“There is something profoundly satisfying about sharing a meal. Eating together, breaking bread together, is one of the most unifying of all human experiences” - Barbara Coloroso
If you really want to experience the heart of a destination, the best way to do it is to walk its streets, meet its people and eat the local cuisine. The Gourmet Village Walk in Knysna gives visitors the opportunity to do exactly that. This relaxed culinary tour is designed not only to showcase our diverse eateries and continually flirt with your taste buds, but also to provide insight into the various historical, cultural and environmental aspects which make Knysna so unique.
Owners of Knysna Hike and Bike, Anne Centner and Mandy Stubbs, are accredited professional tour guides with a genuine passion for all things local and between them they possess a wealth of knowledge and anecdotal tales about our beautiful region. Their fascinating narrative en route adds a great deal of substance to the experience.
The first stop on the tour was 'Mon Petit Pain' on Hedge Street, a quaint café-deli where the food is fresh and the atmosphere relaxed. It is encircled by a pretty garden of flowering proteas, arum lilies, agapanthus, succulents and various other indigenous flora. Here we were presented with an assorted platter of hand-crafted bruschetta and quiche canapés, along a jug of vibrant, freshly squeezed carrot and orange juice. It is easy to gauge why this place is popular with both visitors and locals alike.
From there, we took a gentle stroll towards the Knysna Waterfront, which boasts a bustling marina and a host of restaurants and retail outlets. Along the way Anne filled us in on snippets of Knysna's rich maritime history and aspects of our environment. We were headed for 34° South, one of longest standing restaurants on the Quays. Included in their eclectic mix of popular South African dishes were pickled and curried fish, peri-peri calamari, pepperdews as well as their legendary garlic, sea salt and rosemary baguettes – all of which were served with a chilled glass of good old South African white wine. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of yachts and seagulls, we broke bread and shared stories.
From there we headed over the bridge to Thesen Harbour Town, which is the commercial village of Thesen Islands’ marina development located within the Knysna Estuary. Our next stop was the atrium of The Lofts Boutique Hotel. Recently refurbished after a devastating fire two years ago, this historical building situated on the water’s edge combines the old boatyard's timber framework with fresh, contemporary design elements. On the menu: heaven-sent goats’ cheese, wild melon preserve and locally made chorizo sausage served with fresh foccacia made by the (also recently opened) ile de pain next door. All this washed down with a little tipple of local craft beer.
We then paid a visit to the offices of SanParks, the custodians of our Garden Route National Parks, where we viewed the iconic seahorse, before heading off to the trendy Tapas & Oysters...where we drank champagne and quaffed on fresh oysters (Knysna's most popular mollusc).
Last stop on the tour was back over the Thesen Island causeway to the Fresh Line Fisheries, one of the best local jaunts in town where a great selection of seafood can be found. We nibbled on calamari, mussels and fresh fried fish and enjoyed a glass of award winning Sauvignon Blanc from Luka wines, an estate not far from Knysna.
To say that one is satiated after this culinary journey through Knysna would be an understatement as it is a genuine feast for all the senses. Perhaps one of the best things about the tour is the opportunity to get to share stories over a meal shared. That is priceless.