This week's Slow Route Food Journey takes us to Benguela Brasserie & Restaurant at Lakeside Lodge, situated on the reed-fringed banks of the Swartvlei Lake, just a few kilometres from the Slow Town of Sedgefield. The view alone sets it apart from many other restaurants in the area, but aside from that, they recognise and implement many of the slow food principles which we are seeking to promote on this culinary journey. Their mouth-watering bill of fare is inspired by the seasonality and availability of locally produced ingredients.
Early every Saturday morning at the iconic Wild Oats Market in Sedgefield you will find Benguela's Executive Chef Kelly-Anne Pietersen on a mission. With her astute chef’s eye, she seeks out the freshest, most eye-catching seasonal produce available, and then designs her menu in accordance to what she manages to source. Other fresh ingredients are ordered directly from local farmers within the Greater Knysna or George area.
Kelly-Anne is best known for taking familiar French classics and putting her individual creative stamp on them by giving them a local, contemporary twist. She trained under several well-known local chefs and has worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in South Africa, including the Cape Grace Hotel, Sofia’s Restaurant at Morgenster Wine & Olive Estate and Bertus Basson’s award-winning Overture Restaurant.
Kelly-Anne changes her menu every two to three weeks. This is due not only to the fact that her dishes are based on seasonal, available produce, but also because she needs to constantly feed her creative passion for culinary arts.
Benguela Brasserie serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, which can be enjoyed either indoors or out (weather permitting), where diners can soak up the splendour of the Swartvlei's broad liquid landscape.
Breakfast and lunch are entirely informal affairs and in-line with the typical Brasserie style of dining. So guests of the lodge or locals can head here before or after a day exploring the area and enjoy a casual meal outdoors. It may be “casual dining”, but the attention to detail is notable and the quality of the dishes is consistently high.
For dinner, they take it up several notches. The owners of Benguela Brasserie, (who also own Benguela Cove, a leading producer and wine destination at the start of South Africa’s Hermanus Wine Route) saw a need in the area for a fine-dining experience and therefore decided that they would place strong emphasis on ensuring that every single aspect of a person's 'dining experience' is catered for. Dinners here can best be described as an unhurried, sensory feast. The service is exemplary, the ambiance beautiful and the food fare sublime. And all the menu items can be perfectly paired with one Benguela Cove's award-winning wines.
For more information visit: http://www.bengueladining.com
“I am passionate about the environment”. This was one of the first things Tanith Christie Scott said when we met to discuss her locally produced Vintage Vinyl Café range of vegan and vegetarian cuisine. She has been a keen advocate for plant based diets for almost 20 years and her delicious food fare is testament to her unyielding passion for both the earth and optimum health.
Vintage Vinyl Cafe epitomises the ethos behind the Slow Food movement. All the produce used in this range is seasonal and sourced locally and ethically. The majority of her recipes include what she terms 'clean ingredients' and are suitable for a variety of dietary requirements, such as gluten free and sugar free and serve not only to nourish the body, but also mind and spirit.
Veganism is one of the fastest growing lifestyle movements in the world. More and more people are moving away from diets rich in animal products and moving toward plant-based diets both for health and environmental reasons.
Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society explains: “The reasons behind the rise of veganism are numerous: the positive portrayal in the media has contributed to its changing image; documentaries on the shocking realities and consequences of animal agriculture have gained prominence; delicious-looking vegan recipes have multiplied online and on social media as society becomes increasingly health-conscious; and top vegan athletes keep proving that you can be fit and healthy on a plant-based diet. Going vegan is the best thing any individual can do for the animals, the planet and your health.”
The Vintage Vinyl food range can currently be found at the Green Road in Sedgefield, Totties in Rheenendal and Muse in Knysna. I was fortunate enough to sample a few of her mouthwatering recipes such as zucchini marinated and then baked in a dark chocolate, date and chilli sauce; Pepperdew and sundried tomato hummus and a chocolate, lemon, ginger & mint vegan mousse pot.
Tanith has big plans for the future. A year ago she moved from Cape Town with her husband Shane and their three young children after purchasing a smallholding in Bibby's Hoek, which sits right on the fringe of Knysna's indigenous forest (“we are merely guardians of this precious land”, she reminded me with a smile.) They live entirely off the grid, and are in the process of becoming as self- sufficient as possible. She plans to grow most of the fresh produce she needs for her recipes, on their property.
There is an old wooden structure on the property which they are in the process of renovating and which is set to become the Vintage Vinyl Café, where they will offer a vegan and vegetarian inspired dining experience around the warmth of an old wood stove, with music from eclectic genres (from her collection of over 1000 vinyl records) playing in the background.
Tanith is a trained jewellery designer, DJ and artist and her exquisite Vintage Vinyl Café journey has become yet another creative outlet for her and a positive way in which she can help promote a vegan lifestyle.