20 June 2014 by Andrea Weiss

Swellendam for foodies

The Overberg town of Swellendam has become a popular rural retreat for urbanites and consequently is developing a culinary culture of note.

Teatime treats at Pennantwing

There are countless stories in Swellendam of people who have decided to relocate to this pretty little Western Cape town after just a fleeting visit.

Like the folk who bought a nursery after a one-night stay. Or the couple from the United Kingdom who stayed in a guest house that just happened to be on sale. They went home, considered their options, bought the guest house and have returned to live full time.

This, combined with a mild climate and fertile surrounds, and it's no wonder that Swellendam has started to develop a culinary culture. Sit up Stellenbosch and Stanford, and take note.

Here's just a sample of what's on offer...

Pennantwing's owners Louis and Geoff greet some guests

Pennantwing is a restaurant and gift shop in the main street where Johannesburg emigrees Louis Botha and Geoff Visser have chosen to put down their roots. 

They looked all over South Africa before settling on Swellendam and now turn out delicious bakes and light lunches. You can also browse through their handmade linen gifts, or even order customised monogrammed items.

Pennantwing's sesame chicken wraps are a popular lunch dish

Opposite is the Honey Shop, dedicated to beekeeping and honeys made from everything from  fynbos to orange blossom and even onion flowers! Owner Jaco Wolfaardt is not often there, though, because he's tending to his some 1 000 hives in the surrounding countryside.

The Honey Shop in Swellendam

Another Swellendam highlight is high tea at the five-star boutique hotel, Schoone Oordt, a treat on offer to any guests who stay there. Its macaroons are legendary.

Schoone Oordt's delectable high tea offering

Then there's De Companjie, where you can get the best steak ever. This is because the Van der Merwe family who own it bring down their own beef and kudu venison from their farm in the Northern Cape. They also serve a fine cheesecake.

Cheesecake at De Companjie restaurant

Further afield, you can visit the old mission village of Suurbraak (about 20km east of Swellendam). Suurbraak was established by the London Missionary Society in 1812 and once had flourishing market gardens. There are plans to rejuvenate the area with a berry-farming project. 

The horse Beauty and her cow friend Meisie in Suurbraak

Paradise Organics in Suurbraak is a great breakfast stop. It serves plunger coffee, local jams and honey, and great bacon and eggs.

Breakfast at Paradise Organics

From here, it's not far to the Tradouw Pass, a scenic mountain route that takes you to the Little Karoo and the town of Barrydale next to the R62 road. This little town, too, has its foodie highlights, like the retro Diesel & Crème roadhouse, which is gaining a reputation for its milkshakes and waffles.

The retro chic of Diesel and Crème
A confectionary delight at Diesel & Crème

For those who enjoy a good glass of wine and Mediterranean-style eats with a local twist, then a visit to the alfresco deli at the Joubert-Tradauw Winery just outside Barrydale will be just the ticket.

Mediterranean fare at the alfresco deli at Joubert-Tradauw winery

There's nothing quite like sipping a fine glass of wine in the autumn sun.

The terrace at Joubert-Tradauw

And if all that dashing about has you exhausted, you could always repair to your comfortable room, like this one at Gaikou Lodge next to the Marloth Nature Reserve, where you'll find fresh popcorn, marshmallows and a good selection of DVDs waiting for you.

Home comforts at Gaikou Lodge

Category: Attractions, Food & Wine

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