21 June 2013 by Denise Slabbert

Fine veld food and Darling wines

Ever had a salad made with bokhorinkies or spinach soup served with bokkoms? Well, you don’t know what you’re missing. Book your table at the Geelbek Restaurant in the beautiful West Coast National Park and discover the joys of ‘veld food’.

Delicious traditional West Coast fare paired with fynbos-inspired wines

If you like your food and wine and just happen to be travelling through the West Coast National Park this winter, you might want to stop off at the much-loved Geelbek Restaurant, which is situated on the Langebaan lagoon (less than 100km from Cape Town) in a Cape Dutch building that dates back to 1744. 

Owner Elmarie Leonard has created menus inspired by the natural surroundings, which include elements of ‘veld food’ that are true to the region. She believes that using the best of local produce and traditional recipes passed down through the ages are at the heart of the restaurant's offering.

There are plants growing in this area that have medicinal value and have been used over thousands of years, from one generation to the next.

For Elmarie, 'veld food' means using ingredients grown in the regional Cape Floral Kingdom – many of the herbs are picked from the restaurant's garden or in the veld (grasslands).

Says Elmarie: 'I call it veld food or Khoi [indigenous pastoral people who once roamed these parts] cooking. Our brand is essentially "Taste your Roots", and using fresh, local ingredients is very important to us. There are plants growing in this area that have medicinal value and have been used over thousands of years, from one generation to the next – and, of course, some of these are used in our traditional local West Coast cuisine.'

Favourite traditional dishes at the restaurant include denningsvleis (Malay-inspired lamb dish), traditional bobotie (spiced mince dish with an egg topping) and Cape Malay chicken curry.

Geelbek prepares different menus for different seasons – in the winter months you'll get to taste its delicious oxtail in red wine, venison pie or waterblommetjie bredie (stew using 'water flowers' from the region); and in summer you can try springbok carpaccio with local melon and rooibos tea reduction or a delectable dessert using port combined with figs from the local area. The restaurant serves only local fish – Elmarie believes in responsible/sustainable fishing (and eating). She suggests sampling the local wines, while patrons can also enjoy Darling Brew, brewed in the nearby town of Darling.

Traditional West Coast fish dishes are on the menu

The good news is that Geelbek is offering two fantastic winter food and wine pairing events, combining wines from Darling Cellars and Groote Post.

On 23 June is a pairing evening with Darling Cellars that includes the following dishes and wines: cream of dune spinach soup served with a hint of bokkoms (dried fish), rice, wild mushroom, chilli and parmesan cheese, paired with a Darling Cellars Chardonnay; perdevoetjies (limpets similar to abalone that can only be fished with a permit) in white wine and leek sauce served with a warm salad of veldt* bulbs, paired with a Darling Chenin Blanc; slow-cooked lamb-shank pie served with potato and wild garlic au gratin served with kattekruid (a herb-like plant) and red wine jus, paired with a Darling Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon; and wilddagga chocolate torte served with a warm orange syrup, paired with Darling Chocolate Pinotage.

Fresh local produce is part of every menu at Geelbek Restaurant

On the evening of 20 July it's time for Groote Post wines to shine alongside Elmarie’s menu, which includes: braised veldkool (wild asparagus), waterblommetjies and wild onion and garlic smoor served with goat's cheese, paired with a Groote Post Wooded Chardonnay; pan-fried harder stuffed with green pepper and feta cheese served with old Cape fish sauce served with a veld salad of bokhorinkies, slymstok and suring (all plants used by the Khoi), paired with a Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc; roasted springbok in a red wine jus served with wild rosemary, veldt sweet potato, wild garlic, chilli and wild onions, paired with a Groote Post Shiraz/Old Man’s Red blend; and honeycake pudding served with ginger cream and rooibos and buchu (a type of fynbos) syrup, paired with a Groote Post Unwooded Chardonnay.

The food and wine pairing evenings take place from 18h00 and cost R300 per person. There is no entry fee for visitors entering the West Coast National Park to attend these tastings.

It’s also a good idea to spend the night inside the park at the Duinepos Cottages. There is a special winter rate on offer, starting at R915 for a chalet that sleeps four persons.

No doubt Geelbek will have more of these special evenings, so keep an eye its website or contact Elmarie Leonard on +27 (0)22 772 2134 or email geelbekrestaurant@telkomsa.net.

You can also visit Geelbek Restaurant any time of the year (advisable to book first) for authentic home-grown West Coast cooking.

* spelled veld or veldt

The exquisite Cape Dutch building that houses Geelbek Restaurant. All images courtesy Geelbek Restaurant/West Coast National Park

Category: Food & Wine

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