Klein Jan at Tswalu
Sara • 01/04/2024
As our afternoon safari came to an end, our dusty vehicle made its way towards the old farmhouse. The setting sun cast long shadows across the desert, contrasting sharply with the aged charm of the building, which had stood here for over a century. Eager to cleanse our hands of the red dust accumulated during our drive, we made our way to an enamel bowl before entering the quaint farmhouse. Inside, it felt like stepping back in time, with old-fashioned fire stoves and weathered pictures adorning the walls. Little did we know, we were about to embark on a culinary journey beyond our wildest dreams.
Upon entering, we were presented with a choice between champagne or an old-fashioned cocktail. Our taste buds awakened as the first starter graced our table, offering a delightful taste of traditional South African flavours. Settled comfortably in the cozy confines of the farmhouse, we anticipated a memorable dinner, unaware of the surprises that awaited.
After savouring our dishes and hot drinks, we were led out the back door, where a clothesline adorned with white sheets danced in the breeze. A towering windmill and a circular water reservoir added to the rustic charm. As the door swung open, we were greeted by the scent of petrichor—the earthy aroma after a fresh rain. A spiral staircase descended into the depths below, setting the stage for an unparalleled culinary adventure.
At the bottom of the staircase, we entered a pantry where all the restaurant’s treasures were stored. We traversed this lengthy pantry and paused for a date surprise, savouring dates in five different locally sourced variations. After the second starter, we continued through a tunnel leading to the wine cellar, where we enjoyed a soup dish in a welcoming space adorned with Jan Hendrik’s first wood stove, a symbol of his culinary journey.
Each moment felt like peeling back the layers of an onion, with one experience seamlessly leading to the next. We found ourselves in a breath-taking dining room, carved deep into the earth, offering panoramic views of the Karoo with the sloping desert landscape. Above us, the stars glistened in the Kalahari night sky. Course after course graced our table, each showcasing locally sourced produce and paired with exquisite wines, filling our senses with delight.
The experience was nothing short of extraordinary, and we attempted to savour every bite, even though our stomachs were already content from two weeks of indulgence. As we savoured our final coffee, we ascended the spiral staircase, emerging into the desert night. The Milky Way stretched majestically above, a fitting end to our lavish meal. We sat under the starlit sky, capturing the magic we had experienced below in the dining room, ready to share it with the world.