My morning started early, with me being granted the most amazing sight of a sparkling sunrise chasing away the last mist like the lingering stragglers after a really good party. This set the stage for a marvellous two days, courtesy of the Cape Winelands District Municipality
Mr Sondlo was kind enough to drive us from Stellenbosch to the Veldskoen Padstaal – an absolute gem in Hex River Valley (De Doorns), where you can find many wonderful crafts and gifts and food.
We passed through the gorgeous shop space to a surprising array of tables outside, set in lush garden, where we were treated to an informational by Louise Botha, the only registered tour guide actually living in Hex River Valley. Louise shared very interesting titbits of information on the valley, the history of the area and its part in establishing the export industry in South Africa as well as its current trade in the exporting table grapes. She is particularly passionate about the preservation and cataloguing of rock art to be found in the area, especially as much of it is found on her own property.
As Louise shared her wealth of knowledge, we partook of a wonderful farm-style faire of fresh bread with butter and apricot jam, eggs (perfectly fried to our preference), bacon, delicious mushrooms, and boerewors, served with juice and coffee (though the coffee was a little bitter for my taste). If you were thinking of passing through Hex River Valley, it is worth taking the time to stop at the Veldskoen Padstal for a hearty bite, and to browse some of the wares, or just to enjoy the displays.
I had to be pulled somewhat unwillingly out of the Veldskoen Padstal’s shop space, where I could have easily spent another hour, and a wad of cash, on their vast array of knickknacks. I ended up buying a jar of Rose Face Butter by The Little Indy Soap Shack for R45.50 and it is so nice that I would consider coming back just to get more and to browse the rest of the shop.
Klipbokkop Beer Tasting & Lunch
Although the drive seemed short, there was a spectacular but rather hair-raising drive up a steep, windy, rocky road to a seemingly plain building that belies the attention to detail given to everything that went into our mouths. Thinking about it, I imagine that they knew that nothing built could compare with the view, so they focused their energies on creating wonderful craft beer and delicious food instead.
We started off with a beer tasting of 5 beers that showed off PG’s (the brewer) playful side. There’s the Loadshed lager, Cape Kraken, a Belgian Amber Ale with hints of honey, Black or White. Which is not a stout, but rather a Vanilla Porter. Then came the Copper Dawn lager, which was my favourite and reminiscent of litchi. Lastly was the Madala’s Golden IPA, a new addition to the family, which had playful flavours like banana and bubblegum (it was really nice.. really it was!).
I’m normally not the type to tell you what to do, but I will here. Have the burger. The patties are delicious and moist, and are smoked with apple wood. They’re topped with a slice of bacon and cheese sauce and served with onion rings that absolutely melt in your mouth. Every bite was a treat. Also delicious was the Bratwurst served with parmesan mash and baby carrots, with a delicious real sauerkraut, mustard pickles and cucumber with dill. Delicious and all really well accompanied by a good beer.
One word of caution here – if you are planning to go beer tasting, make sure that you have a designated driver – this is not a road to be travelling on if you’re even the slightest bit tipsy!