Slow Food In Sutherland
Our last day in Sutherland. We relaxed, no rushing, no pressure, and no agenda. Seeing what comes our way was the order of the day. For me it means just a day with the camera, making photographs of spontaneous arbitrary things that happen.
Call me macabre but I love visiting graves, you never know there could be a Knight lurking amongst the headstones, I tell them all they’re remembered, especially the children, or the soldiers who came from Britain to defend their King and Empire, history has forgotten them all. Lichen enfolds them now the way a parent should have. These headstones are the only evidence that these people lived here and existed.
We went for a walk on the farm. It’s so beautiful. We explored small things. The Boer War touched Sutherland too and there are a few “forts” dotted around the farm, one on the rise just above the river, a good place to spot the enemy while having a coffee we think, we can imagine the khaki’s lying in wait.
The river is no raging torrent but it must’ve been eons ago as the rock formations are really quite spectacular, I wonder about this landscape and what it must’ve looked like a million years ago, probably an inland sea teaming with all manner of wild things.
We see evidence of small buck, porcupines, dassies and I’m sure I spotted a leopard spoor too. From a small rise we look down on the village, so quiet it is here, only the windmill is doing its slow dance as it keeps to the tune of the icy wind.
Shortly after another amazing Karoo sunset we head into town for supper, here everything closes by 21h00 I’m sure there’s an unwritten rule about lights out at 22h00.
I made two reservations before we set off to Sutherland. On our first evening there we had supper at Cluster D'Hote, the recommended dish is their tradional Slow-roasted Lamb Shank. We were very formally welcomed by the proprietor, who reminded me of the waiter in Dinner for One, the rather formal Victorian Dining Room had a pleasant fire going, I was transported back to the early 1900's and thought of places like Kimberley during the diamond rush. Our meal was a good home cooked meal, nothing fancy but enjoyable.
The second reservation I made was at the highly recommended Oue Meule restaurant. Informal and cosy, happy voices drifted from the small bar and the publican was quick to settle us and offer me one of his shooter concoctions, which was really good! We would always prefer to indulge in local cuisine so the offering of Skilpaaitjies aka lewer in netvet (Tortoise - which is sheeps' liver in caul fat) prepared beautifully and rounded off in a Balsamic glace, perfect. Portions are large we were told, and they are. For our main course we both had Curry and Rice. Too much for me. Although prepared traditionally, it lacked flavour, (I don't want to say this too loudly but my helping was sightly burnt.) For a good Malay curry my favourite ingredient would be lamb on the bone (skenkel), we had cubed leg of mutton, although our curry was served with all the right condiments it disappointed. Next time it certainly will be the Pizza, the locals recommend that. We did end the evening on a very pleasant note in the bar chatting and getting all the insider gossip.
This will be my last gripe on the subject, what happened to "Karoo lamb" with it's distinctive Rosemary flavour? I wish eateries in the "country" and especially the Karoo would serve local cuisine, we don't drive hundreds of kilometers to dine on calamari and Kingklip, we salivate at the thought of having Curried Tripe, slow roasted de-boned lambs neck, Malay curries, bobotie and what could be nicer than a pot-roast, fall off the bone leg of lamb? Of course local diners are your bread and butter and their eyes look for "town" food. Just one or two delicious delights on a chalk board would do for us. Just a thought, in Paternoster local fishermen's wives sell fish and chips in paper, they do a roaring trade at the market, I'm sure there must be many local ladies who are fantastic cooks all over South Africa who might jump at the chance at supplying restaurants with good home cooked meals.
We’ve got the hang of the bed, we’ll sleep easy tonight.