Eating delicious, freshly prepared food and sampling wines is never a chore, but the Hlokomela Herb Party at Thornybush Game Lodge on Saturday 31 August was something extra special. Hlokomela is an NGO that does valuable work in Hoedspruit and in the area’s game reserves in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The annual bush banquet is a fundraiser for the organisation and many local restaurants and lodges chipped in to make for an unforgettable evening.[singlepic id=51 w=640 h=480 float=none] [singlepic id=52 w=640 h=480 float=none]
Their chefs created tasting menus featuring herbs and herb-based products from Hlokomela’s gardens. Originally those gardens were created to grow herbs and vegetables to supplement the diets of farm workers living with HIV. They now supply the town of Hoedspruit and the surrounding lodge industry with fresh herbs and herb-based products and if you pop into any of the local supermarkets, you’ll find bags of fresh rocket, mint, thyme, basil, lemon grass and more for sale.[singlepic id=55 w=640 h=480 float=none]
It’s hard to single out particular tasty morsels for praise as each establishment did a fantastic job of using Hlokomela’s herbs in tasty and original ways. We definitely didn’t mind cleaning our pallets with the refreshing cocktails that Kapama Game Reserve prepared (a mix of appletizer, brandy and lemongrass) after feasting on their luscious spread. Ngala Safari Lodge‘s home-made nougat with pistachio and marshmallows, prepared with a hint of fresh mint, was amazing and ‘forced’ many attendees to have dessert between courses. The talented dancers that entertained us were also from Ngala Safari Lodge.[singlepic id=49 w=225 h=185 float=left] [singlepic id=47 w=225 h=185 float=left][singlepic id=57 w=225 h=185 float=right][singlepic id=54 w=225 h=185 float=right]
The Hat & Creek restaurant didn’t disappoint us with its canapés (think vegetable tempura with chilli, coriander and soy dip) and the (relatively) newly opened Hoedspruit coffee shop, restaurant and deli, Madhams – known for sourcing many of their ingredients from Hlokomela – made waves with their exquiste beef tartare served on tiny wooden spoons. Their rum and beetroot smoothie shots were amazing, as were their lavender infused brownies and wild mushrooms and thyme tarts. The Travelling Chefs Halaal feast was amongst some of the most flavoursome fare on offer – in particular their sweetcorn and spinich cakes with tamarind sauce. We were also particularly impressed by the creations on offer (and their gorgeous presentation) from the Blyde River lodge. The mini buttermilk cupcakes and strawberry and prawn spring rolls were unforgettable.[singlepic id=60 w=640 h=480 float=none]
Guardian Peak wines and Amarula also came out to support Hlokomela, as did the newly launched Safari Wine Club. It was a heartening effort all around. We were leaving at 5am the next morning for a 6 week Zimbabwean and Zambian odyssey – but even that couldn’t stop us from lingering on well into the evening, enjoying the amazing hospitality and telling ourselves that it was all for a good cause.[singlepic id=64 w=640 h=480 float=none]
You can see a gallery with more pictures from the event here.