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The Cape West Coast: A Crock Pot of Flavours

27 May 2014

The Cape West Coast is synonymous with seafood such as snoek, crayfish, bokkoms, oysters and Cape Malay cuisine. Can’t you just smell those traditional bredies (broths) and curried food that the area is renowned for? The simplicity in flavours and honest produce are testimony to the San heritage of the area.

You will struggle to find a fresher purchase than buying snoek (Winter) or crayfish (Summer) directly off these boats, from the fishermen, straight after being caught. The Kreeffees (Crayfish Festival) held annually in Lamberts Bay during March is also something to look forward to.

An Authentic San Cuisine Experience

It seems that the various San groups of southern Africa have been the forerunners of today’s conscious food lovers. In the past they enjoyed a balanced diet of eighty percent gathered bush food and twenty percent game meat (or fish, for those living along rivers). All berries, nuts, bulbs and tubers were freshly picked and meat, eggs or fish were baked under hot ash or cooked on an open fire. The San’s menu was naturally influenced by the seasons and the ingredients were mostly harvested in their own varied-sized territories.

There is probably no better place to experience a selection of true San-style food than at the restaurant at !Khwa ttu, a San Culture and Education Centre on the R27, less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town.

Here you will find a Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Menu, following in the footsteps of the San groups, where ingredients of the indigenous Fynbos vegetation often formed a vital part of their dishes. Spices and vegetables are freshly harvested from the restaurant’s organic garden and berries, and leaves and flowers are gathered in their Fynbos plots, only minutes before they are needed in the kitchen. The concept of slow food is followed whenever possible and the availability of health teas and organic wine is a natural component to their menu.

The innovative menu is a striking combination of San food, based on organically grown Fynbos and other plant items, as well as culinary inspirations from other cultures.

The dishes on offer vary on a daily basis, where you can enjoy traditional San foods with a modern twist, such as:

  • Springbok carpaccio
  • Eland (pate, homemade burger or pie)
  • Springbok potjie with lashings of regional red wine, wild garlic and wild sage
  • Tasty lavender and buchu crème Brûlée (can you say njom, njom njom?)

Some of the other traditional food and spices in the San’s diet includes:

  • Tsamma Melon – fruits eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable
  • Sour Fig – fruits are eaten fresh and used to make jam
  • Bokhoring – unripe green fruits are boiled and eaten as vegetables
  • Kukumakranka – pleasant smelling fruit, used as perfume
  • Common Sorrel – leaves, stems and flowers are eaten fresh or mixed into salads
  • Yellow Sage – fresh leaves smell of lemon pepper and are used in cooking, particularly fish
  • Twining Baroe – tubers are peeled and eaten raw or may be baked or fried
  • Soethoutbossie – liquorice substitute
  • Wild Cabbage – delicious in a stew
  • Dog’s Ears – leaves are eaten as a snack

The West Coast is a harsh and seasonal landscape and to compliment of all this mouth-watering cuisine, various award winning wine estates have also developed in these areas in more recent years, making the West Coast Wine Route another flavourful item to tick off on your West Coast itinerary.


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