Balai Isabel

Dinner for South Africa

Tonight, in Manila living a Travelife, I was kindly invited by H.E. Agnes Nyamande-Pitso, the Ambassador of South Africa to an intimate and formal dinner she hosted in honor of the Honorable Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, South Africa’s Deputy Minister for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

It was a beautifully set rectangular table full of friends of South Africa, and we enjoyed a four-course meal accompanied by South African wines, of course, and lots of entertaining conversation. As the good Ambassador herself said, “Tonight, there was no outside entertainment. We just entertained ourselves.”


Although the dinner was in honor of the visiting minister, the Ambassador described tonight’s lovely dinner as a “thank you” to people who had helped promote South Africa’s interests in one way or another.

I was very happy to be included, and I’m truly so excited to be visiting South Africa soon.


Just today, in fact, I realized that our trip is just a few weeks away. It had always felt like forever — or at least a long way off — when we started planning for this trip. And today, while fixing my schedule for October, I realized that we’ll be landing in Johannesburg in just a few weeks’ time.

But in those few weeks, there are still a couple of trips in a Travelife, including a visit to Tokyo to eat at a very good restaurant and a weekend in Kyoto at one of Japan’s best ryokan. I even had a trip to Turkey and another to Bali on the table also for October, but I just had to postpone it due to a lack of minutes, hours and days in a month.

But how very exciting this is to think about our upcoming South African trip, as South Africa is really so long overdue in a Travelife.


There were place settings at the table and I was seated in between two gentlemen: the one on my left provided the interesting conversation, and the one on the right provided the jokes and the laughter. All in all, it was a terribly amusing evening.

At the end of the evening, the guy on the right, who is one of the country’s foremost authority on wines, by the way, had put a melon cube into his white wine and he was happily drinking this at the table.

Naturally, the main topic of the evening was South Africa. And the Deputy Minister was informed by the embassy that I was headed for South Africa in just a few weeks, and he made special mention of this in his opening remarks before dinner.


Almost everyone at the table had been to South Africa, as well, so I was generously inundated with offers, advice, invitations and tips. I wish I could have accepted tonight everyone’s invitations for vineyards and dinners in South Africa, but as it is, our schedule is pretty full.

This friend of mine who is coming along with me — I call him The Boss — is in charge of the on-ground schedule and he’s filled our holiday up with so many tours that I don’t even think we have five spare minutes in those two weeks, for anything extra.

Even our flight transfers are all cut really close — but that’s my fault as I chose the flights — so that we have no time for a stroll between airplanes. But perhaps living on the edge is going to be part of the fun. At least in a never-ending Travelife

Dinner in honor of
Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim
of South Africa
Beetroot Gravlax with
a pineapple and sayote salad
in a creamy horseradish dressing
*    *    *
Light red lentil and lobster bisque
with orange-scented foam
*    *    *
Roast salmon with braised cabbage and root vegetables
finished with a lemon butter and parsley dressing
*    *    *

Espresso tiramisu
and fresh fruits
*    *    *
Nederburg Pinotage 2010
Chamonix Rouge 2009
Blouvlei Red 2008



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