Hillcrest Berry Farm – Indulging In Berries And The View
Just about everyone in Cape Town has heard of Hillcrest berries – you can buy the brand in the frozen food section of Pick n Pay, and they probably supply Woolworths and Melissa’s too.
You’ll find Hillcrest Berry Farm on the crest of the hill of Helshoogte Road as you rise above Stellenbosch, east of the university town. And you’ll want to visit them for their high tea, their lunches and the unbeatable views out over the Groot Drakenstein and Jonkershoek Mountains.
The whole farm is beautiful. Most people don’t venture much beyond the veranda of the restaurant, which is attached to their shop – at which you can buy anything made of berries (jams, frozen berries, and yoghurt mixed with berries), their cheeses and free-range eggs.
But head into their orchards that chase the mountain up the hill behind the shop and it is even more beautiful.
If you’re prepared to venture a little, as we did, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views over the valley and mountains beyond. Not that I think that our jaunt up the hill, over their water pipes and into their orchards, is encouraged (there is no obvious path and certainly no sign indicating that we could wander) but when you’re in the presence of an almost seven year old, whose view of the world is that it is his to conquer, you do these things without question, and worry about the consequences later.
Photographs — Left: Views to die for / Right: Breads and other nummys
Surprisingly their berries are not planted in the ground as I thought they would be. Instead they’re stacked in rows still in their growbags, ready to climb the horizontal wires above their heads over the next couple of months. Raspberries, blackberries, tayberries and blueberries range up and down their sweeping orchards on both sides of us, and swing up behind us too. They’ll be harvested between October and early May.
In the meantime, everyone still ensconsed on the veranda is tucking into various food items, many of which make use of their own products in some way. My smoked trout and salmon salad comes complete with a beetroot and yoghurt dressing, peppered with their own labneh cheese, whilst the Grilled Free Range Chicken Salad has a mulberry vinaigrette (there is a mulberry orchard right behind our table).
The menu is rather extensive. Highlights include: Buttermilk crumpets with blueberry compote and cream cheese, and rooibos stewed fruit for breakfast; quiche, low GI vegetable wraps served with organic veges, salmon trout lasagne, homestyle fish pie and Cape bobotie for lunch; berry muffins, black forest cake with homemade cherried brandy or home baked scones for tea.
And do not leave without sampling their baked cheesecake, for it is quite literally ‘to die for’!
Photographs — Left: Frozen berries / Right: Free range eggs for sale
Our appetities satiated, we amble through their shop (which you have to do on the way both in and out of the restaurant -the undoing, no doubt, of many). In a freezer section one can pick up berries by the kilogram at wholesale prices. Black cherries, figs, blueberries, mixed berries, peaches and English gooseberries nestle side-by-side – each as tempting as the last. But there is only so much room in my two-drawer freezer.
Wall-to-wall jams, honeys and preserves are yours for the taking, home-baked bread, pre-mixes for bread, chocolate, and lemon curd. Somehow we manage to get four large, mature raspberry plants, a couple of little blackberry trees as well as a little fig tree into the boot and the back seat. My sister-in-law and son have to contend with viewing the trip home through numerous vines.
The Hillcrest Berry family business, their menu shares, contributes to job creation by deliberately maintaining intensive labour practices – all their jams are made in small pots and stirred by hand with a wooden spoon.
You can visit every day between 9am and 5pm, except Christmas and Good Friday, and you’ll find a map on their website.