Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Posting from summer

Pictures from my first late afternoon in my mom's garden  in Constantia, where the sun was dipping behind the mountain and where I was a bit cross-eyed after a long flight,  no sleep, and two missed connections in Johannesburg (who would think that snow at Heathrow would affect flights from New York?...but it did).

Last night, dinner outside on the patio, at the iron table covered in candles that never fluttered: yogurt-marinaded  leg of lamb, grilled, with my flopped elderberry jelly made last year (thanks to Rachel's recipe - her jelly was perfect, mine was overcooked), new potatoes with butter, salad of trout lettuce (Hudson Valley Seeds that my mom planted), fresh chervil and local olive oil. Dessert was raspberries and creme fraiche sprinkled with brown sugar. Wine? - a treat. Remember the Daggaboer Padstal? Well, Charl Pansegrouw very generously sent us a case of his daughter's wine, and last night we drank the Syrah, 2009. A bit early, but a deep plum colour, fine structure, and all the spice that Syrah promises. I can't wait to try the Sauvignon blanc/Semillon. Baie dankie, Charl!

I woke promptly at 3.40 am this morning and waited for the birds, who started at 4.49. The first was a stranger to me: a quick melody, immediately repeated in a minor key, and returned by another bird farther away. This continued until 4.59, when some robins started to twitter. A hadeda flew over, wahahaha, and the peacocks down the greenbelt cried, Miaoooooow! But at 5.08 it was the bedlam of the dawn chorus, everyone joining in.  I read my Steinbeck, and at 6-something fell asleep again. I woke at lunchtime, had coffee and a mince pie while my mom sipped her Red Hook rose and ate rice cakes and thin ham.

 Rosa 'Peach Sunsation '

This vegetable marrow will become part of individual ratatouilles at Christmas. We will start with potted prawns with Melba toast, followed by chilled celery soup, the ratatouilles, then Nigel Slater's leg of lamb whose juice drips onto potatoes beneath, with fresh herb sauce, and finally a pavlova that my brother Francois will bring.


Better pictures to come as I snap out of my jet-fug.

Tomorrow I will visit Kirstenbosch, our national botanic garden, and talk to Ernst van Jaarsveld, the curator of the spectacular Conservatory there (and after whom Plectranthus ernstii is named), and the author of, most recently, the beautiful The Southern African Plectranthus (Fernwood Press, 2006). I've mentioned it before, but the well known 'Mona Lavender' (whose cuttings sit on top of my Brooklyn fridge in a jam jar, as we speak, rooting)  was developed at Kirstenbosch.
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