For the Foodies: Karoo-chic Pr

Photo: Supplied

For the Foodies: Karoo-chic Prince Albert cooking school a winning recipe

Anyone wanting to combine the ultimate weekend away with the chance to brush up on those culinary skills, this one’s for you.

For the Foodies: Karoo-chic Pr

Photo: Supplied

We chase the setting sun along the N1 and after a four-hour drive from Cape Town, we arrive in what seems like a deserted Prince Albert. At five o’clock and with the change of season encroaching, the setting sun is soon forgotten.

Driving up the main road, I take in the quirky surrounds: Farm stalls next to the original hotel building, veggie gardens seamlessly blend into a coffee shop followed by the local dairy.

The weekend abode

We easily find African Relish Cooking School and before I know it, we are being escorted back down the road to what’s soon to become my weekend abode: Akkedis Cottage. Rustic and homely in equal measures, we’re shown around the cottage.

With home-made rusks and an old fireplace, this is fast becoming even more appealing, and a lurking cat finalises our hearty welcome. As the sun begins to set, red wine is quickly foraged and candle compromises complete the quaint Karoo picture.

Our first taste of African Relish was over dinner that night: The restaurant, still full despite the power outage, effortlessly delivered delicious butternut soup and lemongrass chicken. Surrounded by couples sharing the candle-lit glow, I eavesdrop and hear American and British accents nearby.

African Relish Cottages in Prince Albert. Photo: African Relish Karoo Cooking School

A Karoo-chic kitchen awaits

My weekend to Prince Albert would be one with primarily a foodie focus and there’s no finer destination than African Relish: A cooking school that’s cosied its way into this picturesque Karoo town and adopted its traditional South African hospitality, started with old friends and now partners, Philip and Lisa Key, who were drawn together by their mutual love of food and good living.

Offering an open-plan Karoo-chic kitchen which spills out into a magnificent herb and vegetable garden setting, and with a full calendar of any time and set courses – it’s no wonder that you have to book in advance.

Photo: African Relish Karoo Cooking School

Hone your skills, no matter your cooking level

A true culinary find, African Relish cooking school not only offers the chance to brush up on your skills in the kitchen, but also to learn alongside some of South Africa’s most loved chefs and food gurus with regular themed courses.

The Prince Albert Gourmet Cycle Tour with Jeremy Freemantle is now something I’ve added to my bucket list. A culinary adventure offering the chance to get creative with food, and then burn off all the calories riding up the Swartberg Pass certainly sounds like a winning recipe to me.

African Relish Gourmet Cycle Tour. Photo: Eatsplorer

From pasture to plate

My Saturday morning at the cooking school begins with a ramble through said vegetable gardens where I meet the team for the first time. We chat about the day’s plans, what we’ll be cooking and I get a tour of some prized organic produce growing in abundance among the olive trees.

With no stress placed on timing or a stuffy schedule, we quite literally cook until we can no longer take the hunger. Before I know it it’s two o clock and suddenly double-baked cheese souffle with home-made tomato relish, salt-chili squid, dukkah-encrusted kudu carpaccio, baba ganoush, hummus and flatbreads are being shared at the sunny lunch table.

Olive and rosemary flatbread. Photo: Eatsplorer

The Karoo is a quick teacher

I leave having mastered a few dishes and with an all-new appreciation for taking the time to make things from scratch. I suppose living in the Karoo is a quick teacher. There is much enjoyment to be had in relishing life’s simple pleasures: Baking bread, making your own stock from scratch and picking edible flowers to finish off your salad. It really does make all the difference.

With our cooking class over, it’s time to explore the town, but I realise there’s only so much daylight for what seems like an ever-increasing list of amazing ways to “get lost” in this tiny town.