Food Adventures, Safari Style

High Tea at Chobe Chilwero

September, 2016. I finally get my chance to go back to Africa! Four years earlier, I had travelled to Uganda for 3 weeks on a medical mission. We spent most of our time, under very primitive circumstances. There was often no running water, no proper toilets and questionable sanitary conditions. This time, the experience would be much different. The plan was to spend our vacation on safari, observing the wild animals and hopefully, experiencing new food adventures! Our time would be spent in Botswana and Zambia, celebrating our 20 year wedding anniversary. I can’t wait! The reason we chose to spend a majority of our time in Botswana is that Botswana is renowned for responsible tourism, focusing on a high-end, low impact model which benefits the local people. This focus on sustainability makes it one of the most rewarding and game-rich safari destinations in Africa.

We begin our journey in Cape Town, South Africa, at the southern most tip of Africa. We decide that this will be the spot where we can adjust to the time change, relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. I chose a small boutique hotel in Camps Bay.

POD Camp's Bay

POD Hotel proved to be the perfect option. It has the perfect blend of sleek, modern and natural elements and is set on a hillside, overlooking the ocean. The management is kind enough to upgrade us to their best room. It’s a corner unit, with floor to ceiling windows, an open concept shower, large tub, unlimited mini bar and snacks and the MOST amazing bed.

Breakfast Included!

They also offer an amazing breakfast, that is included in your room rate! Yum! Highly recommend!

Our first day in South Africa, is spent on an all day tour of the wine country through African Eagle (arranged by the hotel). An amazing day, exploring the sights, sipping wine, shopping and enjoying good food. We started our wine tasting at Zevenwacht.

Zevenwacht, South Africa

It’s a beautiful estate, located on a small lake, with gorgeous views. I loved how they paired their wines (Sauvignon Blanc) with a variety of cheeses.

Zevenwacht Wines

Next we stopped in the town of Stellenbosch, located on the heart of the Cape Winelands. It is adorable, with its oak lined streets and Cale Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture!

Stellenbosch, South Africa

It is picturesque and quaint, with lots of sidewalk cafes and shops.

Stellenbosch, South Africa

We stopped for a quick round of shopping (a bit pricey) and then head to lunch in the town of Franschhoek. Our tour guide makes a recommendation for lunch. Not satisfied, we find another restaurant, off the beaten path. The menu looks perfect, the tables are set under large trees….and there is no one there?!  We decide to take a risk and it is amazing! The duck confit, I am told, was very good. I ordered the salmon salad, over smashed potatoes. It is heavenly.

Cafe des Arts, Franschhoek, South Africa
Cafe des Arts, Franschhoek, South Africa

The Sauvignon Blanc is the icing on the cake! The name of the restaurant is Cafe des Arts. A great find! I hope it’s still there!

Our next stop is at Taste at Laborie.

We are welcomed by a cozy tasting room connected to a beautiful patio. Here, we get to sample a variety of wines and as an added surprise, brandy.

Our last stop is at Marianne, which offered the best views of the day, which was perfect since the sun was beginning to set in the sky, casting a beautiful glow on the landscape. Heavenly!

The next day, we opted for a half day tour of the Cape of Good Hope, Boulder Beach and surrounds. This included a hike around the Cape of Good Hope. I was in heaven! Imagine breathtaking vistas, crashing waves, Penguins, ostrich, and baboons!

Between both of these tours, we sadly, did not have a chance to experience much of the food scene in Cape Town (which is supposed to be amazing), so I guess that means I need to go back!

Our journey to our safari begins four hours north in Maun, Botswana, via a 12 seat Caravan?.

The Okavango Delta is fertile and green, despite it being the dry season. The view from the airplane is utterly unreal. From 10,000 feet you can see numerous of herds of elephants, pods of hippos and a few wandering giraffe. For the next 10 days, we will visit 4 Sanctuary Retreats lodges in Botswana, along the Okavango Delta and in Zambia, on the Zambezi River. My goal is to eat a pescetarian, gluten free diet. Will this be possible in Africa?!? Yes! It is!

The food at all if the lodges was very good, with tons of dietary options and each lodge was able to accommodate my gluten free diet. All of the Sanctuary Retreat lodges that we stayed at offered the same enormous meal plan, which is included in the cost of your stay. For breakfast, they offer a large continental breakfast, along with a small menu offering eggs and various side dishes.

Coffee, tea and baked goods are offered during the morning game drive.

To my surprise, each lodge prepared gluten free goodies, specially for me! Lunch is served in three courses, with wine and multiple options available.

Generally, a gorgeous puréed soup or beautiful salad to start. Meat, fish and vegetarian options were available for the main course. The desserts were rarely gluten free, so I opted for a fruit plate. High Tea is served before the evening game drive with a huge selection of sweets and savories along with coffee and tea.

High Tea at Chief's Camp

At the end of the evening game drive, they serve a sundowners, which generally consists of wine, beer or cocktails with nuts, dried fruit and beef jerky.

Sundowners at Baine's Camp
Sundowners at Baine’s Camp

Finally, dinner is served at 8pm and it’s another three course extravaganza. Phew!

All of the Sanctuary Retreat lodges that we stayed at were fantastic. Each place had magical element about it! Our favorite had to be Baine’s Camp. Located on a private concession in the Okavango Delta, this rustic styled lodge, with only 8 rooms, is intimate, has amazing service and has gorgeous surrounds.

Baine's Camp

Special thanks to Henry for making us feel so at home! Picture candlelit bubble baths under the stars as well as sleeping under the stars in the comfort of your four poster king sized bed, with the sounds of hippos, and crickets singing you to sleep. The Elephant Experience that they offer made for one of the most memorable days of my life.  


And the game drives here were some of the best of our entire trip! These were experiences right out of my dreams…..

The newly remodeled Chief’s Camp was the most luxurious of all of the accommodations. We were welcomed by a huge guest house, filled with floor to ceiling windows, to take advantage of the panoramic views of the Moremi Game Reserve.

Chief's Camp

Gorgeously decorated, each guest house came complete with an indoor and outdoor shower, huge soaking tub and our own plunge pool. The food was also amazing. 


We were treated to a BBQ feast of their traditional foods under a moonlit sky. The game drives here, were also very abundant! We saw the big five!

Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero was a larger camp, located on a hill top with stunning views of the Chobe River.

Chobe Chilwero

The chef here took special care in arranging my gluten free options. He checked in with me at every meal. I really appreciated this special attention.

Salmon Salad


The evening boat rides were wonderful and gave us a different viewing perspective for the elephants, African buffalo, hippos, crocodiles and birds.

Safari by boat

We did enjoy one afternoon at the spa here, as well.

The Spa

We were very pleased with the tranquil facilities and our massages!

Sussi & Chuma, located in Zambia, on a beautiful stretch of the Zambezi River, marked the last stop of our trip. We spent 3 days exploring Victoria Falls, taking boat rides, fishing and enjoying the spa.

The chef here made the best gluten free toast and muffins, using cassava flour. Have you ever used it? It was the base for much of the gluten free goodies that were made for me in Africa. It’s made from a root, so it’s gluten free and grain free.

Chickpeas and butterbeans with chapati
Chickpeas and butterbeans with chapati

Best of all it’s easy to use. The chef was kind enough to share his recipes for pancakes and chapati with me. As an added bonus, Malala (the esthetician) went entirely out of her way and purchased a 2 kg bag of cassava flour for me to take home.

Thank you Malala!

(Can you imagine explaining that to the customs officer in Amsterdam?!)

Something I love about traveling the globe, is being exposed to a multitude of new flavors, spices, textures, ingredients and food combinations. My travels stay with me, not only in my memories and pictures, but in the recipes and food inspiration that follows me back to my kitchen. On this trip, the two things I have developed a huge appreciation for are cassava flour and the safari tradition of the sundowner.

The sundowner is an essential part of traditional safari life, the concept of having drinks while watching the sun go down.

It originates from the time of the great safaris of the 1920’s. Picture the serving of elegant ‘bush’ cocktails against the unforgettable backdrop of the African sunset. Our sundowner began with a gentle drive to a scenic spot where wine, cocktails and snacks are set up. Magical, memorable and romantic, the sundowner is an experience not to be missed and I look forward to replicating back home in Oregon, but there is NOTHING like an African sunset.

African Sunset

Visit Sanctuary Retreats for more information!

A Weekend in Palm Springs

Palm Springs is Calling!
Palm Springs is Calling!
Palms Springs is Calling!

The weather in the Pacific Northwest tends to drag you down towards Mid-Winter. The holidays are far behind you, the snow is melting on the mountain range and the weather forecast is rain, rain, rain. I am thankful for the abundant precipitation, but it is time to get away to the sun for a bit! Thankfully, Jason has a car auction he’s working in Palm Springs, so I decide to tag along:) The flight is as easy, as can be from Portland, so a quick weekend trip is a breeze!

We always include breakfast at the Portland Airport in our travel plans. In case you didn’t know, the Portland Airport is one of the best airports the country. And because Portland is a foodie mecca,  there are tons of great food options to choose from for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favorite stop for my preflight breakfast is The Country Cat. They have a brick and mortar establishment in the SE part of Portland as well, if you want to check it out! The menu at the airport is limited, but still amazing. I ended up with the Eggs Benedict with salmon, minus the biscuit.

Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict

At lunch I go for the kale salad with smoked chicken (which is not offered on their regular menu). It’s perfect for a light lunch or dinner….and tastes a heck of a lot better than a Big Mac! They also have a grab and go counter that has some great snacks and drinks to carry onto your flight, if you are pressed for time! My favorite, is the chia pudding.

Country Cat Chia Pudding and Kombucha
Country Cat Chia Pudding and Kombucha

It looks weird, but tastes divine! Yogurt and chia seeds, topped with nuts, dried fruit and apple sauce. (Thanks to my friend Elizabeth for this find!) It’s a tasty treat that’s great anytime of day and it’s good for you!

I found this amazing little hotel for our last minute getaway, called Sparrows Lodge. Originally built as Castle’s Red Barn in 1952 by MGM actor Don Castle and his wife Zetta, it was one of the original resort getaways for Hollywood elite. It was completely and lovingly restored in 2013. It has a completely different vibe than the other hotels in the area. We loved the laid-back vibe, kilim rugs, tasty food, relaxing pool scene. There was great care to make sure we were content and comfy throughout our stay! So many special touches!

We arrived right before lunch and made our way through a small, lodge like room. It was comfortably decorated with a small couch, leather butterfly chairs and a stone fireplace. The back end opened up to a beautiful pool area, surrounded with cushioned pool loungers and hotel rooms along each side. The air was scented with jasmine and seemed to cool off immediately with the misters. We walked past a few sunbathers to the beautiful red barn, which functioned as the lobby, bar and communal sitting area. Our room wasn’t quite ready. No worries. We were offered lunch and a complimentary sangria while we waited.

The menu was short and simple. Everything sounded good. Jason ordered the Chicken Salad Sando (sandwich) and I opted for a light snack of veggies and green goddess dressing for dipping. We were not disappointed, everything was tasty and fresh. By the time we finished our meal, we could check in;) The best news was that we got upgraded to a garden room, which was larger and more quiet than the pool room.

Our room was a mixture of rustic and modern, with its own private patio, open air shower and deep horse trough bath tub. Simple and comfortable. I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the shade, reading by the pool. Mid-afternoon, we were all offered popsicles.

Mid Afternoon Popsicle
Mid Afternoon Popsicle

It was the perfect treat to beat the heat;)

By the time I came back to the room, Jason was ready for a mid-afternoon snack. So, in continuing my food research, I ordered the hummus plate and the fruit salad with burrata. it did not disappoint!

Fruit Salad with Burrata
Fruit Salad with Burrata

Nap time….

There are a ton of restaurants to choose from for dinner. Luckily, I was able to do a bit of research ahead of time! We decided Workshop Kitchen + Bar* for dinner. It can best be described a chic farm-to-table restaurant. Book early, or you will end up at the long (but gorgeous) communal table inside. We lucked out and had an amazing alfresco meal, surrounded by gaslit heaters (even though it was 77 degrees) in their courtyard dining room. The menu was filled with seasonal, fresh and inventive food and cocktail preparations. Best of all, it offered tons of gluten free and vegetarian options, as well as a lot of meat and fish. It was difficult to make a decision! We both selected a salad to start, followed by a main entree and then, shared a dessert.

Champagne Cocktail
Champagne Cocktail

I wish that I had better pictures to post, but the lighting was very dim! You are just going to have to trust me. By the time we were leaving, the place was hopping! I look forward to coming back again, soon.

In the morning we were greeted to a simple (and complimentary) continental breakfast in the barn. Coffee, fruit, granola, toast and hardboiled eggs.

Simple Breakfast
Simple Breakfast

It’s all we needed. That desert heat has a way of depleting one’s appetite and I knew we should leave some room for brunch.

And I DID enjoy brunch, in the oasis of the outdoor courtyard at The Tropicale. A great Bloody Mary. A fresh Chinese Salad with ‘big ass’ shrimp (seriously, it said that on the menu). Nothing complicated. Simple and good.

Palm Springs Brunch
Palm Springs Brunch

Need I say more?
Time to head back to the hotel and relax by the pool.

Dinner that night was kind of a hit or miss. Great food, beautiful dining areas and design, but a really noisy and chaotic atmosphere.

Gorgeous Food
Gorgeous Food

You’d never guess it from this picture. I recommend going there for a party, not for a romantic dinner. Eight4Nine It might be for you…