally well, that you will be able to experience, in some small measure, the passion of a man obsessed with beauty in all its myriads forms.

Since its opening in October 2010, the intimate space has undergone several transformations, the initial black walls gave way to a particular shade of green, before grey was introduced, the art changed, the displays were reinvented, the floral art styled according to mood, the menu is seasonal. The restaurant is a showcase of all Jacques’s talents, the talents his clients for whom he consults and visitors to his restaurant have come to know and appreciate. His is not a static style. Nor is it the whims of a man unable to make up his mind. His creative expression is a fluid fluctuation of mood and time. At Hemelhuijs there is an unspoken, constant invitation to return again and again and be inspired.

The menu is both sophisticated and authentic. While beautifully presented on an array of handmade and precious crockery, there is no pretention, only elegant simplicity and a sincere regard and respect for food. At Hemelhuijs Jacques invites us to ‘ Imagine a world with celebration, even for the smaller and simpler things in life.’ Which is exactly what he does so exceptionally well. Foreign, exotic flavours as well as the comforting, nostalgic tastes of childhood are both present on his menu.

This season offers nostalgic melkkos and breakfast favourites such as soft poached eggs and lightly smoked trout, ladled with warm buttery hollandaise.  Lunch celebrates the simpler things with milk stout braised beef brisket topped with snails and oyster mushroom butter or pan fried porcini mushrooms with persimmon and feta. The pan fried lamb kidneys with brandy cream and marmite toast soldiers are the perfect combination of grown-up pleasures and nursery comforts While a warm baby beetroot, roast duck and walnut praline salad with naartjiecelebrates the winter garden. Preserves are homemade by his mother and the fruits come from their country garden. Glasses are filled with dulce du leche swirled in warm frothy milk or freshly made citrus juices and cappuccinos wear mocha crown in ceramic bowls. 

As a tribute to his heritage Jacques offers visitors to Hemelhuijs a version of his ouma’s traditional mosbelletjies, the smell of which reminds him of being four years old and helping his grandmother bake mosbolletjies as a child. Baking and in particular the baking of this particular bread, has always fascinated him. It is the temperamental alchemy of dough that he loves. And which he so generously shares.

A visit to Hemelhuijs, will leave you feeling inspired. You’ll be seduced by the creative sophistication but also comforted by the nostalgic and unpretentious authenticity of a creator who believes that art should reach all the senses.

71 Waterkant Street, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 418 2042
Monday to Friday 9:00 – 16:00
Saturday 9:00 – 15:00

Jacques Erasmus’s Macaroni Cheese
(This recipe should give you 10 portions)

Cheese sauce
1litre cream
1tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp garlic
1cup grated boerenkaas
½ cup grated parmesan
30ml lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1kg al dente cooked macaroni
300gm crispy chopped bacon
300gm potato cubes, par-boiled

Apple sauce
8 granny smith apples, peeled and cored
Pinch of salt
250ml water
2 tbsp sugar

Crumb mix
Toasted breadcrumbs
1/2c parsley, chopped
½ c grated parmesan

Apple sauce Method
Cube apples, place in a pot with enough water to cover, add salt and cook. 
Check liquid continuously throughout cooking, add more liquid if necessary so apples do not stick to the bottom.
When the apples are soft, transfer only apples to a blender and blend until smooth.  Retain cooking liquid if any.
If the consistency is too thick, add little cooking liquid until it has a puree consistency.
Add sugar just before finish.

Cheese sauce Method
Fry the garlic very lightly in a pot with a little oil for about 1 min on a low heat.  This should not change colour.
Add the cream and reduce about a 1/3 of the quantity.
Add all the other ingredients except for salt and pepper and stir through until all cheese has melted.
Season with salt and pepper if needed.

In pan, brown the potato cubes in a little oil.  Add bacon and cook 1min.
Add sauce and macaroni and stir through until macaroni is hot, on a low heat.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
Transfer macaroni to a dish, sprinkle with the crumb mix.
Grill the dish until crumb mix is golden brown.
Serve with applesauce on the side.

Sam’s Notes
I couldn’t find Boerenkaas at ‘Club Engen’ so I used mature cheddar.
I also used Grana Padana instead of Parmesan (and used 1 cup instead of  ½ cup because I believe that more is better)
I also used 500g of bacon (same more is better rule applies)
How decadent is a mac and cheese recipe that requires you to add fried potato cubes? How decadent and totally divine.
Apple sauce with mac and cheese? Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. 


  1. Hel dit klink lekker Samma. Baie beter as my Jamie blomkool weergawe!! Nou mis ek jou en n lunch by n special plek! Xx

  2. I did not enjoy this at all as the cream made it too fatty (for me). I prefer the consistency and taste of a regular bechamel type cheese sauce. The apple sauce was kinda weird but helped to cut through the extreme fattiness.

  3. Dear Anonymous, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this recipe. Just goes to show that everyone's tastebuds are different. I really liked this one. But it sounds as if you've already got a pretty good bechamel sauce recipe. As long as the mac and cheese you make is comforting then it fulfills, I think, its primary purpose. Enjoy yours. Take care.

  4. Nikki! Ek wens ek kon hierdie macaroni nou vir jou maak, jet 'n reuse glas wyn. Verlang na jou! Baie liefde xxx