Sipping on salty pearls

What is it about Knysna that enlightens the spirit so? Is it the mossy Milkwood-infused air that one revels in almost getting drunk on? Is it the ever-shifting lagoon with its naked tidal lows; salty sea-green moods; ghostly blanketed lazy haze…or is it its’ give-me-more mirrored glassy expressions at dusk and dawn?

Whichever its daily splendour – Knysna remains a firm favourite for many a seasoned visitor.


For me – its secrets lie in the hidden spots in the forest and behind the Wild Side rocky outcrops that we covet on our seasonal visits…where we steal moments captured in time in the icy rapids up Drupkelders’ isolated forest gorge hikes; or midnight swims in Knysna’s first swimming pool at our family home in Paradise.

Perhaps my favourite are the trips to the beach armed with Pick ‘n Pay packets, permits in pocket, and a variety of masonry tools for the sole purpose of harvesting mussels and oysters fresh from the rocks at low tide. Our quota in packets are lugged up the steep sandy cliff paths of Brenton-on-Sea and dunked into an extra large bucket of water with a generous sprinkling of bicarb, used to release the sea sand.



Butter melted in copper pots on the hearth, overtly infused with freshly chopped garlic and chilli and parsley from the garden – chunky wedges of lemon and lime – ripped strips of fresh French loaf – a bottle of Chilli Addicts’ Birds Eye Chilli Sauce…all at the ready…

A hot fire, built into the mini stone quarry that passes for the best braai in town, on a verge of grass that screams “lie down and roll around on me”, overlooking that lagoon – with that scent of wood and forest in the air and a sunset that speaks to the core of your being…


With feet bare, jeans and hoodie rolled up, toss your crustaceans shell-side down onto a grid over medium coals with a stash of hot coals on the side – ready for scooping out once opened (the ones that don’t open on the fire land up in the “not safe to eat” bin) and dipping into that melted butter…all the while seizing every opportunity to reach into the bucket and pick out an oyster, shuck it – dot some Chilli Addict onto its bed, drench it in lime juice and sip (or as we say “sluk”) it back…

Its hedonistic, sublime, and astounding in every way – and all the more brilliant when witnessed raw, fresh from the rocks and on a balmy summer evening when the world seems to stand still just for a moment or two!


Whether you ran the Knysna forest marathon this past weekend, or simply joined in on the festivities of the renowned annual Knysna Oyster Festival…the festivities would have been completed by engaging with one, or a few of Knysna’s pearls – its Oysters.

Highly recommended – the “by hook or by crook” method of self-harvesting, or should you not have access to a permit (and a stash of Pick ‘n Pay packets) – head down to 34˚ South on the Knysna Waterfont for a lasting aphrodisiac fix…


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Written for by: Nancy Hoepner

Only slightly exhausted mother-of-two delicious girls, lover of food (fine and fast), purveyor of all things pretty and Jill of all things ‘creative’…Nancy has a background in the visual and performing arts. Having worked with the eat-art team before, she is thrilled, and slightly bewildered to have been asked to (take time out from juggling and) add some spice to the blog. Don’t get us wrong….it’s not that it needs it….it just wants more…and she is happy to oblige.


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