Friday, June 19, 2015

The Travelling Nutmeg: 神圣葡萄! Holy Grapes!

I grew up picking my own fruit from my own garden planted by my parents hands....Hahaha got you! But only-child syndrome aside, the concept of paying to pick your own fruits at an organic farm is very appealing. Not just for the health benefits but the entire experience.

At first glance, I knew I would enjoy my trip Bishan Vineyard. I immediately felt like I was back home in the hills again with the greenery, piercing white clouds in the blue sky and crispy breeze.

In order to welcome us, we were treated to Chinese cultural performance like fire-breathing and mask changing Sichuan drama, modern dance and local opera. I remember when I first moved to China and expected everything to look like a scene out of a karate movie. Now that I know better, I appreciate the traditional shows of culture when I encounter them.

Fire Breathing and Mask Changing Sichuan Drama

Local Opera
Modern Dance

This was followed by a pageant where young university students vied for the title of Queen of the Vineyard. The competition got close during the talent section. Portraits, poetry, traditional calligraphy and Indian dancing showed just how serious the ladies were about their craft. This girl knew how to arrest these grapes with grace, style and poise.

Queen of the Bishan Vineyard 2015

And speaking of style, it seems the grapes aren't the only things from France...

Fan Bing Bing, famous Chinese actress, at Cannes Festival 2015
Of course a fruit festival is never a complete without an eating competition, right?! My friends came second and third place winning 300 and 200 RMB and a local went home with 500 RMB (80US) and complimentary box of the top notch grapes. Just for finishing a plate of grapes without using hands. Why do people even work anymore?

Sorry I couldn't do that to my friends.

But here are the winning grapes, Summer Black
Then we got to the reason we were really there-to pick grapes. Although there are a variety of grapes available, we were brought to the section of the vineyard specially grown for this moment. Organic, slightly sweet because of the early season, and bursting with flavour.

Every Chongqing vineyard comes with a local restaurant that allows you taste authentic Sichuan cuisine and here was no different. Every dish was 'soaked in chilli and prickly ash' and for the first time in a long time, I struggled to finish a spicy meal.

I spent more time with the fish which was more plainly seasoned and were reared in the pool right outside the door.

In China, it is very common for customers to have a brief meet and greet with their dinner in a nearby fishing tank. But the pool afforded these guys much freedom and they simply carried their party elsewhere every time we showed up.

But it was made up by spotting this beauty on the way out. I haven't seen this tree since my days growing up and learning the hard way not to play with everything you see.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Also located in Bishan is one of five Lourdes churches in China. And just amazing is the fact that it's still standing in the midst of many other church demolitions throughout the country.

The property is quite huge and filled with beautiful scenery. Most of the buildings have been converted to tourist sites but for a 100 year place, very spiffy.

The close proximity of a vineyard and church may or may not be coincidence but both places can be life-changing if you allow them to be. This Travelling Nutmeg will note this visit under spiritually defining moments.

John 10:7-9  Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.