There’s a crooked little café on a Cape Point farm that will take you back to a time when food was real and people asked your name. In fact the owners of The Scone Shack, Karl and Cara Odendaal, will ask for your name before inviting you to relax and sample their scones served with homemade pineapple and ginger jam.
The multi-paned Scone Shack with its jumble of repurposed window frames sits lightly among the huge succulent collection at Lalaphanzi Succulent Nursery near Cape Point.
There’s an appetising smell of scones baking in the wood-fired oven, chickens pecking at crumbs on the ground and a small farm dam where boys are messing about in boats and a thirsty dog lapping at the water.
I first saw The Scone Shack on Instagram when my friend Joy (who owns Faithjuice “juice in jars”) at Noordhoek Farm Village posted some images. There were no captions, just “Scone Shack”, but as a fan of higgledy-piggledy houses, tiny homes and living lightly I had to see it for myself.
Early one sunny Sunday morning we set off for The Scone Shack via Simon’s Town, with a stop-off at the recently opened zero-waste store, The Conscious Co-op. This is a sister shop to The Daily Goods Store in Muizenberg and a great place to go for dry goods, fresh veggies and flowers and a range of zero-waste productss.
Leaving Simon’s Town and hugging the coastline over Smitswinkel Bay we sailed past a long queue of cars at the gates to Cape Point and glided along a tree-lined road. Thanks to me yelling “Slow down!” we spotted a series of small signs on the right and a dirt lane that led us to Lalaphanzi Succulent Nursery and The Scone Shack, sitting beside a small farm dam.
“I bought the farm nearly 30 years ago, when I was a chef on motor yachts in the Caribbean and Mediterranean,” explains Karl Odendaal who runs The Scone Shack with his wife, Cara. “At the time, the farm was covered in dense alien bush and over the years, I’ve been steadily clearing it. I’ve always lived off the grid and re-used, re-purposed and recycled materials and the first house I built on the farm was a tree house.”
Lalaphanzi Succulent Nursery opened in March 2018 and The Scone Shack soon followed for “those parched ones who need replenishment after browsing for succulents”.
“I had always intended to open something here, but didn’t want the intensity of a restaurant. I trained from the age of 13 under Ming Taylor at Almondbury restaurant in Lakeside and was always inspired by her take on desserts: offering simply and consistently delicious treats,” says Karl.
“Desserts are my favourite part of a meal and I often have it as the first course: I wanted to create a space where having a treat is the occasion.
“The shack used to be my labourer’s accommodation, and when he left I decided to remodel it and make the kitchen.
“A carpenter friend had some old sash windows standing around in his garden, so I asked if I could take them and used them to create the conservatory. Everything is made from scraps of wood from around the farm and other repurposed materials.”
“We are completely off the grid: solar power for the electrics and alien wood for the wood burning oven.
“The oven was designed by a late friend (Peter Rutherford) and we use it to bake everything. It takes some experience and skill to manage the temperature, but we’ve got it down to a fine art. We bake new batches of scones (both traditional and the vegan and gluten-free options) as needed throughout the day.
Karl and Cara make all the jams in a potjie on the fire with seasonal fruit and as little sugar as possible. The jams currently in stock are spiced pineapple; apple and cinnamon; pawpaw, pineapple and ginger; pear and star anise and a variety of marmalades, including Hot Toddy Marmalade with lemon, whisky and honey. They are only for sale from The Scone Shack, along with free-range, organic eggs (the chickens roam free and feed themselves by foraging.
You won’t get the scone recipe out of Karl. “Our scone recipes (including the vegan and gluten free options) are what we’ve worked on and tweaked until the results are scrumptious. We use only the best and most responsibly sourced ingredients. And sadly I can’t share the recipe,” says Karl.
The scones come with butter, cream and homemade jam (vegan scones with coconut cream); the carrot cake has a lemon zest, cream cheese frosting; a Cape Brandy Pudding comes with cream or ice cream and a Pecan Pie with ice cream.
“In summer, we’ll offer a savoury scones with cheese and a preserve. Our juices are absolutely fresh as they are made to order. We also offer great coffee (plunger only – simple is how we do it), a large selection of teas, hot chocolate, chai latte, milkshakes and homemade iced tea.
“We don’t do takeaways and we encourage people to take off their shoes, have a little stroll and take the time to enjoy the environment.”
Ah, but the scones are the thing. Served straight from the oven to the table, they are just right.
Sitting in the enchanted garden nestled next to The Scone Shack, drinking strong plunger coffee and eating just-warm scones with homemade pineapple jam and a dab of cream, I was a very happy customer.
Where is it?
It’s near the main entrance at Cape Point, drive slowly or you’ll miss the signs. The Scone Shack is off the grid on Lalaphanzi Farm, Plateau Rd, Cape Point 34°14’39” S, 18°26’3” E. Karl and Cara Odendaal 0790451318
Payment is cash-only (“or you can do an EFT when you get home”).
This story was originally published on Daily Maverick.
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