You know there’s magic going on in the kitchen when you’re on a game drive, following a gorgeous leopard padding through an open plain, and then find yourself wondering what’s for dinner… “Huh!? What’s wrong with you Rach … we’ve just had high tea, and before that a big lunch, scrumptious game drive snacks and breakfast almost fit for a lion!”. But I wasn’t the only one having these thoughts. “I’m looking forward to dinner” said Em from the seat next to me. The truth is, we were on a food safari! An Okavango Wilderness Camp food safari!
I’ve always had a healthy appetite and I love eating fresh and wholesome foods, but I’m definitely not a ‘foodie’, and I certainly never thought I would be writing about it on my blog. Yet I’ve come to realise that mealtimes, especially at a Wilderness Safari’s Camp are an essential ingredient to an ultimate safari experience – an experience that, thus far, has been deliciously exceptional.
But meals, of course, are about so much more than just eating. Two of the camps that Em and I stayed at, Xigera and Seba, are “Classic” Wilderness Camps. Instead of sitting at individual tables (like at Premier camps) guests all dine together. I loved this! It creates such a warm and intimate atmosphere.
Usually the evening begins with finger snacks around a cosy campfire, with the warm firelight making it possible to see dusty sunburnt and satisfied faces. Campfires have a way of making even the most uptight of people relax, and also melt away cultural and language barriers, making it perfectly ok for the English guy to mime out the days animal sightings in conversation with his new Swedish friends. You only need to ask and most local guides will be thrilled to entertain you with stories of their experiences growing up in the area, which I found a delight and privelage.
But I think my favourite part of the evening is when the chef’s come out to sing and present the evening’s menu. I don’t know much about wine but the way the ladies explain it makes it sound like a whole romantic meal in itself.
There were so many incredible dishes served to us throughout our stay but here are two of my favourites with thanks to the chef’s at Seba camp….
CARROT, GINGER AND LEOMONGRASS SOUP
(makes about 1ltr)
1tbl olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 (10cm) piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped.
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
750g carrots, peeled and sliced.
chives for garnish
Cook onion in a large saucepan in oil over low heat for 5 minutes. Add carrots, ginger and lemongrass. Saute for an additional 5 minutes. Pour in stock, add butter and simmer for 10 minutes or until carrots are tender. Liquidise soup right in pan with hand-held blender, strain through a sieve, check consistency and season. Serve hot with a drizzle of creme fraiche or a dollop of Greek yoghurt, then sprinkle with very thinly sliced chives.
APPLE AND HONEY CAKE (with Savanna)
(makes one large cake)
2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
250ml brown sugar
30ml ground cinnamon
420g cake flour
15ml baking soda
2,5ml ground cloves
1,25ml ground ginger
250ml vegetable oil
5ml vanilla extract
250ml warm coffee
125ml Savanna (apple cider)
Deep fried apple slices dusted in cinnamon sugar to serve
Thick cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 190C and lightly grease a 25cm round cake tin. Line the bottom with baking paper. Mix the apple slices in a medium bowl with 30ml of the sugar and 10ml of the cinnamon and set aside. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, half the honey, the remainder of the sugar and the eggs, vanilla, coffee and Savanna. Mix the ingredients well and spoon 1/3 of the batter into the prepared tin. Top with half the apples and then repeat with another 1/3 of the batter, followed by remaining apples and final third of the batter. Bake the cake for one hour, the skewer should come out clean. Out of the oven, drizzle with the remaining honey while still warm. Top the cake with deep fried apples and serve with cream.
And just because I can’t resist, here are some more gorgeous foodie lunch pictures, thanks to Em Gatland.
Thank you Wilderness Safaris, for sharing some of your delicious recipe’s with us…