A soulful cover of Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ drifted in the soft breeze over the third annual Constantia Food and Wine Festival. Pink-faced children bolted around the Constantia Uitsig Cricket Oval as parents, grandparents, couples and friends lounged on the lawn or on the white couches, trying to move as little as possible in the beating sun.
With 40 wines from the Constantia Valley laid out in one strip of convenience, visitors were able to top up on a different taste of wine whenever they found that their complimentary wine glasses had run dry. Beau Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Constantia Glen, Eagle’s Nest, High Constantia, Klein Constantia and Silvermist all came out to play and Constantia Uitsig, Groot Constantia, Buitenverwachting and Steenberg Vineyards brought their established eateries along, namely La Colombe, Jonkershuis, Buitenverwachting Restaurant, BistroSixteen82 and Catharina’s.
It’s a good thing that the Constantia daddies are rich and the mommies good looking, as the R 150 ticket gave visitors R 50 worth of tasting coupons, which only allowed for a sample tasting of 5-10 wines. One then still had to dish out for nosh. But let’s not look at the glass as ¾ empty. The Constantia Food and Wine Festival is the only event of the year where one can taste and compare the entire Constantia valley under one tasting tent, and that in itself is a treat.
Paying for food becomes more understandable when one considers the quality of the award-winning restaurants present. Choices included Asian-style Salmon and Poached Oysters (La Colombe), Rolled Pork Belly Porchetta Sandwiches and Angry Chicken Thai Red Curry (Bistro Sixteen82 and Catharina’s), Real Fillet Carpaccios and Baked Cheesecakes (Jonkershuis), and Layered Pepper Aubergine Zucchini and Duck Liver Parfait (Buitenverwachting Restaurant).
Much like an upper-class food market, the Constantia Food and Wine Festival also offers an assortment of deli stalls. Raith Gourmet and The Eatery supplied bread and cheese lovers with nibbles and platters of the savoury kind whilst The Creamery satisfied sweeter teeth and whining children with ice cream and cakes.
As I tucked into one of her fantastic free-range chicken sausage rolls, Sonja Edridge – owner of cult foodie venue The Larder – commented on the joy of being involved from a vendor’s point of view. The event, she said, was “amazing to be a part of”, and one of the most “beautifully organised” with which she’d been involved. Students seemed to run the show, manning the entrance and a great deal of the stalls, and cleaners were positioned at every corner, keeping the area pristine and litter-free at all times (would you expect any less in Constantia?). Volkswagen shuttles also ensured that no visitor would have to walk the 500 metre path from their parked car to the cricket oval. Much to my humour, there was even a bored medic on sight grumbling that his work had amounted to “the grand total of one cut on the finger”.
Unwinding on the grass, picnicking and enjoying the sounds of Samuel Miller, Keen & Able and Me & Mr Brown, surrounded by the grandeur of the vineyards and the mountains, the living sure did seem easy.
The annual Constantia Food and Wine Festival ran from the 11 to 13 April 2014.