Random foodie books from South Africa

Market Food: South Africa

Market Food: South Africa

Following the explosion of local markets and the emergence of talented foodie entrepreneurs, Dianne Stewart and her two daughters, Lissa Stewart and Jessica Cairns, felt driven to travel around South Africa in search of the best market food. Two years later, in 2015, they published Market Food: South Africa (Bookstorm), a 167-page softcover book for tourists and locals. The book is divided into six sections: Find Your Local Market, Market Tastes, Market Meals, A Little Extra, Sweet Sensations, and Thirst Quenchers.

"Having experienced numerous food markets abroad, we knew that the world-class South African food markets were worth promoting," Jessica Cairns said via email. "We visited markets nationally, in search of markets with their own unique personality and we sort after talented food vendors who were producing creative food of a very high quality. Market Food includes a directory of markets that we visited around the country and a diverse assortment of great market food recipes accompanied by the foodie entrepreneur’s unique stories. The book aims to promote the food markets and these talented vendors."

Authors Market Food: South Africa

Dianne Stewart, Lissa Stewart and Jessica Cairns, authors, Market Food

Their favorite part of the project Cairns said by email was, "Eating our way around the markets! Sampling the delicious food, chatting to the vendors to get the background to their food and how they ended up at the markets. Dianne and Jessica collated the vendors recipes and retold the vendor’s personal stories while Lissa had the task of capturing the market atmosphere and the delicious food through the photographic lens."

The biggest surprise? "The depth of the talent at these markets and the diverse personalities of each market- some tucked away in bustling harbour precincts, others on lush wine estates, in parks or inner-city warehouses," Cairns said.

The three continue the promotion of food markets and talented food vendors on their website and social media channels (marketscoop.co.za) where they feature an updated national market directory (each market has its own page with photographs, maps and opening times), scoops of what is happening at markets around the country and the personal stories of some of the vendors they meet at the markets. Dianne Stewart is author of 30 books, Jessica Cairns is a former international banker, and Lissa Stewart is a food photographer.

Lettuce and a Lady's Breast

Lettuce and a Lady's Breast

In Lettuce and a Lady's Breast Looking back over 50 years of cooking Billy Gallagher (Billy Gallagher and Associates) outlines the highlights of his culinary life from his roots in the United Kingdom to South Africa. He shares insights from his personal life, his life as a chef as well as his work with the South African Chefs Association (SACA) and the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS). The 330-page softcover book, published in 2015, is divided chronologically. It is peppered liberally with black and white and color images and photos.

Babel Cookbook

Babel Cookbook

Babel (Babylonstoren) by Maranda Engelbrecht is a 237-page softcover oversize book published in 2013. The visually appealing book has full color photos of the produce and meals from Babel, its namesake restaurant located within Babylonstoren, a relatively new produce farm lovingly established and nurtured in a former cattle farm, in South Africa's Winelands region near Cape Town.

Maranda Engelbrecht

Maranda Engelbrecht, author, Babel

The self described food stylist's affection for presentation is evident in the page size photos of plants and dishes served at the restaurant as well as the restaurant itself. Many of items on the restaurant menu are routinely made from products grown on the farm and its environs. The book is available for sale at a large shop on the farm.

Photos courtesy of Dianne Stewart, Lissa Stewart, Jessica Cairns and Babel
Market Food: South Africa Lettuce and a Lady's Breast
Click to buy Market Food: South Africa and Lettuce and a Lady's Breast

Safari properties that offered exercise facilities among favorites

Safari properties that offered exercise facilities among favorites

  Leopard in a tree

A leopard in a tree during a game drive at Rattray’s on MalaMala

The pool at Ratttrays

The pool at Ratttray’s had a view of the dry river bed

When on safari the repetitive cycle of daily game drives and copious meals can leave us tired without the healthful benefits of exercise. On our most recent itinerary featuring safari properties in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa two lodges stood out for their fitness and pool features. Both lodges, within the Sabi Sand Reserve, a private reserve adjacent to South Africa’s Kruger National Park, had private plunge pools in the rooms as well as a main area swimming pool large enough to swim short laps.

Exercise room at Rattrays

The exercise room at Rattray’s

White rhino

A white rhino during a game drive at Rattray’s

In the Mala Mala Reserve, Rattray’s on MalaMala had a dedicated fitness room for guests with exercise equipment and a few weights. Next to the fitness room there was a sauna. In front of the fitness room there was a swimming pool. Both had expansive views of the lawn and dry river bed. In addition, there were private plunge pools on the river facing deck of each spacious room.

Pool at Chitwa Chitwa

 The main pool at Chitwa Chitwa Private Game Lodge faced a dam

Game was visible from the pool all day

From the pool deck we observed elephants visiting the dam

Chitwa Chitwa Private Game Lodge, in the northern end of Sabi Sand Reserve, also had a dedicated workout room with electric exercise machines. The art filled sunlit room with glass walls was adjacent to the property’s dedicated spa treatment room. Guest rooms had private decks with bush and dam views as well as plunge pools. In the main area, there was a rimless swimming pool facing the property dam.

The exercise room at Chitwa Chitwa

The exercise room at Chitwa Chitwa


A lion seen during a game drive at Chitwa Chitwa

In Franschhoek, La Residence offered luxury accommodations and superlative service

In Franschhoek, La Residence offered luxury accommodations and superlative service

Article and photos by E. del Valle

La Residence common areas

The main building at La Residence

The manager of the hotel

I had breakfast with Edward Morton, general manager of the hotel

I spent my final day in South Africa at La Residence, a serene, elegant and stylish farm estate in the village of Franschhoek, one of my preferred wine and gourmet areas of the country. The property and the setting were as pretty as I remembered from previous visits (see La Residence Hotel and Villas and La Residence).

Vineyard suite from the garden side

Vineyard Suite 3 seen from the garden

I stayed in Vineyard Suite 3, a 40 square meter room with a private garden that faced the vineyards and mountain in the family section of the 30 acre estate with 85 employees. That part of the property, built in 2010, had five Family Suites. The farm grew grapes, olives, plums, quinces, black and green figs, pomegranates and lemons.

The interior of the vineyard suite

The interior of my room, Vineyard Suite 3

The bath featured a claw foot tub

There was a bathtub in the center of the bathroom 

The room, the smallest of the Family Suites, was lovingly decorated with fine fabrics, a large and beautiful fresh flower arrangement, original oil paintings, and comfortable and colorful furnishings. The four poster bed, with crisp white linen sheets embroidered with the brand initials and fluffy feather pillows, was so far off the ground there were three rung wood ladders on either side of the bed to climb up, not a favorite.

The hotel is situated in the middle of a vineyard

The hotel, situated in the middle of a vineyard, had pretty mountain views


 Randall looked after me with warmth and attention to detail

A high ceiling and three chandeliers added to the sense of space. Throw rugs atop the stone flooring made it homey as did the ample closet space. The sunlit bathroom too was spacious and inviting, housing an oversize door-less shower, separate bathtub, a room for the toilet, and twin sinks, one on either side of the bathroom.

I especially enjoyed breakfast, a combination of a cold buffet, including skim and full cream milk, freshly harvested honey comb, seasonal fruit, locally sourced cheeses and homemade muesli, and made to order hot dishes. I also liked that staff were attentive and guest oriented. Randall, who looked after me, was friendly, helpful, and clearly knew the area well. He reconfirmed my airport transfer and my rental car pickup, and handled the check-in for my domestic flight with ease and efficiency. 

Sparkling wine and flowers on arrival

I found chilled sparkling wine, fresh fruit, and flowers on arrival in my room

The owner and designer of La Residence, Liz Biden

Liz Biden, co-owner and designer of La Residence, part of The Royal Portfolio

There were many complimentary amenities such as laundry, transfers within the village, a well stocked minibar, quality snacks and WiFi. Although I was able to go online, I was unable to send emails or connect to a VPN. There were some minor signs my room was due for a soft renovation. I appreciate the property's elegant yet welcoming ambiance, farm setting with mountain views, comfortable and stylish decor, Villa Suites, and noteworthy service. La Residence (La Residence, Elandskloof Private Road, Elandskloof Farm, Franschhoek 7690, +27 21 876 4100, fax +27 21 876 2030,  www.laresidence.co.za, info@laresidence.co.za, reservations@trp.travel), part of The Royal Portfolio owned by Liz and Phil Biden, remains among my favorite Franschhoek properties.

Why we liked seaside town on Florida west coast for quiet getaway

Why we liked seaside town on Florida west coast for quiet getaway

By Elena del Valle

Photos by Gary Cox

Dunedin mural on a wall

Dunedin mural on a wall

A skip and a jump (25 miles west) from Tampa, Florida we found Dunedin (Done-ee-den), a 28.2 square mile town with a population of just over 35,000 people. It had the unexpected small town feel of another place and time with unique shops and restaurants, picnic movies on the lawn on Friday nights, and a host of special events year round. The weekend we visited there were two street events, the American Classic Car Show Dunedin and Brewery Oktobeerfest.

The downtown strip of Dunedin

The beginning of Main Street in Dunedin

The stage downtown hosted family movie night while we were there

The stage downtown hosted family movie night while we were there

The downtown core, half mile long, was six blocks of 15 restaurants and 53 shops on Main Street. The most salient feature on Main Street was the absence of block chain stores, restaurants and franchises. We stayed at the lovingly maintained Meranova Guest Inn and dined at The Black Pearl fine dining restaurant, both in the popular downtown section. Although 60 percent of the downtown buildings date back to circa 1900, construction peppered Main Street, promising fast approaching growth.

Decorated dolphins dotted the area

Decorated dolphins dotted Main Street

Bon Appetite restaurant faces the water at the end of main street

Bon Appetit restaurant faces the water at the end of main street

“Dunedin is very proud of the fact that 100 percent of the down town businesses are Mom and Pop owned,” said Bob Ironsmith, director, Economic and Housing Development, City of Dunedin. “This is the very reason that Dunedin maintains the quaint charming life style enjoyed by residents and guests.”

We took a boat from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island

Once an hour boats ran from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island and back

A walkway to the beach

A walkway to the beach

The beach on Caladesi State Park

The beach in Caladesi State Park

More than half of the Pinellas County town, 17.8 square miles, is water and 10.4 square miles is land. Dunedin's most celebrated ecotourism attractions were Caladesi Island State Park, a popular beach destination, and the undeveloped Honeymoon Island State Park, the state’s most visited park, offering bird watching, walking, biking and kayaking opportunities to residents and visitors. We visited both. It was necessary to take a boat from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island.

Inactive nests were visible all over Honeymoon Island

Inactive Osprey nests were visible all over Honeymoon Island

The head ranger at Honeymoon Island

Peter H. Krulder, park manager, Honeymoon Island Administration, showed us around the island

Honeymoon Island averaged between 20 and 25 osprey nests and one eagle nest a year. Caladesi Island often had a few osprey nests and great horned owls a year. Domestic animals on a six foot hand held leash were welcome in the parks and only on one small section of the beach. They were not allowed in food service areas. Access to Caladesi Island was via two 45 foot long boats, one per hour, which took 20 minutes from Honeymoon Island to Caladesi Island.

The South Beach Pavilliion Cafe on Honeymoon Island

We had lunch at the South Beach Pavilion Cafe on Honeymoon Island

The view from the pavillion

The view from the pavilion

Honeymoon Island had four and a half miles of beach accessible to land visitors, 1,300 acres of uplands and 1,500 submerged acres. Caladesi Island had three miles of beach accessible to land visitors. Each island had hiking trails three mile long. It was no wonder the island parks were popular. More than one million people visit Honeymoon Island annually and 300,000 visit Caladesi Island. The parks are looked after by 12 fields staff and five administrative staff at Honeymoon Island plus five field staff at Caladesi Island.

Fresh fish and a view of the ocean

We liked the fresh fish and a view of the ocean from the cafe

Although the surf was too choppy to swim it was fun walking around and exploring the long Caladesi Island beach. On our return from Caladesi Island a fresh fish lunch with a view of the beach on Honeymoon Island from the deck of the South Beach Pavilion Cafe (1 Causeway Boulevard, Dunedin, Florida 34698, https://www.romantichoneymoonisland.com/, +1 727 260-5503) was a treat. We enjoyed our visit to Dunedin (http://www.dunedingov.com) Main Street and both islands and would return for an event oriented or relaxing weekend getaway.

Boutique bed and breakfast offered intimate ambiance, creature comforts in central Franschhoek location

Article and photos by Elena del Valle

The outer gate at The Last Word Franschhoek

The outer gate at The Last Word Franschhoek

During a recent visit to the beautiful Franschhoek Valley in South Africa's well known Winelands, I spent one night at The Last Word Franschhoek (68 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek 7690, South Africa, +27 021 876 4723, http://www.thelastword.co.za/en/home/, franschhoek@thelastword.co.za), a boutique bed and breakfast in the heart of the village of Franschhoek. Franklin Menloor, assistant manager, welcomed me on arrival and showed me around the 10-room boutique property owned by Peter Fleck and Nicky Coenen.

There was a 350 year old tree by the door

There was a 350 year old tree by the door

 Franklin Menloor, assistant manager, showed me around the 10-room boutique property

Franklin Menloor, assistant manager, showed me around the 10-room boutique property

I liked my homey second floor 35-square meter Superior Double Room facing the rear of the property and decorated in earth tones. Although I could hear neighborhood and street noises, considering its central location in the heart of the village it was relatively quiet. It had WiFi, comfortable and pretty cloth furniture, double curtains, a large Samsung flat screen television, and wall to wall carpeting. The temperature could be adjusted via underfloor heating and a remote controlled ceiling air conditioning and heating unit.

My 35 square meter room had sitting area

Room 7, my 35 square meter room with a sitting area

Room 7 was in the property's new section built following a flood nine months prior to my visit. The modern room was on the second floor of the former private house facing the rear of the property parking area and a residential street. It was the first room at the top of the stairs that led from the living and dining areas of the bed and breakfast. It was adjacent to an open terrace that faced the intimate ground floor pool area. While it was too chilly to spend time poolside I loved the expansive view of the verdant surrounding mountains from the terrace.

My bathroom

My spacious and sunlit bathroom was spotless

Amenities included a slice of cream pie on arrival, a well stocked mini refrigerator and mini bar including a bottle of South African red wine, two red apples, snacks, and a hot beverages drawer with coffee pot, hot water pitcher, coffee and tea. Also included in the room rate were turn down sweets, like a small cup of crème brulee, and breakfast.

Creme brule for turndown

The creme brulee turn down snack

I liked the Healing Earth toiletries

I liked the healing Earth toiletries

The large bathroom had: oversize door-less shower, water closet, separate bathtub, stool, twin sinks, and a built-in closet. During my stay, I tried Healing Earth South African made toiletries for the first time. In the light filled bathroom, there were 200 milliliter bottles of pleasantly scented shampoo, shower gel, conditioner, bath salts, and one small bar of soap. Fresh flowers and a handful of rose petals added a romantic touch.

The breakfast buffet

The breakfast buffet

At breakfast there was a small buffet of pastries, jams, nuts, dried fruit, fruit in syrup, cereals, fruit juice, deli meats, cheese, crackers, salmon and avocado. It was also possible to order a hot made to order breakfast, which consisted of mostly egg options and pancakes. Sides for the egg dishes were sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, and toast.