Me and my Maserati (with a dash of pasta and wine)
Taking a dream car for a wild ride to culinary paradise
Three girls drive into a petrol station. This is not a joke; we did. In a space-black Maserati Ghibli S no less.
What was funny though was watching the heads of people turn as we drove in. This is a car that grabs attention wherever you go, in our case to the Winelands.
When we ride around in our own cars, the smallest Fiat, Chevy and Renault engines on the road, none of us get looks like that, we agreed.
The growl of the Maserati engine – as distinctive as its sleek shape – makes this sports car impossible to ignore, if our test drive of the Ghibli S was any reflection of the impact it makes.Maserati – an older brand even than Ferrari, which is also made in Italy – exports only a limited number to South Africa and its five models stand out on South Africa’s streets.
The brand operated jointly in the South African market with Ferrari until 2015, when Maserati struck out independently.
“These are all very fast cars,” says the head of marketing, Jason Cleghorn, in the gleaming showroom in Cape Town. “Maserati is all about traditional craftsmanship and people can create their own bespoke interiors.”
But above all Maserati is about promoting a luxury “lifestyle” and that’s why we were on a cinematic drive through the countryside to taste wine and make homemade pasta with a chef.
We took turns to drive the Ghibli S, the name of a wind, from Cape Town to Picardi Place in Rawsonville about 100km away. Passing the vineyards at speed, I felt like I had taken flight on Pegasus and had no wish to ever stop.But when we did drive up a farm road to Picardi Place, chilled wine was waiting for us to ease the exit from our elegant four-door sedan to the real world.
Jason’s Hill winemaker Ivy du Toit, the first female award-winning winemaker, met us there to share her wines, having briefly escaped her harvesting duties. On tasting we realised these vintage wines deserved the multiple accolades they have won since the first harvest in 2001.
The wine tasting was held in a permaculture garden planted by chef Jaco Brand and, before the wine impaired our judgment, he showed us where to pick fresh basil and led us indoors.
By profession a landscape artist and architect, Brand has shifted his focus to provide serene accommodation and hosting events at Picardi Place, including pasta-making courses, a skill he learned in Italy.“When my grandfather died he left me R20,000 and I used this to celebrate my 40th birthday in Tuscany,” says Brand, whose landscaping business collapsed in the 2010 recession.
“We did a pasta-making course with a Giovanni (every second chef in Italy is called Giovanni), and I learned about a sustainable way to grow food,” says Brand.
“Three months later a friend asked me to do this for a team-building event and I found out this was my passion. Luckily Tim Noakes wasn’t dominant then.
“The only landscapes I design now are edible landscapes and the water goes to growing food you can eat,” says Brand.He showed us into a room with a square table, on which were circles of flour with eggs and oil in the middle. Using only these ingredients we rolled and pummelled the dough and cut out long pasta strips after an hour of (not-so-hard) labour.
Brand cooked the next dish, bolognaise flavoured with basil, other fresh herbs and spices and wine, while we watched in his farmhouse kitchen.
Our lunch under the trees was delicious and for dessert he had conjured up an outstanding carrot cake. By the time we sat back, I was glad I wasn’t driving the precious Ghibli S back to Cape Town.The last time I was lucky enough to drive an Italian car and drink wine (not at the same time) and cook Italian food with a chef was in Tuscany.
Apart from the absence of ancient castles, the scenery in the Boland on our “taste the Maserati lifestyle” was as pretty as Tuscany, and our meal compared favourably with our Tuscan dinner.
But the cool, compact Fiat we drove through Tuscan lanes could never, of course, compare with the powerful Ghibli S – an impressive car from a brand with an impressive history spanning more than a century.
Claire Keeton was a guest of Maserati South Africa.