Rina Theron proves that you can’t keep a good woman down.
Adversity sent Rina Theron on the road of transitioning from farmer’s wife to award-winning farmer and author. After her husband Marius died tragically in a motorbike accident in 1996, she faced the choice of do or don’t. Do won the day and at the age of 48 she took the reins of the potato and Brahman cattle farming business on Aan Het Berg in the Leipoldtville district.
Over the years her pluck paid off as she notched up a number of firsts: first female director of Boland Agri (now Cape Agri); first registered Sandveld female potato seed grower; first female vice-chairperson of the Sandveld Potato Growers Organisation; and first female chairperson of the Leipoldtville Agricultural Society. She was also named top producer for national markets in the Department of Agriculture’s female farmer competition 2000.
Originally from Knysna, Rina explained that adapting to the gritty Sandveld life was no piece of cake. “But somehow this area gets into your bones. Even though I officially retired two years ago, ready for a little house at the sea, my heart belongs to the Sandveld. So this is where I’ll stay.”
In 2007 she started farming in partnership with her brother-in-law’s son, Francois Theron. “Six years into the partnership with a bit more me-time, I finally could tackle the book I’d been mulling over. The original idea was to preserve the history of Sandveld life and its one-of-a-kind personalities for posterity. But I needed a unique selling proposition and seeing that there’s no love sincerer than the love of food, this proved the perfect USP.”
After four years of research, interviewing, writing and much laughter, Sandveldkos: Kosnostalgie en stories van gister (Sandveld food: food nostalgia and tales of yesteryear) saw the light of day in 2017 – days before Rina’s 70th birthday. Not surprisingly, the book was named Best Local Cuisine Book on the African continent at the 2017 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
As the title suggests, this isn’t a recipe book per se. It also contains profiles on born-and-bred Sandveld personalities who share their tales, humour, ingenious household maintenance tips and veld medicine used to cure a laundry list of ailments. “In those years, with no roads or shops, survival was key. And even though many Sandveld inhabitants were quite poor, they managed to cook wholesome, tasty meals from whatever was available seasonally. It was an eye opener! As it were, this book essentially is a tribute to the resourceful Sandveld women.”
Rina said her personal favourite recipe in the book was undoubtedly Jodetert (pg 81) – a Jewish tart similar to baking a rusk tart with baker’s custard between seven layers. “I also love Wasgoedbondeltjies (pg 46) – a square type of mince pie, curried bean bredie (pg 130) and not forgetting the Sandveld piece de resistance: potato fritters (pg 135).
Even in retirement, Rina considers boredom an insult to herself. Still living on the farm, she’s active in the community, keeps the garden ship-shape, grows the uniquely Sandveld bean variety called herebone and reads incessantly under the watchful gaze of Siamese Tweenie.
To veg out I read and write
My pet place on the West Coast is Langebaan
My favourite restaurant is Die Rooi Granaat in Aurora
I love eating steamed vegetables
My signature drink is a single malt whisky
Best TV programmes are Air Crash Investigation & anything on nature
Favourite reads are biographies, mysteries, John Grisham & Deon Meyer
To buy the book for R485, contact Rina on 083 6910808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Restaurant dining usually is a celebratory experience in its own right, but having a breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet at Bosduifklip is simply unforgettable. The authentic West Coast/Sandveld cuisine at this down-to-earth venue definitely takes the starring role from start to finish.
For al fresco dining, perch on stools beneath the impressive sandstone formation, home to many a speckled pigeon (formerly called rock pigeons) – hence the name – and savour the farmland view across the Jakkals river. At night, stargazing between indulgent mouthfuls adds to the romance of the beautifully lit venue. When the chill bites, sit cosily inside the old kraal, bordered by the old blacksmith shop – in itself an atmospheric spot.
The cordiality of owners Kobus and Aletta Engelbrecht adds to the seduction. Real virtuosos in aprons, they ply guests with fare from perfected age-old family recipes. Dishes that beg for more include braaied mussel kebabs; snoek and sweet potato; waterblommetjiebredie; crayfish; lamb on the spit; smoked angel fish; seafood paella; home-baked bread; and ah, Aletta’s exceptional souskluitjies (sweet dumplings).
Found 28 km from Leipoldtville and 4 km from Lamberts Bay on Albina farm (bought by Kobus’s great grandfather in 1881), Bosduifklip was voted the most unique wedding venue last year. Besides that accolade, this is the type of place where people come for the dining atmosphere but return time and again for the food.
Buffets cost R270 pp. Bookings: 084 7038311/ 027 4322735 or email@example.com.
Photo: Coba Photography
For a secluded getaway that exudes the unusual, Donkieskraal Guest Lodge & Private Game Reserve is it! This is your chance to experience life as a caveman or woman – albeit rather luxuriously – in one of three rock chalets featuring supremely comfortable bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, a bar fridge, as well as coffee- and tea-making facilities. The honeymoon suite even has a jet bath.
If safari life is more your thing, there are four safari tents with ensuite bathrooms, but refrigeration and cooking are done in the central kitchen. Die-hard campers have the option of pitching their own tents on one of five grassed, semi-shaded sites, each with its own braai area, power point and tap.
Located in a private game reserve on the third-generation Sandveld farm of Jan and Pieter Laubscher, guests are privileged to share their space with eland, kudu, blue wildebeest, zebra, red hartebeest, impala, bontebok, gemsbok, nyala, springbok and ostriches. When the sun sets, keep your eyes peeled for bat-eared foxes, caracal, porcupines, aardvark, steenbok and duikers.
All the chilling in your cavern eventually might tempt you to do something more vigorous. Hike or drive to the mountain top for mesmerising views of the Atlantic Ocean, Cederberg mountains and farmlands, visit Leipoldtville 13 km away, take a stab at one of the many other 4×4 trails nearby, or pop through to Lamberts Bay for a seafood spread.
Rates are R850 – R1 000 pn for the chalets (closed in winter), R250 pppn for a safari tent and R120 pppn for a campsite. Bookings: Jacky van Graan on 072 2200358, or firstname.lastname@example.org
1 In DANCING WITH NATURE Indoni dancers and outreach students expose contemporary African dance and music – 3pm, Green Point Park. Cost: free
1 Experience behind-the-scenes farming activities at ALLÉE BLEUE ESTATE MAY DAY MEANDER while snacking on delicacies – 10am, Allée Bleue Wine Estate, Intersection R45/R310, Franschhoek. Cost R175 – R335
1 – 5 Have a feast during RESTAURANT WEEK: Azure, Beluga, Ben Wei, De Grendel, GINJA, HQ, Karibu, etc – various times & venues, ph 021 8741021. Cost R150/2-course, R250/4-course
1 – 13 NUDES IN THE SANLAM ART COLLECTION shows some of the country’s best nude artworks – 10am, Norval Foundation Art Gallery, 4 Steenberg Rd, Steenberg Estate, ph 087 6545900. Cost R160
3 Powerhouse rock at FRANCOIS VAN COKE & VRIENDE with Jack Parow, Majozi, Fokofpolisiekar, Arno Carstens, Van Coke Kartel et al – 8pm, Grand Arena, Grand West. Cost R225 – R275 (photo: Jonathan Ferreira)
4 -10 DEEP CLEANSING JUICE DETOX RETREAT allows you to access your deeper self – Guinevere Guest Farm, Tulbagh, ph 084 2975736. Cost R10 995 – R16 995pp
4 – 5 The biggest range of indigenous plants in one place at the KIRSTENBOSCH PLANT FAIR – 9am, Kirstenbosch Stone Cottages, Newlands, ph 021 6715468.
11 SOIL FOR LIFE is a chance to spend a fun-filled day in a working vegetable garden with demos, talks, music & eats – 10am, Brounger Rd (behind Peddlars), Constantia, ph 021 7944982. Cost R20
11 Outdoor workout pop-up CHASE THE SUN is dedicated to mindfulness, stretching, toning and letting go with refreshments afterwards – 6.30am, Val de Vie Estate, R301, Paarl, email@example.com. Cost R299, R1599 (with accommodation)
17 Bargain prices for pre-owned books at ESELTJIESRUS BOOK FAIR – 10am, Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary, McGregor, ph 023 6251593. Cost: free
25 Get captivated at DON VINO PRINS – SAXYVIBES – 8pm, Grand Arena, GrandWest. Cost R120 – R220
31 Gently worn clothing at VINTAGE WITH LOVE – 4pm, Cape Town Cruise Terminal, V&A, ph 086 1110005. Cost R50 – R350