Monday, January 5, 2015

To Paternoster, to eat

I drove my mom up to Paternoster so that we could eat at Oep ve Koep. She had never been.

We spent the night at The Oystercatcher's Haven, a B&B on the beach, where I have stayed several times over the last many years (it has just changed ownership, so check up to date reviews if you're thinking of booking).

At lunch we drank wine we didn't know. Kookfontein - very good.

The wonderful bread arrived in its napkin of fresh herbs, with pots of farm butter and smoked mackerel and a preserved green fig.

Oysters followed, with the fresh syrup from sour figs (Carpobrotus edulis) and crisp Mesembryanthemum crystallinum leaves. The syrup, which comes from sour figs' fleshy seed capsule, is slightly salty and a little sour.

Below: this was a surprise. The broth is also made from Mesembryanthemum leaves, but this time another species, M. guerichianum, and called soutslaai ('salt salad,' in Afrikaans). I have eaten them raw (here, as an edible plate for marinated raw fish), the cooked flavour was unfamiliar - a little bitter and very, well, green. I liked it very much, my mom was less sure. I thought it worked well with the sweet nectarines and just-cooked mussels.

Later there was a delicate carrot bobotie, smoked farm-raised kabeljou (unsustainable, otherwise) and pieces of kudu speared on local sage, with the same sage turned into ash, as a condiment. To end, delicious traditional moerkoffie, whose picture I should have taken, as well as a taste of very special buchu honey.

After buying a copy of Kobus' beautiful Strandveldfood for friends in America, we headed back to our temporary home.

I took myself for a long walk.

Pink Limomium was in bloom, papery flowers improbable in the sand.

Below, I recognized lunch - soutslaai!

I don't have a West Coast field guide with me, so feel free to hop in with ID, below

...and here: tiny plant, tiny grey leaves, blond flowers, extremely fragrant; possibly a Helichrysum. Cotton bud-sized flowers. More fragrance.

In amongst those rocks out there live the local rock lobsters. Once upon a time I cooked them on a camp fire... I think those days are over. I feel too sorry for them.

The oyster catchers appeared on cue. Their wild call is one of the most evocative, especially at night.

We always scoff at their endangered status, because they seem to be everywhere, though never in large numbers.  Apparently they are returning from the brink.

And the place seemed to be swarming with rock kestrels. There was a family, with juveniles being pursued and harried by irate parents who wanted them to leave home, already.

 (Rock kestrels, rock lobsters, what can I say? There are rocks! It's evolution.)

I think the young one is in the foreground, below.

They could also be called kitchen door kestrels. Not afraid at all.

After my walk I sat with my mom on her little patio and looked at the view. 

And sipped the requisite gin and tonic.

And watched the fruits of her labours: The birdbath had been empty and she'd asked someone to fill it. Empty birdbaths irritate us. Immediately birds appeared.

The wagtail submerged itself.

The weaver went, as we say, te kere.

A wind picked up and the sun began to set.

We watched the waves, and walkers.

That night we ate out again, elsewhere, a bad meal featuring bad fish.

Fortunately that memory has faded and seems insignificant in the light of the bright things happening at Oep ve Koep, where integrity shines in every plate.

Go, if you can.


  1. Almost everything about the food and the beach seems alien to me, almost extraterrestrial.

    I have never seen such rocks, such beach vegetation, or eaten such dishes.

    What a beautiful place to visit first thing this morning.

    Xo J

  2. Splendid description of a very foreign day. HNY.

  3. Marie - you describe it beautifully, just as it is, but with an artists's eye. Love all the bird pics - and those kestrels from so close by! The 'gorgon's head' succulent is Euphorbia caput-medusa (Vingerpol). The others I don't know. The yellow knoppies thing could be Oncosiphon. I find that common and 'weedy' species are often not included in field guides - so strange!

  4. Perfectly gorgeous place - so wild, so beautiful. Love the kestrels. Must be like the end of the world, but with good food available!

  5. Funny, its like seeing our local birds that we have here in north of Sweden during summer somewhere else... so thats where you are eh... may even be the same birds traveling up here later on. It´s a small but wonderful creation.
    Gods Peace

  6. Just lovely. Thank you.

  7. Yay! This blog sure one of the best so far! It’s like I’m the one whose here and enjoying the beauty of the beach. Not only the Oysters look tasty, you captured the beauty of nature as its best. Greetings from Arizona!

    Miranda Farley

  8. First photo in ID line up - some sort of mammillaria?
    Beautiful shots as usual Marie!

  9. Love the yellow flowers on a cover of shells... What a beautiful place!


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