love a food tour! I have mentioned this once or twice! When I found out there was a food tour in Swakopmund (Namibia) I knew I needed to go. I contacted and asked if they would be willing to gift me a tour in return for a blog post and social media posts, they kindly agreed. The tour was free but all my opinions are my own and representative of my experience.
Swakop Food Tours is run by Richard and Frances. Richard is from South Africa and Frances is a Namibian and grew up in Swakopmund. Frances has lived all over the world, ask her about her travels when you met her, she decided she wanted to return to Swakopmund settle here with her children. This is where she met Richard. They both have day jobs as engineers but their passion for food and wanting to share that with others is what made them start the food tour.
As I said in my Cape Town food tour blog I won’t list all the stops as I don’t want to ruin the surprise! We met in a court yard that had a local produce food shop that I put on my list of places to go back too! The tour started in Swakop’s finest pizzeria Gabriele’s Italian Pizzeria Swakopmund. The restaurant is ran by Christian and Karin, Karin is Namibian and Christian is Italian. Again they have both led an exciting life and lived in different countries around the world. Pizza is Christian’s passion after exploring other careers he decided that his heart was in pizza making. Every pizza in Gabriele’s is made by Christian, he doesn’t entrust his creations with anyone else. I’m torn between thinking this is madness as he has to work every day they are open and he gets tennis elbow from the repetitive movements. However, the control freak in me says I 100% get it and would probably be the same! The restaurant opens early for the food tour which is great as it gives time to speak to Christian and Karin, and to watch Christian make a pizza. The ovens are super hot, I know this from getting super close to try and take a photo!
Unfortunately I was unable to eat as they don’t do gluten free pizza, I spoke to Karin about this and she explained that they would only do it if they could do it properly. They only have a small space and wouldn’t be able to fit in another oven or the space to keep gluten free pizza making contamination free. I was disappointed as I would have loved Christian to make me a pizza but I respected their decision to ensure they did things properly. Karin did offer to make me a salad but I declined, which I have to admit I did regret a bit by the end of the evening! The best bit about being gluten free on a food tour where you are given beer and pizza to try is whole bottles of cider to myself! The rest of the guests had to share a couple of bottles of beer between them but I got mine all to myself. It’s that age old statement you can the girl out of the west country but you can’t take the west country out of the girl! #ciderfan Karin and Christian also run a backpackers called, Swakopmund Backpackers which is right next to the restaurant. Obviously I would recommend Salty Jackals as your first stop for hostels in Swakop (where I’ve been volunteering).
Next up was a fish stop, I’m also going to name drop this restaurant as it’s one that I always recommend to guests. The Tug is on the waterfront and is a beautiful location to watch the sunset. We were spoilt with sunsets for about 4 days over the time of the food tour. Swakopmund has it’s own weird little micro-climate and is often cold or misty. But due to an East Wind we had a few days of lovely weather and wonderful sunsets.
I very easily become distracted by sunsets. So at The Tug we had fish, luckily I triple check all my food is gluten free especially when travelling. Initially Richard assured me it was fine, but I persisted that he double check as my experience thus far of fish in Namibia is that it is always grilled with flour. Unfortunately it turns out the fish and calamari were grilled in flour, but luckily for me the manager was amazing and cooked me my own special plate of fish. We also had Oysters, this was my first time ever having an Oyster! Initially I wasn’t keen but after some instruction and encouragement I gave it a go. It was actually okay, a strange texture but I would try it again.
As I said earlier the sunset was superb so we stopped to watch the sunset over the beach before we went for cake. I genuinely can not get enough of the Namibian sunsets and also the stars in Namibia (not so much in Swakopmund, too much mist!). At home I live in a city so don’t have as much opportunity to watch the sun setting. But being able to watch the sun set over the ocean really added to my food tour experience and will be something that I remember with a smile when I think about the food tour.
Next stop was cake! Again not the best stop for me as I was confronted with all these wonderful looking cakes and could only eat a meringue! Weirdly I like seeing other people get enjoyment from foods I can’t eat so it was nice to see the other guests enjoying the cakes. As Swakopmund is so small I have ended up meeting a lot of people, one of those people was the baker from the cake stop! I had dinner with her the next night, she was annoyed as it had not been made clear to her that I was gluten and dairy free. She said she always tries to accommodate peoples dietary needs and had she known she would have made me special cake. It’s been great to met people who really understand the issues around dietary needs and respect that I am not doing it for a fad, I don’t eat gluten and avoid dairy as it makes me ill. My main feedback for Richard and Frances is that dietary needs can be catered for in Swakopmund and they need to make sure they make it clear to the venues being visited. I feel after my tour Richard in particular had a better understanding as he said before the trip he didn’t fully understand what it would mean to be gluten free.
The cake was a huge hit for my fellow food tour guests. Next stop was meat, this did seem a little odd after having cake but it did work. Frances and Richard have to fit in the cake stop when they do as the cafe closes, and it also makes geographical sense in terms of the route walked. The restaurant adapted my food so that I had an aubergine base as opposed to bruschetta. I’m not a massive meat fan so this was not my favourite stop. I did however, try everything that was on my plate including the carpaccio. It really was a day of firsts for me!
Final stop was a German Hotel for Colonial Coffee, the coffee was good but the making of the coffee is the reason to go! Richard assured me that although there are 3/4 liquors in the coffee it’s not that strong as they burn off the alcohol. I’m not sure how accurate that is but it was good!
That sums up the Swakop food tour. After the tour there may have been a few more drinks with my lovely tour hosts! I hope I’ve inspired people to join a tour if they are ever in Swakopmund.