Cape to Canton

The weekend after next is the busiest one on Cape Town’s dance card.  Parliament opens and the Mining Indaba closes and to top it all, ten days of festivities to mark the Chinese New Year, kicks off.  The dragons of 2012 are being chased back up Table Mountain and the water snake of 2013 will be welcomed at the Sea Palace outside the Waterfront where Miss Chung expects to feed 5,000 over 10 days. 

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At the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, Jonathan Steyn (of Belthazar fame with a shiny new Wine Masters from Montpelier in his pocket) and I are hosting a “Cape to Canton” bash in the bucolic gardens of Lady Anne Barnard’s summer cottage-cum 207 suite hotel.  We’re matching wine from eight of the Cape’s most sino-switched-on wineries with delectable dim sums from Haiku, South China Dim Sum Bar and the hotel itself, no stranger to Asian delights.

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The bash should perhaps have been called “Canton to Cape Town” as the Admiral of the Western Ocean, Zheng He, beat Bartholomeu Dias to the Cape by 80 years, with evidence (above) opposite Senator Park in Cape Town.  Or for pedants, perhaps Guangzhou to Kaapstad would have been more acceptable.  But like Chris Patten, last British Governor of Hong Kong who calls Beijing, Peking, I’ve yet to visit Roma or Lisboa.  It is precisely this colonial heritage of Cape Town as halfway house to the mystical East we wish to celebrate in the shape of an elegant summer garden party.

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Not for nostalgia alone, as SA wine needs to embrace its history in order to improve the future and replace exports of perlemoen, elephant tusks and rhino horn with Pinotage, Chenin Blanc and Shiraz, of which there is no shortage.  The best thing about joining BRICS is the parties and it’s party time right now: – the Maha Kumbh Mela in India, which started on January 14, attracted 100 million.  Slightly less are expected at the Carnival in Rio on February 9th and Cape to Canton is the following day, from 4-8pm.  Only 200 tickets will be sold, so if you’re up for a voyage from the Cape to Cathay, visit

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