Cape Town and Campfires

In order to start a fire the following procedure can be followed:

-Collect tinder
-Light tinder and place kindling on top
-Add on twigs, forming a “tepee”
-If needed, blow at base of the tinder
-Start adding firewood and build up when first piece catches

I begin to panic after reading these instructions in the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre volunteer manual. How am I going to eat for a month in Africa using only fire? I’ve never really spent much time in the great outdoors, so even though I know my way around a professional stove, the transition to Queen of the Campfire isn’t going to be easy.

In anticipation of my month of potential starvation in the bush, I decide a few days of South African food and wine is a necessity before setting out on my Malawi adventure. Taking a little detour, I have the good fortune to be invited to Franschhoek, in the nearby wine country, as the guest of a local vineyard owner and tour operator. A friend of a friend, Wendy of Wineland Experiences shows me why her town has achieved culinary fame. For the past 10 years the country’s best chefs have flocked to this area making it the Napa Valley of the African continent.

Franschhoek Vineyard

Franschhoek Vineyard

Many restaurants in this small, picturesque hamlet serve 5-star cuisine at budget prices (at least from an American standpoint, that is). Menus feature seasonal produce, regional seafood and wild game, such as spingbox (an indigenous deer) , as well as traditional South African fare like Cape Malay curry and Bobotie (a spicy minced meat mixture topped with a savory custard). A flare for outstanding presentation and a stellar wine list round out an extraordinary culinary experience.


Dessert Plate at Le Bon Vivant

Dessert Plate at Le Bon Vivant


Sitting in the valley of the Klein Drakenstein mountains Franschhoek’s vineyards are world renown (the country grows 20% of the world’s wine). Offering superb cabernets, chardonnays, shiraz and South Africa’s own pinotage grape, the wineries are set on lovely manicured estates featuring traditional Dutch colonial architecture.


Moreson Vineyard

Moreson Vineyard

When my days of gluttony and indulgence are over, I head back to Cape Town for a few errands before catching my flight to Lilongwe. The most important errand is my last rabies shot at a local clinic. For some reason the shot doesn’t hurt so much in this country (maybe it’s because I know the bill will be 1/3 the price). Walking out of the clinic I pass a grocery store. While eyeing premium pastas and imported jams through the window I envision myself standing over a campfire waiting an hour for a single potato to cook. I panic and run inside, grabbing granola, rice cakes, almonds, peanuts, spaghetti (I can always boil water), and even bananas. I fear starvation, even though I’m someone whose never been deprived of food before (well only once in communist Hungary, but that’s another story). Instinctively I reach for a bottle of red wine from a winery I just visited, but stop myself, knowing I have gone too far.

Lamb stuffed potato, Le Bon Vivant

Lamb stuffed Potato, Le Bon Vivant

With a heavy suitcase I fly to Malawi the next morning hoping not to be busted at the border for illegal bananas.

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One Response to “Cape Town and Campfires”

  1. Cheryl Cavanagh Says:

    HI Kris, how exciting!! I will look forward to your new menu items from South Africa! What made you decide to got there??? You are full of adventure!!

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