Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sneeuberg Brewery and 2 Goats Deli

Peet van Heerden told us to have lunch at The Brewery so we did.

We found it on Pienaar Street on the other side of the trickle of a river running through the middle of Nieu Bethesda. Past stone walls with quinces hanging heavily over them, past a field of goats, past a window in which a white mother cat was washing her four white kittens, and then pulling up under a pepper tree and parking on the steep incline beside the road. Walking past a shed where Vince is sure he saw a carcase of a kudu hanging, and up a garden path flanked by herbs and into the open-doored, cheese-filled but otherwise empty deli.

A girl appeared and told us that Andre was out shopping and that he'd be back soon. What's he shopping for? I asked. Baking powder, she said.

I was curious, because we'd been told pointedly that no groceries could be bought in Nieu Bethesda, and that we should bring absolutely everything we needed for our self-catering cottage. Not an issue for us since we were loaded with camping supplies, but still, my curiosity was piqued. Maybe the post office sold baking powder.

Within minutes a bakkie pulled up outside, filled with huge sacks of what might have been flour, but perhaps it was grain for beer. Anyway, a lot more than baking powder. This was Andre, tanned, friendly, happy to give us lunch. Where did you go shopping? I asked.

At the spaza shop, he said matter of factly.

Spaza shops are in townships.

What can you buy there? I asked in my white ignorance.

Everything, he said.

Huh. We decided we liked him.

Lunch was served out back on a picnic table under (another) tall pepper tree. A friendly but reticent kelpie dog came to say hello, a swing hung from a tree branch, an upturned child's scooter lay on the green grass. Water flowed in a furrow higher up the slope. We could see a vegetable garden and a raised concrete swimming pool on the other side of the lawn

There was no menu - we were offered a platter of house-made cheese with the option of kudu salami, which made the Frenchman's eyes gleam.

And of course we had beer, also made on site.

The chalky little goats' cheeses were delicious, and beetroot marmalade went perfectly with the pepper-rolled one.

Olive goat with local honey.


The salami was very smoky and a little too smooth-feeling for me, but Vince loved it. Bread quite wonderful, and good just with butter. Also quite addictive were the cucumber 'bread pickles': thinly sliced cucumbers, pickled. Eaten with butter and bread.

Another couple arrived as were leaving but otherwise it was very quiet, though I gather evenings are hopping. A sign outside reassured incapacitated visitors that they would be delivered safely to their various abodes in town by donkey cart. I think it was a donkey cart.

We stocked up on some droewors on the way out. Biltong was out of supply and they were waiting for hunting season to open to begin making it again. The hypocrisy of the game-watching carnivore. Kudu are beautiful antelope which we feel privileged to see in reserves, and we had eaten them for lunch.

But we did not leave feeling guilty, we left with a sense of utter relief. On two sides of a river we had experienced dark and light. The fearful and the enlightened. The one who feared the township and the one who shopped there.

Driving back to Doornberg we passed a woman sitting outside the police station, head bowed; an old man in the shade of a tree, staring at us impassively. The few shacks on the outskirts of that side of town framed sullen faces, and beyond them a waving man herded Nguni cattle by horseback. A complicated little place.

The dogged, overarching South African question and Damoclean sword: How to employ the unemployed. How to stop the cycle of poverty and its attendant evils.

To ponder the question, head off to Nieu Bethesda, eat some cheese and drink some beer, hear the goats bahing in the lucerne field across the road and the chatter of the employed young women in the kitchen. See if you can solve the unsolvable.

Sneeuberg Brewery and 2 Goats Deli


  1. Dit gee my hoop. En rede om daai pad aan te druf.

  2. Mmmm...

    I clicked the link and love that "the distances given are as the crow flies..." Not the sort of direction one gets with Holiday inns or Hiltons!

  3. The contrasts on this trip are so unsettling, and you write about them compellingly. The elegance of scenes, the backstory of S.A., the interactions with people you meet.... I leave your blog uneasy, but intrigued. The pictures are beautiful, writing even better.

  4. I love the decor and atmosphere of that place! I wish I could live there!

  5. Estorbo's mom -- or "wooman": I have been through and read your recent blogs. You are truly such a talented writer! Your episode in the post office was, moving, unsettling and left me wondering why we always seem to think we can fix the politics of another's country when we have never lived there. I know you lived there and you had the right to speak. Sometimes it is shocking to think that others do not think as we do.
    I could never go back to England to live again. It is just not the same country we left 50 years ago -- yet I do long to see my village one more time before I can't travel any more.

    Oh and goat cheese and honey! Sounds wonderful. I may just try it.

    I love your blogs, photos and Estorbo.

  6. those cheese photo's made my mouth water. what an AMAZING looking place!

  7. Marie; Please write a book on your travels through Africa and exploration of the natural geography. Your words are magic and so descriptive of the locations you visit. I find myself transported into your setting with each post. Please, put your travel logs into hard back form much like Alexandre Poissin did in his book, "African Trek". He walked from the tip of South Africa to the Nile delta and filled the readers with stories of the local people and cultures. Your descriptions are even more captivating than his.

  8. Thanks for stopping by Keewee's Garden. Here is the link to a post I put up on the wall of water plant protectors.

  9. jvdh - dis 'n mooi pad, en glad nie rof nie. Bly op Doornberg.

    m.heart - hope you got that cleaned up :-)

    dinahmow - ja, that was a bit funny!

    Laurrie - I am really glad that you are finding the virtual trip a compelling one. It is hard to 'explain' a country, any country.

    Thomas - and the soil is really rich, too. Imagine your garden!

    ChrisJ - I would probably have jumped in if I'd heard this in any country. I'm a jumper inner. I hope you do see your village again...There are so many parts of England that remain very beautiful. But going back (home) is never easy - we carry so many expectations with us: a sure recipe for inner trouble.

    Julie - wish I had some now, actually :-)

    Iona - tip of Africa to the Nile Delta, huh? On foot: phew. We're just tootling around at the tip, really. With air conditioning. :-) Thank you for your encouragement, though. Well need to do a bit more traveling first ...

    Keewee - very helpful, thank you!

  10. Mouth waterings pics as usual, well maybe more than usual for the cheese photos. That main room with the dog on the sofa is just perfect and inviting.


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