Farm stalls bursting with roosterkoek and strong boeretroos await road travellers heading west from Port Elizabeth through the fruit-rich Langkloof valley.
By Marion Whitehead
South of Oudtshoorn
At Holgate Hanepoot Halte, just before the R62 cuts loose from the N12 and turns east to follow the N9, I bumped into the Nels from Mossel Bay on the shady stoep, teaching their city grandchildren about the good life beneath an endless blue Karoo sky. Farm butter ran down the children’s chins as they tucked into warm roosterkoek stuffed full of jam and cheese, eagerly anticipating a platter of custom-made lamb sosaties on order. Their loot – trays of sun-ripened apricots, plums, peaches and figs – was piled casually on the table next to them. The fruit is picked daily.
‘Our hanepoot grapes are very sweet, but ripen late,’ said Paola Jonck. Hubby Frikkie runs their farm stall and everything on their shelves is local, from the jams made by Paola’s best friend’s mom-in-law to the Karoo olive oil and wines. Beware of the clear ‘Hanepoot Petrol’ that sits innocuously on a shelf – it’s Frikkie’s dad’s home-made witblits and has quite a kick!
082 224 5497
A little further on is Krymekaar Padstal, a real ma-and-pa farm stall located at the T-junction where the N12 splits off from Route 62 to head off over the Outeniqua Mountains to George. Sakkie and Mynie Barnard sell the fruit from their trees, delivered freshly picked by their sons. Their juicy peaches, plums and apricots are as sweet as childhood memories.
082 733 6617 (open only during the summer fruit season)
At Gwerna Rustic Farm Stall, on the N9/R62, I found Cora Kruger making apricot chutney, the spicy aroma laced with the smell of muffins baking in her oven. Their farm enjoys a climate that’s a couple of degrees warmer than the Langkloof proper and its fruit comes into season earlier: apricots, plums and peaches gleam with goodness. There’s also dried fruit, honey and fudge from their Eatme Secretly range, along with crafts and knitted goods.
The coffee is good and strong and will keep you alert for a few hours on the road. And whether you snack on a cupcake or a roosterkoek, you will know it’s from Cora’s own kitchen.
082 675 0104, near Avontuur
Just inside the Eastern Cape’s border with the Western Cape, shortly before the tiny hamlet of Misgund, stands a historic stone building many who have passed here over the past 35 years have dreamt of restoring. Anton and Helena Gerber beat them to it and opened the big wooden doors of the Kliphotel Country Store for business just in time to catch the 2013 Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees traffic.
Built back in 1931 as a ‘dry’ hotel by a man called Smith who won the Rhodesian sweepstakes, the Ou Klip Hotel later served as a recovery centre for wounded soldiers during World War II.
In its present incarnation as a country store, it offers an eclectic mix of products, from biltong, clothing and decor items to Helena’s own quirky range of soaps and health teas under the Pretti Cool brand. A potter, her work is well known – she used to have the Potter’s Place in Jeffreys Bay before moving to Assegaaibosch Country Lodge outside Kareedouw.
I relaxed under the old grapevine on the stoep with a crisp salad and savoured the superb Karoo vista towards the Kouga Mountains to the north.
042 275 1061, near Misgund
Brightly wrapped trees alongside the R62 alert any passers-by to the mouth-watering rewards for stopping at Kontrei Kombuis, an atmospheric spot at Louterwater. Rustic doesn’t begin to describe the plaas decor, which includes an old ox yoke hanging above a welcoming hearth in the coffee shop, vinyl LPs for place mats on solid wood tables and a stuffed black-backed jackal on the bar.
The prices are old-fashioned too: try a scone or vetkoek with cheese and jam, washed down with a mug of boeretroos. I couldn’t resist a slice of Anna Ferreira’s home-baked milk tart. ‘It’s my ma’s recipe,’ she said proudly. She bought the place 20 years ago and makes all the jams and preserves on the shelves, as well as the cakes. A fresh batch of bread came out of the oven and was immediately snapped up by eager customers. If you don’t have time to linger, they’ll also do takeaway roosterkoek and tramezzini.
042 272 1205, Louterwater
If you’re travelling with children, be sure to stop at Die Kraaltjie, just before you reach Joubertina. The duck pond will have them fascinated – until they notice the old tractor, rocking horse, sandpit and swings outside the restaurant. Light meals at the licensed eatery include game pie and salad, as well as burgers, toasted sarmies and muffins, but I decided to sample something a little different: quail omelette. It is deliciously rich, with a nutty flavour, and takes eight of the pretty little speckled eggs to make.
‘Dieticians say quail eggs are fine and healthy even for people with cholesterol problems,’ said owner Elize van Greunen.
She and her son farm quail, along with guineafowl, ducks, bees and livestock. On the shelf beside peach and watermelon jams and green fig preserves, you’ll find delicious bottled quail eggs that have narrowly escaped being ‘exported’ to hustling, bustling Gauteng.
042 273 1516 or 082 498 1045, near Joubertina
Don’t stop at Die Plaaswerf if you’re in a hurry. The kids won’t want to get off the water slide or come out of the spray area, both fed with clear water from the nearby Tsitsikamma Mountains.
There’s a sports bar inside with a hearth big enough to roast an ox in, but I parked off on the restaurant veranda with a good view of the play area. Owner Johannes van der Watt told me the building used to be a Moravian church, but quickly added that the pub is in a section added on when he renovated the building. ‘We don’t want to get a klap,’ he grinned, with a glance up at the heavens.
This isn’t the place if you’re on a diet or looking for fast food. Everything on the diverse menu is made fresh, from fried-onion-lathered bangers-and-mash pub lunches to hearty boerekos and delicious fish fresh off the boats in Port Elizabeth.
And if, after the second drink, you see the kids chasing bunny rabbits, don’t be surprised – they’re free-range ex-pets.
042 288 0262, Kareedouw
Photography Marion Whitehead, Gallo/Gettyimages
(This article was first published in the summer 2015/16 issue of AA traveller magazine)