For Christmas this year, I took Ty to Langebaan for the weekend – a quaint coastal holiday destination on the West Coast. We stayed at Quiver Tree, the same bed and breakfast where Ty took me on our first romantic getaway together and I arranged for him to go kite surfing all day Saturday in the waters of the kite surfing capital of the world. Ty had to wait 28 excruciating days to redeem his Christmas present, so as you can imagine, when we woke up on Saturday morning without a poof of wind, Ty was utterly disappointed. Fortunately, the weather was perfect for all other activities besides wind sports, so we spent the day on the beach and perused the shops.
To further cheer Ty up, and also to make my dreams come true, we booked dinner at Die Strandloper, an outdoor seafood restaurant famous for its incredible 10-course rustic dining experience on the shores of Langebaan beach.
We arrived at Die Strandloper and were greeted at the door. We brought a coolerbox full of drinks and were told to grab some glasses, and awesomely there was no corkage fee. As we walked into the restaurant, we felt like we were in a pirate’s den or fisherman’s graveyard. There were nets and buoys draping over the dining areas, seafaring paraphernalia laying about,
a skull and cross bones flag waving in the air,
and a talented guitarist who started off playing random Afrikaans songs but transitioned to playing personalized and funny renditions of classics such as “Lucy in Langebaan with Diamonds” and laughter escalated throughout the night.
The four dining areas were situated around the main feature of the restaurant – a beautiful stone braai pit – gearing up for a long night ahead. While we were waiting for the festivities to begin, we watched as the staff stoked the coals, stirred the potjie pots, and prepared the fish.
A staff member walked around to each dining area to let us know that the courses were ready and we could help ourselves. We were given paper plates and clean mussel shells to be used as our knives and forks for the night. Minimalist and beautiful.
The bread was baked in gigantic steel cylinder ovens encased in cement. We helped ourselves to a slice of bread and dallops of homemade butter and jam. It was divine but we forced ourselves to sample only a tiny piece in order to save room in our stomachs for all to come. We also brought home a whole loaf and made awesome panzenella and breadcrumbs, which made up for only having a small bite during dinner.
Prior to Die Strandloper, I had only ever tried canned mussels while hiking in Fish River Canyon and wasn’t too impressed. However, the fresh black mussels cooked in white wine and garlic butter sauce were phenomenal and changed my opinion of mussels forever. I so badly wanted more but restrained myself with extreme difficulty.
We disposed of our paper plates and prepared for weskus haarders, a small local fish. We chose our fish and then had them expertly deboned in seconds using mussel shells and the skeletons were thrown to the excited scavenging seagulls.
Since I had just made seafood paella a few weeks ago, I was very interested to try theirs and compare. The seafood paella was full of mussels, white fish, crayfish, veggies, and bright yellow rice. It was nice but Ty and I both confirmed that my paella was (of course) worlds better.
The snoek with potatoes and rolls was one of my favorite courses. The women squeezed perfectly circular dough balls from their hands and quickly cooked them on the grill. The homemade rolls were doughy, tasty, and moreish.
The deliciously braai-charred snoek was served with soft and buttery potatoes and sweet potatoes.
The peppery and hearty waterbloemmetjie and lamb bredie was a pleasant and delicious break from the fish. Waterbloemmetjie is Afrikaans for “water flower” and they are traditionally cooked in meat stews. They are surprisingly savory and delicious and completely intrigue me.
By this point, Ty and I were certainly getting full and began consciously pacing ourselves to ensure that we would last for the rest of the courses, especially the crayfish.
The smoked angelfish had unusual smokey woody flavors and the stompneus was very light and buttery. We both wanted seconds, but new it would push us over the edge, so refrained.
And finally we had reach the grand finale of magnificent crayfish that we, along with everyone else, had been waiting for all night. Dozens of crayfish were piled onto a giant grill and slathered with a huge paintbrush dripping with garlic butter, which elicited a salivating response. For any seafood lover, it was sheer heaven watching these babies cook and everyone was rapidly snapping photos as proof of the unthinkable.
Ty and I coveted the crayfish laying elegantly on our plates. We delicately pulled off small pieces of soft meat and slowly chewed each bite, savoring the experience for as long as we possibly could.
To end the night off perfectly, we had deep fried syrup drenched koeksisters and coffee because there is always room for dessert.
I heart seafood. And Die Strandloper.
The cost: R205.00 per person. The experience: Priceless
PS – Yesterday we drove back to Langebaan and the wind was blowing, so Ty finally got his kitesurfing day!