"Behind the Vines" voted best wine tour by American Express in the Food & Wine guide.www.classicencounters.com

South Africa - an epicurean delight!



It was the search for food that shaped modern South Africa: spices drew the Dutch East India Company to Java in the mid-1600s, and the need for a half-way refreshment stop for its ships rounding the Cape impelled the Company to plant a farm at the tip of Africa.

There are sections of Commander Jan van Riebeeck's wild almond hedge still standing in the Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town.

That farm changed the region forever. The Company discovered it was easier to bring in thousands of hapless slaves from Java to work in the fields than to keep trying to entrap the local people, mostly Khoi and San, who seemed singularly unimpressed with the Dutch and their ways.

The Malay slaves brought their cuisine, perhaps the best-known of all South African cooking styles.

The French Huguenots arrived soon after the Dutch, and changed the landscape in wonderful ways with the vines they imported. They soon discovered a need for men and women to work in their vineyards, and turned to the Malay slaves (and the few Khoi and San they could lure into employment).

Much later, sugar farmers brought indentured laborers from India to cut the cane. The British, looking for gold and empire, also brought their customs and cuisine, as did German immigrants.

And black communities carried on eating their traditional, healthy diet: game, root vegetables and wild greens, berries, millet, sorghum and maize, and protein-rich insects like locusts.

Today the resultant kaleidoscope - the famous "rainbow" - applies not only to the people but to the food, for one finds in South Africa the most extraordinary range of cuisines.




American Express Food & Wine voted African Classic Encounters the best wine tours to South Africa.

Welcome….to an epicurean wonderland!

AFRICAN CLASSIC ENCOUNTERS offers authentic food tours and travel through Southern Africa, in pursuit of excellence, and with a spirit of abundance.

South Africa is an incredibly beautiful, unique and diverse country that offers a wide variety of culinary experiences.

From Johannesburg to Cape Town to the smaller towns in between, you will find an array of creative dishes, including African Sushi, Smoked Springbok and Crocodile, Fillet of Ostrich With Merlot Jus, Bilton Pate and Seafood Medley.

Described as "the Rainbow Nation" because of its cultural diversity, South Africa has cuisine that blends the different ethnic ingredients to create some unique taste sensations.

From the most exquisite spicy dishes (like Bobotie) to Braai (where meat is roasted over red hot coals, not an open fire) to Potjie (much like a stew), the variety of palate-pleasers is extensive.-

South African Dishes: Sosaties, bobotie, biltong and boerewors are essentially South African soul foods.

Foodie tours to South Africa - Taste of South Africa by African Classic Encounters.com

Taste of South Africa tour led by executive chef - africanclassicencounters.com


Food and Wine Tours

Food and wine have always been perfect partners. No wonder there is such an abundance of restaurants in the regions.

Experience traditional delicatessens as well as cuisine from all around the world creating mouth watering and memorable experiences.

On your visit to Southern Africa, AFRICAN CLASSIC ENCOUNTERS designs unique gourmet guesthouses and country retreats; guide you to the top restaurants and wine estates and interesting foodie spots; provide you with information on regional foods; and steer you away from tourist traps!

Should you be touring with a small group, AFRICAN CLASSIC ENCOUNTERS could arrange interactive food and wine activities where, for example, you learn to cook authentic South African dishes such as bobotie; meet esteemed winemakers and experience cellar tours; and become acquainted with South Africa's top chefs along your gourmet travel route.

Find out more about South African cuisine

Evolving from a fascinatingly complex history, the South African food scene is a potjie (cauldron) of cooking methods, cultural variety and eclectic flavors unique to this 'Rainbow Nation'.

South Africa's indigenous people had lived off the fat of the land and the sea since the Stone Age and what little is known of their lifestyle, has mostly been gleaned from the rock art of the Bushmen who painted on the walls of caves using naturally occurring pigments.


South Africa's indigenous people had lived off the fat of the land and the sea since the Stone Age and what little is known of their lifestyle, has mostly been gleaned from the rock art of the Bushmen who painted on the walls of caves using naturally occurring pigments.

The San (Bushmen) and Khoi (Hottentots) - collectively referred to as the Khoisan - were hunter-gathers whose diets were rich in meat, insects and fynbos. The Khoi then learnt about animal husbandry and gravitated towards the rich grazing lands of the southern Cape.

The Strandlopers ('beach walkers') are said to be outcasts of the Khoi community who survived purely on the fruits of the sea and certain root vegetables. Tragically, very few of these ancient tribes still exist as most have been absorbed into the rest of the population.

In 1652 Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company was sent on a voyage to establish a refreshment station for their ships at the 'Cape of Good Hope'. The Cape's newcomers learnt much from the innate hunting and gathering skills of the indigenous people, and it was here that a multi-ethnic cuisine began to emerge.

The Dutch settlers imported slaves from Java and it was the Malay's intimate knowledge of spices and fishing that was to have the most profound influence on Cape cooking. The Malay's were one of the few groups of settlers who, in spite of mixing with other cultures, have rigidly adhered to their Muslim faith and culture. Distinct Malay areas still exist in the Cape.

During the French revolution (1688-1690), protestant Huguenot refugees fleeing from persecution escaped to the Cape bringing with them rootstock, viticultural practices and culinary finesse.

Britain assumed rulership of the Cape in the late 1700's and established a strong liberal tradition that characterizes Cape Town to this day. Their contribution to the food scene included the likes of pies, hot puddings and roast meats.

When the Dutch East India Company initially established a trading station at the Cape they had no intention of allowing it to become a colony. However, as demand for food exceeded supply they assented to Europeans establishing farms. From this European community developed an independent people who regarded the Cape as their home. When the British established rule they distinguished themselves from the English by the name Afrikaners and, in reaction to British liberalism, developed a culture of their own. Many of these Afrikaners left the Cape in 1840 on the Groot Trek (Great Trek) to establish new republics beyond British control.

In the mid 1800's when the British began establishing sugar cane plantations in KwaZulu Natal, slaves were brought in from India as labourers for the plantations. The Indians stayed on after their contracts expired and both Hindu and Muslim people introduced spices and curries to the scene.

An immigration plan around the same time saw an influx of Germans to the country, bringing with them recipes for sausages and hearty casseroles. Many of these German immigrants later relocated to Nambia.

African tribes such as the Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Tswana have contributed a variety of wonderfully unique dishes and the likes of pap (maize-meal porridge), samp and beans, mopane worms, morogo and sheep's heads are surely not found on any other menu!

Modern day cuisine encompasses all of these influences and flavors in both traditional and contemporary ways.

Food is gutsy, bold, unpretentious and full of flavor. Top chefs are recognized world wide for their no-horizons celebration of fresh ingredients, clean flavors and simple techniques.

Whilst visual appeal remains quintessential, fussy, poised food is out and current food trends are focused on deconstruction and staying true to the ingredients.



  American Express voted African Classic Encounters the best wine tours to South Africa.  www.classicencounters.com