Last night I attended the thirteenth GeekDinner. Or the first. Or 10½. It depends on how you look at it. Because it was a very special GeekDinner; for more than one reason, as it turned out.
For a long time, we who live in Stellenbosch have been campaigning for a GeekDinner to be held in the Stellenbosch area. I had promised that, when I find the time, I would join the organisers’ mailing list and actively lobby for a Stellenbosch GeekDinner. After the January GeekDinner, I joined and, low and behold, GeekDinner came to Stellenbosch! The best part is that I didn’t even lift a finger!1 We had a willing-and-able person who organised the whole affair nearly singly handedly and, boy, did she do a good job! It was still decided, however, to hold the dinner in an “off month” to test the water and the willingness of Capetonians to drive “all the way to Stellenbosch”. We didn’t have a full house, despite the fact that the venue could only accommodate 55 people, but there are other factors involved as well. Personally, I believe that GeekDinner will return to Stellenbosch in the not too distant future!
And there is good reason for this optimism, which brings me to the second factor which made last night so special. GeekDiners now have a new standard whereby to measure quality and service. Our hosts, Lovane Boutique Wine Estate (a small start-up just outside of Stellenbosch), outdid themselves and, to be quite frank, most of the venues in the recent history of GeekDinners. The venue itself was small, but the tables were well placed and spaced, and everyone could see the screen (a problem we have been having of late). It is always interesting to see the menu we get for a GeekDinner and this one had my mouth watering from day one of the planning: beetroot stack with goats cheese starter (which I quite enjoyed, despite the fact that I am not a big fan of beetroot), sirloin steak served with a mushroom sauce and butternut ravioli (for the vegetarian option) for the main course with a side dish of rosemary and garlic potatoes, vegetables and salad served with apples, avocados, walnuts and spring onions, and, finally, homemade ice-cream served with a chocolate sauce and coffee. At first sight I was a bit sceptic of the steak, as it was quite clearly rare to medium (I prefer my meat well done), but it was delicious, soft and succulent either way! But the best part was the fact that it was a buffet. This meant three things: I would be able to try the butternut ravioli (which was really tops in itself, although I doubt whether something can be called ravioli if it doesn’t contain meat…), we could pile our plates as high as we wished (no chic bird-dropping-sized portions) and there were seconds! And, as a final, unexpected treat, after we finished we were all invited down to the cellars for personal tours.
So, what can I say? Good venue, awesome and friendly hosts and staff, and food to die for. Really, I don’t owe anyone any favours—when I say this, it is the real deal: go to this place for the food, go there to chat to the people, just go there.
But despite the rave of the “new kid on the block”, we haven’t forgotten our faithful wine sponsor, Perdeberg Winery for sponsoring us in this “off month” with their delicious wine! You guys really are tops!
Oh, one final tip. If you decide to go to Lovane, schedule your visit to coincide with sunset. I didn’t explore the grounds as I was late in getting there, but on my way I saw the stunning sight as a blood red sun setting behind a tree (think of Lion King) directly in front of me along the middle of the road. Yes, yes, I know it is bad for your eyes, but it was just so beautiful….
PS Sorry, I didn’t take any photos. I went home thinking it was 17:00, realised it was 19:00 and turned around and went straight to Lovane.
- I call this the “demi effect”, as in my years of being a student assistant, I have miraclously solved many programming problems by just arriving at a confused pre-grad. [↩]