I am a farm stall snob – I love them but so often find them disappointing. There is nothing worse than making the effort to stop and discover a half empty shop. And don't forget the bored employee guarding the 10 local jams, defending the honour of the Simba chippie stand with the hum of the Coca-Cola freezer as company.
A couple of weeks ago I stopped at the Thandi farm stall on my way to Hermanus and could not even get a wine list in rands. Only pounds, euros and dollars. I found that super cheeky.
However I've been longingly looking at the Peregrine Farm Stall (near Grabouw on the N2) for the last 10 years thinking that one day I will stop.
I love the look of the place; it reminds me of a Swiss ski-lodge but I thought what if it's another sad little shop. So I kept procrastinating until last week when the farm stall gods and fate forced me to flip on the indicator and actually turn off.
I parked the car and entered the shop with trepidation, afraid that this would be another disappointment.
Welcome to Aladdin's Cave
Instead I walked into Aladdin's Cave – yes Peregrine is the Aladdin's Cave of farm stalls. It's enormous and brimming with THINGS – delicious things!
When you walk in you are confronted by heavy big quiches, tarts, cakes and pecan nut pies so heavy with ingredients that it takes two hands to lift. Here you can buy a whole delicious quiche for the same price as a single slice at Melissa's.
And it just got better as I walked deeper into the cave of goodness – a chest freezer full of koeksisters, shelves packed with all kinds of freshly baked breads and rolls. I almost shed a tear when I saw the mosbolletjies! And don't even get me started on the biltong. I bought some long thick strips just as they put them out, perfectly spiced, dry on the outside and deliciously moist on the inside.
The Holy Grail of Apples
And then... there was a whole aisle full of apples. I am an apple Nazi – it's my favourite fruit and the apples we get in the city are horrendous. Even the Woolies Pink Ladies are the size of child fist and lasts three days. But I discovered the holy grail of apples. Big, juicy and so fresh you want to cry because this is how an apple was intended to taste.
Best of all they now have a little market every Saturday morning, which I discovered on my way back. More deliciousness!
I recently asked our Food24 readers to tell me more about their favourite farm stalls.
Marina loves everything about Die Daggaboer just outside Cradock in the Eastern Cape.
Leeann says the Purple Onion in Clarens is definitely worth a stop for jams, honey and fudge.
Mooiberg between Stellenbosch and Somerset West got a couple of votes, especially for their Strawberry Cream Liqueur that Nicola says is mother's milk.
Adele's firm favourite is the Piggly Wiggly in the KZN Midlands.
What's your favourite farm stall?
Ilze Dreyer is the deputy editor of Food24.com, a farm stall snob and a devoted fan of Peregrine.