Friday, July 22, 2016


Following our day in Knysna, we ventured over the mountains to Oudtshoorn, where we visited Cango Caves and an ostrich farm (both a little ways outside of town) on Friday, July 8. To get there from Mossel Bay/George, you travel by way of a road that hugs the mountain. It winds up and around, with beautiful views in all directions as you make the ascent. (Some of us preferred not to look down.)

Once on the other side, the landscape changed dramatically. The area is semi-arid but does have agriculture. We passed many ostrich farms and a few small vineyards en route to Oudtshoorn.

The Cango Caves are located in Precambrian limestones at the foothills of the Swartberg range in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The main cave is the best known. Although the extensive system of tunnels and chambers goes on for over two and a half miles, only about a quarter of this is open to visitors. Many of the caves have been closed to protect them from the changes that come when people are permitted access.

Cango Caves offers a historic tour (which we took) and an adventure tour which, frankly, didn't sound that appealing. You end up making your way through small openings which, when described, sounded something like the process of being born. Chambers were illuminated one by one as we entered, with dramatic effect. Once we circled back to the main chamber, we stopped and sang Pavel Tchesnokov's Salvation is Created. Coincidentally, one of the formations in that chamber is known as the "pipe organ." The chamber was once home to a concert series but it was ended after audience members wandered off and defaced areas of the caves, scrawling graffiti and doing other damage. The stage was still there with risers built in for a choir.

After our cave exploration, it was time for lunch at a nearby ostrich farm. The farm itself was built into the side of a hill and had many beautiful flowering plants (even for winter). We started with a little history about the ostrich before making our way outside to see them up close. Ostrich feathers were all the rage in the early part of the 20th century, but with the arrival of the automobile, ostrich-adorned clothing and hats were no longer practical, as feathers had a tendency to fly off in all directions. Today, ostrich meat and leather are the main products for which they are raised. If you've never eaten it, ostrich meat is much like beef, minus the fat and cholesterol. Ostrich skin makes one of the most durable leathers in the world and is considered a luxury item. We wandered outside and saw some ostriches in their pens and were given the opportunity to ride one (weight restrictions do apply). One brave singer among us gave it a go. After watching how challenging it is to ride an ostrich, others in the group decided it was an opportunity they were willing to forgo.

Then it was time for lunch. As I'm sure you've guessed, ostrich was on the menu. It was delicious, as were all the accompaniments. I'm told that ostrich meat is available here at home. Here's a recipe to try (we couldn't get the recipe for the dish we had at the farm–family secret).

Marinated Ostrich Steak

YIELD:4 servings

    •    3/4 cup vegetable oil
    •    1/3 cup soy sauce
    •    1/4 cup cider or white wine vinegar
    •    3 tablespoons lemon juice
    •    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    •    1 tablespoon ground mustard
    •    1 teaspoon salt
    •    1 teaspoon pepper
    •    1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
    •    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    •    4 ostrich or beef tenderloin steaks (4 ounces each)


1. In a resealable plastic bag or shallow glass container, combine the first 10 ingredients; mix well. Add meat to marinade and turn to coat. Seal bag or cover container; refrigerate overnight, turning meat occasionally. Drain and discard marinade. Broil or grill, covered, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn and cook 6-8 minutes longer or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 145°; medium, 160°; and well done, 170°). Yield: 4 servings.

No comments:

Post a Comment