Entries tagged with “chocolates”.


Yesterday I visited the Carrol Boyes head office in Paarden Eiland, and was shown around its extensive and impressive Showroom, and Chocolate and Sugar Confectionery production facility by its CEO Craig Ludwig.  (more…)

This past weekend my son visiting from the U.K. and I attended the 13th Classics for All Festival in Greyton, the second year that I have attended the Festival dedicated to classical music. While we could only attend three concerts, we found the quality of the performances to be of a high note.  (more…)

Before visiting France in the past week, I had no knowledge of top patisseries in a country that is hailed as the temple of pastry, not only in ingredients but also in its presentation. I was recommended a number of top Paris patisseries by Foxcroft Chef and co-owner Glen Williams, on request, and Pierre Hermé was one of them. Pierre Hermé has been called the ‘Picasso of Pastry’. (more…)

I was in the Cape Town City Centre Hotel, to be renamed the Hilton City Center Hotel at the end of April but which is already branded as such, last week to find out more about the Hilton Hotel-to-be in what was previously the Coral International, and found the surprise chocolate heaven Patchi chocolate shop inside the hotel.  (The Patch bill states its address as the Hilton City Center Hotel already).

I felt as if I had arrived in a shop in another country, so beautiful and luxurious was the interior design of the shop, and initially one does not see the chocolates.   But the wrapped chocolates are creatively displayed in numerous cases, glass bowls and other containers, to entice one to leave not only with the chocolate but also with a gorgeous gift holder too.

I spoke to the delightful Noli, but she was very nervous about me taking photographs, and pointed out the notices to this effect inside the shop – odd that one would not want customers to help spread the word, given that the shop had no other customers.   She told me that the chocolates are made in Lebanon, and there are 140 Patchi ‘Boutiques’ in 38 countries around the world, the website says.  Noli seemed surprised that I had not heard of the brand name before.  The Patchi shop in the hotel is the first in South Africa, and I was left with the impression that there will be more local store openings in future.

The company was founded in 1974 by Nizar Choucair.   Its vision statement is “Beside the pleasure of savouring, Patchi chocolate opens up an entire world of feelings and festivities, which takes you beyond reality”.  Its unique concept is described as: “At Patchi, chocolate gained the distinctive stamp of nobility by being beautifully presented”.  The website says that the company “transforms chocolates into decorated gifts that can be offered anytime and anyplace, whether placed in crystal, porcelain or silver”.

Each chocolate is individually wrapped in gold or silver paper, adding class to the already quality chocolates.  None of the chocolates contain alcohol, Noli told me proactively.  There are two product ranges, consisting of about twenty chocolates each, and the Classic range is charged at an expensive sounding R489 per kg and the Deluxe at R 564.   It sounded worse than it was, and four chocolates cost R 47, some of them larger than one would find in local chocolate shops, and Noli added an extra one that she wanted me to try (Marquise).  The Deluxe range has better quality fillings, and tend to be larger, Noli said.  Many of the chocolates contain gianduja, which is a hazelnut creme, she explained.

The shop is airconditioned as well as humidified, and the chocolates are neatly stored in drawers, rather than being visible inside the counter.  One has to choose one’s chocolates from two product lists that are on the counter, with a short description of each.   Each of them have a catchy name.   The five I left with were :

Parfait – dark chocolate filled with caramel truffle (from Deluxe range)

Quatro – milk chocolate filled with gianduja, praline and almond croquant (Deluxe)

Arabica – milk chocolate filled with four roasted beans (Classic)

Pause Café – milk chocolate filled with coffee cream (Classic)

Marquise – dark chocolate filled with gianduja, crisped rice, almond and hazelnut pieces (Classic)

Excellent quality gift items can be bought – a sterling silver tray in the window caught my eye, and inside a lot of beautiful Morano glass items are displayed, as are those made by IVV, also from Italy (the international Patchi brochure shows Rosenthal, Sèvres, L.S.A., lladro and Kosta Boda gift items too, but they are not for sale in the Cape Town branch).   I asked for more information about Patchi, and Noli gave me a luxury brochure with their Christmas Collection.   It shows that one can have corporate chocolates made up with one’s branding, and that one can buy gift vouchers.  There is a Patchi’s Kids Collection too.

Patchi Cape Town, Hilton (to-be) City Centre Hotel, corner Wale and Buitengracht Streets, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 481-3786.  www.patchi.com

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

The Sweet Service Award  goes to Huguenot Fine Chocolates in Franschhoek, for its guided tour of chocolate-making at its premises last week.  Whale Cottage has been a long-standing client, but has never visited the production facility, which is upstairs, above the shop.   We were allowed to sample the chocolates made especially for us, and also received a sample pack to take home. We receive excellent service from the Huguenot Fine Chocolates team, and no deadline is too short for them to make up a new order. 

The Sour Service Award  goes to Nedbank, for not being “on the ball” with its VISA Pre-Paid card promotion, sent to clients this month, but dated “December 2010” and using the deader-than-dead World Cup visual on the card, as well as wording that plays on the event that finished almost seven months ago – “Pay with your card and be part of the game” and “Before, during and after the Games”!   The card was sent to Nedbank credit cardholders, and encourages them to transfer their Greenback points across to the new Prepaid Card.  The subtle catch is that one must pay R30 to activate the card (why would one need another credit card if one is a Nedbank cardholder already?) and 2,5 % on the value one loads onto the card.   All withdrawals are free of charge, except those done at Nedbank branches.  Mr Graeme Holmes, Nedbank Head of Consumer Cards, encourages one to keep the card if one does not want to add the Greenbacks earned to it, “as a momento of the 2010 FIFA World Cup!”.  What a joke!

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

The new Place Vendome, at the entrance to Franschhoek, is a most chic and attractive centre, that has a collection of small outlets (although at least three shops are standing empty currently).  The Cafe Vendome that opened in it initially has a new owner, and is challenging the well-established Huguenot Fine Chocolates by changing its name to Cafe Le Chocolatier, and by making the most delicious chocolates.  However, the chocolate delights are not incorporated into the menu.

The Cafe originally was owned by the owners of the centre, but they were not at the Cafe enough, running a busy estate agency in the village. The rude and agressive attitude of the staff has been a problem since they opened.  When I saw the new name of the restaurant on a recent visit to Franschhoek, I popped in to try it again.  Sadly the same waitresses are still there, but a chocolatier, trained at the Lindt Chocolate Studio in Cape Town, is a new member of the kitchen team.

Cafe Le Chocolatier is now owned by Dr Daniel Waldis, a Swiss national who lives in Franschhoek, who says he bought the Cafe as a “hobby” at the beginning of July.  He owns the Swiss Dermal Technology company in the V&A Waterfront, which offers skin rejuvenation without plastic surgery.  He only goes through to Cape Town three times a week.  His “Botox clients” see the brochure for his new restaurant, he says, and then come through to Franschhoek.  Dr Waldis wants to establish a “European style” restaurant, with good quality coffee, cake and meals, and wants to help to lift the standard of Franschhoek’s claim of being the Gourmet Capital of South Africa.   He introduced the chocolate-making inside the Cafe, and will be introducing a deli with cold meats and cheeses as well.

The menu has been compiled by Dr Waldis, who selected light meals that were requested by customers.  Its opening line is “An experience for the connoisseur” – this is a claim that Dr Waldis will find hard to live up to, given his two waitresses’ attitude, and the selection of dishes that are offered, even though the quality of the food is good.  The menu also states “Our menu is created with the freshest of locally sourced products and is therefore subject to change on an almost daily basis.”   The prices of some dishes are on the high side.  Breakfast options include bacon, mushroom and eggs (R59); poached eggs on croissant, with salmon (R69); scrambled eggs with Emmentaler cheese and bacon or salmon (R69); and filled Omelettes (R69).  Sandwiches cost R69, and two choices are offered: grilled chicken, char grilled aubergine, mozarella, pesto and tomato; and smoked salmon, light wasabi creme fraiche and rolled cucumber sheets.  Soup of the day costs R29; chicken pie and salad R49; beef lasagne (R69); Quiche Lorraine with salad (R69); Club Sandwich (R69); and Penne Salad, with organic feta, olives, tomato, basil, lots of herbs, and a wonderful dressing was delicious (R59).  The Cappuccino was excellent, good and frothy, and cakes are expensive at R39 for a small slice.  The chocolates cost R8 each.

A small selection of beverages is offered, including Heineken (R20) and Peroni (R24), and wines-by-the -glass are reasonably priced (R25 for Haut Espoir Sauvignon Blanc, Simonsig sparkling wine R45, Beyerskloof Pinotage R35).  One wonders why such a small selection of wines is not proudly-Franschhoek!

It was when I asked the staff about Dr Waldis’ background, and about the new chocolate-making, that the waitress Sony became rude and aggressive in answering the questions, stating that I had “not asked her permission to interview her”!   She referred me to her “manager” (apparently she is a waitress too), who in turn said I should make an appointment with Dr Waldis and ask him the questions directly, that is after she first spent 10 minutes doing other things and returning the ice to a freezer. I had requested to speak to the new owner when we arrived.  Luckily Dr Waldis was at the restaurant, and sat with me for 10 minutes, charmingly giving me his background, and that of the thinking behind his new “hobby”, and offered us some of the chocolates to try.  They are absolutely wonderful, with melt-in-the-mouth liquid Lindt chocolate fillings.

Cafe Le Chocolatier could become a threat to Huguenot Fine Chocolates (an institution in Franschhoek), because its chocolates are better, and due to its location at the entrance to Franschhoek.  However, the chocolates are twice as expensive.   The waitressing staff need serious training in customer interaction, and need a manager looking after them.   Branding is a problem, with a Cafe Vendome sign still on one side of the shop, and the door mats having the old branding too.  The chocolate-focus in the restaurant name contradicts the menu that offers everything but chocolate (except hot chocolate).  The delicious cakes (carrot cake, chocolate mousse, etc) are not listed on the menu.  If one did not anticipate chocolates to be sold from the name of the restaurant, one would not know about them, as there is no proper display counter in which to see them.  A ball of chocolate brought with the bill, or served with the coffee, could be a good chocolate sampling opportunity.

POSTSCRIPT 2/1/11:  I returned to Café Le Chocolatier after 6 months, and was pleasantly surprised about the vast improvement in the service, mainly due to the departure of the two staff members who were so unpleasant on my previous visits.   The menu also is far more focused on treats containing chocolate, including cakes, cupcakes and chocolates made in the Café.

POSTSCRIPT 22/4:  For Good Friday I had kingklip (R99) at Café le Chocolatier for dinner.  Commendably they stay open until 8 pm.  While the vegetable mix was too salty for my taste, I liked the Basmati rice and kingklip.  A material serviette for dinner would be nice.  The service has improved greatly, and it is one of my favourite Franschhoek coffeee shops now.

Cafe Le Chocolatier, Place Vendome, Huguenot Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-2233.  No website.   Monday – Sunday, 9h00 – 20h00.

POSTSCRIPT 10/7/13: Le Chocolatier has moved to The Apprentice in Stellenbosch.

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

The Sweet Service Award goes to Galeisha and her team at Huguenot Fine Chocolates in Franschhoek, for being able to fulfill an order for 50 boxes of turndown chocolates on the same day as receiving the order, as the customer had run short.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sour Service Award goes to Glenwood Manufacturers, nominated by Megan from Sugarbird Manor.  She writes as follows:  “We recently requested a quote from a Glenwood for new Room Info Pack holders, Do Not Disturb (DND) signs & Menu covers. They sent us artwork for the DND signs and advised that all the other establishments were fine with the fact that on the one side it had “make up room” in lower case and “PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB” on the other side in uppercase. If you are in the service industry, would you think nobody would find this peculiar?  I requested the cost of a new embossing block, which they could use in future for any other clients who also found this peculiar. The block would cost R600. I found this an exorbitant price for 8 items,  that would only cost R78 to have made? I called the Sales Rep, and advised her that we would not be placing the order unless they halve the price of the block. She would get back to me, she said. I then received an e-mail with the new artwork, so assumed that they valued our business and were happy to give it to us half price. I signed the artwork off, and then received the invoice. Yes, they charged us R600! The sales rep said she could not recall the conversation that we had!  I then spoke to Tracy, the manager, who advised me that I was wrong, and that if I cancel the order, they would sue us! Now I ask you, what kind of service is this? Are the people in the tourism industry just more aware of the fact that the client is ALWAYS right and that you NEVER say no? What is going to happen in 2010? Are there going to be suppliers who will refuse to take a step back – and yes, maybe loose a few rand, but in the long run, have a happy client who will talk about you, in turn getting more people to make us of your services or not have them come back to SA because our service levels are atrocious?  There must be someone out there who would have treated me the way we treat our clients, that deserves the business more!”

 

Tracy, the Manager at Glenwood Manufacturers, responded as follows:  “Megan at Sugarbird Manor was shown samples of exactly what she would receive should she place the order.  She did query the difference in embossing and I discussed it with her at length. 

  • I explained that as all our products are made to order our clients either supply or order their own embossing blocks.
  • I explained the process & the costs involved should she choose to order a new lower case block saying “do not disturb”.
  • I then explained that the embossing blocks we were using to do her job were blocks that the company had made up in the past to do samples for new clients. I was prepared to use these block on her signs AT NO CHARGE as I agreed that her spending R 600 on a new block was not very cost effective for her company.
  • When she suggested that I use another companies block, I explained that it was unethical for us to do that as the block had been paid for by the companies and did not belong to us. Therefore were not ours to use.”

“Megan then demanded to speak to the sales rep.,who repeated what I had said and said she would try get a discount from the block manufacturer.  Artwork was sent to Megan for the new block and it was signed off and returned to us. At no time did Megan mention that she did not want to continue with the order nor did she send us a cancellation.  When the invoice was sent to her with a 20% discount on the embossing block (ie R480 not the R 600 that was mentioned in Megan’s nomination), we were told that they now aren’t prepared to pay for the block or the order unless I only charge them R300.”

 

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.