Wimping out of Swartland wors
Last Saturday I was having trouble even pretending to be pleased about the cold and the pelting rain on behalf of the farmers. Why should I, after all? I thought grumpily – if they’re not complaining about the drought they’ll be whingeing about something else. But I’m on the side of the vines after all, and they like it to be a proper winter.
Which is what is was on Saturday, to my great irritation. I had plans. Most importantly I had been invited to the first great Swartland Wors Competition (wors = sausage, essentially), to be held between the winemakers on the Perdeberg side of the R44 and those on the Kasteelberg side. The venue was to be Porseleinberg – the new great project of Boekenhoutskloof, where Callie Louw rules over a little kingdom of vines, cattle, chickens, etc. I presume the organisers chose Porseleinberg because it also has “berg” (= mountain, ambitiously) in its name but is really only a pathetic little hill, and needs encouragement. Also because in conditions like this it’s probably only accessible with a 4x4. Deep Swartland.
This, you see, is what passes for haute cuisine (not to mention culture) in the Swartland. The sort of thing they do on a special Saturday. In the middle of winter. Chris Mullineux said in my invitation: “There are a couple of Paardebergers and Kasteelbergers who talk BIG when it comes to their sausage, and finally here is the chance to ‘haal uit en wys’.” The wors was to be judged by Mynhart Joubert from the splendid Bar Bar Black Sheep bistro in Riebeek Kasteel.
I’d also planned to further deepen my immersion in Swartland culture by going with Eben Sadie, before the big event, to Ploegdag (= plough day, laconically) in Malmesbury. But at 8am in my snug bed in suburban Cape Town, with little prospect of respite from the pouring rain, the idea of the long wet road to the Swartland seemed fraught with dangers and horrors.
Surely ploegdag could only turn into a competition to see which was the triumphant tractor which could pull all the other tractors out of the mud? And surely Porseinberg would be washed away – at least the braai equipment, if not the whole, er, mountain?
So I wimped out. Somewhat to my regret now. I don’t know what happened at ploegdag, but I spoke to Adi Badenhorst (from team Paardeberg) this morning on the phone, and he said that the wors event was “legendary”. Incidentally and totally irrelevantly, I was chatting briefly to Adi about consultants, and he quoted someone who’d better remain nameless but is not unrelated to him, who opines that consultants are the only creatures consisting entirely of a mouth and an arse. It sounds better in Afrikaans – ‘n mond en ‘n hol.
Anyway, then Chris Mullineux, when I quoted Adi to him (about the sausage, not the consultants) said smugly: “I'm sure Adi was far too sheepish to let you know that Kasteelberg had four worste in the top six versus the measly two of the Paardeberg. Plus, Anton Espost's Trilogie wors took first place... so the Paardeberg really need to pick their socks up for next year.”
Chris attached the pic alongside of Anton - who owns useful chunks of Riebeek Kasteel, including the indispensible Wine Kollective wine shop, and makes some promising wine under the no-doubt-soon-to-be-famous Santa Cecilia label. He also wears two hats on rainy days, it seems. And is clearly a great sausage maker.
I have no idea who owns the hand on the extreme right of the picture, but I dare say his glass didn’t remain empty for long.