delights

Kitchen confidence! How these pre-teens are cooking up delights

Saachi Pasari found her life’s purpose at a friend’s birthday celebration six years ago. The 12-year-old has vivid memories of the baking competition held at the party. “The kids were split into teams, and asked to prepare a dish.” The team with the most delicious treat took home a prize. Pasari doesn’t recall winning, but the cupcakes she made convinced her of one thing. At age six, Pasari wanted to be a baker. The kitchen soon became what the doll house was to little girls. When she wasn’t doing homework or attending ballet class, the Class VI student of Hill Spring International School, would be whisking away brownie and cookie dough. The pandemic made everything more real.

When the lockdown was announced, Pasari found herself with too much time, and too little to do. Fortunately, the school announced a hobby project early on in March. Each child was given a mentor to guide them. Sensing her passion for baking, Pasari’s mentor and teacher, Kanjal Ahuja, suggested that she start a baking page on Instagram, where she could share pictures of her kitchen experiments. Bake My Day (@bake_my_day_by_saachi), soon evolved into a home delivery service, with a delectable menu comprising macarons and a variety of brownies, cakes and tarts. Every new dessert she prepares, now gets added to Pasari’s growing menu, which she enriches by researching food sites and attending online workshops. “I try multiple versions of a dish and come up with my own recipe for it,” she says. Her vegan macarons are a hot-sell (box of six for R550). “I make the macarons either using aquafaba [made of chickpeas] or potato protein. Aquafaba is a replacement for eggs, but doesn’t work well in humid conditions, because it catches moisture easily. So, when it’s humid, and I get an order,

Exploring Somerset’s garden of earthly delights

If you walk left on entering the Newt in Somerset, past the shop selling artisanal wares, up the slope and into the deer park, you will arrive at an avenue of pines edging an old Roman road. It’s a good place to view the monumental scale of the work that has taken place on the 800-acre Hadspen estate since the South African, Koos Bekker, and his wife Karen Roos bought it in 2013.

Look west, towards the 17th-century, Grade II*-listed Hadspen House and you can take in the owners’ masterplan, designed by the French architect Patrice Taravella. There are the pretty squares of the kitchen garden; the egg-shaped “parabola”, a walled labyrinth featuring 267 varieties of apple tree; a cascade of ponds; a Victorian glasshouse; a cottage orné; and a succession of pools and lawns leading up to the house itself, once the seat of the Hobhouse family, now a hotel.

“It’s best to think of the Newt as a garden with a hotel attached rather than a hotel with a garden attached,” is how visitor manager Arthur Cole puts it. The estate has 300 years of horticultural history to draw upon – the original estate featured a French garden of limes and elms; the great garden designer Penelope Hobhouse lived here until 1979; and artists Nori and Sandra Pope opened their celebrated “colour gardens” here in 1987, now reimagined in red, blue and white – but still, many visitors are surprised at the extent of the Bekker-Roos vision.

From the vast yew hedge (shipped in fully mature from Belgium) that surrounds the badminton court, to the state-of-the-art cider-making facilities and garden-to-table restaurant, the whole place has a no-expense-spared vibe about it. The Newt is named after the 2,000 crested newts that occupy the site – but its scale