Thursday, February 28, 2019

Prawns, horses, wine and art on a Saturday afternoon

We decided to go to the Prawn Festival last Saturday which was held at the Kenilworth Race Course. It turned out to be a market with food and only one venue had prawns. You bought your voucher for R99 per person ....

and stood in the longest queue imaginable. John went to find a table and some cold beers and Lynne stood, and stood and stood in the slowly moving queue for nearly an hour
The prawns were being braaied on fires in the tent at the back and then served by very few staff to the huge crowd of people. We arrived at about midday. Lynne saw the ticket numbers of the people in front of her and they were 1225 - we reckon they served over 3,000 people that day, just very slowly...
John was not delighted to discover that AB InBev have the only beer concession
NOT his favourite beers of choice, but the only port in a (hot) storm
Smaller queue there
Castle lager, with the familiar persistent, astringent, bitter finish. First taste of it in several years and the last for a few more
What you got for the R99 was a generous portion (23 each in fact) of prawns in various states of undress and doneness in a prego sauce, served on yellow rice with slap chips. So it was hands to the shells and one became very messy. We saw many people taking their prawns home. Elsewhere you could buy calamari and a few other ready prepared foods
The races take place all afternoon
and we watched the last race
Nice action shot! The number was well chosen. He came in 6th
Lynne looking for John! Who was taking these photos
To get to the parking, you have to cross the fairway. But not when the horses are out on the track
Next, we wanted to sit somewhere cool and enjoy some good wine,
so we headed for chic Steenberg as, later, we had an appointment at the Norval Foundation gallery next door
We couldn't find any seats on the terrace, so we sat at the bar and had a really good tasting of some of the wines. We began with the excellent 1682 Steenberg Blanc de Blanc MCC with brioche on the nose, crisp, clean lean limes and lemons on the palate, and perfect to cool down with on a hot summers day
Then the Black Swan 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, grown on the hills above the farm. Fynbos on the nose herbal, figs, green pepper as one would expect from a Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, a good mouthfeel with some lees contact fullness, fresh lemon. gooseberry and some grapefruit bitterness
The 2017 Semillon has a rich, grey grape nose with some seaweed and a hint of wood. Round palate full, some initial honey sweetness then crisp long flavours of citrus pear and grapefruit
The iconic 2017 Magna Carta is a Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc 60% and Semillon 40% and is perfumed with lemongrass, full of green pepper pyrazines and seaweed. Full crisp layers of fruit, orange lemon, melon, lime. A blend of the two previous wines but better. Lively and long and a food wine
Our enthusiastic hostess, Zelda pouring the Steenberg MCC
That hanging 'bunch' of red and white glass grapes over the bar makes a wonderful feature
Girls, it’s a little rude and not a little selfish to occupy chairs with your handbags. People were desperate to sit down and taste
Our favourite wine of the tasting and so good it is our Wine of the Week, the Steenberg Nebbiolo. It’s a wine with wildness from a grape that gives so much. Wild strawberries, rhubarb, mulberries on the nose with some perfume and incense wood. Soft sweet cherry berry on the palate, so deep and long with delicious fruit flavours, good fruit acid balance and gentle chalky tannins on the end. A stupendous food wine, especially with Italian or Mediterranean food.
WOW! The Steenberg Merlot is back! This used to be Lynne’s favourite South African Merlot way back, but it was overtaken by some tight tannins, mint and green flavours in the intervening years, a style many like, but not preferred by us. But this vintage is superb. So elegant and beautiful with a sophisticated nose, more French in style than SA. Soft, velvety, sweet cherry berry fruit with a good zing from plums and some richness from dark chocolate, with very soft tannins. Already winning awards
We had a good chat to our neighbours and this member of staff who was explaining the wines for us. We also tasted the Catharina 2016 Merlot, Shiraz, Petit Verdot. Incense wood elegance a classic French nose with hints of violets. Soft sweet cassis and blackberry fruit, a little spice and long flavours, chalky tannins and warm alcohol
and then it was nearly 5.30 and we went next door to the Norval Foundation
where we had booked to join a tour of the new exhibitions, guided by curator Karel Nel
He explained that we would take a tour with him of the David Goldblatt photographic exhibition On the Mines,
then the Nudes in the Sanlam collection and a brief spell in the installation Labour of Many by Ibrahim Mahama
He also gave us a briefing on the Atrium Commission which is by courtesy of the Claire & Edoardo Villa Will Trust who give One million Rand to support an artist. This is currently the installation behind him by Serge Alain Nitegeka’s entitled Structural Response III .To quote the Norval: "The theme of disrupted lives, disrupted work and disrupted spaces is, through his intervention within the Atrium, intended to enable a discussion about displacement. His use of simple building materials such as pre-cut timber, references the aesthetics of temporary structures that forced migrants often construct." When they dismantle the installation, the timber will be donated to refugees and homeless to use it in building their homes and his next project will be to document that work
The Sanlam Collection Nudes exhibition had some surprises
Some interesting bronzes and other nude sculptures
Each of these surrealistic drawings was the work of three artists; one did the top, one the middle and the third the bottom
We were very surprised to see this Pierneef nude, so different from his usual style of paintings
Very Art Deco in influence and done in the 1930's
And a new sculpture in the garden by Yinka Shonibare CBE, Wind Sculpture SG (III), 2018, which is a reference to African fabrics
Karel Nel was so informative about the works and it really does enhance one's experience of the gallery to have explanations of the artists' work, their influences, their eras and some of the meanings
You do need to visit and see the exhibits for yourself. The Goldblatt On the Mines exhibition is very, very powerful
They also have the book for sale in the shop with the words written by his friend Nadine Gordimer
Hearing about the background to this body of work by the photographer, recently deceased. Karel Nel worked with David Goldblatt on this exhibition until just few days before his death in 2018. "Goldblatt is revealed as the great chronicler and documenter of South Africa: the quiet observer of how the country, its peoples, its institutions and landscape have been inscribed by politics and power"
Standing inside the monumental installation Labour of Many by Ibrahim Mahama. "Mahama’s rigorous, socially engaged and process based practice, brings to the fore Africa’s role in the global exchange of commodities while considering the movement of its people and how labour is valued." It is quite moving, you can see the humble cocoa sacks he collected and their many uses and reuses over the years are visible. They have been painstakingly sewn together. You get a sense of the labour that has carried these and the places they have been and the people who were involved in the different trades that used and carried them. Our large group was dwarfed in this marvellous gallery space
After the hour long tour, we were offered a glass of one of the Skotnes wines, which are sold in the shop and the restaurant, and had a chance to chat to other visitors and to Karel Nel
before heading home after a rather long day

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