This recap of our intoxicating Veld & Sea botanical workshop is part of our fun, unique, insider Cape Town Travel Blog.
An Only in Cape Town Food Experience
Wherever we travel, Chris and I look to taste and learn about unique local
In Cape Town’s case, that meant fynbos.
A quick Google search of “fynbos food” led us to the experts: Veld & Sea. Based south of Cape Town in the Cape of Good Hope, they offer a wide array of workshops, events, dinners, foraging tours, and cooking classes that feature local and seasonal ingredients—most notably, fynbos.
So when Veld & Sea’s founder Roushanna invited us to her upcoming botanical workshop, we couldn’t say “Yes!!!” fast enough.
Fynbos (pronounced feign-boss), is natural shrub vegetation here in South Africa’s Western and Eastern Cape.
From afar, it doesn’t look like much, but up close, as you will see if you hike Table Mountain, or walk along the beaches of Cape Point, there is life.
Lots of life.
In fact, the fynbos region is richer in plant life than even the Amazon!
And, as we were to learn, many of them have medicinal purposes and not just tasty, but delicious.
The more time we’ve spent here in South Africa, the more we’ve learned to appreciate fynbos.
And we’re not alone. It’s increasingly featured here in gin, tea, soap, and body products. Fynbos is definitely in.
Veld & Sea Botanical Workshop
Our Veld & Sea botanical workshop took place on a sunny Saturday afternoon last month in the beautiful Botanical Bar in downtown Cape Town (Update: no longer in business, sadly).
The setting was incredibly inviting and smelled amazing. Our workshop hosts, Roushanna and Gemma, the wild chef, had set up a beautiful spread showcasing their freshly collected wildflowers, medicinal roots, fresh fynbos, as well as homemade tinctures, oils, and infusions.
There was even a bathtub full of floating edible flowers!
We were welcomed to the four-hour workshop with a botanical cocktail, fresh fruit, and were invited to chat with the other attendees.
From bartenders to food writers to home botanists, the class was made up of a good mix of local and friendly Capetonians (… and us).
Into the Wild
As we took our seats, Roushanna, the owner and founder of Veld & Sea, told us about how she got into the wild food movement.
She moved from the city to Cape Point eleven years ago and started up a tea garden at the Good Hope Garden Nursery, owned by her mother-in-law.
She soon became enchanted by all the hidden natural wonders of the area. Wanting to spread the word, Roushanna started up foraging and plant workshops for young children. Parents started to become interested and wanted to learn as well.
And word continued to spread.
Fast forward to 2019. Roushanna now leads foraging expeditions, runs Cape Town food experiences, hosts long table dinners, and gives speeches about the wonderful wild.
After learning about Roushanna’s background, she began talking about the wild edibles she’d brought in for the workshop and had tastefully spread all over the tables for us to touch, smell, and taste.
We could barely keep up as she excitedly explained each plant, where to find them, how to cook with them, and their medicinal properties.
One of the plants I found particularly interesting was buchu.
Buchu is an indigenous plant that was used for centuries by the native Khoisan people. They called it a cure-all miracle drug.
Today, it’s used as a natural remedy for arthritis and joint pain and is often found in the form of an oil or infused into water. You can also find buchu teas and in creams and ointments, for skin conditions such as eczema.
Another interesting fynbos Roushanna described to us was the lemon pelargonium which, now that we know it, we recognize everywhere here in the Western Cape.
It has bright purple edible flowers, and their star-shaped leaves (see photo above) release a strong lemon verbena aroma perfect for cocktails or iced teas.
Following our interactive “lecture,” we had the opportunity to nibble on an array of homemade, vegan, fynbos-featuring foraged snacks created by Veld & Sea’s wild food chef, Gemma.
Snacks included a dahl-like lentil hummus with veggie sticks, fresh bread and marmalade, and vegan wild mushroom tacos with homemade shells.
The creativity and combination of flavors was fantastic.
Next up in the botanical workshop was applying our newfound knowledge towards creating cocktails featuring the fresh fynbos Roushanna had brought.
We were let loose to pick from a couple of types of gins and tonics, a handful of different infused syrups, and of course any of the fresh fynbos on hand.
Among the fynbos we experimented with were wild rosemary, a couple of exotic types of indigenous mint, buchu, citrusy spekboom leaves, and lemon and peppermint pelargonium.
The bartenders from The Botanical Bar, who happened to be taking part in the workshop as well, showed us up with their beautiful gin and tonics (see photo above).
Ours didn’t look quite as nice, but they definitely tasted…. unique!
Infusing Our Own Souvenirs
The last part of our workshop was making our own fynbos bitters to take home as souvenirs.
Doing so was pretty easy. We just stuffed the little glass bottles we’d been instructed to bring from home with our choice of fynbos, then filled them up with neutral vodka. Gemma and Roushanna were on hand to help us decide on combinations might work out best.
We were told to let the vodka absorb the essences of the fynbos for a week or two then remove the leaves.
This would leave us with a one-of-a-kind bitters that we could spice up our cocktails with, fynbos style!
A Cape Town Food Experience Like None Other
We left our Veld & Sea botanical class full of fynbos.
Our bellies were full of fynbos snacks and cocktails, our bags full of fynbos bitters and bouquets of fresh fynbos, and our minds full of new knowledge and appreciation of fynbos.
Also, now we know if we ever get lost on a mountain here in South Africa we won’t starve to death because so much is actually edible!
All in all, it was exactly the one of a kind Cape Town food experience we’d hoped for.
Wild Herbs for Botanical Cocktails
Location: The Botanical Bar, Cape Town
For all the information on upcoming Veld & Sea events, check out their calendar.