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Most of the destinations I visit on the Jan Braai TV show (Braai vir Erfenis, Thursdays at 17h30 on kykNET) are dictated by whether they’re particularly interesting or particularly beautiful. They’re also generally places where the heritage and story has some relevance to our braai culture. This trip wasn’t planned around any of these and, while I didn’t braai with the locals or in the local way, food from the area was the raison d’être for the excursion.

On Route 62 in the Klein Karoo (read more about the Klein Karoo’s Route 62) lie three towns in a row, perfectly poised for the creation of a signature regional dish.

Day one, Ladismith
On the outskirts of the town, you’ll find the aptly named Ladismith Cheese Factory. Milk sourced from nearby farms is mixed with various cultures and rennet and becomes congealed. Solids are separated from liquids and pressed into forms. The cheese is aged for some time at about 8° Celcius until it’s ready for the taking. I chose the three-month aged Ladismither, a strong white cheese perfect for the dish I had in mind, a juicy ostrich burger. Also, buy more than you need, as some won’t make it past day two’s cheese and wine pairing.

Day two, Calitzdorp
This town has admittedly one of the most uninspiring main roads in the Western Cape platteland, but by simply turning off the main drag you encounter a jewel. It’s the Port capital of South Africa and that is what you need to buy here. The hot climate and dry soil are perfect for Portuguese grape varieties Tinta Barocca and Touriga Naçional, needed to make great Port. Both the Boplaas and De Krans Ports win Veritas awards on an annual basis, but of the lot my favourite is Boplaas Cape Tawny. Still, I left Calitzdorp with vintage reserve Ports from both farms and some Cape Ruby Port as well, the latter of which is perfect for this dish.

Day three, Oudtshoorn
The life cycle of an ostrich isn’t that interesting, but the life cycle of the ostrich industry is riveting stuff. Whether it’s feathers hitting fashion highs in Paris (something which can make millionaires in the Klein Karoo), or avian flu forcing mass culls, the industry’s condition seems to constantly fluctuate between doing very well and doing very badly.

Ostrich meat, which famously comes from this region, is a great alternative to beef – and now scientists are even touting it as the answer to eternal youth. Once you are in Oudtshoorn, there’s no need for a fancy GPS system to locate the star ingredient of the dish. Almost every person on the streets will be able to point you in the direction of KKI (Klein Karoo International) or as the locals call it, The Ostrich Butchery.

Buy two ostrich patties for every burger you intend to make, and while you are there, get some ostrich fillets as well. Done medium rare and sliced finely, they make a great starter.

Check out the recipe for the Ostrich braai burger

Looking for a place to stay? Find great accommodation in Klein Karoo with Getaway Accommodation.


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