One of the things you can always be sure of while traveling through the Karoo Heartland of the Eastern Cape is that you will get good food, fantastic hospitality and a full tummy. Visiting Nieu-Bethesda one would expect your meal to be lamp chops, a hearty stew or something straight from granny’s kitchen. So finding a place with inspirational fusion foods straight out of something you’ll expect on a Master Chef cooking competition was totally unexpected. Enters Barbara and Johan Weitz of The Ibis. Their little restaurant is called Stirlings and all their meals incorporate indigenous medicinal herbs and plants harvested from the veld and their own vegetable garden as well as locally sourced meat and produce.
I was in Nieu-Bethesda for a tourism meeting at The Ibis and afterwards Barbara gave us a taste of what they have on their menu in the form of several mouthwatering snacks and titbits that had us begging for more. Not just was the plates put in front of us, but Barbara also explained what each item was and where the ingredients come from.
The lunch included the following items and is expanded on with a full 6 course meal available from the menu. Starting with the cup and going around clockwise:
🌱Roasted butternut soup with Wilde Als,
🌱 Babotie Tartlet with spekboom chutney,
🌱 Veldtroos, a digestive tea served with Wildmint, wildeals, Veldtee & lemon verbena,
🌱 Grilled Zuchini Parcel with Handmade Turmeric pasta, oyster mushrooms and a roasted red pepper & Nasturtium sauce,
🌱 Locally sourced cold meat,
🌱 Stoneground wheat seed bread with Karoo bossie Charcuterie, labne with Camdeboo Zataar spice. The flower for the bread is stone ground at the historic watermill in Nieu-Bethesda.
I could have had a plate of any of those items, but my item of choice was definitely the Bobotie.
The biggest surprise of the day came with the dessert
🌱 Roasted garlic ice cream with a veldtee shortbread, and
🌱 Wildmint infused Pannacotta tart with a bloubos coulis.
Yes, you read right. Roasted garlic ice cream. And before you say “Yuck!” That was my first thought, but it turned out to be anything but. It was the best home made ice cream with a sweet taste of roasted garlic hitting you in the back of your mouth just ever so slightly.
Next visit to Nieu-Bethesda Stirlings at The Ibis is definitely going to be on my list of things to do and then I’m having the full meal and an extra scoop of roasted garlic ice cream.