Entries tagged with “Boland”.


On Friday I needed to travel to Hermanus, and stopped at Terra Madre in Elgin, being overwhelmed by the energy of owner Chef Nicole Precoudis, and her organic-style home-prepared produce, which can be purchased on their farm, online, as well as at an increasing number of outlets in Cape Town, or one can have it delivered weekly to one’s home. Terra Madre is true to its promise of ‘Handcrafted with Love’. (more…)

Yesterday I attended the Chenin Blanc Showcase, a tasting of a selection of 50 Chenin Blanc wines, at the Cape Grace Hotel. Chenin Blanc is a cultivar growing in popularity, and we tasted the different styles of Chenin Blanc.  (more…)

Eat-Out-mag-coverEarlier this year I was shocked to see that the La Motte Culinary Director (and wife of its red wine maker Edmund Terblanche) as well as Kokkedoor judge Hetta van Deventer had reviewed De Warenmarkt for Eat Out. Now it appears from the new Eat Out 2016 magazine that she reviewed a number of Franschhoek and other Boland restaurants (many on wine farms too) that are in direct competition with Pierneef à la Motte restaurant!

At the time that I saw the De Warenmarkt review by Van Deventer I (more…)

imageI have driven past Dalewood Farm for many years on my way to and from Franschhoek, but had read that one could only enter by invitation. Yesterday a blackboard on the R45 invited me onto the farm, and the surprise Cheesery Shop, a Factory shop offering the cheese range  at reduced prices to the public.

Dalewood Fromage is owned by Rob and Petrina Visser, who keep a very low profile. The Dalewood cheeses are made from Jersey milk from the farm’s own herd. Their pasture is bio-dynamically managed, and the herd is not treated with antibiotics air hormones. Dalewood cheeses do not contain preservatives, flavorants, or colourants.

A friendly sales lady greeted me, and allowed me to taste their Boland (more…)

Feast Pete Goffe-Wood

On Thursday evening Chef Pete Goffe-Wood was the first MasterChef SA judge to have an episode in the new M-Net mini-series ‘Feast’ dedicated to him and his cooking, the highlight being the Christmas meal he prepared for his family and friends. (more…)

Argus Cycle Tour Suikerbossie Whale CottageCape Town and the Winelands region is rolling in cyclists visiting to participate in one or more of a host of cycling events from today onwards.   As more and more cyclists are taking to the road, often selfishly to the detriment of motorists, anger is building up from motorists against cyclists.

Today the Bestmed Tour de Boland commences, and will be ridden in four stages of 121 – 145 km per day over the next four days.  The race begins in Franschhoek and stage one ends at Helshoogte Pass; stage 2 is from Stellenbosch to Tulbagh; stage 3 covers Tulbagh to Riebeek Kasteel; and the last stage of the race is ridden from Riebeek Kasteel to the Franschhoek Pass.   The organisers want to offer the road riders a good challenge on a European cycle race standard combined with the best of beautiful Boland views.

On Sunday the 37th Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour takes place, with 35000 cyclists participating in what has become the world’s largest timed cycle race.  Most of the Cape Town city centre will be closed to traffic on Sunday morning, and all of Victoria Road from Hout Bay through Camps Bay to Bantry Bay and Beach Road in Sea Point is closed to traffic for the whole day, the race starting in the city centre and ending at the Cape Town Stadium.  The event generates R450 million for the economy of the Western Cape, says provincial Tourism Minister Alan Winde.

The ABSA Cape Epic takes place from 23 – 30 March, a tough endurance race covering picturesque areas in the Cape Winelands, and generates about R218 million for the province.

Most cyclists have left their getting fit to the last minute, and are taking to the city streets to get ready for Sunday.  Many (more…)

Today the Africa Cup of Nations draws to a close, when Nigeria takes on little known Burkina Faso of West Africa, in the final to be played this evening at 20h30, after the Closing Ceremony commences at the (temporarily AFCON renamed) National Stadium at 18h45.  While Johannesburg and Durban appear to have benefited from the African soccer tournament, Cape Town has seen no tourism bookings during or even for after the tournament.

Cape Town lost out on being a Host City for AFCON 2013, Councillor Grant Pascoe, responsible for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, appearing to have asked too many questions of the Local Organising Committee, especially about the guarantees from government.  This cost our city the opportunity to be a Host City, to see top soccer being played, and denied the tourism industry much needed income. Pascoe tried to offer Cape Town soccer fans a consolation prize of a Bafana Bafana friendly against Norway prior to the AFCON 2013 kick-off, which had no tourism benefit at all.  Pascoe also explained that the City had committed to other events at the same time as AFCON 2013, and couldn’t cancel these events.  The only event was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, which had booked the soccer stadia in Johannesburg and Cape Town during the AFCON 2013 period. Cancelling the concerts due to AFCON would have cost R90 million.  The ‘reckless management’ of the venue for the band’s performance at the National Stadium in Johannesburg was criticised, in impacting on its pitch, but it was judged to be acceptable for today’s Final earlier this week.

The smaller venues appear to not have as done as well as those in cities.  Last night’s third place play-off between Ghana and Cape Verde in Port Elizabeth was disappointing, with many unsold seats, it was reported. Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium was sold out for all its matches in which Bafana Bafana played, as well as for the semi-final earlier this week, reported The Mercury.   Durban has proudly stated that its R60 million cost of participating as an AFCON 2013 Host City has generated benefits in excess of the expenditure, estimated at R100 million already.  Tourism benefits must have been disappointing, for Durban admitting that ‘Afcon was not on the scale of the World Cup, and we did not see thousands of foreign soccer fans fill our hotels to capacity’. AFCON 2013 has been a very localised African tournament, with little international coverage.  On Germany’s leading TV station ZDF, for example, there has not been a mention to date.

Citing its success in selling out all Bafana Bafana matches, Durban challenged the Local Organising Committee to give it opening or closing ceremonies in future.  It proclaimed itself as the ‘best Afcon 2013 host city’, and bragged that the television coverage in Africa would position Durban as a ‘leading sports and tourism destination‘, hardly a positioning Cape Town would like to see go to Durban.  Durban seized the opportunity to sign a R4,4 million deal with Eurosport, on which inserts about Durban, and its sport celebrities such as Chad le Clos, and the Sharks rugby players, were featured.

Yesterday Kfm presenter Ian Bredenkamp shared in his radio show that the Cape Town Stadium, at which the Stormers vs Boland rugby match was played yesterday afternoon, had been an ideal venue for a rugby match, compared to Newlands Stadium.

Councillor Pascoe proudly Tweeted that he is on his way to London ‘to meet with 4 Premier Division Clubs’, obviously to attract them to play at the Cape Town Stadium.  Pascoe would have been fired from his position in a corporation for his faux pas in causing Cape Town to lose out as Host City.  However, as a senior DA politician in Cape Town, he is strong enough to retain his position as Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, despite not having much knowledge about the portfolio he controls, and therefore he has had to call in Anton Groenewald to run the show for him!

POSTSCRIPT 10/2: SA Tourism says it is ‘happy’ with visitor numbers attracted by AFCON 2013, according to Standard Digital News. Whilst actual tourism numbers are not yet available, the expectation was that 150000 soccer fans would have attended the tournament, generating $154 million for the economy.  The tourism authority focused its soccer marketing on Kenya, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria.  Hosting AFCON 2013 cost South Africa $53,5 million.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

The Deli @ The Square opened on Main Road in Paarl a month ago, in an historic building dating back to 1845, which has been renamed Frater’s Square and has been renovated, with a tenant mix of shops and the Deli. It is a welcome addition to Paarl, not having a Deli, and in that it will be open seven days a week, a rarity in this Boland town.

Frater’s Square has been developed by Gerard and Yvette Frater, and the building was the fruit and farm implement shed of the Hou Moed farm, reported The Month. Primi Piatti has operated from there for a year already, while new tenants are Blanc de Blanc Living, a decor shop all in white, Daffadowndilly, Wild Orchid Boutique, a travel agency, and a few more shops to come.  Andre Smith is the owner of Deli @ The Square, and was in Cape Town to buy provisions on the day I visited. He has no previous experience in owning  a restaurant or deli.

At the entrance to the Deli a red canopy proudly declares what it stands for: ‘The art of flavours’.  The staff wear black with matching red aprons.  Wooden branded tables and chairs are made by Artisan de Barrique.  The interior has raw brick walls, and the upstairs shops look onto the Deli from glass panels.  Tables are set up outside on good weather days, and a small stage has been built in the courtyard, for bands to perform in summer.

The Deli space is large, and shelving houses Pratto Mama Harissa sauce, cherry tomatoes in spicy vinaigrette, honey, Pickled onions, Pickled chillies, capers, anchovies, canned Italian tomatoes, olive oils, peanut oil, olives, soy sauce, Brodies teas, rice sticks, rice vermicelli, and more.  A Cape Herb & Spice stand is filled with ‘freeze dried herbs’, rubs and grinders.  At the deli counter there is a large selection of cold meats, some pre-packed and others available to be sliced. Breads from Backhaus in Brackenfell are delivered daily, and include olive ciabatta, farm loaf with sourdough, Bavarian brown, nutty seed health loaf, white crusty sourdough, 50% rye, macadamia nut and sourdough, and baguettes, costing between R13 –  R19. Cheeses are from Fairview, from Buffalo Mozzarella, and from Truckles. Cupcakes, three cakes available by slice, rusks, biscuits, and sweets are also available.  It is planned to source the cheeses and charcuterie from suppliers closer to Paarl.

Chef Alex Swart came to check on the table, introducing himself as the chef and GM of the restaurant.  He is in charge of the kitchen, but also cuts the Deli meats, which took some time, although it was requested on arrival.  He told me that he has worked as a waiter and a barman at other restaurants, his last employment having been at De Kelder in Paarl. He told me that his menu will evolve, and a blackboard outside advertised specials: chocolate créme brûlée (R30), waterblommetjie bredie (R55), and a 340g beef burger with pepper melt and chips (R65).  He told me that the Deli is planning to stock items not available in the local supermarkets.

Breakfast is served all day, excellent news, and one can order a health breakfast (R28), and various cooked breakfasts, including English, Espresso, scrambled, and omelettes, costing between R25 – R54, as well as French Toast (R35), croissants, and pastries.  I ordered Eggs Benedict, a very generous portion with two eggs, toast, hickory ham, and a delicious and rich golden hollandaise sauce, very good value at R49.  Everything else is good value too, salads costing between R40 – R55; soup or quiche (R35); bangers and mash (R37);  prego roll (R65);  burgers (about R55);  charcuterie, bread and cheese platter (R56); deli sandwiches (about R50); and toasted sandwiches (R18 – R27).  A special kiddies’ menu is also offered.

The liquor licence at the Deli @ The Square is eagerly awaited, not only by Chef Alex, but also by the customers, some of whom I overheard discussing this when I was there on Wednesday.   The waitress Minki who looked after me was charming and proactive, but her colleague less so, not bringing a second glass of water I had requested.  Getting the coppa ham sliced took some time, even though it was requested on arrival.  I was impressed that Chef Alex walked to each table, to connect with his clients.  Being open on Sundays is a huge plus for Paarl, with most restaurants and coffee shops closed on that day.

POSTSCRIPT 8/10: A return visit today was disappointing, in that a simple ham and cheese sandwich became a toasted sandwich (not described on the menu) served with a plateful of chips which was not ordered.  It meant that the order took much longer to get to the table (too long a wait at 20 minutes for what was meant to be a short stop). Chef Alex did come outside, where they have set up tables too, to greet all his clients, some of whom had not even received a menu.  The owner Andre was at the deli, and he shared that they have switched to Deluxe Coffee, to the delight of their customers.

Having been alerted to Volker’s Feinkost in Paarl after writing this blogpost, also open seven days a week, I popped in there too today, and was shocked at the poor service. A take-away slice of Apfelstrudel was accompanied by less than a teaspoonful of cream, in a container that could have taken at least 20 times that amount!  The owner Volker Goetze did not bother to return our call.  His reply to our e-mail was unsatisfactory.

Deli @ The Square, Frater’s Square, 40A Main Road, Paarl.  Tel 082 899 5318 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/deli.square Monday – Saturday 7h30 – 17h00, Sunday 7h30 – 15h00 (winter), closes at 19h00 in summer.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

One must salute SA Tourism in capitalising on Coldplay’s filming of its ‘Paradise’ music video in Cape Town, the Boland and the Karoo in marketing our country to tourists, something Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited had not thought of doing!

Coldplay performed in Cape Town and Johannesburg in October, and at short notice decided to film the music video for ‘Paradise’ in Cape Town, outside Paarl, on a game farm in the Karoo, and at its concert in Johannesburg.  The title of the song could not have been better chosen to reflect our beautiful country and city, and its popularity as a song, and as a fun and funky beautifully shot music video, has a tremendous tourism benefit for South Africa generally, and the Cape specifically, not costing the tourism authorities a cent.  The music video has had more than 44 million views to date, and the song has just started 2012 as the number one single on the UK hit charts, to the band’s own surprise in their Tweets.

SA Tourism is running a competition on a special Facebook promotion page, inviting those seeing the ‘Paradise’ music video on YouTube, to share with SA Tourism which part of the country ‘gives them inspiration in the same way it did for Coldplay’, reports the Australian eTravel Blackboard site.  The ten most imaginative, heartfelt, fun and spontaneous submissions from all over the world will be shortlisted, and put out to vote, to select the best. The winner will receive a 5-day holiday in South Africa, with the compliments of SA Tourism. The SA Tourism promotion proves that international tourism marketing does not need to cost the earth!

We would like to see lots more creative promotions and marketing of our country and the Cape from the tourism authorities this year, especially to the UK market, which has seen a massive drop-off, and has been our region’s tourism bread-and-butter.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

2011: what a year it’s been for the world, South Africa, and Whale Cottage – unpredictable, up and down, and a year in which one had to rethink every way in which one has run one’s business and life.  Most would say that it’s been one of the worst years ever!  But despite the tough times, there has been a lot to be grateful for as well.  I have summarised some of the high and low lights of the year:

1.  The knock which tourism took, especially from May – August, in being one of the worst winters ever experienced, had an effect on all sectors of the economy.  Restaurants frantically offered specials to gain cashflow, guest houses went back to dropping rates as they do in winter, and few took rate increases in summer, unlike their hotel colleagues, who suffered poor occupancy too.  More hotels and restaurants closed down than ever seen before. The recession in the UK hit South African tourism and wine sales badly, previously our major source market. From 50 % of our business in the summer months in Camps Bay, the UK business will be no more than 5 % this summer.  High airfares and the crippling UK airport taxes have not helped. The tourism situation was so bad that we wrote an Open Letter to national Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, as Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited were not aware of how bad things were in the Cape, and therefore did nothing to market the region and to help the tourism industry. Cape Town Tourism spent all its energy on Twitter, not yet the medium of communication of our average tourist, and on wasteful promotions, and therefore we did not renew our 20 year membership. The welcome increase in German tourists has not made up this shortfall, but we have been delighted to welcome many more South African guests.   The World Cup has become a swearword, the reality of its lack of a tourism benefit becoming clear. A blessing from Santa has been a much improved festive season, with no snow-bound tourists or strong south-easter wind, as happened last year.

2.  Events are hugely beneficial for business, and the Argus Cycle Tour, J&B Met, and Cape Town International Jazz Festival attracted out of town guests. The U2 and Coldplay concerts helped fill beds and delighted Cape Town audiences.  A fantastic outcome of Coldplay’s performance is that the music video for ‘Paradise’ was filmed in our city, the Boland and the Karoo – no better part of the world could have been chosen for this song!

3.  Cape Town has had an exceptional year, the darling of the world, winning the World Design Capital 2014 bid, Table Mountain being named one of New7Wonders of Nature (amid some controversy and as yet subject to verification), named top destination in TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination (for what it was worth!), and featuring strongly in the new James Bond book ‘Carte Blanche’.  Our city hotels, especially the Cape Grace and Steenberg Hotel, featured on international top hotel lists. Good news was the sale of the V&A Waterfront to a local company, which is investing in the upgrade of and addition to the country’s most popular tourist destination.

4.   Despite the doom and gloom, there were more restaurant openings, and chef and restaurant staff changes this year than in many years: The Pot Luck Club, Hemelhuijs, Dash, Casparus, Dear Me Foodworld, The Franschhoek Kitchen, Il Cappero, Café Benedict, The Kitchen at Maison, Sotano by Caveau, Knife, De Oude Bank Bakkerij, Ryan’s Kitchen, Caffe Milano, Mozzarella Bar, Cassis Salon de Thé, Power & the Glory, Haas Coffee, Johan’s @ Longridge, Skinny Legs & All, KOS Coffee & Cuisine, Café Dijon @ Zorgvliet, Le Coq, Act and Play Bar at the Baxter, Sunbird Bistro, Societi Brasserie, Jason’s, Bird Café with new owners, Maria’s after a long renovation closure, Toro Wine & Aperitif Bar, Valora, Café Le Chocolatier, Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant after a renovation and chef change, Art’s Café, Spice Route, Mitico, Knead on Kloof, Chez Chez, La Bella, 5 Rooms, Terbodore Coffee Bar, Wale Rose Lifestyle, The Black Pearl, Bistro on Rose, Slainte, Babel Tea House, Rhapsody’s, Café Extrablatt, Harvest, McDonalds in the V&A,  The Mussel Bar, The Franschhoek Food Emporium, Makaron, F.east, Bean There Fair Trade, Sabrina’s, Harbour House in the V&A, MCC Franschhoek, Clarke Bar & Dining Room, Roberto’s, French Toast, Saboroso, Mezepoli, Rocca in the Cape Quarter, and Roca in Franschhoek opening their doors, and new suppliers Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants and The Creamery opening too.

5.  Sadly, the recession was noticeable as it hit restaurants, and it was some of the newer restaurants that were badly hit, including What’s On Eatery, The Olive Shack, Bella Lucia, Blonde, Jardine, Caveau at the Mill, Nando’s in Camps Bay, The Sandbar, The Bistro, Restaurant Christophe, Doppio Zero in Green Point and Clarement, shu, Oiishi Delicious Caffe, Hermanos, The Kitchen Bar, Wildwoods, The Green Dolphin, De Huguenot restaurant, Wildflour, Depasco, Kuzina, and 221 Waterfront.

6.  The eating highlight of the year was the tribute dinner to the closing of El Bulli, one of the world’s best restaurants, by Tokara, Chef Richard Carstens excelling in serving a 13-course meal to a packed restaurant on 30 July, earning him and his team a standing ovation.  This meal alone should have made Chef Richard South Africa’s top chef in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards, but sole judge Abigail Donnelly proved that she was incapable of handling this new role and responsibility, not only in excluding Chef Richard from her Top 10 list, but also in awarding the new Boschendal Style Award to her client Makaron.

7.   Franschhoek evolved as THE wine region, Boekenhoutskloof being recognised as South Africa’s top winery by the Platter Guide, and La Motte the top wine estate in South Africa by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.  In the latter competition, Tokara was selected as top wine estate restaurant in the country. The sale of the Franschhoek Graham Beck farm was announced, and the operation closes mid-year in 2012. The winemaking will take place at Steenberg and at Graham Beck in Robertson, while a Graham Beck tasting bar Gorgeous will open at Steenberg in February.

8.   Hermanus was in the tourism marketing spotlight, when miraculously both the committee of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau resigned, and the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation was disbanded by the Overstrand Mayor.  We had written about the self-interest which had been served by the previous leaders of these two bodies in ‘Lermanus’!  A welcome product for Hermanus is the recently created Hermanus Wine Route, marketing of which will be in the capable hands of Carolyn Martin of Creation.

9.   The Consumer Protection Act was introduced in April, and has shown benefits in product deficiencies and returns.  Little effect has been seen for the tourism industry.  The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa tried to change its accommodation assessment standards, which caused a huge outcry.  Despite changing back to what they had before, many accommodation establishments lost faith in the organisation, and have not renewed their accreditation.

10.  The wedding of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlène in July put South Africa in the world spotlight, not only due to the televised broadcast of the wedding, but also as they celebrated their wedding with a second reception, at The Oyster Box in Umhlanga, now the country’s best known hotel.

11.  This year proved that the ‘social’ in Social Media is a misnomer in many respects, but it is the marketing platform which cannot be excluded.  We celebrated the 10th anniversary of our WhaleTales newsletter, the 3rd year of blogging, and our 1000 th blogpost this year.  We are grateful to our Facebook friends and likers, Twitter followers, and blog and newsletter readers for their support.

It is hard to predict 2012, and we will go with the flow.  2011 has made us tougher and even more thick-skinned, we have learnt to change with changed tourism times.  We look forward to a stable world economy, politics, as well as weather in 2012!

POSTSCRIPT 2/1: The most read posts on our blog in 2011 were the restaurant winter specials, the Festive Season packages, the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Charléne, the review of Casparus, the restaurant summer specials, the review of Gaaitjie in Paternoster, the death in Cape Town of the President of Ferrero Rocher,  the listing of restaurant openings and closures, the Consumer Protection Act, and Table Mountain making the New7Wonders of Nature.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage