Tag Archives: Boutique wine farms

Cape Town: City of Inspiration to work at addressing challenges in attracting business!

Cape Town Tourism has been conducting a series of ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshops since late last year, to share with its members as well as bloggers and other stakeholders what the outcome has been of a brainstorming session to find a positioning for Cape Town and what it can/should be, and to focus its marketing activities, not only from a Tourism perspective, but also from a general Business approach. 

Scanning the external environment, it identified threats such as the economic crisis, global urbanisation, and a greater consciousness about the impact of flying on the environment and climate change.  It also faced the reality that the seasonality in Cape Town’s tourism industry, unique to our city compared to others in the country, reflects that Cape Town does not have enough business tourism, being the result perhaps of too large a focus on Leisure Tourism in the past, and too little on attracting businesspersons to have their meetings, events and conferences in Cape Town.  Comparing the positioning of major world cities, e.g. Paris is Romance, New York is Energy, London is Tradition, it has historically been Beauty for Cape Town. Through its analysis, it was identified that the positioning of Inspiration is an overarching one that can position Cape Town beyond its more narrow tourism focus, to a broader one, reflecting the strengths of the City in respect of beauty, freedom, innovation, hope, creativity, diversity, dreams, ideas, and solutions to problems.

We have been critical about what we have seen in print about the Brand Cape Town workshops, but a completely different picture emerged in the presentation, which I was invited to attend last week, the last in the process of sharing the outcome of the brainstorm, and in obtaining input to the content of the branding and marketing debate.  To justify the positioning of Inspiration, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold took the attendees through the various ways in which Cape Town inspires its citizens, its local visitors, and its international tourists.  It was an inspiring presentation, and afterwards I felt proudly Capetonian in having learnt a lot more about the achievements of our city and its people.  The following were some of the Inspiration highlights identified for Cape Town in the presentation:

*   Nelson Mandela took his first steps of freedom in Cape Town, and Cape Town should own this historic moment

*   quality education facilities, with four top class universities in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.  Stanford has set up a satellite campus in the city, and Harvard is said to follow suit.   UCT had been voted top university in Africa, and best value for Money MBA in world in a Financial Times survey

*   safe CBD

*   excellent and modern infrastructure, including the airport, the IRT bus system, the station, highways, and the Cape Town Stadium

*   ‘cosmopolitan entry point into South Africa and Africa’

*   Focus on Biodiversity, with the smallest but most bountiful floral kingdom.  Kirstenbosch has won gold or silver for the past 33 years at the Chelsea Flower Show in London

*   Excellent healthcare facilities, with pioneering medical leadership, including Dr Christiaan Barnard’s heart transplant world first

*   One of best value guest house and B&B cities, offering not only 5-star accommodation

*   An historic port city

*   The V&A is South Africa’s leading tourist destination, and has further development plans

*   The Green Point Urban Park

*   A living heritage in the Castle, the oldest building in South Africa

*   A historic showcase of creativity at the Iziko museums and galleries

*   Living contemporary culture with African and European roots, which is not gumboot dancing!

*   Rich music tradition, in goema and Cape Minstrel music, but also current, with Goldfish, Jack Parow, Freshly Ground, Kyle Shepherd, Locnville, Die Antwoord, and Abdullah Ibrahim.  The Cape Town International Jazz Festival has become a world event.

*   Sporting tradition, in hosting the world’s largest timed Argus Cycle race, and the Volvo Ocean Race includes Cape Town, and sportspersons such as Para-Olympic star Natalie du Toit, and the development of the paddleyak

*   A theatre tradition, with Athol Fugard receiving a Lifetime Achievement award at the Tony’s for his plays

*   Africa’s first billionaire and space traveller Mark Shuttleworth, and his Shuttleworth Foundation, supporting IT development.  Development of Silicon Cape.

*   Sustainability Institute of the University of Stellenbosch

*   The Cape Town International Convention Centre is the leading convention centre in Africa

*   The leading builder of twin-hull catamarans

*  The favourite film and photography location, because of the beauty of and good light in the city, and the potential of a James Bond movie being shot in the city

*  Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Past President FW de Klerk

*   Table Mountain, which is a finalist for the New7Wonders of the World

*   Visits by magnificent Southern Right whales, home to penguins

*   Environmentally-friendly Green Cabs, and the opening up of cycle and pedestrian routes in the city 

*   Leading environmental and sustainable city, with all new low-cost housing built with solar geyser panels, and wind-farming in Darling.  ‘Smart Living Handbook’ for sustainability written by City of Cape Town 

*   Three wine routes within Cape Town and 16 on the city’s doorstep, with many boutique wine farms

*   Beer tourism is a new segment, with 40 micro breweries within a 2-hour drive of Cape Town.  Inspiring new BOS ice-tea 

*   Fresh produce markets, with organic foods, outstanding restaurants such as The Test Kitchen and Mzoli’s Meat define Cape Town, and the plan is to develop a Master Chefs Cape Town series.   Having Justin Bonello showcase South African food is a boost for the city.  Charly’s Bakery is a passionate, all-women team, who baked a cake representing Cape Town for the Design Indaba.

*   Cape Town is one of three finalists for World Design Capital 2014, with Bilbao and Dublin, spearheaded by the Cape Town Partnership.  The judges will be in Cape Town from 24 – 27 July, and the winning city will be announced on 26 October. The Design Indaba is a design highlight for the country, with its annual conference and exhibition.  At the last exhibition, attendees were asked to write in support of the city’s bid – this comment summarised what Cape Town stands for: “Cape Town’s people are her most beautiful landscape”.

*    Cape Town has a vibrant fashion scene, designer Dion Chang saying that “The tip of Africa is the tipping point”.

*   Cape Town is at the center of the magazine publishing industry.

*   The city has excellent furniture designers

*   The Joule electric car is being built in Cape Town, the first in Africa.

*   Cape Town has more Social Media users than any other part of the country 

 During her presentation, Mrs Helmbold made a number of statements about our city:

*   Economy based on tourism, finance, infrastructure, food and wine, logistics, and creative industries.

*   Cape Town is at the tipping point, either sinking into oblivion, or living up to the accolades it is reaping

*   Cape Town has been in a brand vacuum since the World Cup – not spending money on marketing the city will lead us to the example of Sydney, which is seeing a steady decline in visitors as it decided to not market the city after the 2000 Olympics

*   A destination is not just a slogan or a logo

*   Cape Town is a city of contrasts, of haves and have-nots

*   Brand Cape Town’s strength is Tourism (Visit), it is neutral on its education and residential facilities (Live and Learn), and weak on its potential as a centre of employment and investment (Work and Invest).

*   Cape Town underperforms in domestic tourism, mainly relative to Durban

*   Conversion of holidaymakers into business tourists is needed for Cape Town, and business visitors must be encouraged to return as holidaymakers, as Cape Town is weak as a Business Brand

*   Cape Town is a ‘challenger brand’ which does not have a long-established history, and stands for freedom, freshness and transformation, attractive to a world that has got tired of visiting boring places. “Challenger brands harness the power of authenticity, locals first, emotional pull, storytelling (Word of Mouse)”.

*   The pillars of Cape Town are Robben Island; its cultural diversity; the food and wine industry; Biodiversity; Table Mountain; Cape of Good Hope; hubs of innovation, creativity, enterprise and government; higher education and skills training; Sports and MICE; and Colour and Light.  

Cape Town Tourism is to assist business-related bodies in the city to market the city with a ‘brand box’.   It has worked with Accelerate, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Wesgro, Cape Town Partnership, and the City of Cape Town in developing the new positioning for Cape Town, to establish it as ‘one of the top world cities to live, work, invest, learn and visit, in order to drive inclusive economic growth and social transformation in Cape Town’.  The presentation we attended was the last, and the implementation phase will now commence, Mrs Helmbold said.  In question time, FEDHASA Cape chairman Dirk Elzinga stated that great things are happening in Cape Town, but ‘we are not telling the world’, he said.

Mel Miller, former ad agency owner and creative director, and ex Cape Town Tourism Board member, is very critical of Cape Town’s new ‘Inspirational’ positioning, saying that it has been used by Edinburgh (‘Inspiring Capital’) already.  Miller points out that a previous tourism strategy consultant to Cape Town Tourism comes from Edinburgh! 

Mrs Helmbold showed a video presentation by Silver Bullet meant to represent Cape Town.  It was certainly not one of a beautiful Cape Town, but one of a very cloudy looking Cape Town, with a lot of focus on clouds billowing over Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, and what appeared as a fast-speed race through Cape Town.  I was NOT inspired by it, and it did not represent any of the Inspiration that Mrs Helmbold had presented to the audience.

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

Restaurant Review: Knife Restaurant serves good cuts of steak!

Knife Restaurant is an American smoke-house themed restaurant, known particularly for its very tasty BBQ-sauce marinated and smoked ribs, and is a sister restaurant to Fork, a tapas style restaurant in Long Street, described as a “plateful on a fork”.  Knife opened three months ago in the rather kitsch looking Crystal Towers Hotel in Century City, with its magenta lighting, odd furniture, and even odder fisherman ‘fishing’ in a water feature in the Reception. 
It is hard to define what Knife stands for from the décor.  It is dominated by a central bar counter, with a hodge podge of interior styles, and different seating areas around it, accommodating about 100 patrons. Two walls are wallpapered with images of children of the owner Ed Saunders, to reflect that children are welcome to eat there.  Another wall has depictions of beef and pig cuts.  The music was very loud, but was turned down.   The lighting was on an automatic dimmer switch for the whole restaurant, reducing down to a very low ‘dull day’ light setting at 20h00, for which the manager struggled to find the switch to turn the lighting up again.  Raw cement columns dominate the space, and look unfinished, and seem out of place with the rest of the décor.  The décor is in strong contrast to the rest of the hotel.   There are wooden tables and chairs, and massive red/white dishcloth-type serviettes.  We chose a table close to a sliding door leading to the parking area, with a cold inflow of air whenever the door opened on the cold rainy night, so we moved around the corner to stay warm.   
 

I had invited my friend Sarah from Durban to join me for dinner, and our first reaction was one of uncertainty as to whether we would be happy there.  Everything changed when the charming then-Manager David Elsbury came to the table, and took personal care of us, entertaining us with his friendly and cheerful nature. He compared Knife to Carne and HQ as competitors in terms of the quality of their steaks.   David worked at Wakami previously, and helped set up the new bar for Knife.  He has left to move into a non-hospitality job, for the sake of better working hours to benefit his family.  JD Haasbroek is a partner with Saunders in the business, and compiled the winelist, making sure to add boutique wine farm brands.  The chef Jonathan Japha moved over from Fork.

David told us that the Knife at Century City is the first of a number of franchised steak and rib Knife restaurants planned, next ones to be in Johannesburg and Durban.  A Spoon restaurant may also be considered, concentrating on soups and desserts, which seemed an attractive concept, we felt.    

The menu is equally “mish mash”, reflecting the interior.  It offers starters, salads, burgers, fish and shellfish, steaks and ribs, and platters.  A selection of sauces, including creole mayo, wholegrain mustard, blue cheese, cumin and cream, and green peppercorn and bourbon sauce, costs R25 each.   Extra sides of salads and vegetables can also be ordered at R 25 each. 

A 400g portion of “smoked sticky BBQ baby back ribs” costs R 80, and a 600g portion R110.  The ribs are oak-smoked and marinated for 24 hours in a special BBQ marinade.   Steaks are cut from Chalmar beef that has been aged for 28 days before serving.  David explained that Chalmar beef is grain-fed, and has no added hormones. Sirloin and rump steak choices are offered, at an acceptable price of R95/R115 for 200g/300g rump, and R110/130 for 200g/300g sirloin.  Fillet costs R 135, but the portion size is not specified.  Both meat types are served with French fries and corn on the cob (for the American touch!), as well as a sauce of one’s choice.  David organised that my steak came with a boiled potato.  The rump steak was excellent, cooked medium rare perfectly, as ordered, and the taste of the marinade came through.  Sarah ordered the vegetarian sticky sweet potato stack with mozzarella and tomato relish (R40), and felt that there was too little vegetable and too much sauce, overpowering the sweet potato.  She indulged in a Rocky Road dessert (R50), finding the marshmallows quite hard, making them difficult to chew, whilst the rest of the dessert was soft, “melt-in-the-mouth”, in her words.

Starter options range from R 40 – R65, and include a  variety of choices, including Creole mussel curry and Cajun lamb ribs.  The Caesar salad costs R50, while a Nicoise salad made from seared game fish costs R70.  Burger choices included one made from chickpea (R55), and a bacon and cheese burger (R65).  On the seafood side one can order Creole fishcakes (R65), sole and line fish (R90), king prawn gumbo (R110), and crayfish tails at R180.   A Meat platter costs R220 for two persons, and contains a selection of ribs, chicken wings, rump steak, lamb chops and a sauce.  A Seafood platter for two persons costs R240.

The winelist has 16 wines-by-the-glass, and I chose a wonderful 2004 Stony Croft Shiraz from Stellenbosch, a Platter 4 1/2 star wine, according to David, which I had not previously heard of, and which was excellent value at R32.  The list is simply divided into “White” and “Red”, and then sub-divided by variety, and the vintage and region is specified, but there is no description of the wine.  Champagne Henri Giraud Espirit de Giraud NV costs R500, Krone Borealis R 40/R180, and Colmant NV R240.  Sauvignon Blancs offered are Badsberg (R23/R92), Reyneke Organic Reserve White the most expensive at R270.  Boekenhoutskloof Shiraz 2007 costs R400.

We paid R280 for a steak, a starter, a dessert, a cappuccino and a glass of red wine.  As Knife is too far away from where I live, I will only go back when next I go on a shopping trip to Canal Walk.  The steak is well worth a visit, and according to David, the ribs are too.

Knife restaurant, Crystal Towers Hotel, corner Century Boulevard and Rialto Road, Century City, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 551-5000 www.knife-restaurants.co.za . The website is functional, informative, has various menus – Christmas specials, kiddies menu, main menu, brunch menu, etc., lists all the reviews, and has a small gallery – more photographs would be welcome.  Monday – Sunday 11h00 – 23h00.  Weekend brunch 10h00 – 15h00.

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