The fare at Fugitives’ Drift Lodge is enough to have people running to the place, rather than away from it as happened during the Anglo-Zulu War…
Words and Pictures: Richard van Ryneveld
Styling: Anthony Johnson
I liked Nicky Rattray of Fugitives’ Drift Lodge from the start. Tall elegant and blonde, she is straightforward and down to earth. “Stay another day or two,” she suggested and, being greedy, I took up the two-day offer? Or was it three?
When I’d told her we were coming for only a night to do the food shoot, she immediately said, “Fugitives’ is hardly only about the food. It’s about the Zulu people, the British, about Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana. We’ll make room for you.”
Everything at Fugitives’ Drift Lodge is a team effort, and I was fortunate to meet all the team. They included Sisi Sibisi, the head chef, and Zanele Sikhakne, her understudy.
Sisi has an inborn gravitas and dignity. She told me, “A few years ago there were white chefs in the kitchen. For the past two years there have been only Zulu women.” With a shy smile she added, “I’m very proud to be in charge.”
Nicky told me more about the food at Fugitives’ Drift. “Between Karen de Haan, our general manager, Reneé Bufé, who does all the ordering, and chefs Sisi, Zanele and Hazel, we offer simple, flavoursome food with our own special touch,” she said.
I discovered the secret source of the delicate flavours that come out of Sisi’s kitchen when Nicky took me to see the lodge’s herb garden. Man, oh man, a Michelin Star chef would kill for the privilege. With its dressed-stone central path the garden is another living memorial to David Rattray, revealing another side of this extraordinary man.
Dinner in the dining room is always an elegant family affair. There, with the warm glow from the candlelit tables reflecting off portraits of David Rattray and King Ceteswayo, as well as glinting off the battle-scared wood of a Martini-Henry rifle such as was used in the Anglo-Zulu War, the Fugitives’ Drift experience continues as you tuck in to a superb five-course meal.
Rob Caskie generally sits at the head of the table. A lifelong friend of the late David Rattray, Rob is the lodge’s chief historian, guide, Zulu linguist, fixer of Land Rovers, induna and fellow photography nut. If I could be so brash, may I suggest that David is at peace knowing that Rob along with his partner, Karen de Haan and fellow historians Joseph Ndima and George Irwin and, well, just the whole darn team are helping Nicky and their three sons keep their family dream alive.
Try your hand at these delicious recipes
- Roasted Tomato Soup with Parmesan Cheese
- Salmon Fish Cakes with Dill‑Béarnaise Sauce
- Mushroom, Sherry & Grain Mustard Sauce
- Pear and Almond Flan