What is it about a road trip that pushes my appetite into overdrive?
I pack padkos and start devouring it before I have left the suburbs, the first roadside farm stall compels me to stop for a snack and so the journey continues as I slowly eat my way to my final destination.
Cape Town is great, but the West Coast is traffic-free and is still flying under the radar of mainstream tourists.
I head for Blaauwberg on a perfect winter day and pick up coffee at Eden on the Bay, take a last look at Table Mountain and then it’s on to the “West Coast Road”, the R27.
When I see Table Mountain, I know I am home
Three farm stalls, two coffees, 158km, a rusk, a pie and a packet of fudge later I slow as I drive into Velddrif.
My first stop is the aptly named Bokkomlaan, where traditional bokkoms are made.
Bokkoms are basically fish biltong with a taste and a smell you will not forget. I tried some and it tasted much better than it smelt and I was told it can be used creatively to add a salty twist to a variety of dishes.
View from Bokkom Laan
It’s time for a late lunch and I’m off to Port Owen, just up the road and overlooking a marina.
Russells on the Port is not your average fishing village restaurant. Clean lines and neutral tones allow the views and the cuisine to take centre stage.
I picked a table outside overlooking the boats and started my taste bud adventure with one of the famous cocktails, colourful, refreshing and very more-ish.
Chef Charl Coetzee is a food artist who seems to delight in being creative with what is close by, in season and fresh.
“Local is lekker” and most of the herbs and vegetables are grown on site and prepared with a West Coast twist. Signature dishes include West Coast seafood from the safe Sassi list, lamb rump or crisp pork belly served with light salads or healthy veg. I’m not a wine drinker but an extensive wine list allows for the perfect pairing if you are so inclined.
Deserts are decadent, as they should be, and mine was a chocolate lover’s dream.
I declined an offer to choose from the wide variety of brandies to round off my meal, preferring coffee made with beans sourced from a local roastery.
Dinner was a repeat of the treat that was lunch. I was incredibly pleased bed was just a few steps away in one of the six rooms at Russels.
Morning found me on the R45 for a date with the past at the West Coast Fossil Park. Even if you have never wondered what this area was like five million years ago, this place is more interesting than your FaceBook feed on a good day.
The archeological dig site where the fossils of whales, short-necked giraffes, woolly mammoths, sabre-toothed cats and three-toed horses lie side by side reveals true stories that are so much better than fake news.
I carry on to the N7, make a left and get a little too distracted by the views while ascending the Piekenierskloof Pass. At least an hour has passed since my last stop so I pull into the next farmstall, the Kardoesie Countrystop.
west coast views
This is not a place where you run in to grab a cold drink and a pack of home-made rusks. I decided to sit down for breakfast which led to dessert. Of course you can have dessert after breakfast, holiday rules apply, and holiday rules say “there are no rules”.
Literally a five minute drive to the top of the pass and I am at my next home, Piekenierskloof.
You could post a totally average picture of yourself sitting on the deck sipping an excellent crisp white wine from the area as you gaze mindlessly down into the valley, or you could do that after you have got amazing action shots zip-lining along the seven slides that traverse the kloof.
Foodies, if you think you have paired every drink with all food types, then ask for Carmien Rooibos Tea at Piekenierskloof’s excellent Kloof Restaurant for a tea tasting that will delight even the most jaded palate.
These teas offer exciting new blends infused with herbs, berries and spices. The lemongrass and ginger, chai tea and vintage romance flower blend is my favourite and some flavours are available in capsules for your Nespresso machine. Tea is fast becoming the new coffee.
~ Take 2 days to get a proper taste of the West Coast’s Berg River basin.
~ Trail runners and MTB fans pack your gear as this is wild terrain with plenty of trails to challenge you. Creatives and nature nuts should bring photographic kit, binoculars and field guides.
~ Everyone come hungry and leave your timepiece at home because this is an eating, drinking, slowly savouring everything kind of destination.
~ Use the R45 when heading towards the N7 and stop in Hopefield, the town known for it’s slow living, wind farm and a church that boasts the biggest organ in the country and have coffee and carrot cake at the Moose Farmstall opposite the church.
~ Follow the West Coast Way Berg Route – and then add to your road trip the West Coast Way Foodie -, Culture and Wild Routes.
~ Visit www.westcoastway.co.za for information.
West Coast Way Routes
This post first appeared on IOL.
My visit was hosted but as always, opinions are my own.