SA Cheese Festival 2008 - photo from event websiteWell, I don’t know about you, but I’ve already bought my tickets for this year’s SA Cheese Festival. It’s the one festival on the Mother City calendar that I never ever miss, come rain or come shine, and it’s happening this weekend (hooray!).

If you’ve never been, the Cheese Festival, held annually on the ‘historic Bien DonnĂ© farm’ (out near Franschhoek) is a riot of all things cheesey. You pay R75 for entry, and you get to taste as many cheeses as you like (or as many as your stomach can handle, whichever comes first).

There are apparently a whopping 400+ different kinds on offer at this year’s event – everything from creamy camemberts to crumbly fetas to other, newer, more experimental blends (I feel some drooling coming on).

If you like something, you buy it (or try to remember where it was and come back later… which sometimes gets a bit daunting), or you simply move on to the next port of call. Wash it down with several wine-tastings, and you’re well on your way to a rather entertaining day…

Pesto Princess at the Cheese Festival 2007In between, you can rest your weary legs and tastebuds by occupying territory on the picnic lawn (they even have live entertainment to keep you in the mood) and making further forays at your leisure.

And it’s not only about cheese, believe it or not – you can also taste your way through pestos, olives, olive oils, honeys, vinegars, and even buy seedlings for your garden (though the thought of trying to transport those always puts me off).

Plus, for the hungry (or sick of cheese) there’s Gourmet Lane, where you can sample dishes from top restaurants (not free) and clear your palate.

A word of warning: this festival gets very very hectically busy, so if you want to get to the cheese without having to injure people with your freshly sharpened elbows, I’d advise going early, doing a comprehensive tasting round, then grabbing a spot on the grass to wait out the mid-day frenzy.

Then, if your cheese lust isn’t yet sated, do another round to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Oh, and if you’re planning on buying some cheeses (which is part of the fun), take some kind of cooler bag with you – preferably the soft-edged non-people-damaging kind – to keep things from getting nasty (when it doesn’t rain, it can get really hot out there).

Right, well, I’ll see y’all there, deep in the fray (don’t get too near to my elbows!).

The SA Cheese Festival runs from Friday 25 April to Monday 28 April 2008. The gates will be open from 10:00 to 18:00 from Friday to Sunday and from 10:00 to 17:00 on Monday 28 April. Tickets are limited, cost R75 for adults and R45 for senior citizens (kids aged 12 and under get in free).

PS: Wine-tasting glasses cost an extra R6 so if, like me, you have a bunch lying around from previous festivals, remember to bring your own!

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