Marie Claire Green Lunch

I adore lunches. A good lunch will elevate the soul and sooth one’s temperament. Breakfasts start too early, dinners can slide toward the serious, but a lunch is just right; the wonderful combination of jollity, good food, wine and company shared as the sun sails through its zenith is something of a quite specific beauty.

Aldous Huxley, I think, said it best, “A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will’s freedom after it.”

So on Saturday I joined the bus with a bunch of green luminaries, celebrities, bloggers and media types outside Associated Magazine’s offices and looked forward to, as I have said, the day’s best meal.

The invitation I received did not specify the venue, it was to be a surprise. It reminded me of when, as children, our mother would bung us in the car telling us it was time for a magical mystery tour. Thrilled we would throw up our hands in the air singing, “magical mystery tour! magical mystery tour!” until we realised that it was just a long-con to get us to go to the dentist quietly.

Saturday was no trip to the dentist, instead we arrived at The Conservatory which, as the name suggests, is glass walled and ceilinged. Letting the Franschhoek country side do the decorating was a cunning move.

As I mentioned I get rather excited when it comes to lunch, and the words of W.C Fields bounced around my head, “Some weasel stole the cork out of my lunch” as I peered at the bottle of Pongracz  filling up my glass (a standard sort of bubbles, unassuming and functional. I thought Silverthorn’s The Green Man would have been more appropriate.) Strolling around the venue I pondered this quote  – did Fields mean the waiter opening his wine before he arrived? This seems a bit rude. Or because he had finished the bottle and wanted to re-cork it and some waiter had removed it? Which makes Fields a bit of a lightweight, but either way it’s the waiter’s fault; an entirely plausible situation.

I never worked it out, because a waiter tried to get past me with out topping up my glass. I cocked my eye at him, he cocked his eye at me. We stood there, cock-eyed. It didn’t last long, and glass filled I triumphantly went outside for a smoke.

Feeling smug that I was the only one smoking green cigarettes (rollies without filters are as natural as you can get, ask John Wayne), I chatted with the green elite, the fashion experts, and a mobile guru (this sounds like a small, thin, white-bearded man sitting cross legged on roller-skates, but really I mean Nic Haralambous). I was also introduced the most extraordinary pair of shoes.

Now I am not a shoe person. Give me a jacket, blazer, suit etc. and I can get excited. Obviously not as excited as I get about wine – I’d wear a barrel to drink a fantastic Jean Louis Chave for example –  but what about shoes that smell? Scented shoes, the idea delights. I found a pair on the feet of the crisply stylish Lize Kay.

Thanks to Leigh van den Berg who writes the Lip Gloss is My Life blog for the pic.

They are by Vivienne Westwood and Melissa, and upon some brief research I have discovered they smell like bubblegum . On giving them a thorough sniff I found a surfboard wax note, Mrs. Palmers perhaps?

After I had finished sniffing Lize’s shoes – poor girl, you really shouldn’t have your feet smelled at lunch – it was time for the festivities to commence. We took our seats and lunch, that glorious midday meal, began.

The first course was served as the impeccably vintaged out (can I use vintage in that way? I get confused when it is not simply a number) Marie Claire editor Aspasia Karras welcomed us all and spoke briefly about the June Green Issue, which is physically green rather than just the content being green focused: the envelope it is sold in is made from recycled materials and the cost of the paper is offset by trees being planted in Grootbos. Good for them. With us sure in the fact that green is now sexy – Vivienne Westwood (twice in one blog!) guest editing the edition internationally pretty much adjourns the court on this issue – we tucked in.

Starters were a sort of tomato built up tart with Bree (I think) and caramelized onion and rocket.  The wine being served was the Maison Chenin Blanc 2009 and the Klein Genot – now know as Holden Manz – Shiraz 2007 (I think). I love the Chenin, which I think balances ripeness and freshness very well. I can drink it all day. Which I believe I did. Lovely pears and sweet apples with a clean line of acidity running through it. Not sure how organic it is, but it’s style suited the day: clean, fresh, some complexity, full of sunshine. Quite similar in fact to our lunch’s musical accompaniment Hot Water.

The red, however, disappointed; coming across all overworked bacon bits and toasty oak. It lacked brightness and verve; like an old man in a moth-ball eaten blazer, stuck on a couch watching old football matches. One sip was enough.

I love lunches, I love the banter, the smokes between courses, the bellowing for refills, but I fear I may have got a little carried away. With our table slowly becoming ‘that’ table, I found myself struggling to concentrate on all the fantastic green things we must do.  Michelle and Riaan Garforth-Venter  were telling us action after action we could take to save the planet (Find them all in their new book The Green Line – a South African guide to green living).

And though by this stage of the lunch saving the planet looked as easy as opening another bottle of wine. So easy, I thought, that I would deal with it in the morning. It turns out that the next morning there were more pressing things to attend to. Things pressing on my skull.  From the inside.

The lunch began to runaway with me. The bus was arrived. I ran away with the lunch. Thank goodness the weasel had taken the cork, I had left my bottle opener at home.

Thanks to Marie Claire and all those involved, an absolutely brilliant event. If you are interested, here is a video of the day.