Entries tagged with “Caroline’s”.


On Monday I stopped at the Robertson Small Hotel for a bite to eat and a cappuccino, where Monica van Niekerk of Paul René MCC came to greet me, she having been surprised at the hotel with a stork party for the imminent birth of her daughter. She contacted her husband Henk, and he in turn contacted me, inviting me to a tasting of their sparkling wines. (more…)

Tracy van Maaren Tracy Whale Cottage PortfolioLast night I attended the first Tracy van Maaren Wines Trade Tasting, representing a handful of select fine boutique wine estates, held at Auslese. Each of the wine estate’s wines offered for tasting was personally paired with a canapé designed by Chef Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine.

Tracy started her wine career by working as PA to Dana Buys at Vrede en Lust.  She then moved into the clothing industry, but regretted this move.  She returned to the wine industry, working at Jordan.  Almost nine years ago she started her company, her first wine clients being Vriesenhof, Raats, and Catherine Marshall.   She represents her clients’ wines in the ‘mid to top restaurants’ and independent retailers (e.g. Caroline’s, Wine Concepts, and Vino Pronto) in Cape Town and Stellenbosch, with Paarl and Franschhoek.

Auslese is a renovated house, available to rent for functions, about two blocks from Aubergine.  It has a smallish kitchen, and the space was cleverly used to set up tasting tables for nine brands, with Pol Roger (Churchill’s favourite champagne) represented in the entrance hall by Great Domaines’ Derek Kilpin andTracy van Maaren Pol Roger Whale Cottage Portfolio their brand new French import Morgan Delacloche.

Arriving at about 18h30, there was no crush, and one could get to easily taste the wines and food pairings, chat to the wine representatives, and to the invited guests, which included John Maytham of Cape Talk, Mark Bland of Expresso, Mandi Jarman of Aquila, Chef Vanessa Marx and her colleague  Rumby of Dear Me, Catharina’s Manager Ronel Smidt, sommelier and consultant Jörg Pfützner, John and Lynne Ford, and Mike Duggan of Wine Concepts. (more…)

I was first introduced to Pol Roger champagnes at Rust en Vrede a number of years ago, poured by then sommelier Neil Grant, at the insistence of a guest house friend who had invited us to dinner. Yesterday I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of twelve (mainly wine) writers to celebrate the launch of the latest Pol Roger vintages at Burrata, of which Neil is now the co-owner.  As Burrata is one of my (few) special restaurants, and the champagne brand impressed me then, I needed no encouragement to accept the invitation!

I had met the charming Johannesburg-based Derek Kilpin (right), General Manager and co-owner of Great Domaines, the importers of mainly French wines, at a French-themed evening last year at Wild Peacock in Stellenbosch, and was lucky enough to sit next to him then.  He introduced each of the five Pol Roger champagnes which we tasted, but encouraged everyone to relax and to enjoy the champagnes and lunch, superbly prepared by Chef Annemarie Steenkamp and her team.  A surprise was meeting Barry Engelbrecht (left), a very reclusive Burrata co-owner and pizza master chef, who was at the pizza oven.  I am unable to resist the prosciutto and fig pizza at Burrata.

We received a glass of Pol Roger Non Vintage Brut on arrival, Derek introducing the Pol Roger range to us, and sharing that Great Domaines has been distributing the brand for the past six years. He praised Neil for his knowledge of and loyalty to Pol Roger, a brand which was first launched in 1849, and of which 1,5 million bottles are produced annually (compared to 35 million bottles of Möet et Chandon, for example). A Non Vintage champagne is hardest to make, he explained, in that it has to be consistent with that of previous years, given that three different grape varieties (equal portions of Pinot Noir for structure, Pinot Meunier for the fruit taste, and Chardonnay for the elegance) from 140 different vineyards are used to make this champagne, which costs around R550.  The vintage champagnes cost about R750.  Derek shared that even year vintages since 2000 have been particularly excellent.  The champagne house only makes vintage champagnes if the grape quality is good enough, and therefore has skipped all the uneven years in the past twelve years.  Derek shared that Pol Roger employs four of only ten certified riddlers left in Champagne, who turn about 60000 bottles per day in the 7km of caves below the winery.

I enjoyed speaking to Tracy van Maaren, an independent distributor in the Cape, also representing the Great Domaines brands, and she told me that she focuses on small specialist retailers such as Caroline’s and Vaughn Johnson, and that Pol Roger is served in restaurants such as Burrata, Rust en Vrede (serving it by the glass too), Terroir, Tokara, The Test Kitchen, and Aubergine. An increasing number of champagne brands are being made available in our country, she said, making it a very competitive market.

The Pol Roger Brut 2002 is made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, and was on the lees for nine years (the minimum requirement in Champagne is three years), fermentation having taken place in stainless steel tanks, giving it a clean and precise character, and was described as ‘spectacular’ by Derek.  It was paired with a starter with a name that was mouthwatering in itself, being a rich and creamy Tokai Forest porcini mushroom risotto.  The mushrooms were foraged for Chef Annemarie by Ross. This was followed by a perfectly pan-seared kingklip, which was served with saffron potatoes, fennel, capers, and sultanas, and was paired with the Pol Roger Blanc de Blanc 2002, made from 100% Chardonnay, one of the more popular champagnes, in part due to 2002 being such a good year.

The third course of a delicate duck breast, with toasted almonds, cavatelli (a non-egg pasta made from semolina, Chef Annemarie explained), chestnut crema, maize, and roast Jerusalem artichokes, was paired with Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2000. It spent eleven years on the lees and is predominantly made from Pinot Noir.  It was released (initially in magnum size) in 1975 in honour of the British Prime Minister, seventeen years after his death. Sir Winston became a close friend of Odette Pol-Roger and was a passionate drinker of a bottle of Pol Roger a day, loving the tipple so much that he named one of his racehorses after the brand! The friendship was so close that all Pol Roger labels had a black border around them when the statesman passed away. The dessert was a colourful sour cherry spuma, served with poached rhubarb, pomegranate, marshmallow, and vanilla ice cream, which was paired with the Pol Roger Rosé 2004, made from 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, to which still wine was added to give it colour, Derek explained.

The superb lunch paired with the superb Pol Roger champagnes proved how effectively each course of a meal can be paired with champagnes.

Disclosure: We received a gift pack of two champagne glasses and a 375ml bottle of Pol Roger Réserve Brut.

Burrata, The Old Biscuit Mill, 373 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 447-6505. www.burrata.co.za Twitter: @BurrataSA   Monday – Saturday, Lunch and Dinner.

Great Domaines, Tel (011) 778-9355.  www.greatdomaines.co.za Twitter: @GreatDomaines @Pol_Roger

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

The City of Cape Town has reminded hospitality establishments that its new Liquor Trading Days and Hours By-law will change on 1 April, and will impact on restaurants, bars, clubs, and accommodation establishments, and all categories of liquor licences that they hold.  The sale of alcoholic beverages has been restricted to 18h00.

A media release issued on behalf of the City of Cape Town quotes Garreth Bloor, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning: ‘As part of our commitment to building both a Caring and an Opportunity City, the by-law has sought to consider the needs of all stakeholders in the city and to strike a balance between the social effects of alcohol abuse, potential disruption (especially in residential areas), and the reasonable sale of alcohol for the hospitality sector‘.

Describing the hospitality sector as an ‘important economic multiplier’, the City amended its draft regulations to allow currently licensed establishments, which are now obliged to stop selling alcohol at 2h00, to apply for an extension to trade until 4h00, on condition that the establishment is zoned for business or industrial use.

The By-law allows the sale of alcohol on all days of the week, within the following hours:

*   ‘Guest accommodation establishments’, business premises, places of entertainment, and sport and community clubs

#   11h00 – 23h00 in residential and neighbourhood business areas (sport and community clubs an exception, until 24h00 in local or neighbourhood business areas)

#   11h00 – 2h00 in general business, industrial and ‘agricultural‘ areas

*   Hotels and casinos

#    11h00 – 2h00 in all areas

*   Wineries

#   11h00 – 24h00 in small holding or rural areas

#   11h00 – 2h00 in agricultural areas

*   Ad hoc mobile entertainment vehicles for tourists: 11h00 – 24h00.

The difference between ‘agricultural’ and ‘small holding or rural area‘ is not defined in the media statement.

The following additional exceptions have been written into the By-law:

*   special event permits will have the trading hours specified

*   licensed hotels and guest establishments may sell liquor via room service 24 hours of the day

*   sparkling wine may be served between 8h00 – 11h00 for ‘champagne breakfasts’, if access is controlled to functions.

The City has urged the hospitality industry to apply for licence extension until 4h00 as soon as possible, so that they are covered from 1 April onwards.  Should they not have applied by then, they will have to stop selling liquor by 2h00 until they receive permission for the time extension.

Compared to the original By-law outline made public a year ago, the City has shown great understanding and flexibility in accepting feedback from its publics, and making suitable changes to the benefit of the hospitality industry.

POSTSCRIPT 13/3: Food24 provided further details about the new liquor legislation, highlighting that each municipality in the country may now set its own regulations, which no longer are uniform per province.  The City of Cape Town has banned the sale of alcoholic beverages in retail outlets on Sundays (and these outlets must close at 18h00 on the other days, as above), Caroline’s in the V&A Waterfront motivating these changes as the reason for closing down its branch in the V&A.  Wine estates may sell wines on Sundays. In Hermanus retail outlets may sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays. Further restrictions are:

1.  One may not buy more than 150 litres of alcohol at a time, even if it is for a function, if one does not have a liquor licence.

2.   One may not stock more than 150 litres (200 750 ml bottles) of alcohol in one’s home without a liquor licence.

3.   One may not drink alcohol in a moving vehicle, even if one is not the driver!

4.  No school function may serve alcohol, whether the function is at the school or at a different (even licensed) location.

Asking Anton Groenewald, Executive Director of TEAM in the City of Cape Town, at the CAP40 talk about the complaints on Twitter today about the Sunday sales ban in retail outlets, he replied that they may relook the regulation, giving the overwhelming criticism, and the negative effect this may have on tourism.

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

About two weeks ago German wine writer Mario Scheuermann put out an appeal to his local connections, requesting that top Pinot Noir winemaker in Germany, Bernhard Huber of Weingut Huber in Breisgau in Baden, be looked after over his two week holiday in the Winelands.   We offered to show off Franschhoek, and Bernhard and his wife Barbara were blown away by the quality of the wines in Franschhoek, and the generosity and friendliness extended to them. The flagship wine of Weingut Huber, in a region that has a 700 year history of growing Pinot Noir, is their Pinot Noir, of which only 2500 bottles are produced, and sell at €120 each.

We started our journey at our Whale Cottage Franschhoek with a glass of sparkling wine, explaining some background to the village and the influence left by the French Huguenots, in naming their farms after the towns and districts they had come from in France, and planting the first vines in the valley.  Restaurant recommendations were provided, should the Hubers have time to come back for another visit to Franschhoek.   We talked through the Platter guide, which Bernhard knew, but he had not seen the 2013 edition, so we gave him our copy as a present, to accompany him on the remainder of his holiday.  We described how Franschhoek’s reputation as a wine-producing region has grown, having been mocked until a few years ago for having such poor terroir that farmers had to buy in grapes to make excellent wines, to now having a Platter Winery of the Year in the valley two years running!

We visited Boekenhoutskloof first, the Platter Winery of the Year 2012, and having collected the most 5-star wines of all the Franschhoek wine estates over the history of the Platter guide. The wine farm is one of the oldest in Franschhoek, having been awarded in 1776.  Innocent Mpahleni was our host, and led a winetasting for the Hubers, pulling out a number of wines, including Boekenhoutskloof wines, which are rarely offered in a tasting.  Innocent did a Cape Wine Academy course while he worked at Caroline’s, and has been at Boekenhoutskloof for five years already, he shared proudly. Boekenhoutskloof produces a total of 4 million bottles per year, of which 4% are made from grapes grown in their own 22 ha vineyard in Franschhoek.  The wine estate was bought in 1992 by six directors from the marketing industry, and its winemaker Marc Kent was added as the seventh director, explaining the seven chairs on the label.  Between 1994 – 1997 the fruit trees were removed from the farm, and vines were planted, pears, apples, oranges, limes, and stock farming having been practised before.  The Wolftrap is the entry level wine (with a range consisting of Viognier, Chenin Blanc, and Grenache Blanc blend; Rosé; and a Syrah, Mourvèdre and Viognier blend), and is named after the jackals, lynx, leopards, and wolves believed to have been responsible for the loss of cattle on the farm, necessitating a trap.   The farm is home to porcupines, and the farm tagged some of these and one can track their movement on their website. Porcupine Ridge is the mid-range wine range of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Grenache Blanc blend, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Syrah/Viognier blend.   The Chocolate Block is a blend made of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsaut, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Viognier grapes coming from different vineyards. Wolftrap and Porcupine Ridge are made at the Helderberg Winery, which belongs to Boekenhoutskloof too. The Chocolate Block and Boekenhoutskloof wines are made on the Franschhoek farm.  They have recently started making the Porseleinberg Shiraz, which is exported to Sweden, and has a label made to resemble porcelain, receiving acclaim at CapeWine 2012 last September.  We found some bottles of a new brand Le Cap Maritime, made from grapes from the Hemel en Aarde valley, at Lizette’s KItchen in Hermanus, which is an airline brand too.

In 1996 the first 6000 bottles of Boekenhoutskloof were produced, from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes brought in from Eikehof in Franschhoek, and from Syrah grapes bought from Schalk Burger Snr’s Welbedacht in Wellington.  In 1997 the first Semillon was produced, the grapes coming from bushvines planted in 1899 at Eikehof.  Two years ago Marc uprooted most of his vines, and planted new ones, the Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, Merlot, and Viognier being planted in the lower sections of the farm, and more planting to be done of Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Grenache, and Viognier higher up on the farm.  The grapes are grown organically, but not marketed as such due to the mix with grapes from other wine estates.

We tasted the Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, and Innocent described it as ‘one of the best selling Sauvignon Blancs in the country‘, and as a ‘poolside drink’, drunk young. The grapes come from Robertson, Citrusdal, Malmesbury, and Franschhoek. One million bottles are made in the Porcupine Ridge range. They made a Viognier Grenache blend four years ago for the first time, sourcing the Viognier from Malmesbury and the Grenache from Citrusdal, and being oaked for 13 months.  Next up was The Wolftrap, a blend of 46% Viognier from Malmesbury, 28% Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch, and 26% Grenache from Citrusdal, 600 litres of each being matured in their 24 cement egg tanks, as well as in French oak.  Chocolate Block was first produced in 2002, a mere 12 barrels, and its current production has grown to 1432 barrels, or 400000 bottles in 2011.  Grapes are hand picked, and they use interns, mainly from overseas, for the picking. Innocent said it is the ‘best selling wine in the country’ in terms of the speed at which it sells out, five months after production.

Innocent told us that the Boekenhoutskloof annual production of 6000 bottles is sold out in advance, and initially he received no stock for the tasting room.  That has changed, and he has at least one bottle in the range to offer for tasting every day.  Every year one can order one or more of the 2000 mixed Boekenhoutskloof cases of 3 Semillon, 3 Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 Syrah, and one The Journeyman (a Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend), at R4000.  The bulk of the Boekenhoutskloof wine production goes to Caroline’s, Vaughn Johnson’s Wine Shop, La Cotte Wine Sales, and the directors of Boekenhoutskloof.  All labelling is hand applied, and the best quality cork and bottles are used.  The Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon cost R380 each, and 1100 and 1500 cases are made annually, respectively.  The Syrah grapes are hand picked over four days, and the wine spends 27 months in Barrique barrels, and egg white is added. 2400 bottles of Noble Late Harvest are produced, spending 30 months in new oak. Innocent shared that a Pinot Noir is planned.

We had time for a quick stop at Haute Cabriere, and Hildegard von Arnim impressed in juggling a tasting in French with French winelovers, whilst paying attention to the Hubers in German, sharing that her husband Achim had studied winemaking at Geisenheim, and had pioneered growing Pinot Noir locally. Over a glass of Pinot Noir 2009 (R160 per bottle), she animatedly told the story of how Achim had started a revolution in vinegrowing in our country. Together with a number of winemaking colleagues, including Hungarian Count Desiderius Poncrácz, they worked around a government quarantine of 9 – 12 years of imported grape varieties, to prevent importing viruses.  They decided to smuggle in some Pinot Noir on a truck via the then Rhodesia, and were eventually reported to the authorities by a ‘colleague’.  Before they got to court, Pongracz died in a car crash, leaving Achim and the other farmers to face the judge. He was a ‘good judge‘, Hildegard said, finding for the wine farmers, and instead of having them locked up, he had the quarantine law changed!

We were invited for lunch by Hannelie and Hein Koegelenberg at their new The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap (photograph above), which has a salad bar made from vegetables and herbs picked fresh out of their garden, to which one can add a wrap, a piece of chicken, and/or pork.  Chef Pieter de Jager sent a new creation to the table, beef topside rolled with a feta and pesto filling, which met with approval.  We tasted a Leopard’s Leap unoaked Chardonnay, of which 120000 bottles are made annually, by winemaker Eugene van Zyl, with grapes from Robertson, spending three months on the lees, and costing R42.  Hein explained that Leopard’s Leap was a second label for left-over Rupert wine estate grapes, but since 2005 it is a stand alone brand. They produce 4,2 million bottles in total, and export to 40 countries. L’Huguenot is a brand which was created for their alliance with Perfect China, and 3 million bottles are exported to that country, representing 50% of our country’s exports to Asia.  Having created a tasting room for the Leopard’s Leap brand just over a year ago, Hein feels that he needs one for L’Huguenot too, for Asian visitors, 600 – 1000 expected annually via an incentive program.  Hein shared that the market in Europe is difficult currently, with consumers buying down.  They are selling La Motte at €9.99 and Leopard’s Leap at €4.99.  The increasing excise duty, in the UK in particular, influences wine sales, representing R5,70 per bottle in that country.  The Leopard’s Leap Merlot is made from grapes coming from Agter Paarl and the Swartland, 60% being barrel fermented in French oak, and 80000 bottles are produced annually.  Organic farming at La Motte commenced ten years ago, which has brought balance to their vines, the acid is stable, the pH is low, they use less sulphur, and their yield is lower, reducing their carbon footprint.  Hein enthused about the 2013 vintage, given the winter rains, and the long late start to summer.  The Koegelenbergs and Hubers will see each other at ProWein in Düsseldorf in March, agreeing that it is the best wine show in the world.  We ended off the lunch with a tasting of the recently launched Leopard’s Leap MCC from the new Culinaria Collection, a 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir blend.  Hein shared that Chile and Argentinia are fierce competition to South African wines internationally, given that their price points are lower.  Given the small harvests in Europe, South Africa will be pushed to export more of its bulk wine this year.  Bernhard said that 85% of wines drunk by Germans is from Germany, the balance being from Italy and France.  Bernhard was astounded at the volumes Hein was sharing about Leopard’s Leap, compared to his own small production runs.

The generosity of time astounded the Hubers, as Hein had returned to the office from holiday that morning, and was flying out to London that evening, generously spending time with us for the lunch, and then personally taking us around La Motte and doing a tasting of their wines.  The wine farm was awarded to a French Huguenot in 1695, and the original wine cellar and manor house were built around 1750.  La Motte is 169ha in size, of which about half is planted to vine. In relaunching La Motte, they built a new winetasting centre, a museum, and a farm shop, as well as the Pierneef à La Motte restaurant, starting with 3000 visitors a month, which has grown to 8000 – 10000 per month now.  Hein shared the link to late artist JH Pierneef, whose family collection hangs in the museum, and after whom the Pierneef à La Motte restaurant was named, and their new vegetable and herb garden, their policy being to source organic and free range meat too.  We were shown the separated red and white wine facilities, 600000 cases of red wine being produced.  They double sort their grapes, and have a mobile bottling plant which can do 3600 bottles per hour.  The barrels are kept at low temperature and high humidity.  The Sauvignon Blanc 2012 production is just over half a million bottles per year and is the focus of the white wine winery, and 30 – 40% of the fruit comes from La Motte, the balance coming from Nieuwoudtville, Lutzville, Elands Bay, Elgin, Darling, Bot River, and Elim.  We then tasted the Pierneef Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2012, an organic wine, made from Bot River grapes.  Its production of 36000 bottles sells out quickly on allocation.  The Chardonnay is made from Franschhoek grapes, and 18000 bottles are produced. The Millenium 2010 is a Bordeaux Blend to which they have added Shiraz, 180000 bottles being produced. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is made from grapes coming from the Swartland, Bot River, and Darling. The Shiraz 2009 is an excellent vintage, with just over 100000 bottles produced.  Grapes come from La Motte, Bot River, Agter Paarl, and Elim, and the wine reflects the La Motte style of red berry and black berry, with white peppery spices.  The La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Viognier 2009 is more feminine in character, Hein said, and its production of 36000 bottles is therefore made in a lighter and lower alcohol style.  Grapes come from Bot River and La Motte.  Only 12000 bottles of the La Motte Pierneef Shiraz Grenache 2008 were produced, the Grenache coming from 30 year old bush vines in Darling, and is more masculine in character. The Hannelie R is the pinnacle of their range, being ‘the best wine which we can make’, Hein said.  It is released five years after it is made, and only when the fruit is excellent. So far the wine has been made in 2005, 2007, and in 2009.  Only 3000 bottles are produced, the wine spending 48 months on wood and a year in the bottle. Each production sees a change in the blend composition.  Michael Fridjhon and Carrie Adams (of retailer Norman Goodfellows) sit on a panel to help decide which fruit should go into the blend, Hein shared.  It is sold at $100 per bottle.  Hein presented the Hubers with a copy, signed by Chef Chris Erasmus, of their ‘Cape Winelands Cuisine’ cookbook.

We made a quick stop at Grande Provence, showing the Hubers the impressive tasting room, restaurant and art gallery.  We were delighted to bump into GM Karl Lambour, and to discover that Grande Provence makes a Pinot Noir too, which he invited the Hubers to taste.

Our final stop was at Platter Winery of the Year 2013 Chamonix, an interesting experience.  Winemaker Gottfried Mocke was still on leave, but maverick owner Chris Hellinger welcomed us in his recently opened safari lodge perched high up the Mont Rochelle mountain overlooking Franschhoek, being 540 m above sea level.  The lodge was filled with stuffed animals which Mr Hellinger has hunted around the world.  We were invited to taste the noble 5-star Pinot Noir Reserve 2011 (costing R240 per bottle), the only Pinot Noir to achieve this quality in Franschhoek.  Mr Hellinger has been in South Africa for 44 years already, and bought Chamonix in 1991, a farm of 265ha, of which 55ha has been planted to vines, and also contains a game nature reserve. Mr Hellinger explained that their wines have become consistently better, and their higher vines get the sun later in the morning, and the temperature is cooler in the afternoon. Their use of compost is minimal. The farm had fruit trees, which they removed to plant vines.  They only make wines from their own grapes. He has invested R40 million in his estate.  Mr Hellinger said that they will work on reducing their wine range, but there is another ‘more exclusive wine to be created’‘.   He praised his winemaker, who has been with him for more than ten years, and he gives him a free hand in what to grow and to produce.  They use cement egg fermentation tanks too.

We received feedback subsequently that the Hubers thoroughly enjoyed their day in Franschhoek, and they graciously handed over a bottle of their noble Pinot Noir to each wine estate that hosted them.  We thank Boekenhoutskloof, Haute Cabriere, Leopard’s Leap, La Motte, Grande Provence, and Chamonix for their time and information shared with this important winemaking couple from Germany, and for growing my own knowledge about the Franschhoek Wine Valley too.

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

The new Chefs’ Warehouse and Cookery School has opened in a renovated Victorian building in New Church Street, off Buitensingel Street in Cape Town.

Chef Liam Tomlim, previously operating in Sydney where he ran the highly rated Banc restaurant (see our previous story on Liam Tomlin here), has opened a Cookery School, where he and local chefs will present cooking courses in a small intimate studio not holding more than 20 persons.  It has a hi-tech look, with lots of stainless steel.   But the little touches make the venue special – against a wall different coloured glass tiles form an interesting pattern, with glass bottles of spices on a shelf in front of each tile.

In the Cookery School Tomlin is planning to host a 20-lecture “The Basic Techniques and Methods of Cookery” course, with the start date now 8 May.   The course, with four hour lectures every second Saturday, has not yet been fully subscribed, and it may be the R10 500 price tag, the start of the quieter and tighter winter season, or the World Cup that falls in the period, that may be causing the slow booking commitment.   Tomlin is passionate about food, being the author of two cookery books, and he is likely to make an interesting cookery lecturer, with his Irish sense of humour.

Guest Chef classes can also be booked, with Neil Jewell of Bread and Wine in Franschhoek talking about “The Pig” on 5 May; Peter Tempelhoff, Executive Chef of the McGrath Hotels, will do a course on 11 May (title not yet confirmed); Alexander Mueller of Pure at Hout Bay Manor will talk about “Pure Food” on 24 May; and Carl Penn of Carne will talk about “Basic Lamb Butchery” on 27 May.  Classes cost R 575 each, and are held from 6.30 – 9.30 pm in the evenings.

A 12-part winetasting course will be presented by Caroline Rillema of Caroline’s wine shops in the city center and in the V&A Waterfront.   Sommelier Mia Mortensson, now with the Winery of Good Hope in Stellenbosch, and Paul Cluver Jnr will also be presenters.  The course starts on 8 June, and costs R 7000 for all 12 lectures, but can be booked in sections as well.

A 6-part Artisan Baking course “Knead to know” will be presented by Tim Faull of the Professional Vision Group consultancy, from 2 June – 14 July, and costs R 3 000.  

Tomlin’s wife Jan rules the roost in the front section, which is the Chef’s Warehouse, which contains a treasure trove of beautiful kitchen and dining items such as glassware, crockery, cutlery, serving dishes, aprons, carving knives, utensils, massive wooden stirring spoons (must get one!), Le Creuset pots, copper pots, cookery books, coffee machines, wine racks and many more products.  The Chef’s Warehouse will give Core Catering and Banks a good challenge, stocking far more beautiful and many imported products, offering better service, and being located in a far more desirable area.   It would be the perfect place to buy a gift for a food or a wine lover.

While the name of the shop implies that it is a massive shop, it is not at all, but the available space has been cleverly used.    Two smaller rooms lead off the Warehouse, the one being a cold room with interesting products which need to remain chilled, and the other being a food shop, which sells Willow Creek and Hamilton Russell olive oil, 100% pure cocoa powder, Spanish and Iranian saffron threads, Calleebaut & Valrhona chocolate, flavoured oils (white and black truffle, pistachio, hazelnut, porcini, walnut), vinegars (12 year Italian balsamic, Willow Creek Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar, Neil Jewell’s smoked red wine vinegar), Nfuse spices, Lavazza coffee, Von Gesau chocolates, Tea Emporium teas (organic Rooibos, Moroccan mint, Kyoto cherry rose, lemon caipirinha, even a chocolate flavoured one!), Khoisan salts (fleur de sel, salt caviar, sea pearls, smoked salt, truffle salt), and products of the Verjuice company (verjuice, vino cotto, preserved ginger in verjuice).  Vanilla syrup, sugar, husks, pods, paste and seeds are also sold, as are vanilla, coffee, rose water, peppermint, almond and orange blossom pure essences.

A beautifully made unit displays 50 fresh spices and dried herbs (including Iranian dried limes, Brazilian pink peppercorns, Indian and Romanian coriander) in small quantities, which will be restocked as they run out, to keep them fresh.   Another display unit contains a wide range of dried fruits, nuts and seeds.  An eye-catching design element is a photograph of Tomlin’s recipe book collection, which he photographed in his home, and had made as a poster for the shop.

What I missed was a brochure of the Cookery courses to be offered, to take home, and the smell of food.  A coffee machine, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee, would signify what the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School is all about.  Its little veranda would make an ideal spot for some tables for customers to sit at, as The Warehouse does not allow much space for customers to move around in.

The Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School is an exciting new addition to Cape Town, and enhances the city’s reputation as the food capital of South Africa. 

Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School, 50 New Church Street, Cape Town. Tel 021 422 0128. www.chefswarehouse.co.za

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