By Huntress Thompson
It occurred to me that I might be woefully underqualified to go anywhere near the subject of the Good Food and Wine Show, or indeed the Coca Cola Dome itself in Johannesburg last weekend.
I’m not a professional food writer/maker. I’m not familiar with most technical terms for food preparation/presentation, nor any of the fancy, creative ways that people find to put wine in their faces. Actually, as far as wine goes, all I can really judge is when it’s really bad and when it’s really good – anything in between goes down exactly the same with me.
It was then brought to my attention that around 70% of the people who go to the Good Food and Wine Show are in exactly the same position, so here’s what I thought of Sunday’s gourmet market.
We went through on Sunday morning at around 10am and stayed until after 2pm, so the following is only a reflection on that time period.
As we got to the Dome, passing the serpentine queue of paying ticketholders that extended deep into the parking lot, we very nearly genuflected before the VIP/Media sign above the entrance with almost no line at all. I considered the mood that I’d be in, were I made to wait an hour in the blinding Northcliff sun before being allowed to dive face-first into a vat of champers (at this stage in the morning, I may have romanticised what the Show actually had to offer). It’s the age of instant gratification. We don’t do queues – food in face, please.
Ooh La La Artisan Confectionary
Oh my stars! [Southern Belle voice] This store is where dreams come to roll around and frolic and make other dreams.
Even things that aren’t marshmallows are marshmallow-coloured, and the confectionary itself comes in flavours like orange blossom, fresh lime and a bouquet of others in large cartoonish jars.
There are also chocolate covered options, with flavours such as rose pistachio, mint and violet on offer. I can only assume that the latter includes actual flower petals in it, which seemed perfectly reasonable as I stood in front of the display where everything was marshmallow and nothing hurt.
Painted Wolf Wines
A few weeks ago I fell deeply and profoundly in love with Painted Wolf’s The Den pinotage at dinner, taking pictures of it and tweeting at length about its merits on the spot, which I know my friends really love about me. It’s about 3 times posher than it should be for a wine of its price.
At the Good Food and Wine Show, we stumbled upon the Painted Wolf display quite by accident, and I was forced to cartwheel all up and down the aisle, fangirling all over the poor ladies who were manning the stand. When I wasn’t thrusting my phone under their noses to prove I’d Instagrammed their wine the week before, the ladies were able to tell us about their heavily decorated Guillermo Pinotage 2009 – pricier than The Den, and the winner of the ABSA Top 10 Pinotage competition this year.
Fudge By Tasha’s
With no apparent affiliation with the fearsomely overpriced café in Nicolway and Hyde Park, Fudge By Tasha’s might have had the most adorable stand in the Dome on Sunday. Manned by a little old couple who doled out fudge, advice and recommendations in decadent pieces, the store offers fudge in flavours including whiskey, almond, ginger and (my favourite) peanut butter & chilli.
Representing the microbrewery contingent, whose trendiness has been snowballing in South Africa over the last 2 years, were Darling Brew and Jack Black. Even I’ve been aware of these local artisan beers, originally seen only in artsy, one-off cafes and independent film theatres around the country, and now regular features in pedestrian bottle stores and bars.
We came away with a bottle of Darling Brew’s flagship Slow Beer lager, and one of the Bone Crusher (a Belgian-style witbier). The latter was exactly as exotic as it was billed, with generous coriander and bitter citrus flavours.
The healthy stacks of flyers on the counter indicated that both microbreweries would be at Jozi Craft Beer Fest on the 13th October in Emmarentia.
Fine and Raw Chocolatier
As we walked up to the Fine and Raw table, eyes glazed over at the sight of the chocolate, the brunette behind it asked us how we were. We replied, “Well, thanks, and you?” She stared at us squarely at said, without smiling, “FINE AND RAW.”
She went on to explain the various methods of her chocolate-making, to which we listened intently, and not only because it allowed us to sample fistfuls of chocolate shards as she spoke. The chocolate really was exceptional. She uses raw cacao, virgin coconut oil, Mexican blue agave nectar (sweeter than sugar but with less calories) and Himalayan sea salt. As we made our way from the table, she laughed after us, “Look, I’m just trying to save the world with silliness and cacao”, which I may well get printed on a t-shirt.
The Good Food and Wine Show ended on 24 September at 6pm. It’s an annual tour with shows in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. The next show takes place in Cape Town from 23-26 May 2013. Visit the official site for info.
In the vacuum between dark and light, Siouxsie Sioux and Emmylou Harris, Amelie and Travis Bickle, Huntress Thompson is an idiot lost, and reporting from the field. If you’re after irrational rants about cupcakes and Johnny Cash (and you probably aren’t), she’s grumpy, but she’s your girl.