Cookery holiday in the Karoo, South Africa
African Relish is an exciting holiday for culinary travellers and food lovers in Prince Albert, a beautiful historic town in South Africa's Western Cape. Drawing on the rich and diverse local knowledge, and hundreds of years of regional and colonial food traditions, the week-long cookery breaks offer a combination of cookery classes and foodie activities including visits to vineyards and brandy distilleries, cheese-making, fruit picking and fruit drying. The interactive cookery classes are hosted by celebrity chefs from around South Africa, and you stay in charming Victorian or Karoo-style guest houses on a fully-catered basis. Max group size 14. Non-cooking companions welcome.
A week in the life of Africa Relish - Sample itinerary:
Day 1 - Sunday
Guests arrive at Cape Town International Airport and make their own way to the Mount Nelson Hotel (or other selected luxury accommodation in Cape Town). Guests check in at the hotel and are welcomed by an African Relish host with welcome drinks. Day at leisure to participate in general tourist activities in Cape Town (at own expense).Welcome dinner at the chef's table of one of Cape Town's top restaurants. This venue will change according to availability.
Day 2 - Monday
Early breakfast at hotel. African Relish transport leaves for Prince Albert. Visit to the Klipdrift House of Brandy in Robertson. We will conduct a short tour of the distillery and maturation cellar where some of South Africa’s premium award-winning brandies are distilled.
Continue on the Route 62 and pass through Montagu, known for its export quality dried fruit and historical architecture. This quaint town is an ideal stop-over for tea and scones.
Lunch at Joubert-Tradouw Wine Estate - near Barrydale. Stop here for a wine tasting and true Karoo alfresco-style lunch under the vine-covered 'afdak' veranda overlooking the farm, Tradouw valley and Langeberge mountains.
Continue along picturesque R62 to Ladismith, home of Towerkop cheese, over the spectacular Huisrivier Pass and on to the Port wine capital of South Africa - Calitzdorp. Visits to famous wine cellars De Krans, Boplaas and Axe Hill Estates for wine tasting.
The journey continues to Oudtshoorn - Ostrich country! This huge flightless bird, indigenous to Africa, and ideally suited to the Karoo's dry environment, produces magnificent feathers that became extremely popular as high fashion accessories at the end of 19th century Britain and Europe. After gold, diamonds and wool, the ostrich feather was the South Africa's fourth largest export. Incredible surplus wealth swamped the isolated town and in the first decade of the 20th century most of Oudtshoorn's magnificent 'Feather Palaces' were built. In 1913, the very year ostrich feathers reached their highest price was the year that fashion started changing, due in part to the popularity of open motor cars, whose speed was not conducive to wearing clothes or hats adorned with feathers. The ostrich industry recovered slowly and today almost every part of the ostrich is utilized. Ostrich leather is very popular in a variety of fashion items and the meat is highly sought-after for its extremely low fat content and similarity to beef. A visit to the CP Nel Museum to get a sense of the history of the region is a must.
The choice for the route on to Prince Albert is difficult - for the faint-hearted we take the road through the awe-inspiring Meiringspoort along the course of the Groot River slicing its way through the mighty Swartberg mountain range, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. For the brave and adventurous we ascend the same Swartberg mountains via the Swartberg Pass, built in 1886 by Sir Thomas Bain. The views are breathtaking and the experience is life-changing. The descent into the fertile and gentle Prince Albert valley on the edge of the arid and vast Great Karoo is an experience in natural paradox. We are welcomed at African Relish and you are transported to your accommodation to refresh and settle. Welcome cocktails and dinner at African Relish.
Day 3 - Tuesday
Breakfast at African Relish. Guests will have the opportunity to orientate themselves and meet the African Relish team and a brief overview of the week’s activities will be given. Guests will receive a welcome gift, which includes some kitchen apparel and useful items for the week ahead. Guests will participate in their first cooking session, preparing lunch. After lunch, guests are free to explore the town or have a siesta.
Tour of Weltevrede Fig Farm for a fig tour and game drive. This is the largest working fig farm in Southern Africa and has been in the Koorts family for six generations. Adams, White Genoa and Cape Brown Figs are grown on the farm and are sold locally and exported fresh or dried.
Dinner under the stars at Weltevrede.
Day 4 - Wednesday
Breakfast at African Relish. Botanical excursion with Dr Sue Milton (lecturer in conservation ecology, arid zone vegetation dynamics and restoration at the University of Stellenbosch). Dr Milton has been involved in studies of plant populations, animals, resource use and seed dispersal in the Karoo and Kalahari as well as in central Germany and southern USA.
Lunch at Drie Riviere Farm. We will enjoy the warm hospitality of the Luttig family who are descendents of some of the earliest settlers in Prince Albert in the 1700's. Lunch will consist of traditional South African 'veldkos' or field food. We will sample some of the region's extraordinary food combinations in the traditional manner.
Cooking lesson at African Relish. Hands-on cooking session to prepare dinner.
Day 5 - Thursday
Breakfast at African Relish. Trip to Bergwater Vineyards for wine tasting. The 70 hectares of vineyards are situated in the exquisite Prince Albert Valley. This wine growing enterprise is a joint venture between local farmers and Dutch investors. It is the only wine estate in the arid region of the Great Karoo.
Cheese-making at Gay’s Guernsey Dairy, one of the best managed and most productive dairy herds in South Africa. Gay's Dairy has won many major South African and international awards for its high quality cheeses all made from unpasteurised milk and guaranteed free from hormones, antibiotics, colouring and preservatives.
Lunch served at African Relish (Karoo 'Tapas'). We will prepare tapas with a distinctive Karoo flavour. Abundant fresh produce in the area lends itself to alfresco tapas style food, for long lazy lunches.
Afternoon at leisure to relax or explore the village.
Evening Ghost walk with Ailsa Tudhope our local historian and storyteller. Join her for a pre-dinner walk around the streets of the village, in the company of the Ghosts of Prince Albert. We will set out at dusk and wander through the streets as darkness descends. Tales of characters who have lived in the village over the centuries - and their ghosts who don't want to leave!
Dinner at the Olive Branch Restaurant. This delightful country restaurant serves memorable food and company. Our passionate foodie host, Bokkie Botha, is a self-taught chef and raconteur who has traveled widely and met and dined with some of the finest chefs in Europe. He combines the traditional Karoo cuisine with Europe's fine culinary traditions.
Day 6 - Friday
Hot Air Ballooning, an activity not to be missed, offers a fantastic view of our early morning sunrise and beautiful surrounding mountains and valleys as we float silently over the spectacular Karoo landscape. Tea and coffee on arrival while the crew inflates the balloon just before sunrise. After approximately one hour's flying we find a perfect landing spot. In the wide open landscape with vistas are far as the eye can see, we enjoy a sumptuous buffet breakfast with champagne to celebrate a memorable experience.
Rock art and geology excursion with Dr Judy Maguire, paleontologist and geologist. We drive up the Swartberg Pass, a World Heritage Site, and learn about the history and engineering of the Thomas Bain masterpiece as well as its plant ecology. We also visit San rock painting sites. Light lunch served at the top of the Swartberg mountains as we gaze across the vast Karoo plains.
Back to African Relish. We begin the afternoon by preparing our farewell gala dinner. A sumptuous feast to celebrate our week of good food, newfound friendships and lifelong memories. Farewell gala dinner served at African Relish with entertainment.
Day 7 - Saturday
Breakfast at African Relish. Guests depart Prince Albert according to individual schedules.
Note: Although the daily programmes shown here are typical, the actual dishes prepared will vary from week to week according to supply. Our aim is to use the very best and freshest ingredients and to demonstrate as many useful techniques as time allows. Activities will vary according to seasons and weather.
Please contact us for dates and prices