For almost a month I have been in South Africa and what a busy time it has been. Cricket to watch, wines to be poured, friends to visit and scenery to be enjoyed.
The family history angle does not feature in this blog. Mr ginandgenealogy had initially been confident that there would be no veering off route to an archive office on this trip. He looked a little crestfallen when I told him one of his great grandmothers had been born in Cape Town and that her mother’s family lived in the Western Cape for generations before. Luckily I had no need to search out any information as there are a good number of South African records available through Ancestry and other sites so he was allowed to enjoy the marvellous scenery, fabulous weather and wines, at least when England were not playing cricket.
I will unashamedly admit that SA wines have dominated my drinking experience over the last few weeks. Plentiful varieties of good quality inexpensive wines were available everywhere and so I admit I was distracted from the task of trying new gins. I know now that South Africa also produces an extensive number of craft gin varieties most of which use local ingredients such as rooibos or botanicals from the Karoo desert and in some cases, elephant dung.
My best gin drinking experience took place on warm sultry evening deep in the heart of the Shamwari Game Reserve. As the sun began to lower in the sky our ranger stopped the jeep and prepared a table of snacks to accompany his mobile drinks bar. I chose a delightful double of Musgrove Pink Gin on ice and despite one of the super slim safari guests trying to sugar shame me I requested a pink tonic water to mix. The gin was flowery, top notes of cardamom and African ginger and then rose hips and rose water to lend perfume. There are 11 botanicals in all including Grains of Paradise, a spice rather like black pepper but with hints of citrus. Mrs Superslimsafari guest sipped her diet version and seemed to enjoy it although I’m not sure if she was smiling or if it was the Botox.
The tranquility of the moment was soon shattered by the arrival of another jeep and a ranger shouting that there were lions approaching. I heroically finished my drink before climbing back into the jeep. Of course.
Once we were in Port Elizabeth for the next Test and safe from lions I was recommended a gin from a craft gin bar at one of the City’s breweries. The pink theme continued here as a measure of Rooibos Red Cape Town Gin was dispensed into my glass. Mixed with Wawu Tonic water which is made by the brewery itself and garnished with a sprig of rosemary I was not sure I had made the right choice. As well as the rooibos, other notes included orange peel and cinnamon and it was altogether too complicated for me. Mr ginaandgenealogy said that it tasted like medicine and selfishly refused to swap it for his beer. The Indian tonic water was lovely.
I never did get to drink the elephant dung gin. Another time perhaps.