When you have been stuck inside for days on end with the winter rain pounding the tin roof and the North-westerly howling outside, cabin fever is an inevitability. What better time to don your raincoat and head off for a meal at a destination that can guarantee warmth and good, hearty food, as well as an opportunity for some retail therapy?
DASSIESFONTEIN an algemene handelaar on steroids
Dassiesfontein is a delightfully eccentric destination – a rabbit warren full of treasure and tat. In fact, you can find pretty much everything there that you might ever need, and that probably includes the kitchen sink. The food on offer is quite delicious, rustic and generously portioned.
It is slightly on the expensive side, but the slabs of homemade bread that accompany every meal are nothing short of spectacular and tend to alleviate any wallet pain. Their coffee is also excellent, albeit old-school. It is served in tin coffee pots and you get enough to have a good couple of cups. I noticed on the blackboard in the restaurant section that Banting meals were also available – useful for carb-avoiders. However, be warned. You need to be very strong-minded to say no to the bread.[Sadly, I succumbed to the temptation!]
You enter the building by crossing a stoep that is crammed full of weird and wonderful items – from pot plant holders and pots to the odd church pew and school desk, the old fashioned variety, with the lift-up lid and the hole for the ink pot. At the entrance door hangs a huge bunch of bokkoms – with the expected fishy aroma – a novel and startling way to welcome prospective customers, one would think! But maybe their positioning is calculated, for as you step over the thresh old into a fabulously warm interior, you are greeted by the contrasting smell of baking bread. There is no electricity at Dassiesfontein, so everything is cooked in or on wood-burning Welcome Dover stoves, reminding one of the farm visits of one’s childhood.
Dassiesfontein started off as a basic roadside farm store and it sells a huge variety of what you would expect to find in such an establishment – baked goods, bread, jams and preserves, sweets and condiments, oils and vinegar, etc. But, the food department far exceeds average expectations.
You can also buy the cheeses and wines of the area, farm eggs, meat and dairy products and a whole lot more. Then there is the clothing department. The ensembles are a touch peculiar and hippyish, but definitely fun. You can buy shoes of all types, leather sandals and veldskoens [ They even stock the David Kramer red numbers.] to Crocs and they sell fabulous leather bags, rucksacks and satchels. If you wish to grace your living room with a glamorous chandelier or trendy pot or ornament, Dassiesfontein is a great place to browse.
There are Welcome Dover stoves of all sorts of sizes and shapes for sale. You can also find a fire grate for any shape of fireplace, as well as coal scuttles, bellows and fire-screens. And if you are into Kitsch, there is no better destination. The owners of Dassiesfontein are not scared of a bit of cheesiness! In addition, there is a kitchen shop, a garden shop, a toy department and even a pet section. Being an avid knitter, I was delighted to come across a huge range of cotton and cotton/bamboo yarns.
Dassiesfontein is close enough to Betty’s Bay to make a brief visit very doable. From Bot River you join the N2 in the direction of Caledon and it is on the right-hand side, just past Gabrielskloof.