(I must apologise for the lack of certain details and photos. I am still getting used to the idea of writing (accurately) about all the interesting things I do. Next time I will have a notebook and a camera. I’ll make Rod proud)
Swimming through the fog early on Saturday morning I went to pick up The Pea in Seapoint for a trip to Riebeek Casteel for the 2009 Olive Festival. The Pea had watched a PETA documentary the night before and was kept up all night by images of faceless dogs and terrified monkeys, I knew all my secret reserves of tact were needed for the drive up.
After we emerged from the fog frosted city and aimed the little Citroen toward Wellington I did the only responsible thing I could when faced with a clear blue sky, eye-watering beauty and a whole day to use as we pleased. I rolled a joint. With a great sigh of contentment I let the last of the reefer’s smoke out through my nose and took in the gently rolling hills covered with recently harvested vines.
The drive into Riebeek Casteel from Wellington offers one of the most picturesque views of a small town that I have seen in South Africa. A small hill in the foreground covered by vines contrasts with the larger and more stark view of the Kasteelberg behind it. To the right, just behind the hill, tips of green roofs share the vista with trees and other foliage. Piercing through the middle of the view is a white steeple pointing to the heavens, although why you would want to look to god when you have a landscape like this only the religious know.
The car turned into the town and I came out of my THC aided revelry hearing The Pea asking for directions. I had no idea, but my testosterone fuelled inner GPS said straight on. The parking signage of the Olive Festival has to be the worst ever made. Even the normally insufficient signs the hippies put up for trance parties are better. Driving in there was one yellow sign with a big black arrow pointing somewhere between straight and left. We first went straight. The inner GPS said, “No”. We then went left. Still nothing. After some driving about for a few minutes we came across the crowds that were slowly beginning to muster. The only way that sign made sense is if it were signalling the shortest route to crows.
With the munchies setting in there was time for a quick walk around before finding a spot for breakfast. I made mental notes as to where the wine stalls were, and The Pea (one of her many talents) found every stall or shop that sold items of clothing. On the clothes side there was great stall called lekkelekke selling T-Shirts with some amusing designs that are not cutesy and naf. Some really good stuff. I bought the ‘Wireless’ one.
Found a little cafe possibly called Riebeek Cafe, not sure. The problem with eating at a local restaurant during a festival – especially coffee shops – is that they get a little stressed by all the people. Ours was no different. The incredibly camp waiter was sweet, and admirably handled the obvious ‘city-girl’ at the table opposite us who was ranting and raving about her scrambled eggs taking so long, flicking her hair after every complaint, you could almost read her thoughts: “Bloody backward town, its just scrambled eggs for christ sakes” *flick*. The cheese muffin The Pea ordered could’ve won a competition at the fair, but only if the fair was dedicated to baking abortions, or a Fair for blind bakers with no sense of smell, taste or arms: It was as cold as the heart of the cook who sent it out, and so dense I expected the second Big Bang. My breakfast was palatable, although calling my bread toast was like the pot calling the kettle Gordon Ramsey.
By now the grape was calling. I, unfortunately (and a little embarrassingly), did not take any notes on the wines I drunk (bad blogger, bad *slaps hands*) but I will valiantly attempt to write about them anyway.
The first stop was Rieebek Cellars, where I remember tasting their Reserve Chenin and Reserve Pinotage. I had to chuckle at the guy pouring when after sniffing the Pinotage I told him it was corked. He replied, “No man, it can’t be, they’ve been drinking it all morning.” I suggested he try, whereupon he agreed. I could see the smoke gently drifting out the ears of the lady in charge. The newly opened bottle had a pleasant, fruity start, with soft tannins but a slight bitterness on the end that I cannot stand. The Chenin was something I could end up in the gutter from (drinking a couple bottles everyday without thinking) but it doesn’t stand out, it was just good value (R20-R40) with no issues.
There was also a Chenin disguised as a Sauvignon Blanc from Pulpit Rock (I think) that was super popular for R30 a go.
I have been racking my brains all day for the name of this producer but, alas, it now escape me. They make a Chardonnay called “Down the Line”, which had a good balance between oak and fruit. The others, however, were almost unpalatable. Their Sauvignon Blanc smelt and tasted like distilled Green Pepper juice. The Chenin’s nose reminded me of a hair-dressers with very strong notes of Peroxide. The Shiraz and Cabernet were not in my mouth long enough to remember anything. Sis.
The wines were, on the whole, disappointing but I found a good Malbec (Damn this goldfish memory) from somewhere and bought a full glass and we wondered off.
My memory is beginning to fail me seriously now, I think in direct relation to the amount of wine I drank, so I shall begin the quick descent to the end. The best way to enjoy this festival is to spend the whole weekend up there leisurely drinking and eating without the problem of the drive home. I really enjoyed my Sunday, except for a few service issues – I had a final glass at the The Royal Hotel where the service was nothing short of abysmal, instead of smiles we received glares, thank god for the manager who, seeing our expressions of disbelief as we exited, ran up and asked what the problem was.
As The Pea walked to the car and I staggered behind singing Round Here (I’d heard a rather good rendition earlier) I realised that I had totally forgotten about the Olives. Next year I guess.