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Burgers and Beyond – Reasons to Visit Hoedspruit: Chapter 4

Burgers and Beyond – Reasons to Visit Hoedspruit: Chapter 4

A Meat Lover’s Guide:

Hoedspruit is a haven for meat lovers, from its rich history of diverse culinary influences to  fresh quality produce, you can be assured of one thing, and that’s that our burger game is certainly on point!

South Africa’s love for meat, including burgers, is deeply rooted in its history and culture, influenced by various groups such as the Dutch settlers, Indo-Asian slaves, indigenous Khoisan, and Black African groups. This diverse influence has led to rich meat cuisine that includes traditional dishes made from all parts of the animal.

Now who doesn’t love a juicy, mouth watering, ground beef  patty that’s grilled to perfection?  No objections? Good, well then let me take you on a whirlwind tour of some of the town’s top spots for all things BURGER. Each venue with its own unique flavours and story, Hoedspruit has a strong contingent of suitable eateries just waiting to impress your tastebuds.

So, without any further ado, and in no particular order – here are some of my favourite “Burger Joints” to frequent, whilst savouring the “HOED”:

THE HOGFATHER:

The Hogfather Pub & Porkery, is a standout spot that combines exceptional culinary experiences with a vibrant atmosphere. Rated highly by patrons, this dining gem offers a menu rich with International, Mediterranean, and Contemporary cuisines, ensuring a delightful array of choices for all times of the day.

Now I’m no Guy Fieri, but I’ve frequented the Hogfather sufficiently to testify that when it comes to Burgers, Chris & family know how to construct the perfect “Bushveld Edition”.

Whether it’s the Slow Roasted Pulled Pork on a crisp roll, complimented by a delectable homemade BBQ sauce and tasty sides. Their Classic Cheese Burger – 100% rough-ground beef brisket with cheese and sautéed onions or the Panko Crumbed Chicken Burger packed with a stellar cast of pepper dews, pineapple, bacon, salsa and creamy mayo, the Hogfather’s burger selection has the same effect of whimsical wonder, that its namesake had on the children in the Terry Pratchett novel.

It’s food fantasy for the senses! So drop us a message and let us know what you thought…

THREE BRIDGES

Three Bridges Restaurant at The Outpost always offers one a tranquil escape “out of town”, with a dining experience that’s as refreshing as the Olifants River it overlooks. This spot is celebrated for its picturesque setting, friendly atmosphere, and delectable food that caters to all and sundry.

Since I can remember, having moved here from the big smoke, its been one of my favourite things to do – heading to the Outpost for some grub. One thing’s for sure is that the thought and creativity of the burgers on display here leave nothing to be desired as they certainly tick every block.

Three of my must tries are:

The Baconator: a classic patty with melted cheddar, tangy gherkins, creamy mayo & 6 slices of heavenly streaky bacon.

The Midnight Special: a bacon, brandy and cheddar sauce, topped with avo, all housed within the perfect gourmet  burger.

The Chicken Parmigiana: albeit poultry this time, this parmesan crusted chicken breast, covered in a neapolitan sauce and blanketed in gooey mozzarella & parmesan is equally as yummy as its meaty mates.

Feeling hungry yet? Well there’s plenty to choose from, whether light or substantial, be sure to pencil this venue in on the itinerary for an enjoyable time out with the family.

HOEDSPRUIT BREW CO: 

Besides the flowing ale, the Hoedspruit Brew Co in the heart of the Bosveld Centre, offers a quaint but delectable range of burgers for the entire family. Outside of a contemporary, well thought out menu that encapsulates their energy and vibe – I sincerely enjoy my time out here as there’s plenty for the kids to do as you take your time savouring your meal.

In terms of recommendations, my two contenders would include their  Classic Cheese with all the required essentials and drenched in garlic aioli – hitting any sweet spot. And of course their famous Brew Burger – which adds a bit of spice to the equation, with the burger itself comprising mozzarella, juicy jalapenos, crispy bacon and a sultry chili mayo.

Guess its safe to say that their entire burger menu compliments the host of great craft beers on offer quite pleasantly.

Last but by no means least is…

SLEEPERS: 

Located in the old Station Building at Hoedspruit Station, opposite the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate, Sleepers Restaurant is a beautifully renovated eatery that preserves the nostalgia and charm of a bygone era while providing guests with a taste of contemporary and South Africa. From the moment the trains rumble by, you’re invited to relax at the bar with something refreshing before diving into a menu that boasts a wealth of options.

With their well established and comprehensive selection, Sleepers never disappoints as their menu provides a melting pot of classic and contemporary takes on the Hamburger. My two faves in this case, have to be the

Oxtail and Eisbein Burgers – These guys scream…Revolutionary! Whether it’s the pulled Oxtail or the crispy fried Eisbein with crackling and all their contemporary, tantalising fillings, both are unforgettable experiences for the senses, leaving one content and satisfied just like Sunday morning.

 So there you have it, Burgers are the perfect Safari Fuel!

After a day of adventure in the bush, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as sinking your teeth into a hearty burger. It’s the perfect comfort food – replenishing the enthusiasm, recalibrating the adventure barometer and firing up the old engine – making it a solid staple for both locals and tourists alike returning from their bush tales.

 Whether you’re a dedicated carnivore, a casual meat-eater, or simply someone who appreciates good food made with love, Hoedspruit’s burgers offer a deliciously compelling reason to visit!

The Story of LA Baguette – Passion meets Persistence

The Story of LA Baguette – Passion meets Persistence

Covid and the pandemic is a distant memory and its safe to say that Hoedspruit – for some time now, has been back to her old ways, fashioning the hopes, and dreams for all those that stuck to their guns and believed “that this too shall pass”.

As part of our ongoing commitment to showcasing all the industry and determination our little town has to offer, we are super excited to share the remarkable story (like so many others) that is Fabian & Karine Jacquemin and our very own LA Baguette Cafe – situated at the newly opened Korongo Shopping Centre.

A testament to their dreams and determination, The Jacquemin’s story is not just about opening a Bakery / Eatery in a foreign country but about the incredible journey that led them here, the challenges they overcame, and the community they immersed themselves in along the way.

Join me as we unpack a story of cultural exchange and harmony

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS:  

Fabian and Karine embarked on a significant life change, with a clear vision and a deep desire for a new beginning. Leaving behind their comfortable life on Reunion Island, where Karine was a revered teacher, and Fabian a skilled speech therapist, they ventured into South Africa, driven by the dream of starting anew.

Their discovery of Hoedspruit whilst on holiday became the canvas for their very first project: Ukuthula Bush Lodge, but as fate would have it just five months into their new adventure, the pandemic struck, forcing them to temporarily close the lodge and look for alternatives to stay afloat.

 

A FLOURISHING BAKERY AMIDST ADVERSITY:

Covid, whilst a challenge, presented an unexpected opportunity for the Jacquemin’s to embark on their second venture. With optimism as their compass, the couple felt inspired to bring their culinary heritage to Hoedspruit – and what better way than a French bakery / café.

Karine, having honed her craft with a French artisan baker’s diploma, was more than well-prepared for this endeavour. They adapted their recipes to the unique South African palette and incorporated local ingredients and preferences into their colourful menu. Hours of dedication were poured into perfecting their offerings, from the flour to the butter, ensuring that their products met the high standards they set for themselves. 

 

HIGHLIGHTS AND SPECIALITIES: 

LA Baguette Café offers an authentic French culinary experience. For first-time visitors, Karine recommends starting with their traditional pastries, like a wholesome croissant or a pain au chocolat (also known as a chocolatine, a type of Viennoiserie pastry) both pairing delightfully  with a rich cappuccino.

Their traditional French breads and the Parisian sandwiches are a nod to their roots, while the inclusion of local favourites like cheesecake and carrot cake signifies their embrace of the local  tastes. Its safe to say they have covered all their bases, with their ever expanding menu, catering to all preferences, offering a delectable range of light meals.

SOURCING LOCAL INGREDIENTS AND SUSTAINABILITY: 

Committed to quality and sustainability, LA Baguette sources most ingredients locally, from the freshest produce to eggs from our farmers. This approach not only supports the local economy but also ensures their products are free from additives and preservatives. Importing from France was considered impractical due to the impact on pricing, prompting further innovation in adapting recipes to local ingredients.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND CULTURAL EXCHANGE : 

Integrating into the Hoedspruit community was a priority for the Jacquemin’s. They began very modestly, selling their baked goods on many a street corner, which ultimately led to a fantastic collaboration with a local supermarket, making every trip to the shops one to remember.

Their involvement subsequently grew to local events and markets, always aiming to share their French heritage with the local community. Their generosity which is evident, continues to shine through as all their unsold goods are regularly donated to our local retirement homes.

Karine’s background in education naturally extends within the bakery, where she engages consistently with her staff, upskilling them in the art of baking, all while bridging language barriers and cultural differences. This aspect of their business not only enriches the lives of locals but plants seeds of cultural appreciation. Their staff compliment is vibrant, engaging and they serve with a smile. Take note!

CHALLENGES AND REWARDS: 

Navigating the language barrier and familiarising the nuances of French baking to a small traditional South African town has posed significant challenges.

However, Fabian and Karines’ perseverance, supported by the financial backbone of their lodge has allowed the bakery to not only survive but thrive. Truth be told we as a community are so glad they did – as the diversity, innovation and cultural immersion they add to our community is clearly evident, contributing greatly to the variety that so clearly distinguishes Hoedspruit.

FUTURE PLANS AND ASPIRATIONS: 

As settling is not in their character, and with one eye on the future, the Jacquemin’s aspire to innovate further, introducing a host of new flavours and a variety of dishes that will introduce their patrons to the full gamete that French cuisine offers.

Collaborations with local lodges and restaurants are on the horizon further reinforcing their commitment and contribution to Hoedspruit’s growth and charm. Ultimately both Fabian and Karine desire to leave a legacy for their children and in so doing serve the community with passion. So watch this space!

ADVICE FOR ASPIRING BAKERS AND ENTREPRENEURS: 

LA Baguette’s journey underscores the importance of dedication, perseverance, and patience. Their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is as simple and uncomplicated as our natural setting – cherish every experience, see it as an opportunity to learn and improve and find joy in hard work as the satisfaction of your customers is all so worth it.

There’s no doubt that the Jacquemins’ story is a positively refreshing and vibrant addition to Hoedspruit and its continued evolution, so whether you’re a local keen on something different or a visitor here for the first time, be sure to pop in and say “Hi” to our “Fabulous Frenchies” and the wonder that is La Baguette Cafe.

An Unofficial Big 5 – Reasons to Visit Hoedspruit: Chapter 3

An Unofficial Big 5 – Reasons to Visit Hoedspruit: Chapter 3

It’s often said, and backed up by personal experience, that the purest form of cultural immersion whilst on holiday is to simply sample the local cuisine. Hoedspruit is no different,  with South Africa having 11 national languages, it’s no coincidence that we’re a melting pot of fusion and collaboration when it comes to enjoying all the scrumptious delicacies on offer. 

Whether you’re frequenting an Eatery, Café, Pub & Grill or Food Truck, Hoedspruit is a must-visit for food enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, offering a unique blend of adventure and gastronomy.

Join me as I introduce you to my “unofficial Big 5” of traditional cuisine, snacks and treats providing a number of compelling reasons to visit us whilst on Safari:

1BILTONG & DROEWORS:  SAVOURY TRAIL COMPANIONS 

Ask any Saffa, biltong and droëwors serve as quintessential South African snacks, perfect for road trips and safaris, especially in places like Hoedspruit.

Biltong (or Billies as we like to refer to it) is air-dried meat typically made from beef or local game which is marinated in a blend of vinegar, salt, spices, and sometimes sugar, before being dried. This process not only preserves the meat but also enhances its flavour, making biltong a rich, savoury snack.

Droëwors, on the other hand, is a dried sausage made from spiced beef or game, following a similar preservation process. Equally enjoyable its high nutritional value is nailed on to keep your tummy happy whilst on the road.

Both snacks are lightweight, non-perishable, and packed with protein, making them ideal for exploring the bushveld. Their robust flavours and easy portability explain why they are a popular choice for sustaining any adventure.

Be sure to stop in at Kamp Vuur Meat & Deli or the Driehoek Butcher serving up some of the best geel vet (yellow fat) billies Hoedspruit has to offer.

2BUNNY CHOW: THE CULTURE BOMB 

Bunny Chow is a testament to South Africa’s melting pot of cultures with its influences birthed from its prominent Indian community.

This dish, a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with aromatic curry made from either lamb, beef or chicken was born out of necessity as a practical way for workers to carry their lunch to the fields or place of work during the apartheid era.

Since then, the dish has experienced much innovation and infusion with many of our residing cultures adding their “take” on the original.

So when in the “Hoed” be sure to pop into Kalimambo’s Restaurant & Pub for a decadent, well priced slice of Culture.

3BRAAI BROODJIE: THE SOCIAL GLUE OF THE BUSHVELD 

No visit to Hoedspruit is ever complete without experiencing a Braai with a couple of mates – you can refer to our previous blog titled “Embers of Africa”, if you need the inside track on this cultural occasion,  but part of this local experience involves the inclusion of Braai Broodjies which are closed sandwiches toasted over an open fire. 

Picture slices of buttery crisp bread, toasted to golden perfection on the grill. Between these lie generous layers of cheddar cheese that melts beautifully with the tangy sweetness of tomato and the sharp bite of onion. Often, a spread of mayonnaise or chutney is added creating a delightful contrast of flavours.

They’re the proverbial presents under the tree, when it comes to braaing and a hit with kiddies of all ages, so whether you’re overnighting at a lodge or winging it whilst self catering, be sure to include these little treasure troves on the the menu – you wont be sorry

4KOEKSISTERS: A SWEET EMBRACE 

Koeksisters are a traditional South African confectionery that are deeply rooted in the country’s culinary landscape. This sweet treat is known for its distinctive plaited or twisted shape and its syrupy exterior, resulting from being soaked in a sugary syrup. Koeksisters are a delightful blend of textures and flavors, featuring a crispy, golden exterior and a soft, sweet, syrup-infused interior. There are actually two main types of koeksisters found in South Africa, each reflecting different cultural influences:

Afrikaner Koeksisters: This version is probably what most people think of when they hear “koeksister.” It is of Afrikaner origin, with a braided or twisted dough that is deep-fried and then soaked in a cold, sweet syrup, often flavored with ginger, cinnamon, and lemon.

Cape Malay Koeksisters: This variant is different in both flavor and appearance, reflective of the Cape Malay community’s culinary traditions. Cape Malay koeksisters are spicy, doughnut-shaped treats that are also deep-fried but are then rolled in desiccated coconut instead of being soaked in syrup. 

So should you be tempted to indulge then nearly all convenience stores in Hoedspruit sell them, but my absolute favourites can be found in the deli section at Driehoek Butchery (as linked above). 

5MELKTERT: THE COMFORT OF HOME 

Melktert, often affectionately known as milk tart, is a classic South African dessert that embodies the essence of comfort food, with its smooth, creamy filling and delicate, cinnamon-dusted pastry crust.

This beloved teatime classic comprises a rich custard made from milk, eggs, sugar, and a hint of vanilla, encased in a sweet pastry shell. The filling is thickened to a luxurious consistency, then poured into the crust and sprinkled lightly with cinnamon, offering a warm, comforting spice that perfectly complements the sweetness of the custard.

Be sure to enquire wherever you are, whether at a Lodge or in Store – as you wont wonder to far without bumping into one of our national treasures – best served cold!

Last but not least an honourable mention needs to got to our very own MALVA PUDDING 

Its origins rooted with the early Dutch settlers, this decadent treat is a warm, comforting dessert that embodies the sweetness of South African hospitality. A spongy caramelized cake, richly flavoured with apricot jam and drenched in a creamy, buttery sauce that soaks through, making each bite an irresistibly moist delight. Often accompanied with custard or ice cream.

Be sure to check the dessert menus at any of our fine eateries and don’t be shy there’s a malva pudding with your name on it, you wont be sorry!

Visiting Hoedspruit is an adventure for the palate, offering insights into the region’s culture and history through its traditional delicacies. Our unofficial Big 5 of Hoedspruit’s culinary scene should undeniably offer everyone thinking about vacationing here sufficient reason alone to explore our vibrant town and celebrate our heritage. See you soon!