Welcome to my blog, these are the ramblings and musings of an (upper) middle aged biker and if you enjoy braais, (barbeques) beers and motorbikes then hopefully you will enjoy what Janet and I do; we do lots of braais, we drink lots of beer and we tour South Africa on our motorbike, which at the moment is a BMW R1200RT. Join us, read about what we do and please leave us your comments.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Thali Thali restaurant and Nature reserve

Tomorrow it is back to work, the silly season is over but summer is here with a vengeance and the weather is beautiful. Today we went out to lunch with our friends Tony and Laura who have just moved into the area and as they spent some forty years in Kenya we decided to take them into the bush for lunch.
We took them to the "Thali thali" restaurant which is in a nature reserve just off the R27 quite close to the Langebaan turn off. As it is a 3km rough and sandy dirt road we were not able to go on the big red machine so we travelled in Tony's car.
After travelling along the road to the restaurant people are usually quite surprised at how neat and tidy, almost "upmarket" the buildings and chalets are, the restaurant is very pleasantly appointed with both inside and veranda seating areas. There is also a huge bonfire area where outside pots are prepared for specific occasions;
 We were there one evening just before Christmas with Janet's work collegues for their end of year function and the food was all prepared in cast iron pots outside; lamb, beef and mutton pots with rice and vegetables, all very nice.
Plunge pool, dining hall for large groups and accommodation.
We settled down at our table on the shaded veranda and studied the menu over a couple of cold beers, it is quite a small menu but with interesting items such as "Skilpaatjies", (lamb's liver wrapped in spleen fat), "Pofadders" (blood sausage wrapped in bacon) and other quite unusual delectable and very tempting items apart from the more regular, Lamb chops, Crumbed Pork chops, Eisbein etc.
I eventually chose the "Afval potjie" (Offal pot) as I hadn't had that for quite some time.
 It was very nicely presented in a cast iron pot which served very well to keep the meal hot, with samp (miellies and beans) which was delicious and authentic African, sweet potatoes and rice, the small cup on the left contained chutney, altogether a very good meal.
Let me just tell you a bit about Offal or as it is known in isiXhosa; "Nqweme" (the Q is a hard click with the tongue at the back of the palate.) English people make tripe out of the sheep's stomach and I remember my dear old Mom used to scrub it with a brush for so long before cooking it that it was absolutely tasteless, nevertheless I used to eat it regularly and quite enjoyed it.
Then we were transferred to the Transkei in the eastern Cape in 1976 where we lived for ten years, there I learned to speak isiXhosa and there we were introduced to Nqweme! The main secret to this delicious traditional dish is that it is not cleaned too rigorously and it is made with all of the guts not just the stomach lining, the amaXhosa literally just flap it under a tap and flush the pipes and tubes out and then cook it, usually outside because it smells pretty bad!
It is usually simmered for quite a long time to get it tender, then potatoes are added to the pot and some vegetables and it is often served on rice. Janet and I both love eating this traditional African dish and at one festival a couple of years back we were wandering around the usual assortment of food stalls when I spotted a stall at the end crowded with black customers, we went over and saw a hand written sign advertising "Nqweme." - I immediately ordered two portions much to the amazement of the other customers who were definitely not expecting white customers, let alone one who could order it in their language! We stood there eating delicious authentic nqweme out of styrofoam containers and even ordered more later to take home. 
My Offal pot was good and tasty although not completely authentic as this had a curry flavour, nice all the same but I miss the slightly bitter aftertaste of the real thing.
Laura had Ox tongue with sweet mustard and vegetables while Janet went for the other end of the beast and had an Oxtail pot which she said was delicious.
The helpings were very generous and there was certainly enough to eat.
Just look at the size of Tony's Eisbein with sauerkraut!
Get stuck in folks! We all agreed that the food was excellent, that it was nice being out in the bush and we will certainly go back there again. There was no need for starters and there was no room for dessert at that stage. The bill came to R550 with gratuity which included six beers and a bottle of wine, excellent value as far as I am concerned.

 They have two different types of chalets for rent and from what I saw the prices, even in peak season, were very reasonable. Apparently the restaurant is open every day and for large groups they will do the potjies. It was a very pleasant couple of hours and it was good to be out in the bush even though we were only about ten to fifteen kilometres from the sea as the crow flies.
There is a lot of game, Antelope and Giraffe in the nature reserve and they do game drives by appointment, give them a call on 022 7661626 and arrange a visit, the turn off is directly opposite the Engen One-stop off the R27, tell them I sent you.

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