The Dusty diaries part VIII…the calm before the storm..!

Dusty revelled (I think) in her rediscovered success and popularity, not least of all the younger new fans. I think it was a really strong statement of how wonderful a performer and singer she was. The relaxed persona, the camp Diva,the Iconic status, total recognition and appreciation of the legacy this Lady had bestowed on the music industry….AND ABOUT TIME TOO !!!

After three or four years of basking in her new found popularity Dusty was “thinking about what to do next, if anything”…theres that old sitting under a tree scenario “waiting for something to drop into my lap” thing going on!
I remember thinking at the time that Dusty should have taken the pop business by the scruff of the neck and “Dustified” the early nineties pop scene as she did 30 years previously but…… ??

Its clear to me now that she was happy just ticking over and didnt want to “do it all again”. She was looking stunning, great clothes good P.R. machine that I think she was in charge of instead of the frenetic slog that was sooooo bad for her at the height of her fame in the 60’s. I guess one does learn..EVENTUALLY !!

Apparently Dusty received a phone call from Vicki (ironically) telling her that Kip Krones from Sony Music, who was a lifelong fan,wanted Dusty to do something with them, would she be interested ?? Talk about history repeating, (to paraphrase Shirley Bassey who was doing a similar thing with her vocal wizardry at the time). They were talking about something new with new writers and musicains in Nashville, of all places.!!
Now for avid Dusty followers they will rememeber, as I did, the country album Dusty did in 1962 with The Springfields in Nashville, de ja vue or what ? Hopefully she wouldn’t be expected to “take the scenic route” again and discover the Exciters and 24/7 deli’s !!
Well, dear reader our girl was up and running, loved the idea and knew that there was “a lot of good music coming out of Nashville and not at all the country stuff that people traditonally associate with the place”.

There was, of course, the usual Dusty insecurities about the songs that had been chosen for her to CONSIDER AT LEAST !! The ‘how do I look now’, what are the backing singers like and can I bring my own hairdresser stuff going on!!
Dusty dahling you’re a star you can do what you like , when you like and with whom, get a clue !! Dont you just love her ??

A number of the songs chosen were, to my mind, a little underpowered for our girl, she could still sing up a storm and if she couldn’t reach the high notes then that what backing singers (in particular Simon Bell) were for.The title was to be, after a lot of soul searching and (I’m sure) screaming and shouting ‘A very fine love’. I still think Dusty in Nashville would have worked, but what do I know ??
I loved ‘I cant help the way that I dont feel’, so reminiscent of ‘the end of the world’ that I heard Dusty sing in early 1963 under a purple (what else?) spotlight at the Kingston Odean. Also ‘Wherever would I be without you’ the first single to be released from the album, on which she dueted with Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oates fame), I loved the new found power,psuedo rock approach coupled with the almost Tina Turner, Bonnie Rait nuences, great stuff. Apparently Dusty thought that ‘Old habits die hard’ would be a biggie, not so sure myself ! However, the best track by far was ‘Where is a Woman to go?” Really a country song,”my Daddy would die if he knew his baby” but with some fantastic backing both vocally and musically. The writers Mary Chapin Carpenter and K.T Oslin provided some of the backing vocals and quite literally spread there magic all over it. You can HEAR Dustys approval and sheer pleasure in every line. A few years later Dusty was to sing this song on the Jools Hollands show with the vocal backing of Sinead O’Connor and Alison Moyet. An absolute masterpiece and soooo reminiscent of her early days belting out those hits on RSG with the world and his wife adding their vocal and musical ‘four pennyworth’!! This was, sadly to be the last performance Dusty made and her last album too!!

Whilst recording ‘A very fine love’ Dusty discovered an “quite large lump” on one of her breasts !! She was rushed to the Royal Brompton in London for tests,X rays, the whole works and it was confirmed to be the dreaded cancer !!
Dusty hit the disease full on and quite rightly too, she read up, took advice and went through a series of chemotherapy and, I guess, radio therapy to destroy the tumor.
The cancer went into remission and Dusty picked up the gauntlet and got on the promotion trail for ‘A very fine love’. She appeared on numerous chat shows, news programmes and countless appearance to promote the album AND to “talk about cancer in a small way as it effected me”. She looked fabulous and was her usual chatty, camp, witty self. Unusually for Dusty she mostly wore black at this time, stunning and elegant of course but to me a little sombre and maybe a little cautionary warning to the fans, who knows ??

She moved to a big house in Henley on Thames (“by the river”) and charged her batteries and I feel, with a little intrepidation of what the future may hold.
The cancer returned with a vengence a couple of years later and Dusty retreated from the limelight, not to lick her wounds, but to take stock of her life.

On the 2nd of March 1999 Dusty left us for that great recording studio “over there”. Her leaving ripped a huge hole in my and so many peoples lives, I still miss her and miss the expectation what gems her next foray into the recording studios are going thrill us with. She has gone, she will never be forgotten, not only for her “series of blunders” her beautiful gowns (frox) her infectiuos sense of humor that can only be Irish but……….her beautiful melodic voice. ………THEY DONT MAKE ‘EM LIKE THAT ANYMORE……….she really was Going Back !! xx

La Mouette restuarant ‘revisited’.

Ever the optimist, I persuaded Paul that La Mouette was going to be worth another visit. We hadn’t been there for probably a couple of years.
Since our last visit the garden has been included in the eating areas. Nice, although unfortunately the evening we chose was a little cool and blowy. Not blowy enough to deter the hardened smokers it seems, shame !

Our waiter was extremely attentive and pleasant although we couldn’t unfortunately understand a word he said !

The menu is a little expensive but interesting and truly International, we really didn’t know what to choose. I went for the salt and pepper prawns whilst Paul decided upon the Assiette of duck,(duck is always a favourite with him).
We always try each others dishes and I was looking forward to the duck selection. The spring roll and various accompaniments were really good, however I couldn’t handle the carpaccio of breast, not least of all the extreme use garlic that overpowered the dish, in my opinion. Paul liked most of the dish but left half the carpaccio.
My prawns were delicious, perfectly cooked, very tasty and crunchy and beautifully presented.

However, when our main courses arrived,(sorry guys,)….. different ball game !!
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Pauls Franschhoek Trout “looked and felt like it had been hanging around since lunchtime”, which is all the more worrying since they don’t open for lunch.!! The vegetables etc. that came with the dish were delightful.

My Moroccan Style Lamb was so disappointing not only because of the lack of ANY taste whatsoever, but the rather worrying perfectly circular confit of meat that looked as though it had been sliced from a lamb sausage/kebab type creation, maybe even slightly ‘polony’ looking ! The smoked aubergine puree (called Baba Ghannouh in Morocco, incidentally),tabbouleh etc. were tastless too !!
Moroccan food has a wealth of tastes waiting to be explored and experienced and its not too difficult really.

The wine list is interesting and comprehensive for a resaurant this size and well priced too. Unfortunately I stll feel the ambience to be sadly lacking, crying out for something to happen…… how they achieved 10th place in the Eat Out ratings is a mystery, but then so was Saigon winning the best Asian restaurant in the City !!!

Happy eating to you all, I would be very pleased to recieve any comments or recommendations you may have.

My Franschhoek foray ~

Over the past few weeks we here in Cape Town have been experiencing the most amazingly hot spell. I’m a hot house flower so its all lovely for me. Alas there are far far lesser mortals who were wilting under the strain of it all, shame !!
Well today is raining, its dropped 10 degrees and these same people are having a bitch about that now, lah de dah !!

How did I get on to that subject ? A couple of days ago I was invited to take a trip to Franschhoek with four journalists from Johannesburg, a very astute and comedic photographer and the Management team from Manley Communications, Ian and Lise Manley………O.K. O.K. I know, but someones gotta do it !

We left the One and Only in the Waterfront and headed North(ish) to the N1 and on to Franschhoek. It was a beautiful, beautiful day not a cloud in the sky, just perfect for a little sortee into the delightful Franschhoek countryside.

Our first port of call was Allee Bleue Estate in Groot Drakenstein. They produce some wonderful wines here at really good prices. That particular box now suitably ‘ticked’ , we were shown around grounds by the General Manager, Wolfgang Leyrer and the Wine Manager Ansgar Flaaten, such nice people with a definate passion for producing good quality wines.
Everything from a delightful Chenin,a floral Rose as well as Shiraz, Pinotage and a great Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend.

However…..Allee Bleue has a lot, lot more to offer and be exceedingly proud of. The Estate produces a vast number of herbs such as; rocket, chives, mint, coriander etc. etc. all freshly picked daily and delivered to local and Nationally known stores. The herbs are all grown under cover in a ground coconut compost (first time for me too!) which is lighter in composition and less likely to take on the ‘natural’ pests that have to be dealt with, thereby keeping the use of pesticides to the minimum. We like this…..

Thank you to everyone at Allee Bleue for a delightful and educational morning (not forgetting the pastries!!)

Back onto the ‘bus’ heading for the Franschhoek Pass and Haute Cabriere (que luquo). Now…Haute Cabriere has long been a favourite for me, more especially because it was the first place Paul and I went to with Natalie and Allen a few years back when they visited us for a well deserved holiday. Oh that illfated 12 o’clock lunch that went on untill 5.30 when we were escorted to the outside terrace because they were preparing for a Wedding……a “do people still do that” from yours truly as we sat on the terrace finishing our delightful Belle Rose Cap Classique, que memorias guapa !!

Back to the plot……We were greeted and shown around the cellars by Takuan Von Arnim, the Cellar Master and son of the renown and (dare I say) infamous founder, Achim Von Arnim.
I guess it goes without saying that Takuan is extremely passionate and proud about the stunning wines the Estate produce, and quite rightly so.
The Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend is in my opinion surely the most popular of the wines from Haute Cabriere. It certainly is for my Princess, she waxes lyrical about the wine as if it were manna from heaven and who am I to argue, besides both Allen and I know better than to even attempt this !!
I love the unwooded Pinot Noir straight from the fridge, a delight. The wooded Pinot Noir is, of course, is classic as are the Pierre Jordan Cap Classiques. My particular favourite being the Brut Rose.

We had a wonderful lunch in the restaurant courtesey of the (relatively) new Chef Ryan Shell. He really is a master of the kitchen, producing wonderful creations such as pea and truffle soup with bacon shavings, gnocchi cubes (not the usual blobs) with parmesan crust. The seared and tuna tartare(thanks Caroline) with pickled grapes, pea puree and olives, I’m still talking about !
It really was a wonderful, wonderful afternoon, not least of all for the memories that came flooding back. Thank you everyone at Haute Cabriere and also the lovely ladies in our party (sorry Jim)…here’s to the next time. xx