Foodies, assemble! If you have a sincere and unbridled love for all things delectable and delicious, there is one Swartland destination that needs a space of honour at the top of your must-visit list. Please allow us to introduce Het Vlock Casteel – a beautiful family farm in Riebeek Kasteel where you can revel in the discovery of more than 200 home-made products that have been developed and produced right there on the premises by the inimitable Ansie Vlok and her passionate team of artisans.
Walking into the deli section at Het Vlock Casteel you’ll be excused for feeling just a tiny bit overwhelmed. Crammed to the hilt with everything from plum olives and fragrant spice rubs, to indulgent dessert topping and glistening jams, this is a foodie wonderland if ever there was one. It’s hard to imagine that a vast collection of tastiness such as the treasure trove you’ll discover within these walls came from the imagination of one woman, but that’s how it happened…
“I grew up with a mother who was a doer,” explains Ansie, who holds a B.Sc. degree in Food Science and put it to good use from the moment she set foot on the farm in the early 80s. “This rubbed off on me, and then I proceeded to marry a man with a constant bee in his bonnet – a creative farmer and BSc winemaker who thrives on variety. From the very start, we were able to bounce ideas off one another to solve practical issues that arise in the making of our products.”
What started as a cottage industry in her home kitchen in the 1980s quickly grew to the point where her boxes and bottles of preserved treats started to take over the house. It was then when it became apparent that it was time to set up a separate shop and kitchen for the business. So, when her children were all in high school in early 2000, Ansie moved production into the newly-built structure on the farm. This was originally intended to be a wine cellar, but ultimately developed into a sought-after venue and farm deli over the course of the next ten years.
These days, the well-known Casteel (which was modelled on the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town as a tip of the hat to the family’s Dutch roots) stocks a frankly staggering collection of preserved and dried olives, olive oils, jams, chutneys, ice cream sauces, preserves, rusks, raisins, fruit in fortified wine, and more. Even though production has been amped up considerably since the days when Ansie was doing everything in her home kitchen, every piece of fruit that ends up on the shelves is still picked, preserved and bottled by hand on the farm itself.
“I like to stay hands-on where my products are concerned, which is why you won’t find it on supermarket shelves all over the country” says Ansie.“I have learnt the basic principles of jam and chutney making from my mother – and the traditional recipes. I then adapted it and built on over the years. Other ideas come to me in the middle of the night – like my Apricot Bliss preserve that started out as a way of using the little blemished apricots that would float to the top of the fermentation barrel when we make our Boeremeisjes. My team of artisans also contribute; by now they are true connoisseurs who serve as my first tasting panel when we develop something new.”
Visitors can visit the Het Vlock Casteel shop from 09:00 – 17:00 Monday to Friday, 09:00 – 14:00 on Saturdays, and 09:00 – 14:00 on public holidays. During the upcoming 2019 Riebeek Valley Olive Festival, there will be no less than three venues on the farm where you can kick back and enjoy your festival spoils. Head inside to sit down in the wedding venue, take a seat on the deck to enjoy live music and an incredible view, or find a spot among the vineyards where you can relax with your feet firmly on the earth. Read more.
Order from anywhere in South Africa
If you can’t get to the Riebeek Valley anytime soon, but would like to sample some gorgeous Het Vlock Casteel products regardless, we’ve got excellent news – you can order it for delivery to your door anywhere in South Africa! Simply contact Jolise Jacobs on (022) 4481 488 or email@example.com for more info. Please note that orders have to weigh in at a minimum of 10kg to quality for shipment. Download the most recent price list and order form here.
TOP TIP: You can fill your own cleaned container of olive oil at Het Vlock Casteel – a great option if you prefer to tread lightly on the earth while indulging in locally-produced fare with a teeny-tiny little carbon footprint (the olives are all picked and the oil extracted on Môrester Farm!)
QUICK LINKS >> Website: www.hetvlockcasteel.co.za| Email: firstname.lastname@example.org| Telephone Number: (022) 4481 433