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March 2010

Gallery Hopping in Stellenbosch

Saturday nights are no different in this part of the world.   People come from near and far to look at art.

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Guests came from as far as Capetown and Johannesburg to attend the opening of Wayne Barker's exhibit 'Super Boring' at the SMAC Art Gallery -- part of the Joberg Art Fair taking place from 25-28 March 2010.   This exhibit at SMAC is open through 23 May 2010.

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Above Barker combines images of Steven Biko with African trees and an assemblage of objects.   Neon is often included in Barker's pieces.   The exhibit included work from 1989 to present, and was spread out through several rooms in the huge gallery space.

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The art was anything but super boring.   SMAC stands for Stellenbosch Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery.  

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These 'paintings' are created 100% with glass beading.

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This piece was striking in person, sorry again for the poor quality of these photos.   

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The crowd thoroughly enjoyed both the art and the venue.  Ivor Powell gave the opening address.

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There were snacks and wine served, including small samosas, prosciutto and melon balls, salmon and cucumbers -- many delicious treats from the kitchen of the adjacent Wijnhuis Restaurant.  

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The fun didn't stop at the Gallery, though, as down in the courtyard, live music and dancing topped off the night at the 'Super Boring' after party.  


It was the best of tastings, it was the worst of tastings!

Friday afternoon, we rode our bikes to a couple of wineries close to Stellenbosch.    From a fairly unpleasant giant corporate tasting to a charming, intimate, tasty and fun experience just a (level) bike ride away.  

Strangely, the large corporate tasting didn't provide the basic print out of prices - the lady hosting the tasting didn't even know which cheeses were featured in the cheese tasting.   As a cheese hound, that was the first deadly sin.   The only good thing to come out of this first tasting of the day was an absolutely delicious and nuanced Sauvignon Blanc.   The rest of the wines tasted were undistinguished.

But enough of that!

The best of tastings!

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The wonderful Stellekaya Cellar offered a choice of 6 red wines that kept getting better and better and the first was a stunner.   These well priced and succulent reds ranged from an easy drinking red blend named Boschetto to an award winning Cabernet Sauvignon.   The company and the advice were outstanding as well.    We were lucky enough to meet Dave Lello the proprietor, Ntsiki Biyela the winemaker and a young apprentice student named Lisa - all full of cheer and good advice on the wines, the area, the restaurants, how to identify different grapes.   This is harvest time and we were able to taste Cabernet and Shiraz grapes at their peak of flavor.  

We had a good time from start to finish.   From walking through the fragrant vats on the way to the tasting bar, to the end when we were sent on our way to a delicious meal at the 5 Rynveld Restaurant.  Find out more about these wines and the winery (which is right in the center of Stellenbosch and easily accessible by cycling or on foot) please go to their website at:   www.stellekaya.com

Since the internet cafes have been closed for 2 days, everything is a bit slow today, and I am not able to download photos of all the adventures we have been having - and there have been many!   Lots of photos of food, South African dogs, scenic hiking, and one of the best art openings ever on Saturday night.  

Stay tuned!


4 Wineries and a delicious lunch.

Our first full day of cycling through the wineries was a huge success.   As you can imagine from these photos, late summer in the mountains of Stellenbosch are hot and sunny.

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When we finally arrive into the cool and fragrant halls of the vats, we quickly guzzle some cool water and get down to the business of tasting red wines. 

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The Vrieshof Winery is up a long, long and sunny hill, but when we arrived into the oak shaded courtyard to be feted with their flagship Pinot Noir, all is forgiven.

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The view is always nice.

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Diesel the 'BoerBull' licks his lips as he contemplates eating those dreadful bicyclists.  We were escorted past his turf as he does not like bikes.

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Next stop was riding through vineyards to the lovely Waterford grounds.   I wish that I could send you the marvelous fragrances that we smelt as we rode to the tasting terrace.   First the smell of fresh mown grass, then citrus groves and finally the best smelling lavender ever.   You can see the lovely arches.   A large table of American tourist just cleared that back table.   They too were biking, but with a host and a van as back up.   Just another of the great options available. 

The Waterford Winery is not allowed to print their logo on any glasses in an agreement with the Irish Waterford crystal firm.

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One of the few estates that we did not see dogs, instead there were swans.

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My favorite time of the day is always lunch.  This is a flammekuchen, topped with creme fraiche, gorgonzola cheese, roasted butternut squash, fresh rocket and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.   It was as good as it looked.   This is at the Dornier winery.   The wines were good across the board, but I think whites would have suited this meal better.   I am in love with this country all over again.

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This is a view of the restaurant terrace.   Did I mention that the tasting was free with lunch?

We did go to Stellenzicht winery on the way home, but were too late to do anything but taste their Shiraz.  No time for photos.

More tomorrow.


Bikes, Wine Tasting and the Vinyard Dogs!

We got a late start yesterday on biking through to the many wineries in this area.  

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First stop was the Lanzerac Winery.   The first to bottle South Africa's famous Pinotage grape in 1961, the winery is accessed down a long driveway lined with vines with views of the mountains behind.   Started in the 17th Century, this vinyard is well worth visiting.   We tasted 5 red wines, all were delicious.   I preferred the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and Daniel chose the Pinotage as his favorite.

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This charming pair of Chow Chows greeted with their black tongues and wagging tails at Lanzerac.

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At the next winery on our route - Le Riche Winery - we met Fila, a blue tick hound from Canada.   Soft and friendly, she was well behaved and well loved.  

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Marcelle, the proprietress of this spectacular estate treated us to a delicious trio of wines.   First a Chardonnay with citrus notes, next two fabulous reds - a blend and then a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon.   Luckily we are only getting small samples of these beauties and thus can drive home on our bikes always remembering to keep to our left.  

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Fila says goodbye as we head off to the next destination.

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Alas, we arrived too late to try the wines at the Neil Ellis Winery.   But not too late to enjoy the view.

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Finally, today on the way to this internet cafe, we met Quincy the English Bulldog.   Only 11 months old, Quincy is as friendly as can be even though I had a big hat on and was on my bike.


Photos!

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I thought you might enjoy this lovely belly dancer... we certainly did!   She has mastered the art of isolating body parts.  Unfortunately, sometimes 'you can't go back home' and this Turkish restaurant had changed ownership and this dancer was the only improvement.   The food was pricier and not as good as we remembered, and though the service was fine, the serviettes were not.   With oily Turkish food, substantial napkins are a necessity and the restaurant provided flimsy ones. 

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The Cape Argus Cycling Race through Cape Town is the world's largest.   All day long, the beach road was filled with cyclists riding past world class scenery.   The course was changed this year and included more ups and downs at the start of the run.   The wind picked up and the gusts made for a hard ride.   Nevertheless 38,500 cyclists turned out.   The winners took less than 3 hours to finish the race.  

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We headed out from Cape Town mid day and took a Sunday train to the wine-growing area of Stellenbosch.   A train trip that would normally take little more than an hour became an interesting exercise in patience for us and our fellow travelers.   We did learn the lesson not to travel on Sunday, if given the choice.   Late trains, changed platforms (without notice or announcements) all taught us that it is better to take a non-stop train rather than change trains.   We could not beat the scenery however.

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Along the way were lovely old English and Afrikaans tombstones.   Though the plots are old, many are well tended and covered with fresh flowers.

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We were picked up at the train station in Stellenbosch by our hostess, Marie Beukes, who runs a Bed and Breakfast.   We became old friends 8 years ago when last in South Africa and we were soon at her lovely house just outside Stellenbosch.

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The view from our room!   You cannot tell in this photo,  but you can see Table Mountain in the far distance.   While having a sundowner, the view is unbelievable.   South Africans have many nice terms for things, and a sundowner is a drink while watching the sun go down!

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It did not take me long to jump into the pool.  I forgot a bathing suit, so I borrowed this apropos t-shirt.

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We take a short cut to town through the Jan Marais Nature Reserve.

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Town has many nice houses (stay tuned) but very few 'Beware of Dog' signs.    This one features a Rottweiller.

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I'm not sure how scared I should be about this Bassett Hound!  

No hand painted beware of dog signs yet!   No hand-painted signs anywhere in fact.

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My new bike (rented at less than $5 per week) will insure a lot of new adventures and an opportunities to travel far and wide with more photos coming.  

Stay tuned.   This afternoon, we will be riding to some wineries where we will be tasting the world class wines of Stellenbosch.

Cheers!