The Kove Collection’s newest restaurant The White Rabbit has opened alongside Dalliance, also a Kove Collection restaurant, in the V&A Waterfront. It is a feminine coffee shop and bar in a quiet section of the Waterfront, a place of respite from shopping in the mall. Continue reading →
Tag Archives: Billecart Salmon
Restaurant Review: Mirazur French foraging restaurant in Menton, 6th World’s 50 Best Restaurant, Michelin 2-star!
A visit to Europe became more exciting when I decided to add a visit to France, dining at one Michelin star JAN restaurant in Nice, and continuing my World’s 50 Best Restaurants journey, eating at Mirazur in Menton (6th best), and at L’Arpège (19th best) and Septime (50th best) in Paris. Mirazur is the most highly ranked French restaurant, and has two Michelin stars. Mirazur means ‘look at the blue sea’. Last year I ate at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in New York, and in London. Continue reading →
Camissa Brasserie at Table Bay Hotel: chic interior, does not live up to ‘Cape heritage food’ promise!
When the Cape Town branch of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international association of gastronomy, organised its first function of the year at the Table Bay hotel, I booked, on the off-chance that it could be held at Camissa Brasserie, which opened two months ago. It was a convivial evening with good company, but disappointed on its promise of Cape heritage food.
The Chaîne members are serious food-lovers, and include restaurant owners, chefs, wine estate owners, and gourmands. The Cape Town branch of the Chaîne has about 70 members, its Bailli of the Bailliage du Cap Samm Bain told me, and 35 members and guests attended the dinner, including Chaîne members from Saudi Arabia and Sweden. On arrival we were served The Table Bay Captain Table Brut, which Gershwin told me is made for the hotel by Graham Beck. Canapés served were oysters, duck confit croquettes with an Asian style plum sauce, tempura crab claw, and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with hollandaise sauce.
During the drinks I had a look at the 45-seater New York style Brasserie interior, which had been booked out for the Chaîne dinner, and Gershwin told me that the space previously was The Conservatory Restaurant and Terrace and Palm Court, which was an overflow venue for their breakfasts and when the Atlantic Grill restaurant was full, with a view onto the V & A Waterfront and Table Mountain. It received a make-over by designer Carolyn Davies, with a new grey ceiling with a pressed steel effect, bookshelves along the walls, and an impressive chandelier made from crystal whisky decanters in the main and slightly separate Captain’s Room at the end of the rectangular restaurant space. The length of the wall has black leather banquettes. Above these are brass railings. A wine room has been created too, for wine storage as well as tastings. A lounge area has been created outside Continue reading →
Franschhoek celebrates ‘Magic of Bubbles’ at Cap Classique and Champagne Festival!
One of Franschhoek’s most popular annual events is the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, which will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday. Close to 50 top Champagnes and MCCs (Méthode Cap Classique) will be available to taste, as is food supplied by Franschhoek restaurants.
The theme is ‘Black and White‘, with an emphasis on spots and stripes, and bubbly fans will be enjoying ‘The Magic of Bubbles‘ on what is forecast to be a perfect weather weekend. Not only will MCCs from Franschhoek be on show, but top sparkling wines from other regions and Champagnes will be too.
Veuve Clicquot winemaker Pierre Casenave will be at the brand’s stand between 12h00 – 13h00 on both days. Other Champagne brands available for tasting are Billecart- Salmon, Champagne Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon, Piper Heidsieck, Thierry Lesne, and Tribaut.
The 40 well-known MCC producers pouring their bubblies are Pierre Jourdan, Continue reading →
Franschhoek sparkles with Cap Classique and Champagne Festival!
The Cap Classique and Champagne Festival is one of the highlights of the Franschhoek calendar, and its contribution to tourism is in the league of the Bastille Festival and Franschhoek Literary Festival. In the next two days 51 Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) and Champagne producers will be offering their bubblies for tasting, at marquees alongside the Huguenot Monument. Thirteen MCC producers are from Franschhoek. The dress theme is ‘Black and White’ with an emphasis on ‘Birds and Bows’, and the Festival is open from 12h00 – 17h00. Entrance costs R200.
The bubbly producers are as follows: Colmant, Graham Beck Wines, Krone, La Motte, Morena, Môreson, Pierre Jourdan, Simonsig, Steenberg, Allée Bleue, Avondale, Bon Courage, Boschendal, Bramon, Cederberg, Chabvin, De Wetshof, Dieu Donné, Domaine des Deux, Francois La Garde, Villiera, Genevieve, GM & Ahrens, Guinevere, Groote Post, JC le Roux, Kumkani, Laborie, L’Omarins Anthonij Rupert, My Wyn, Plaisir de Merle, Pongracz, Quion Rock, Rickety Bridge, Ross Gower, Saltare, Saronsberg, Silverthorn, Sterhuis, Stony Brook, Tanzanite, Villiera, Weltevrede, Wonderfontein Paul René, Woolworths, Billecart Salmon, Tribaut, Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon, Therry Lesne, and Veuve Clicquot.
Food and other beverages will be offered for sale by Franschhoek restaurants, including Café Bon Bon, Deluxe Coffeeworks, Chamonix, Haute Cabrière is offering salads, Huguenot Fine Chocolates, Jessie’s Ice Cream, Le Franschhoek Hotel is offering pork pies and macaroons, Le Quartier Français, Bread & Wine, Mont Rochelle, Roca Restaurant, Salmon Bar, with Wild Peacock selling oysters.
POSTSCRIPT 2/12: The Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival has just endeded, a highly successful event. The best dressed stand, in our opinion, was Morena from Franschhoek, always looking classy. Graham Beck was the best branded stand.
Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, end of Huguenot Road at Huguenot Monument, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 876-2861. www.franschhoek.org.za Book via www.webtickets.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Restaurant Review: Kitima full of spirit, Elsa’s Table has pride of place!
I was invited by Katie and Jonny Friedman to dinner at Kitima in Hout Bay, an icon of Asian cuisine in Cape Town, and winner of the Best Asian restaurant in South Africa in the Eat Out Restaurant Awards in November. It was a most interesting evening, not only experiencing the good value food, but also hearing the story about Elsa’s Table, named in honour of one of Hout Bay’s longest standing ‘residents’!
The Friedmans own Orphanage on Bree Street, and we got to know each other at their cocktail emporium when it opened earlier this year. They have done so well with Orphanage that they are linking it to a double story behind the existing building, with an entrance on Orphan Street, adding another bar downstairs, and creating the Orphanage Club upstairs in which 1920’s style jazz, blues, and other music will be performed live. Reservations must be made, and it is planned to serve canapés with the drinks, served by the bottle in this venue. The Friedmans live in Llandudno, and love Kitima, usually eating there once a week. They were surprised that I had never been, and wanted to share one of their favourite restaurants with me.
Kitima is close to the Imizamo Yethu township in Hout Bay, but one feels very secure, as one is guided into the parking by their security staff, and shown the entrance to the building. The old Cape Dutch building, originating from 1670 when it was a manor house on the first farm in Hout Bay, and having been a National Monument for more than 50 years, is called The Kronendal, and is a tasteful marriage of its untouched historic Dutch origin with Thai decor touches added. The building relives the history of the Cape via the Dutch East India Company, which connected Europe, the Cape, and Siam (now Thailand). There are two generous bars, with lounge seating at one, and bar seating at the other, serving fresh ‘Thai and Western cocktails’ , which are prepared by mixologists. I had a taste of Katie’s Strawberry Rose Martini, a delicious cocktail with a minute rose, and it was actress Halle Berry’s favourite when she ate there while filming in Cape Town two years ago. It was amusing that my simple request for a medium cream sherry appeared a more exotic order than the martinis which Katie and Jonny ordered. There are three rooms (Bangkok, Boat, Temple) and the VIP Room, in which the restaurant patrons sit, up to 160 in winter and about 220 in summer, when they can expand outside. Tables are placed quite close to each other, yet one does not hear the other patrons. Tables have white tablecloths, and the chairs are upholstered in a black and grey/silver fabric.
Waiting for the Friedmans to arrive, I was shown around the restaurant by host Stian, and our first stop was at Elsa’s Table in the entrance hall, the only table in this large space, and which attracted my attention with its plates of food on the table, with a glass each of red and white wine, and a vase with red roses. It looked like a table at which a very special event was about to be celebrated, one assuming that the couple had temporarily vacated the table to go to the bar. It was quickly explained that this is Elsa’s Table, Elsa having been the daughter of one of the first Dutch owners of the building, Sir Abraham Josias Cloete, who lived there with his family between 1835 – 1849. Elsa fell in love with a British soldier. Their union was not sanctioned by her parents, so he committed suicide at the oak tree outside the restaurant building. It is said that Elsa died of a broken heart. Since then her ghost has regularly been seen in the building on moonlit nights, and her existence felt inside the building. In accordance with Thai culture, the table laid for Elsa and her soldier is a blessing, and has been prepared in honour of the spirits. Since Kitima has opened and dedicated the table to her, there has been minimal activity and no more sightings of her ghost, I was told. Our waiter was kind enough to check which dishes were served at Elsa’s Table that evening, and his list was Pad Pak Rum (seasonal vegetables wok-fried with a garlic and oyster sauce), Pla Neng Ma Nao (steamed kingklip), steamed rice, and Crêpe Suzette. The dishes served at Elsa’s Table are changed daily. The red wine was a Barista Pinotage, but the white wine was an artificial liquid, he said, and the roses plastic. I was reprimanded for putting my handbag on one of the chairs to make a note about a piece of information, reflecting how serious the restaurant is in honouring its previous resident.
The restaurant is named after its owner Kitima Sukonpongpao, who arrived in Cape Town from Thailand ten years ago. She opened Kitima five years ago, specialising in Asian cuisine, including Japanese, Chinese, and Thai. Ten ‘5-star Thai chefs’ run the kitchen. Chef Kent came to the table, telling us that he had just returned from Thailand, but that he was teaching students at the University of Thailand about restaurant service and food preparation, an honour to do this for the King of Thailand, only seeing his mother for two days, and barely having a break. Thai cooking is characterised by its use of herbs, and lemongrass in particular, I was told, but its true recipe to success is its service, making it unique, and therefore better than Nobu and Haiku, said the restaurant host. The restaurant is so popular that one must book ahead. The website introduces the philosophy of the restaurant: ‘Only passions, great passions, elevate the soul to great things’.
The brown covered menu is the largest I have seen, even more extensive than that of Haiku. It is neatly organised into Appetisers, Soups, Salads, Sushi and Sashimi, Dim Sum, Soup, Salads, Seafood, Duck and Chicken, Beef, Pork and Ostrich, Curries, Vegetables, Rice, and Noodles, each section offering a large selection of options. The first observation was how inexpensive Kitima is, when compared to Haiku, Nobu, and Willoughby’s, for example. The waiter told us immediately that most of the Dim Sum was not yet available, needing a few days to be prepared after the restaurant re-opened from its winter break. When Katie wanted to order the tuna, she was told that it was out of stock too. One is served a spoon and fork, and chopsticks, and I asked for a knife for both the starter and main course. I ordered Ebi (R40), which is a prawn, avocado and Japanese mayonnaise handroll, as a starter, beautifully presented on a stand. Appetisers include oysters (R15 each), a number of spring roll options, including duck, cheese, vegetable, and prawn, and prawn cakes cost R45 for three. The sushi selection is extensive, tuna and salmon sashimi, and prawn, tuna and salmon Nigiri costing about R15 each. Platters of eight pieces of sushi range from R38 – R55, a number of handroll and fashion sandwiches are offered, and salmon roses cost R52 for four. Dum Sum is defined as ‘little treasures’, and include a number of ingredient combinations, including prawns, pork, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, ginger, and chives, at a price range of R33 – R40. The well-known Thai Tom Yum Goong prawn soup with mushrooms, galangal, lemongrass and coconut milk, topped with fresh coriander (R39), and traditional Japanese Miso soup with tofu and spring onion (R25), are included in the soup list. Numerous salad options are available, including beef, prawn, chicken, duck, fish, seared tuna, and vermicilli, costing between R50 – R70.
For the main course I tried my Haiku favourite, being Duck à L’Orange. Katie told me that the duck comes from Thailand, as they were not happy with the quality that they source locally. The duck dishes cost R105 – R125, while the chicken dishes cost around R65. Seafood main course options are dominated by prawns, including a prawn basket, and sweet and sour prawn. Kingklip, salmon, and Bluenose (not on the SASSI list) can be ordered, steamed, fried with batter, or wok-fried. All the beef, pork, and ostrich dishes are wok-fried, and cost about R75, with the exception of the ostrich, which is a little more expensive. Red and green chicken and seafood curries, chicken and beef peanut curries, and lychee duck curry are some of the curry options. For vegetarians there are a selection of choices, including a green or red vegetable curry, costing about R55. Steamed rice costs R12, but one can also order egg fried, vegetable fried, or prawn fried (R49) rice. Noodle dishes are served with chicken, prawns or vegetables.
For dessert Katie and I shared Crepe Suzette, which was served with ice cream (R45), and I had a cappuccino (R18) with it. The other dessert options are more Western, including Crème Brûlée, Bread and Butter pudding, deep fried bananas, chocolate or fruit spring rolls, lychees, sorbets, and ice creams, inexpensive at R28 – R45.
The Waterford Kevin Arnold Shiraz (R270) was decanted, and was a good choice for our meal. The winelist recommends the pairing of Riesling for medium-spiced and steamed dishes; Sauvignon Blanc for chicken, fish, and seafood; Chardonnay for milder dishes and sushi; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for pork, duck, and spicy beef dishes; and Pinot Noir for more subtle-flavoured beef dishes. The rules are quite strict, with corkage costing R35 for local wines and R50 for champagne. However, one may not bring any brands that are on the restaurant’s winelist. Disappointing is that no vintage information is provided, and that there are typing errors, unforgivable for a restaurant that has invested in an extensive wine, spirit, and liqueur offering. A list of 13 champagnes is offered, ranging from R110/R660 per glass/bottle of Guy Charbaut Selection Brut to R3200 for Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1998. Other champagne brands include Bollinger, Ayala, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, and Billecart Salmon. Only seven MCCs are available, starting at R35/R140 per glass/bottle of Beyerskloof Pinotage Brut Rosé, peaking at R 490 for Steenberg 1682 Pinot Noir Brut. A wide selection of varieties is offered. The Shiraz prices start at R33/R90 for Arabella by glass/bottle, and include the excellent Andreas, as well as Holden Manz.
For a first time visitor Kitima feels overwhelming, both in terms of its size, and its extensive winelist and menu. One could go back week after week, as the Friedmans do, and try something different each time, the variety offered being so extensive. The prices are unbelievably good for having received the Eat Out accolade of the best Asian restaurant in South Africa. Service is very attentive, polite and correct, starting when one parks on the property, and one is guided by attendants. A nice touch was the chef’s visit to the table. I will certainly be back, to try more of the menu. I loved the story of Elsa’s Table, and the respect that is paid to this spirit.
Kitima, 140 Main Road, Hout Bay. Tel (021) 790-8004. www.kitima.co.za. Twitter:@_Kitima. Tuesday to Saturday dinner, Sunday buffet lunch. Booking recommended.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Restaurant Review: Burrata is unique, not Italian, nor a pizzeria!
The opening of Burrata at the Old Biscuit Mill (in the previous B-Lounge) at the beginning of the month had been eagerly awaited, with its owner Neil Grant coming from 2011 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Rust en Vrede (he was the sommelier when he ran the restaurant with chef David Higgs). Burrata is not a pizzeria, and it’s not an Italian restaurant, and not all its dishes contain Burrata mozzarella! It is a unique, friendly, and welcoming restaurant, which with its neighbours The Pot Luck Club and The Test Kitchen make the Old Biscuit Mill and Woodstock an increasingly exciting restaurant destination.
At night, most of the restaurant is not brightly lit, and therefore the red pizza oven imported from Naples catches one’s eye immediately. It is unlike any pizza oven seen locally, with a more modern design, weighing 2,6 tons, and having necessitated the widening of the doors to get it inside the restaurant. It is lower in size, concentrating and therefore intensifying the heat inside the oven, at about 460°C. Logs are stored inside the black-tiled pizza oven stand, as well as against a window in another section of the restaurant, creating an interesting circular design effect, letting in light from outside, but giving diners inside some privacy. The pizzaiolo, one of the new names I learnt, being the male pizza makers, use peels imported from Italy: the loading peel is used to stretch the pizza, to create the correct shape and to place it in the oven; the turning peel turns the pizza around once it is in the oven, to ensure that the pizza is equally cooked, explained Cameron. Burrata backer Barry Engelbrecht is a pizza aficionado, and has attended pizza-making courses around the world, and he trained the staff in pizza-making, none of them having come from a pizza restaurant. Interesting were the wine bottle lights, with LED lighting inside, which Neil had made from a design he had seen overseas.
Mozzarella, and the Burrata (a mozzarella which is shaped into a pouch filled with left-over bits of mozzarella and cream), are sourced from local Italian-owned Puglia Cheese, the cuputo pizza flour and tinned tomatoes are imported from Italy, the prosciutto comes from a Johannesburg supplier and Neil Jewell in Franschhoek, and other ingredients are sourced from the Wild Peacock Food Emporium in Stellenbosch. The pork belly came from Sachs butchery.
The red pizza oven creates the decor colour foundation, and the use of red and black extends into the staff uniforms, Maxwell Williams salt and pepper grinders, material serviettes into which the Forum cutlery is rolled, the sugar bowls, and on the menu and winelist covers. Beautiful Italian Luigi Bormioli glasses made in Parma enhance the special wines served. A red meat slicer has a place of honour inside the restaurant. The kitchen is open plan, behind glass, and visible to diners. There seemed to be a large staff complement, almost as many staff as diners. A charming front-of-house hostess is Swiss national Isabella Immenkamp, who was a sommelier at the Grande Roche previously (her partner Joakim Hansi Blackadder recently won the Bollinger Sommelier competition, and has taken Neil’s job at Rust en Vrede). She was very attentive, and European in her service delivery. Neil came to the table regularly, almost timed to coincide with a next question I had! Chef Annemarie Steenkamp comes from Le Quartier Français, where she spent five years.
The menu and winelist are each bound in fine Burrata branded black leather, printed on quality paper, with the striking red Burrata branding. Starters start at R28 for olives marinated with oregano, garlic and chilli, peaking at R125 for a shared antipasti platter served with pizza bread. My son ordered bruschetta with prosciutto, rocket and grated walnut (R58), and the two slices were generously covered with the ham. Puglia burrata is served with olive oil, oryx desert salt with crostini (R55). The four pasta options are unusual, and range in cost from R78 (fried auricchio gnocchi with peas, fine beans, green olives and baby spinach) – R98 (pappardelle slow cooked short rib, roasted red pepper and crispy onion). Five main courses include risotto with caramelised onions, bone marrow, and lemon (R68), pan seared line fish (R125), roasted rib eye (R135), chicken polpette (R84), and the most tender Tuscan-spiced braised pork belly with butter roasted cauliflower and glazed brussel sprouts (R115), but which did not overwhelm me, from its lack of colour and taste.
Pizzas make up almost half the menu. They are introduced as follows: ‘at Burrata, we strive to create the best possible neapolitan style pizza. this style of pizza has a puffy, flame blackened crust with a light crispness. we use only the the very best quality ingredients including flour and tomatoes exclusively imported from Italy. our italian oven cooks our pizzas at 480°C in less than 90 seconds. The menu explains that to maintain quality standards, ingredients cannot be changed nor ordered ‘half-and-half’. The ingredients are interesting. Tomato-base pizzas start at R52 (Marinara, with garlic, oregano and olive oil), and the Di mare pizza costs R109, with prawns, squid, garlic with coriander and chilli aioli. The prosciutto e arugula pizza sounds good too, with fresh mozzarella, parmagiano reggiano, prosciutto and rocket. Pizza bianca (i.e.without tomato sauce base) include Ficci (mozzarella, gorgonzola, fresh figs and prosciutto), Delre (with a truffle spread, mozzarella, mushroom, and prosciutto), at R98. My son’s Delre pizza base was burnt, and Isabella immediately offered to redo it. It was much better the second time around. Four dessert options are peach and amaretto tart (R42); Lime Zabaglione with fresh strawberries and blueberries was served with Madeira cake which jarred in its dryness (R44) and a most attractively designed Forum spoon; sweet honey pizza with ricotta, caramelised apple, honey and roasted almonds sounds delicious and costs R58; while cioccolato pizza comes with a homemade chocolate and hazelnut spread, banana and treacle sugar (R64). Coffee is by Origin. Burrata’s lunch menu is slightly reduced relative to the dinner menu, with one item removed per section. No pasta dishes are available over lunch.
Tap water is served in a wine bottle, a clever touch. The winelist is extensive, and lists very neatly the region, country, and vintage of each of the roughly 100 wines served by the bottle, with an additional 14 wines by the glass. Grant writes in his introduction to the winelist: “welcome to burrata, where we pay mutual respect to food and wine. you will notice that our wine list does not contain any descriptive notes. one of our sommeliers will gladly assist you throughout your experience with us. i hope you will take pleasure in browsing through the list and please feel free to ask any questions you may have”. Champagne brands Pol Roger, Philipponat, Salon, Torresella, Billecart Salmon, and Jean Veselle range in price from R195 – R3500. Only two local MCC’s are served: Silverthorn (R60/280) and Colmant (R230). White wines by the glass cost R30 – R45, and red wines R33 – R68. About ten wines per variety are offered. Shiraz prices range from R195 (2008 Tamboerskloof) to R950 (2008 De Trafford). The winelist cautions that wines and vintages ‘are subject to availability‘.
Burrata is friendly, welcoming, with reasonable prices, and a most impressive winelist. After eight days since opening, things ran smoothly, with the exception of the pizza. The service and personal attention is exceptional, the best we have experienced in a very long time. There were speakers on the wall, but no music, which would have been a good finishing touch. The very new team, who have never worked together before, will gel over time, and the menu will evolve. The dissonance between menu and wine list will probably be reduced over time, the exceptional and extensive wine selection dominating the relatively more ordinary menu.
POSTSCRIPT 7/4: Enjoyed the mozzarella, fig and prosciutto pizza at Burrata on a rainy pizza-eating Easter weekend Saturday, the best pizza I have ever eaten! The pizza base is good enough to eat without the topping. Exciting news is that a 3-course food and wine pairing menu will be launched in the next two weeks.
POSTSCRIPT 14/4: Back at Burrata, and tried the Delre pizza, with prosciutto, mushrooms, and mozzarella. It became a three hour lunch, in the (unplanned) company of Ursula and Davide Ostuni of Puglia Cheese. They supply Burrata with mozzarella cheeses, and were most complimentary about the pizzas at Burrata.
POSTSCRIPT 21/6: Lovely evening at Burrata, with guest house colleagues Rainer and Greg. The charcuterie and cheese platter was a good match with the pizzas. Delicious chocolate mousse, vanilla panna cotta and lime.
POSTSCRIPT 9/7: What amazing news: after only having been open for 4 months, Burrata has been named the Middle East/Africa winner of the Birra Moretti Best Emerging Italian Restaurant Award, ahead of Ristorante Armani in Dubai and Carne, also in Cape Town! What makes the Award even more prestigious is that it is affiliated to the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.
Burrata, Old Biscuit Mill, Albert Road, Woodstock. Tel (021) 447-6505. www.burrata.co.za Twitter: @BurrataSA Tuesday – Saturday, Lunch and Dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
MCC Franschhoek is a bubbly new showcase of MCCs of Franschhoek!
One of the cleverest ideas for a new restaurant and champagne bar is MCC Franschhoek, and it is appropriate that its opening co-incided with the Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival this weekend. MCC Franschhoek is a showcase of 34 Franschhoek sparkling wines of 14 Franschhoek producers.
The brainchild of Philip and Christy Harrison, previously managing De Huguenot Estate, MCC Franschhoek allowed the couple to work with a beverage they love best. Christy told me that Philip loves cooking, having started to do so in Majorca, after studying accountancy. Both Philip and Christie owned a Weatherspoons outlet in Heathrow, but moved back to Cape Town thirteen years ago, Philip managing The Galley in Fish Hoek. They moved to the design of wedding stationery, and it is Christy who designed the stylish logo for MCC Franschhoek. Due to the closure of the De Huguenot restaurant and Harry Q Bar at De Huguenot Estate (to be run as a wedding and event venue only in future), Philip and Christie took part of their share of the venture in kind, and therefore they have the stylish silver-upholstered chairs, black bar chairs and tables, and couches from De Huguenot restaurant, which are spread out in the courtyard of the Village Square. Each table has the MCC range and price list, and a perspex salt and pepper grinder stand. Quality material serviettes and Fortis cutlery are stylish.
Alleé Bleue (Brut Rosé), Boschendal (MCC Le Grande Pavillion Brut Rosé, MCC Grande Cuvée Brut), Cape Chamonix (MCC Blanc de Blancs), Colmant (Brut Reserve, Brut Rosé, Brut Chardonnay), Dieu Donné (Maingard Brut, Rose MCC), Franschhoek Pass Winery (Morena Brut, Brut Rosé, Cuvée Catherine, Malabar Shiraz), Graham Beck (Brut, Brut Rosé NV and 2008, Bliss Demi Sec, Brut Blanc de Blancs, Zero), GM & Ahrens (Cap Classique), Hauté Cabriere (Pierre Jourdan Brut, Cuvée Belle Rose, Brut Sauvage, Blanc de Blancs, Cuvée Reserve), La Motte, Môreson (Miss Molly, Solitaire, Gala, Pink, One), My Wyn, Stony Brook (The Lyle), and Topiary (Blanc de Blancs Brut) sparkling wines are sold by the bottle, while a select number of bubbly brands can be bought by the glass, advertised on a blackboard. Prices start at R110 for Miss Molly, peaking at R650 for the GM & Ahrens. Surprisingly (given its name), a number of wines are offered too, and many are non-Franschhoek. Protea Sauvignon Blanc, Glenwood Sauvignon Blanc, Haute Cabrière Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, Beyerskloof Pinotage Rosé, Glenwood Shiraz Merlot blend, Graham Beck Game Reserve, and Guardian Peak Shiraz are all available by the glass, reasonably priced in a range from R20 – R35.
MCC Franschhoek opens from 8h00, and serves well-priced breakfasts, one paying per item (e.g. 2 eggs, bacon and toast costs R47); muesli, yoghurt and berry coulis, and a croissant with cheese and preserves cost R20 each. There is no breakfast cut-off time. The ‘Bites’ menu has a mix of salads (R45 – R65), sundowner platters (R50 – R75, and includes oysters, cheese, cold meats, and biltong), main courses, and desserts (R35 – R45), which can be ordered throughout the day. I ordered a perfectly prepared Franschhoek salmon trout served with boiled potatoes, and a crispy fresh asparagus salad (R75). Other main course options are sirloin steak and prawns in a beer batter, also costing R75. One can also order beef lasagne, mussels, an open chicken Satay burger, and two tarts. The menu will be updated and amended regularly.
I was impressed with the scale of the Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival in showcasing the leading bubbly brands for sale in this country. It is held at the Huguenot Monument, which attracted 2000 bubbly-lovers yesterday, and more are expected today between 12h00 – 17h00. Eight champagne brands (Billecart Salmon, Champagne Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon Brut Tradition, Piper Heidsieck, Thierry Lesne, Tribaut Brut Tradition, and Veuve Clicquot) presented their precious bubbles, as did 37 local sparkling wine producers. Staff representing the local brands Allée Bleue, Avondale, Bon Courage (in beautiful Carrol Boyes coolers), Boschendal, Bramon, Chabivin, Colmant, De Wetshof, Dieu Donné, Domaine Des Dieux, Francois la Garde, Genevieve MCC, The House of GM & Ahrens, Graham Beck, Groote Post, JC le Roux, Krone, Laborie, La Motte, Nicolas Feuillate Champagne for Woolworths, Morena, Môreson, My Wyn, Namaqua Wines (Guinevere very deep pink, with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, all 3000 bottles exported), Pierre Jourdan, Pongracz, Quoin Rock, Rickety Bridge (new 2010 release, 50% each Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with only 3500 numbered bottles produced from Franschhoek grapes), Ross Gower, Saltare, Silverthorn, Simonsig, Steenberg, Sterhuis, Villiera, Weltevrede and Woolworths Wines all looked chic in their black and white outfits, the dress code of the Festival, which most attendees honoured too. There were surprisingly few Franschhoek restaurants represented (Le Quartier Français, Mont Rochelle Country Kitchen, Haute Cabrière, Roca Restaurant, and the Salmon Bar), and the food was generally of a disappointing quality, given the theme of the Festival. An exception was the sushi, salmon and other canapé platters made by new Le Franschhoek Hotel chef Oliver Cattermole.
MCC Franschhoek, 3 Village Square, 53 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. Tel 083 772 9449/083 391 3869. No website. Twitter: @MCCFranschhoek Wednesday – Monday, 8h00 – until late, weather dependent.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Ken Forrester has Noble Late Harvest down to a ‘T’!
Earlier this week I was one of a group of bloggers and wine writers invited to attend the launch of the 2009 ‘T’ Noble Late Harvest of Ken Forrester Vineyards, on a sunny afternoon on the terrace of the Mount Nelson Hotel, ‘paired’ with the Nellie’s famous High ‘T’!
We were welcomed with a glass of Billecart-Salmon, which is distributed in South Africa by Ken Forrester Vineyards. The latest 2009 ‘T’ vintage, and the celebration of ten years of its production, was presented as a vertical tasting of six ‘T’ vintages, going back as far as 2000. Produced from his Stellenbosch vineyard, Ken Forrester said that they have used ‘fresh’ botrytis grapes from a 32 year old Chenin Blanc bushvine block, which is only 6 km from the Atlantic Ocean, with a moderate and cool climate, and good humidity in winter. It is low-lying, with autumn morning mist, ensuring ideal botrytis conditions. The block is picked eight times or more during the harvest, an aerial photograph technique identifying which pockets of grapes have optimal ripeness. It is a ‘concentrated essence of Chenin Blanc’, reflecting what this grape variety is about, Ken said.
Ken named this noble beverage in honour of his wife Teresa, known to her friends and family as ‘T’, for the first time in 1999, as a gift to her. The bottle shape and design was chosen to resemble a perfume bottle, and was designed by Mark Ransome of Fireworks.
Only the very best botrytis grapes are used to make ‘T’, and the Noble Late Harvest has not been made every year, out of quality considerations. The 2009 ‘T’ has 12% alcohol, while the 2008 had 11%. The older vintages have an alcohol content of 13% or more. The juice was fermented in French oak for 18 months, with peach, apricot, melon and pineapple notes. It is recommended to be drunk with fruit tarts, wild berries, ice cream, and full-bodied cheeses. A 375 ml bottle of the 2009 ‘T’ Noble Late Harvest costs R195.
Ken Forrester is a great story-teller, with a successful career in the hospitality industry, before he ventured into wine-making, and is co-owner with his brother of 96 Winery Road just down the road from his wine farm. He is ‘Mr Chenin Blanc’ in South Africa, and heads up the Chenin Blanc Association, promoting this variety ardently. He is also Chairman of the Stellenbosch American Express Wine Routes.
After the vertical tasting of the 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2001 and 2000 vintages of the ‘T’, we were invited to partake of the Afternoon Tea, and the table was filled with sandwiches, quiches, cakes, flapjacks, macaroons, and a large variety of other sweet treats.
Disclosure: All guests received a gift of a bottle of 2009 ‘T’ Noble Late Harvest.
Ken Forrester Vineyards, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 855-2374. www.kenforresterwines.com Twitter: @KFWines
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Restaurant Review: Nobu at One&Only Cape Town offers largest sushi and sashimi selection in Cape Town
I had been to Nobu just after it opened two years ago, and was not very impressed by it, due to a service issue, but a return visit on Saturday evening, at the invitation of the One&Only Cape Town and its PR Consultant Ian Manley, was a delight, with a noticeable menu and service evolution in the past two years, with unique Japanese, Peruvian and even South African elements in it. Nobu serves the largest sushi and sashimi selection in South Africa, I was told, and with the most unusual ingredients, such as abalone, scallop, lobster and langoustine.
Hostess Delphine welcomed us, and said that she had left after the opening training, but had returned again, and did the traditional Nobu greeting of Irashamase, which is echoed by all her staff, meaning ‘welcome to our house’. We were well looked after by waitress Nonte and sommelier Keith, and especially by manager Sebastian, who was most knowledgeable and sought information from the chef when he could not answer a question. He has been at Nobu since its opening. I asked Sebastian why he and the staff were not wearing a name badge, and he told me that all the staff are part of the team, and no individual stands out.
The restaurant, like Reuben’s, is downstairs, with a very high ceiling which contains lighting that looks like Japanese paper lamps. We asked about the circles which run along the walls, but could not find an explanation for them, as they are unique to Nobu. Sebastian found out that American Adam D. Tihany was the interior designer. Tables have black lacquer tops, and chairs are dark stained. In general, the lighting is low.
Owner Nobuyuki Matsuhisa worked in Peru after he trained in Japan, and then opened a restaurant in Alaska. It burnt down two months after opening. He then opened Matuhisa in Los Angeles, and in 1992 he opened Nobu in New York, with actor Robert de Niro as a major backer. There are now 28 Nobus around the world. Sebastian told me which dishes are the classic trademark ones, which one is likely to find at any Nobu (we can attest to that, as a group of Americans sat next to us, and they immediately discussed these as well, clearly knowing them from past experience at another Nobu):
* Yellowtail sashimi and jalapeno (R115)
* New style sashimi, lightly seared (R75 – R210)
* Tiradito (sashimi and chilli) (R105 – R210)
* Tuna sashimi salad (R110)
* Black Cod Den Miso is the best known dish of all, the cod being marinated in the Den Miso sauce for 3 days (R395)
* Prawn Tempura in rock shrimp style, fried in cotton seed oil, and served with ponzu, creamy spicy and jalapeno sauces (R125)
* Omakase, the chef’s recommendation, in which the chef prepares a 7-course meal based on what the patron likes to eat, consisting of two cold appetisers, a salad, one hot fish dish, one hot beef dish, soup and sushi (served after the main courses in Japanese style), and a dessert, at R 550.
The menu had a cardboard cover, with replaceable pages inside, allowing for regular menu changes. Blanched soya beans sprinkled with sea salt were brought to the table while we were discussing the menu, and they became more-ish as I got the hang of eating them out of the pod. If I eat Asian foods in Cape Town, I have gone to Haiku in the past, and therefore I tried more Haiku-like dishes to start, to serve as a comparison. I started with abalone (R16) and lobster (R28) sushi, its presentation very different to my past experience of what I can now call more ‘commercialised’ sushi. The lobster sushi was soft and almost jelly-like, and it was explained that it was because it had not been cooked. I could not recognise it from the lobster I know. The abalone had some tough sections to it, and I know that abalone generally needs a good beating and cooking in a pressure cooker because it is so tough. After posting the photograph of this dish, there was some criticism of the serving of abalone, but Sebastian assured me that the restaurant has a licence to obtain and serve it. The avocado (R18 for two slices), asparagus (R25 for two), and shitake mushroom (R20 for two) tempura was delicious, with a very light crispy batter. The highlight however was a new dish recently created by chef Hideki Maeda, which he has included in his 7-course Chef’s Special Omakase tasting menu (R850), being a 100g portion of Wagyu beef imported from Australia, served with foie gras, fig jam, fig tempura and a balsamic reduction (R395) – it was heavenly, a perfect main course size, given the preceding starters and the dessert to follow! What made it even better was the beautiful slim and elegant Elia cutlery that I ate it with, having used chopsticks for the starters.
For dessert I ordered Suntory whisky cappuccino, a delicious cappuccino look-alike served in a coffee cup, with four layers inside, and one is encouraged to scoop deep inside the cup to have a taste of all four the layers of coffee brûlée, cocoa crumble (adding a wonderful crunch), milk ice cream and the Suntory infused froth on top – an absolute treat. I was surprised to see a selection of desserts, all costing around R60 – R75, that were largely ‘Westernised’, including a local malva pudding. The winter menu special is a 5-course meal with one appetiser, the Rock shrimp tempura, Beef Toban Yaki, soup and sushi, and a dessert, at R299, and is a good way to try some of the classic international Nobu dishes.
The winelist has a brown leather cover, and contained a selection of cocktails and Sake (R150 – R590 for 150 ml), as well as of mainly local and some French wines. It is not as extensive as that at Reuben’s by any means. Sommelier Keith is Let’s Sell Lobster trained, and worked at The Round House after his training. It showed in that the wines-by-the-glass we ordered were brought to the table poured and untasted by ourselves, Keith saying that this is how he had been taught. He did oblige by pouring the subsequent wines at the table, and allowing us to taste them. Wines served by the glass include Pommery Brut Royale (R175/R850), Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve (R200/R975), Billecart Brut Rosé (R295/R1550), Graham Beck Brut (R49/R240), Villiera Tradition Brut (R44/R210), and Graham Beck Brut Rosé (R98/475). White wines range from R34 for 150 ml of Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc to R74 for Rustenberg Chardonnay. Red wines start at R54 for 150 ml of Springfield Whole Berry Cabernet Sauvignon to R118 for Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir 2009. About five options are offered per variety, and the Shiraz selection started at R 280 for La Motte 2008, up to R560 for Luddite 2005.
Nobu has something and more for everyone that appreciates excellent Asian style cuisine, and Haiku won’t be seeing me in a great hurry again, as there is much more variety, friendlier service, and no star order minimum at Nobu. The professional service by Sebastian was a large part of the enjoyment of our dinner at Nobu.
Nobu, One&Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront. Tel (021) 431-5888. www.oneandonlycapetown.com. (The hotel website contains a page for Nobu, with a menu and winelist, but the photographs are in a general Image Gallery, unmarked, and mixed with those of Reuben’s and the Vista Bar). Monday – Sunday, dinner only.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage