It makes sense that chef Kobus van der Merwe has chosen to l ive in the foothi l ls of Kasteelberg (Castle Mountain), about 4 ki lometers outside Paternoster on the West Coast, where Khoi-khoin and San hunter gatherers subsisted from as early as 600 AD on a diet of smal l game, shel lfish and wi ld greens. Very much l ike Kobus does today. He’s renovated and extended a tiny two roomed ‘werkershuisie’ (workman’s cottage) to suit his spartan needs. The house is located on a farm amidst acres of undisturbed Strandveld vegetation which gives Kobus access to an assortment of edible plants and herbs with such evocative names as slangbessie, koekemakranka, stinkkruid, soutslaai and samphire – the latter a spindly, juicy marshland succulent – an ancient food mentioned by Shakespeare in King Lear and which Kobus regularly serves at Oep ve Koep, his restaurant in Paternoster. Recently he started experimenting with the production of vermouth – a sort of a botanical alchemy, where infusions in alcahol of roots and herbs such as wi ld fennel , african sage and pelargonium in alcahol are added drop by drop to fortified wine to create the aperitif. Living in smal l spaces demands a discipl ine that forces one to choose only the essential for dai ly l ife by discarding the extraneous. It’s an appeal ing approach which is reflected in Kobus’ sober and modest decoration of his home and also in his cooking, his writing and his l ife in general . It’s an approach encouraged by trend forecaster, Li Edelkoord, whose Paris apartment uncanni ly resembles his farm house. I think a quote from Leonardo da Vinci sums up the spirit of Kobus’ West Coast cottage quite wel l : Smal l rooms or dwel l ings discipl ine the mind, large ones weaken it. Jac de Vi l l i er s A L I TTLE HOUSE WI TH A B I G WI NDOW On 18 February 2019 The Wor ld Restarant Awards judged Kobus van der Merwe’s restaurant Wol fgat to be the best