Venturing into the wilderness to gather ingredients is hardly a novel concept. However, “returning to nature” seems to be the latest buzzword in fashion, design, food, decor and interiors. In foodie circles, this return to source is all about finding new flavours and textures in nature.
Since the days of the earliest Dutch settlers (and even before that), the Cape was known to be abundant in edible plants such as Cape sorrel. Even in our present-day landscape we find the delicious num-num berry growing copiously when the season is right. From the rock pools of Cape Point to the summit of Table Mountain, there is food to be found – if you know where to look.
A number of local chefs are well-versed in wild food, and consistently raise the bar when it comes to creating plated fare. By utilising what we have around us, chefs in the know are providing us with a taste of the land. Here are a few of the best places to find foraged items on the menu:
What Chef/owner Chris Erasmus is not only the driving force behind one of Franschhoek’s best restaurants, he is also a skilled forager. The mountains and estates surrounding the lush Franschhoek valley is where Chris heads on a near-daily basis, seeking wild ingredients to incorporate into his menu. Herbs such as wild garlic are gathered, along with juicy brambleberries in the summer and edible mushroom varieties like porcini during the cooler months. For a truly wild experience, try the starter of num-num and malva-glazed sweetbreads, warm salad of chickpeas, black pudding and porcini, pine rings and spiced dried fruit purée.
Contact 021 876 2328, email@example.com
Location 11 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek 7690
2. LA COLOMBE
Where Silvermist Mountain Lodge and Wine Estate
What The smoked chestnuts, porcini mushrooms, shallots and tarragon that was recently featured on the menu at La Colombe was a perfect nod to the change of season. As the temperatures dropped ever so slightly and the first big rains rolled their way through the Cape, head chef James Gaag and team were already gathering freshly fallen chestnuts and porcini to usher in autumn. Along with these wild treats, recurring items such as seaweed are regularly presented.
Contact 021 795 0125, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Constantia Main Road, Constantia
3. THE TEST KITCHEN
Where The Old Biscuit Mill
What Those who visit this award-winning eatery always leave with something truly special. A proudly South African touch persists throughout the menu, paying homage to our edible landscapes. South Africa’s rarest wild edible mushroom, the morel, made a brief appearance on the menu last year, while more frequently used items include num-nums, edible seaweed and even wild meat such as guinea fowl.
Contact 021 447 2337, email@example.com
Location 375 Albert Road, Woodstock
4. CHEF’S WAREHOUSE
Where Cape Town CBD
What Head chef Liam Tomlin welcomes nature’s bounty in his masterful tapas creations, with seasonal mushrooms such as fresh porcini and fresh chicken of the woods appearing on the menu when available. This buzzing corner of Bree Street is where the city’s top chefs go to eat on their days off – just ask Michelin-starred chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, Luke Dale-Roberts, Chef Eric Bulpitt, Chef Brad Ball, Rudi Liebenberg, Franck Dangereux and Reuben Riffel.
Contact 021 422 0128, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 92 Bree Street