Like scenes from the iconic movie, Thelma and Louise, Errieda and I let out an excited whoop as we saw the signboard “Vanwyksdorp Mall”. We never saw “the mall”, but rather found ourselves in the midst of an Easter market in the middle of the Little Karoo. Who would have thought? It was like stepping into a live film set of the locally produced Faan se Trein. “It is as if a production crew was specifically instructed to make this Easter market wonderland for the two of us”, said Errieda with contented surprise. We were in our own food and people Utopia!
Our first stop was “The Barking Frog”, for a cup of coffee. Henry informed us that the “Barking Frog” was open 7-days a week and sometimes an entire tour bus would make its way over the mountain pass and long gravel road all the way from Mossel Bay. A cup of coffee would set you back R15, a milk tart, toasted sandwiches and pastries could stretch the budget by between R15 and R22. Errieda had the chicken pie with a crunchy salad with fresh raw baby corn. What a marvellously, refreshing surprise – right in the middle of this isolated town.
Just in front of The Barking Frog, we met Pam Du Toit, selling her home-grown bok choi and deep purple eggplants along with her fresh herbs and purple cauliflower plants. I found myself wondering again in awe “… bok choi and eggplant in Van Wyksdorp?” Well, yes … I found it in the middle of the Klein Karoo.
Many hours later, with the locals still lingering in the beer tent with their ice-cold beers and music we made our way back along to our mountain retreat. We may have left our footprints in those very dusty tracks but it was the people, the food, the barking frogs that left their prints in our hearts.
As the sun set over this beautiful part of the world, I decided to it would be fitting to make an oven roasted lamb ribs with a wheat and green bean risotto.
Where is Van Wyksdorp?
Van Wyksdorp is located on the R327, 42 kilometers from Ladismith
The Barking Frog
Henry Jones 083 653 8009 | 028 551 2597
- Lamb ribs
- 2 lamb ribs
- pepper (I prefer white pepper , but you can also use black pepper )
- aluminium foil
- Wheat and green bean risotto
- 1 cup wheat
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (not dried thyme)
- 300g green beans – cut half in the length and then sliced in two
- 150g parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 250ml double cream
- Cook the wheat, salt and fresh thyme for about 45 minutes until almost cooked - the wheat should still have a bite. Add the beans and cook until the pot’s bottom is dry. Add the Parmesan cheese and cream and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until thick
- Pan fried tomatoes
- 200g tomatoes on the stem
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Maldon salt
- Lamb ribs - Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Sprinkle a good amount of salt on both sides of the ribs and rub it in with your hands. Sprinkle a little pepper over the lamb. Cover with foil and bake in oven for an hour. Then take the foil off and bake for another hour.
- Wheat and green bean risotto - Cook the wheat, salt and fresh thyme for about 45 minutes until almost cooked - the wheat should still have a bite. Add the beans and cook until the pot’s bottom is dry. Add the Parmesan cheese and cream and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until thick
- Pan fried tomatoes - Fry tomatoes over medium heat in olive oil in a pan until begin to burst open. Remove and sprinkle with salt.