When last did you take a road trip?
With spring in the air and blossoms showing their pretty faces in the country side, I recently took a shot left to Elgin. Just an hour outside of Cape Town, on the N2 over Sir Lowry's pass, the countryside changes rapidly and before long, you find yourself amidst mountaneous hills dotted with pine trees, waterfalls, rocky outcrops and lakes.
It is an exceptionally beautiful part of the country that plays host to a plethora of outdoor activities.
Did I mention the area is also rife with glorious apple orchids and vineyards?
I could not help but get lost on the farm roads and between the little dexter cows (you are going to have to google them) and the ducks waddling down the road, I was swept off my feet by Elgin.
I had been threatening to take a trip to explore the area for the longest time, but it was only until I found a suitable gastronomic reason to put my procrastination to bed did I eventually "bust a (proverbial) move"
Whoever said food is not a grand motivator has obviously never been to The Hickory Shack.
Owned by Jay Haupt this spot is all about slow cooking Texas style. Their wildly talented pit master, Eugene nurses the pit flames like a new age alchemist to ensure the perfect, tender, juicy meat. From brisket and ribs to chicken wings and cowboy beans, I guarantee that your taste buds will never be the same.
It is a carnal, sensory and simplified space with emphasis on the quality of the meat, both in taste and ethics.
The atmosphere is as relaxed as your favourite pair of jeans with country blues playing in the background while the fire place crackles in in agreement. This is a place where you will get drawn into the slow lane and end up staying for a while.
The decor is beautiful with wood at every turn. I couldn't help but think it pays homage to the beautiful forest surroundings.
The tables are generous in seating and definitely built for extended family style feasting. More is more at the Hickory Shack and I loved it.
Now lets get down to business and talk food. It was absolutely phenominal.
The meat is prepared with a Texas dry rub. No sauces or artificial flavours are added to their product.
Locally sourced meat is smoked in a huge smoker for several hours prior to serving. The duration dependant on the cut and type of meat; namely chicken, brisket, ribs and pork with the brisket demanding the most attention at 30 hours.
The meat mains are accompanied with sides that are true to texas flavours. The cowboy beans are a labour of love and take 3 days to make. They contain brisket cut offs and their smokey flavour coupled with another side of buttermilk mash is what I would call a match made in heaven.
They have a sweetcorn salad on offer and (my favourite) coleslaw which is prepared with vinegar, cut through the richness of the meat with such sweet perfection - I wondered how I would ever eat anything else again.
Every side is a well thought out addition with a clear intention to compliment the meat perfectly.
The average spend is around R250 per person including a beer or two.
I had to try the pomegranate cider which I highly recommend (and to be honest if I wasn't driving I would have had another five or ten)
So if you are wondering what to do this weekend - why not take a road trip and experience slow cooking at its finest!
Just remember more is more so you will need an empty stomach and very big eyes.
*This blog post is sponsored by The Hickory Shack all opinions are my own.