Where to go on your next trip

I was recently asked where I want to travel to next. This question was difficult as, when it comes to travelling, any destination is an opportunity for discovery, inspiration, learning, adventure, relaxation or all of these combined!

As travel time is limited, the decision on where to go shouldn’t be taken lightly. Travelling Mystery Guest has compiled a list of criteria to help narrow down your options.

Consider your budget

Knowing how much you have to spend will help you decide where to go on your next trip. Considering what you want to spend your money on is just as important.  Some prefer to travel for longer rather than spending money on expensive meals and accommodation. Others will splurge on luxury accommodation and top restaurants even if it means a shorter stay. Only you can decide what is worth spending your hard earned money on.

Ask yourself why

Why do you want to travel? Do you want to learn something new or relax and get a tan? Do you want an adventure? Have fun with friends or travel solo? Have a break from work or reconnect with a loved one? Knowing why you want to travel makes the decision of which destination to go to much easier.

How far do you want to go?

Travelling doesn’t have to include long flights. South Africa is such a diverse country and if you do a bit of research, you’ll see that you most likely haven’t explored half of it. Decide whether you want to travel domestically, visit our neighbouring countries or go for something completely different abroad.

Decide on your preferred environment

City, beach or countryside? Cold or hot weather? Not everyone is enthusiastic about snowy, cold weather and are drawn to warmer climates. Think of the weather, landscape and style of the destination you want to visit to narrow down your travel choices.

Different or familiar culture?

It’s important to consider whether you want to visit a country that has a similar culture to yours or experience something different from what you are used to. Being in a country with an unfamiliar culture can be lonesome and stressful but it can also be incredibly exciting and inspirational. Do thorough research on the culture of the destinations you are considering before making a decision.

So much to do…

Time is precious when travelling, so plan your travel activities wisely. If you want explore the outdoors, think of travelling to a destination that is known for great hiking routes. If a great culinary experience is what you are after, look for destinations that have a reputation for excellent cuisine. If you are interested in art, consider travelling to cities with the world’s major art galleries. Decide on activities and organize your trip around them.

Wherever you go, make the most of the experience. Remember – you’ll only regret the things you didn’t do so have an open mind and broaden your travel wishes.

 

Written by: Katrien Nel

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The best food for the winter chills

Edith Sitwell said: “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is time for home.”

Here are a couple of places where you will feel at home this winter:

Constantia Glen

Enhance your winter wine tasting experience at Constantia Glen and tuck into a trio of delicious homemade soups. These hearty treats, on offer until the end of August, are a good reason to visit this picturesque boutique wine estate.

Available as single servings or as a trio of smaller portions, visitors can indulge in Constantia Glen’s famous traditional Austrian Beef Goulash soup, French onion soup with croûte au fromage, or delicious roasted Butternut & Sage soup, all served with crispy, freshly baked bread.

Each of these soups can be partnered perfectly with Constantia Glen’s elegant cool climate wines. Add an additional mouth-watering platter of cheese and charcuterie to your experience and enjoy the wonderful winter vineyard views.

The soups are available at R95 per single serving, or R100 for the trio. Wines are available by the glass from R70 if you want to linger over lunch for a laidback afternoon.

The Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa

During the chilly season from 18h30, the hotel’s Island Café is offering bottomless soup – a sensational selection of gourmet soups served with freshly baked artisan bread (gluten free and vegetarian options are available) that will fill and warm you up and get your cheeks glowing.

The cost is R95 per adult and R45 for children under the age of 11, making it an affordable and perfect option for families.

Bookings are essential.

The Shortmarket Club

Chef Wesley Randles continues his modern interpretations of classics created from ingredients with impeccable provenance. His menu boasts some exciting new dishes, such as a starter of Fig Leaf baked Ricotta with Creamy Gorgonzola, Wild Honey and Lemon, which he describes as “comfort food at its best”. Another starter of Raw Fig and Smoked Burnt Aubergine, Roasted Hazelnuts and Bitter Leaves hits all the right notes.

Winter also heralds the appearance of venison on the menu. The Springbok and Quince makes the most of seasonal ingredients and it’s complemented perfectly with a jus of locally produced Caperitif and intensely satisfying smoked bone marrow. Meanwhile, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will approve of the spiced tandoori cauliflower served with a vibrant peanut and lemongrass sambal that will bring some warmth to the Cape’s cold winter months.

The three-course Prix Fixe Winter Lunch Menu at The Shortmarket Club is priced at R280 per person, or R380 per person including a carafe of wine. It is available at lunchtime only, Monday to Saturday, until the end of September 2018.

Waverley Hills

Matching the landscape, chef Francois du Toit has set his own inspiration aflame in the kitchen and produced an enticing food and wine pairing menu that will have you linger for longer this winter.

Guests can expect to see dishes like Wild Mushrooms served with Parmesan Custard Cream and a whisper of Truffle paired with the Waverley Hills Chardonnay and Prawns fried with Spiced Paprika, Garlic and Parsley served with Fresh Ciabatta, paired with the Waverley Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.

The five-course food and wine pairing menu is available until the end of Spring 2018 and is priced at R395.00 per person. Reservations are required a week in advance.

BOSJES Kombuis

This dreamy winter destination is now offering their very own “First Thursdays” special in the months of June and August, giving guests the chance to celebrate chilly evenings with BOSJES’ winter curry nights on the first Thursday of each month. This special allows diners to feast on a selection of three curries served with sambals, naan, rotis, rice and dessert at R280 per person.

Contact eat@bosjes.co.za to book or call 023 004 0496.

BOSJES will be closed in July.

The Pot Luck Club

This winter sees the return of The Pot Luck Club‘s Lucky Lunch menu. Presented bento-style, lunch is served in small handmade bowls and wooden boards, and provides a feast for the eyes and taste buds.

The menu is subject to change without notice, due to seasonal availability and chef’s inspiration and is available for lunch until 31 August 2018. The offering consists of 6 items and is priced at R295 per person.

Bookings are open one month in advance and they are open from Monday to Saturday with lunch between 12:30 – 14:30 and dinner between 18:00 – 22:30. They are open on Sundays from 11h00 – 15h00.

The Pot Luck Club’s annual winter break is from the 23rd July 2018 to 5th August 2018 and it re-opens for dinner from 6 August.

Chef David Higgs writes his first cook book

When a chef needs to recover from a stomach operation, the recovery time could either be daunting or rewarding. In Chef David Higgs‘ case, it was definitely rewarding, as that is when it all started. He started to write little stories, took photos and tried to come up with the perfect concept for his book, called Mile 8, which will be available from October.

He has cooked for the likes of Antonio Banderas, Charlize Theron, Chef Ferran Adria, Drew Barrymore, Elton John, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, MTN Team Qhubeka during the Tour de France and Nelson Mandela. And now he wrote a book!

I’ve been wanting to write a book for a number of years. About six years ago I ended up in Namibia after a stomach op and it was probably the longest period of time I’ve had to chill and relax. I started writing little stories, taking photos and trying to come up with a concept. I’ve never wanted it to be ‘just another cook book’ – I knew I wanted it to be something unique, beautiful and special to me – first and foremost. When My Kitchen Rules SA first approached me, I got into contact with Tessa Graham – she looked after Jamie Oliver for many years. It was at this time, with Tessa and my business partner, Gary, that I decided to do MKRSA, and I also started talking to Tessa about doing the book.

Why the name, Mile 8?

“For me, Mile 8 is a special marker as it is where I caught my first fish and my food journey began. Originating from the Swakopmund Post Office and running north for 108 miles, Namibia’s coast is dotted with mile markers.”

According to Higgs, the book is a very frank account of essentially his story – beginning in the small, coastal town of Walvis Bay, through the cowboy kitchens of Cape Town in the 90’s, to the heart of South Africa’s lush winelands, and culminating at Marble. 

Elsa Young was the photographer for the book. “… I met Elsa when I moved to Johannesburg from Cape Town. It’s very rare to find a photographer who sees food in the same way as you do. We have the same understanding of what we want the food to look like in an image. She’s terribly talented and she’s a good, honest friend.” 

With fishing being the initial start to Higgs’ cooking career, it’s only natural that he still enjoys it. “Fishing will always be part of my life for a number of reasons. First, it’s the most relaxing thing you can do, especially when you’re not surrounded by people. Generally, up the Namibian West Coast all the miles from Swakopmund there’s just peace and quiet, and the sound of the sea. It’s quite special and pretty much the area where I like to fish. My favourite fishing spot is Paaltjies, heading towards Sandwich Harbour – it reminds me of fishing with my father, although its catch and release now.

Higgs also enjoys cycling to unwind. “I ride mountain bikes and it’s close to my heart.” In fact, “In my dreams I would like to be a professional cyclist (haha).”

Higgs’ favourite dish to make? 

“I love slow cooking dishes like casseroles and stews, and I love cooking on fire. As I say in the book: ‘The first fish out of the water, goes onto the fire.’ It’s still the best way to eat – uncomplicated and with a little salt, pepper and lemon juice. It goes perfectly with an ice-cold beer.

From his book, he would recommend the snoek with the sweet potato and apricot jam, the fish stew and the curry tomato soup.

If he could cook for anyone, it would have been his father. “Sadly, I was never able to cook for him while he was still alive.”

I always wonder where chefs’ preferred culinary destinations are. Higgs says: “I’m a big fan of New York, and I always have been. There is a lot on offer and a lot to see in a small space – you don’t have to travel far and wide to taste different types of cuisine. It’s got a great international offering, even if you are limited for time.”

It’s been quite an emotional experience, and it’s reminded me of so many stories from my childhood, and things I had forgotten about. But it’s lovely to be able to share this with people and tell stories as they are. It’s also great to be able to give everyone a real peak into the ‘behind the scenes’ of a professional kitchen. Some people will relate, and some won’t – but I like it, and so I hope people enjoy it. – Chef David Higgs on writing Mile 8.

Higgs says that Mile 8 is really accessible to everybody. “The important thing about cooking is that you need to experiment, and you need to push yourself. You don’t have to do everything the recipe says – you don’t have to put a lemon gel, you can rather just put a squeeze of lemon. I’m really just trying to show the combination of flavours. I wanted to have something for everyone – chefs, home cooks and even for people that collect beautiful coffee table books – to tell people about Namibia, South Africa, and show them what we’re about.”

Cakes, Macaroons and Meringues with a Twist

Born and bred in South Africa, Anmar Odendal-Wilding is a renowned pastry chef who has made her mark in the wedding cake industry. She is definitely living life 100%, which assisted her in receiving numerous prestigious awards, including being selected as the best wedding cake designer in the East of England.

After studying at the Institute of Culinary Arts just outside Stellenbosch, Anmar worked as an executive chef on yachts based around the Mediterranean and the Pacific. While working on these yachts, Anmar cooked for the likes of Uma Thurman, Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson.

Anmar’s next culinary achievement was in England, where she worked as a pastry chef and had her own highly successful wedding cake company, Crumb Cakes. After eight successful years in the United Kingdom, Anmar brought Crumb Cakes to South Africa.

Since Anmar moved back to South Africa in 2017, she has been working as a pastry chef at the Slippery Spoon Kitchen in Stellenbosch whilst running Crumb Cakes SA. One of her specialities is multi coloured, delicious macaroons.

Anmar is a creative thinker and each cake is out-of-this-world and sometimes over-the-top unique, depending on the client’s brief. She recently also started a vegan-friendly baked goods range. The vegan friendly creations are as gorgeous as her initial range and it is hard to believe that they are made without dairy or eggs.

Although Anmar is based in Stellenbosch, she often travels to different South African destinations for catering or demonstrations. In 2013, while working in England, Anmar came all the way to South Africa to present a macaroon-baking demonstration at the popular Innibos Festival in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.

As for the future, Anmar is looking forward to some very exciting developments. Later this year, she will be publishing a book on her work, which will include some of her delightful recipes.

One thing is for sure, Anmar is a pastry chef you should keep your eyes on!

Prohibition Gin – Helping folk dance

Silver Creek Craft Distillery founder and chief distiller, Mark Taverner, knows how to have a good time. Much of his working life has been dedicated to hospitality and it was on this journey that he fell in love with American iconography. During a Harley-Davidson motorcycle tour to the USA in 2014 he noted the rise of craft distilleries and the legal production of moonshine. After two and a half years of study and research – including a stint at Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky – Mark decided to set up his own craft distillery in Gauteng. And so Silver Creek, its Southern Moonshine and Prohibition Gins were born.

Tucked away in an old mine building in Gauteng’s Randfontein, the state-of-the-art Silver Creek Craft Distillery does everything by hand – from mashing and fermentation to distillation and bottling. This process allows for extra special care, which is why every bottle is signed by the distiller.

First came Southern Moonshine and now, South Africa’s one-of-a-kind Silver Creek Craft Distillery’s two new two gins are made in the same style as gin from America’s notorious Prohibition era. Prohibition Craft Gin and Prohibition Pink Gin are handmade in small batches – distilled to fine spirit from carefully selected grains.

“Prohibition was a ban imposed on liquor through the campaigns of America’s ultra-conservative Temperance Movement of the early 1900s,” says Taverner.

“The ban in 1920 created a very fertile environment for the illegal liquor trade and many entertaining tales of gin-making by the light of the moon and lively underground speakeasies. Business flourished for gang bosses and the likes of Al Capone made a fortune during this time. By today’s measure, it is estimated that he would have been worth over R16-billion. Prohibition only lasted for 13 years, ended by overwhelming objection. As you can imagine, this was time to party and everyone rose to the occasion. To this day, its death knell in 1933 is widely celebrated.

Taverner says that by making their Prohibition Gin in the same traditional style as back then, they salute those who fought so gallantly to have the law revoked.

“We like to think of this particular style of gin as helping folk dance since 1933!”

Silver Creek’s distillers put their minds to making a clear craft gin in the New World style – fresh and crisp, not too dry and infused with traditional botanicals of juniper, coriander, lemon, angelica and cinnamon. “These would have been used in the time of Prohibition,” says Mark.

The resulting Prohibition Craft Gin, bottled at 43% alcohol, is a versatile spirit ideally suited to be further enhanced with botanicals, fresh fruit and herbs and good quality craft tonics. In the glass, Prohibition Craft Gin offers the immediate impression of balance with a fresh, crisp burst of citrus followed by lingering juniper and a hint of cinnamon. Citrus is again prominent on the dry palate, gently supported by the taste of juniper. The finish is defined by a crisp, clean smoothness that lingers with an earthy character.

The Prohibition Pink Gin, also at 43%, is Silver Creek’s Craft Gin further infused with raspberries and blueberries, with a touch of hibiscus flowers and rose water. The result is a refreshing drink that is both aromatic, flavoursome and romantic.

“To us, the aromas of Prohibition Pink Gin conjure up images of an exotic eastern bazaar. There’s tantalizing sweet Turkish delight and crushed pepper corns,” says Mark.

Silver Creek Distillery quickly rose to fame last year with the launch of its moonshines, boosted by a five-medal victory at the 2017 Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards.

The new Prohibition Gins retail at around R360 a bottle and are available at selected bars, restaurants and liquor outlets nationwide.

www.silvercreekdistillery.com

#silvercreekcraftdistillery #ProhibitionGin

 

Chefs and the Vine

As interesting it is to see the collaboration of food and the vine, just as interesting it is to see chefs and winemakers come together to create unforgettable tastes and experiences.

As winter approaches in the Cape of Good Hope, Franschhoek’s La Petite Ferme is warming up to a grand season of gastronomic celebrations. Winemaker, Wikus Pretorius, together with La Petite Ferme’s brigade of enthusiastic chefs have masterminded a collaborative “Chefs and the Vine” series from May through to August this year.

On 28 June, it is the barrel fermented Chardonnay’s turn – a bold grape that continues to surprise and delight in all its different guises.

The Chefs and the Vine series include different soirées, of which each is presented by Wikus. It also includes a tutored pre-dinner tasting of handcrafted wines from La Petite Ferme’s cellar and compared with others from nearby terroirs as well as from afar. All the wines on each evening will be the same cultivar, providing a rare opportunity to compare different expressions and the effect of terroirs and winemaking techniques.

The La Petite Ferme Chefs and the Vine evenings include a four-course deluxe menu and are priced at R750 per person. They commence with canapés and Méthode Cap Classique wines from 18h30. Upcoming La Petite Ferme Chefs and the Vine evenings to look forward to, include the evening of 26 July, with Cabernet Sauvignon, and 23 August, which boasts some lovely red blends.

Reservations have been limited to ensure an intimate, personal experience and bookings are essential. To reserve your table, email frontoffice@lapetiteferme.co.za or contact Marinda Armstrong at (27) (21) 876 3016.

#LoveLaPetite

Photo credit: Claire Gunn

Enter now for the Sanlam Top Destination Awards

The Sanlam Top Destination Awards 2018 will be held at the prestigious Bay Hotel on Thursday, 20 September. Ideally located in Cape Town’s tourism hub, the five-star hotel boasts unsurpassed views across the world-renowned Camps Bay beach, making it the perfect location for a gala evening of this caliber.

Sanlam Top Destination Awards was created in celebration of local hospitality personnel that have pioneered ahead of the game in the travel and tourism industry. The black-tie awards, taking place in the newly renovated Rotunda, welcomes guests to an evening of decadent dining, tasteful entertainment, fine wines and an authentically #AfricanExplorer theme.

Title sponsor for the awards remains financial giant, Sanlam. Other sponsors in support of the Sanlam Top Destination Awards 2018 include Romatex Hospitality Textiles, 3D Virtual Africa, Travel Africa TV, David Green Time Pieces.

How to enter:

Establishments can enter by registering on www.discountraveler.co.za. Public voting is open for guests, patrons and supporters to cast their votes on both the Discount Traveler and Top Destination Awards websites. Voters can win incredible prizes, including one of four uniquely crafted David Green time pieces, valued at R 4 000.

Voting closes on 1st of August 2018.