CountryCuisine BELA BELA, Limpopo
She loves entertaining and lives by the philosophy that “the art of living is in eating”. Elize Volschenk and her husband, Dons, run a boutique game lodge just outside Bela Bela. Everyone in the area knows them, and will bear witness to Elize’s culinary skills
Text and photography: Leilani Basson
“Make every day a memorable one,” says Elize Volschenk’s Facebook profile. Not hard to do if you spend your day with this feisty and stylish woman.
Elize is witty, outspoken and unpretentious, and calls a spade a spade — much to the amusement of those around her. She is efficient, wants everything to be fast and snappy, takes no nonsense and has no time for negativity.
“I love to live,” says Elize while preparing something special for the evening guests. Her reputation as a hostess and organiser precedes her. Weddings, bar mitzvahs, dedication ceremonies, birthday parties with a twist – you name it, and Elize has done it.
Yet she doesn’t do it in a professional capacity, and neither does she sell herself as an event planner. People are nevertheless dead set on having that distinct Elize Volschenk trademark on their functions, too.
The first inscription on her Facebook wall for the day reads: “Elize, you have always been the best organiser. We have a golden oldie reunion we would love you to handle for us…”
“We do a lot of entertaining in the garden, where most of the food is cooked on an open fire,” says Elize while organising, delegating, instructing and gesturing with a flash of her distinctive orange-red fingernails.
“We enjoy the quality of our lives and feel fortunate to be living in the bush. Our town and its people are very close to my heart. I’m extremely positive about the growth of tourism in Bela Bela.”
But more than anything, Elize enjoys being a grandmother to Kayla-Lee (four) and Dylan, who has just turned one.
Elize also took up painting last year, and her work already shows great promise. She has “artist” written all over her.
“We lead very full lives that leave me with very little time for myself,” she says. This is not hard to believe. Elize is chairperson of Bela Bela Tourism as well as chairperson of Friends of the Bushveld. This is an organisation that works closely with the tourism office to promote the area. She represents tourism on a committee at the Bela Bela municipality.
“Good food, good wine and a beautiful table setting are all I need to be content,” says Elize. “I love to live.”
Elize’s impala fillet cooked in banana leaves
What you need
2 fillets of impala (or substitute venison)
2 red onions finely chopped
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
6 whole peppercorns, crushed
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red chili, finely chopped
2cm ginger, finely chopped
5 leaves of coriander, finely chopped
6 button mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
What you do
Set the oven to 200C. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and brown fillets on all sides. Add the red onion, garlic, peppercorns and tomatoes and allow them to soften slightly. Then transfer the fillets to the banana leaf (alternatively, use foil), placing the meat on top.
Sprinkle with the chilies, ginger, mushroom and coriander, and drizzle with olive oil.
Add a generous blob of butter and fold the leaf so that the fillets are covered. Pin with cocktail sticks to secure the leaf (this will be unnecessary with foil).
Cook for 15 min. Allow the meat to rest for 30 minutes before carving.