When Café Thirty-A owner Harriet Crommelin got back from her 11-day trip to South Africa, she decided to share her experience in a language everyone could understand — food.
Pouring imported South African wines, Cafe Thirty-A chef Ken Duenas and Crommelin have created a five-course dinner worthy of the savanna as a way to commemorate her South African trip last December.
"I hope the dinner inspires guests to visit South Africa," Crommelin said.
"They get to experience a little bit of our trip," added Stephen Marlette, Crommelin's significant other and travel companion.
Crommelin and Marlette have traveled extensively through Europe and United States over the years. It was Crommelin's nephew who convinced her to travel to Africa, along with fellow friends who claimed it was the trip of a lifetime.
Crommelin and Marlette typically travel with only their imagination.
"I have a saying that tourists don't know where they've been and travelers don't know where they're going," Marlette said.
This trip was different. They traveled with a guide and driver and had their entire itinerary planned through African Safari Consultants, a company based in New York. After planning and a day and a half of traveling, the safari seekers found that South Africa was rich in diversity.
"There are all sorts of flags flying, it's a conglomerate of different cultures," Crommelin said.
As a restaurant owner, Crommelin couldn't help but be inspired by the food. She noted the country's use of spices and took a particular liking to hake, a small fish in the same family as cod or haddock.
At Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek, Western Cape, Crommelin and Marlette tried dishes prepared by South Africa's Chef of the Year, Margot Janse.
"God, that was unbelievable," Marlette said.
But perhaps the most interesting meal was when Marlette ate a termite on a dare.
"The guide explained to us that termites are very high in protein, which was why the birds eat them," Marlette explained. "I told him if he ate one, then I would too. So he grabbed the biggest one he could find. It was nutty and buttery."
"He won't eat a tomato, but he ate a termite," Crommelin said with a laugh.
The duo experienced lots of new and exciting things on their safari trek in open air Land Rovers. Although it was December, once the sun came out, they had nice, spring weather.
"Kind of like our winter here," Crommelin said.
On top of seeing rare, black rhinos, lions just two-feet away and monkeys swimming, the duo even stumbled upon a witch doctor inside a hut.
"He was a medicinal witch doctor," Marlette said. "People still go to him."
The trip taught Crommelin and Marlette to look for more adventures while abroad.
"Instead of being passive tourists, we want to be more involved," Marlette said. "It was a fascinating journey."
Want to go?
Experience a taste of Crommelin's trip at Cafe Thirty-A's South African Wine Dinner on March 7 featuring five courses prepared by Chef Ken Duenas and wines from Broadbent Selections. The restaurant is located at 3899 E. Scenic Hwy. 30A, Seagrove Beach. The cost is $125 per person. Seating is limited. Call 231-2166 or visit www.cafethirtya.com for more information.