Festival of Fizz: When the Wine Route visits the Garden Route

This weekend we were those tourists who, despite being in a foreign country, only ate at McDonald’s. Naturally our equivalent was a little more fabulous, Capetonians attending a MCC festival in George.

Chilled bottles of MCC was available for immediate consumption. Credit: Fancourt Facebook page

Chilled bottles of MCC was available for immediate consumption. Credit: Fancourt Facebook page

The inaugural Festival of Fizz was hosted at the heavily gated Fancourt in George. Compared to the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival ‘The ‘Magic of Bubbles, it looked ridiculously tiny with only 16 odd farms. Though this number multiplied quite quickly as hardly anyone asked for a tasting coupon…

I didn’t plan on writing this post so didn’t take any notes of all the different MCCs we tasted. So this merely an oversimplified list of our festival of the festival: Steenberg, L’Ormarins, Genevieve, Tanzanite and Moreson.

In the spirit of trying something new we didn’t visit two farms that were already taking up real estate in our fridge back home, Graham Beck and our “local” De Grendel.

Once you got to the festival tent the organisation was smooth. There was one table to buy the all the MMCs represented and coupons used to purchase the food at the entrance/exit. Tables were placed under the trees for those wanting to enjoy gourmet snacks or a deeper sip of bubbly. Getting to the festival once in Fancout’s gates was a bit vague though. There would have been a better flow if there were dedicated shuttles waiting to transport to and from the parking lot, that or clear signs for those who don’t mind walking.

Saberage with a bottle of De Grendel MCC on our elopement day

Saberage with a bottle of De Grendel MCC on our elopement day in October.  Credit: Greg van der Reis

From previous visits to wine farms and other festivals we have learned quite a bit about the MCC process, so it was great to be schooled one of the lesser known joys of MCC, saberage. Saberage is the art of removing the top of a champagne bottle with a sword/knife, however it can also be done with a butter knife. The Plus One had a level of success with this over the years but hit a bit of a snag of late. The friendly guy from Moreson kindly shared a few pointers. He also pointed us the direction of Genevieve, a MCC he was sampling himself.

There was only one food stand which had exquisite looking bite sized treats. The spring roll was delicious making up for the average sushi plate. Dessert was juicy cream-filled strawberries.

A delicate spread

A delicate spread  Credit: Plus One

The Festival of Fizz was a fun diversion though I believe the tickets at R150 at pop, is quite steep for the value one gets. But even as I wrote the last sentence I knew we will most likely be back, champagne flute in hand, if we’re in the neighbourhood next year.


Bliki Tin Shak, jaffles and the best watermelon in the Garden Route

The quirky rusted decor style, the illegitimate half-sister of shabby chic, might be full of holes but it’s still standing strong. Bliki Tin Shak, a textbook example of this style, popped op just outside Great Brak River on the Garden Route a few months ago. Bliki Tin Shak With the addition of few succulents, inviting chairs and bright fraying bunting, an old barn on the side of the road was transformed into Bliki Tin Shak. The menu is simple: jaffle with salad or pie with salad, both R30. For the sweet tooth there’s a cake of the day which was carrot cake on our visit, we opted for a few apricot sweets. Bliki Tin Shak jaffle Even though I’m off bread I didn’t fight the temptation to order the jaffle, it felt like the kinda place to have traditional South African fast food. When asked about the filling the Tannie was very adamant about the quality of the meat. It’s not P&P or Checkers meat she insisted, she’s ‘allergic’ to fat and the butcher made it front of her. The quality was as good as the Tannie promised. Taste wise it was fair, I would have preferred slightly stronger flavouring. The side salad was excellent and it was a kick seeing it “harvested” minutes before gracing our plates. If you’re very brave and happen to be fond of ginger beer, Bliki Tin Shak’s homemade variety (R15) is worth a try. It is quite potent, not too sweet and very refreshing. But best don’t drink it on the road as they are known to POP! due to the fermentation. Bliki Tin Shak Sitting on the porch, one can hardly see or hear the busy main road that is a few meters away and there is more than enough space for children to safely run around. A few meters down on the opposite site of the road you will find the humble “Padstal”. Open throughout the season including public holidays, the hardworking couple at this farm stall vends the best (in price* and taste) watermelons in the area. For padkos try one of their Hertzoggies at R3 a tartlet.

Bliki Tin Shak Address: R102, Voorbrug, Great Brak River (-34.03406703579071, 22.266339763982614)
Tel: 083 733 1761
Open 09:00 – 18:00 weather permitting

Photos by the Plus One

*Update 24 December: When we retuned to the Padstal yesterday we were sad to see that the price of watermelons went up drastically.

Theatre Review: WhatWhat

WhatWhat is comedian Rob van Vuurnen’s ode to a phrase that can be “used to mean practically anything, from the indescribable to the unknowable to everything in between.” He takes advantage of this ambiguity working through a hoard of miscellaneous topics such as the horribleness of Aussies, anal sex, Nkandla (he won’t be a South African comedian without touching on this one), his super dog Bella, adoption, France and a secret Apartheid era gay language. WhatWhatIt takes a village to put together a one-man show, the 2013 Standard Bank Silver Ovation award winning WhatWhat owes a lot of its success to director Tara Notcutt, Gary Thomas (score), Siv Ngesi (producer) and choreography by Cleo Notcutt.

Highlights include a dramatic reading of a love letter that you might recognise as Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, and a prediction that it won’t be zombies beating down our doors during the looming apocalypse, but rather art critic trolls.

But Rob van Vuuren is more than just a comedian and white boy with dance moves, he is a messer of minds. Once he firmly places the audience in safe “you’re at a comedy show, laughs up ahead” frame of mind, he follows it up with the story of his grandmother passing away and how it affected him. Cue wide eyed audience, what what the f? Maybe it was a device to keep the audience from a falling laugh-track state and actually listening to the content of his jokes. Or an intensely strange set up for a joke he made in passing at the end of the show. Most likely he, along with Notcutt, is just messing with us all.

The age restriction is 13, but only if you can handle at least one awkward question from a 13+ year old, then it’s a lovely show to take your teens to this holiday season. Otherwise best wait for his new film with Jon Savage, Stone Cold Jane Austen which will be out early next year.

WhatWhat is sharp, silly, it’s stand-up with feeling.

Have your mind messed with by Rob van Vuuren from 1 December until 17 January 2014 at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio.