Back from Windhoek: biltong, coffee, dates

wp-1461408204704.jpgI am just back from Windhoek, Namibia. Far too short a trip, just four days for a workshop, but I would love to go back. So much space and sky! It felt a bit like Mongolia, all that dry expanse and beauty. This is just between the airport and town, but flying in the landscape looks amazing. The coast is meant to be lovely too. Windhoek itself was very tidy and modern, surprisingly hilly, with warm days and cool nights. I brought back a pile of safari lodge leaflets for closer study, its only an 11-hour trip from here, which is not too bad. It was a very busy few days, working from early breakfasts to dinner discussions. But I had a couple free hours, and rather than sightseeing I went food shopping. Much of the food in Accra is exported and expensive, and not of the best quality, so a Windhoek supermarket was a treat!


Lots of biltong: beef, springbok, kudu…… Biltong is somewhat like jerky, strips of meat covered in spices and hung to dry, prepared without heat. Absolutely delicious. The kudu one is supposed to be very nice. These are just from the supermarket, but they also have fancy biltong boutiques there  – to be explored next time!

biltong crackers

Look at this! Biltong-flavoured crackers, for my carnivore husband. I also found chili beef stock cubes, camembert cheese, halloumi cheese with mint, and some lovely local stoneground wholewheat flour. Turmeric, South African BBQ spice rub, some fresh celery….. We do get celery here, but at 45 cedis a bunch in Accra (USD 11-12), it’s just too expensive. Apparently Shoprite (big South African supermarket chain) flies 7 tonnes of perishable goods  to Accra weekly, including things like celery. Windhoek also had a lot of imported goods, just much cheaper than here, so this was fun.


Lots and lots of coffee beans…… Ghana grows cocoa, and lots of it. Good coffee, however, is harder to find here, most of it imported. Lots of Nescafe, some very expensive arabica, a lot of robusta beans, even some arabusta (a hybrid). Beans from Togo have been OK so far, and the Upcountry Coffee Company from Ghana is pretty good, so we mix and match. We brought our Simonelli espresso maker from Rome to Accra, and a coffee grinder, so I was on a mission to restock our coffee bean shelf. And I found lots in Windhoek! Ethiopian, Rwandan, Kenyan, Ugandan, Honduran, Colombian….. Wonderful. I stopped by Slowtown Coffee in Grove Mall, to get coffee beans roasted just a few days before – the smell was just wonderful.

rooibos espresso

(I must say, it was nice to get home and wake up to a good cappuccino yesterday.)

This is rooibos espresso – interesting! This was from the airport in Johannesburg, lots of rooibos variations there. Apparently this can be used in an espresso maker, so we will try it.

By the way, the food was amazing in Windhoek – really good fresh dish, excellent beef, and wonderful fresh brown bread with salted butter.

20160422_065531.jpgFinally, last food shopping, also from the airport in Johannesburg: a range of marinades and BBQ sauces, all looking rather interesting. By now my hand luggage was disastrously over 8 kilos, but being in transit it was fortunately not weighed.

imageSpeaking of weight……… I was asked if I could bring a small package back to Accra for a colleague. Sure, I said, something small would be no problem. (I know both people.) This was thus delivered to my hotel: a crate of lovely Namibian dates, 4.5 kilos of them (9.9 pounds….) which was a bit of a squeeze in my battered suitcase, already stuffed with coffee and workshop materials. They survived the trip, though somewhat sticky on arrival, and the recipient kindly gave me one of the baskets of dates. Namibia produces lovely dates, which I did not know.

However, next time I will certainly ask how large the “small package” is before agreeing to bring one!

4 thoughts on “Back from Windhoek: biltong, coffee, dates

  1. Interesting shopping experience. I lived near Pietermaritzburg about 35 years ago (how time flies!). No Biltong Boutiques then. My local shop had hunks of unsliced biltong in cardboard boxes on the counter, open to dust and flies. I suppose it world be “artisan” or “rustic” now. 😉

    1. That must have been quite an experience! That biltong sounds more authentic, though indeed, less hygienic. Though in Norway the dried cod is pretty impervious to insects, so maybe the same applies to biltong.

  2. I so enjoy reading about your shopping experiences and your life. To me, so far away on the West Coast of Canada is incredibly exotic. Thank you for sharing your life. Cheers Virginia

    1. Thanks! And here I was reading your perfect coffee post, feeling like I had been transported to Paris! I also “travel” through you! (Actually I am in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania this week for work, lovely sea breezes from the Indian Ocean here, very nice — and coffee bean shopping is the one indulgence I had time for….)

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