27 July 2012 by Melanie-Ann Feris

The Karoo – a foodie haven

The Klein Karoo is definitely a culinary delight: from chocolate temptations to local ostrich dishes, a food journey through this part of South Africa is most rewarding.

The interior of the La Chocolaterie Rococo, with its chocolate treats

It was probably the largest block of Belgian chocolate I had ever seen.

There it was, lying on a kitchen table in the middle of the Karoo, nogal. Next to it was a pair of dainty kitten heels, made entirely out of chocolate.

Chocolate pralines from La Chocolaterie Rococo

Chocolate and shoes are my passions, so put them together and I am in heaven.

I was in the studio of Marita Lamprecht, owner of La Chocolaterie Rococo in Oudtshoorn, being taken on a chocolate journey that would culminate in the purchase and consumption of probably a ton of dark chocolate pralines.

Marita specialised in the making of chocolate delights in Belgium, and after being told of the intricacies of working with chocolates (with lots of tasting), we were let loose in her chocolate shop.

Chocolate and shoes are my passions, so put them together and I am in heaven.

Behind glass panels were dainty pralines. There were the traditional fillings, like caramel and nuts, and solid blocks of melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate; but also exotic flavours like fig, raspberry, dark chocolate with black pepper, lavender, and a filling made of different spices, including cinnamon and nutmeg.

La Chocolaterie Rococo was the last stop on a culinary journey through the Klein Karoo.

Tourists sampling wine from the Karuso wine estate

The trip included lots of Karoo lamb, ostrich (naturally), home-made preserves, roosterkoek (flat cakes) baked over an open fire, home-made venison sausage, brandy tart and melktert (milktart), and a ginger and chilli concoction served at a local vegan store that made even the eyes of a visitor from India water!

We also stopped at a number of eateries that specialise in local cuisine, such as Jemima’s Restaurant in Oudtshoorn.

Jemima’s specialises in ostrich dishes, and we were treated to demonstrations on how to make 3 of its classics – carpaccio, stroganoff and pan-fried fillet.

For me the highlight was dessert (yes, more chocolate). This came in the form of chocolate salami – chocolate, biscuits, nuts and dried fruit – which was served with chilli ice cream and goat’s-milk cheese.

The cellar master from the Karuso wine estate, Jacques Conradie, was at Jemima’s to showcase the estate’s export products. He opened his presentation with a flourish – decapitating a bottle with a silver sabre.

For each serving of canapés there was a different wine. I don’t drink wine, but was enticed into sampling a delicate rosé sparkling wine that even I found yum.

The Klein Karoo is definitely a culinary delight.

Category: Food & Wine

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