A weekend of cooking food and wine at African Relish in Prince Albert MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

A Perfect Weekend of Food and Adventure at African Relish in Prince Albert

When I woke up at 6am, my friend Christie was already out for a walk on the stunning Swartberg Pass. Feeling a bit envious, I scrolled through the incredible photos she had taken of the mysterious rocks bathed in the morning light. It made me realize what I had missed out on.

But my hunger soon distracted me, and we made our way to African Relish for a delicious breakfast. However, our plans took an unexpected turn when we stumbled upon the lively Saturday morning market on the main street of Prince Albert. This market was different from the popular Old Biscuit Mill, but that’s what made it so special.

As we walked through the market, we couldn’t help but be charmed by the sights and sounds. Old tannies (Afrikaans for women) were skillfully making pancakes and brewing moerkoffie (a strong South African coffee), while others were selling homemade konfyt (jam). Meanwhile, some oupas (Afrikaans for men) were cooking boerie (traditional South African sausage) and roosterkoek (grilled bread) on roadside braais (barbecues).

The market also boasted a variety of fresh and organic produce from the local GP’s (general practitioner) garden, including vibrant heirloom veggies. We couldn’t resist buying a whole box of fresh figs from the Weltevrede fig farm for ourselves. As we explored further, we discovered gourmet pies that were said to be sublime, with the lamb pie receiving high praise.

What made the market even more special were the unfamiliar Afrikaans names of the baked goodies. It added an element of intrigue and adventure to our culinary exploration.

But the market was not just about food. It was a social hub where old friends caught up and village ladies engaged in gossip. Everyone seemed to be immersed in their shopping, while also taking the time to chat with one another. It was a world of its own, filled with warmth and a sense of community.

So, I went ahead and got a bunch of konfyt, pannekoek, pies, and soutertjies. Then, we headed back to African Relish and indulged ourselves even more. Let me tell you, the breakfast spread was absolutely amazing!

They had all sorts of goodies – fresh yoghurt straight from Gay’s Dairy, homemade breads, Gay’s Dairy cheeses, a refreshing bowl of fruit salad, warm muffins right out of the oven, some tasty kudu salami, and the most deliciously sweet granola. Christie and I couldn’t resist, we ate with gusto!

As I ventured through Prince Albert town, I ran into our newfound friends while Christie and I split up to explore. We ended up at the Prince Albert Country Store, where we sipped on refreshing organic lemonade alongside William. As we roamed around the charming antique shop, I found myself torn between two captivating treasures. One was an old photograph from the 1900s showcasing a nurse posing with quadruplets, while the other was a vintage wind-up clock from the 1920s. Seeking some guidance, I took to Twitter and asked for advice. Finally, after weighing my options, I decided to go with the clock. It was already 11 am when I realized that I had spent a whopping R500. It seemed that Prince Albert was destined to become my most extravagant endeavor to date.

As the sun started to go down in the town, my friends and I put on our super cool African Relish aprons and got ready to cook. Jeremy Freemantle, one of the school’s founders, taught us how to make a delicious focaccia with local olives and tomatoes. My job was to poke holes in the focaccia, and I might have gotten a little too excited because I ended up squishing it completely. Oops, not the best move for someone who works with food.

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The other students made a surprisingly easy dish called bobotie, while Christie and her partner Paul made yummy grape jam called korrelkonfyt to go with it. We all sat together and enjoyed the food we had prepared, sipping on wine and patting each other on the back for our culinary success.

After lunch, when the temperature felt like a scorching 40 degrees, I indulged in plenty of Bergwater wine and hearty Karoo cuisine. The combination left me feeling extremely full and in need of a short rest. I decided to take a nap as close as possible to the massive fan in the lounge area.

It didn’t take long before I had to wake everyone up for our second cooking session. We all gathered to prepare dinner: tender lamb shanks slow-cooked in red wine, balsamic-roasted summer vegetables, a tangy grape and tomato relish, a poached prune tart with a glaze made from red wine, and a delicious chicken Veronique made with juicy grapes and grape cider cordial.

At our school, we really care about the ingredients we use in our dishes. We focus on using local, seasonal, and fresh ingredients because it truly makes a difference in the flavor of our food. You can taste the farm-freshness in every bite. Lucky for us, we have easy access to local produce here in Prince Albert. In fact, we even have our own veggie and herb garden right behind our kitchen. We grow all sorts of delicious things like pomegranates, quinces, herbs, olives, and veggies. It’s so amazing to cook with Brett the Vet’s organic veggies because they are just so beautiful. I wanted to take pictures of them instead of chopping them up!

After a fun and hot afternoon of cooking in the kitchen, sipping wine, and having a great time, a storm suddenly rolled in. The raindrops were big and warm as they poured down from the sky. Thankfully, I had already finished taking pictures of all the dishes for the magazine. But there was still something important that Christie and I needed to do. We had been searching all day for the perfect shot of Prince Albert to be the opening spread of our magazine feature. Since it was our last afternoon there, we couldn’t leave without finding it. Christie searched for the best spot while I finished up with the food. Finally, she found the perfect viewpoint in town. The only problem was, it happened to be on someone’s front porch. But as passionate photographers, we know that sometimes you have to take risks to get the best shots. So, we nervously drove up a long driveway and parked in front of someone’s garage. We decided to explore the property and find our way to the front door. However, it seemed like the door was hiding from us, so we decided to head straight to the porch. We wanted to make sure the homeowner knew we were there. We tried calling out a friendly “Hellooooo!” but no one answered. Even though we could hear music playing and the doors and windows were open, it seemed like nobody was home. The light was fading fast, and we had to capture the pictures before it was too dark. I positioned myself on the porch and started taking pictures as fast as I could while Christie continued to search for someone inside the house.

So, here’s what happened. Picture this: my team and I were out and about, taking pictures for a magazine. We stumbled upon this girl and her dog, and we thought, “Hey, why not ask if we can take some shots here?” Turns out, she was totally cool with it. And guess what? Her dad came out too, and he was pretty psyched that we chose their porch for our shoot. He even offered us some wine! Well, we couldn’t refuse that, could we? So, we ended up hanging out with the whole family, having a nice chat, and sipping on a delightful bottle of Sauv Blanc. Funny thing is, I can’t remember where that wine came from. Oh well. Anyway, it turns out that this family, the Badenhorsts, own the olive press, the Prince Albert Hotel, and a bunch of other properties in town. We had actually been trying to get a tour of the olive press during our stay, but no luck. But you know what? Fred Badenhorst, the dad, offered to show us around the next morning before we left. How awesome is that?

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So, that’s the story of how a photo shoot turned into a wine-filled chat and an unexpected olive press tour. Sometimes, life just surprises you, and it’s pretty amazing when it does, don’t you think?

Completely forgetting about the time, my companions and I hurried back to African Relish after finishing the bottle. We excitedly shared with everyone at African Relish how we had almost broken into the Badenhorsts’ home, only to discover that Fred Badenhorst is considered the JR Ewing of Prince Albert. It turns out we had trespassed on the property of the town’s baron. I can only hope that my editor will choose to use some of the photos we took in the magazine!

Dinner was an unforgettable feast of all the wonderful dishes we had prepared earlier in the day. After four days of indulging in Karoo food and wine, I think we had truly immersed ourselves in the essence of the Karoo. It was going to be difficult to leave.

Yet another early morning on Sunday: we started the day with coffee and rusks before heading out to the veld with Richard and Susan Milton for a veld walk. Sue, a renowned botanist and professor Emeritus, had a special interest in Karoo biome botany. The walk was absolutely captivating. Sue introduced us to edible plants, such as skaapbossie, which adds a distinctive flavor to Karoo lamb, and explained how certain unique-looking plants have adapted to survive the harsh Karoo climate. She also shared insights on the intricate relationship between the Karoo’s plants, insects, and animals. Richard, Sue’s husband and a well-respected ornithologist, provided information on the region’s bird life. Their deep passion for preserving the Karoo’s precious biosphere was truly inspiring. Now that I am aware of the incredible plants and animals that thrive in this seemingly barren land, my perspective on the Karoo has completely changed.

On Sunday, we wrapped up our weekend of feasting with a satisfying breakfast. Fresh fruit, creamy yoghurt, cheese, preserves, and mouthwatering eggs Benedict on warm ciabatta made for a delectable start to the day. It was the perfect goodbye meal before we said farewell to our newfound friends.

We then visited the olive press where the town’s renowned olive oil is made. The factory, though modest in size, exudes an inviting aroma of olives. Despite it being a Sunday, the gracious Badenhorsts went out of their way to open the press for us and gifted us a unique retro petrol-can-style tin filled with their exceptional olive oil. It was a charming conclusion to our journey in Prince Albert and a reminder of the town’s genuine warmth and hospitality.

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If you’re eager to immerse yourself in the Karoo’s culinary heritage, by cooking, savoring, and learning about food, all while exploring the delightful town of Prince Albert, African Relish is undoubtedly the ultimate destination for you.

I’m really excited to tell you about some amazing cooking courses that are coming up at African Relish! We have quite a variety to choose from, so I’m sure you’ll find something that interests you.

First up, we have a course called “Koekemakranka” from March 25th to 27th. This course is led by cultural researcher and author Renata Coetzee, and it’s all about the culinary traditions of the Khoi Khoin people. You’ll get to learn about their unique cooking techniques and even try your hand at making some traditional dishes.

If art and food are more your thing, then you don’t want to miss the “Palate to Palette” course from April 8th to 10th. This course is led by JP Meyer and Jacques Erasmus, and it’s all about combining the flavors of food with the beauty of art. You’ll explore the relationship between taste and color, and even create your own edible artwork!

Do you enjoy traditional country cooking? Then you’ll love the course with JamieWho (Andy Fenner) from May 6th to 8th. JamieWho is a well-known Capetonian food blogger, and he’ll be sharing his expertise on delicious country dishes. You’ll learn all about the flavors and techniques that make traditional country cooking so special.

If baking is your passion, then you won’t want to miss the “Artistry of Cake Making” weekend from May 13th to 15th. Roxanne Floquet will be your instructor, and she is an absolute cake-making genius. You’ll learn all of her tips and tricks for creating beautiful and delicious cakes that will impress everyone.

We also have some weekends specifically designed for food bloggers. If you’re interested, we have weekends on June 24th to 26th, October 21st to 23rd, and January 20th to 22nd, 2012. These weekends are a great opportunity for food bloggers to learn new skills, share ideas, and connect with other like-minded individuals.

Finally, for those who like a bit of adventure with their cooking, we have a gourmet cycle tour from September 14th to 18th. This tour combines the love of food with the joy of cycling. You’ll explore the beautiful surroundings of African Relish on your bike, and then enjoy some delicious gourmet meals prepared by our talented chefs.

So, as you can see, we have something for everyone here at African Relish. Whether you’re interested in learning about different culinary traditions, exploring the intersection of food and art, or simply improving your cooking skills, we have a course that’s perfect for you. I hope to see you soon!

If you’re interested in attending one of African Relish’s cooking courses in 2011, you can find a complete list at www.africanrelish.com/courses-and-tours.

For just R3850 per person, you’ll enjoy a two-night stay and cooking course package that includes accommodation, scheduled activities, meals, cooking classes, ingredients, soft drinks, and an apron. You’ll be staying in the school’s charming country chic cottages, which are scattered throughout the town.

For just R3850 per person, you’ll enjoy a two-night stay and cooking course package that includes accommodation, scheduled activities, meals, cooking classes, ingredients, soft drinks, and an apron. You’ll be staying in the school’s charming country chic cottages, which are scattered throughout the town.

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