Tag Archives: elgin

Milktart Munchies at Houw Hoek Farm Stall in Grabouw (2019-09-30) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 28 OCT 2019

After a nice long weekend at Pinnacle Point with my two girls, we were on the road back home when we decided to stop and pick up something nice for Chantelle who had stayed home to bake her cakes. So we swung a left at Houw Hoek Farm Stall and walked out with the most delicious of freshly baked milktarts.

Sitting along the well travelled Houw Hoek Pass section of the N2, the Houw Hoek Farm Stall is somewhat of an institution for Western Cape travellers, known in particular for its very fresh, very tasty pies.

It has expanded in recent years, and now in addition to all the bakes, fresh produce, preserves and wine, there is also a whole gifts/curios/clothes section, useful if you need to do some browsing because your partner is taking too long to pick out the perfect pie.

The little restaurant still remains as popular as ever, and as a stop it is seemingly never quiet. Also, the milktarts are fantastic – as we can now attest to! But we knew that already ;)

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Steam Train at the Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw (2018-12-16) Markets | Photo Gallery 25 SEP 2019

An excellent addition to the Grabouw/Elgin Valley tourism scene is without a doubt the fantastic Elgin Railway Market. Residing in an old apple packing warehouse right on the Elgin train station, this Art Deco/Art Noveau styled market is an absolute must visit come weekend time – especially on days when the steam train comes rolling in!

With a carefully curated list of stall vendors, the market has a little taste of something for everyone, with flavours from all over the world, including proper South African market fare, on offer. A few well made arts, crafts and designs are on show, and of course there is local craft brewed gin to be had. (Seriously, gin is everywhere at the moment).

And don’t forget to admire the fantastic metal and wood work that has gone into crafting the ornate Art Deco styling of the building itself!

Then there is the innovative Liberty Books bookstore parked outside, showing off the second addition to their book-bearing fleet, the Liberty Books Brigade – a 1970s Provincial Library Bus! (I’ve mentioned their Burning Books fire engine on these pages before.)

But of course, the star of the show for me is whenever the Ceres Rail Company comes steaming into the station with one of their classic locomotive and coaches combination. On this particular visit pictured below, it was Jessica, a Class 19D-3321 steam locomotive from the 1940’s that chugged into view bearing its load of market visitors!

So yes, trains were admired, food devoured, and photos taken:

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Steam Trains at the Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw (2018-08-11) Markets | Photo Gallery 15 JUL 2019

I have mentioned the wonderful Elgin Railway Market in these pages before, but a visit to this fantastic market with its breathtaking 1920s Art Deco inspired styling is even better if you manage to come through on a day that the brilliant Ceres Rail Company rolls one of its immaculately restored vintage steam locomotives into the station.

Like I previously said, the market on its own is a wonderful experience, well worth a visit if you do ever get the chance. Located in an old apple packing warehouse that has been transformed with the most gorgeous of steel, iron and wood finishes, the market features plenty of communal seating, an incredible atmosphere or vibe if you will, and some really interesting food and craft stalls, with their offerings stretching all the way from artisan gin through to couverture chocolate.

(There is technically a small play area outside for the kids, complete with climbing wall, as well, but seeing as I haven’t really had the girls running around that particular space yet, I can’t really comment all that much on it.)

As for the steam train element, watching one of these smoke billowing beasts pulling into the station is a crowd favourite, even more so when you realize that the train is actually ferrying people in from Cape Town to Elgin on what must be a thoroughly special trip. (So yes, one more thing to add to the never ending list of Cape Town adventures still to be had then I guess! :D)

On the day of this particular visit, it was beautifully restored Bailey, the 1930’s Class 19B No. 1412 steam locomotive, doing the charge to Elgin, with the equally stunning Dominique, the late 1940’s Class 19D No. 3332 steam locomotive, hitched to handle the reverse work.

Basically train heaven then.

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Art Deco and Apple Juice at the Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw (2018-07-22) Markets | Photo Gallery 09 JUN 2019

The Elgin Railway Market is an incredible addition to the Elgin Valley tourism scene. Launched in 2018, the market resides in an old apple packing warehouse (built in the 1940’s by Italian prisoners of war and right on the Grabouw train station itself) which has been refurbished and styled with the most elegant of wood, steel and wrought iron in a decidedly artisan Art Deco/Art Noveau theme. (Hint: It’s gorgeous.)

The end result is a visually captivating space which, thanks to its two level stacking with an open center, always feels open. The mouthwatering food stalls and clever craft vendors all operate from within dedicated booth spaces and the abundance of long tables and benches means that there is almost always seating available for you to sit down with your family and enjoy some of the decadent treats on offer.

(In fact, one of the things that this market does that sets it apart from other market experiences is that the food vendors all supply you with your food on an actual ceramic plate, complete with knife and fork or whatever other eating utensil may be required. A small touch that very much heightens the experience in my opinion.)

There is a small play area with a climbing wall outside, and of course lots of live music on offer, but it is the excitement that comes with the Ceres Rail Company’s vintage steam train that pulls into the station every now and then that most often steals the show for the kids and adults alike.

Honestly, it’s a treat.

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Tweety Bird Amber Ale at Rojaal in Grabouw (2018-11-10) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 19 FEB 2019

If you are looking for a hidden gem, then take a side road off the N2 and seek out Rojaal, the wonderfully eclectic Grabouw restaurant housed in an old flower-packing shed. Meaning ‘Abundance’ in Afrikaans, Rojaal overlooks one of the many valleys in the fruit laden Elgin Valley area.

Launched in 2016 by enterprising apple farmer Arno Reuvers, Rojaal is defined by its heritage style decor – as Chantelle would put it, boere chic to the max.

The quirky visual appeal is then complemented by a fine, generous menu and the whole experience is just one of laid back family charm. The views, the food, the hospitality, Rojaal just doesn’t seem to let you down.

On the day of our visit, I tucked into an absolutely delightful monster of a burger, washed down with the surprisingly good Tweety Bird Amber Ale, a product of our very own Gordon’s Bay micro brewery, Red Sky Brew.

Outside of that? Well I just relaxed to the max.

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Pulled Pork and Brisket from the Hickory Shack outside Grabouw (2018-04-15) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 14 JUN 2018

I might have mentioned in passing that we had roped in Chantelle’s folks to head out to the Hickory Shack for lunch with us one April Sunday afternoon (Monty was super keen on giving this place a go), but up until now I haven’t actually spoken about the lunch itself. The summary is this then: as per usual it was awesome. Exactly what you would want if you love eating meat.

I think that this was the third time that Chantelle and I were visiting the Hickory Shack, and other than the neat little beer tasting deck they seem to be tacking on, not all that much has changed at this excellent Southern styled pit-master smokehouse eatery.

Texas style beef brisket, pulled pork, belly and colossal ribs (and chicken for those non red meat lovers who get dragged with for the outing) are all the stars of the menu, though that said, I did notice that these days the shack also offers a couple of lighter brunch options for those who pop in whilst on a breakfast run.

Oupa and Ouma were on hand to entertain the girls, craft brews and drinks in jam jars served to slake our thirst (it was a pretty warm April afternoon after all), and the carefully prepared meat, corn and chunky chips were just as mouthwateringly delicious as what I had remembered it to be.

(Plus, the complementary array of dipping sauces were excellent as always. Just a note though, the spicy one really is pretty damn spicy!)

Given all of that, it isn’t all that surprising then to hear that this place gets pretty packed on the weekends, so much so that for a change Chantelle actually phoned ahead in order to book a table. We don’t normally do this.

As things turned out it was just as well that she had – as far as I could see there definitely weren’t any open tables for any casual diners come lunch time proper!

Basically, a thoroughly brilliant lunch get together was enjoyed by all (well not really the girls – this place isn’t really intended for the little ones), and the Hickory Shack remains hard not to recommend given the relatively scarcity of this style of cooking on our local restaurant scene.

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(And yes, as always I took a photograph of that skull decorated shed. Literally every visit I make, I walk away with the EXACT same photograph! I can see Chantelle shaking her head from here.)

Related Link: Hickory Shack | Grabouw

Books and Soft Serve Ice Cream at Peregrine Farm Stall in Grabouw (2018-04-15) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 11 JUN 2018

In April we invited Chantelle’s folks to come out and lunch with us at the Hickory Shack outside Grabouw. Lunch was as always brilliant, but for dessert I suggested that we take the kids down the road to Peregrine Farm Stall – their soft serve ice cream (from the super convenient Padkos Express outside) and tractor strewn play area is always a guaranteed hit with my girls.

Chantelle agreed, but only because I agreed to look after the girls at the outdoor play area while she and her folks grabbed some coffee and actual proper from the actual Peregrine restaurant inside.

Now I’m quite fond of the outdoor area that Peregrine Farm Stall has crafted over the last year or two. The thing is, as a farm stall/bakery/restaurant they are incredibly popular and thus incredibly busy – literally all the time – meaning that the ability to skip the crushing bustle of inside and rather relax with your kids outside is something I almost always immediately gravitate to. (So much so that I can truthfully say that I’m not sure when last I’ve actually popped my head into the farm stall proper!)

Pleasingly, given the warm weather, the soft serve ice cream that we picked up from Padkos Express was amazing, though that said, neither girl was able to make much of a dent in the huge dollop of ice cream that they each received – meaning that moi had to do some serious mop up work.

Ice cream done, the girls headed off to play, I grabbed a delicious cider from the Everson’s Cider pop-up tasting room, and went browsing, with by far the most interesting find of the day being awarded to Burning Books and its beautiful shiny red truck.

An offshoot of Liberty Books (which I don’t actually know anything about either), Burning Books (perhaps not the best of names for someone selling books) is a clever mobile bookstore – hopping about from event to event in their converted, stunningly pretty, bright red 1955 Bedford Green Goddess fire truck.

(To be fair, given that bit of information, you might now understand just where the bookstore’s name comes from. That said, I’m still not a fan of the name.)

Anyway, it is a clever thing to see, the books are all beautifully presented, and given their closeness to the play area, plenty of moms and dads seemed to be finding themselves dragged by the arm to check things out.

Clever. So, book browsing, ice cream, swings, tractors, shopping and a cider for me. Can’t say that I didn’t rather enjoy this unplanned little visit to what must surely be the most popular farm stall along the N2 highway.

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(For completeness sake, Chantelle and her folks seemed to rather enjoy their little visit as well.)

Related Link: Peregrine Farm Stall | Burning Books | Grabouw

Pit Stop at Houw Hoek Farm Stall near Grabouw (2017-03-17) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 27 OCT 2017

In the middle of Houw Hoek Pass, as you travel between Grabouw and Bot River, you will pass by a very hard to miss white and green building, tucked away in a rocky corner with undoubtedly a lot of cars parked outside.

The popular building in question is of course the longstanding Houw Hoek Farm Stall, known for its quality, fresh, homemade breads, pies and bakes – a trait that makes it rather popular little stop among the locals.

Also, in addition to a good selection of local wines on sale, the shop section is stocked with all manner fresh fruits and vegetables from the farms of the surrounding Elgin Valley, all complemented by the normal farm stall home industry staples like biscuits, jams, biltong, and of course – cake.

Seeing as this is a chef-owned-managed business, the food and coffee on offer in the welcoming little coffee shop is particularly decent, and bonus, if sitting at a table and chairs doesn’t quite appeal to you on the day, then you will be pleased to know that picnic baskets can also be prepared on request.

Somewhat surprisingly, Houw Hoek Farm Stall is also home to three dams stocked with Rainbow trout – making it a great spot for some fly fishing then. (Naturally, rods and tackle can be hired from the farm stall itself.)

Oh, and finally they have a nice little space out in front that is open enough for the little ones to run around and give their legs a stretch.

So. The Orchard. Peregrine. Houw Hoek. Dassiesfontein. Plenty of good, visitor friendly farm stalls to pick and choose from on this first part of the N2 highway then!

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(Bonus: Just in case you were wondering, this particular stop took place back in March this year, when Jessica and myself drove up for a long weekend away with my folks in their place at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay.)

Related Link: Houw Hoek Farm Stall | Facebook

Lunch at The Orchard Farm Stall in Grabouw (2017-03-11) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 13 AUG 2017

The plan had originally been for me to have lunch with the girls over at the Elgin Grabouw Country Club in Grabouw. However, that plan was abruptly put paid to on discovery of one lone “beware of snakes” signboard at the country club, meaning that a new plan was now hastily required – which is exactly then how we ended up for lunch at the nearby The Orchard Farm Stall instead.

I’ve actually stopped here numerous times in the past, thanks to The Orchard usually being a lot less busy than the popular Peregrine Farm Stall down the road.

(Honestly, it is just as worthwhile a stop as its more famous competitor farm stall!)

What’s particularly nice about The Orchard is its huge patch of lawn stretched out in front of the restaurant area, meaning plenty of run around space for the kids, thereby ensuring a reasonably good chance of being able to sit quietly and enjoy an ice cold beer.

(Incidentally, the Hermanus produced Old Harbour Beer is a pretty good craft beer, just in case you aren’t sure on what to have when there).

The farm stall itself, billed as the The Orchard Elgin Country Market, is superbly well stocked, with plenty of interesting produce and home industry items to cast your eye on, with the ambiance on whole being pretty friendly and pretty laid back.

Also, because The Orchard usually makes an effort in terms of providing some things for the kids to do (in this case a jumping castle and quadbike train rides), the girls were pretty satisfied with my hastily revised plan on the day.

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All in all, a great space to stretch the legs if you are on the road with little kids.

Related Link: The Orchard Farm Stall