Category Archives: Paarl

Daniel Waldis’ Le Chocolatier chocolate claims are fraudulent and life-threatening!

Le ChocolatierOne cannot get more notorious than being featured in Noseweek (July 2015 issue), and to have a Facebook group created about one’s business. Such an ‘honour’ has been bestowed upon Daniel Waldis, owner of Le Chocolatier, who has operated in Franschhoek, now in Stellenbosch, and with a factory in Paarl!

I first met Waldis at his restaurant in Franschhoek, after I had written a less than complimentary review of it. He was Continue reading →

Why do hotel restaurants not have better patron support and win awards?

five hundred dishIt was a recent article by Nick Lander, husband of renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson and restaurant critic in the UK, about restaurants in hotels he had visited in Dubai that made me consider once again why hotel restaurants fare so poorly in patron support and in the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant awards in our country.
Lander writes that specific rules about restaurants and liquor licences force restaurants to be linked to hotels in Dubai.  In our country no such rules apply, and as a service to guests, hotels have over the years added dining facilities, in early days being the only restaurants offering tea and cake, and lunch and dunner.  My parents drove us with overseas visitors to Franschhoek’s Swiss Farm Excelsior (now the Le Franschhoek Hotel), the benchmark of restaurants in those years.

Continue reading →

Bertus Basson at Spice Route : a modern South African restaurant!

Bertus Basson at SR Interior doilies Whale CottageI received a personal invitation from Chef Bertus Basson to join him for lunch at his new Bertus Basson at Spice Route restaurant, which opened on the Paarl wine farm 6 weeks ago. He and his charming wife Mareli managed to re-invent the restaurant within five days from taking over the space, modernising it to reflect their promise of ‘A Modern South African Restaurant’, both in terms of its decor and its food offeringBertus Basson at SR Bertus Whale Cottage.

A lot has changed at Spice Route, my last visit having been when Charles Back had taken over the wine estate, previously called Seidelberg, next door to his Fairview.  I didn’t have time to see all the artisan businesses which have opened at Spice Route since Back took over, but they include a Richard Bosman charcuterie outlet, with tastings at R30 (a bit cheeky I thought), a wine tasting centre, and Cape Brewing Co, about which I Continue reading →

Chefs still on the move between Cape Town and Winelands restaurants!

Palma Interior candles Whale CottageEven though we are almost at the end of the summer season, chefs are still moving between restaurants, a number of chef changes having taken place at the end of February.  This list of restaurant openings and closings and restaurant staff movements is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*     Italian restaurant Palma has opened on Bree Street (photograph)

*   Bacon on Bree has opened at 217 Bree Street, a bacon-inspired restaurant by charcuterier Richard Bosman and his wife Justine Seymour.

*   Culture Club cheese and wine shop has opened at 215 Bree Street, its owner previously having been the GM of La Fromagerie on Marylebone High Street in London!

*   The Butcher Shop & Grill has opened next to Sotano in Mouille Point.

*   Baked in the Wood is to open on Bree Street, offering craft beer and tapas, owned by Zahir Mohamed of Baked Bistro.

*   Honest Chocolate Café has opened next door to its original shop on Wale Street.

*   Tasha’s has opened in Canal Walk

*   Localé Cocktail & Pincho Bar has opened in Mowbray, as a joint venture between Baked Bistro Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 10/11 January

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   SA Tourism is going on another India Road Show this year, visiting Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, and New Dehli in February. Franschhoek Wine Valley and Paarl & Wellington Tourism are some of the local Road Show participants. India Country Manager for SA Tourism Hanneli Slabber said that some 24000 tourists from India visited our country between January and March last year.

*   ‘Rear seat kickers’ are the worst type of passengers on an airplane, an Expedia Airplane Etiquette Study has found! Other annoying passengers are inattentive parents, ‘aromatic passenger’,audio insensitive’, and ‘boozer’!

*   Qantas is the world’s safest airline, out of a total of 449, included in the latest Top 10 AirlineRatings.com safe airlines list, which Continue reading →

MasterChef SA Season 3 episode 14: five hundred’s Chef David Higgs a highlight; Abigail Mbalo smoked out!

MasterChef 3 14 Final 6Last night the MasterChef SA Season 3 Top 6 finalists returned from Mauritius to a treat in Johannesburg, being lunch at South Africa’s number 2 Eat Out Top 10 restaurant five hundred, at the Saxon Boutique Hotel, a restaurant on my bucket list!  Returning to the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg, the finalists had to replicate each of Chef David Higg’s dishes, Abigail Mbalo leaving the MasterChef SA kitchen, having forgotten to plate some of the elements.

For the second time in a few weeks episode 14 started more than 10 minutes late, without warning or apology by M-Net, not even on Social Media.   We saw the Top 6 Finalists arrive at five hundred, and they were seated at the Chef’s Table.  A screenMasterChef 3 14 five hundred opened to the kitchen, and Chef David welcomed the Finalists, saying that they would be served a 6-course lunch to congratulate them on getting so far in the competition.  The dishes presented would be those that have been the highlight of the five hundred menu in the past 18 months.  He mentioned their rooftop garden, which was planted in the same time period.  Chef David also said that they do things differently at five hundred, the chefs serving the diners.

Nederburg wines were to be paired with each course, but we only saw the sommelier pair the first course of pressed prawns with broccoli coral, mayonnaise, and nori soil, with Nederburg The Anchorman Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 19 November

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The price of petrol could drop by 69 – 72 cents per liter on 3 December, the Automobile Association has forecast.  The declining international oil prices will benefit motorists.  ‘Petroleum prices have dropped by more than ten percent over the past 15 days and the exchange rate has weakened only slightly in the same period‘.

*   The organisers of World Design Capital (WDC) 2014 have condemned the vandalisation with graffiti of the ‘Perceptions’ Ray-Ban glasses sculpture on the Sea Point Promenade.   The art work has generated a huge debate about its suitability in its perceived commercialisation, by promoting the glasses brand.  The organisers said: ‘As WDC 2014, we condone creativity and condemn in the strictest sense, lawlessness. It is a sad day when public debate is substituted with vandalism‘.

*   KWV is hosting ‘Brandy Sensations‘, a ‘long table dinner‘ to be held at the KWV Sensorium art gallery in Paarl tomorrow. Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 11 July

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Mercedes-Benz South Africa will be taken for a ride by the V&A Waterfront for the next 12 months,  as a member of the V&A Waterfront Partners Programme, which comes with a number of exclusive rights to connect with the V&A’s visitors, including receiving their e-mail addresses, using their venue for events, outdoor advertising, and business to business campaigns.  The V&A sees the advantage as being increased footfall, which it overclaims at 23 million per year!   For Mercedes-Benz the deal is an opportunity to become ‘visualised at the V&A Waterfront to aspirational consumers‘.

*   Fodor’s Travel has written a comprehensive article entitled Wine Lover’s Guide to South Africa, praising our country for its excellent terroir suited to wine farming, and becoming ‘world-renowned’, especially our indigenous Pinotage.  Linking food and wine, the Western Cape is becoming increasingly associated with food excellence too. Wine tasting in Stellenbosch is recommended, at Kanonkop, Tokara, and Waterford Estate, while Indochine, Delaire Graff Restaurant, and Jordan are recommended restaurants.   In Franschhoek La Petite Ferme, Haute Cabrière, Môreson, and the unique Franschhoek Wine Tram are recommended.  The Tasting Room and Bread & Wine are recommended restaurants. In Paarl KWV is recommended, with Bosman’s Restaurant, which is overpraised as ‘one of the best restaurants not only in South Africa, but in the world’ (sic)!  Groot Constantia is mentioned as being the oldest wine estate, and La Colombe and The Greenhouse are recommended restaurants.

*   A clever and cheeky reply to EFF Commissar Andile Mngxitama, who wrote to Sir Richard Branson, saying that the Continue reading →

Bread at The Bromwell Sweet Service and Bosman’s Sour Service Awards!

Bread at The Browmell Whale Cottage PortfolioThe Sweet Service Award goes to Bread at The Bromwell in Woodstock, and its manager Ivan da Silva, for his service recovery when I had lunch there last Saturday.  I arrived in the deli and bakery section without any staff present, and when a waiter did arrive, he called another colleague who was upstairs at the time, but was meant to man the section.  Ivan listened to my complaint about the unnecessary waiting time.  He also took immediate action when I challenged him on the menu description of the buttermilk pancake with ‘fresh seasonal fruit‘, which was hidden away inside the pancake instead of being on top, and was not fresh at all, being cooked pears and apples. He accepted that the description of the dish was misleading, saying that the fruit was fresh when it was cooked! His staff made a new portion, topped with a beautiful selection of fresh berries, strawberries, apples, and pears! Continue reading →

Wine Tourism South Africa 2014: Sip, Stay, and Play!

Wine Tourism South Africa HandbookMonika Elias of World Focus Media has done a great job over the past ten years in documenting the contribution of the wine routes, and the wine estates on them, to Wine Tourism South Africa, in helping to inform and educate locals as well as tourists about wine in general, and to boost wine sales.  Her 2014 edition of ‘Wine Tourism South Africa’ handbook has just been published , bearing the slogan of ‘sip, stay and play‘!

In her ‘Publisher’s Letter‘, Monika defines Wine Tourism as ‘…in the glass, on the plate, in the bed, around the vines, and for the planet’.  She writes about ‘winery atmospherics’, such as architecture, lighting, sound, temperature, and kinetics, playing an important role in creating a point of difference for wine estates in an increasingly competitive world.  Wine is becoming an increasingly important part of the Tourism experience, and most visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape will be very likely to visit a wine farm to taste their wines, to eat at a Winelands restaurant, or visit an event linked to wines.

The Handbook evaluates top restaurants on wine estates, using chefs hats (three maximum) to denote how good or not they are;  and evaluates the winelists of the restaurants on the wine estates, by means of wine glasses (three maximum).  A price range indication is also provided for the Winelands restaurants.  The Handbook starts with tourist information and advice about car rental, taxis, trains, parking attendants, banking hours, VAT, the weather, tipping, and more.  It lists the winners of the fifteen categories in the 2013 KLINK Wine Tourism Awards, which received votes from 15000 consumers last year. Continue reading →