Thursday, September 07, 2017

Dave Hughes Benefit dinner and auction at Neethlingshof, Stellenbosch

We attended the second dinner and wine auction last week which was held at Neetlingshof Wine Farm. Why two? There were so many people wanting to pay tribute to Dave Hughes, they had to have two. Neetlongshof donated the venue, the food and the wines served were also donated, the chefs gave their time for free and all of the wine in the auction was also donated. He is much loved and respected in the industry
The Neethlingshof Manor house
Some canapés were served. A glass of gazpacho and some sliced duck paté rolls
Some glasses of bubbly to welcome everyone
Neetlingshof is a national monument
Now that is a celebratory dinner jacket!
Jeanette Bruwer of Springfield and Jacques Roux of Douglas Green Bellingham and their other halves enjoy a glass of bubbly on the stoep
Beautiful early evening light on the cellar
Dave Hughes comes from a Scottish family so, as a surprise, the evening started with a Pipe Band dressed, we were told, in MacDonald tartan. He was surprised and delighted.
We all stood on the terrace while they played some lovely tunes on the Pipes and Drums. Lynne’s mother was a Scot and John played the pipes in his school band, so we both find the music very moving; it must be in the blood
Some of the wines in the auction. The industry and private individuals had been very generous with their donations
We had donated the Bergsig 1997 Cape LBV and the Groot Constantia 1972 Shiraz from our cellar
The room was full; both benefit dinners have been sold out
Sue Wardrop, Director at Meridian Wine Merchants, started proceedings and related some memories of Dave Hughes
The menu
Pea soup with sierings (sorrel leaves), smoked feta cheese, gremolata was prepared by Chef David MacDonald who works at Bertus Basson's Spice Route restaurant. The soup was beautifully light and fresh, such a good way to serve young peas. The heavily smoked creamed feta in the centre was a huge contrast. We had some Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc and some De Wetshof Bon Vallon Chardonnay with this course, both very good matches
Duimpie Bayly is an old mate and colleague of Dave Hughes and had some lovely memories to share
And so did Bennie Howard of Meerendal who made us all laugh at his recollections. Duimpie, Bennie and Dave were three of the first Cape Wine Masters
Dave Hughes made a gracious and typically humorous reply to the words of his friends. Seated with him were his wife, Lorna, and Walter Finlayson
The next course was a Mexican-inspired deep fried fish taco, with coleslaw, a citrus salsa and guacamole on a soft tortilla with a char grilled lemon wedge. It was prepared by Chef Lulu Oosthuizen of Neethlingshof
The organiser of both the events, Celia Gilloway gets the auction underway. Celia has done a magnificent job as the function organiser and is available to do one for you should you need her
The main course was some of the best cooked loin of impala we have ever eaten. The meat had been properly but not overly hung, was tender but not pappy and nicely pink in the middle and was perfectly seasoned. It came with a simple but beautifully flavoured meat jus. The fresh veggies were al dente, the blue maize meal was strange and the very spicy chakalaka might have suited the taco better, as it could overwhelm the meat. The perfect meat was cooked by Chef Archie MacLean of Catharina's restaurant at Steenberg
Our auctioneer was journalist and wine judge Fiona MacDonald. She did it so well we think she has an assured future new career as an auctioneer! Narry a stumble was made, she spotted all the bidders and the money and was in full control of the crowd. A grand sum of R237??? was raised this evening, and together with the R?? raised on the first auction a very nice sum for Dave Hughes who has faced very large medical bills lately
In action! R9,500 going once, twice, fair warning, SOLD! to the gentleman in Blue.
Time for dessert. A spiced marigold and dark chocolate delight with frozen yogurt ice cream, a chocolate soil and some cinnamon and rose infused honeycomb, which we loved
The chefs and kitchen staff line up to loud applause and thanks
And yet more delights. More of that fantastic honeycomb, and some Indian sweets: cardamom Burfee, chickpea Channa, and sweet and syrupy Gulab Jamon to be served with coffee
And some good 12 year old Van Ryn brandy, putting a perfect end to a great evening for those not driving

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