The LekkerBek Journey... in search of Goodness

by Wirie Rust





Christmas 2008, and there is great excitement in the Rust household. The entire family, that is André, whom his children call Shie, myself, Wirie, called Mie by my children and Wir for short by my friends. Andanté, our daughter and Arné, our son, are all going to Lake Malawi for our Christmas vacation.


There is only one small problem, in my wisdom; I decided each of us should pay for his own holiday. As an Independent Marketing Consultant, the festive season is lean. In December, the only advice sought by people, is what presents they should buy for business associates, friends and family.


The only solution for me is to start baking and cooking, because I am good at that. Decision made, I put on my apron and I start baking. Andanté photographs my offerings, onto an e-mailer it goes, and I tell my friends; “I have Christmas Goodies for sale”.


My table and house is known for good eating and drinking. I get a great response, good enough to pay my way to Malawi. The downside is, I have not stood on my two feet baking and cooking for a very long time. My geriatric back goes into a spasm, and I walk around like a paper clip. My hands have blisters from finely slicing my prized Xmas Biscotti. Every container in our house is filled with homemade goodness.


My family has to help me with the packing and making it pretty. Red polka dot boxes with striped lids, striped boxes with red lids, black satin ribbon and silver balls. It is all very festive and beautiful, and my customers love it. I run around like a cat on a hot tin roof, as more orders stream in – I am forever short of something, a ribbon, a box or a cherry. Eventually, Gauteng departs on vacation, and I can catch my breath.


After sorting out everybody else’s Christmas Presents I have completely forgotten about my own. Walking my 10 Rottweilers, two big ones and eight puppies, babies of my beautiful Rottie, Bera Babuscka, I start thinking about my own family and what to give them for Christmas. I decide to give Andre a box of gourmet goodies; after all, he is a “LekkerBek” (Lover of Food) Suddenly, in between my dogs sniffing and smelling, it dawns on me. I should call this business “LekkerBek” and not "Gourmet-Gift Baskets"!


Not to forget this monumental decision, I enter it on my cell phone... the ‘forgettery’, is a problem. There is no way that I can make all this delicious goodness myself, my back tells me that. I must find people that make their own goodness and include it in my gifts. We decide to divide South Africa into regions, and our LekkerBek journey begins – in search of home-made goodness.



The Great Karoo Journey


Victoria West

I was born in the Karoo, and that is where our journey starts. My mother “Ouma Marie” still lives in Victoria West, and I am taking “Lood” one of my Baby Rottweilers, now 3 months old, to my brother’s son, Toi, who farms in the Karoo.


Andanté and I pack our Colt bakkie, and with Lood on the backseat we start our journey. We decide to drive via Kimberley, the route has more small towns, in case we want to stop. The roadwork’s are in full swing, we are thrown off the road and back on again. Stop and Go, every now and then. Probably fixing this for the Soccer Cup – and my goodness, it needs fixing.


We stop at the “Kambro Padstal” just past Britstown, to check out the goodness. Lood also needs to take a walk, but as two resident dogs come sniffing, I jump back into the Colt with Lood. I just wanted to check out the goodness, not pick a fight. Andanté does a quick recce, and we decide to re-visit Kambro on our way back.


Ouma Marie lives in the ACVV old age home in Victoria West. Andanté and I organize mattresses and we sleep on the floor, in the old age home. Lots of time to talk and just to enjoy each others company. At the tender age of 87 she still cooks herself a home-made meal every day in her tiny kitchen. When we arrive, Toi, is waiting for us. He can’t believe the size of Lood at only 3 months. It is immediate love, but when he leaves with Lood, my heart breaks. My baby Rottie , born in my house in Johannesburg, and now he is off to live on a Karoo farm.


Beaufort West District

But, the main reason for this Karoo visit is to search for home-made goodness for our LekkerBek Karoo Gift Selection. Koeks, my sister in-law tells me of the Nigrini’s who farm on Rhenosterkop, with the most delicious olives and pickled garlic. We search for their number, because the Karoo is vast and you don’t drive if there is nobody home. Koeks calls enquiries with our request, but this enquiries must be somewhere very far. They do not know what a “renoster” is and neither do they know a “kop.” Eventually, after much frustration, we get the number. The Nigrini’s are at home, and they have olives in stock.


Rhenosterkop is on your way to Beaufort West, past Three Sisters and Nelspoort. Ouma Marie is not to be left behind. She used to be a school teacher at Nelspoort and wants to visit old haunts.


The dusty track to the farm is lined with olive trees, and we know we are on the right track. Gorgeous, old farmhouse with shady trees, and dogs in all shapes and sizes, rush up to meet us. Janine, brings us a tasting of her products in the “voorkamer,” whilst my mother is sorting out the family. Everybody in the Karoo knows each other, and if you search long enough, you will be connected in some way!


The olives, olive oil and tapenade are delicious. We over indulge in the pickled garlic – just so yummy you can’t stop. Everything is beautifully packaged and labeled, and yes, they can deliver to Johannesburg. Delighted, we load our bakkie with a case of everything, and hit the road back to Victoria West.


On impulse, I take the turn-off to Kromriver Station. This is where my mother and father put me on the train to go to Rhenish Primary School in Stellenbosch, when I was 7 years old. As if it were yesterday, I can still remember peering through the train window and see them standing there. My father, hat in his hand, and my mother looking very forlorn, waving me goodbye next to our De Soto motorcar...


Back in Victoria West, we sit on my mother’s stoep under the wild vine, and we drink wine. Andanté is cooking for us, and Ouma Marie is advising her, every step of the way. Mothers tend to do that, and so do Grandmothers! Eventually, I tell Ouma Marie: “Leave the child, she is a good cook”

We are all good cooks, three generations of us.


Victoria West District

That evening we visit my brother Pietie and his wife Koeks - they now live in town. Koeks owns “Die Pophuis Hoekie” – fabulous overnight guest cottages, and my brother scans sheep to see if they are pregnant (like a sheep gynaecologist.) He knows every farmer, and what is happening on every farm in the entire Karoo. He starts organising our Karoo search for home-made goodness. There are no more landlines, because the all copper cables have been stolen. Cell phones only work if you stand directly under the booster. We revert to what is commonly known as the “boere-band”. You call Perdjie, Perdjie, Perdjie... come in Perdjie, Perdjie, Perdjie... and hopefully Perdjie answers.


Perdjie is my brother’s son, who now farms on our family farm Vlakfontein, with his wife Lize and two little boys, Klein Pietie and Kapan. In the Karoo everybody has a nickname. Petrus Johannes is Pietie, Amelia is Koeks, Willem Schalk is Boet, Tobias Mostert is Toi and Casparus is Perdjie. Perdjie, makes the best droëwors and biltong in the entire Karoo!


The next day we drive 60 kilometers of dirt road to Vlakfontein for wors and biltong. Perdjie and Lize now live in the house that was my school, in the sixties. My mother taught me Sub A and Sub B on the farm. I was the only child in the entire school.


In the Karoo, you always eat when you arrive, you don’t just pop in and out – farms are far apart and towns are far apart. We have crumbed Karoo Lamb Chops for lunch. For those of you that don’t know, there is a saying in the Karoo: “If you feel like some greens, you eat pork!” Needless to say, greens don’t make the Karoo go round, lamb does.


After lunch we are off to the “vleiskamer” for our stash of wors and biltong. We also load Lize’s “Bietjie Baie Lekker – Sundried Tomato Dip”. We can’t quite decide if it is a dip, or a condiment. Lize says she has never heard of a “condiment.” Whatever, it is delicious with freshly baked bread, on a biscuit with your cheese board or with pasta.


On our way back to Victoria West, we stop off at the farm Leeuwfontein. Growing up in the Karoo, Leeuwfontein belonged to the Van Heerdens, and we used to go water skiing on their dam when it rained. The new owners are Marise and Barry Andrag, fresh blood. Word has it that Marise makes the best jams in the Karoo, and that is what we are after. Alas, it has been a dry year, and she has no fruit or figs. She has her bottles and labels lined up, so when it rains, we will be the first to know.


Time is running out in the Karoo. A farmer’s wife, from Loxton, makes the best venison salami. We taste and we love it. The Salami is a bit long for our Gift Box, so we hope she can make it shorter for us. We buy every rusk and cookie my mothers friend brings to the old age home.


Now we need some lamb to take home. Lamb is scarce in the Karoo: when it is dry, there is no lamb. We eventually find lamb at the N1 Butchery in town. Late afternoon, before we leave, I drive to the butchery to collect our lamb for the hungry boys we left in Joburg. You must understand there are two stop streets in Victoria West. One stop for the traffic going North/South and one stop for traffic going East/West. Happily, I cruise down the empty street, no handbag, no purse, just me, collecting my lamb. The next thing somebody screams at me: “Pull OFF, Pull OFF” There are no parking bays, so I just pull off. It is the traffic police from Britstown. “Where is your license?” “At the Old Age Home” I reply. The fine is the price of the lamb.


Later, I find out that everybody knows when the Traffic Police are cruising through Victoria West. (The news spreads like wild fire!) Everybody, except me!


Our last night in Vic West we go for supper at the “Merino Steakhouse” and my brother tells me: “Order the neck of lamb”! I do, and get a whole neck of lamb on my plate. Goodness, enough meat for a week in Joburg. Oh well, at least we have ‘padkos’ for tomorrow’s journey. That night it starts raining, and the next morning we leave for Johannesburg.


The journey back through the Free State

It is amazing what happens to the Karoo when it rains. My father always said, if you listen very carefully, you can hear the ‘veld’ grow. And grow it did. Three days ago, it was brown, now it looks like a fresh green carpet.


We decide not to negotiate the Stop and Go’s again. We get off the N12 at Christiana, and drive back to Joburg via the real Free State. Hertzogville, Hoopstad, Bothaville, Viljoenskroon and Vredefort. The road is quiet, just us, mealiefields, sunflower fields and potholes. A dark blue storm is approaching on the horizon – it is eerily beautiful. It reminds us of the tornado catchers in America. We catch the tail-end of the storm; I sit upright like a walking stick behind the steering wheel – hazards flashing in the rain.


We stop in Parys, Andanté browses in a ‘padstal.’ But my head is filled with Karoo Goodness... I do not have space for Free State Goodness. That will have to wait for another day. Maybe we will just do Eastern Free State Cherry-Goodness, and leave the mealies and sunflower seeds. Having made that decision, we get onto the main road, and I can’t wait to see my husband, son, cats and dogs.


Back Home

Our biggest problem when we get home is to convince the boys that all the Goodness in the bakkie is for LekkerBek, and not for them to nibble on while channel hopping! But we did think of everybody, and they get a taste of Perdjies wors and biltong and Karoo Olives, the Rottweilers love the lamb off cuts. The only unhappy soul is Lilu, the human-cat. She prefers Whiskas Singles.





The ‘Wilde Tuin’

I was barely home for a week and I have to pack to go to the Kruger National Park. Or, as my friend Marie calls it: “The Wild Garden.” We are a group of eight friends (girls only) that have been walking the Wilderness Trails in the Kruger for the past 10 years. This year we rent a mini-bus. We look like a taxi, myself, the designated driver. We also have to borrow a “Ventertjie” – because 8 women have a lot of stuff. The ‘venterjie trailer’ is more rust than paint. One of us has to continuously keep an eye on it, in case we lose it along the way.


This is not a ‘LekkerBek’ tour, but I have ‘LekkerBek’ on my brain. Every time we take a break or fill up with petrol I am into the ‘padstal’ checking out the goodness. I find something delicious at every stop. Paw-Paw Chutney, Mpumalanga Fire Chili Sauce, Sliced Peach Jam, Marula Jelly, Sabie Coffee. The Lowveld or Mpumalanga is going to be a journey on its own. That evening we braai in Pretoriuskop – men please take note, women are the best braaiers! We feast on chops, wors, toasted ‘braai-broodjies’ – finish off the paw-paw chutney which is so good that we all want more. Nothing like a choppy and chutney in the bush!


The Kruger Park is green and luscious. Grass as high as your shoulder, and wet underfoot. Thank goodness, because we only hear the Lions roar in the distance – they, like us, do not like to get their feet wet. We meet a very grumpy Rhino – who suddenly charges, with us running like scared cats. At least he was not as persistent as the Lioness who charged us the previous year! We spend our nights sitting around the camp fire under the stars.


Back from the Lowveld, with my samples of Home-Made Goodness, I tell Andanté, we need to spend some time searching – there is a lot of stuff waiting for us. But first we must go to the Cape.


The Cape of Good Hope Journey


We have many reasons to go to Cape Town. Our good friend is getting married in Franschoek, my mother-in-law, Ouma Ala (96) lives there, and we know there is a lot of goodness in the Cape.


Cape Town

We rent an apartment in Gardens in Cape Town. It is nice and central to use as a base. I suddenly realise the apartment is a stone’s throw from my old High School – Jan van Riebeeck. I can actually see my old Biology class! Oh, the memories! Us, going to ‘Die Groote Kerk’ holding onto our hats that looked like flat soup bowls, while the South Easter threatens to blow us down Kloof Street, into the sea. I take a walk to the hostel, it looks exactly the same as in the 60’s – something’s never change, do they? I remember my father calling me every Wednesday morning on the ticky-box at 5 to 6. Calls were cheaper, before 6 in the morning. When the exchange operator said “Drie minute om” (three minutes have passed) he put the phone down, otherwise you were charged for 6 minutes. There was no in-between. I explore Oranjezicht, De Waal Park, The Gardens, and I see more in a day than five years spent in the hostel just up the road.


The biggest problem with The Cape is that all the food-, organic-, farmers- and neighbourhood markets are held on Saturday mornings. How do you manoeuvre yourself from Stellenbosch to Durbanville to Woodstock and Tokia in one morning? There is only one solution... We will have to stay for two Saturdays. Good enough excuse extending our Cape expedition. The first Saturday, dressed for our wedding festivities in Franschoek we pass through Stellenbosch and the Farmers Market at Bosmans Crossing. There is a lot of delicious stuff, we look, we taste and we find what we are looking for. Making contact and promising to follow up during the week.


The Swartland


Our first real journey is into The Swartland. Much to the surprise of Andan, my partner and daughter, who was born and bred in Johannesburg, it is not ‘black’ as the name indicates. Vistas of rolling fields of yellow and green vineyards greet us. We head west, towards Darling, and drive along a road lined with gigantic trees, probably planted by Jan van Riebeeck himself. We find a farm stall, but on closer inspection it turns out to be a general dealer. Some you lose!



Around the next bend, a sign triggers Andanté’s imagination, and off we turn onto a gravel road. There are roadwork’s, with massive Lorries scraping and watering the road. We dodge and drive and end up at a magnificent 18th Century Manor House – De Groote Post Vineyards on Darling Hills. The tractors are delivering the grape harvest as we park, and you can smell the fermentation. Apparently this estate used to be a Dairy Farm, but since 2001 the Pentz family has been specializing in viticulture. We are happy – we have always preferred wine to milk.


We taste a few wines, keeping in mind that we have a long way to drive. We find the most gorgeous Groote Post Noble Late Harvest. Beautifully packaged, the colour of the sun, with flavours of peach and honey. Delighted, we leave, and see Table Mountain winking in the distance.


We are following our noses, looking for a Farm Stall that I either read or heard about and we end up 7 kilometers from Yzerfontein. We find a 'sort of' farm stall, but it has lots of plants, fresh bread and elderly people eating breakfast. Not what we are looking for – the West Coast will be another journey – back to Darling we head.


Our first stop is Darling Olives – at first glance it does not look like an olive farm, but when you enter their barn there is no mistaking – this is an olive farm. We are seated at a long wooden table, the kind that I would love to have in my house, and the tasting begins. Along the way we get taught everything about olives. We taste Green Olives, Black Olives, Tapenade, Olive Spreads, Dried Olives, Olive Jam, Olive Chutney and also an Olive and Chocolate Salami. I had to get my head around that one…. Olives in my head and chocolate on my tongue? Not to sure…


The choice is daunting; we can’t fill up an entire Gift Selection with Darling Olives. Andanté is good at that. As a designer she looks at ‘what is pretty’ and will look ‘pretty’ when packed together. We choose the Green Olives, really delicious, Chili Tapenade – not hot, just spicy, Olive Chutney and something different, Herbed Cheese Balls in Olive Oil, because it’s delicous and beautiful! Small hiccup- they have never delivered to Joburg. Not to worry, we will take care of it, and off we go, destination Darling.


Darling is home to Pieter Dirk Uys and Evita’s Perron – South African icons. It is not difficult to navigate Darling, like most South African rural towns, it is one street up, two down, with a church in the middle. In Darling, we peck here and there, but it is mostly Vetkoek and Stuff. We come across two locals enjoying a lekker cold beer and steak, just past tea time! We follow the signs to Evita’s Perron – and what an experience. CD’s tied to the trees, floating in the wind. Evita’s humour does not spare anybody, and is nobody’s fool. What a hoot! There is lunch to be had, but we are on a mission, and even though we are very tempted, we continue on our journey.


Just past Darling, on your way to Malmesbury we find Darling Cellars. I must be brutally honest, I find most Co-operative Cellars very generic. There is never a sense of excitement and they all look the same. Same entrance, same counter and basically the same approach. All that differs is the region. Any way, we taste and swallow, forgetting to spit – but nothing really grabs us. So we continue on our journey.



Malmesbury seems a tad to big for us at this moment in time. We cruise through, hoping to glimpse a something or a sign that grabs our attention but alas, the next thing, Malmesbury is behind us, and we are on our way to Riebeeck Valley. To try and rectify our just passing through we stop at Malmesbury Cellars. I sit outside and admire the scenery. Andanté pops in and pops out – what did I say about cellars?


I should just at this point, clarify that when we browse and bounce out, it is not a reflection on the products – there was just not that something special we were looking for. So, no offence.


The Riebeeck Valley


The Riebeeck Valley sounds promising. Andanté has previously organized a Mushroom Festival there – so we know it is Good Food and Slow Food Country. The view as you enter the valley, confirms just that. And we can’t wait to explore.


Now we are hungry, the Darling Olives and sip of Sweet Harvest has long gone. John, my ex-chef from The Anton Van Wouw Restaurant days, told us about an eatery we cannot miss. We search, up and down, by now I had forgotten the name, and was hoping for some grey matter to kick in. The grey matter predictably lets me down, and we opt for lunch at The Barn, with beautiful views of the valley. Our lunch companion is a cross-eyed resident cat. No luck for him, as I was not about to share my delicious paté.


This is Shiraz and Olive Country, and we find a good Shiraz – guess where? At Riebeeck Cellars! We were looking for a label that says it comes from Riebeeck Valley, and this one made the cut. Shiraz in our shopping basket we follow signs on a gravel road out of town – something to do with a deli. We eventually find the deli – it is Delico, and a farm butchery at that, with cookies and goodies to boot. The lamb looks good, and not too pricey, but unfortunately we are on the road, so no good stocking up on lamb at this point in time.


Back into town we bump. There is a huge castle, presiding over the valley. We drive in, and drive out. U-turn, let’s try again. Ah, you must drive past the cellar and the farm activities, and then you find the entrance to the Castle – Het Vlock Casteel. They have a tasting room, the size of a mini ball room, filled to the brim with olive products and wine. Time is tight, but we know our game: Find the most delectable goodness in the shortest possible time. And we do.


Het Vlock Casteel Shiraz Dessert Dressing and Boerejongens that go ‘pop’ in your mouth. (Boerejongens are grapes in KWV Brandy) Both are delicious with ice-cream. For good measure we also take a bottle of Het Vlock Casteel Olive Oil. At the till, there is one single fruit roll (tameletjie in Afrikaans.) I love tameletjie, the sweet sour of the fruit does it for me. No charge they tell me, it is our last one. Pity….. It is the best tameletjie I have ever eaten, and I want more, that is for sure!


Andanté insists on visiting the Olive Boutique, and I am like…. “I am sure they are just selling other peoples stuff, like a shop.” My daughter has a will of her own, and up the hill we churn. What a gem the Olive Boutique turns out to be. Not selling other peoples stuff, but making their own. Juliana the owner has semi-grated from Johannesburg – and I don’t blame her. We find the most delicious Green Olive Mustard, Olive Tapenade and I try my taste buds on the Olive and Chocolate Salami again. This time I get my head around it – and it is good, and looks pretty!


We speed around the Mountain to catch Kloovenburg before they close for the day. It is past 4, and we realize this is not Joburg where you start a new assignment at 4pm – in this valley it is locking up time. We get to Kloovenburg, and it is indeed ‘lock up’ time. They very graciously unlock for us again. Now we can’t taste, but we can look, and the looking is good. They have the most fantastic Olive produce, and we decide on the Shiraz Salt and their award winning Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil. The rest we can always taste in Joburg – they are on a move.


Time to start moving back to The Mother City. We drive through Paarl, and I tell Andanté that this is The Boland region, so that is for another day. We do stop at a Farm Stall, they are busy cashing up – so not much joy there. The Cape has knocked off for the day, and we might as well do the same. The best part of getting home is to unpack your loot for the day!


The Cape Peninsula


The next morning we awake to a howling South Easter. Wind is not good for curly hair, and we both have curly hair. We decide to contact all the foodies that I found at the Stellenbosch Market, and to cruise the Winelands. We also have an appointment in Stellenbosch with Marilou; she is the best cook ever! Passionate, and cooks with reckless abandon. Our plan is to team up with her for LekkerBek Winelands Gourmet Tours in future.


Our first mission is to find the Stonehill Olive Farm where Colleen and her family make delicious olives and olive products. Instructions in hand we set off. Klipheuwel Road, Left at first Stop, Left at Durbanville sign, Right Turn onto the first gravel road, Left at the Orange School – then you will see a sign ‘Lavender Cottage’... We never found the Orange School or the Lavender Cottage. I call Colleen, describing what I see around us: Cows, lots of cows! No, no, no – they don’t have cows. Eventually, she does not know where we are, and neither do we. I decide to meet up with her at a later stage because we are running late for our lunch date in Stellenbosch – and that is not negotiable.


The Stellenbosch Mountains are black from the recent fire and still smouldering in places. Suddenly rain starts sifting down – this is even worse for curly hair, but we are happy for the mountain. Marilou has delicious ideas, lunch in a vineyard, brunch on Table Mountain and many more. Just the thought of all this goodness is enough to make your mouth water. Watch this space!


In the meantime we must find Anna-Helena, Lynne and Jean-Luc whom I met at the Stellenbosch market, and try and make some choices for our Winelands Gift.  The Stellenbosch Winelands are vineyard upon vineyard, estates to make you positively jealous, and each manor house more beautiful than the last. To find that something special is going to be a hard task. We browse at every farm stall on the route – eventually all I see is jams, and wines, and jams and wines. I give up. Andanté is desperate for suurvygies, we find some, but they look like they have no jam in them, and even though dry, they should be jammy.


We do manage to link up with Anna-Helena & Nicola who make the most delicious dessert dukkah. Beautifully packed in a tin wrapped with eco-friendly carton. We feel at bit better, and set out to meet Lynne, one of the passionate souls that makes the delicious “ Rosey’s Choppy – Choppy.” I had bought a bottle at the market and it was so good that we ate it with everything - to give it a bit of zing. She and her husband are originally from Zululand, and their home-made goodness is a combination of chili, feta & sun dried tomato, and the result – a delicious condiment with a lekker kick.


We also trace down Chefs@Work. We found their produce at the odd farm stall – and we liked it. My biggest concern was that they might have a whole factory churning out the stuff. To our delight, there are actual people making it. Stunning Chili Oil, Herb Bread Dipper and we also find Cape Figs in Balsamic Syrup – irresistible.


Late afternoon we meet with Jean-Luc, a Frenchman who hails from the DRC. He makes the most beautiful “Pink Bubbly” La Vie en Rose, but we have not tasted it – and now it is tasting time. Oh, the relief, when something is beautiful and it tastes good! Jean Luc entertains us at his house in Somerset West, on “Pink Bubbly,” cheese, and biscuits and we also get to taste his excellent Chardonnay.


We stock up and also buy some to take home to our menfolk. We could happily spend more time with Jean Luc and his fat furry cats, but it is getting late, and we still have to negotiate the Cape Flats in our rented wheels. We reluctantly leave the half bottle of bubbly, and depart. Half-way down the hill Jean-Luc calls us: “You have forgotten your wine you were tasting!” U-turn on a hairpin, and back we race up the hill to claim our half a bottle of bubbly.


Hunger pangs overwhelm us, and we head straight for Gordons Bay Harbour. There is an icy wind and the pub is warm and welcoming. They have a Guinness promotion and you can win a gorgeous hat... so we have no choice – Guinness it shall be, if only for the hat. The pub is rocking with locals, and we have the most delicious meal of Calamari, Fish and Fat Chips – in a pan.


Driving back to Cape Town after all this tasting and eating takes major concentration. As we approach we see the flames against Table Mountain. We enter through De Waal Drive and see the blaze at Rhodes Memorial. It is scary – flames leaping into the heaven.


The next morning we wake up to the incessant roar of a helicopter. My first thought is: ‘It must be somebody very important visiting the Mount Nelson Hotel.’ Then we see three helicopters, flying in circles. They dip water from the reservoir, fly up the mountain and release the water onto the flames that have crept around Devils Peak, fuelled by the wind. Every time they hit their target, we cheer them on.



The Cape Winelands


With the constant droning of the helicopters, bravely fighting the flames, we inspect our stash of LekkerBek Goodness. It suddenly dawns on me, that we have a problem with our Winelands Gift Selection. Andan, is thankfully not only beautiful, but also creative. She asks, “Where is the Blaauwklippen Road?” I know, exactly where the Blaawklippen Road is, I spent three years at Stellenbosch University driving past it on my way to Bikini Beach. So that is where we are destined today.


Our initial plan was to explore the Boland region today, so we will have to do Boland  Winelands, via the Stellenbosch Winelands – to Andanté a born Vaalie, this is all very confusing. As far as she is concerned, it all just vineyards and wine. We travel to Blaauwklippen – destination Waterford Estate, on Andanté’s recommendation. As we enter the Estate, after bumping along a gravel road, I immediately realize, this place means business. I stop, and paint my lips….. Can’t rock up looking like I have been on the road forever!


Waterford Estate is something to behold, beyond ponds with ducks and through an orchard you see the main building, with the Blue Mountains as a backdrop. And organized. We are met as we enter, and we state our case. We don’t have much time – will have to skip the seven tastings, but we desperately need to taste the wine and chocolate pairing. Their motto: “Embracing life, family, friends, food and wine”, and embrace us they did indeed.


In their beautiful courtyard, we are presented with 3 sets of wine and 3 blocks of chocolate. What you do, is take a sip of wine, then a bite of the chocolate that complements the wine, and then another sip of the wine – and you repeat the process with the rest.


The first wine is the Kevin Arnold Shiraz... mmmm delicious; top it up with a bite of Masala Chai Dark Chocolate... mmmmm sublime... Another taste of the Shiraz – this is good stuff. Next is the Waterford Cabernet, paired with Rock Salt Chocolate – just as good. Then for dessert you taste Waterford Natural Sweet with Rose and Geranium Milk Chocolate... This is what heaven should taste like!


We are sold; this is the best of the Winelands. Where would the chocolate come from? It is so good, it must be imported. The good news! It is handmade in Greyton, just around the corner in the Overberg. Fantastic, we lick our lips, wish for more, but we have two mountain ranges to conquer today. Thank You – we are happy.


The Boland (Sort of)

We by-pass Stellenbosch, drive over Helshoogte – just for the fun. Completely miss Franschoek, pop into Fairview, by-pass Paarl and drive through Wellington. Enough goodness for one day. Now for the scenic route. We drive via Bainskloof, just looking and enjoying. We stop and look down into the valley before us, and the ravine on the other side. Such beauty- just enjoy.



We pass through Wolseley – destination Tulbagh. I tell Andanté how we had to run out of the hostel in the sixties when the earthquake hit Tulbagh – the distance you could feel the tremors is insane. Tulbagh is quaint and beautiful. We have lunch at the Paddagang Restaurant, with an army of Blue Cranes. We pop into small shops, we find out that there is local cheese, chocolates, olives, and obviously wine. My problem at that stage is ‘Where does Tulbagh fit into the LekkerBek scheme of things?’  Is it Witzenberg? Boland? – I am confused, and we are short of time. We have been, we have noted – let us park Tulbagh for now.



We are in a hurry to get to Ceres – having read of Baba, who makes delicious jams. On our way to Ceres, we stop at an Olive Estate – new, smart and sexy – and we taste. Alas, the olive tastes of curry – and we depart. We also pop into a farm stall with local produce. The Tannie offers me Olive Oil to taste in a teaspoon. Yuk, this reminds me of childhood medicine. I suddenly realise the day is long, and my tasting passion has diminished with the day.


We find Baba in her purple house in Ceres. The door is open and a frog croaks to announce your arrival. Her house is stacked to the rafters with bottles of jam and chutney. You taste in her kitchen. This kitchen is used for cooking – the big silver pots are testimony to that. Baba has jar upon jar of goodness. Eventually, we choose. Baba, can’t give us a price, she must ask her son to fire up the computer. Tell me about that, home cooks and technology – always a problem.



Tonight, we sleep over in Worcester, with my varsity friend Pannie and her husband Mossie. We were roommates in Huis Ten Bosch. She has settled into small town living, and cannot understand that I am forever busy with some kind of business – that’s Joburg mentality for you! Mossie produces the most delicious salami for us to taste, made by a friend. His friend is in the Panorama Clinic in Cape Town, for some ailment of sorts. We will be in contact with him...


The Breede River Valley


The Nuy Valley

The next morning we tackle the Breede River Valley. First stop, farm stall. Nothing new, we have by now seen it all. Next turn left, into the Nuy Valley. We stop at Conradie Family Tasting Stall. The pergola is covered with Autumn Vines and we have to take a photograph.


The Klaas Voogds Valley

Back onto Route 62, roaring with Harley Davidson’s and long weekend traffic, making our meandering very difficult, everybody is in a hurry - you can’t cruise, you have to drive. Thank goodness we get a gap to take the Klaas Voogds turn-off. I have never been down Klaas Voogds – did in fact not know that it exists. First we find a succulent maze, looks interesting, but we are not into succulents. We drive a bit further, and find a gem. Signposted ‘Rusticus of the Land’. We are met by a dog, who accompanies us to the cellar. We taste ‘Rusticus Wild Fermented Merlot’. Gorgeous, and made by the family in the traditional way. This is what LekkerBek is searching for.


The valley looks inviting, and we venture further down, lured by a For Sale sign – LekkerBekke are good at dreaming! Andanté, notices signs about something ‘Olive’- so in search we go. We find “The Olive Garden” up amongst the koppies. As we enter, a lady exits from the kitchen. “You have an appointment?”  “No” we answer, we are just following our noses, and no appointments are made. She says: “Oh, ze gate was open – I help you!” We state our mission, and the next thing we taste the most divine olive oil and olive and rhubarb jam – ever. The Olive Garden is also a retreat, with the most divine cottages nestling on the slopes of the mountain. Run by Belgian émigrés, Gina and her husband Ferdinand. Klaas Voogds indeed has gems!



Next stop Robertson. We taste a chili something that knocks my socks off! Eish, too hot! We stop at the Cellar…… taste here, taste there, looking for that special something. Next, we find a stall, Andanté spots a beautiful bottle; trust her – to find the prettiest. We taste, it is delicious, Le Grand Chasseur Port, especially after that robust chili. By now, our biggest concern is: ‘How on earth are we going to get all this stuff back to Joburg?'


Ashton, Montagu and Bonnievale

We continue on our journey. Ashton, Cogmanskloof, Montagu. To me Montagu, belongs to the Klein Karoo, and that is a journey for the future. We are however so close, so let’s just check it out. We buy a beautiful basket, to pack all our LekkerBek shopping in. We pop into Montagu Dried Fruit, and cannot resist the colourful raisins. Now we are touring, I am positive we are overweight and flatly refuse to buy anything else.


Bonnievale is peaceful, and beautiful, with flowers lining the vineyards. Andanté loves it. We must have a Bonnievale wine in our gift. We can’t find wine that says it is made in Bonnievale, not even at the cellar. All the labels read ‘Robertson’... what a pity.



We must see McGregor – never been there in my life. All white-washed and quaint. We drink coffee and watch the owners prepare for a wedding to be held there the following day. I am a bit jealous, I could live here... I am sure... and get in touch with my inner self? On our way out, we miss the main street, and to my surprise, a squatter camp. Well, who would have thought that?


We head back to Cape Town through Du Toits Kloof. Tomorrow is our last day in the Cape, and we have to make it to all the food markets before we fly back to Joburg.


The Mother City – Cape Town

Saturday morning first port of call is Ouma Ala, a sprightly 96 years old. We take her a stash of goodies, bought on our journey. Happiness! She tells us, in the old age home you are always hungry. Even at 96 she is also a LekkerBek!


Our first stop is Willow Creek market in Durbanville. I am not a great shopper, and not very fond of malls. The market has everything you wish for, fresh, homemade and delicious. We are looking for non-perishable goods. We find Cajun Spice, Turkish Delight made by a Turk and more olives. We drive to The Woodstock Market at the Old Biscuit Mill. The place is choc-a-bloc. Our little car is loaded with goods, gathered over a week. We find parking, virtually on the slopes of Table Mountain, hoping the car guard is not a skelm.


The Market reminds me of the markets in Provence! Everything you can think of, and more. It is also a place to be seen and to meet for lunch. We push and shove, taste and taste, now looking for stuff that is light in weight and different. We find delectable cookies, yummy pesto, but it needs a fridge, organic wine, hanepoot grapes and a pomegranate. We buy flat Italian bread topped with rocket, Parma ham, parmesan shavings and drizzled with Balsamic reduction – made by a showman. We creep in under a little tree, and eat with our hands – Yummy!


Next destination, Tokia Organic Market. We drive in circles, and then we are in the forest, next we are on our way to Houtbay. Everybody gives us different directions. We bump in to a troupe of baboons crossing the road. The “Friends of the Baboons” are directing the traffic. A Lady Friend of the Baboons instructs us exactly where the market is – we’ve been there, just made a U-turn too soon! By the time we get to the market, we are too late.

Oh well, next time!


It is - as always when you have to leave Cape Town - a fantastic day. Off we go to Kalkbay – got to enjoy this last day. The Kalkbay Harbour is packed, people queuing for lunch. We squeeze our little car into a tiny space, and take a walk on the harbour. We drink wine and eat slap chips. Just sitting in the sun, enjoying our last special moments before we fly back to Joburg with all the delicious and special homemade goodies we found on this journey.



The LekkerBek Journey will continue

– in search of goodness.