HomeNewsTravel: Weekend in the mountains (Part II)

Travel: Weekend in the mountains (Part II)


(Continued from yesterday’s Zimbabwe Independent)
MEIKLES Hotel’s Grapevine wine tasting club spent last weekend at Juliasdale, Nyanga, in the Eastern Highlands.

Dusty Miller

Supper and the first wine tasting event (of KWV labels supplied by Cape Wines of Msasa) was at the Inn on Rupurara on Friday; Saturday’s green themed lunch was at Pine Tree Inn, where Da Vinho Wines’ products were sampled, including a magically wonderful crisp, clean Casal Garcia Portuguese vinho verde which made magnificent drinking.

After Saturday’s al fresco lunch, some more energetic members explored the tourist attractions of the Nyanga district, including game drives and horse safaris.

I settled down comfortably to finish Lord Alexander of Tunis’ WWII memoirs borrowed from the lounge at Rupurara, reading against the clock in the absence of satellite TV and World Cup Cricket!

Saturday night’s bibulous, fun-filled session was a country and western dinner. Local C&W artiste Mande Snyman entertained throughout the weekend. Members ate dressed in various items of cowboy apparel and wholeheartedly joined in the spirit of the thing.

A young couple announced their engagement amidst a volley of popping bubbly corks. Amazingly a US$10 000 diamond ring just happened to be secreted in the young man’s pocket!

We started with delicious sweet corn fritters and sweet chilli sauce and then a creamed potato and ham soup which was really excellent after a bit of additional seasoning. We drank a Laborie Chardonnay 2013 which retails at US$9 a bottle.

Courtesy of KWV and Msasa’s Cape wines, I flew to Cape Town last year and stayed part of the week in the 17th century Manor House at Laborie, in the shade of the Paarl Rock and have a tremendously strong product loyalty!

Main course was a choice between southern fried chicken with a barbecue sauce or pan-fried fillet of hake “Hawaii” topped with pineapple or the baked apple and cinnamon pork chop I chose.

Veg was rice, Cheddar-mashed potato with crispy pumpkin cakes and stuffed cabbage rolls. These were something like the Greek dolmades and stuffed with yet more rice: perhaps a bit of overkill? Accompanying drink was a Laborie Cabernet-Sauvignon/Merlot blend which costs US$9 a bottle.

I decided that Casal Garcia was the nicest wine I’ve sampled in at least a year and also that Inn on Rupurara’s mince pie “Alaska” topped with meringue was my Number 1 pudding up to now of 2015 but others at the table raved about the lemon cheesecake.

It is unusual to end (rather than begin) a meal with a sherry-like fortified wine (rather than port) but sipping KWV Full Cream — retailing at US$9 a bottle — seemed just the ticket, along with strong Vumba filter coffee and chocolate bon-bons.

I had a Valley View chalet with spectacular views of the Rupurara Mountain feature from my bedroom window or verandah. Rupurara means “bald man’s head” in ChiShona and that’s exactly what the enormous rugged granite boulder does resemble.

Fitter members of the wine club climbed the mountain before breakfast on both days. Drinking early morning coffee on my stoep, they looked no bigger than ants on the peak with the naked eye!

Bubbly corks were again almost deafening at Sunday breakfast as flutes of Buck’s Fizz (Champagne or similar with freshly squeezed orange juice) washed down eggs, bacon, sausages and fish cakes among much more items.

It is a tradition in Southern Africa to hit the road before or soon after “sparrow fart”, possibly going back to the days of trek oxen, when the days soon grew too hot to travel far.

We, however, checked out at a much more civilised leisurely time and took it very easy, even stopping at Pine Tree Inn on the return leg for morning coffee, home-baked scones, rich butter and locally produced strawberry jam and thick cream and another chat with the amiable Innkeeper Guy Cary.

I should, really, not have eaten for a couple of days after the gastronomic and oenological excesses of the weekend but, guess what? It was the February lunch of the Restaurateurs’ and Hoteliers’ Association the following day and guess who was entertaining?’

Yep you’ve got it: Mande Snyman’s brown eyes were one again turning blue!


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