Yesterday I came back from a long weekend away in the Midlands with my lover: I smiled again now writing that, since friends have commented that I seem to always be cooking for “sons and lovers”!! Of course I can call him my boyfriend, but at nearly fifty and him 6 year older than I, we are hardly a girl and a boy, though sometimes I feel like a young girl when I’m with him.

It was a weekend of food. We did a WW food shop and went past my usual baker for fresh ciabbata and Turkish bread, because I knew from previous visits to the Midlands with a then husband that there will be no fresh salads or other delicious luxuries available from the very rural shops(those general stores where one can buy almost everything including paraffin lamp wicks and slabs of mottled blue soap, and a small selection of dairy products and standard loaves of white bread). Besides, we had planned to spend most of the time at the cottage overlooking a 2 hectare trout dam, on a stud farm just outside of Rosetta.

And that is what we did: we cooked, ate, read, slept, watched the little dam in different light as the days wore on, did a bit of the Midlands Meander, visiting craft and gift shops, some with a slightly sad,  down at heel feel, and then on Sunday, went to Howick to do the gorge walk: a fairly strenuous(for me unaccustomed to exercise) walk down  to the bottom of the falls, and back up. My calves are still a bit stiff from heaving myself up in some places, a quite steep stone path.

Each night we lit a huge fire in the large fireplace in the lounge area of a very simple but somewhat quaint cottage, which stands alone, very privately, at the edge of a dam stocked with brown and rainbow trout, in a little valley surrounded with hills. A strong halogen spotlight perched on top of the cottage lit up the view at night, and we saw a mountain rhebuck lope across the lawn between the cottage and the dam on the first night….

And since this is a food related blog, let me tell you what we ate:

On the way there, in the car: roast beef on ciabbata sandwiches packed with a flask of coffee in a very old basket that belonged to a beloved grandmother, perched on the back seat. Then on the first night, lamb sosaties from my favourite butcher with couscous and roast vegetables with a chilli and coriander and feta crumbled through. On Saturday night another braai, on the weber, under a clear, cold, almost full moon sky: this time a substantial chunk of aged rump steak, with a panzanella which I made earlier in the day with the requisite stale Italian bread which I deliberately cultured the week before, and on Sunday night, pan fried rainbow trout, with a beurre blanc(but made with balsamic so it was rather a buerre brown: equally delicious), crushed potatoes and a simple green salad…

In between and for lunches we nibbled on cheese and pate on crackers, and dolmades and hoummous , and leftovers.

And even though every meal had associated with it a particular sense memory for me, which I will write about, now there is a fresh overlay to each meal: my first weekend away with a man that I love cooking for…. Every moment rich and filled with pleasure and some poignancy, since soon he will fly off to Canada for almost a month for a yearly sabbatical with his family.

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