Cradock’s ‘Nose to Tail’ festival attracts foodies

Karoo Food Festival returns 

Community cooks Chrissie Michael, left, and Michelle Oniwe will be back at the Deli Market at the Karoo Food Festival in Cradock next weekend
Community cooks Chrissie Michael, left, and Michelle Oniwe will be back at the Deli Market at the Karoo Food Festival in Cradock next weekend
Image: Amy Coetzer

“I’m coming for ‘sheep-stertjies’ and ‘turtles’ [skaapstertjies and skilpadjies] – and the train trip,” says Johan Steyn, one of a group of six friends travelling from Tshwane to Cradock for the Karoo Food Festival from Friday to Sunday April 26 to 28.

“We are an adventurous group of friends who love travelling, good food and wine. For fun we visit food markets and food festivals.”

The group last attended the Karoo Food Festival in 2016.

“We had such a wonderful weekend that we decided there and then we’d be back with other members of our tribe,” Steyn said.

“We are coming back for the fun, the great Cradock hospitality and the real Karoo food experience.”

When the Steyns and their friends heard the Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth train stops at Cradock they added the train ride as a part of the trip.

Festival organiser Lisa Ker has been in constant touch with them and says they have come up with an exciting itinerary.

The 14-hour train journey will bring them to Cradock before dawn on the day before the festival officially begins.

They will be met by personal taxi, theirs for the weekend.

The town’s Die Tuishuise will check them in early and a bountiful breakfast buffet will await them at Victoria Manor.

Exploring historic Cradock and visiting the Mountain Zebra National Park will occupy most of the day.

On Thursday night there is a performance by the legendary Silver Creek Mountain Band and traditional Karoo pie for supper at Victoria Manor.

On Friday morning they’re farm-hopping, beginning with a river rafting adventure on the Great Fish River.

This will be followed by walnut picking and a lavish lunch at Lowlands farm.

That evening they will attend the Brews and Braai party in the Theron Du Plessis event tent at The Palms.

This where they will find those skaapstertjies (at the VLV stand) and other traditional treats like afval potjie. Charles Garth, a leading light in Cradock’s Afval Guild, will present two versions.

If the Steyn group attends Heyla Meyer’s masterclass at the Palms on the Saturday they will learn how to make melksnysels and souskluitjies among other old-time favourites. There’ll be lots of traditional food to taste at the stalls, several run by community cooks.

Other masterclasses (each is two hours) to choose from on the Saturday are “Sexy Spices” with Kim van Niekerk and “Earthly breads, Heavenly Cake” with Karen McEwan.

June’s Culinary Studio will demonstrate how to make soft cheeses.

On Saturday night there is a choice of Karoo menus at several restaurants, but the Steyns’ group will dine in Victoria Manor’s candle-lit dining room. They are still talking about the soutribbetjies and murgbene they enjoyed there in 2016.

On Sunday, the group will head back to the Deli Market at The Palms to enjoy live music, watch free demos and attend a masterclass or two.

At 9am Robert Ferguson will present an introduction to making salami and cabanossi. Amy Coetzer will share her passion for funky ferments and infusions from 11.30am.

The group will board the train at 4pm for the return journey.

For more details on the Karoo Food Festival programme, and suggestions for planning individual itineraries, visit Book, e-mail or call 083-257-8601.