Dassiesfontein on the N2 – if you visit one farmstall…
Dassiesfontein is a smorgasbord of THINGS. We’re talking room after room of this and that – from antique furniture through kitchen plates, clothing and shoes, to Victorian fireplaces. The venue is a veritable collector’s dream of kitsch and paraphenalia, so set aside at least an hour for your stop at this farmstall.
We piled out of the car, now desperate for a breather, to stretch legs and maybe pick up a quick munch while we were at it. Immediately I sense that this farmstall is not like any of the others we have visited on the N2 (and there are numerous between Cape Town and Caledon).
Outside looks a little like a ramshackle farm yard. There are chickens doing their thing, strutting around the car park as happy as muck, whilst a little further along various farm implements and a lot of what looks like aluminium pipes stand higgledy piggledy to one side.
Inside the farm store Tina and Francina are busy baking bread. The huge farmstyle brown bread dough stands in a large mixing bowl, whilst several tins stand rising above the old farmstyle oven – dinkum, I think it’s a regte egte Dover. Another series of breads have already made their way out of the oven and infuse the little room crammed with anything from bokkoms to jams, rusks and dried fruit with the pungence of yeast bread. Dassiesfontein grind their own flour and these loaves of farm bread are famous. You can also pick up a bag of their flour here too.
I should warn you that they also bake pies that are seriously good, so don’t have your lunch beforehand. I am not a pie fan – I think I’ve eaten one in my life – but these were worth sampling. It helped that someone else was intent on buying up the entire supply. Amazing what a little bit of competition does to compel one into a buying frenzy. We bought two immediately, just in case we missed out.
There is nothing so comforting as the smell of baking bread. However, it does nothing to lessen the effects of tetchy whining from my son, who takes it into his head to whinge for a chocolate when I’ve already laid down the law in the car about what he can and can’t have! We find ourselves outside having a typical mother-wee-son confrontation just as another group of people arrive – spare me these debilitating whatkindofmotherisshe moments!
Back in the farm store, son safely ensconced with Dad, I head further into the Aladdin’s cave – for there is no other way to describe how the rooms just seems to merge one into another. The store becomes a restaurant area overhung with light fittings. I pass through an area so dense with glass wear and crockery that it is difficult to take note of everything, and I can imagine that given the time, one could pick up some real gems here. I overhear Francina managing someone on the phone who wants to book a table. It seems the place is so popular that they only operate a first-come-first-served basis.
In the centre of the rather dark room I enter is the restaurant. Pretty wooden chairs and tables dominate the room, but surrounding them are stands filled with clothing and jewellery as well as a selection of candelabra that make the pulse begin to race (I feel the start of a secret fetish coming on). Overhead hang an endless supply of woven baskets and one wall is covered in second-hand books. To one side stands a chalk board filled with a list of local wines, which is why many people stop here, whilst the far wall is lined with an eclectic and attractive array of gift boxes.
The restaurant serves traditional boerekos, seven days a week. The portions are larger than large and include Sunday lunches that are three course affairs – goodness knows, you better hope your destination is not too far from here, or you’ll fall asleep at the wheel after such a meal.
Down yet another corridor, this one lined with a series of fireplace implements, fresh flowers and a lot of bric-a-brac; I pass the dairy. I don’t trust myself in here as I am a cheese addict, and we already have some delectable items in our boot. But here you will find milk, yoghurt, fruit juice and a range of cheeses. The dairy guarantees that its milk is hormone and additive free, all their milk is sourced from cows that range freely, and all of their cheese is locally produced.
On still further one enters a series of little shops, their shelves lined with things like vases, watering cans, coat hooks and spice racks, followed by a leather shoe and handbag area that would hold the attention of the average woman for at least half an hour. Home made women’s bohemian style clothes, felt handbags and decorative items, and a little dressing room finally complete the picture. This part of the farmstore is known as the boutique and includes vintage clothing, jewellery and beauty products.
Other bits and bobs you can pick up here include a fine selection of coal and wood stoves. In fact Dassiesfontein specialise in a collection of cast iron wood stoves that are practical and beautiful to look at. Their antique section is a collection of old kitchen utensils, enamel ware, tins, porcelain dolls, garden tools and Africana books, pictures and furniture. They also restore old furniture if you are interested.
We fall out of the farmstall having undergone something of an experience. As we leave, we spot a field to the left of the stall where there is an assortment of donkeys, great for children to pet and feed – make a note, in case you stop here too.
Dassiesfontein Farmstall on the N2 between Botriver and Caledon, Overberg, Western Cape