4 Culinary Finds in & around Durban, South Africa

DrankensbergPanoramaWhen people think of South Africa, they think apartheid, history and a few scattered beaches. Rarely does anyone think food. But after traversing miles of sun-bathed vineyards, conquering grueling hikes & engulfing waves, jumping off cloud-high bridges & driving down spotless roads, people get hungry for more than just adventure. Thus, knowing places that serve up delicious fare in my 'hometown-in-law' always comes handy.
I spend at least 2 weeks every year in South Africa. Housing the big five, it also happens to be home to my husband's family ;)! My trips are always about quality time with the in-laws, baking gooey brownies for the nieces & nephews, exploring the Drakensberg mountains near Durban and of course, letting the sleuth in me dig out those tucked away cafes and culinary spots! To me, no holiday is complete without any of it. 
Below is a list of some places I have loved visiting. Whether it's the food, coffee, decor, ambience, the crowd or a simple memory, each place has a special place in my heart, and today I'd like to share it with you.
Puppy Love at Freedom Cafe: An old shipping container houses this quaint coffee shop and brunch spot for the Durbanites. Nestled away in the popular & artistic Musgrave district of Durban, this is surely a midday go-to date spot. With a distinct love & theme of dogs, the cafe is adorned rustic seats and plenty of colorful curios. And as though the concept wasn't creative enough, each cup of coffee comes with little dog-bone shaped biscuits. Just the sight makes you go 'awwww..'. I'd go back just for those!  
Coffee & Cakes at I Want My Coffee: Yes, I absolutely do. This quirky spot near the Gateway mall in Umhlanga is the place to go for a tall iced latte & a light bite - all while soaking in the relentless Durban sun. With communal tables, plenty of books, wall-full of writings and a range of sweet & savory options, you will never feel alone here. The cafe also boasts of unique home-made coffee flavors such as orange cinnamon or chili chocolate (what!). Oh, and their lamingtons are delish! So, next time you're in surf city over the holidays, gather some cheer with their ever-smiling baristas and give this little birdie a try. 
Beer Tasting at Claren's Brewery: A short trek from Durban, but totally worth it. Situated in the quaint & arty town of Clarens in the Free State, this bar-cum-brewery is surrounded by everything that should surround a beer - mountains, art, color, sun & smiling faces. With an in-house roastery and a range of beers & ciders to chose from, this is exactly the boost you need at the end of that breathtaking hike!
Oh, and if beer isn't your poison, there are also an aromatic roastery next door churning out the best coffee in the region - the popular Highlands Coffee!

Bunny Chow at The Grove, Chatsworth Centre: Bunny chow! Where do I even start. Legend has it when Indians first migrated to South Africa, as laborers in the sugarcane plantations, they required a meal that was not only wholesome & flavorful (yes, we Indians have very strict palates), but also easy enough to carry to the field. Think grains, meat, bread etc. That's when the ladies decided to hollow a loaf of bread, and package the curry inside for them to carry. Pretty brilliant if you ask me. And definitely delicious! Anyway, Bunny Chow is somewhat of a culture in Durban. With each spot vouching to serve the 'hottest curry in town', there are a handful that the locals love. The Grove, situated in the old Indian area of Durban, is one such place. Don't expect an ambience when you go here. Walk in, take your pick from the extensive menu, wait with bated breath for it to arrive and then devour it with all your might. You might need a few bottles of water and a handful of wet wipes on the side. But the feeling in the end of it all will make you float. Spice lovers, your satisfaction is guaranteed.