Celebrated English poet of the Romantic Movement , Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861) penned the words How do I love thee? Let me count the ways (Sonnet 43)…which sums up how we feel during September when we celebrate Heritage month here in South Africa. There are just so many great ways to experience this wonderful country and to get you in the spirit of all things South African we share our five favourite tasty treats from Mzanzi (Xhosa word for South Africa); things which bring joy to us and which we look forward to sharing with you.
Let’s set the scene with a Gin & Tonic! We know…that sounds terribly British..but gin first appeared in Cape Town in the 1600s as a spirit called Jenever, enjoyed by Dutch sailors on their way to the East. South Africa is an enthusiastic participant in the global gin revival (some might say revolution!) with loads of top class artisanal spirits being created right here. We love to prepare a generous Gin Bar featuring a selection of locally produced gin with all the fragrant bits which go toward making the perfect sundowner. We recommend pouring a long G & T, using celebrated Cape Town Classic Dry Gin and adding some fresh cucumber and mint. This gin was voted the best South African Gin in the London Dry category at the 2017 World Drinks Awards and is crafted with rich botanicals including Juniper and has gorgeous citrus flavours balanced with a touch of herbs and wildflowers. Another firm favourite of ours is Inveroche.
Biltong is a South African legend and wherever you are no sundowner would be complete without a taste of this tradition. In case you don’t know, biltong is a dried, cured meat originating with the indigenous Khoikhoi who pioneered this technique which became the process used to preserve all kinds of meat in South Africa before the introduction of refrigeration. Biltong is South African for “the greatest beef jerky you’ve ever had in your entire life”. Make great tasting memories …pass the biltong please!
Braai is not just a word but a way of life and Heritage Day has affectionately become known as National Braai Day! Enjoying a braai is an indispensable part of your South African experience and the teams at all of our properties are passionate about creating the perfect setting and ambience to showcase the local fervour for this way of preparing, eating and sharing.
Another jewel in the South African food repertoire is a classic Melktert (Afrikaans for milk tart) which can be served as a dessert or a tea-time treat. Melktert originated from Dutch settlers who arrived in Cape Town in the 1600’s, and is a sweet treat with a rich pastry crust filled with creamy custard made from eggs, flour, milk and sugar. This simple yet delightful pie is the perfect pudding to follow a braai – maybe even accompanied by some rich vanilla ice cream.
The Marula tree is a revered part of South African culture and folklore says that you know when to harvest the ripe yellow berries when elephants travel for days to feast on the wild fruit. This mythology has also given rise to the name Elephant Tree.Locals also refer to the Marula tree as the Marriage Tree as it makes the perfect canopy for a wedding ceremony and is said to have aphrodisiac properties and boost fertility. An interesting fact is that just like elephants, the Marula tree is protected under South African law and cannot be farmed for commercial purposes. However the fruit is sold for various purposes including the creation of Amarula which is a cream liqueur made from the Marula fruit. Why not round off Heritage day with a decadent Amarula Coffee, enjoyed around the fire pit in Madikwe, overlooking the ocean De Hoop Nature Reserve or snuggled up in the library at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa.
Cheers to South Africa and all her unique characteristics!