According to Google, the term “foodie” first started trending in 2004. 18 years on and foodies continue to rise in numbers as more people profess, and explore, their love for the world of food and drink. Hand in hand with this is the growing trend of culinary tourism as foodies seek out new and exciting gastronomic adventures.
Good news for foodies who are interested in exploring new places to try out adventurous dishes and culinary experiences, is that the Bergrivier region (which is right on Cape Town’s doorstep, and includes small towns such as Velddrif, Aurora, Piketberg and Porterville) offers some great culinary adventures set in beautiful locations, offered by warm and hospitable locals, using some of the finest local produce and talents.
“The Bergrivier region is known for its open spaces and dramatic landscapes, but it is also peppered with small towns that offer a massive array of culinary experiences to suite all ages, tastes and budgets,” says Nomonde Ndlangisa, CEO of Bergrivier Tourism, who provides the following insights on where to find the best spots to satisfy your traveling taste buds:
The hugely popular West Coast village of Velddrif, which hugs the banks of the beautiful Berg River, offers a wealth of culinary adventures and experiences to foodies.
On the historic, and quaint dirt road of Bokkom Laan, visitors can enjoy a meal on the edge of the Berg River at the eclectic and rustic Ek & Djy Vissery. Bokkom Laan is also the epicenter of the Bokkoms industry and no culinary caper is complete without tasting this traditional and unique West Coast delicacy of salted and dried fish. If you are less keen on the dried and salted version Ek & Djy offer a freshly braaied version – also a local traditional food. For lovers of a traditional dish, a must-visit spot is the River Shack Restaurant at Knor Varkie, on the edge of the river, where one can order a plate of kerrie afval (curried intestines).
Velddrif is the perfect place to enjoy fresh seafood served at a variety of establishments, such as Die Pont restaurant at the Riviera Hotel on the banks of the Berg River, Soverby Lapa on the beach on the way to Dwarskersbos, and Russell’s On the Port on the marina in Port Owen, which offers a fine dining experience. The River Market Restaurant, at Pelican Harbour, also offers South African favourites such as snoek pate and kerrie vis, or try the spade full (yes, literally) of chicken wings. Cheese lovers are in for a treat at Kokerboom Kaas where artisanal cheeses made from locally sourced milk are available to taste and purchase.
While in the Port Owen marina be sure to visit the Poetic License distillery for an artisanal gin tasting experience, as well as Charlies Brewhouse to sample the craft beers. For a sweet treat to round out the day, grab an ice cream cone from the Lighthouse gift shop at the Laaiplek harbour and savour it while admiring the fishing boats.
Visitors to Piketberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Piketberg Mountain range, can look forward to, amongst other delicacies, fresh oysters served with Cap Classique bubbly at the Org de Rac wine farm just outside the village. In the centre of town, in a beautiful historical building, is Berg Coffee where lovers of a fine brew can expect a premium artisanal coffee experience. Also in town is the Café Bravo restaurant, serving up a wide selection of freshly prepared food.
Heading towards the Piekenierskloof Pass, a stop at De Tol Farm Deli is a must to enjoy freshly squeezed orange juice and what is said to be the best cup of coffee along the N7 – accompanied by a warm roosterkoek with a selection of toppings. You can also purchase the highest quality farm produce to take home.
Here you will also find the tasting room for the Piekenierskloof winery, and visitors can sample and purchase these delicious wines, or enjoy a gourmet meal. The Carmién Tea tasting room is also situated here and in addition to the innovative and extensive range of herbal blends and flavoured rooibos teas – which can be enjoyed in an exciting tea pairing experience, visitors can try the two award-winning rooibos distilled gins on offer. Slightly further along the N7 is the Kardoesie Padstal, nestled in the Piekenierskloof Pass, which offers delicious meals from an extensive menu – to be enjoyed with a view over the valley.
Porterville is a quaint village nestled on the slopes of the Olifant’s River Mountains at the base of the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area, that offers one of the most desirable foodie experiences – bespoke cooking classes at Ebony Moon where attendees get to prepare the freshest dishes under the guidance of a gourmand – learning new tricks and techniques – and then eat their delicious creations.
Just above the village in the mountains, one will find Gin Smiths, as artisanal gin distillery where visitors can savour a gin tasting and tapas experience. In the village visitors can enjoy a meal at the Rendezvous restaurant or at Koppie Koffie – both serving up a wide range of dishes including wood fired pizzas, hamburgers and much more.
“When it comes to enjoying a culinary adventure in the Bergrivier area, visitors are truly spoiled for choice,” concludes Ndlangisa. For more information on the Bergrivier area and where to eat, as well as other things to see and do, visit https://bergriviertourism.co.za/bergrivier/.