andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp’s Amarula Milkshake

For me, the absolute highlight of our honeymoon was a safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. One of the largest game reserves in Africa, Kruger boasts 147 species of mammals, including the famous “Big 5” — the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros. And while the safari concept was born in East Africa (where the Great Migration happens), South Africa is known for its luxury safari experience. Which means Kruger is an ideal place for safari novices like myself.

K and I spent three blissful days at the andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp, which a colleague of K’s had recommended. Set on its own private reserve, the Ngala Tented Camp is a magical place. From the moment you arrive, the staff welcomes you and seemingly anticipates your every need. All it took was one mention of my gluten intolerance, and Chef Stephie sent out slices of homemade gluten-free bread with every one of my meals. And the private “tented” accommodations were incredibly comfortable. My favorite features were the secluded outdoor shower and our private deck.

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K and I would join four other guests for two game drives each day — one at 5:45am and another around 4:15pm. Each drive lasts over three hours, which sounds like a lot but always flew by too fast. Our guide and driver, Lee-Anne, was insanely knowledgeable about the animals, fauna, and history of the park. Her “tracker”, Richard, had eyes like a hawk and appeared to be one of the most successful trackers at Ngala. Lee-Anne would be casually driving our open-air vehicle and chatting with us, and suddenly Richard would point out elephant tracks or motion that he’d heard a lioness’ growl (which nobody else heard). And, lo and behold, he’d direct Lee-Anne to wherever the animals were.

Towards the end of each game drive, Lee-Anne would stop the vehicle in a safe clearing, giving us a chance to stretch our legs and enjoy some coffee (in the morning) or “adult” beverages (in the evening). You could count on one thing making an appearance in the morning and evening: Amarula Cream Liqueur.  I hadn’t heard about this liqueur before, but I quickly fell in love with it. Made from the fruit of the African marula tree, it has a uniquely silky and complex taste. I’d put it in the same family as Bailey’s Irish Cream, but I’d take the rich flavor of Amarula over Bailey’s any day. In the morning, I’d drink my coffee or hot cocoa with a splash of Amarula. And in the evenings, I’d drink a bit over ice.
Even with all that Amarula drinking during game drives, I still was excited to see an “Amarula Milkshake” listed as the dessert option one day during lunchtime.
I’m not the world’s biggest milkshake fan (I’d rather eat my ice cream than drink it), but the cold concoction sounded great on a warm African afternoon. And boy, oh, boy, does Amarula make a great milkshake. It added a caramel-like depth to the traditional vanilla ice cream, and I had no problems slurping up the sweet and creamy treat.

Since coming home, I haven’t been able to get Amarula out of my head. Luckily, a growing number of alcohol store in the U.S. are carrying the South African liqueur — including my neighborhood shop. While I cannot add a splash to my coffee every morning (darn you, real-life responsibilities!), I can enjoy an Amarula milkshake after dinner. So I recently set out to recreate andBeyond’s famous milkshake in my own kitchen. Here’s what I came up with…

Amarula Milkshake 
{Makes 2 milkshakes}

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream (I’m sure chocolate would be great, too)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 shots (3 oz., or to taste) Amarula Cream Liqueur
  • Handful of ice

Directions

  • Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and frothy!

The verdict? This is a near replica of the Amarula milkshake I enjoyed at andBeyond’s Ngala Tented Camp. I’m pretty sure the original version didn’t involve ice cubes, but I like the extra body that the ice gives this drink. The taste of Amarula easily shines through the milk and ice cream, giving this milkshake a yummy “adult” flavor. I’d highly recommend that anyone who adores milkshakes – or cream liqueur – give Amarula a try!

Gelato with a View — Gelato Mania in Cape Town, SA

One of my favorite stops of the honeymoon was Cape Town, South Africa. When we were planning our honeymoon, I told K that a safari was at the top of my list. Several people had recommended Kruger National Park in South Africa, telling us that it was a great location for “safari beginners” (which we certainly are!). And it seemed silly to K to go all the way to South Africa without seeing Cape Town.

While people rave about the coastal city of Cape Town, K and I were still blown away by the spectacular natural beauty surrounding the city. When I think of Cape Town now, the word that comes to mind is “dazzling.” There is so much to do and see here. Some of the highlights for me included riding the rotating cable car up the steep sandstone and granite slopes of Table Mountain and the day-long tour of the Cape Peninsula and Constantia Winelands that we took through Luhambo Tours. I’d highly recommend both experiences!

View of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain
Wine tasting at Steenberg Vineyards

Between our planned activities, K and I enjoyed exploring different neighborhoods of Cape Town. We both agreed that if we ever moved to Cape Town, we’d love to live in Camps Bay. The coastal suburb is a mere 15-minute drive from downtown Cape Town, but it seems like a world away. K said it reminded him a lot of Malibu or Manley Beach, with its white sandy beaches, open patio restaurants, and volleyball parks.

Like any good beach town, Camps Bay has its fair of ice cream and gelato shops. Many of Camp Bay’s good restaurants and shops are found in the Promenade shopping center. With its stunning views of the beach, its easy to see why the spot is so popular.

Panorama from the Promenade (photo cred: K)

I quickly zeroed in on Gelato Mania, a shop advertising “artisan gelato.” It was late afternoon, and I was a bit hungry. A snack was in order to tide us over until our dinner reservation at the Woodlands Eatery.

Gelato Mania has a bold and lively decor, and the gelato flavors and toppings match the fun vibe. We discovered that there are five outposts of the small South African gelato chain, and that they all share the same cheerful decor and gelato. There had to be more than two dozen flavors — all of which looked like crowd-pleasers. While none of the flavors sounded too outlandish or unique, everything sounded yummy. I was told that the most-popular flavors included After 8 Mint, Angelo Blu (bubble gum!), Tiramisu and Chocolate Hazelnut. There were even several sorbets; the Mango looked particularly good! But I was sold on the Cherry Bomb and Quello (described as having “loads of caramel”). And while the numerous topping options looked enticing, I figured these flavors would be fun enough on their own.

Gelato Mania’s prices seemed reasonable to me — R46.80 (about $4 USD) for my two scoops — but this must be pretty expensive by South African standards (cost of living is much lower there than in the States). But this view itself is worth something, right?

Gelato with a view

The verdict? Gelato Mania’s gelato lived up to my expectations. While it wasn’t the most dense or refined gelato ever, my scoops were sweet and flavorful. The texture was light, but the gelato melted fast in the warm afternoon heat. For any East Coasters or Midwesterners, the Cherry Bomb reminded me of the Black Cherry ice cream at Friendly’s. The cherry flavor was strong and sweet, and little bits of sweetened black cherries were found throughout the scoop. While it was good, it wasn’t exactly memorable. But the Quello was a different story; the gelato base had a rich custard-like flavor. But it was that caramel that took this gelato over the top. When the staff of Gelato Mania scooped the Quello out of its bin, they made sure to grab a healthy chunk of that caramel coating. The resulting caramel swirl was a showstopper; its buttery depth and sticky consistency was reminiscent of the center of a fancy caramel truffle. I don’t think I could return to Gelato Mania and not order the caramel again. And I have a feeling that this won’t be our last time in Cape Town… or our last time at Gelato Mania in Camps Bay 😉

The Stats:
Gelato Mania
Shop 11, Ground Floor
The Promenade, Victoria Road
Camps Bay, Cape Town 8040
(Multiple locations in South Africa)
http://www.gelatomania.co.za/