A long weekend in the winelands

These extravagant long weekends. I feel they’re definitely a uniquely South African thing. We love a good public holiday, and they really are absolutely joyous.

We decided to take an afternoon drive out the the Paarl winelands side. Have you ever thought how many wineland areas there are in Cape Town? Constantia, Durbanville, Paarl, Franschoek, Stellenbosch… not bad for a small stretch! We’d had a cheese fondue the night before so weren’t really into cheese tasting at Fairview, but we thought we’d try some wine tasting at Backsberg Estate – lucky for us – kosher wine.

We brought our usual picnic attire: food, blankets, books, and our latest addition – the selfie stick. We found a secluded spot (exactly where my friends got married, actually) – were we allowed to picnic there? We’re not sure, but we did anyway.

It’s been a while since we hung out somewhere just the two of us, and took a silly amount of photos. So we took full advantage, and selfied ourselves silly! We don’t always have a chance to get out much together these days, between Greg working in Stellenbosch every second weekend and his studies, I have to book afternoons out with him in advance. Which is fine, I guess it makes those planned outings more exciting.

Then we actually went to taste some wine – we’ve never been to a tasting before. It all seemed (and sounded) very fancy, even when a bloke of student age explained it all us (hey, he definitely knew more than we did!). I can’t say I remember all we learnt, other than the merlot and pinotage were particularly delicious. Oh, and that we look silly when smelling and holding wine correctly.

And in the spirit of yolo, and exploring our beautiful City  like a tourist, we hopped on over to Babylonstoren next door. I’ve heard so much of this place and it’s really so beautiful. It definitely is sucky not being able to eat at these places, but walking around the gardens were really beautiful enough. I wish we’d had more time, but we’ll definitely be back. I’d love to stay in one of their cottages, but a little google search told me I’m far from being able to afford a night there. I’ll settle for a Sunday drive.

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I like a good day exploring, and the great thing is you don’t really need a long weekend for it – it’s close enough for a simple Sunday afternoon! Here’s to more adventures.

Pretending to be grown ups.

It was quite a busy weekend as we geared up for hosting Greg’s birthday party this Sunday. Neither of us usually have big parties, the last one he had was his 21st (ahem, 5 whole years ago!). We decided to be sophisticated and host a cheese and wine do at our flat, because we like wine, and we like cheese. So it seemed fitting an appropriate. A friend did pose the question: “If you’re hosting something fancy as a cheese & wine party for your 26th – what do you do the next year?”.

We set a budget like responsible adults, and overspent it like the children we clearly are. We’ve never catered for 40 people, let alone cheese and wine for 40 people. Also – where were we going to fit 40 people in our flat?! All worked out well and things looked really pretty (all those hours on Pinterest sure paid off). Cheeses were labeled with little handmade flags (if only we had a printer, they could have been much fancier a la pinterest), we brought out a fancy heart shaped cheese board and I even served flings in a vase. Oh yes I did.

It was really so much fun. Everyone fitted nicely. We actually had enough wine glasses (thanks to my parents who lent us 25 – why would someone need so many wine glasses?!). The table looked pretty. Everyone mingled nicely, and there wasn’t even too much to tidy up afterwards. We had a really great time, and times like these make you realise how great your friends and friendships are.

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What are all those crazy things you’re doing? Well, Pesach is upon us.

I maintain that Pesach is one of the craziest Jewish holidays out there (don’t worry, there are others too!). If non-Jews knew the crazy things we did, well, they’d no doubt think we were whacked. I happen to sometimes think the same…

It’s been a crazy few days getting the flat ready and “Pesadick” ie ready for Pesach. We had to vacuum, remove, lock away and finish any food that contained leavened products, or really that weren’t specifically kosher for Pesach (nope, normal kosher food just isn’t enough this time round). We hosted 10 people for Shabbos dinner on Friday night so we really did the bulk of the cleaning (ie the kitchen) on Sunday. We cleaned surfaces, poured boiling water, cleaned around our stove tops with toothpicks, scrubbed and even covered our kitchen surfaces with plastic… I know, this stuff is crazy.

It's extra, extra kosher.

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The night before Pesach one needs to do Bedikat Chametz (chametz, is what we call any of that leavened food, bread, and not-for-Pesach food that we need to get rid of). This literally means searching for chametz. It involved wrapping some bread in foil (which had to obviously be done outside as we weren’t allowed any crumbs inside having already cleaned!), hiding it in the house and subsequently searching for it… by candle light and with a feather (or in our case – if you don’t have a feather, use a feather duster). Kind of like an Easter Egg hunt, but not as fun or delicious. But it’s strangely cool, and one of the pre-Pesach things I kinda like.

At this time of year, Christians have Easter egg hunts and Jews do bedikat chametz… #oyvey

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Monday and Tuesday nights we hold Pesach seders, where we retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt, which is like one of the single most important events in (Biblical?) Jewish history. We recount our days of slavery and the miracles that got us out of there (Those 10 plagues?), you know, like in Prince of Egypt (except apparently that’s not entirely accurate. Oh and that cool song at the end – no, not Miracles, but we actually sing that too. Well, I think it’s cool).

Aside for retelling the story, which we read from a book called a Hagaddah, we are encouraged to ask questions – WHY? The night begins with a song (traditionally sung by the youngest in attendance) which goes “Why is this night different from all other nights?” (except, in Hebrew). Well, if you saw some of the things we did, you’d also be asking questions.

The time is almost upon us.

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Why do we have to eat matzah? Why do we dip eggs in salt water? Why do we drink 4 cups of wine (if only this were more fun than it sounded)? Why do we lean to the left? What are all these weird things on the seder plate? Why do we have to wait so long til we eat? (OK, that’s one of my own questions) Why, why, why.

Rashi wine: ready for Pesach!

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Usually, I hate Pesach. I don’t like matzah, or being hungry, or long boring seders. These days I specifically hate taking off work. But I think this year is going to be a nice one. We’ve had some hectic, cramped and impersonal seders in the last few years so I’m very happy to be spending it at home and with loads of our friends. Friends really make everything more barable.

So to all the Jews out there, have a Chag Pesach Kasher ve’Sameach* and to everyone else out there, I hope you have a little insight into some of the (cool? And) crazy stuff we get up to.

*sidenote: Sameach is pronounced sa-mei-agh (like Arikaans gutteral g sound). Yet whenever I read this word I read it in my head as sa-meach, rhyming with peach. I laugh every time at myself.