If the sound of a cooking course combined with a relaxing breakaway stirs your senses to sizzle, then Food Routes – an online expressway to an array of ‘wine, dine and recline’ adventures across South Africa – is your ticket to unleash your inner master chef with a cavalcade of Culinary Holidays to indulge in this winter.
On a Food Routes Culinary Holiday, food lovers can zero in on such edible experiences as a hands-on cooking lesson based in a glorious setting somewhere in Mzansi and relish learning how to make regional specialties from the traditional staples unique to the area. The luscious lineup of novel nomadic cooking classes – on offer until the end of August – vary from gastronomic encounters in the Karoo and a Winelands whip up, to a culinary safari at one of the most renowned gourmet destinations in KwaZulu-Natal as well as a salivating stay at working sheep farm in the Cape.
“Our cooking holidays are ideal taste adventures to beef up a bachelorette party; give a fresh new twist to corporate breakaways, or to add some spice to your holiday with a loved one. Its home-grown stay-and-play adventures with gourmet flair and your ‘teacher’ might be a professional chef or a local who passes along generations of family recipes and a passionate dedication for African cuisine,” explains Stefane Kruger, co-founder of Food Routes.
The charming De Kaap Farm Kitchen in McGregor sets the culinary stage in the picturesque Breede River Valley with numerous casual, farm style cooking courses on offer during weekends. These include demos by guest lecturers over a glass of wine, followed by a languid lunch under the vine covered patio, framed by awe-inspiring mountain and vineyard views. Their monthly themes for June until August lift the lid on Fusion Cooking, Artisan Bread Making, Middle Eastern/Lebanese Feasts and Artisan Cheese making and the cost ranges from R580 to R1200 per head. Exclusive Food Routes accommodation packages are available at Mo & Rose at Soekershof, nestled at the foot of the Langeberg just outside Robertson; the 5-star Robertson Small Hotel, as well as the newly launched Penhill Manor at Toontjiesrivier, an original Cape Dutch farm which dates back to the 1840’s.
Or get your gourmet groove on in KZN at Thula Thula Elephant Safari Lodge, famed for its food and the peace and tranquillity that surround it. There the charismatic owner and French trained chef Francoise Malby-Anthony will teach course participants some of the latest techniques and tips learned from her annual visits to the LeNôtre Culinary Institute in Paris, whilst immersed in the pristine African bushveld.
Her course menu includes creative interpretations and traditional dishes such as Seafood Bouillabaisse Creole and Oxtail Bourguignon as well as sublime desserts, including the lodge’s legendary handmade Nougat Glacé. The course costs R250 per person and special accommodation ranges from R2100 per person per night.
Avid foodie travellers can sign up for a mid-week private cooking class with Chef Louise Gillett in the farm kitchen at Bartholomeus Klip – a gracious Victorian homestead nestled on one of the biggest wheat and sheep farms in the Western Cape that includes a 10,000 hectare private nature reserve in the Riebeek Valley. The thrill of an evening game drive and the excitement of the daily operations of a working farm add to this bah-bah-licious breakaway. This epicurean encounter is on offer Mondays to Fridays until the end of August and costs R1200 per couple, which includes a free copy of Louise’s award-winning cookbook, Life on a Cape Farm.
The untainted Karoo serves up a tasty trio of cooking options this season. Why not hit the road less travelled for a fat feast at the Vetmuis Farm Kitchen in Richmond in the Northern Cape, where one-day cooking demos on the versatility of game meat, Karoo game dishes and how to make the best preserves will hone your culinary skills with genuine country hospitality. The demos cost R430 per person, including lunch. After a fun day in the farm kitchen one can recline at the Vetmuis Karoohuis at R320 per head. Or book the entire house for R1700 per night.
African Relish is a Recreational Cooking School in the beautiful town of Prince Albert and its culinary hall is the only purpose built facility of its kind – a fitting retreat to awaken your inner Kokkedoor. Whilst soaking up indefinable qualities of hospitality, guests can get up close and personal with the culinary pulse of the Karoo with unique themed courses on offer for the passing traveller. These range from Karoo Classics, the Art of Charcuterie and Decadent Desserts, to a master class in Bread Making and Karoo Style Tapas. Accommodation is provided in African Relish’s own renovated cottages fringing the tranquil, traditional irrigation canals that run through the town at R1000 for two people sharing. The costs of the various cooking course are available on request.
Or if you are a foodie who is serious about what you eat and where it comes from, love the great outdoors and are keen on an African adventure second to none, then Andries Stockenström Guesthouse in the historic town of Graaff-Reinet and owner Gordon’s bespoke Veld to Fork cooking school will whet the senses.
Booking requests for the Food Routes Culinary Holidays can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Tel: 082 5427566 or 023 626 3498. Follow Food Routes on Twitter @foodroutescoza and Facebook.
Food Routes’ establishments are all cocooned in comfort and luxury, but are as diverse as their menus. Listings are by invitation only and each of the chosen accommodation partners has been carefully vetted and has an excellent reputation when it comes to culinary prowess