A few weeks ago, I went to Prince Albert in the Karoo to experience The African Relish Cooking School for the first time. It’s been on my list for years so was thrilled to finally go. Getting out of Cape Town and seeing the wide-open spaces of this part of South Africa was especially lovely in these crazy times.
The days were sunny and clear, and I travelled via Oudtshoorn and the Swartberg Pass. A spectacular road that was designed by my great grandfather Thomas Bain. Completed in 1888, it’s still an all-gravel highway and feels suspended in time. The pass which weaves its way up and cuts through the Swartberg Mountains was quite an engineering feat at the time.
I stayed in one of the African Relish cottages (Deurdrift 1) that are scattered around the village and serve as accommodation for people attending their courses. They run regular themed recreational classes and I attended a one-day event. It involved a morning foodie tour to a few local artisan food producers, a blacksmith, and the Fransie Pienaar Museum for a mampoer tasting.
This was followed by a light lunch back at the school and an afternoon cooking class. The busy day culminated in a convivial feast where all attendees sat down to eat the dishes that were cooked. I was invited to demonstrate two of these and I made the raspberry souffle from my second cookbook, and my hugely popular baked camembert with sundried tomatoes, garlic, and thyme. The demonstration kitchen setup at African Relish is very informal and guests can get involved as much as they like. I really liked this casual environment that allowed a lot of interaction during the class.
On my trip, I loved walking around the quaint town of Prince Albert and gawking at the beautiful Karoo, Victorian and Cape Dutch houses. Lei water canals fed from mountain streams run through the streets adding to the charm. Bright bursts of Bougainvillea and aloe in bloom created a beautiful juxtaposition against the cerulean sky.
There are several olive, fruit and sheep farms in the area which are open to visitors, and we visited O for Olive on our tour. The town has a plethora of shops and art galleries to visit and on a Saturday morning, they have a village market. The town is geared around tourists and is easy to navigate.
African Relish has a deli and café, and their restaurant is open for pizzas in the evening. I can also highly recommend the Karoo Kombuis for a plate of boerekos (traditional Afrikaans food). They only serve roast lamb, bobotie, and chicken pie and you can get any combination of these, and it was utterly delicious (PS it’s BYOB).
Here are a few of my pictures to fill in the story.
*I was hosted by African Relish for the days I spent in Prince Albert
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