Eastern Cape food terroir
Did you know?
The Eastern Cape province is
The food terroir of the Eastern Cape blends the culinary traditions of Xhosa pastoralists, Afrikaner farmers, and English settlers.
Eastern Cape food terroir is marinated in the industrial energy of Port Elizabeth, refined in the tranquility of Tsume’s indigenous forests, and seasoned by the gentle rolling Winterberg Mountains. The good news is that from the subtropical fervour of the Wild Coast, to the semi-arid plateau of Graaff Reinet, there is magic in every mouthful.
The Eastern Cape province is most famous as the birthplace of Nelson Mandela. When visiting, you must make time to taste his favourite traditional Xhosa dish umngqusho. This dried maize and bean mélange, is the essence of Eastern Cape food terroir, and is essential to understanding the simple tastes of a great man and a great province.
Sweet fields of sugar cane extend from northern Pondoland in the Eastern Cape through the coastal belt, before giving way to the craggy shorelines of the Wild Coast where fresh oysters, mussels and line fish are the catch of the day. This region also supports subtropical fruit farms.
It’s fair to call the Eastern Cape the land of milk and honey, for vast herds of dairy cattle graze its pastures between Port Elizabeth and East London, and on the outskirts of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, is the country’s only commercial mead maker. Honeybush tea is another delicious Eastern Cape treat.
Pass by Bathurst and you’ll be surprised a huge pineapple, a fitting tribute to the sweet-sour fruit for which the Eastern Cape is famous, closely followed by the orange and lemon orchards along the Sundays River, Kat River, and in the Gamtoos Valley.
Carnivores won’t lack in the Eastern Cape, which rears beef cattle, lamb, Boer-goats and game. Annually, the province hosts the foot-stomping, dried meat-chomping Castle Lager Biltong festival, and the ABSA Kirkwood Wildsfees, for meat-lovers to get their teeth into.
If it’s the plenty of the seas that float your boat make your way to the Delicious Monster restaurant in Port St Johns. The deck looks out onto the Bulolo estuary as it merges with the sea and you can watch the fish, mussels, and crayfish on the menu being caught for your lunch.
If it’s fine dining you favour, head for East London’s Smokey Swallows for award-winning wine lists and menu delights, or if you’re hungry for the ebullient vibe of a tavern you won’t find finer than Jeya’s Jazz Corner in Port Elizabeth’s New Brighton township.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Smokey Swallows restaurant,
Chelsea Galleria, Devereaux Avenue,
Tel: +27 (0)43 727 1349
Jeya’s Jazz Corner
Sheya Kulati Circle,
Cnr Ferguson Road,
Avenue A, New Brighton,
Tel:+27 (0)41 454 7567
Port St Johns
The Delicious Monster restaurant
3 Lloyds Cottages
Port St Johns.
Tel: +27 (0)83 997 9856
Nelson Mandela Museum
Corner Nelson Mandela Drive & Owen Street
Tel: +27 (0)47 532 5110