By Lutho Pasiya
Sampling food and drinks are one of the great joys of travel. In fact, for a lot of people (myself included) it is among the main attractions of travelling.
I have started to realise that many of my favourite things to do on vacation and the strongest memories I take back home with me have to do with the food.
Little wonder then that culinary vacations are becoming more popular now than ever before. Food tourism is about more than just enjoying a good meal, a pint of beer, or a glass of wine during a trip. It is a way of immersing ourselves in the culture and heritage of a region, making the experience memorable in a completely unique and personal way. And the KZN Midlands has much to offer the traveller with a yen for good food and drinks.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Harvest and Gin Festival held at the historic Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick. The event was a lifestyle buffet of options that celebrated biodiversity, health, and lifestyle. The event boasted 25 stalls, mostly from SMMEs who were trading all day to locals and visitors alike.
Traders included the likes of Sushi and Coco’s Eatery, local street food supplier Eats by Vie and Incoso Meats who showcased alternative and innovative ways to prepare and serve goat meat.
For the drinkers, Hendricks Gin, Cruxland Gin, Imagin, Gordons, and Spier Wines were also present to quench people’s thirst.
We are out at the inaugural Harvest & Gin Festival at Mandela Capture Site. The festival celebrates biodiversity, nature, agro-tourisn and lifestyle. @IOL_Lifestyle @IOLTravel @TourismKZN#KZNYourEasterDestination #EasterInKZN #Zwakala #KZNHasItAll #BelieveIt pic.twitter.com/SGNUUJCWuQ— Lutho (@DjThotho_Pasiya) April 2, 2022
Event organiser, Dennis Ngxongo said they could not have done this without their stakeholders, and were grateful for the partnership and support they received from Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, who not only engaged and interacted with the festival attendees but drove the message home that KZN has so much to offer.
In fact, Tourism KZN used this opportunity to highlight the provinces’ key attractions through a virtual reality experience and fun-filled activities. The team encouraged locals and tourists to travel to and within the province, and use the Easter season to discover hidden the province’s gems and explore the best offerings.
Tourism KZN general manager for marketing Mpho Mbuli, said: “We are telling everyone who is here to come and explore KZN. For us, it is more and beyond just the festival - it is about telling people to loosen up, to go out and explore all parts of the province.”
If you are one of those who will be looking to eat and drink your way through the Midlands this Easter, consider these reliable destinations.
Abingdon Wine Estate
Abingdon was the first farm to produce a certified estate wine from KZN grapes with their maiden vintage in 2007. The three-hectare farm bought in by Ian and Jane Smorthwaite in 2000 produces certified single vineyard Estate wines from 100% KZN grapes.
It is a family-run business that feels like your home away from home. They offer six wine options, which include Abingdon Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Chardonnay 2018, Viognier 2017, Blanc de Noir 2018, Syrah 2017, and Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. They also offer delicious food including their famous harvest boards in vegetarian, cheese, and mixed variants.
Highgate Wine Estate
Highgate Wine Estate is also a family-run estate. It is a place where you can experience a unique KZN certified wine tasting and cellar tour on their beautifully built wine cellar at Piggly Wiggly. They offer wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Merlot, Syrah, and Rosé.
The wine estate has two different food options you can indulge in. One is a food and wine pairing, and the other one is a set menu option.
Granny Mouse Country House
Granny Mouse Country House has two restaurants on offer, the Bistro, and the fine dining Eaves Restaurant. With the hotel well known for its award-winning cuisine, the restaurants both offer an array of culinary decadence. With seasonal menus on offer, their dishes are designed to be combined with our extensive wine list and craft beer.
New executive culinary artist Wesley Kurt Peters has just given the restaurant menus a revamp. Peters has put together and introduced a fresh culinary perspective for a new refined menu that is sure to engage and delight even the most discerning palate. The splendid a la carte menu he has put together covers every food fantasy, with its mouth-watering dishes giving him the opportunity to “flex his culinary muscle”.
Lythwood Lodge restaurant
Here you can unwind in front of an open fire in the bar or on the patio while watching reedbucks on the open lawns. Their bar was used in the first Spud movie as John Cleese’s office.
At the restaurant menus are drawn up daily by their head chef, Vusi Mkhwanazi. Through redesigning the menu daily, Mkhwanazi ensures the freshest and best quality produce from around the Midlands. The setting of the restaurant is as varied as the cuisine. You can even dine outside under an ancient oak tree and the twinkling stars of the night sky. Non-residents are welcome to come and enjoy the food on offer but bookings are essential.