Hurtling down the highway to escape the mixed-use mess that is Kraaifontein only accelerates your arrival in the Badlands, home to Klein Joostenberg Bistro. After that a web of roads reaches out to those other lands, the Winelands.
The Winelands are a picture postcard of vineyards nestled beneath jagged mountains. The Badlands are Free State flat. While these ignoble lands do include wine farms, Villiera for one, they are more of an appellation of first growth cabbage farms and agribusiness sheds. Here businesspeople have to earn their keep. Unlike the scenic Winelands, where they have already earned it, in far away places, and are now doing their best to lose it. Making wine.
On entering the parking lot of Klein Joostenberg a myriad of rose varieties overwhelms at specialist nursery Ludwig’s. For your marital home-to-be buy the pearl pink Bride’s Dream. When you’ve had kids Bewitched may be more apt. But if you’re a sweet parent the bistro may suit, with its big lawn, jungle gym and slides. Not me. I’m here for the pig, hopefully its cheek stewed with chourico and lentils. For the bistro is part of the greater Myburgh family business that also owns the piggery next door, as well as the wine* business. The piggery supplies the reasonably priced bistro and deli with steroid-free pork. This means it should taste a lot better than a cyclist.
Unfortunately there is no cheek on the menu today. However, there certainly are a couple of hog dishes that go beyond bacon and bangers. Tongue salad, neck chops cooked in milk and Jambon Persillé, a kind of jellied ham with parsley, come to mind.
The waitron is less exotic and equally unfamiliar with the menu. I settle on the charcuterie platter (R52), which comes with a wheel of prepared meats set around a fresh salad. Good bread too. A pig pâté soars with smokiness and the cured ham is salty and moist, without any suggestion that it has been pulled too early from the curing mix. A herbed garlic pork terrine is better than a prune one, which may be springbok. (If artisan made processed meats are your thing, the various pâté en terrine sold at the Saturday Neighbourgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill in Salt River are hard to beat.)
The roast pork and salami are a bit dull, while something that looks like a fusion of chourico and mortadella is barely spicy. It might be renamed Portuguese polony.
A hand-made top end pork pie bought at the deli (they serve them in the bistro too) is fresh with crisp pastry. I prefer the more common and mass-produced pork pies, the chilled gelatin preserve being the gooey attraction.
For kids, apart from the lawn, there are toasted ham and cheese sandwiches (croque-monsieur) and chips. If you don’t believe me click on Eating Out With Kids. For non-pork eaters there is chicken and most likely another animal.
That said, another children’s option – though not a restaurant – is the new picnic offering at Warwick wine estate, created by well known chef Bruce Robertson. Klein Joostenberg’s food is far better than the poor Warwick picnic. Warwick need a new pique-nique supplier.
Back in the Badlands, where Klein Joostenberg have prettied up an unattractive site, my quest for top-end pork products has mixed results. This is not really destination nosh but rather an on the way to somewhere spot, including one of those majestic Winelands estates.
Good for those who regularly do business in the Boland, even if it is just for a quick coffee or glass of wine, as it’s right on the N1 highway. Leaves the nearby Engen 1-Stop in the dust. Only open during the day.
The bistro’s food may have slipped after chef Christophe Dehosse, who was running it with his wife Susan (part of the above mentioned Myburgh family), started his own joint in Stellenbosch, called Restaurant Christophe. That is speculation.
*The wine business is Joostenberg without the diminutive Klein.
January 28, 2010
Klein Joostenberg Bistro
+27 (0)21 884 4208
R304, just off the N1 highway (Stellenbosch/Klipheuwel exit)
Stellenbosch side of the N1
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