In December I decided on an impromptu road trip. One of those if I don’t do it now, then when moments. Solo trips will become a little rarer when I’m no longer single, and my life set-up is a little different. I say this to myself a lot.
A solo December drive through the Karoo was what my soul desired. I left home early on Christmas eve morning and headed into the wild on the road to Graaff Reinet. I ended up meandering to meet my wonderful friends in a delightful little hamlet where I was meant to stay for three days. I managed to drag myself away after an incredible hike halfway to Greyton with a heavy heart on the fifth day. On the seventh day I found myself in Richmond and could not wait to get back home.
I’m quite the planner, but can be spontaneous when it comes to adventure. Perhaps it’s the remnants of living a largely nomadic childhood thanks to my dad’s work until we had to go to school consistently. Education beyond just being wildlings.
I packed essentials like hydration and snacks and hit the road. My friend Anisa had recently moved from Cape Town back to Joburg. She and I are aligned in how to line our stomachs and she had some great suggestions from the best biltong to where to get the best butter.
What a beautiful drive I had — music, quiet, crime podcasts and the most magical landscape. I cannot say this enough: SA is an exceptionally beautiful country.
My darling friend had said to me — as she headed home for the holidays — if I find myself in that part of the world, I should swing by. When she explained that it was a little dot in the middle of nowhere in the Breede River Valley, I used satellite navigation to get there.
I set off from a grey Graaff-Reinet, and had my older sister calling to check my milestones at every 50km or so. I stopped in De Rust and had the most delicious plum cake at the Pluim Eatery (these punny moments literally write themselves). It was great to see small-town Christmas get-togethers, as weird and wonderful as it was to be rolling solo on Christmas day.
I made it to the hamlet in the afternoon and after checking-in and the requisite nap, I walked to dinner at my friend’s house and thus was introduced to a delightful potato salad. There is little that potatoes can do wrong for me, so when I heard this was part of the glorious leftovers from the Christmas feast, I was enthusiastic. Also, it’s important to have friends whose food you trust. This potato salad is without the traditional mayo, it has that tartness and saltiness from the capers. It comes with a story: it came from a friend of a friend of a friend. It has onion and freshness and is just all round delicious. This was honestly the best Christmas dinner I’ve had in my life. I love simplicity, but more than that, I love being around warmth, laughter, ease, people I love and great chats around the table. I was meeting my friend’s family for the first time, but it felt like this had been a regular connection. These moments are magical.
I had seconds of this salad, I may even have snuck in a third. The dessert and the company provided all the sweetness I needed to end off the meal and my year.
- 800g potatoes
- 3 shallots
- ½ cup chopped dill
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 1 ½ tablespoons of capers
For the dressing
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons French mustard
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water.
- Finely chop the shallots.
- Chop the dill and parsley, and combine.
- Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and set aside.
- Drain the potatoes once cooked, cut the warm potatoes into small pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle some of the chopped shallots and herbs over them, alternating as you go.
- Pour the dressing over the contents of the bowl and stir through gently, so all potatoes are coated in dressing, but without mushing them.
- Let the salad sit for about an hour for the flavours to settle in well.
Scatter the capers over the salad and the remaining herbs and then serve with some freshly grilled fish and leftover Christmas gammon, as we did, and enjoy surrounded by incredible humans.