Hanli Fourie, the owner of “Bites and Sites Food Tours” invited me to meander through the Stellenbosch CBD on one of the food tours that their company organises for locals and tourists. Initially, when she suggested we go to Dorp Street and Ryneveld Street, I was reluctant. I knew most of the sites off by heart and didn’t really think that there was anything new that she could tell me about the buildings. But when I had finished the “Foodies on Foot” tour, I left (hat in hand) with a feeling of true appreciation for the lovely Town of Oaks. A new world of exotic food and historical facts opened up to me, something I didn’t expect to find in a radius of a few metres. If you haven’t done a “Bites and Sites” tour in Stellenbosch, you have to. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a local for twenty years or a visitor who recently stumbled upon Stellenbosch. Make it part of your travel itinerary or organise it as a team-building event – but do not miss out on a great experience.
“Foodies on Foot “Kick-Off:
Hanli started the tour at Stellenbosch 360 (36 Market Street) by showing me the oldest printed map of Stellenbosch, dated back to 1710. The idea was to visit the sites on the map, and to stop at local produce shops where the owners could tell us a bit more about the processes involved in making their signature dishes and drinks.
“On the go” Bites:
Our first “bite” stop was the Eikeboom Butchery. It is the oldest butchery in town, dating back to the 1950s. There we were introduced to the lovely staff and the three sheep – Soekie, Moekie and little Black Sheep. People love coming to the butchery because of its quality meat. Tourists especially love the butchery’s Kudu biltong and locals enjoy buying its special recipe Boerewors (sausage). I can just agree with what the heading of a 1980’s newspaper article on the butchery wall rightfully said: “Magtig hier moet jy wors koop!” (“Golly! You must buy sausages here!”) We took some tasty biltong along as well.
Next we were introduced to the owner of M Patisserie, Martjie Malan. She opened her little French pastry shop last year in June, and has become a local favourite among the businesses in the area. We enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee together (in a cute little cup which I loved!) and were also treated to smooth and creamy chocolate macaroons, madeleines and my personal favourite – fresh fruit tarts. I was also delighted to see the mini-cakes that were on display. When Martjie informed me that I could take my “madeleine” with me, I smiled. The moment of pure delight could last a little bit longer.
For brunch we stopped at Brampton for wine. To be honest, I had completely underestimated Brampton. In the past I would order something from the menu and draw pictures on the table with the colour chalk, not knowing that they provide a wine-tasting experience right in the middle of the town. Even more surprising was the fact that you could buy an award-winning wine on a student budget. You get the best of both worlds. I especially enjoyed the Veritas Double Gold Sauvignon Blanc 2013, while Hanli and Yolandi Carstens (the manager) opted for the Cabernet Sauvignon– also a very respectable choice. Something that really stood out for me was how passionate the staff was about their wine and the story behind the Bull – Brampton Beacon Bloomer. But they can tell you all about it on the tour.
“Must Know” Sites:
In between the eating and drinking, Hanli told us interesting stories about some of the oldest heritage sites in Stellenbosch. I don’t really want to spoil the surprise, and will therefore only share a few interesting facts.
Schreuder house (named after my maiden name) is the oldest restored townhouse in South Africa and survived a fire that wiped out the whole town in 1710, because of the way it was built. This modest thatched roof pioneer cottage had a layer of clay on the yellowwood and bamboo ceiling to protect it against fires. The house was built in 1709 by Sebastian Schreuder, a German who later became the messenger of the court in Stellenbosch.
Another interesting site that we visited was the highest tree in Stellenbosch. It is a Norwich Pine tree which is currently over 42 metres tall. It was truly spectacular to see. Hanli told us that Simon van der Stel, the founder of Stellenbosch, was also named Simon the Tree Planter, because of all the Oak trees that he imported to Stellenbosch. He wanted to use the good quality wood for construction, wine-barrels and ship repairs, which reminded me of the current “Leaf a Legacy” campaign that Stellenbosch 360 is running.
Other fun facts that Hanli mentions on tour:
- Why no-one has ever built on the Braak?
- Where Market Street gets its name from?
- The oldest tree in Stellenbosch
- The history behind the Rhenish missionaries
- The history of the Cape Dutch architecture and how it evolved over the years
- The reason for the first Stellenbosch fire which wiped out the whole Stellenbosch
My favourite however, was to find out where Simon van der Stel first put foot on Stellenbosch. You will be amazed to discover the birth place of the town.
The tour ended off with lunch at the Coopmanhuijs Hotel. I walked in there and could actually picture myself living there in the 1700s. It had a homely feeling. We enjoyed a tasty Mezze platter – the restaurant’s specialty, with deep-fried Aubergine- sticks, strawberries, ham, salami, Schoon de Company bread, exotic dips, fried mushrooms, cheese and red peppers especially prepared for the Food Tour. The restaurant is also known for their wild mushroom risotto with truffle, their stress-free beef fillets (no jokes!) and Helena’s secret salad dressing.
(To end with: artisan ice-cream from Schoon de Companje)
It was a perfect ending to yet another eventful day in Stellenbosch.
Special thanks to all the people that made the “Foodies on Food” tour so enjoyable.
You can contact Hanli Fourie for group bookings or special occasion bookings. They cater according to individual needs with pre-booked tours running in the afternoons from 13h00 to 16h30, or in the mornings by special arrangement. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.bitesandsites.co.za/
It might be a great Father’s Day gift for the whole family.