Nico (vilakins) wrote,
Nico
vilakins

My weekend

There aren't any photos yet because I took my film camera with me instead of my old compact digital camera, because it has a zoom and works a lot better in bad light. I'll get them back tomorrow.

We left just after midday Saturday and stopped off at the Palazzo Roma restaurant in Drury's industrial centre, a strange place to have a gourmet restaurant. Its owner, chef (Simon Gault, whose book was on sale there), lives nearby however and it's in a nice location, sharing the premises of Phoenix Italia, who make Italian garden statues and furniture in classic to renaissance styles. The restuarant has become French since I was last there even though the name hasn't changed, but our meal was of the same high standard as ever.

It was Vilagrad Wines in the evening. There was grape stomping, great music from local Latin band Kantuta (I bought their latest CD) and some amazing dancing from the Latin Fever dance group. Vila would have approved of their costumes or lack thereof. ;-) I had a chat with one of the owners, Pieter Nooyen, about the history of the vineyard, which is celebrating its centenary. The Milicich family from Croatia established it as Ngahinepouri Vineyard (after the area) and it's still in the family after four generations, with Nelda Milicich married to Nooyen. Their three sons, winemaker Jakob, chef Kristian, and entertainment director Adam, even have their own band called Vila Brothers (!) and perform at the regular Sunday lunches and weddings etc. They got up at the end of the evening and had almost everyone dancing; Adam does a great Ricky Martin impersonation. :-) The Vila Brothers -- how cool is that?

Anyway, their father Pieter told me that he renamed the place Vilagrad 25 years ago when they decided to go in for the whole package of wines (excellent award-winning ones, too), food, and entertainment.
"Why Vilagrad?" I asked. "I know that 'grad' means town in Croatian. What's 'Vila'?"
"I always wanted a villa," said Pieter.
"But 'villa' has two Ls," I said. "You only used one."
"It didn't look right with two."

Hmm. 25 years ago, eh? Could he be a closet B7 fan? :-)

I was a bit fragile the next day, but after breakfast we felt up to visiting the Pirongia farmers' market that a couple at our table the night before told us about, which was fun. I saw alpacas and had a nice chat with a well-known NZ children's book illustrator (nephew Ari has a couple of her books).

Then we went on a lunch cruise on the paddleboat Waipa Delta.This was very relaxing and I was completely recovered by then so I thoroughly enjoyed the stone-grilled lunch and the slow, sunny cruise. It was a great weekend and Vila would have been right at home. Waikato is a good area for Deltas: Ngaruawahia has a pub just for them, the Delta Tavern.

Tags: birthdays, deltaness, real life, vilagrad
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