There’s nothing like discovering an intimate escape for a winter’s weekend (July is winter in the southern hemisphere) – especially if it includes safari, the tranquility of the wild, a pampering spa and some of the best wine and food that South Africa has to offer. Singita Sweni Lodge is that place – nestled beautifully amongst hundreds of trees at the edge of the Sweni River, within a private 33,000 acre concession in the Kruger National Park. In this peaceful, six-suite hideaway, the decks of the lodge seem to hover in the branches, while inside, rich calming colours and textures echo the hues of the natural surroundings.

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Arrival times of daily Federal Air flights usually coincide with lunch hour and one of the chefs’ most tempting menu items is a puttanesca pasta. Something perfect to pile onto a plate and settle in front of a weary traveler as the quietness and awe of the bush starts to permeate the senses. It’s not unusual to hear the sound of hippo in the Sweni River below the deck of the dining room. Sydney Mkhize, one of the chefs at Singita Sweni, knows just the right way to combine the flavours for the best puttanesca, so we asked him to share his secrets with us.

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Sydney suggests making pasta noodles from scratch:

400g Flour
300g Egg yolks
Pinch of salt
To make pasta dough, mix together the flour, egg yolks and pinch of salt. Knead the dough until it comes together and has a little shine to it. Rest for 1 hour, then roll with a pasta machine. Blanch just before dishing up.

For the pasta sauce:
30g Sundried tomato
30g Olives
30g Capers
Parmesan
Olive oil
Add the chopped sundried tomato, chopped olives, and capers to a pan, on a medium heat with a little olive oil. When warm, add the pasta and toss in the pan.
Finish with grated Parmesan, or shavings and plate in a comforting big bowl.

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That’s the perfect meal for a winter lunch – and a wonderful way to start the safari weekend.

Sweni

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