The term “forage” is defined as  “obtaining (food or provisions) by searching.” This was once a necessary act of survival for many early humans but as our food system becomes more and more removed from our daily life the act of foraging for food growing naturally in the wild has gained recent momentum, especially in the foodie scene. Depending on the season anything from mushrooms, berries, grasses, dandelions and edible flowers can all be discovered anywhere from the side of the road to deep forest glades, as long as the growing conditions are right.

We’re always looking out for the best off the beaten track foodie experiences and we’ve officially found it. We’ve partnered up with Chef Chris from Foliage restaurant in Franschhoek to provide our guests with an opportunity unlike anything else: foraging for your own dinner!

We started the day with strict instructions from Chris that we should not even pick up a mushroom unless he told us it was OK. And he wasn’t joking. Turns out about 90% of mushrooms will either kill you, melt your liver or give you instant leukemia. Our advice is DO NOT do this without expert supervision. Even then you should still be cautious.

Chris is able to forage on private property like this one, which is owned by the Rupert family, because he offers his local suppliers and the farmers whose land he forages on complimentary meals when they come into the restaurant…kind of like a trade exchange. Seems like a match made in heaven!

We learned that foragers like Chris are decidedly eccentric.

Chris explains some fun facts about mushrooms:

  • Mushrooms are growths that emerge from a massive network of connected roots underneath the ground called mycelium.
  • There are approximately 70 miles of  mycelium in one square inch of colonized organic matter, such as a decomposing tree trunk.
  • Mycelium can use toxic substances such as oil and e coli bacteria as a food source.
  • Mushrooms can completely regenerate in as little as 3-4 hours. And the more often you pick them the more quickly they regrow.

Chris and his team go out EVERY DAY and sometimes even twice a day to a variety of spots around Franschhoek. They know exactly what to look for and adjust their menu for each meal based on their findings. We were lucky because May is mushroom season! The bounty was plentiful, not just in mushrooms but vegetation like edible mustard, sorrel and wild dandelion (which, by the way, are good for a hangovers).

Proof that the looks can be deceiving. Some of the prettiest mushrooms are the most deadly while crazy looking mushrooms like this are the most tasty.

Flash forward: We’ve spent the day wine tasting on a fabulous Explore Sideways tour and now we’re ready to eat the fruits (or shrooms, rather) of our labor. We’re now seated at Foliage restaurant in Franschhoek ( while Chris and his team whip up something straight from the forest.

The menu for the evening:

Starter – Warm salad of charcoal roasted beetroot, smoked broccoli, wood sorrel, pine needle & 19 year old vinegar

Main – BBQ Afrikaner beef brisket, forest mushrooms, braised fennel, burned pears & onion “panzanella,” celeriac & sorrel salad

Dessert – Bittersweet Valrhona chocolate potplant, carrot cultured cream, buchu ice-cream

Oh, and the wine list is FANTASTIC.


If you’re interested in booking this incredible experience, please request it as an addition to either the Ultimate Foodie Tour in Franschhoek or the Best of Fabulous Franschhoek Wine Tour & Tasting. We promise you will not be disappointed!

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