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Mount Grace Bloggers Weekend

I was invited to a bloggers weekend at the incredible Mount Grace Country House and Spa. I’ve never been before, but I’ve heard friends and family rave about it. It’s a one hour drive out of Joburg and you’re in the majestic Magaliesburg mountains.

I arrived at midday and met all the bloggers – awesome to put faces to blogs and to be introduced to new blogs.

We ate lunch and then we got whisked away to the spa. We changed into robes and slippers and I was introduced to the lovely Veronica who was spoiling me with a Swedish Massage. The ladies are so incredibly professional, kind and friendly and the treatments they offer are impressive. I am absolutely coming back for a pamper session with all my girlfriends.

L-R: Anjana, Alida, Bailey, Hasmita and Sam

My tension knots melted away right here

 

I was so incredibly relaxed that I fell asleep in my massage. Veronica had to gently wake me. I may have drooled…  It was that awesome. Just saying.

We had the rest of the afternoon for leisure, so we were taken by golf cart to our rooms. When I arrived at my room I walked in expecting a room… instead I walked into an “apartment.” I couldn’t stop saying “Wow!” and “Oh my gosh” and “Ooooh this is so stunning!” and yes, I was saying this out aloud… to myself. I walked into an entrance with tea and coffee set up, to the left my own lounge complete with fireplace and big flat screen TV and to my right, the bedroom. It had the biggest, most comfortable bed ever with another flat screen TV and the bathroom had a bath I want for my own home, a shower that can be an indoor or outdoor shower thanks to sliding doors and a deck with my own heated plunge pool. I felt like a rock star!

These aren’t a few rooms…it’s the ENTIRE suite!

The Lounge

  

The perfect afternoon – in a fluffy robe and slippers with tea reading my book

After a very relaxing afternoon it was time to get ready for a unique night.

We all met for some pre-dinner champagne before being treated at The Rambling Vine where Chef Frank Lubbe had prepared a 6 course meal to be paired with beer. Yes. Beer, not wine like usual.

The Dog and Fig Brewery is a microbrewery with a difference – they have developed an exclusive market for unique beers that can really be savoured like you would wine.

The Menu

It was such an unbelievable experience so I am going to try and do it justice with my descriptions. I have been so incredibly good with the USN 12 week challenge and did extra training at the gym (seriously) purely because I knew this meal was coming and I could NOT pass it up. This was my massive cheat meal but admittedly it was worth every single bite. I am upping my training this week though! LOL.

I am not a beer drinker and if I do have the occasional beer, it’s normally a beer shandy. I was also a little hesitant about how pairing beer would taste with food and if it wouldn’t be too heavy.

The beers were delicious and didn’t leave that bitter after taste. How I was pleasantly surprised – wow – it really has been one of the best culinary experiences for me so far.

This was Boisterous Buchu – a fusion of ancient Africa and colonial Europe. It has a very fruity smell – almost like pineapple. It’s so light and fresh and this was one of my favourites.

It was teamed up with a sweetcorn fritter served with Madagascan vanilla pod ice cream. So good.

This was the Alternative Alt – a copper-hued beer with malty aroma and a bitter yet smooth taste.  It tasted and smelled like marmite to me and even though it was bitter, it was still full of flavour.

It was paired up with Chicken and Wild mushroom consomme… A plate of wild mushrooms arrived with a jug and syringe. We’re hardcore like that.

We poured the jug onto the mushrooms and then “injected” the dish.

The syringe was agar-agar, cream, thyme and truffle oil.

It was so delicious and paired with the beer it was perfection.

The next beer is called Wicked Weiss – also known as the feisty beer – the Karma Sutra of Beer. It had a sweet, fruity smell and tasted of citrus, vanilla and spices. This was my other favourite.

Now the dish it was supposed to be paired with was a light seafood stew of Scottish salmon and prawn steamed in a fish cream… I couldn’t eat this, which is heart breaking for me. I adore prawns, but recently I have become allergic thanks to a developed Iodine allergy.

Instead, I had a special dish of pea and vanilla risotto – which was so more-ish. Loved it. On the spoon was a weird jelly like substance that we had to pop in our mouths half way through the dish. Chris had the perfect description for it: “Herbal vaseline.” We laughed so much. As strange as it was, it really enhanced the flavour of the dish.

It was time for an appetite cleanser… apple sorbet and cardamon apple was served and it was just magnificent.

The next beer (my photo’s didn’t come out for this particular beer, sadly) was the Agreeable Ale. An amber-coloured, flavoursome ale with a fruity aroma and a surprisingly dry finish. I also think it smelled floral, so it was funny expecting this sweet fruity beer and it was actually dry. It was paired with Grilled giant Scallop and Foie Gras served with raspberry coulis. I didn’t have the Scallop on mine, in case it had iodine in it. The closest hospital was 45 minutes away, we all decided at the table, that we wouldn’t risk it!

The Sturdy Stout -a rusty opaque yet creamy stout brewed from a chocolate malted barley was my least favourite I’m afraid. I did like the coffee and chocolate after taste, but it was too heavy for me.

I have to say though, it was improved with the meal… Drinking the beer with the meal made it delicious.

  

Beef shin braised in Sturdy Stout served with home made puff pastry and wild cepes (type of mushroom.) I wanted more of this dish. Such a good winter dish.

The final beer to try was the Sultry Saison – a slow fermented farmhouse brew with a refreshing ginger zest and a rich amber hue. It smelled woody but tasted sweet with earthy tones. The perfect dessert beer – yes, there is such a thing now 🙂

It was paired with three layered caramel Bavarois served with raspberry and honeycomb from Mount Grace. The presentation was like an art work and I couldn’t get over how such strong tastes of liquorice, ginger and caramel worked so incredibly well together, complimented by the beer. In fact, our table was in hysterics thanks to Shahil. He really treated the dessert as if it were orgasmic. His reaction was classic and when the caramel oozed out of the centre he shouted: “Oh its bleeding! This is amazing!”

The bubbly Alida from Simply Delicious
With the brilliant chef Frank Lubbe – I kept joking with him that the food was average. Really kidding!!

It was such an amazing night and I had such fun. We didn’t stop eating, drinking and laughing and it was a night I won’t forget in a very long time.

Chris and Alida in the golf cart

It had started pouring with rain, so the golf cart that was going to take us to our rooms had it’s own rain coat – it was awesome.

I got back to my room, made myself tea and fell asleep to the sound of the rain. Magic.

The following morning, I didn’t want to get out of the comfy bed. I had such an amazing sleep and I seriously contemplated ordering breakfast in bed. It was such a gorgeous day of blue skies and sunshine in Magaliesburg though and I didn’t want to waste anymore time.

Breakfast time at the Twist restaurant.

The buffet selection was enormous and impressive and I am VERY proud that I made the right choice of fruit and an egg white omelette. I’ve heard they are famous for their waffles and it took a lot of will power to say no.

 

After breakfast I took a stroll around and just took in all the beauty. Mount Grace is just breath taking and being Autumn, the colours were stunning.

Once everyone had finished their breakfast, Chef Frank Lubbe met those who wanted to go for a walk at reception… It was needed after all the food 😉

The view of Mount Grace

I reckon walking that everyday would make you quite fit. It’s full of steep hills and I felt the burn, especially on the way back. It felt good.

We returned and made our way to the deck for drinks.

We did not stop laughing. In fact Sam made a great comment that summed up the weekend: “If we’re not laughing, we’re eating!” Read her blog here.

On that note, it was time for lunch at Twist restaurant. If I thought the breakfast buffet was amazing, the Sunday lunch buffet was jaw dropping. I haven’t seen a carvery like that in a very long time, especially one with fresh Yorkshire Pudding.

Don’t even get me started on the desserts. 3 letters. OMG.

We finished up as slowly as we could; simply because we just didn’t want the weekend to end. It was finally time to leave though and we all said our goodbyes.

What an amazing weekend. I loved every minute of it. I met some wonderful people and got introduced to some brilliant blogs.

I have to share them with you…

Derek who has 3 blogs *over achiever* LOL – read here and here; Spiced Weasel; Alida; Arja; Sam; Michelle; Hasmita; Anjana, Tanya and Shahil and our non bloggers: Ian; Chris; Mitch (not a blogger – yet…) and Marlies.

A HUGE Thank you to Manley Communications for the invitation. I experienced the absolute best and I am so grateful. Thank you to everyone at Mount Grace for your superb hospitality – world class.

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