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We’ve scoured the city to uncover its hidden gems and fascinating history. Be inspired by our ultimate adrenaline adventures and fabulous family fun days out. Get ready for your best holiday ever!

20 years of embracing real South African flavors at Serendipity Restaurant

1/12/2022

Serendipity Restaurant has achieved international acclaim by championing traditional and local South African flavors. Blogger Clare van Rensburg visits the iconic Wilderness fine-dining restaurant, on its twentieth anniversary. She discovers a bucket-list meal at an award-winning eatery.

Serendipity’s menu is rooted in chef-patron Lizelle Stolze’s passion for the very best South African produce, which she describes as ‘amazing indigenous bounty’. For two decades, Lizelle and her husband Rudolf, have put Wilderness on the map for sumptuous food and an unparalleled knowledge of local wines and spirits. Their ingredients-driven menu changes every five weeks and depends on what hunter, fisherman and spear-diver Rudolf has managed to wrestle into submission or pull from the ocean. You can expect local game and seafood, indigenous foods and traditional flavors, elevated to fine-dining splendor. Serendipity’s fun-loving maître d’ Rudolf likes to serve sunset aperitifs on the waterside terrace, overlooking the placid Touw River. This gives him a chance to chat about his favorite South African spirits and brag about his wife’s menu. This fantastic menu is matched only by Rudolf’s local food lore. Serving us a pink gin-style cocktail, Rudolf tells us about the near-calamity that accidently created the ‘Spook van Blomfontein’. At the secluded Strandveld Winery, on South Africa’s southernmost tip, winemaker Conrad Vlok was determined to produce a superlative MCC. Shortly after bottling his prized pinot noir, disaster struck. Explosions shook the Cape Agulhas cellars, as hundreds of bottles shattered from the pressure. Desperate to protect the plonk, Vlok decanted the remaining stock and distilled it with a secret blend of local fynbos botanicals. A unique and rare spirit was born and this Spook van Blomfontein has become a closely guarded local secret. It tastes like an actual flower fountain and smells like Turkish Delight and Rose Geranium. Rudolf serves it ice cold, in a champagne flute, topped up with refreshing Indian tonic.

Image Featured Image: Serendipity Restaurant

Serendipity’s setting is intimate and magical. The dining room is situated right on the banks of the lagoon, in the perfect position to appreciate the Southern Cape sunsets. Dragonflies hover over the water, reeds sway in the breeze and the scent of food wafts from the kitchen. Serendipity is a unique experience for proud South Africans and international food-lovers. The menu is infused with regional botanicals and indigenous flavours. “When we first began Serendipity Restaurant in 2001,” says Rudolf, “we committed ourselves to sticking to fresh sustainably-sourced local foods, and two decades later it is still a winning formula”. Lizelle says that her dedication to South African cuisine stems from recollections of her favourite childhood foods; “I have vivid memories of marog cooked with onions and potatoes, and of preparing hunted spoils that my dad brought home: we once stuffed a warthog heart and I had to do the sewing-up. I remember freshly grilled whole white mielies, topped with a swipe of butter and spicy salt.” “For years,” Lizelle says, “our traditional foods were forgotten, and focus was placed on exotic imported ingredients”. “We choose to keep the spotlight on South Africa’s unique culinary heritage,” she says of her kitchen. Indeed, this passion is surely the reason that Serendipity features so frequently in hospitality awards. They were named ‘Global Winner’ of the 2020 World Luxury Restaurant Awards, for South African Cuisine and ‘Continent Winner’ for Fine Dining. They remain the top-rated Trip Advisor restaurant in Wilderness and feature in the Ten Best Restaurants in the Western Cape Province. Our meal began with a surprise ‘amuse bouche’, served in a spherical pottery cloche. We opened it to find silky beetroot hummus, served with a local goat’s cheese and crisp croutons. A basket of homemade bread contained a traditional Vetkoek and was served with flavored butter and a sprinkle of onion flowers. The snoek pate starter featured slivers of wild harvested pepper dew and was plated with a traditional grape jam, pickled onion and a peppery Nasturtium pesto. My husband loved his Retro Waldorf Salad, possibly the first time in his life he ever enjoyed a salad! The rich pigeon breast Bresaola was perfectly complemented by pickled sultanas, crunchy apple, celeriac and toasted pecans.

Image Featured Image: Serendipity Restaurant

As an interlude, we enjoyed the broccoli and ice-berg lettuce soup served with a splash of salty local Blaauwkrantz cream cheese. This was followed by a single refreshing spoonful of ice-cold sorbet. We slurped up tangy lemon and native buchu flavors until our palates were suitably cleansed. Our favorite aspect of the Serendipity experience was the interaction with our waiters and hosts. We loved the fun and detailed explanations of the dishes, as well as Rudolf’s hunting escapades and his personal wine recommendations. Serendipity offer to pair each course with a complimenting wine, carefully sourced from local vineyards. The waiters deliver each pairing with flawless tasting notes. The showstopping main course was tender springbok fillet, served on a bed of wilted spinach with slow-braised springbok shank, crisp hasselback potatoes and a rich red wine jus. This is quintessential South African comfort food and characterizes Serendipity’s insistence on ethically sourced meat. Other options included a succulent Santer fillet, served with shellfish bouillabaisse and grain pilaf, with roasted vine tomatoes. The vegetarian option was roasted cauliflower with spiced date butter. Dessert was a simple choice between a vanilla crème brulee served with a white and dark chocolate crème and the rooibos stewed fig cake, served with Amarula ice-cream and green fig preserve.
Serendipity Restaurant only seats 30 guests, so it is wise to book well in advance and arrive hungry.

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Five Fabulous Foodie Experiences in George

12/20/2021

Prepare to drool! We have put together a shortlist of the top eats, treats and drinks in our city by the sea.

Gin for the Win

Gin aficionados will love the mobile drinks trolley at 101 Meade Restaurant and Bar in George. Happy chefs, Ben and Jeremy Gibbs, invite their guests to sample a range of craft gin inspired cocktails from the cart. “We designed the gin trolley to increase table interaction,” says Ben, “the trolley rolls up and guests are invited to learn about regional gins, smell the botanical ingredients and taste some superb cocktails”. The vintage rolling bar-cart showcases a range of local craft gins distilled in the Garden Route including Harmony Honeybush Gin, Phantom Craft and Black Mountain Karoo Gin. Ben and Jeremy agree that guests love the touch of theatre that the gin trolley brings to the dining tables. Catch Meade’s rolling bar service for an aperitif before the dinner service daily from 5pm. The ‘Lady Lemon Gin Cocktail’ features Black Mountain Karoo Flora Gin with elderflower and rose petal notes, raspberry syrup, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and soda water.

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Coffee Interlude

Freshly roasted and ground coffee is at its best when sipped with something delicious on the side. Those serious about their coffee will jump at the pairing experience at Pause Coffee. Energetic baristas host tastings by appointment at the Pause roastery at the Timberlake Organic Village, outside Wilderness. This is a fun and immersive experience, aimed at educating the palette. Pause focuses on serving single origin speciality coffees, brewing the beans manually with a Kalita Wave Dripper. Coffee lovers can sample the fruity Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Adado. Flavours of cherry, plum, milk chocolate and lemon drops roll over the tongue and it carries a sweet aroma of roasted pineapple. The El Salvadorian brew has hints of orange, caramel and fudge. Sip it black with soft cranberry and almond nougat. The Columbian espresso has rich bold flavours of chocolate and red fruit, brought out beautifully with slices of sweet dried naartjie.

Image Featured Image: Outeniqua Family Market

Unbeatable Brunch

Without any doubt the best brunch in George can be found on Saturday mornings at the Outeniqua Farmer’s Market. Showcasing the best mouth-watering local produce, as well as a large variety of craft stalls, this market is popular with locals as a weekend hang-out. Live music, acres of parking, a huge kiddies play area and plentiful shaded seating make this a true weekend winner. Sample the crunchy salted fried potato chips on a stick. Giant beef burgers are a brilliant mid-morning hunger buster. Smoothies, iced pineapple juice and yoghurt cups are on offer for health buffs. You’ll find a full farm breakfast with boerewors, bacon, tomato relish and toast. Those with a sweet tooth can choose from a selection of sinful pancakes, muffins, tarts or the totally decadent Belgian chocolate waffles from Wicked Waffles. The queue for warm crunchy churros filled with toffee or chocolate sauce is well worth the wait. Traditional syrupy koeksisters and fresh coffee are a firm favourite. Afrikaans people over a certain age can be seen drooling over warm bowls of the South African heritage dish, melkkos, sprinkled liberally with cinnamon and sugar. Nibble on classic South African staples like homemade buttermilk rusks, vetkoek and biltong. Visitors can stock up on fresh vegetables, artisan bread and free range chicken within a few paces. Chef Johan de Jager from Hetta’s Home Food makes a variety of delicious bruschetta, insane red velvet cake and the absolute star of the farmer’s market; crunchy decadent baked cinnamon rolls, topped with a cloud of whipped cream cheese frosting. Now these are what happiness is made of!

Image Featured Image: Houtbosch Wines

Houtbosch Wine Pairings

Kevin and Kelly Kieswetter are the bubbly and creative husband and wife team behind George’s boutique winery, Houtbosch Wines. With their vineyards situated a few kilometres away at Waaboomskraal, the trendy tasting room is conveniently located at Redberry Farm, in Geelhoutboom. The King George Tasting Platter is good value for money. It’s filled with local charcuterie, by Italian curing master, Mastro Dario. There’s fresh ciabatta from Food CO bakery, as well as local olives, cheese and pickles. Ask for a trio of their special sauces, the apricot chutney is delicious slathered on cheese. You can sample their five signature wines in the prescribed order, as the friendly hostesses share their tasting notes. Or you can take the shortcut tour and have them all at once. The unwooded Chardonnay is a clear favourite. It pays tribute to the cool, misty foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains, where the grapes are grown. The Chardonnay has zesty tones of grapefruit and lime and reveals a delicious creamy butterscotch heart. Their flagship wine, the King George Pinot Noir, is a Platter Award winner. It has subtle flavours of cherry, rooibos and African earth. Wild mushroom and wine or fudge and wine pairings are also available. Beer lovers will enjoy a selection of local craft beers, best savoured with the thick spicy, gooey and moreish Cheese and Beer Dipper. Dunk chunks of toasted bread into the bowl as you slurp on a schooner of beer. Only the very brave, or the very curious will have the courage to try out the Cabernet Sauvignon Milkshake, but this experiment is a revelation! Take a stroll up into the fruit fields to pick a punnet of strawberries, if you can still walk!

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Cook and Dine like Royalty

Adventurous diners can expand their culinary résumé with fun, interactive cooking classes at the Kitchen Queen Food Studio, in Heatherlands, George. Chef Karen is the regal talent behind the culinary school and hosts lessons in her purpose-built cookery academy. The school can accommodate up to 10 students per class. Individual stations are provided, with separate stoves, aprons, ingredients and cookware. Classes are informal, fun and inspirational. Students can select from a list of technical recipes including favourites like classic sushi, Mexican burritos, Spanish tapas homemade pasta and Thai curry. No experience is needed. Karen teaches world-class culinary skills with her own blend of humour and expertise. The experienced chef has a wealth of foodie facts and loves to describe her travel escapades. She brings professional tips, regional facts and uses fresh local and seasonal ingredients. After a memorable evening of cooking, guests are invited to dine together in the lapa.

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Festive Grub

12/15/2021

We know the festive season can be very busy and time seems to be on fast forward. If you have not made plans for a Christmas feast yet, here are some yummy offers just for you.

Image Featured Image: 101 Meade Street

101 Meade Street This family-orientated restaurant, with its fine-dining feel and standards, is famed for its superb cuisine. Food lovers can expect starbursts of flavour with the likes of mouth-watering steaks, dreamy risottos and heart-warming chicken curry. The menu is constantly updated to keep things fresh and hip. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, and their bar, stocked with gems such as aged whiskeys and locally sourced craft gins, capably takes care of the liquid side of things. They will be hosting a Christmas Eve Dinner, Christmas Day Lunch & a New Year's Eve dinner to be enjoyed by all! Get in touch to make a bookings | Call T&C's Apply.

The Sky Lounge Caspita Mediterranean Family restaurant which offers great quality food and good value for money. Get in touch to make a booking

Image Featured Image: Oubaai Hotel Golf & Spa

Oubaai Hotel Golf & Spa This classy establishment with its chic, natural colour scheme, is situated at the Oubaai Hotel near Herolds Bay. It’s on par with the excellent standards of the hotel itself and is also its signature restaurant. Seafood, grills and sushi are their specialities, and many dishes are hallmarked by culinary influences from far off places. Although it only serves dinner, it will be an exciting experience with the theatre kitchen slab bang in the dining area and an interactive sushi bar. Reservations for their delightful Christmas Lunch menu is now open. Get in touch to make a bookings T&C's Apply.

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De Hoft De Hoft is a relatively unknown gem, located at Deja Vu Equestrian Cottages in the Geelhoutboom farming area. It overlooks the green fields spanning all the way to the back of Redberry Farm. Dine outside and soak in the views of the equestrian and nearby mountains, or step into old world charm at the restaurant's main building. The interior decor has a Victorian feel, with smart, embellished decor. The espetada is a fabulous and filling main. Christmas buffet lunch available, live music and kids entertainment Get in touch to make a booking Call

Image Featured Image: Salinas Beach Restaurant

Salinas Beach Restaurant Built on an excavated sanddune with unequaled views over the Indian Ocean and the Wilderness scenery and a very special milkwood tree close to the front door, Salinas offers rustic, Spanish-influenced food infused with local flavours. It’s a magical, child-friendly place where patrons never fail to be awed by the spectacular sunsets. It’s popular for wedding proposals and anniversaries, and especially table 78, in the corner of the upper deck, is spot-on for such ventures Get in touch to make a booking Call

Image Featured Image: Ilali Restaurant & Social Bar

Ilali Restaurant & Social Bar Come share a plate of incredible tapas, or put away some delicious pizzas and burgers at this contemporary, vibrant restaurant and bar. There's a weekly line-up of live music performances, ranging from the rich warm sounds of a saxophone to soothing violin music and beyond, creating a wonderful ambience. It’s the sister restaurant of the highly recommended 101 Meade and the food is of the same exceptionally high standard. They be serving all the dishes from their menu.Make a reservation, bring your family and enjoy your time together. Bookings

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20 Reasons We Love Summer in Wilderness

12/7/2021

There are few places on the planet that match Wilderness for its natural beauty. Kilometres of golden sand meet the cool blue ocean waves of the Indian Ocean. Our breath-taking National Park is set amidst lush indigenous forest and spectacular winding waterways. Wilderness is the perfect place to lose yourself in nature. Here is our ultimate summer-time checklist.

  1. Watch the dolphins play. Every day in Wilderness should start with a refreshing stroll on the pristine golden sand. The shoreline is the best place to watch the pods of bottlenose dolphin, sometimes as many as 100, splash, surf and frolic in the waves. Dolphin’s Point, on the N2, provides a higher vantage point to view the beach.

Image Featured Image: Paragliding in Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa

  1. Glide into the blue. A number of reputable operators offer tandem paragliding flights and tours over Wilderness. Soar over Wilderness National Park, sparkling lakes and 18 kilometres of golden beach. Keep an eye out for game fish, whales and even Great White Sharks in the surf below. Check out Cloudbase Paragliding, Dolphin Paragliding, Flytime Paragliding and Wild2Fly.

  2. Feel the vibe of the ocean with a surf lesson at Wilderness Beach. Brothers Klaus and Heinrich Schröder, of Vibe Surf School offer surf lessons and tours on a daily basis. Other surf schools include Surfends and Wild and Loose.

Image Featured Image: Kaaimans Bridge

  1. Enjoy a long lazy picnic and river day by the water’s edge at Kaaimans. Watch the kids kayak, swing, splash and swim in the river. Snap pictures of ducks, put your feet up and enjoy a walk to the river mouth where you can see the iconic Kaaimans Bridge up close. Kayaks can be hired through Kaaimans Adventures.

  2. Picnic in nature. The Wilderness Picnic Company take the hassle out of the preparation, by delivering pre-packaged, eco-friendly picnics right to your door. Order online and wile away a day at one of the magnificent local beaches or forest picnic spots.

Image Featured Image: Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park

  1. Discover a hidden waterfall deep in the national park. The Half Collared Kingfisher Trail begins next to the railway bridge near the Ebb and Flow North Restcamp, on the Touw River. A fee is payable to SAN Parks. An easy circular 7km hike winds through indigenous forest and colourful fynbos. Kids love the pontoon river crossing. A refreshing dip in the glorious rock pools await. Find directions and tariffs at the Garden Route National Park.

Image Featured Image: Eco boat rides in Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa

  1. Enjoy sundowners while cruising the Touw River. Encounter magnificent bird life and breath-taking scenery on this eco-boat tour with shallow draft safari-style boat at Wilderness River Safaris. There are several tours daily in the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park.

  2. SUP in style with Fearless Adventures. Fit families will love stand-up paddle boarding on the Wilderness Lagoon, at Waterside Road. The tranquil flat water is perfect for beginners. Feel the true pulse of nature.

Image Featured Image: Canoeing on the Touw River inside the Garden Route National Park in Wilderness.

  1. Experience the captivating waterways of Wilderness by canoe. Eden Adventures has large stable canoes with splash-proof buckets ideal for cameras and picnics. An additional wooden seat can accommodate a toddler between the benches. Eden Adventures is based at the Fairy Knowe Hotel.

  2. Conquer your fear with Fearless Adventures. Adrenaline-fuelled fun awaits in tailor-made abseiling and rock climbing tours. Guide Roche Schoeman has a true passion for the outdoors and offered a range of thrilling trips.

Image Featured Image: Kloofing in Kaaimans

  1. Plunge into paradise! Extreme canyoning or ‘kloofing’ as it is locally known, involves floating, scrambling, swimming, abseiling and cliff jumping down a steep river ravine. Paradise Adventures provide wetsuits, helmets, life jackets and harnesses for this daring guided tour.

Image Featured Image: Wilderness beach

  1. Feel the sun on your skin with a spot of sandcastle building, swimming and sunbathing. There are a number of safe bathing areas on the Wilderness ‘Blue Flag’ beach, including Leentjieskllip, ‘Steps’ and the Touws River Mouth. Lifeguards are on duty from 7am to 7pm, in season. Showers and secure parking are available. Swim between the flags and don’t forget the sunscreen.

  2. Check out the rock pools at ‘Flat Rock’. This popular rock angling site is accessed via steep wooden stairs at the Views Boutique Hotel & Spa. Flat rock, as the name suggests, is a rocky reef which creates beautiful warm shallow tidal pools at low tide, revealing an array of marine biodiversity including octopus, starfish and fan worms. Bring your snorkel and mask and remember not to touch or remove the sea life.

  3. Cast a line at Freesia Rock. This local fishing hotspot is tucked away on Freesia Avenue, a cul-da-sac on the tranquil Touws River, in Wilderness. Soak in the peace and pace of nature.

  4. Adventurous eaters will love the rustic menu at Oysters R Us. The freshest wild oysters are plucked from saltwater tanks, shucked and served with a tray of condiments. Knowledgeable staff dish out facts and fun tasting suggestions. Sample oysters with fresh lemon, black pepper and lashings of chilled bubbly.

Image Featured Image: The magnificent Seven Passes Road.

  1. Cruise the Seven Passes Road, a winding gravel and tar backroad that connects George and Knysna. Motorists pass clear brown streams, historic bridges and indigenous forests.

Image Featured Image: Horse rides through farms and forests in Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa.

  1. Take a trot with Black Horse Trails. The popular three and a half hour ‘Rock Pool’ outride winds through unspoilt forest in the national park. The horses are rehabilitated rescue animals with unique personalities. Take a refreshing dip in the cool mountain pools. Other horse-riding tours include Garden Route Horse Trails and Perdepoort.

  2. Experience the charm of a local market. There is a vibrant atmosphere at the Milkwood Village Market. On a Sunday, local crafters gather to sell their wares. Find handmade wooden bowls, batik art, clothing, leatherworks, cheeses, artisanal breads, cured meats, pancakes and live music.

Image Featured Image: Map of Africa look out point in Wilderness.

  1. Take a moment to appreciate the ‘Map of Africa’. This popular lookout point offers panoramic views of the coastline and forested hillside. Accessed via a well signed gravel road, the extraordinary vantage point is marked by a simple sign board which has quickly become an Instagram sensation. View the pristine white sands of Wilderness beach and the calm turquoise ocean. A grassy field offers a popular picnic site and paragliding launch spot. To the north, the Kaaimans river canyon cuts an unmistakable shape through the forested hillside.

  2. Sip a sundowner at the Blind Pig Taproom. Nestled in the shade at the Palms Garden Square, this hidden gem has 12 craft beers on tap and a further 70 bottled options. The ‘Pig’ is a trendy and carefree venue with local live music, craft gin and friendly bartenders.

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Plan the Perfect Picnic – inside secrets on dining alfresco on the Garden Route

11/5/2021

Few things in life rival the joy of a lazy afternoon spent sharing a picnic with friends and family. Not only do George and Wilderness have a wealth of safe and idyllic picnic spots, we also have a selection of award-winning artisan food producers to do all the preparation for you! Simply choose a picnic theme and soak in the splendour of the Garden Route.

Image Featured Image: The Wilderness Picnic Company

The Wilderness Picnic Company is the local specialist in gourmet eco-friendly, pre-packed picnics. They offer a selection of themed picnic boxes and will even deliver them to your chosen picnic destination, in George or Wilderness. They offer five picnic experiences which can be enjoyed on one of the local hiking trails, beaches or from the comfort of your accommodation. The Wilderness Picnic Company creates healthy, fresh, picnic meals without the use of artificial preservatives. Each element is home-made from locally sourced ingredients by entrepreneur Cecily Pepler.

Enjoy the 'Breakfast Picnic' while watching indigenous bird life from the sheltered Gallinule Bird Hide, in Wilderness. The breakfast pack includes delicious yoghurt and granola cups, egg and bacon muffins, a spread of ostrich carpaccio, and Camembert cheese and preserves. The dried fruit and chocolate chip energy bombs are a decadent delight. The 'Waterfall Picnic' is a highly portable feast specifically designed for outdoor activities. It includes pressed sourdough paninis layered with roasted vegetables and mozzarella cheese, Mediterranean salad, hummus and vegetable chips. The entire picnic can be easily packed in a waterproof cooler for exploring the incredible Half Collared Kingfisher Trail, by foot and canoe. Snack on the biltong, trail mix and double chocolate brownies as you glide along the Touw River.

Image Featured Image: The Wilderness Picnic Company

The Deluxe Basket is a 'three course' meal in a box. It contains Egyptian-style dukka, local olive oil and stone-ground sourdough paninis as well as salads, quiches, cheese, dried fruit and brownies. This is an ideal spread to enjoy while watching the golden sunset as the breeze rustles the rushes on the Wilderness board-walk. Simply follow the directions provided by the picnic company to the Wilderness Lagoon on Waterside Road.

The local's favourite 'South African' hamper captures some of South Africa’s most iconic flavors, including oven baked roosterkoek, sorghum salad, ostrich carpaccio, crisp vegetable chips, local cheese and kudu paté. The Wilderness picnic company has specialist offerings for vegans and vegetarians. They can prepare special kiddies picnics suitable for children under 10 years. A child's meal includes a beef slider, vegetable crisps, juice and a marshmallow kebab. Check out details of their fun mystery picnic online, as well as a list of the SANParks approved green picnic spots. The Wilderness Picnic Company uses a range of environmentally friendly packaging including compostable and biodegradable containers. Make happy memories in nature with a few takeaway bites from local family-owned bakery and cafe; Food Co Located at the corner of Fourth Street and Courtney Road, Food Co. specialises in baking preservative-free artisan loaves. The tangy sourdough, ciabatta and freshly baked farm-style loaves are stocked on the shelves each morning from 7:30am.

Everything is baked by hand, using only stone-ground flour. Grab some charcuterie and local cheese from the deli counter to accompany your fresh bread, or pick up one of their artisan sandwiches, a slice of quiche or a home-made muffin. They also bake a range of real butter croissants which are absolutely delectable. Those with a sweet tooth will adore biting into the crisp flaky crust of the Pain au Chocolat. It's made with 55% Couverture dark chocolate. The savoury croissant, the Pain au Jambon, contains thick smoked ham and melted cheese. Food Co. makes a range of take away coffees, smoothies and juices to accompany their baked treats. They are open from Tuesday to Friday from 7.30am to 4pm and Saturday from 7.30am to 12 noon.

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Special occasion picnics may demand a touch of sophistication and luxury. Pick up a truly decadent bite from the tiniest chocolate shop in Africa. The Mayan Chocolate Company is a boutique chocolaterie nestled at the back of Calorosso Coffee Shop, at 103 Meade Street. Marlin Moodley is the smiling chocolatier behind the glossy handmade couverture chocolates. Sample the Frangelico, Caramel Vodka or Strawberry Liqueurs. These are made with the finest dark chocolate, according to traditional Belgian recipes. The chocolates at the Mayan Chocolate Company are all produced in small batches, by hand, without the use of preservatives. The milk chocolate toffee and raspberry ginger bonbons are some of the best-sellers. Don't miss the Hazelnut Truffles, made with dark chocolate, double cream, honey and roasted hazelnuts.

Drop in and grab a gourmet coffee, and a box of bonbons for your picnic adventure. You can watch Marlin temper the chocolate and hand fill the moulds while you choose your treats from the glass display case. Open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm and Saturday from 8,30 to 12 noon.

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Feast in the Garden of Eden

10/20/2021

A wealth of culinary experiences awaits holiday-makers visiting George. The bounty of the region was first noted by the indigenous Khoi people who named the Outeniqua Mountains which fringe the coast; “man laden with honey”. Indeed the region has become known for both the local fynbos honey and delicious dairy products that grace Eden’s tables. The Eden district is a cultural melting pot with culinary influences from the earliest waves of explorers. Dutch, German, French and English settlers each left their own mark on our local food heritage. The Cape Malay brought nuances of Indian and Indonesian culinary heritage and the Xhosa pastoralists impacted modern South African cuisine.

George and Wilderness host a wealth of dining experiences, from the opulent to the humble. Expect to encounter unmissable contemporary South African and international flavours, trendy bars, fresh farm produce, pleasant picnics and strawberry feasts in this food-lovers paradise. Discover our gourmet restaurants, experience dining with locals or simply escape to the beach to feast on a bag of slap chips. Explore the Outeniqua Farmers Market, wander the stalls, experience the passion of our local producers and savour our thriving coffee culture.

Toast the Sunset in Style

The temperate foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains are prime hop growing country. In summer, the fields are filled with curtains of these aromatic green flowers. Hops provide an essential bitter flavour in brewing beer. Local farmers have raised new varieties to suit the climate; Southern Promise and Southern Passion are two such breeds. In fact, the small region of Waboomskraal, Blanco and Herald provides over 70% of the hops needed by South African Breweries. It is little wonder that a hearty craft brewing industry has developed in the town of George.

Image Featured Image: The Blind Pig Taproom

The Blind Pig Taproom is nestled in the dappled shade at the Palms Garden Square in Wilderness. It has gained legendary status amongst local and visiting beer aficionados. This hidden gem has 12 craft beers on tap and a further 70 bottled options. Their selection of 14 local craft gins need to be tasted to be believed. Their signature pairing consists of a handmade 100% beef double cheese and bacon burger with the Devil’s Peak Pale Ale. This is one of the trendiest little bars in the world, with friendly bartenders and local live music. Free beer is offered if you participate in one of their monthly beach clean ups!

Proteas and Vines

Image Featured Image: Herold’s Wine

A winding drive up the scenic and historic Montague Pass takes visitors to the sleepy hamlet of Herold. On the sunlit slopes of Cradock Peak lies a flourishing but petite 8 hectare wine farm, Herold Wines. Uniquely rooted at high altitude, winter frosts and cooling summer breezes result in a long growing season for the vines. Nature lovers will enjoy the fynbos clad slopes and nature reserves bounding the property. This friendly, family run winery is renowned for its laid back charm, relaxed tastings and intimate cellar tours. Enjoy a delicious cheese platter with the winemaker’s favourite Pinot Noir. It has a soft, silky palate with flavours of ripe cherry and hints of oak and vanilla. Families will enjoy sitting in the dappled shade between the vines with a picnic basket. There are mountain pools, secret paths and hideaways for children to explore.

Coffee Culture

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Beans About Coffee is a vibrant coffee roastery on York Street, in George. It has become an institution amongst the local coffee snobs. They hand-roast their Sugarbird blends on a daily basis, while the energetic baristi crank the espresso machine. “Our main focus is on roasting and serving excellent coffee”, says local owner Stefan Jamnek. Enjoy a flat white with their range of healthy snacks and pastries. Local baker and surfer, Tyrone Schroder is the George’s ‘Prince of Tarts’ supplying their dainty confectionaries. He bakes perfect mouthfuls of pastry on Laing Street. His bite-sized pastries are the perfect complement to any brew. Try the buttery Pecan Nut Pie, the traditional Milk Tart or a divine Chocolate Brownie.
People-watching is a popular past-time at Root. This boutique micro-roastery and cosy coffee shop is located in the Paddagat Mall on Knysna Road in George. They showcase a range of Asian, African, Central and South American coffee beans in bright red silos at their coffee counter. There is a freshly roasted bean at Root for every palate and a selection of treats and sandwiches from local bakery Ciabatinni. Root displays a selection of Kevin van Niekerk’s painting which use coffee as a medium.

Formal Dining

Image Featured Image: Serendipity Restaurant

Award winning fine dining is available at Serendipity Guest House, situated on the Touw River Estuary in Wilderness. They serve South African inspired gourmet meals and their 5 start dining experience features indigenous flavours, and fresh, sustainably sourced local produce. Enjoy an aperitif at the water’s edge, where passionate chef Lizelle Stolze talks guests through her spectacular five course dinner menu. Serendipity offers the perfect opportunity to sample truly pristine South African flavours. The hand-cut springbok tartar is served with a quail egg and spekboom chutney.

Image Featured Image: 101 Meade

Sophisticated diners will enjoy the contemporary menu at 101 Meade, in George. Diners will enjoy the warm atmosphere and stylish African inspired décor. Diners can watch the bar tenders in action at the contemporary bar. The duo of happy chefs, brothers Ben and Jeremy Gibbs, prepare a range of delicious meals in their open plan kitchen. Their modern South African menu features homemade Italian style pastas, tapas, artisan bread, meat, fish and banting options. Sample their Roast Bone Marrow, aged T-bone steak and mouth-watering spiced apple crumble served with salted caramel ice cream.

Image Featured Image: The Fat Fish

The freshest seafood and sushi is invariably found at The Fat Fish on York Street in George. Enjoy a cocktail at their atmospheric bar. The dining room opens out to a spacious courtyard with romantic water features and is the perfect al fresco retreat for warm summer evenings. The Fat Fish seafood platter features the best of their menu including grilled prawns, buttered line fish, spicy harissa calamari and a seasonal mussel pot. The Fat Fish are serious about sustainability and have done away with plastic straws, water bottles and plastic bags, replacing them with reusable or biodegradable alternatives.

Relaxed Restaurants

Pomodoro is a charming family trattoria in the heart of Wilderness village. Relax on the outdoor terraces with a glass of wine, this is the ultimate vantage point to view village life. Exceptional authentic Italian pizza and pasta are served amid the hustle and bustle of this busy restaurant. Their thin based pizzas are topped with a range of fresh, local ingredients. The Pizza Fico features Parma ham, preserved green figs and melted brie. The best kept local secret is Joplin’s Steakhouse at Pirate’s Creek outside Wilderness Village. Father and son duo, Aiden and Gareth Jeans, man the grill, sizzling steak to absolute perfection. Diners can choose from a range of steaks, cooked to their taste, topped with hot garlic butter and chips, served with or without an egg. Service is friendly, the ambiance is relaxed and guests are treated to a ‘Milktertjie’ shooter after supper. Vegans should look elsewhere for sustenance. The Pottery at Di Marshall’s factory store in George, Wonki Ware, is certainly a viable option for vegans and vegetarians. Colourful smoothie bowls, wood-fired pizza and ciabatta toast with hummus feature on their seasonal menu. Kids can paint a plate while you browse for bargains or watch the potters in action.

Dine with Locals

Image Featured Image: Dine with the local

Extremely popular amongst international tourists and domestic visitors, Dining with Locals provides an opportunity to experience the rich cultural diversity of George communities. Guests can enjoy traditional Xhosa or Cape Malay cuisine with excellent wines in the company of the knowledgeable locals. Hosts invite diners to explore their heritage through food, art, poetry and song. This culinary adventure is ideally suited to open-minded tourists, daring diners and curious nomads. Guests learn about local customs, traditions and lifestyle nuances while experiencing true South African hospitality.

Best for Brunch

Image Featured Image: Outeniqua Family Martket

Without any doubt the best brunch in George can be found on Saturday mornings at the Outeniqua Family Market. Showcasing the best mouth-watering local produce, as well as a large variety of craft stalls, this market is popular with locals as a weekend hang out. Live music, acres of parking, a huge kiddies play area and plentiful shaded seating make this a weekend winner. Kids love the bumpy Boere ‘train’ ride, sand art and board games dotted on the picnic tables throughout the seating areas. The crunchy salted potato chips on a stick are a huge winner with young visitors, the giant beef burgers are a true hunger buster. Brunch on healthy smoothies, freshly blended pineapple juice, yoghurt and muesli or opt for the full farm breakfast with boerewors, bacon and tomato relish. Those with a sweet tooth can choose from a selection of sinful pancakes, muffins, tarts or the totally decadent Belgian chocolate waffles from Wicked Waffles. Traditional syrupy koeksisters, Melkos and fresh coffee are another option. South African staples like homemade buttermilk rusks, vetkoek and biltong are available to test. Visitors can pick up organic vegetables, artisan bread and free-range chicken within a few paces. Chef Johan de Jager from Hetta’s Food Stall makes delicious bruschetta and the absolute star of the farmer’s market, crunchy decadent baked cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. No visit is complete without sampling the warm crunchy churros filled with toffee or chocolate sauce.

Image Featured Image: The Food Co

The best artisan bread can be found at the Food Co on the corner of Knysna Road and Fourth Street. Husband and wife team, Jean and Lizelle Rossouw, bake a range of artisan loaves using 100% stoneground flour, including rustic sourdough, ciabatta, plaasbrood, seed loaf, and challah. Watch the bakers in action while you enjoy a farm breakfast and fresh green juice.

Image Featured Image: The Girls on the Square

The Girls on the Square at the Palms Garden Square in Wilderness is another excellent brunch option. This tapas bar is one of the best places in the village to relax. Their all-day brunch menu (low season) features a variety of fresh fruit smoothies, pressed juices, croissants, Middle Eastern Shakshuka, French toast, traditional cooked breakies, as well as delicious peanut butter and banana milkshakes. Kids will enjoy watching the Koi fish in the pond or playing on the jungle gym. The young at heart will also love the beautiful old fashioned sweet shop next door. Lolly’s Candy Bar serves candy floss, artisan gelato, soft serve, trendy milkshakes, cupcakes and a huge array of sweet treats.

Family Friendly Food and Fun

Image Featured Image: Red Shed Coffee & Berry

Redberry Farm on Geelhoutboom Road in Blanco offers a serious day out. Their range of eateries will satisfy all budgets and palates. The deli-style farm stall is perfect for picnic treats while the Red Shed Coffee and Berry Bar serve a selection of strawberry themed beverages. The Noshery Pizzeria offers gourmet pizzas from their wood fired oven. Outdoor ambience is plentiful in the tea garden overlooking the kid’s playground and rabbit hutch. Parents can kick back and relax as there are activities to suit every age and ability. Start your Redberry experience with a trip to the fields to pick your own sun ripened strawberries right off the runners. Energetic guests will enjoy discovering the secrets of strawberries within the remarkable hedge maze. Seven stations are hidden in a labyrinth of passageways. The paths and tunnels are stroller friendly. Be sure to take a hat and some water.

Image Featured Image: Houtbosch Wine and Craft Beer

The Redberry Express mini train and pony rides will keep small people busy. Acrobatic teens can show off their moves in the inflatable bubble balls which float on the farm dam. Stop at the Framboos Handcrafted Ice Cream parlour to sample their artisan gelato served in crisp sugar cones. Kids can design and build their own ice cream sandwiches from a selection of freshly baked biscuit and flavoured gelato. Sumptuous sundowners are offered at the elegant Houtbosch Wine and Craft Beer tasting room. Sample their flagship Pinot Noir with a cold meat and cheese platter and finish with the phenomenal fudge and wine pairing.

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Victoria Bay ‘surfs’ Olympic medalist and beginners alike

10/13/2021

Victoria Bay and newly awarded Olympic surfing silver medallist, Bianca Buitendag, are synonymous with each other. Despite travelling the world for years and riding waves at many exotic and prime surfing destinations, she still regards the breakers at Victoria Bay as the best among the best. In fact, she describes our whole coast line as world class. “Our marine life is absolutely amazing and among the most vibrant I’ve ever encountered, especially in winter. It’s really special to surf among dolphins, whales and sardines.” It’s at this postcard-worthy little bay nestled cosily between jaw-dropping Southern Cape vegetation and the Big Indian Blue, that she nurtured her passionate love for the ocean and the high-octane sport that put her in the history books for eternity. It was also here, and at the surrounding beaches in the area, that she prepared and practised for her 2020 Olympic participation.

Image Featured Image: Bianca Buitendag surfing

“I’ve had 20 months to prepare, due to COVID-19 and the consequential postponement of the Olympics. It was the first time in a long, long time that I didn’t have travelling commitments, and it was very special to be back among my family and the dogs.” Her preparation involved five days a week in the water and gym exercises three times a week.

Image Featured Image: Victoria Bay

Bianca’s family moved to Victoria Bay when she was just entering teenage-hood, and she fondly remembers the many hours they all spent in the ocean. She made her first appearance in an international surfing competition in France when she was 13 years old, and that country turned out to be her base for many years when she became a professional surfer. “I’m 28 years old now, and for the bigger part of my life I competed in surfing competitions right across the globe,” she said.

First introduced to the waves by her father at a young age, she ended her surfing career on what can only be described as a triumphant highlight by securing second place during the Women’s finals which took place on Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, Japan, on 27 July 2021. It was not only a proud and incredible moment for her, but many South Africans witnessing the ceremony couldn’t help but swallow a lump in their throats when she stepped onto the podium to receive her medallion. To her, it’s all still a bit surreal and miraculous.

“The finals took place amidst a typhoon hitting Japan and the waves were really huge. I prepared for a small swell, as it’s more typical surfing conditions for Japan during summer. I had to change tactics and it actually contributed to my performance as I love big waves and I’m better with them.” She describes the moment when she realised her achievement as anything but idyllic, although it didn’t take anything away from her immense thankfulness and joy. “I was alone in the pouring rain and glanced back to see my coach, Greg Emslie, jumping up and down on the beach, and then it registered that we’ve made it.”

Now back in George and officially retired from surfing, she’s excited about the next chapter in her life. “I’ve been involved with a local Christian NGO called Life Community Services since my high school years. We’re currently busy with fundraising to build a primary school next year.”

Victoria Bay is a popular surfing spot among surfers from all efficiency levels and from all over the world. It’s the regular site of high-level competitions such as the Vic Bay Classic and the SA Masters Surfing Championships. According to Bianca, it’s such a great place for surfing due to the fact that it’s a point break set-up, meaning it’s one of the places in South Africa where you’ll find the most consistent waves. In addition, it’s only about five kilometers from George with all its amenities and comforts. The bay is very user-friendly, there are no significant currents to speak of and the waves are ‘soft’.

Image Featured Image: Surfends

There are two surfing schools situated at the cove that will gladly take holidaymakers who want to learn the ropes of this invigorating sport through their paces. The friendly instructors at both Vibe Surf School and Surfends are all highly experienced surfers. After your lesson, you can refuel and regale friends and family with your ocean adventure at Vikki’s at the Beach seaside restaurant, a favourite local gathering place. And for even more surfing adventures, you’ll find the Wild & Loose Surf School next door at Wilderness, where an instructor will swiftly get you confident in the water and provide expert guidance. In the words of Bianca, “surfing can change your life. It’s a healthy habit that will have lifelong benefits. It’s therapeutic and something in which the whole family can participate.” Victoria Bay is just picture perfect to get your helping of wholesomeness. So don’t wait, grab a surfboard and wetsuit, book a lesson, and come hit the waves!

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Five School Holiday Adventures in George & Wilderness

9/28/2021

The Garden Route is a great destination for active families, with plenty of fun, exciting and unique attractions to explore. George and Wilderness have a slew of incredible outdoor activities to keep youngsters busy. Whether you want to involve the whole family, or watch on as the kids create happy memories, we’ve got a plan for every clan. George Tourism have scouted the top activities in George and compiled our pick of feel good attractions to help busy families plan an action-packed and memory-filled holiday.

Image Featured Image: Acrobranch

  1. Exhilarating tree-top adventures await families visiting Acrobranch Garden Route at Timberlake Organic Village. Venture into the forest canopy to slide, balance, jump, crawl or swing through four action-packed courses. The Acro-twigs course is designed with safety in mind for small children, aged 4 to 8 years. There are 17 obstacles on the route, which are monitored by a safety guide. Parents can walk alongside the course to keep a close watch on small children. Most of this course is placed within reaching distance of an accompanying adult and involves short zip-lines, stepping on suspended walkways and balancing on high wires with handholds. Older children will be challenged by the Monkey Moves and Swinging Tarzan courses. Ladders ascend over six metres into the pine forest canopy with suspended boardwalks, beams, tubes and cargo nets to scramble and climb. The High Flying course is open to thrill seekers from age 12 up. This exhilarating course boasts an impressive 48 obstacles, including a high-flying trapeze. It definitely tests strength, agility and determination. Stepping off the highest platform requires plenty of daring but is a super adventure for fit family groups.

Image Featured Image: Pause Coffee Roastry

Closed shoes are ideal and long hair needs to be tied out of the way of the cable trolleys. The guides provide safety harnesses and training. The out of season family rate is excellent value. A visit to Timberlake Organic Village is a real crowd pleaser for multi-generational family groups. Pause Coffee Roastery serves excellent coffee and delicious cake, there is a boutique wine merchant as well as a restaurant, duck pond, art gallery, gift shops and a leather studio.

Image Featured Image:Dolphin Paragliding

  1. Superb aerial adventurers are offered by local paragliding operators Dolphin Paragliding and Wild2Fly Paragliding. Six-time National Hang Gliding Champion Johan Anderson from Wild2Fly Paragliding, says the ‘bird’s eye’ perspective offered during a tandem flight is a firm family favourite. Wild2Fy have specially made harnesses for children. Their team of professional pilots encourage family groups to fly together. There is no age restriction for paragliding, however, most flights require a weight of between 20 and 120kg. Dolphin Paragliding also offer exhilarating tandem paragliding tours of the Wilderness skies. Soar over the National Park, sparkling lakes and 18 kilometres of golden beach. Keep an eye out for dolphins, whales and even Great White Sharks in the surf below.

Image Featured Image: Elevate Trampoline Park & Go Cart Track

  1. Children can bump and bounce at one of two indoor trampoline parks in George. Griffin Sport is open for recreational jumping, free running and rock climbing, check out their Facebook page for time slots. These fun indoor child-friendly activities are ideal for rainy days. Kid’s clubs are offered during school holidays. Birthday parties and team building events can also be hosted. Light meals, snacks and beverages are available from the health bar. Action for every age is available at the Elevate Action Centre, in George Industria. The centre offers 70 connected trampolines, totalling over 600 square metres of bouncing space. Families can participate in a game of dodgeball or face-off in a thrilling Go-Kart Race. See the website for session times, bookings and holiday special offers. Trampolining is restricted to children over 4 years and go-karting to those over 12 years or 1.2 metres tall. Toddlers can play on the adjacent jungle gym and tired folks can grab a coffee at the café. Budget for grip socks at R30 per pair.

Image Featured Image: WildX Adventures

  1. Thrill seeking kids and teenagers will love the dust, vibrations and petrol fumes at Wild X Adventures between Wilderness and Sedgefield, on the N2. Their ‘Family Fun’ quad bike ride includes breakfast and coffee, kids under 12 ride for half price. The 12 kilometre track is perfectly suited to novice riders and is sandy and forgiving. Vegetation lines both sides of the trail and helmets with face protection are provided. Small children can ride pillion on their parents’ bikes and those that can steer, brake and accelerate, can ride independently. No age restrictions apply. Owners Marisa and Johnnie Borrett say they have catered to parents with a children as young as 11 months and as old as one 86 year old granny. The tours are fully guided and can be tailor-made to the abilities of the group. Meanwhile experienced bikers and adrenalin junkies can go full throttle and opt for the ‘Extreme Quad Ride’. This trip is technically demanding and requires a faster bike and more advanced safety equipment. Wild X Adventures also offer other fantastic kid and family-friendly options including segway tours, archery, nerf ball, paint ball and air soft games. Don’t forget a dust buff and a good pair of shades when you book.

Image Featured Image:Stock Image

  1. Ground Zero Bike and Trail Park offers a safe mountain bike pump track for all ages, located on Arbour Road. The 300 metre MBT track is an ideal venue for young bikers to hone their skills. The trail park owners even have a couple of bikes and helmets available for holidaymakers, along with an out-of-hours donation box. The track leads onto a 1.6 km cross country course and is open all hours. A jungle gym, coffee shop and mini zip-line are on the property.

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