The thing about small towns is that there’s not much to do, and so food and eating tends to evolve into a major past time. This is even more so when the town in question has drawn city expats seeking a break from the rush of N1 traffic and N2 housing eyesores. And so it happened that my weekend in Riebeek Kasteel (last month) turned out to be a weekend of eating.
Riebeek Kasteel is about 90 minutes from the Cape Town CBD in the heart of the Swartland country side, and is not short of decent beds for the night. Our choice was La Montagne, a delightful B&B run by cook book whiz, Christelle Erasmus. Okay, that should have been the first clue that the weekend would have a food focus. We were promptly shown into a cute garden cottage, detached from the rest of the house. Christelle gave her list of recommendations for the town, most (perhaps all) of which related to food.
On arrival in Riebeek Kasteel, we ambled through the town and popped into Wicked Treats. The eatery has a tempting selection of sweet treats. The cheesecake had the perfect texture; the triple chocolate cake was over indulgence, and the peanut butter shake was an excellent choice to wash it down.
For a small town, there are surprisingly many restaurant choices. Mama Cucina, off the main square, seems to be a popular spot with locals. Woodfired pizzas are their signature dish but they also have a changing chalk board menu. Fussy eaters, Banting dieters and people with a food intolerance should have no hassle in finding a meal to their liking. Bar Bar Black Sheep, Café Felix, and the restaurant at the Royal Hotel attract many customers too. Be sure to make a reservation in advance if it’s peak season.
Perhaps the most renowned aspect of Riebeek Kasteel is its olives. Olive orchards and grape vineyards adorn the valley. A few estates open their doors to the public for olive tasting. Kloovenburg, Het Vlock Kasteel and The Olive Boutique offer different takes on the blessed fruit, plain or laced with herbs, whole or in pastes and oils, culinary to medicinal. Check their opening times; some take a break on Sundays. To celebrate its bounty, the town hosts an annual olive festival (usually in May).
Breakfast at the B&B is itself a highlight. Christelle’s culinary skill and warm hospitality is set in motion as she prepares a different set breakfast menu for her guests (taking into account their dietary preferences). Think layered muesli, fluffy fruit filled pancakes and elegant French toast. Christelle loves her coffee, so expect a decent cuppa. And after a hearty home cooked breakfast, while the hours between meals by relaxing in the hammock with a book.