Whilst I wrote SwitchBitch 2 in Apricale in Italy last year, I saw JAN the JOURNAL Volume 1 lying in the Apricus Locanda B & B in Italy. I was intrigued by its look and feel, and content, knowing Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen, Chef and co-owner of the one star Michelin restaurant JAN in Nice to be highly creative and meticulous in everything that he does. Continue reading →
I don’t often visit Lifestyle on Kloof, but needed to buy something at Wellness Warehouse yesterday morning, so spent an interesting morning, revisiting the centre, and some of its more quirky shops. My shock surprise was discovering the jam-packed Olive Branch Deli, a ‘Community Grocer‘ which has been in the centre, adjacent to Woolworths, for 18 months already! Continue reading →
The winners of the 8th annual Eat Out Zonnebloem Produce Awards were announced at the Stellenbosch Slowmarket yesterday. The Eat Out media release states that the quality of produce was excellent this year, and that it was not easy to choose the overall winners.
Judges were Deena Naidoo, MasterChef SA Season 1 winner, Eat Out Top 10 Chef Jackie Cameron of Hartford House, Chef Vanessa Marx of Dear Me, Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, and Eat Out Editor-in-Chief Anelde Greeff.
We are delighted that the Oranjezicht City Farm has received recognition for its excellent work, in winning the South African Heritage Award. Anel Potgieter’s ‘Life is a Zoo Biscuit’ won Best Local Food Blog for the second time. Farmer Angus has been a pioneer for organic meat and egg production at Spier, and has been a previous winner too. It is no surprise that Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants has received the ‘Outstanding Outlet’ award for the Cape area, having been the former 2013 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge, yet it is surprising in that the outlet is in a dive location, and the service arrogant and poor – we are still waiting for the calf’s liver we ordered more than a month ago!
The 2014 Eat Out Zonnebloem Produce Awards winners are: Continue reading →
The Wordsworth launch lunch of Agri-Expo Dairy Manager Kobus Mulder’s book ‘Cheeses of South Africa’ at Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town yesterday was most enjoyable, with great company, good food and wine, a charming hotel ambassador, and entertaining author/speaker.
Gorry Bowes-Taylor has been organising book launch lunches for Wordsworth for years, and will be a comedian in a next life, not being the most diplomatic lunch hostess, but is loved for making her guests laugh, and for finding new venues at which to hold the book launches. As I have written before, the lunches have a cult following by some of her regulars, who are not really interested in the subject of the book or the author, but who find value in the R225 three course launch lunch, excellent quality wines, the chance of making new friends at the table, the chance of winning a prize in the lucky draw, and for being entertained by Gorry and the author/speaker. She did not disappoint with her lunch organisation yesterday. Wordsworth sets up a table to sell the discounted launch book at such a function. Continue reading →
The camphor trees at Vergelegen were planted 310 years ago, and are our country’s oldest trees. Five of these trees have been declared National Monuments, and are expected to live another 150 – 200 years, the estate’s website predicts. With history surrounding the restaurant, its interior design, and food and wine offering are classic yet state of the art!
There were two reasons why trying out new restaurant Camphors at Vergelegen was a must: its interior design was done by Christo Barnard, who also did the striking interior of Pierneef à La Motte, and its new award-winning Chef PJ Vadas. Lunch yesterday at Camphors at Vergelegen, to celebrate my dad’s 97th birthday two days prior, was a perfect choice for this special occasion.
Previously the Lady Phillip’s restaurant popular amongst Somerset West residents for a light lunch and teas, Camphors at Vergelegen has been completely renovated and upgraded, with the thatch roof redone, the floor tiled in high gloss black tiles, curtains in grey/white/black stripes added, couch seating in silver/grey in addition to black-framed chairs with white fabric, crystal chandeliers, Persian carpets, and framed mirrors give the restaurant interior a stylish look, and a lovely romantic smell of thatch. The terrace outside has been extended, and a roof cover protects the tables from rain and wind in part, with a cooling spray, the gusty south-easter playing havoc with our menus and threatening to blow over our glasses yesterday. The outside tables are stylish square glass-top, at which white chairs in a net fabric with silver frames and legs are extremely comfortable, as if one is sitting on soft leather. The glassware is by Bormioli, and the sparkling wine glasses in particular are elegant. Cutlery is by Hepp Exclusiv, still shiny new. A black net weave place mat, and a side plate with a material serviette finish off the table decor, without any flowers. The Peugeot salt and pepper grinders are only brought out when the starters arrive. Sixty guests can be seated inside and outside. One looks out onto a massive camphor tree, with an owl nesting in it, Chef PJ said, some palms, and very old oak trees. Peacocks prance through the garden.
Chef PJ Vadas joined The Roundhouse when it opened four years ago, and the restaurant made the Eat Out Top 10 list twice in this period. Having qualified at Warwick’s Chef School in Hermanus, and a dad owning Pembury’s in Knysna, Chef PJ headed to London, in search of employment at the restaurants of his chef hero Gordon Ramsay, whom he had seen on a TV cooking show. He was given an opportunity to start at the bottom at Ramsay’s Petrus restaurant, and also spent time at the Connaught Hotel in London, and at Moulin de Mougins, working with Chef Roger Vergé on the French Riviera. He worked for a Ramsay restaurant in New York, and returned to Cape Town four years ago. I met Chef PJ for the first time about a month ago at Burrata, as I have never been to The Roundhouse on principle, due to the owner’s arrogance. It was a delight therefore that Chef PJ came out of the kitchen, with pencil on his ear, to welcome us, to tell us about the herb garden and his kitchen, and about his menu. Even more exciting was the invitation to visit his kitchen, an extremely organised and neat space, well kitted out in equipment, and spacious enough for the team of six. Founder of the SA Chefs’ Association Garth Stroebel was appointed earlier this year as a consultant to Vergelegen for its new restaurants, The Stables having opened a few months ago, and he dictated the kitchen design. The kitchen has a chef’s table which will soon be available for eight guests at a time. Over the table is an unusual chandelier made from cooking spoons. Chef PJ is focusing on sourcing supplies locally, but said that condiments such as soy sauce are still imported. He does not use imported foie gras nor scallops. He sources meat and eggs from Farmer Angus, and herbs and vegetables from Steve the Magic Man.
Christo Dyzel is the Restaurant Manager, having moved across from Indochine to join the new restaurant. The staff is new, and Tony and a colleague moved with Chef PJ from The Roundhouse. Their staff is generally well-trained, being the home of service training company Let’s Sell Lobster, and winning the Eat Out Best Service Award in 2011. Christo came to check that all was to our satisfaction every few minutes, and brought complimentary glasses of Vergelegen Brut MMV 2007 (R200 per bottle) to the table, a blend of 40% Pinot Noir and 60% Chardonnay, all grapes grown on the wine estate. Of the 5000 bottles produced, 1000 are released annually, giving the balance of the bottles a longer time on the lees, the 2007 having had 24 months.
The menu is a paper one, which will be placed in classy soft black leather covers as soon as they arrive, as will be the winelist. The menu choice is simple: choose two courses for R250, and three courses for R350. A six-course tasting menu costs R550, and a 6-course tasting menu paired with wines R750. Tony brought Portuguese-style Bacalao fritters on a saffron sauce on a slate plate to the table as an amuse bouche, unusual in its content and striking in its colour, with ciabatta and baguette presented in a wooden box. I tried the starter of asparagus and watercress velouté, with a Farmer Angus egg slow-poached at 64°C for 8 minutes, and a parmesan crisp and pea shoots, served in a most beautiful black ceramic bowl by ceramicist Diana Ferreira. Other starter options are steak tartare with smoked bone marrow and avocado purée; lamb tongue carpaccio with braised lamb belly; pork hock and chicken terrine; miso-cured yellow tail with sweetbread; and Buffalo Ridge mozzarella with aubergine purée, and elderflowers.
Main courses are Panga with chorizo, octopus and caper butter; beautifully plated Trout, oysters, cauliflower and pickled cucumber, which my dad proclaimed to be the best he had ever tasted in his 97 years! (right); porcini risotto with goat’s cheese; grass-fed beef sirloin and tongue; slow roasted pork belly; and duck breast smoked in hay, confit leg, pea purée and braised lettuce, which came with a portion of chips fried in duck fat (left).
A surprise pre-dessert was served in an oval glass, with refreshing layers of chopped pineapple, yoghurt, and pineapple granite, with a coconut tuile. My dad’s dessert plate of Swiss Felchlin chocolate and crispy coconut dacquoise with chocolate ice cream, was decorated with a birthday message. My mother enjoyed her refreshing Rose and blackberry mille-feuille with mulberries. Other dessert options are Nectarine and almond tart; raspberry soufflé; and South African cheese toasties with preserved and pickles. The dry cappuccino request was perfectly executed, and it was accompanied with mini chocolate and nut muffins.
The 6-course Tasting Menu has smaller tasting portions of a number of the items on the A la Carte menu, paired with Vergelegen wines. The wine list only offers Vergelegen wines, with a choice of the Premium range (very reasonably priced R33 – R37 per glass/R100 – R110 per bottle), the Reserve range (R60/R180 – R77/R230), and the Flagship Range (by the bottle only, R260 – R360, and R900 for the Vergelegen ‘V’ 2008).
Christo was at great pains to emphasise that the restaurant is less than a month old, and that they will only officially launch in February. The service generally was very good, and the food excellent. The cost of the food (yet including three surprise extra small courses), and being restricted to a choice of two, three, six, or seven courses, may make Camphors at Vergelegen a special celebration restaurant. With Chef PJ Vadas at the helm in the kitchen, the service, reasonable prices for the award-winning Vergelegen wines, and classy interior, the restaurant is sure to become an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant contender. Paying an entrance fee to the estate seems very old-fashioned, and this income surely is not needed by its owners Anglo American! It may be a deterrent, as the security staff do not explain that it allows one to see all the estate’s facilities, only offering a map brochure if one asks for it.
Camphors at Vergelegen, off Lourensford Road, Somerset West. Tel (021) 847-1334. www.vergelegen.co.za Lunch Wednesday – Sunday, Dinner Friday and Saturday. Twitter: @PJVadas R10 entrance fee to Vergelegen.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
A weekend break at Grand Dedale on the Doolhof wine estate introduced me to the wealth of food produce available in Wellington. With the help of Grand Dedale owner Angelo Casu, and feedback from the restaurants visited, we compiled the following list of suppliers:
· Vrugbaar is one of the oldest pork butchers in the Western Cape. Vrugbaar farm, Bovlei. Tel (021) 864-1222.
· Foxenburg Estate supplies goat’s milk cheeses, including Chevre, Chabris, Cream cheese, Crottin, Foxtail, and Caprino Romano. Agter Groenberg. Tel (021) 873-5617. www.foxenburg.co.za
· Bontebok Ridge Reserve has wild boar, which it is breeding in captivity, and supplies biltong, as well as venison (wildebeest, eland, springbok, and wild boar). Tel 082 576 9657. www.bontebokridge.com
· Olive oils come from local farms Kleinfontein (Tel (021) 864-1202), Foxenburg Estate (Tel 021 873-5617), Upland Organic Estate (Tel (021) 873-5724), and Clarins
* Olives come from Foxenburg Estate (Tel (021) 873-5617) and Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm (Tel (021) 873-3696)
· Rabbit is supplied on a small scale to Wellington and Paarl restaurants by Stephen Taylor, Tel 083 4511 775
· Wild boar is also supplied by Schalk van Schalkwyk, Tel 082 829 7161
· Buffalo Ridge is the only Buffalo Mozzarella and yoghurt supplier in the country, having imported 30 Water buffalo from Campana in Italy. Tel 082 375 0977.
* Butter, Yoghurt, Peasant cheese, Cottage cheese, and Feta come from Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm. Tel (021) 873-3696 www.bloublommetjieskloof.com
* Compote, jams, and marmalade come from Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm. Tel (021) 873-3696
* Herbs come from Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm. Tel (021 873-3696
· Cured meat comes from Walter Brink, the son of the Potjiekos king. 082 9224848
· Cordial comes from Wilde at Heart, and is available in amazing flavours: Victoria Rose, Lemon, Fresh Ginger, Indigenous Buchu. Wolvenhoek. Tel 084 734 2087
* Organic asparagus in September and October, Wilde at Heart. Wolvenhoek. Tel 084 734 2087
· Honey comes from Ringrose
· Safari dried fruit and vinegar comes from S.A.D.
Wellington also has a number of restaurants, many of them using the Wellington produce. Some have opened recently, and are less well known than their counterparts in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. I popped in at some last weekend:
· Vino’s is the newest restaurant, only about 2 weeks old, and is owned by Kobus and Yolande Fourie. ‘With Vino’s we have decided to bring back the good old steakhouse’, says their menu, and they explained that they don’t encourage children nor students to eat there, to keep it a romantic and special ‘spoiling’ restaurant for couples. They serve 250g ‘grade A steak’ with chips and a salad, and one can order sides. They have a small Café Prive too for special dinner parties. They describe themselves as ‘salt and pepper chefs’, and guests praise their ‘eerlike kos’. Snails cost R42 as a starter, 250g Rump and Sirloin R89, Fillet R105, and beef schnitzel R65. 600g of pork ribs cost R85. Cordon Bleu costs R89, beef burgers R 45, and hake and chips R45. Can seat up to 60 inside and outside. Monday – Saturday dinner. 111 Main Road, Wellington. Tel (021) 873-5075
· Kristies belongs to the same owners as Vino’s, and is a day-time coffee shop, catering for local pensioners and students, their dish of the day (e.g. bobotie, chicken pie, tomato bredie) priced at R35 being hugely popular, discounted to R30 per day for regulars. Menu changed every week. Cooked Breakfasts from R20 – R45. Hamburgers and chips R40/R45. Lasagne and Curry and rice R25. Platters and free fruit in back garden in summer. It recently relocated to its new location, from Church Street. Monday – Saturday breakfast and lunch, 8h00 – 17h00. 111 Main Road, Wellington. Tel (021) 873-5075
· The Stone Kitchen on Dunstone opened over a year ago, with Johan van Schalkwyk as chef, but he left to open his own restaurant three months ago. Owner and Chef Alli Wallace is now in charge. Supplies from the Estate vegetable garden, and guavas, grapes and lemons too. Winelist only has Dunstone wines, including Shiraz, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Blackboard menu, with chicken pie (R85), venison casserole (R85), own-made thyme, marjoram and rosemary pork sausage (R65), fresh baked bread (baguette, ciabatta, rye, bagels and croissants) barrel boards at about R55, starters in two sizes/prices, desserts around R40. Special children’s menu. Picnics to be offered in guava orchard, with live music, on weekends from November, with a childminder service. Spit braais once a month on family Sundays, starting on 14 October. Very friendly manager Rosanne. Bovlei Road, Tel (021) 873-6770. Twitter: @StoneKitchen10 @Dunstone Wednesday – Sunday 9h00 – 16h00
· Twist Some More is the interesting name of the new restaurant of charming Chef Johan van Schalkwyk, and he is proudly Wellington in sourcing his supplies of wild boar, rabbit, vegetables, herbs, cheeses, and more locally. He is also slowly building up a Deli section to his restaurant, which will stock a cross-section of Wellington produce. He is already stocking a granola mix, honey, olives and oils, charcuterie, cheeses, cordials, dried porcini mushrooms, nuts, dried fruit, cakes, cupcakes, scones, rusks, and muffins. Extensive innovative blackboard menu, with cooked breakfasts at about R55, starters at about R45, mains range from R65 for a wild boar burger to R115 for aged T-bone steak, desserts R45. Winelist Proudly Wellington. Hexberg Road, Bovlei. Tel (021) 864-1467. Twitter @ChefTwist. Wednesday – Saturday dinner, Wednesday – Sunday open from 10h00.
· No 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht is a restaurant which opened in August in honour of Springbok Schalk Burger, who wears the number 6 rugby jersey, and who grew up on this wine estate. Its table number 6 is for 6 guests, and is the best table in the house, closest to the fireplace. A chef’s table will be set up soon. The restaurant can seat about 80 guests inside and outside, with more guests once they complete a pergola and deck all the way from the restaurant to the tasting room. Tapas will be offered with winetasting. Owned by Susanna and John Tecklenburg, who ran the Oude Wellington for six years. Extensive menu of classics (e.g. Avocado Ritz, ox tongue, Coupe Denmark), Dutch specialities (e.g. Bitterballen), and local dishes such as waterblommetjie soup, presented on black board. Source supplies locally, from Goedehoop butchery in Paarl, and venison comes from Schalk Burger Snr’s farm in the Karoo. Picnics at the dam planned for summer, with an au pair service for the guests’ children. High Tea at about R85 per person from October. Special private function rooms in the cellar. Welbedacht wine estate. Tel 082 836 8924/079 663 4039. Wednesday – Sunday lunch, Wednesday – Saturday dinner.
· One of the best kept secrets of Wellington is the good restaurant at Grand Dedale, which caters for its accommodation guests, and accepts bookings from outsiders subject to demand. Its new chef is Daniel de Villiers, previously with Delaire Graff. I spent a restful weekend there, using it as a base to ‘forage’ the Wellington ‘Restaurant Route’. They serve a 5-course dinner which includes an amuse bouche and cheese selection for a reasonable R350. The highlights I tasted over two dinners were a beef carpaccio with leeks and oyster mushrooms and a horse radish cream salad; Norwegian salmon with braised cabbage, baked crispy potato, mange tout, and a basil sauce, for which a fish knife was served. The most interesting dish was a wild boar lasagne served with a brie sauce, the first time that I had tasted this. I was expecting a wild taste, but it was not prominent. Grand Dedale owner Angelo Casu told me that they use wild boar for carpaccio, mince, and sausage.
Breakfasts are equally generous, with a range of cereals, a fresh fruit salad, two choices of yoghurt, a selection of nuts, honey, freshly squeezed juices, cappuccino, cold meats, cheeses, rolls, freshly baked bread, and a selection of wonderful cooked breakfasts, the Wellington Breakfast consisting of ingredients all sourced in Wellington, being free-range eggs from the Bovlei valley, back bacon from Vrugbaar butchery, sautéed oyster mushrooms from Foxenburg Estate, venison sausage from Bontebok Ridge Reserve, and fresh garden tomatoes. Other options are scrambled free-range eggs, with smoked salmon roses, capers and crème fraiche; omelettes with venison sausage; sautéed spinach, oyster mushrooms, Buffalo Ridge feta cheese; as well as crepes. The salmon on rosti was a beautiful breakfast addition, and tasty too!
Grand Dedale, Doolhof wine estate. Tel (021) 873-4089. www.granddedale.com Twitter: @GrandDedale
If there is anything to fault about all the Wellington restaurants, then it is that their portions are massive. Their customers are not complaining! It will be interesting to see how Wellington’s restaurants develop, with the excellent quality and variety of produce coming from this fertile town.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
De Grendel wine estate must have the most beautiful view of all wine estates in the Western Cape, with its idyllic setting looking over Table Bay and onto Table Mountain. Now the wine estate owned by Sir David Graaff has opened De Grendel Restaurant in its winetasting centre, not only offering a magnificent view, but also beautiful food.
I was invited by De Grendel’s Public Relations consultant Errieda du Toit to share lunch with her a week after De Grendel Restaurant opened. I had only been to the wine estate once before, more than a year ago, with the Gastronauts, when catering had been brought in from outside. The room was transformed in collaboration with the Graaff family, blue brought into the table legs, into the upholstery fabric of some the chairs, as well as into the magnificent underplates made by ceramist Mervyn Gers (once the head of Radio Kontrei, the predecessor of Kfm). The underplates have the Graff family crest, showing a Paschal lamb, five stars representing the Southern Cross, flanked by the Boer farmer on the one side and a miner on the other, with three spades and armour. The blue pattern on the rim of the plate is repeated in bowls on the tables, and matches the Delftware in the armoire in the restaurant. Matching the underplates in quality is the most stylish, classic but modern, cutlery by Robert Welch, used in Michelin-starred restaurants, we were told by restaurant owner Jonathan Davies, which he was surprised that @Home has the agency for in South Africa. The Graaff family was awarded the baronetcy in 1911 for service rendered to the Crown in South Africa. The first Sir David had introduced the commercial cold storage and transportation of meat in South Africa, was the Mayor of Cape Town, introducing electricity to the city, helped set up the dry dock in the Cape Town harbour, and was involved in the building of the Table Mountain cableway. One wall has a collection of Graaff family photographs, including his son and politician Sir De Villiers Graaff dancing with the then Princess Elizabeth, now the Queen of England, on her Royal visit to Cape Town in 1947. The far end of the dining room has a glass window which allows one to look into the wine cellar, while the kitchen is visible behind a glass window on the opposite end. The ambiance created is to make one feel as if one is dining with the Graaff family.
The involvement of Jonathan Davies raises the cuisine bar for Cape Town, given that he owns the The Crown at Whitebrook, voted the best restaurant in Wales and one of the Top 50 restaurants in the UK, and has been awarded three AA rosettes, and one Michelin star for a number of years. He has worked at Ellerman House, and at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, and has been coming to South Africa for seven years, having married his Pretorian wife. He met the Graaff family via a Bishops function where the respective children and grandchildren are in the same class. The deal was struck when Sir David came to have a meal at the Welsh restaurant. Jonathan has training in both front of house and as a chef, but has decided to concentrate on the former, and has brought in Chef Ian Bergh, previously of Pure at the Hout Bay Manor, Five Flies, and La Colombe. This exciting team has created a wonderful menu of creative dishes, and one senses that they had fun in coming up with new dishes never seen before on a local menu. A classic was Jonathan telling us about his Brandy and Coke ice cream he is working on, having observed how popular this drink is in South Africa, and a guinea fowl burger is planned. Jonathan says he will offer ‘fine dining’, his definition of it being that it is ‘food prepared well and with passion’. They are also bringing the De Grendel wines into the cuisine, and are using the wines to make chocolate truffles, a weakness of Sir David, I was told.
Chef Ian brought out four dishes to give us a taste of his menu, and Jonathan brought glasses of De Grendel wines paired with each dish. We sat in the ‘Conservatory’, a smaller room alongside the main restaurant, overlooking a large dam, and the green fields of the farm, on which Arab horses are kept for an equine remedial therapy programme, helping children with impediments, and in which geese, goats, Nguni cattle, and sheep can be seen too, against the landmark backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain. Grain and grapes are farmed at De Grendel.
The meal started with a slice of roast potato bread, served with home-made butter in a ceramic dish made by another top Cape Town ceramicist Lisa Firer, who also made the salt and pepper pots. The salad of fig, Buffalo Ridge mozzarella, cherry tomato and a raspberry dressing was a fresh starter, and a beautiful medley of leaves, which Jonathan paired with the 2011 De Grendel Sauvignon Blanc, the cool breeze off the sea being ideal for growing this grape variety. The Winifred blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Semillon was paired with a pea ravioli, free range chicken, Gorgonzola spuma, and a creamy De Grendel Chardonnay sauce. The starters range in price from R75 – R130, and other options include scallop, cob, duck liver, and squid.
The pork belly main course was superb, served with apple puree, roasted as well as pickled baby beetroot, and a sage and De Grendel Winifred jus, which Jonathan paired with the De Grendel Pinot Noir. Other main courses are Beef onglet (a French beef cut), venison, lamb, veal, and line fish, ranging from R135 – R155, and guinea fowl with foie gras (R240). The piece de resistance, that impressed with its beauty, creaminess, and simplicity, was the dessert, a basil panna cotta served with pomegranate (a special sweet taste, with a popping sound when one bites the kernels, and a beautiful deep red colour), served with strawberry and basil sprout. Given that Jonathan had told us about his Brandy and Coke dessert, a portion of it was made, which Errieda and I shared, being a malva pudding served with an apricot samoosa, a ball of Coca Cola ice cream, and a Brandy sauce.
For dinner a 6 – 8 course tasting menu is offered. The restaurant is child-friendly, and has sourced a children’s range of cutlery. Children under 3 years do not pay. Child-friendly dishes can be made, or children can order smaller portions of their parents’ dishes. High-chairs will be available for children. A range of children’s activities is planned, mainly to educate the children about vegetable growing and harvesting. They will even be able to plant their own vegetables, and would be encouraged to return to see them grow.
I didn’t look at the winelist, but Jonathan told me that the wines are sold at cellar prices, a most commendable pricing strategy! Errieda told me that the Graaffs started wine farming twelve years ago, making good wines at affordable prices. The farm is 350 meters above sea level and 7 km from the sea. Charles Hopkins is the Cellar master and Elzette du Preez the winemaker. The De Grendel wine range includes MCC, Rubaiyat, Shiraz, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc. Sir David has had a wine made in honour of his wife Lady Sally, called the Winifred, her second name. They have recently launched a Sauvignon Blanc-based Noble Late Harvest. Bottled triple carbon filtered water comes from the farm, and the glass bottles are re-used. Sundays sees traditional lunch fare, and Jonathan will carve a roast or chicken for a family at the table. The Crown at Whitebrook Chef James Sommerin, who was featured in the BBC’s ‘Great British Menu’ series, will do guest visits to De Grendel Restaurant, and will showcase some of his menu items.
De Grendel Restaurant is an exciting new addition to the Cape Town gourmet collection, combining a feeling of history and tradition on the wine estate, with the modernity and creativity of the cuisine offered in its restaurant. I will definitely be returning.
De Grendel Restaurant, De Grendel wine estate, M14, Plattekloof Road, Plattekloof. Tel (021) 558-6280. www.degrendel.co.za Twitter:@DeGrendelWines. Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter@WhaleCottage
I should have known that going to the Stellenbosch Slow Market at Oude Libertas yesterday would bring on claustrophobia, it being the fullest I have ever seen this popular market, and one that I had sworn that I would never go back to again. The announcement of the winners of the 2012 Eat In DStv Food Network Produce Awards was the reason for my visit, and once I had received a copy of the magazine with the winners’ names, and tasted some of their produce, it was a good time to leave.
Given the increased passion for food preparation, spurred by cooking programs such as MasterChef Australia and now our own South African reality TV cooking show, as well as the recession reducing the frequency of eating out, buying healthy produce to use and eat at home is becoming increasingly popular. Five years ago Eat In, sister publication to Eat Out, which presents the annual Top 10 Restaurant awards, was launched by New Media Publishing. The magazine’s Awards ‘aim to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding independent South African producers for their integrity, passion and innovation’. The crucial criterion is that the produce is South African grown, and added criteria were that the products are produced ethically in terms of the workforce, and in an environmentally responsible manner. The winners were judged Continue reading →
I have been interested in the debate about which mozzarella is better – that which is made from buffalo milk, as is made by Wayne Rademeyer at Buffalo Ridge in Wellington, or that which is made from cow’s milk by Puglia Cheese in Cape Town. My search for Stracciatella mozzarella, the most delicious spreadable mozzarella I first tasted at the Eat In Night Market a few months ago, led me on Friday to buy it directly at Puglia Cheese in Montague Gardens, and to meet the charming co-owner Ursula Ostuni.
Puglia Cheese was started as a joint venture by Davide Ostuni and Fabio Fatelli, both originally from the Puglia region in Italy, a year ago. In a short time they have made their mark, in having won first place in the SA Dairy Championships Mozzarella category for their Burrata, and a second place for their Bocconcini, as well as a quality award for their whole Mozzarella range. One of Puglia Cheese’s biggest champions is restaurateur Giorgio Nava, who uses their mozzarella at 95 Keerom Street, Mozzarella Bar, and at Caffé Milano. Initially he went to all his Italian restaurant colleagues in Cape Town, showing them the Puglia Cheese products, and now the company has clients such as Aubergine, Spar, Primi Piatti, Meloncino, Il Cappero, the One&Only Cape Town, the Mount Nelson Hotel, Giovanni’s, Nonna Lina, The Power & Glory, Wild Peacock Food Emporium, and all Melissa’s deli branches, just to mention some of the local outlets. They distribute to the Garden Route as well. Distribution via key Spar, Checkers, and Pick ‘n Pay branches is on the cards, which means that the company will move to bigger premises soon.
The star Mozzarella maker is Cosimo, who comes from Bari in Puglia, and does not speak English. Ursula said he is the ‘key man’ at Puglia Cheese, being dedicated in almost single-handedly, and by hand, producing 300kg of cheese per day with only an assistant. Hygiene is important, and I had to don a hair net, special shoe covers and a white jacket to go into the production room. Production starts at 7h00, and finishes by lunchtime, and in the afternoon the products are packed and labelled, ready for delivery of the precious perishable products. A machine is used to boil the cows’ milk, which comes from a Cape Town and a Stellenbosch farm, to which rennet, a curdling agent, is added, creating the foundation of all Mozzarella cheese. Then Cosimo puts the curdled milk into 90°C boiling water, and with a wooden batten he shapes the cheese into ‘dough’, making it more and more pliable, out of which he makes ‘knots’, or the unique Nodino mozzarella not made by anyone else in South Africa, and is a typical Puglian mozzarella. The same mozzarella dough is used to create a pocket into which straciatella mozzarella is added and then closed, to make Burrata. A machine is used to make Fior de Latte and Bocconcini, but still needs Cosimo’s interaction with it in the production process. Ursula told me that it took fourteen years for Cosima to learn the art of mozzarella making.
Davide grew up in Italy, and came to Cape Town on holiday, meeting Ursula at a party. She joined Davide in Italy, and said that it took some time for his mama to accept that Ursula would not be going away. They went to London, where a friend of Davide’s worked, and he started as a waiter, worked at the Ritz Hotel, was a model, and started to learn to cook, but did not become a chef. Ursula and Davide were in the United Kingdom for about thirteen years, and had five Italian restaurants in this period. The last one they owned was located in St Albans and was called Carpe Diem, using only genuine Italian products, mostly imported and some home-made. Once their first child was born, Davide moved into food-broking. Having children, Ursula wanted to return home to South Africa, and they chose to live in Cape Town. Both missed genuine mozzarella, only finding tough ‘tennis ball’ type local mozzarella here. This led Davide to start making mozzarella, and establishing Puglia Cheese with his friend. A future collaboration with Giorgio Nava, in creating more Mozzarella Bars, is on the cards. Ursula praises Nava, for his ability to use mozzarella in traditional recipes, but to adapt them by serving them with flair and elegance.
Mozzarella is made with buffalo milk in southern Italy, around Naples, and in central Italy, but the east coast and the rest of Italy makes mozzarella with cow’s milk, given that the milk is freely available, and that the mozzarella produced from it has a longer shelf life, resulting in about 80 % of Italian mozzarella being made with cow’s milk. Mozzarella made from buffalo milk is rich and creamy when fresh, but goes hard and sour after two days. Its ‘dough’ is not soft and pliable, and therefore one cannot make mozzarella knots and balls from it. Local mozzarella currently sold in supermarkets is likely to contain preservatives, to have a longer shelf-life.
Ursula emphasised that mozzarella should be taken out of the fridge an hour before eating it, to enjoy it at room temperature. Different mozzarella cheeses have different expiry dates: Fior di Latte (Bocconcini and balls) 18 days (in water), Burrata (in water) 9 days, Stracciatella 9 days, Nodini (in water) 9 days, and Treccia (in water) 9 days. Should it be older than the expiry dates, it can be used for pizza, which is what Italian mamas would do. Most food lovers associate mozzarella with Caprese salad, and therefore sales are high in summer. Puglia Cheese is happy that food bloggers and writers are providing creative recipes for the use of Mozzarella in winter dishes too. Ricotta cheese is also made at Puglia Cheese, and they are experimenting with the addition of peppercorns, chilli peppers, and walnuts for new products in future.
Disclosure: I was given a ball each of Burrata and Bocconcini to try at home, when I bought the Stracciatella mozzarella.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter @WhaleCottage
I have enjoyed attending the Taste of Cape Town, run in our city for the past four years, and the first one in Camps Bay, as well the one in Mowbray last year, were particularly enjoyable in respect of the large number of diverse participating restaurants and wine estates, as well as easy and ample parking.
Every year the venue has changed, and this year the Restaurant showcase will be held at the Green Point Cricket Club. Inexplicably, the dates for the event were moved from April, which would have meant better weather, to today until 8 May, and no wine estates are on show, compared to their presence in the past years. The ‘Taste of…’ showcases are held in major cities around the world, and the one in Cape Town has been organised by Justine Drake since its inception.
The 14 participating restaurants are Bistro Sixteen82 (Chef Brad Ball serving sticky five-spiced free-range pork belly); Il Leone Mastrantonio (its chef Daniel Toledo serving a selection of Italian specialities); Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine from Stellenbosch (Eat Out Top 10 George Jardine will offer barrel-smoked kingklip fettucine, Chalmar sirloin, foie gras bourguignon, as well as a buffalo milk yoghurt mousse with Valrhona chocolate); Nobu from the One&Only Cape Town (serving yellowtail sashimi, pork belly with spicy miso, and Japanese halibut with den miso); Pierneef à La Motte’s chef Chris Erasmus will offer Cape Bokkom salad, smoked lamb’s rib with pickled tongue, dried pear dumplings and verjuice poached pear, and milk tart; Simply Asia; Wang Thai; Societi Bistro; Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson with Chef Rudi Liebenberg; GOLD; Taj Cape Town; Fyndraai Restaurant from Solms Delta, with chef Shaun Schoeman; and Savour Restaurant at 15 on Orange.
One can try three dishes at each stand, and one uses crowns to the value of R5 to pay for the dishes, each dish having a different crown value. Additional attractions are the Eat In Small Produce Market, which will have Buffalo Ridge mozzarella, preserves from Oded’s Kitchen, Tasha’s fudge, La Petite France camembert, and Willow Creek olive oil to taste, amongst others. Pick ‘n Pay’s Fresh Living Theatre Chef’s Theatre will offer chef’s demonstrations, including Pete Goffe-Wood talking about SASSI, and one can learn how to make canapés at the Pick ‘n Pay Wine & Canapé Experience. The Grolsch Beer Academy and the Johnnie Walker Whisky Theatre will offer liquid refreshments.
POSTSCRIPT 8/5: After struggling to find parking anywhere reasonably close by on Friday evening, we went to the Taste of Cape Town yesterday at 13h00, a good time as far as parking went, but a day-time visit with relatively fewer people did not have the same magic as all my previous evening attendances, mainly because one enjoys bumping into other foodlovers. I was impressed to see so many top chefs hands-on in their food preparation, in what must feel like a production line for them, being George Jardine of Jordan Restaurant, Stefan Marais of Societi Bistro, Chris Erasmus of Pierneef à La Motte, and Brad Ball of Bistro Sixteen82.
I spent my R100 on 20 crowns on Jordan Restaurant’s Aged Chalmar sirloin and foie gras bourguignon (left), on Bistro Sixteen82’s Sticky five-spiced free-range pork belly with salted caramel and apple celeriac espuma (right), as well as on Societi Bistro’s chicken liver parfait on toast with pineapple chutney. I was surprised to see a number of wine estates exhibiting as well, not having seen any information about them on the website: Arumdale, De Wetshof, Hermanuspietersfontein, Idiom Wines, Neil Joubert, Noble Hill, Peter Falke Wines, Quion Rock, Rickety Bridge, Steenberg, Thelema, Van Loveren, Wedderwill, and even Jorgensen Distillery, which is on the list but which I did not see. There was a stand for Whale Tale Ale, which I had never heard of before, but which I must connect with.
The Eat In Small Producers’ Market was spread over two tents, and they are a little lost, not being in the flow of the restaurants and wineries. I enjoyed meeting Wayne Rademeyer of Wellington’s mozzarella producer Buffalo Ridge, Tina Bester of the Queen of Tarts, tasted excellent frozen yoghurt from an aptly named Scoop, and was impressed with the fresh organic vegetables from The Drift, owned by father and son team David and Bruce Jack of Flagstone Wines.
Taste of Cape Town, Green Point Cricket Club, 5 and 6 May 18h30 – 22h30, Saturday 7 May 13h00 – 17h00 and 18h30 – 22h30, and 8 May 12h00 – 17h00. Entrance costs R70 with a wine glass, or R160 for a wine glass and crowns to the value fo R100. Book at www.tasteofcapetown.com or www.computicket.com.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage