Woke up on the day of our planned Lunch Under the Tree to crackling lightning and erupting thunder over Table Mountain. Steady rain, water running from the gutters in streams. This is not a summer rainfall region, and the rain should be soft, not thundery.
But things are changing.
It rained and rained and rained. Selina, our right hand in all things domestic and spiritual went upstairs to her flat to have a talk with the big man upstairs. She has a direct line. She disappeared several times during the morning. She told us it would stop raining and that we must wait until it did to lay the table under the tree. But at 11 we caved and said we're putting it all in the dining room, no tree for us, and we did. Which involved moving my dad out, as he has taken it over and turned it into an office. So we did that, too. Selina glowered darkly at us. She laid the table.
Vincent sliced fish, wearing surgical gloves, muttering darkly, too. Slicing thin smoked salmon is not easy. My mom muttered while cutting sourbread for toast (for the rillettes) as she kept finding holes in the loaves as though smooth, neat mice had tunneled through. I flew around, pureeing last-minute ripe white peaches, picking salad leaves in the rain and getting wet, picking flowers in the garden, getting wet, checking the weather channel which assured us that it was sunny in Cape Town. It lied.
Guests started to arrive as I was slicing the soft mozzarella for the tomatoes and I greeted Lily with a dish towel in my hands and dispatched her and Vince to the terrace, where, inexplicably, it had stopped raining. Selina looked at us even more darkly.
The sun came out.
The Voer bloggers arrived, so did Elaine, and then my cousins, and finally Marlene. Marlene always arrives finally. I poured glasses of frothing-over bubbly and peach puree. My dad, sick with a cold, made an appearance.
I think it was my cousin Andrea who said, We should really have lunch under the tree. Soon the move was under way. Selina said distinctly unChristian things. Oh ye of little faith, I could see her thinking. I assured her she would not have to move a muscle. But once the trek was under way (tables had to be set up, chairs arranged, table cloths, eleven place settings, crockery, glasses) she could not stand back and joined the fray. Under the tree brief pandemonium reigned before a beautiful lunch table materialized.
Soon, we had lunch. I did not take enough pictures, of course.
Yellow pepper soup. I'll post the recipe at (the Food), it's a really nice, tangy smoothness.
I was quite pleased with these: roasted baby tomatoes - I cut a slit in each before roasting, and sprinkled them with salt, sugar, pepper, mixed garden herbs (thyme, basil, parsley, savoury) and olive oil. I can't remember where I first had roast tomatoes with mozzarella, perhaps somewhere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The buffalo mozzarella had lots of fresh basil torn up over it.
The other Caprese. Tomatoes from the garden, just sliced.
I liked these, too. Hearts of artichoke cooked long and slow with wine, carrots, shallots, garlic and herbs.
There is a lot of smoked salmon left and I shall try my hand at an outdated 'form': salmon mousse, slightly wobbly with gelatin. There is an extra Torta di Caprese, the almond and chocolate tart that we ate with raspberries. To Vince's delight there is another grenadilla mousse.
Now it is raining again, and we have lunch at The Cellars next door, where there are famous martinis. I shall pass, but I know some others who won't.
These are the days of lunches.