Ah, food, wine and happiness. We’re happy to live conveniently close to the Constantia Wine Valley, and as we head towards autumn, the food and wine events start to pick up. By far my favourite is Constantia Fresh.
Apart from being hosted on the lawns of Buitenverwachting, perhaps the reason I love it has to do with the ‘all inclusiveness’ of it. None of this tasting-coupon nonsense, or bringing cash for food – you pay your ticket price and then eat, drink and be merry for the entire afternoon. So, let’s start with the wine.
While we enjoyed the festival last year, there was an addition to this year’s event in the form of wine classes. 30 minute sessions focused on a particular style of wine, including a tasting with the wine makers. These were included in the festival program, but needed to be booked in advance. We chose the Constantia White Blends session, and sampled the following:
As a ‘red wine girl trying to get into white wine’, this was the perfect class for me to depend my appreciation of the Constantia blends. The standout wine of the selection was the Buitenverwachting Maximus. A limited release from the estate, it is 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 8-9% Semillon, naturally oak fermented for two years. Described by the estate as “A rich blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon is from a very special section of the vineyard, the grapes were picked late and given long slow barrel fermentation, and ageing on the mother lees. Brad says it’s not your everyday drinking wine more of an intellectual wine which is great with food.” I think I can safely say it was the overwhelming favourite – I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle (sadly it wasn’t available for purchase on the day).
As a vegetarian, the food was quite disappointing. But, then I can’t expect festivals to be friendly to all eating choices. I gorged myself on bread, cheese and olive oil – thank you Peter Tempelhoff – and a delightful Sauvignon Blanc, pear and ginger sorbet. Judging by the queue, Chef Brad Ball was the most popular stand of the day, with his tamarind calamari (side note – he was also the most popular stand last year, with his porchetta rolls. Goes to show, no matter which restaurant he is representing, the people will follow. They have good taste). Luke said the food he had was good – but not memorable. One serious annoyance was with the Taj Hotel – advertising a dish with lentils, dhal, yoghurt and tamarind, I was thrilled to have found a vegetarian option. Picking it up, bringing it towards my mouth, I exclaimed as much to the server – who then said “oh, don’t eat that, it has lamb in it”. Strange that they didn’t feel that the addition of lamb was worthy of inclusion in the description of their dish. They looked at me as though I was from another planet when I made this suggestion.
While, we’re talking food – a (happier) note on Peter Tempelhoff. Obvious chef crush. We’ve met him at a few festivals and few events, and he has always been lovely. This year perhaps wins, because really, what more do you want from a chef than one who serves you cheese on a knife with a smile? Perhaps not-quite-unrelatedly, we are finally visiting the Greenhouse at the Cellars Hohenhort later this month. It has been on our bucket list for years – undoubtedly the restaurant we’ve most wanted to visit – and now we’re making it happen. Please note, I’m squealing as I type this. If possible, I love him even more because they have a six course vegetarian menu. As I’m learning that most of Cape Town interprets vegetarian food as salad and pasta, I’m perhaps even more excited than I would be as a meat eater. So yes, this is not the last you’ll hear of the Peter Tempelhoff obsession. It will likely only grow between now and our dinner on 27 March (thank you to the best husband in the history of the world ever for taking me to dinner!)
If you’re going to host any event, you could surely not ask for a more beautiful venue than Buitenverwachting. Set on their lawns, there were quite a few people – but enough comfortable seating – tables with benches, blankets on the lawn – all decorated with flowers and just generally, lovely. The individual stands also upped their game – flowers, cork arrangements, fruit from their estates – it was an elegant day out. Thankfully protected from the wind, the trees provided partial shade during the sunshine hours, before the shade arrived after 18h00.
Other interesting tidbits from the day – Buitenverwachting launched their gin, and the guys from the Entertainer were there…well..entertaining. A note on the photos below – that queue of people is for Brad’s food, and yes, I do have a thing for hands at the moment.