Category Archives: South Africa

Eziko Cooking and Culinary School: Looking After the Future of Africa

Taken from the Eziko website

Serving as both a restaurant and a gourmet culinary school, Eziko in the Langa Township outside of Cape Town has been providing superior cuisine and cooking classes to locals and tourists alike for more than 10 years now.

Victor Mguqulwa, former Langa High School teacher, started the Eziko Cooking and Catering school in 1996 with a mission to decrease unemployment rates and increase optimism in the local communities. His vision for the school was born after he saw how much interest the students of Langa High School had in their cooking programs and competitions. Victor’s goal for the school is to educate students on gourmet cooking in hopes that they will start their own business or lend their developed cooking talents to an already established restaurant.

Victor believes that through education and skill teaching, individuals can take responsibility for the future of their communities and help to sustain their economy. Eziko was designed to provide students with the exceptional cooking and catering skills as well as the skills needed to operate in the business-world. This school doesn’t simply teach cooking skills to students, rather, it provides them with motivation to take on larger responsibilities such as providing for themselves, their families, and lending to the community.     

Taken from the Eziko website

Eziko Cooking and Catering School goes beyond ordinary cooking classes. They provide their handpicked students with a job at the Eziko restaurant and then after some basic training and experience in the restaurant they are placed into a sponsoring catering establishment for six months. Helping students to integrate themselves into the hospitality and restaurant industry, the school provides employee placement and teaches students business skills.

Recently, Eziko has been struggling due to the recession. As less people eat out and require catering services, the Eziko restaurant and catering business are receiving fewer customers than before. The restaurant and catering services were the main funding source behind the Eziko Cooking School and with many students coming from poverty stricken backgrounds it’s difficult for them to pay the full tuition. Because the restaurant and catering service are not generating enough money to completely fund the school, they’re looking for outside resources to lend a helping hand.  

Taken from the Eziko website

For 2010, Eziko is proposing a student sponsorship program in order to continue educating these students. For anyone who would like to donate money to this exceptional school, donations are accepted through Uthando. Simply specify that you would like the donation to be given to the Eziko Cooking and Catering School.

An example of what this school means to one student: “I have been here at Grand West Casino for about 3 months training to be a Chef. I can prepare for a function of at least 200 guests breakfast and hot foods and pastry. I really enjoy what I am doing here and feel so passionate about cooking.Thank you and may God be with you for your kindness.”
Yours Sincerely , Melford Mehluko

Share

Animal Spotlight: The Black Mamba

Arguably the world’s deadliest snake, the black mamba has been the focal point of many exaggerated African legends, making its name feared around the world. Known for its cunning speed, aggressive behavior, and ability to inject potent venom into its prey, the black mamba is not something you’d want to provoke.

Found across the African savannahs and in rocky areas of southern and eastern Africa, the black mamba is a popular snake to witness on an African safari tour. Although they are dangerous, you are extremely safe within your vehicle with your highly knowledgeable and certified guide.

Here are the real facts behind the black mamba:

  • The black mamba is actually grey, but gets its name for the blackish-bluish color inside of its mouth that is displayed during aggression.
  • Reaching up to 14 ft. (4.3 m) in length, the black mamba is Africa’s longest venomous snake.

  • Black mambas are difficult to out-run as they’re one of the fastest snakes in the world—they can reach speeds up to 12 mph to be exact. And surprisingly, they do not use this incredible gift for speed to attack their prey. Instead, they use it to escape threats.
  • Left untreated, the black mamba’s venom has a fatality rate of 100%.
  • The black mamba is so strong that it can raise its 1/3 of its body off of the ground.
  • A black mamba will spend hours on a branch waiting for its prey, which are usually reptiles, amphibians, and rodents.
  • Using its long black tongue to smell, the black mamba will frequently display its tongue when it senses something approaching.
  • Females can lay up to 17 eggs in a nest beneath the ground or in a hollowed tree hole and they will hatch in approximately three months.     

For a closer look at the black mamba and research being performed on it, view this fascinating PBS video.

Share

Cape Town Restaurant & Bar Spotlight: Five Flies

ff1

From the Five Flies Restaurant and Bars website

If you’re looking for the freshest and most delectable seafood in Cape Town, many would argue that Five Flies is the place to go. With an array of specialty seafood dishes, fine meat selections, and international wines, Five Flies has positioned itself as one of Cape Town’s finest and most sophisticated restaurants.

From the boldly colored walls to the works of modern art, and the soft chandelier lighting to the superior service, Five Flies’ ambiance radiates elegance and simplicity from each of its interior elements.

Enough of what the inside looks like—you’re probably wondering how the food is. In a nutshell: it’s sensational. Chef Ian Bergh and his highly-experienced kitchen staff prepare exquisite dishes with only the freshest ingredients and flavors.

Seafood selections include . . .

• Pan-fried scallops with wilted spinach and vanilla foam
• West coast oysters half dozen with shallot vinaigrette
• Grilled kingklip with sweet potato, basil and pinenut crust, grilled red pepper and cumin beurre blanc
• Rosette of sole fillet with shrimp thermidor, creamed tatsoi, potato mash and basil cream
• Pan-fried linefish served with herbed linguini, confit tomatoes and lemon beurre blanc

 

• Grilled Chalmar beef sirloin with pumpkin, courgettes, potato galette, camembert and Medeira wine jus
• Tournedos of beef fillet, with frites, roasted courgettes and bearnaise sauce
• Springbok Wellington with mushroom duxelle, roasted butternut and foie gras, truffle jus
• Roasted confit of half duck with basmati rice, oriental stir fry and Chinese 5 spice jus
• Herb crusted, roasted rack of lamb with creamy garlic potatoes, fine beans and tomato jus
• Grilled ostrich fillet with potato gratin, mange tout, sauteed spinach and red wine sauce

ff2

From the Five Flies Restaurant and Bars website

Fine meat selections include . . .

Five Flies isn’t just for fine dining though—it’s also a hot spot for enjoying a chilled cocktail in the open courtyard, a cigar and glass of bourbon in the Cigar Bar and Lounge, or a glass of cabernet in the brick wine bar. And for those looking to get some drinks in before a delicious meal, Five Flies offers an elegant take on the traditional happy hour.  Whatever you fancy for the evening, Five Flies has made it their mission to accommodate all tastes.

ff3

From the Five Flies Restaurant and Bars website

During my most recent trip to South Africa, we tried Five Flies for the first time and I look forward to going back! It is now on my top list of Cape Town restaurants and bars.

Share

Cape Town: Guided Tour vs. On Your Own

It’s truly amazing how your mind can open up and your point-of-view can change with a little background information and some guidance. Whether you’re touring through the internationally-renowned Sistine Chapel or through a historical region rich with deep cultural heritage and mystery, a guided tour is a must if you want to leave with a valuable lasting impression.

tablemtnTable Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa is one such region where participating in a guided tour is a must. The history behind its existence coupled with the impression it has on you as you observe it first hand, is what makes the strongest impact. It’s amazing how Cape Town can truly speak to you once you begin to understand the cultural heritage and historical background, and how its past has shaped the region into what you see today.

At the end of your tour you’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge you otherwise would have never had if you decided to view the area on your own without a knowledgeable guide. Although many city tours throughout Africa don’t necessarily require a guide, a Cape Town City and Table Mountain tour is highly-encouraged for visitors in the area who want to experience the authenticity of the region.

One of the most highly-acclaimed tour providers in Cape Town is Cape Fusion Tours. Their knowledgeable and friendly guides ensure you discover all the wonderful elements that make Cape Town and Table Mountain historical and cultural icons. On their off-the-beaten-path tours, you won’t be lectured with boring or popularly known facts found in dusty history text books. You’ll get a rare insight into the region’s profound history and its intricate wilderness.

Why take advantage of a guided tour through Cape Town City and Table Mountain? Simple.

 The rich cultural heritage you’ll become acquainted with. Home to some of the world’s most inspirational cultures, a guided tour through Cape Town provides you with the exceptional opportunity to learn about the indigenous people by interacting and observing them in their daily lives. You’ll also discover the stories and legends of past generations from their living relatives. During your tour, you’ll learn about various art forms and their historical and cultural significance, as well as the lifestyle of certain cultures and how those lifestyles came to be.
   
cablecar The opportunity to enjoy a guided view of Table Mountain as you journey up the rocky mountainside in a rotating cable car. Each cable car has the ability to fully rotate, giving you the opportunity to see 360 degrees around you. On your cable car trip you’ll see stunning gardens, death-defying cliffs, and playful dassies—furry brown creatures that live on the mountain whose closest relatives are elephants.

You’ll also learn about the history of the cable car and the grounds beneath you as you venture up the mountainside. And awaiting you at the summit is one of the most stunning and indescribable views in the entire world.  
 
• The safety and convenience factors. Because there are 350 routes up the mountain, having a guided tour is highly recommended, as it can be extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous to navigate the mountain on your own. And not to mention the headache of choosing which path to take, out of the 360 different ones! When you experience Table Mountain on a guided tour, you can rest assure that your family is safe. The elimination of the stresses of getting lost or hurt allows you to relax and truly enjoy your trip.

 The deep insight into Malay Quarter’s fascinating evolution into what it is today. You’ll discover how religious influences, changes of European power, and slavery all worked to shape this region into the place it is today.

• The exciting history of The Castle of Good Hope. This military fort relic, which was built between 1666 and 1669 by the Dutch East India Company, was the main protection for Cape Town and was constantly threatened by outside forces. Capturing the combination of the structure’s fascinating history with the sheer size and intricate architecture of the castle can only be experienced while on a guided tour.

• The beauty and captivating scent of the flower market. Over the past 100 years, flower selling has become a cultural tradition on Cape Town’s Adderley Street. On this walking tour you’ll discover the cultural heritage of Adderley Street and meet vendors known for their friendliness and humor, and you’ll have the opportunity to purchase their vibrantly colored flowers.

• The local crafts and works of art at the Green Market Square. Originally Cape Town’s first fruit and vegetable market, Green Market Square is a sensational place to go for cultural enlightenment. Today, it is a market offering African goods and art, and is surrounded by charming cafés that invite visitors to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and socialize. On your guided tour, you’ll uncover the large impact Green Market Square has on the local community, as well as the local economy.

Rockchic: Timeless Jewelry Recognized For Beauty and Power

rockchicFor visitors to Cape Town, South Africa looking for the perfect gift to bring home for the holidays, Rockchic is the place to find it. With an assortment of stunning, handmade gemstone jewelry including necklaces, bracelets, crystals and gems, and an assortment of jewelry accessories, you are sure to find the perfect piece to compliment any outfit.

Each piece is entirely crafted out of natural materials with the utmost precision, and each crystal and gem is the finest found in nature. Types of crystals and gems used in Rockchic’s jewelry assortment include amazonite, amethyst, fuchsite, malachite, and spirit quartz—among a wide spectrum of others.

When you purchase a piece from Rockchic, you are purchasing more than a necklace, bracelet, or earring set, you are purchasing a traditional form of power and beauty recognized by ancient South African civilizations. These civilizations, as well as current cultures, believe that crystals hold great power in both the physical and metaphysical worlds and that the uniqueness of each crystal has the power to protect, enhance, uplift, and strengthen its owner.

According to Michele and Kathleen of Rockchic, “(The crystals) have been used as amulets to ward off harm, as talismans to encourage virtues, as magical guardians to heal, and as tools to interpret messages from the spirit world. They have an attraction that transcends time and space.”

In addition to their undeniable beauty, certain gems and crystals have metaphysical powers specific to that gem or crystal. Below is an example of the metaphysical power one such crystal has, the Agate:

  • Agates are believed to have a healing power that works to calm, strengthen, and balance the mind and body.
  • Agates work to increase self-esteem and the trust others have in you.
  • Banded Agates provide you with strength to face life’s obstacles.
  • Agates also work to extinguish fear and provide you with pleasant dreams.

Because each crystal is completely unique from the next, it can have a different emotional impact on individuals. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you feel a connection between yourself and the crystal.

Below are steps taken from the Rockchic website that will help you when choosing the perfect crystal:

“To select a crystal, first put yourself in a calm space. Hold the crystal in your right hand with the point towards you. Feel it physically. Be open to sensations like tingling or change in temperature. Also feel the crystal emotionally. Think of the purpose you want it for and see if you feel attracted to it. Be more concerned with how it feels than how it looks. Allow the crystal to pick you by interacting with it in this way. Go with your initial feeling.”

To view Rockchic’s selection of fine gem and crystal jewelry visit their website at http://www.rockchic.co.za/index.html.

Will I Enjoy The Food In South Africa?

tablemtn5_thumb

Cape Town, food lovers' capital of South Africa

We’re all familiar with the famous flavors of Italian spices, hearty German food, French delicacies, and Chinese take-out, but what about South African cuisine? For many travelers to South Africa, who are unfamiliar with traditional South African cuisine, there is a concern about whether or not they will be able to enjoy the food on their trip to Africa.

In order to get a better idea for South African dishes, you will find a brief description of the influences on the evolution of South African cuisine below:

Dutch settlers brought . . .

• A variety of seeds from Europe to grow watermelon, cucumbers, pineapples, and potatoes.
• Traditional English and Dutch recipes for stews and dishes.

French settlers brought . . .

• Wine and facilitated vineyard growth throughout the region. Now, Cape Winelands, South Africa, is one of the greatest wine production regions in the world and is a must visit destination for wine lovers.

Malaysian slaves (traded by the Dutch East India Company) brought . . .

• Spices that added zest and life to traditional English and Dutch stews.

German settlers brought . . .

• German desserts including pastries and baked goods.

All of these countries, as well as influences from India and China, have shaped South African cuisine into what it is today.

Specific types of food and dishes you can find in South Africa today include:

• Produce: corn, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, fruits, and green beans.
• Seafood (a main dietary staple in South Africa): hake (commonly sold as fish and chips), rock lobster, mussels, and cod.
• Meat pies (inspired by the English and Dutch): The Boer Chicken Pie and Bobotie.
• Sausages: beef, pork, lamb, ostrich, and chicken.
• Desserts: rice pudding and melktert.
• Other dishes: rice, Frikkadels (hamburgers), and Bredies (stews).

la_colombe_restaurant

Lunch at La Colombe Restaurant

One of the greatest misconceptions some visitors to the region may have about South Africa is that all accommodations offer South African dishes and meats that are unappetizing. This, in fact, is an inaccurate assumption, not only because many South African dishes have been inspired by Europeans, but also since many of the hotels, camps, and lodges throughout the region accommodate foreigners who are used to more westernized flavors and dishes and prefer these types of meals. 

Although this concern is understandable as there are some dishes, meats, and ways of preparing meals in the country that many foreigners would find to be unappetizing, there are also a wealth of traditional dishes that incorporate Asian and European spices and flavors.

Some of the popular cuts of meat found in restaurants and accommodations throughout South Africa (that are traditional dietary staples throughout many regions of the world) include beef, lamb, duck, chicken, and fish. And for the more adventurous eater, there are delicious meats primarily served only in Africa, which include springbok, kudu, and crocodile.

With a variety of westernized dishes and traditional South African dishes, visitors to the region are guaranteed to find meals that fit their liking. Therefore, whether you’re a more adventurous eater or a conservative eater, you will find delicious eats.

Share

Who Knew Merlot Cared So Much About Labels?

avondale

Photo from Avondale website

The wine country of South Africa is full of old-world Dutch estates, family-owned vineyards, and charming countryside, but there is one vineyard, in particular, that is appraised for not only its eco-friendly practices, but also for its delectable wines.

Each year, Avondale picks their best wine from the barrel and awards it the Les Perleus label. This label of excellence was given to their Merlot 2006 this year because of its “deep velvety texture,” hints of fruit flavors, and long, subtle tannin finish.

merlot

Photo from Avondale website

Below you will find more information about the Les Perleus Merlot 2006:

• Some of the grapes were fermented in open tanks and the other part in closed tanks.

• Part of the fermentation process occurred in French oak barrels to draw out deep flavors of wood.

• The wine is ready to drink now. However, if you would like to wait until the wine has aged the recommended time is 15 years.

Avondale, an exceptional vineyard that began in Paarl, South Africa, features some of the most exquisite wines in the world and since its opening has expanded satellite vineyards to fifteen countries across the globe. But Avondale is famous for more than its splendid wines—they are Bio-LOGIC certified for their entire farm. In a nutshell, Bio-LOGIC certification requires that a farm does not use pesticides (even if they’re organic) or herbicides in their grape growing process. Avondale has taken great pride in this certification and strives to do their part in sustaining the environment.

Learn more about this exceptional vineyard here:

Share