Foraging is searching for wild food resources in a manner in which is sustainable.
Wow. Do I feel truly blessed for everything that has happened to me, especially over the past few days. I was lucky enough to be chosen with 6 other individuals from the restaurant & bar trade to take part of an experience with The Botanist Gin. The whole aim was to immerse us in the foraging philosophy/lifestyle, how important it is to know how rich and beautiful mother Earth is and what she has to offer.
This experience was over the course of 2 days and I feel as though I’ve learnt so much about the effort and thought of what goes into a bottle of The Botanist Gin and the true essence of foraging. I was left by the end of it quite emotional and thankful. Not only did I learn about The Botanist Gin but also the direction it is that I want to go in life.
So without making it too long winded, I shall go into where we visited and foraged.
- The Stack, Cape Town
The Stack was our meet & greet point & base camp for us. There was a total of 3 individuals from Johannesburg, 2 from Cape Town, 2 from Durban and 1 from Port Elizabeth. The Joburg squad was made up of myself from Molecular Bars, Alex from Sin + Tax bar and Caitlin Human from Tonic Bar. Bruce Dorfling his wife and Shaz Dorfling made up the Durban squad both hailing from the bar Lucky Shaker. Angus van Aarde from 12 Apostles Hotel & Bar and Samuel Mbugua from The Bungalow Bar were from Cape Town. Mark Oosthuizen is a chef who works in Port Elizabeth at Fushin, Asada & Soho. The Stack, with its beautiful wooden floors and garden-like atmosphere was the perfect place to sit and sort out the admin and have a Stack Blend (house blended tea) before the adventure began.
The Stack was where we also enjoyed dinner on the first night. We enjoyed a lovely dinner and got to know more people from the agency/admin side of the journey. The Botanist Gin and tonics were flowing and so was the wine as we enjoyed a 3 course meal. I enjoyed some lovely salmon with grapefruit and orange slices for starters, a pea lemony flavored barley based risotto and ended it off with a white chocolate mousse with passion fruit and dark chocolate. Laughs and conversations filled up the room as we got to know each other more and shared some quite laughable moments at the table.
- Veld and Sea, Scarborough
We were welcomed on a gloomy foggy morning of Cape Town to our first foraging experience at the Veld and Sea. The welcome drinks were some lovely wild teas with The Botanist Gin made by Roushanna Gray and her team and some lovely nibbles that were all from where we were about to forage. I would describe Roushanna as a bubbly energetic woman who has so much love for the Earth. Although she loves to forage she believes whole-heartedly in not taking too much and always letting mother nature do its thing. She gave us a lesson on how not to be like me and get too excited and eat everything that you see and showed us some things that are edible. The things we foraged for and were presented with was Pelargonium of various kinds, wild mint, wild rosemary and so much more.
Roushanna’s spirit filled the room and I was so happy to have met her and heard about her how she dealt with the experience of the previous fires that happened on her property late last year. Although very scared, she managed to see the silver lining in which some plants actually do need fire in order to germinate and grow and new beginnings are awaiting. During our forage she made us some lovely teas and took us through a short meditation just to get away from our phones and be in the moment. I took some time to reflect and was thankful for the short moment of silence that we got. We enjoyed a lovely lunch with a quiche and hearty soups that were decorated with all sorts of edibles and was a vegetarians dream.
Whilst here, Caitlin Hill, the national brand ambassador for The Botanist Gin (as well as Bruichladdich Single Malts & Mount Gay Rum) gave an insight of how she came to this position and her strong connection and journey with The Botanist Gin. It was lovely to learn more facts about her and her friendships and how life can sometimes work out in the end. Her energy along with Roushanna’s was a perfect combination and start to the #BeTheBotanist experience.
- Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Tietiesbaai
This was the second destination of our foraging experience with a man named Kobus Van Der Merwe. We were taken to Paternoster which is about a 2 hour drive out of Cape Town. Paternoster was beautiful and the sound of the waves crashing in the background were calming. We went to the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve. Although we weren’t allowed to forage here as it’s a nature reserve it was still lovely being introduced to more plants that we didn’t see with Roushanna. Ones which are edibles and ones which only blossom for 24 hours. Some had a lovely minty smell and others had a lovely lemony salt flavor.
- Wolfgat, Paternoster
Wolfgat was an unexpected tick off the bucket list. I honestly felt like I was on an episode of Chef’s Table and this was the best part of the whole experience for me. It was lovely to see how the foraged plants we had a seen a few hours earlier turned into beautiful dishes. We were separated into 2 tables – in which we felt that it was the separated between the younglings and the oldies ;). One table was filled with laughter and the flow of wines whilst the other had Caitlin saying in between each course “Can I just say how much I love you” to Kobus and lots of mmms and ahhhs, stories of creativity, photography and of course laughs of apples and pears and enjoying the wine. The flavor explosions were simple yet had so much depth of flavor.
This fine-dining experience made me somewhat emotional and ended up with me slightly teary as Caitlin said her thank you speech for having us join the #BeTheBotanist experience. I have always wanted to be in the kitchen. Its just my happy place and watching Kobus and his team work his magic in the kitchen I so much so wished I was helping cook and plate up. And then when I tasted the food it just took me on a journey.
With this whirlwind of experience I would just like to thank everyone who was part of the BeTheBotanist experience because it truly is one that I will never forget.
Here are the addresses of the Veld and Sea as well as Wolfgat. They only take bookings in both places and I highly recommend going to really understand and enjoy the foraging experience. It would be best to contact them via email or their instagram pages.
Veld and Sea
Good Hope Nursery
10 Sampson Street,
Paternoster, 7381, Paternoster, 7381