Klein Karoo kos: 4 eaterys worth trekking to Barrydale for
With more than a dozen eateries in a town of just 5,000 people, Barrydale has plenty to offer foodies
Recently a former BBC boss, Roger Mosey, warned that the broadcaster could vanish entirely if it continues to rely on cooking shows and silly quiz programmes. It got me thinking. I watch large helpings of cooking shows, where viewers are offered a chance to scrutinise top chefs and wannabees in action.
I've realised that the food is secondary to the drama that unfolds, offering a good dose of competitiveness, tension, sweaty brows, frighteningly fast knife skills and intense pressure. The aim is to win at all costs and the losers go like lambs to the slaughter.
Recently I experienced a totally different picture of food in the small town of Barrydale, located on the border of the Overberg and Klein Karoo. It is home to about 5,000 people yet the town offers more than a dozen restaurants/eateries to choose from.
Here are some of the most memorable:
1. MEZ KAROO KITCHEN
Owner Michelle Berry has cleverly divided her home into seasons - the busy summer when it becomes a restaurant with tables crammed into the lounge/dining room (and patio) overlooking a tiny, busy and slick kitchen. In winter, when Berry closes for three months, it reverts to being the cosy home that she owns on the high street. Nothing cheffy about it.
Berry says she's always had fantasies about working with food. Her many years of cooking for a large family were her training ground - and she inherited the skills of her grandmother, who owned a tearoom in St George's Park in Port Elizabeth. Her mantra? Good home-cooked food using top-quality local and seasonal produce, inspired by Mediterranean flavours.
When we visited on a chilly evening, Mez was packed, yet unfussy and laid back; there were great aromas wafting across the room. Being in the Karoo, I didn't hesitate to order the lamb knuckle curry, which came with all the trimmings. Tender and tasty with a good bite, it was a generous helping, difficult to finish, but too good let it go.
Other choices from our table of five included melanzane, an Italian brinjal dish made with brinjals and tomatoes that had been picked from a vegetable garden a few hours before. Delicious. The other mains were a traditional bobotie, which was wolfed down, and a Spanish-style fish dish made with hake. Good choices all round.
The picture in my mind is of the five of us, spoons in hand, clamouring over a serving of homemade rose ice cream with an intriguing Moroccan crunch topping. "It's one item I can't take off the menu," said Berry as we handed over the empty bowl sheepishly. The secret of the topping is a blend of crushed sesame and sunflower seeds with aniseed, sugar and rose syrup.
• Visit 24 Van Riebeeck St, Barrydale. Open from Wednesday to Saturday in the evening. Call 082 -077-5980.
2. THE ROOSTERKOEK QUEEN
Roosterkoek, a dough made with flour, water and yeast or baking powder and cooked over the coals, is like a giant flat bread roll with a smoky flavour from the coals. Delicious hot off the coals and filled with cheese and homemade apricot jam. Or try the special breakfast option expertly made by Lydia du Toit - a breakfast roosterkoek crammed with egg, bacon and cheese. Wash it down with Barrydale's finest coffee.
• Visit the church cum bazaar on Route 62, heading out of town.
3. THE DONKEY SHED
You can't miss the bright yellow frontage of this eatery offering many delights - and some nice bits and pieces to purchase, including breakfast and lunch. A speciality is the vast selection of pizza - sweet ones too - enjoyed with homemade lemonade or a special spiced ice tea.
• Call 028-572-1173.
4. DIESEL & CRÈME
An unexpected surprise at the entrance to Barrydale (from Cape Town) is a vintage diner crammed full of memorabilia called Diesel & Creme. It's famous for its milkshakes in enticingly different combos (made in the caravan in the garden). There's more, a large breakfast and lunch menu, they make a mean variety of burgers, but be prepared to queue, such is its fame. Caution, it closes at 5pm.
• Visit dieselandcreme.co.za