Tag Archives: 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!

(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

The Drought-affected water level of Theewaterskloof Dam near Villiersdorp (2017-03-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 04 SEP 2017

Six months ago, on an impromptu Sunday afternoon drive, Chantelle and I passed by Theewaterskloof Dam and of course stopped to take photos of the very noticeably almost empty dam.

(In case you aren’t familiar with it, the Theewaterskloof Dam, established in 1978, is the largest dam in the Western Cape and forms a major component of the Western Cape Water Supply System.)

As the months passed and the drought worsened, things like saving the lawn were quickly forgotten, and instead Chantelle and I focused on using less water than normal, the end result being an average monthly use for our household of around 4-6 kilolitres.

What that translates into is less bathing for the girls, less showering for us, and using bathwater to refill the toilet cistern. Also, we don’t wash cars, or bother with anything in the garden either.

So not particularly pleasant or convenient, but certainly effective.

Our rainy season has now technically come and gone, and although there was at least some rain, it still wasn’t particularly much, meaning that this coming summer is going to be pretty scary for the City of Cape Town if its population can’t get it into their heads to do even more to save water.

One can only imagine what Theewaterskloof Dam will look like next March.

Bonus: A lot of local drone enthusiasts and vloggers have of course been documenting this phenomenon. This particular video was put together by Adam Spires, and gives you a much better view (and bird’s eye view) of the dam as it more or less currently stands:

Here’s a map in case you feel like driving out to see for yourself.

Related Link: Theewaterskloof Dam | City of Cape Town: Water Restrictions

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.

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

Rowing on Eikenhof Dam at the Elgin Grabouw Country Club (2017-03-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 31 JUL 2017

Located in the Kogelberg biosphere region and sitting right next to the tranquil waters of the Eikenhof Dam in Grabouw, the Elgin Grabouw Country Club, which was founded in 1987, serves as the area’s local recreational sporting and social hub.

Thanks to its proximity to the dam, watersports, rowing in particular, are particularly big here and a number of amateur and university rowing teams call this dam home.

In addition, the country club serves as home ground for the Elgin Cricket Club, never mind the fact that it also counts 3 tennis courts, two squash courts, a swimming pool, and a bowls green among its facilities!

The nearby Cape Pine’s pine forest plantations are home to some of the best mountain biking trails in Grabouw, and as you can imagine given its location in the Kogelberg biosphere region, the natural fynbos and mountains are home to many a hiking trail, making it popular with nature enthusiasts.

I had heard that the restaurant at the Elgin Grabouw Country Club is technically open to the public, and so having never been there before, one early Saturday morning in March, I bundled my girls into the car and went for a scenic drive over Sir Lowry’s Pass and on to Grabouw.

I enjoyed the drive, the girls less so. (It was hot).

Anyway, back to the dam. Established in 1977 (and raised in 1998), the Eikenhof Dam is an earth-fill type dam on the Palmiet River, its primary purpose being that of irrigation for the fertile land that makes up the fruit-producing Elgin Valley area.

Naturally, given the severe drought that the Western Cape currently finds itself experiencing, the dam was looking in need of quite the serious top up, but nevertheless, there was still enough water for some rowing to take place. (Which was of course quite fascinating for the girls).

However, my master plan of sitting down to eat some lunch with the girls at the club house promptly went up in smoke on discovery of one single “Beware of Snakes” signboard staked into the ground in front of the restaurant building, immediately freaking both girls out to such an extent that I begrudgingly had to heard them back into the car and make another plan.

Sigh, sometimes exploring with little girls is much harder than what it should be… ;)

Nevertheless, I do look forward to return when the dam and its surrounds are back to their usual lush green state!

Related Link: Elgin Grabouw Country Club | Eikenhof Dam

Kids at Play at Peregrine Farm Stall in Grabouw (2017-03-11) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 25 JUL 2017

Situated in the fertile Elgin Valley, just outside of Grabouw, Peregrine began life as a humble little fruit vending stall on the side of the N2 way back in 1964, and in the many years since, has morphed into somewhat of a road trip institution for anyone travelling over Sir Lowry’s Pass.

2014 marked Peregrine Farm Stall’s 50th anniversary, but as circumstance would have it, this was also to be the year of tragedy striking in the form of a destructive kitchen fire that destroyed most of the long-standing restaurant area.

This was however a perfect opportunity for new life to be breathed into Peregrine, and the new Peregrine Cafe that rose up in the old restaurant’s place is light, open, and with a very contemporary feel to it.

While the farm stall and bakery continues its long tradition of providing excellent local produce, artisanal creations and mouthwatering bakes to the public, it is the outdoor express section (complete with takeaways, a kiddies play area, and pop-up shops) that excites my girls the most, the result being that we quite often end up at Peregrine without actually stepping inside the cafe or old farm stall itself!

Not that I mind of course, the pies are particularly excellent no matter which counter you purchase them from – and besides, the fact that they wash down pretty well with some of Everson’s excellent locally produced cider (available right there!) doesn’t hurt either.

Also, how could we NOT stop to see the giant blue bunny, courtesy of the Art@Almenkerk project!? ;)

It’s really, really hard to miss.

Related Link: Peregrine Farm Stall | Facebook

Brisket at The Hickory Shack in Grabouw (2017-03-26) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 23 APR 2017

Last year December, right before our big Christmas family lunch, we ate for the very first time at the Hickory Shack in Grabouw, a Texan style smokehouse famed for both its brisket and use of a proper, Southern-style fire pit to prepare it in.

Now purely because Chantelle had already settled on making brisket for aforementioned Christmas lunch, neither of us ate Hickory Shack’s signature dish on that particular day, meaning that a return visit to give the famous brisket a go was very much in order then.

(For reference, first time around, I tucked into their delicious pulled pork, while Chantelle got dirty with some baby ribs).

So come late March this year, as is our usual style, we rocked up on a Sunday afternoon at lunchtime with no reservation whatsoever (we never actually plan on going out to lunch – it is almost always a last second decision), something that immediately bit us in the bum because the main restaurant area (the covered deck) was already all taken – resulting in the girls and myself taking a small round table right next to the smokehouse itself.

(Pleasingly, they were plenty busy, meaning that we weren’t the only table out in the sun!)

As I mentioned at the start of this post, brisket was very much on the menu for both Chantelle and myself, and while I was more than pleased when the flavourful cut of meat was placed down in front of me after a lengthy wait, sadly for Chantelle, she found herself less than enamored with a meal that had just too much fat in it for her liking.

True, she had a point, but I found myself enjoying it regardless. The flavour was all there, the chunky, handcut chips were great, the mix of sauces on the table sublime – all of which was nicely complemented by some good craft beer.

In other words, nothing for me to really complain about then!

Seeing as I took more than enough photos on our first trip to the Hickory Shack (which are already sitting quite happily at home on this blog), I was much more refrained with the phone camera this time around…

So in summary then: Coming across this style of food is still reasonably uncommon here in the area, thus making the Hickory Shack well worth a stop if you happen to find yourself driving through Elgin with a hungry belly and a taste for meat!

Related Link: Hickory Shack | Facebook

Pulled Pork from the Hickory Shack in Grabouw (2016-12-22) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 01 JAN 2017

The Hickory Shack has been operating for about a year now, situated just past Grabouw on the Thandi Estate off the N2 in the Elgin Valley. The concept behind this interesting eatery is a simple one – bring an authentic Texan smokehouse experience to South Africa.

To this purpose the team have a dedicated smokehouse shack set up (complete with menacing skull hanging off the side), in which dwells a simple but effective brick and mortar fire pit where the pit master then works his magic from.

As you would then expect, the menu contains a lot of slow roasted meat, including the ever popular brisket, mouthwatering good pulled pork, and ribs. The food options are further complemented by a great selection of local craft beers, and of course, this being Elgin, all the locally produced ciders are front and center as well.

Music from the South is the soundtrack for the restaurant, so go in knowing that you are about to hear a lot of banjo being played (honestly, it gets a bit much after a while), but nevertheless, you can just imagine that the vibe gets pretty fun on a full house evening at this slightly remote destination!

The girls loved the freshly pressed apple juices, Chantelle and I loved the handcut chips, excellent meat and brilliant array of interesting sauces – not to mention the fun presentation of the food, all of which means that I guess then that we’ll be making a return run to the Hickory Shack sooner than later.

It is after all, just over the mountain behind us…

As always, a handy map: (Not that you can miss it though – not with that beautifully cared for, bright red, classic Chevrolet Apache truck standing out in front of the shack!)

Related Link: Hickory Shack | Facebook

Everson’s Cider Tasting at Peregrine Farm Stall in Grabouw (2016-11-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 14 DEC 2016

The last time that I found myself at the cleverly expanded Peregrine Farm Stall (which in truth is a lot bigger than just a simple farm stall these days), I didn’t get around to doing a tasting at the Everson’s Cider pop-up tasting room.

This time around though, despite the allure of the wonderful Elgin Open Gardens weekend that was now in full swing (which led to a lot of new exploring for us mind you), I made the effort and was rewarded with some really good cider in return!

First things first though – I needed to bribe the girls with some softserve ice cream from Padkos Express first! (Yes, shamefully, that is a pie and coffee in the picture as well. It is unavoidable really – Peregrine’s pies are excellent!)

Thanks to the Elgin Open Gardens attracting away most of the crowd that one would usually find milling about the always popular Peregrine Farm Stall, the girls and I got to enjoy a slightly quieter than normal play area, and the girls lost no time in enjoying the tractors, swings and jungle gym to the fullest!

Happy that the girls were now quite content with life (and having fun at the same time), I sauntered over to the Everson’s Cider tasting room (which is a cleverly remodelled shipping container, courtesy of Rocketfuel), grabbed a stool and got to tasting their five cider varietals.

In general I rather enjoy ciders, and other than the mulled cider which I wasn’t particularly fond of, the original, cloudy and pear ciders (all made from local Elgin fruit) were all pretty good, whilst the pomegranate cider was certainly an interesting taste.

Of course, the girls were super interested in what I was doing and soon arrived to steal some of my complimentary crisps – essentially the only way that I could convince them to both run off and play again!

So all in all, a good experience and certainly an outing that both the girls and I got quite a bit of enjoyment out of!

Worth noting, but on the way home I decided to turn up one of the dirt roads and do some exploring around the ever shrinking rural bits of Gordon’s Bay – areas that most locals don’t even know still exist. The dirt roads lead to some interesting sights, including a beautiful example of classic Cape Dutch architecture, ornate gable and all! This though is not a picture of that house:

(By this stage, both girls were quite tired, not enjoying the bumpy dirt roads, and definitely not pleased with their dad that kept stopping the car to get out and take some photos!)

Anyway, back to the original subject of this post. Here is a handy map to Peregrine Farm Stall and therefore Everson’s Cider tasting room (open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm):

Related Link: Everson’s Cider | Peregrine Farm Stall

Scones and Juice at Terra Madre in the Elgin Valley (2016-09-10) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 06 NOV 2016

The exuberant and bubbly chef, restaurateur, foodie and… property entrepreneur Nicole Precoudis certainly has more than just a little experience when it comes to the food business, having both owned and worked in plenty of restaurants over the course of her career.

Grabouw’s Elgin Valley region then most certainly lucked out when she decided to make it her home, and in 2013, following a stint as partner in and head chef of Oak Valley’s The Pool Room (which both Chantelle and I love), she thew open the doors of her and her family’s 18.5 hectare working apple and olive farm and launched the Terra Madre Market, which (open on only a few select occastions) specialized in “slow-cooked regional fare, farm fresh produce, sourdough bread, baked goods and more – all prepared on the farm”.

sdr

Fast forward to September 2016, and Terra Madre, now producing an excellent champagne style apple cider (the Terra Madre Pomme Classique Dry Elgin Cider) as well as the most delicious fresh pressed, single varietal apple and pear juice that I have ever tasted, launched their Food Barn in order to complement their growing food delivery business.

Somehow, I managed to catch wind of this opening, and because I was looking for something to do over the weekend with my girls, I headed out to the Elgin Valley and turned off onto the Viljoenshoop Road, the first time that I’ve ever actually done that funnily enough.

sdr

Although the signage is a bit poor, the GPS got me to the right gate, which confusingly was closed. However, nothing that a quick chat over the intercom couldn’t solve, so a quick farm road hop and the girls and I ended our drive up to the Terra Madre Barn – which was open for business… more or less.

Because I was coming in blind, I was kind of half expecting a little deli or something along those lines – however, the actual setting is a by far cooler one. In essence, you phone up ahead, book a lunch slot, and then get treated to a proper family luncheon out in the middle of the orchard  – and by the smell of and description of the food being prepared in the kitchen, those lucky people who had gotten this part right were definitely in for a major treat!

dav

Naturally, opening day, as it so often does, was not really going entirely to plan, with a lot of running around and things happening all over the place. However, the wonderfully affable Nicole and her family immediately made us feel welcome, and so we ordered some nice little scones off of the bake table and settled in to enjoy the surroundings.

Unfortunately for us though, in all the chaos of everyone getting ready for the actual lunch service, our order was kind of forgotten about – though that said, the girls didn’t seem to mind much. They were pretty much all over the place, making themselves at home, running around everywhere, sprinkled with bouts of Jessica randomly handing out hugs to anyone she could find!

Nicole brought some of the Terra Madre apple juice for us to try, and it is by far the best apple juice that I have ever tasted – a sentiment with which both the girls wholeheartedly appear to agree with. (Also, when our coffee and scones did eventually get served, well let’s just say that the scones were some of the best that I’ve ever had as well!)

dav

We thanked everyone for their hospitality, and made ourselves scarce before the real lunch time guests arrived, but not before we of course took a stroll around the grounds to admire the orchards and surroundings.

(That said, both Jessica and Emily were far to enthralled with the little puppy running about outside to care much about anything else that I was trying to show them!)

dav

So now that I know the setup (and apparently it has since been tweaked a little bit), I look forward to our next visit to Terra Madre where I can show off what looks to be an absolute gastronomic treat to Chantelle – making sure of course to take full credit for discovering this gem before she did.

A map in case you want to explore this interesting addition to the Elgin Valley tourism scene:

Related Link: Terra Madre | Facebook