Last night’s episode 6 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ was set in beautiful Knysna, showcasing its timber industry, being the Oyster Capital of our country, and home to Ile de Pain, one of the best bakeries in South Africa. It is a pity that beautiful Plettenberg Bay, and the fertile farming region of George, Sedgefield, and Wilderness were excluded.
The episode opened with Hayden meeting Markus Farbinger, the Austrian baker who opened Ile de Pain a number of years ago on scenic Thesen Island, baking breads and pastries, which one can buy to take away or to enjoy in their coffee shop. Schoon de Companje owner Fritz Schoon worked with Markus for a year, and learnt all he knows from Markus, before setting up De Oude Bank Bakkerij in Stellenbosch, now renamed. Fritz featured in Stellenbosch episode 2 with Hayden, showing him how to bake mosbolletjies, and went zorbing with him at De Morgenzon! Liezie Mulder is the chef and Markus the baker in their business, having a restaurant in the town centre too. Markus had baked some lavash flatbread in his woodfired oven, which Chef Liezie used to make South African Boerewors Wraps for breakfast, adding scrambled eggs, boerewors, and sheba, a salsa made from tomatoes, onions, garlic, cayenne pepper, red pepper, sugar, salt, and pepper. This was followed by a surfing expedition for Hayden and Markus at Victoria Bay, outside George.
Hayden was then shown the Big Tree in the Tsitsikamma Forest, which is a 1000 year old yellowwood tree, and which has a circumference of nine meters, and is about 36 meters tall. The indigenous fauna and flora has been retained since SANParks took over the nature reserve in 1987, explained Richard Gewers, the People and Conservation Manager of SANParks in the region. With Stormsriver Adventures Hayden went on a Canopy Tour, moving from one platform to another on steel cables 30 meters above the forest floor, to enjoy the birdlife and scenery.
Hayden stayed at the Turbine Hotel & Spa on Thesen Island, which took three years to transform from the original town power station to the hotel, much of the original equipment having been retained as part of the hotel decor. It opened in 2010. Knysna’s timber industry was based on Thesen Island before it became an upmarket accommodation and entertainment area, Knysna’s Waterfront’s equivalent. Off-cuts from the timber industry were used to fuel the turbine.
Kyle Smith, Marine Ecologist at SANParks, and Janine Basson, Manager of Consumer Awareness and Outreach of WWF-SASSI, went out onto the Knysna Lagoon with Hayden, and they talked about oysters, explaining that the baby oysters come from Algoa Bay after three months, and then are grown in oyster beds in Knysna. Oysters are Green-rated on the SASSI list. Janine explained the SASSI ‘Fish for Life‘ program, which allows fishermen to identify the fish they catch by sending a photograph and information about where they caught the fish to SASSI, having a useful research benefit too.
With The Heads in the background, Hayden prepared four ways in which to eat oysters, including lemon juice and black pepper; a tomato-based Thai sauce, including ginger, lime juice, coriander, and red chilis; rice wine vinegar with sesame oil; and soy sauce with chopped spring onions, and mirin, a Japanese condiment. For the feast Liezie brought baguettes, and Janine brought ‘champagne‘ (sic)!
The advertising content in the half an hour episodes seems to be getting bigger and bigger, but the remaining content was a wonderful advertisement for the Knysna region, with its oyster focus.
The question remains: who is Hayden Quinn, and why was he selected by the production company on behalf of Woolworths to show us the beauty of our country, and its bounty of sustainable foods and wines? Hayden Quinn is an Australian surfer and former professional lifeguard, ‘WWF-SASSI ambassador’, a ‘cooker’ and by his own admission not a chef, and a 2011 MasterChef Australia top 3 Finalist. Episode 1 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ focused on Cape Town, and made Capetonians proud of their city! Episode 2 was very disappointing and boring, focusing on Stellenbosch! Episode 3 was beautifully filmed in Paternoster, and was back on track. Episode 4 was filmed in Franschhoek, which creatively included Fairview into the village! Episode 5 was filmed in Elgin, Hermanus, and Stanford.
Hayden Quinn: South Africa, SABC3, Mondays 21h30 – 22h00. www.haydenquinn.com.au Twitter: @Hayden_Quinn @HaydenQuinnSA
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage