Bistro 1682

MMMMMM  that was really nice lunch Denis, thank you.

We have been to 1682 a few times since they opened their doors in November 2009. The name is  derived from the year Steenberg Wine Estate was first established and 1682 is attached to the wine cellars of Steenberg in Constantia  and is nestled at the base of the Steenberg Mountains in a beautifully lush valley.

The tasting rooms are stylish, elegant and very professionaly looked after. The huge Murano glass chandelier that hovers over the bar is an absolute work of art and…….I WANT ONE !!!! The tasting terraces are a delight, beautifully set against a backdrop of water features, trees, hills and mountains. It really is worth the trip for the location alone, but we were there for the food.

The menu is small (ish) but adequate and very creative indeed. The Chef Brad Ball has, to my mind, created a very exciting and interesting culinary experience. I had a starter of rabbit rissotto (O.K. sorry to the vegetarians and animal lovers out there). I love rabbit and have done since I was a child. If you look at my blog of a few weeks back when I was wandering down memory lane and staying with some of my siblings in Lincolshire with our Grandparents , you will understand why and how simple country fayre is still high on my culinary agenda. Very rarely does one see rabbit on a menu in any part of the world nowadays. I for one think it is a greatly underrated meat and indeed very versatile.Haber, we digress here (again).                                                                                                        My main course was a perfectly grilled panga fish. I had to try this simply because of my “infuriatingly inquisitive manner”….quote from he who shall remain nameless, why so Tony you may ask,and you’re right of course, publish and be damned ..Paul, there I said it !! The fish was accompanied by creme fraiche mousse wrapped in smoked trout (I think) and a spicy tomato salsa, an absolute delight..Thanks Brad to you and your very clever team. We had a lovely lunch with a bottle (or was it two ?)of Graham Beck Chenin Blanc always a favourite of ours on a sunny Cape Town afternoon, whats a girl to do ??

See you on the other side, its time for a little siesta dahlings. x


Poppy Day.What does it mean ?

Just a quickie dear reader, honestly. Earlier today there was a posting on Facebook remembering all the men that died in the 1914/18 War or The First World War as it is better known. Such a terrible waste of man power , on both sides of the trenches I guess. I can only speak about my limited knowledge from an Englishmans point of view obviously…..Our history books mentioned nothing of the German casualties of course, why would they ??

I fondly remember my Grandad (Carrad) my Mums father, talking to me or maybe us, who knows I can only recall my being involved really……(nothing new there I hear from the hecklers in the back row!! ) He had volunteered to go fight for King and country at the ripe old age of 18. His younger brother also but he was only 16 !!  He lied about his age to get in……even then the power of propaganda and patriotism was undeniably strong. This campaign was led (from the back I think) by a certain Lord Kitchener. He was the flavour of the month at the time in the U.K. after killing, starving, burning to death over 25,000 women and children in South African concentration camps. Apparently they were his ‘brilliant’ idea, but alas dear old Adolf claimed the glory on that one, years later. Ironic that one hey ??

My Grandad and his brother Jim were obviously impresssionablevery  young men, without jobs, fresh out of the poor house, no money and a head full of dreams, bless them. So one can only imagine the effect that lying meglomanic (Kitchener) must have had on them. i.e. The Hun (Germans) have picked a fight with Austria and some nameless faceles Archduke has been killed in a country they had probably never even heard of, let alone considered going to etc. etc. Pick up your guns ‘men’ and defend them and us in case they force there way here…..and all that kind of pathetic crap !!  ENGLAND NEEDS YOU was the poster with Lord Kitchener in full drag (sorry uniform) pointing directly at these poor unfortunate individuals who knew no better than to question the plea!!

I digress, my Grandad (Sam) was very badly injured in the Battle of the Somme (I think) and left to die in a water filled trench with a hole in his skull, bleeding to death. He was found, thank God, and finally ended back in the U.K. with his wife and new born daughter. I think he was about 19 or 20 then…..what a tough begining to married life both he and my Gran had.?

Come the end of the War on the 11th of November 1918 (Armistice Day) his ‘kid’ brother Jim was blown to pieces and his remains never found on that very day but……in the morning and the declaration was not signed untill the evening….. He had left behind an even younger wife about to give birth to twins…..and you have to believe in an omnipitent being !!!The sad thing is that this kind of propagana/brain washing/slaughter is STILL going on today around the World, will we (the royal we here) never learn ??

I am writing this as a remembrance of my lovely Grandad (Sam) also as a poke in the eye and ‘get over yourself’ to all the ‘poor unfortunates’ wondering where their next handout is going to come from,bless ’em all.

Don’t mean to spoil anyones weekend, least of all mine but………I feel better now. It must be about wine o’clock now. x

I DID WARN YOU…….brace yourself. !!!

Dusty in full flight  I think that I have been in love with the legend that is Dusty Springfield since 1961 when I was about 2 !!!  (o.k. o.k. its Monday, let me,let me). She was the look, voice and personna of a folk/pop/country group called strangely enough…The Springfields. Dusty sang ‘up front’ whilst her brother Dion (Tom from now on) and his friend Tim provided the somewhat dated  and mediocre vocal and musical backing.

They used to perform some very interesting songs from ‘around the world’ as well as some poppy singalong ditties !! After about 2 years of this Dusty was busting to shake of the restraignts of the group and do her own thing. Her own thing was actually a far more soulfully aggresive take of what the black girl groups were doing and currently taking the U.S. charts by storm. Sounds from The Ronettes,The Crystals,The Exciters who are still my favourites, they could make the ground vibrate from the opening couple of words being screamed out to an equally ‘excited’ public GREAT STUFF.

Enter stage left a green eyed,blonde bewigged, glittery frocked Dusty holding her own vocally with the best of these girls from ‘across the pond’…..I just couldn’t get enough (and still cant) of this wonderful Lady.      It seems trivial at this point to mention that her real name was Mary Catherine O’Brien, born in West London of Scottish/ Irish Catholic parents. Dad was a bored ‘classical music nut’, tax Inspector, Mum was an entrapped (in domesticity and catholicism) slightly scatty Irish woman who threw food at her husband and kids to break the boredom (anybody been there?).  Mary had long gone from this scenario and there she was bold as brass on the World stage as Dusty Springfield.!!!

I recall vividly the first time I saw Dusty singing solo. It was at the Kingston Odean Theatre in West London in 1963. She was given a two and a half minute spot away from ‘the boys’ and sang (understatment here) wailed away at, The end of the World, a counrty song that was in the charts by an American singer, Skeeter Davis (yes really!)….”why does the sun go on shining, why do these eyes of mine cry, dont they know its the end of the world, it ended when you said goodbye”  There you go Tony….hook, line and sinker and I’ve been there ever since !!

The next month (November) she announced that she was ‘going solo and thanks guys, but no thanks’. and she was on her way to the top. The first single was I only want to be with you and was a huge hit in the U.K and in the U.S. of A which was quite a feat as the Beatles were doing their thing in both countries and Dusty was doing stuff that was not at all in that genre. YOU GO GIRL !!! 

The next five years would see Dusty go to the top all around the World with such stunning vocal treasures as; I just dont know what to do with myself, You dont have to say you love me,Some of your lovin’, The look of love, All I see is you…….how long have you got ??  She had her own T.V. series over a three year period, starred in all the best supper clubs (they were big at that time) around the World and invented the ‘look’ that she was so famous for, those black, black eyes “that you left on for three weeks at which time you needed a wrench to get it off”..glittery frocks and ALL THAT HAIR !!! If I recall she would on occasion have a full head wig with a couple of false pieces(“for height’ )………any insecurities showing here Dusty ??

It is amazing to think that this Woman with a great great voice, a huge International following and undoubtably a ‘few quid’ in the bank, could be so insecure and vulnerable…….she was and big time !!!  Actually if you were to really listen to the songs the answer was there all the time. Some of your lovin,You dont have to etc, All I see is you, I dont wanna hear it anymore,Going back, all about being grateful for the crumbs off the table and I am not worthy of anything. (NOT  the usual moon in June, sweethearts, stars and fluffy clouds of God knows what that most girls, and guys for that matter, were singing about.) It appears that her personal life was mirrored exactly in these songs hence the ability to sing with such emotion and vulnerability…….oh the pathos and the drama (and the eyelashes)…….watch this space, I will return. x








Babylonstoren revisited……

You will recall from a couple of weeks ago dear reader me tiptoeing through the clivia woods of Babylonstoren……what a delight. Well guess what , I’ve been and gone and done it again !!

It is always an absolute delight to visit the place but this week a real treat. Maranda has just released her new book called Babel. The cover just leaps off the shelf at you and the artwork is superb. This creation is so much more than a cook book, in fact it is definately NOT a cook book. Yes there are recipies and yes there are stunning photos and yes there are instructions on how to present the recipies. But…what I pick up from this tome is its invitation almost, to put your own spin on things and I love that.

We were invited, Paul and I, to the book launch along with half the glitterazi and paperazi of the Western Cape……right up my calle dahling !!. The buffet ‘breakfast’ was stunning as was the Rose Cap Classique at eleven oclock in the morning…..rude not to really ! I embarrased myself briefly, by asking one of guests (Maryke Riffell wife of the wonderfully talented Reuben) if she thought these black wooden carvings in the centre of the tables were from the Far East. She almost choked on her finely sliced Biltong dahling, it was home baked squid ink bread, a speciality of the house apparently !! lah de dah, how to win friends and influence people part one !! Whats a girl to do? I simply took another sip on my champers and changed the subject rapidly.

We were all invited to a short tour of the Manor House grounds and part of the gardens and then on to the restaurant Babel for lunch, I was literally still nibbling on a handful of almonds I’d taken from the breakfast extravaganza……..go with the flow Tony, go with the flow.

The lunch was, as always delicious, numerous courses all accompanied by superb wines from the estate. I was chatting to Maranda over lunch and she confided in me that writing (not so much just the writing really) but putting the whole glorious thing together was possibly the most stressful and time consuming thing she has ever done…..and she’s done some things!  Well…Maranda all I can say is that it was worth every drop of blood and sweat. The book Babel is an absolute delight and a credit to your passion and dedication to the whole Babylonstoren experience, a great big thank you from all your many, many fans and followers.

Far from the maddening crowds (I know, I know) poetic licence !

In the early part of last week Paul and I found that a ‘window’ had appeared in our diaries (rare as hens teeth) and that we could indeed make it away for a couple of days. This being South Africa I am using the S.A. ‘couple which can mean anything from 2 to 5 or 6 days..(don’t ask me!).

We had been planning a “couple of days’ in McGregor, a quaint village, steeped in history (right up my calle) a “”couple” of hours drive from Cape Town. In McGregor there is a beautiful retreat called Temenos. Apparently in ancient Athens there was a temple called this, dedicated to the earth Mother Gaia. The perfect name for a perfect place to recharge, reconnect and re what ever else you want to catch up with. It is truly a stunning place with peaceful gardens and many many hidden places of contemplation. There is NO religous biase here at all…..just as well otherwise we would not have stayed…SO THERE !!…Seriously though Billy Kennedy, the owner and dream merchant, is such a clever and obviously sincere person. He apparently bought the old farmhouse and small stable with the acres of derelict gardens and literally created a piece of heaven there. I KNOW I am prone to wax lyrical from time to time but…….just take a look for yourself. Its not landscaped or pristine it is just my ideal and can be best described as a hidden gem.

The staff are lovely and fully aware of the reasons the guests are there, no inane chatter, polite conversation yes (another hens teeth scenario !).good food and wine,yes and the rest is up to you. Find a tree or a hidden ‘temple’ somewhere and unwind……..see you on the other side campers !! x