Entries tagged with “diabetes”.


Last year I was subject to an urgent interdict in the Western Cape High Court with a demand to remove a Blogpost about the misleading packaging which Le Chocolatier had used for its chocolate slabs, claiming them to be sugar-free and Banting-friendly. In a landmark case in terms of freedom of speech and defamation in digital Social Media, Judge Dennis Davis refused the demand for my Blogpost to be taken down, with only two sentences required to be removed from the Blogpost. The case sets a precedent for future cases regarding defamation on Social Media platforms. (more…)

imageI was bowled over on arrival at Doubleshot Coffee Bar yesterday morning, when co-owner Sue Dalzell welcomed me back and asked if I would like my favorite dry cappuccino, especially as I have not been there (more…)

Banting Tim Noakes Whale CottageLast week I attended a presentation by Professor Tim Noakes on ‘The Science behind Banting Diets’, which was organised by PR-Net and held on the top floor of the Naspers building.   I went as a sceptic, but it appeared that almost all attendees were already committed Banters.

I have not followed the initial controversy about Professor Tim Noakes, co-founder of the Sport Science Institute, who published ‘The Real Meal Revolution‘ in which he advocates a ‘LCHF‘ (Low ‘Carb‘ High Fat) balanced diet eating focus to help one lose weight.  While ‘LCHF’ was not a very catchy a name for the diet, the ‘Banting‘ word spread like wildfire, being the name of a diet tried with success by William Banting more than 200 years ago. Professor Noakes was not believed initially, given that he had advocated a low fat, high carbohydrate eating plan in the past, and now was turned his thinking around 360°!  The medical fraternity is not sure whether to support his recommendations.

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The new Department of Health food labelling regulations, Regulations Relating to Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs, No R146 of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act of 1972, which came into effect two weeks ago, are a welcome benefit for consumers, in that labelling will now be far more honest with regard to product content and its health benefits.

Claims such as ‘fat-free’, ‘low-fat’, ‘100% fruit juice’, ‘0% cholesterol’, ‘wholesome’, ‘balanced nutrition’, ‘nutritious’, and ‘healthy’ are now illegal. The percentage of major ingredients in a product must be specified. A berry juice, called that and depicted with berry illustrations on the packs, must prominently display the berry as well as the apple juice content, the latter being the basis of most fruit juices. Even more importantly, any ingredient making up less than 2% of the content by weight may not be emphasised, reports the Cape Times.  Any implied health benefits of a product are illegal.  ‘High in fibre’, ‘low fat’, and ‘sugar free’ claims on packs must be supported by the mandatory nutritional table.

The regulations dictate that the name of the product must be a minimum 4 mm in size, may not contain a misleading photograph or illustration, must list the ingredients in descending order of weight, product claims must be supported by the nutritional table, allergens must be listed, the name and address of the manufacturer and/or distributor must be stated, the net content must be shown, the batch identification number must be displayed, a ‘use by’ date is mandatory, and instructions for use must be provided.  Claims relating to diabetes must be supported by low GI, lower fat, and/or lower sodium information.

Food retailers appear divided about the food labelling regulations, Pick ‘n Pay expressing its support of the legislation in that it would carry products with full information disclosure, while Shoprite is said by Business Report to be critical of the legislation, due to it being too complex, it being inconsistent, not being fully inclusive, and being ambiguous.  The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa is addressing the retailers’ concerns about the legislation.

Despite the implementation of the regulations having been known for two years, Pick ‘n Pay Franschhoek was out of stock of its Pick ‘n Pay-branded Greek yogurt yesterday, a manger saying that the supplier is fixing its packaging in accordance with the labelling legislation, and therefore the product will not be available for another two weeks or so.

The new food labelling regulations, which apply to dog and cat food too, are a welcome benefit for consumers, in that it will remove deception and confusion about products’ ingredients and their health benefits.  The regulations apply to advertising of foodstuffs too, preventing puffery and misleading claims in this regard too.

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

Today is World Diabetes Day, celebrating the birthdate of Frederick Banting, who in 1922 discovered insulin with Charles Best.  Until a year ago diabetes would have meant nothing to me, and I knew very little about this ‘disease’ which 346 million persons in the world have, it is estimated, and is known as the ‘silent killer’, as its symptoms are so subtle, and one does not feel ill.

I have drunk a lot of water out of choice for years, but did not realise that a lot of this was out of thirst, and this is one of the first signs of diabetes.  It was itchy feet (and sometimes fingers) on alternate days that took me to my doctor, and he had me tested for thyroid and threw in a blood sugar test as well.  The result was a surprise – no thyroid problem, but a blood sugar reading of 12,2 was unacceptably high, in that it should ideally be below 6.  While I can be grateful that it is the far less threatening Type 2 Diabetes, which is treatable through eating and lifestyle changes and medication, without insulin injections, it was the horror stories that I was told that were a good incentive to take this ‘disease’ seriously and to get the blood sugar level under control.

The doctor prescribed Glucophage, the best known diabetes medication. I was also referred to Sea Point dietitian Heidi Lobel, and with Heidi’s help have lost 25 kg in the past year, and reduced the blood sugar level to 7 – 8,  without suffering in any way!

Diabetes is largely rectified via weight loss, and therefore Heidi put me on a standard weight loss eating programme, and a change in the way of eating, eating six smaller meals per day instead of three bigger meals, and changing my haphazard irregular eating.  Similar to Weight Watchers and Weighless style programmes, one is allowed an allocation (about a palmful) of food types per day: 6 carbohydrates, 3 fruits, 4 proteins, 2 milks, and 3 fats.  It is not recommended that any of these groups are excluded.  I cut out butter, margarine, white/light bread, yellow cheese, cakes, and chocolate bars immediately, and do not miss them at all.  I changed my main courses choices from steak to kingklip.  I have tried very hard to avoid desserts at restaurants, not always with success.   Luckily wine in moderation is allowed, and dark chocolate is not ideal but healthier than milk chocolate.  I enjoyed toasted rye and Low GI bread, and could not believe how good anything on this toast tastes, without a spread underneath.  I received a blood sugar testing kit from my pharmacy in Bantry Bay, and test the blood sugar level every few weeks.  I went to Heidi to be weighed every two weeks, and to discuss any problems with her, and this frequency has been relaxed to once a month.  I enjoy eating out, but do so less often, and will ‘make up for it’ the days after.  Doing exercise is another way to deal with diabetes, and is a challenge to do more often – the Green Point Urban Park is a wonderful space in which to walk.  I have learnt to read pack labels, and Woolworths packs are excellent in providing a detailed breakdown of the food content. The fat and carbohydrate levels are the most valuable pieces of information on these, with maximum acceptable levels set.

In talking about diabetes, I was surprised to hear that Dear Me Foodworld Chef Vanessa Marx is diabetic, and this motivated her to design her daily menu with diabetics in mind, offering sugar-free options to some dishes, in addition to gluten-free and lactose-free dishes for those with allergies.  This is the only restaurant that caters for diabetics.  One would like to see more diabetes-friendly restaurants, reducing the salt and fat content of their foods, serving smaller portions, and offering rye bread.  It is regular restaurant-goers that are more likely to be or become diabetic, and restaurants should be responsible in understanding this ‘disease’, and catering for it.  Surprising too was to hear that Eat Out and TASTE editor Abigail Donnelly is diabetic too, a hard challenge for her, having to eat out so often in selecting the Top 10 Restaurants.

Being diagnosed with diabetes is a blessing in disguise, and has been an early warning to lead a more healthy lifestyle, and an eating pattern which is healthier, less fattening but still very enjoyable.

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

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting, held at Den Anker last night, and addressed by Matt Allison of ImNoJamieOliver Blog and Nikki Dumas of Swirl! Blog, was characterised by PASSION: not only in terms of the blogger speakers, but also in the fantastic food paired by Den Anker with six excellent Jordan wines.

Prior to the speakers sharing their blogging passion, Robyn Martin, the most charming, organised and passionate representative for Jordan wine estate, took us through the tasting of the first three Jordan wines.  Being the organised person that she is, she had prepared a tasting summary for groups of wines.  The first three wines tasted were white: the Jordan 2009 Riesling, being ‘aromatic and appley’, and a winner of the Old Mutual Trophy, SA Terroir, and the Five Nations awards, was paired with just-seared sesame-coated tuna, one of the highlights prepared by Chef Doekle Vlietman at Den Anker.  On the same plate was the sweetest presentation of truffle-enhanced scrambled egg served in an egg shell on a bed of coarse salt, paired with creamy and toasty Jordan 2009 Chardonnay.  Wrapping up the trio was a beer-poached katifi-wrapped prawn, draped in a saffron beurre blanc, paired with the tropical green notes of Jordan 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. 

Nikki Dumas, another highly organised lady, presented each of the attendees with a sheet of her ‘Twenty-one Commandments’ on how to blog successfully.  She passionately expressed her love for wine, and all things related to it.      Nikki’s suggestions for successful blogging are: 1. write something useful  2. write something unique 3. write something newsworthy  4. write something first   5. write something that makes those who read it smarter  6. write something controversial  7. write something insightful  8. write something that taps into a fear people have  9. write something that helps other people achieve  10. write something that elicits a response  11. write something that gives a sense of belonging  12. write something passionately  13. write something that interprets or translates news for people   14. write something inspirational   15. write something that tells a story   16. write something that solves a problem   17.  write something that gets a laugh   18. write something that saves people time or money   19.  write something opinionated  20.  write something that is a resource  21. write something about something ‘cool’.

Nikki’s passion for her own brand ‘Nikki Dumas’ came to the fore, and she is a confident blogger, who knows exactly where she is going.  She has two blogs – Swirl!  is a blog she uses to document information about the wine industry, coming from PR agencies, for example.  She does not allow comments on this blog.  Winestyle.biz is the blog on which she writes her own blogposts, with about 4000 hits since she started it in April. She allows comments on this blog, even if they are controversial, to create debate.  She emphasised that she is not a writer nor journalist, and that she will only write about something she judged to be good.  Everything she experiences in terms of food and wine she evaluates against her career in restaurant management.   She likes using Google’s Blogger platform, saying it is user-friendly.  Her blogpost attracting the largest number of hits is the anonymous survey she conducted on restaurant listing fees for wines.  She said she is a ‘Mac junkie’, and evaluates her blog performance through all the statistics that Google makes available, including Google Analytics, AdSense, and more.  She knows exactly where her traffic is coming from, and which keywords are used to get to her blog (wine, winestyle, wine journal, Nikki Dumas).  Nikki  was asked to share her background, and she told us that she moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg ten years ago.  She started Moyo in Norwood, and opened Vilamoura in Camps Bay, and then moved to Belthazar and Balducci.  Nikki offers restaurant wine training, is a wine consultant in designing winelists for restaurants, assists wine estates in getting better sales in restaurants, and sells branded Wine Journals. Nikki told us that 60 % of wines in supermarkets are by Distell.  She feels that the wine industry should teach the consumer more about wine.

The next stage of the food and wine pairing was a lovely plumy and stylish Jordan Merlot 2008 paired with the most ‘butter-tender’ peppered fillet, and the rich Jordan Prospector 2008 Syrah, which was paired with venison served with sauce bordelaise.  Robyn told us that the power of Social Media was demonstrated when more than 6000 persons protested against the planned mining on the Jordan wine estate.  The threat was withdrawn, and in gratitude Gary Jordan named his new Syrah, launched last year, The Prospector.  With our yummy chocolate ravioli with pomegranate jelly the flagship Bordeaux-style Jordan Cobblers Hill was served. 

Without any notes, Matt Allison spoke from his heart, reflecting his passion and principles.  With careers in the wine trade, as a graphic designer, and first as a musician and then as a music producer, Matt realised that he was spending too much time away from home, not what he wanted with his new baby boy.  He realised he needed a change, and became a rare ‘house-husband’, spending almost all his time with his son at home.  He loves food, and became the cook for the family, and his blog ‘ImNoJamieOliver’ was born a year ago when he decided to cook all 60 recipes of a Jamie Oliver recipe book in 90 days.  He lost twenty days when he had his kitchen redone.   We laughed when he told us that his mother had engendered independence amongst her children, and it was a matter of ‘cook or die’ in their household.   He has since blogged a further 60 recipes from a second Jamie Oliver recipe book.  Matt presented who he is honestly, and described himself as a person with a 30’s nature, a 50’s style, living in 2011.

Matt told us that blogging for him is a means to an end, and he has changed direction in that his interest now is the provenance of food.  He has rented a piece of land from the City of Cape Town, and now grows 40 vegetable and herbs, not counting different varieties.  This has led to seasonal eating, fresh out of his garden.  He does not grow potatoes and corn, as these take too much space.  Matt is critical of Woolworths, for their vegetables sourced from countries such as Kenya.  On a Wednesday afternoon he sells his vegetables he harvested an hour earlier, between 4 – 6 pm at Starlings Café in Claremont.  He told us horror stories about supermarket vegetables being picked unripe weeks earlier, and artificially ripened.   Matt also would not touch fast-food any more, and expressed concern that so many people grab a McDonald’s in-between meetings. There are no TV dinners in his home.  He would like people to question where their food is coming from.  He believes that obesity and diabetes can be fixed via ‘healthy food’.  With his help, Cape Town and Winelands chefs at restaurants such as Societi Bistro, Warwick wine estate, El Burro, and Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz wine estate, are moving to sourcing their herbs and vegetables from small ‘bio-dynamic’ (he does not like the word ‘organic’) producers, or planting their own.   He likes restaurants that serve local, seasonal, and sustainable food, and operate ethically in all respects.  Matt has about 5000 unique readers of his blog per month, and about 1300 Twitter followers, but his readership is of no consequence to him.  He is ruthless in unfollowing and blocking on Twitter.  He recently changed his Twitter name to @MattAllison, to build his own brand.  Given his focus on the provenance of food, he will be launching a new blog “Planting Thoughts” soon.  One of the most exciting experiences for Matt is that he has been selected as one of 250 chefs and urban farmers to attend a symposium in Copenhagen, organised by the chef/owner Rene Redzepi of the world’s number one restaurant Noma, the only South African hand-picked by Redzepi.   The symposium takes place next weekend, and co-incides with the world’s largest food festival, the MAD Food Camp, also organised by Redzepi, with more than 10000 visitors expected!  Matt says we pay too little for our food in South Africa, and told us what it costs to raise a chicken.  He buys his meat from Gogo’s Deli in Newlands, or directly from farmers.  Matt encouraged us to ‘think about your food’, that one should not evaluate a restaurant if one has not been a chef and a waiter, given that most chefs put their heart and soul into their meals.  For him a good restaurant is one in which the chef comes out of the kitchen, offers great service, and has staff who love what they do.   He encouraged one to do one’s own blogging and Tweeting, to reflect one’s personality, and to not outsource social media. 

Dusan Jelic of wine.co.za, who has been a passionate supporter of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club since its inception, was wished well, who will be returning to his home country Serbia in September. 

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club aims to foster this informal training, and to serve as a social media networking opportunity.  Each of the two bloggers talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club gives fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

   Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

      *   21 September:  Chef Brad Ball of Bistro 1682, and Anetha Homan, Marketing Manager of Steenberg, at Steenberg

      *   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk of Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street. 

   *   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek   

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club. Bookings can be made by e-mailing whalecot@iafrica.com.  The cost of attendance is R100.  Twitter: @FoodWineBlogClu  Facebook: click here.

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

An outing yesterday to Paarl, to try out the Laborie Wines Lazy Days weekly market, led me to Fairview in Agter Paarl, probably because I had chatted to the friendly representatives at the Eat In  Produce Award’s Night Market on Thursday, and I had promised them a visit.   I was disappointed about the extreme unfriendliness displayed by the Fairview Goatshed Manager Shannon Riley and her assistant Portia, and felt that it has become a non-caring tourist destination, which is expensive food-wise but offers good value wines.

I have not been to Fairview in years, and definitely not since the Goatshed opened five years ago.  A sign at the door commands one to wait to be seated.  The problem, however, is that the desk behind which the managers stand, doubling up as the payment desk, faces inward, so all staff have their backs to the new arriving guests.   I stood for some time before Portia bothered to come to me.  There was no welcome, just a ‘machine’ asking my preference for inside/outside and smoking/non-smoking seating, without interest.  When I asked her where the deli was, not having been to the tasting room and cheese shop at that time yet, she looked at me as if I had lost it, and as if she did not know what the word ‘deli’ meant.  I remembered a long restaurant building with a counter from which one could buy cheese, breads and other deli items, which I did not see in the Goatshed, nor in the ‘supermarket’ type cheese shop later.  She did not show me a table when we got outside, seemingly having lost interest in me already. 

Luckily Yolandy came to the rescue, and was efficient in bringing a glass of water.  I asked for a foamy cappuccino, but was brought a flat white.  I reminded Yolandy of my request, and she told me that it is only made flat, but that she would speak to the barista.  Then I asked her if I could have a slice of rye or wholewheat bread instead of the ciabatta with the duck liver paté, and I was told that it only comes with the ciabatta, and if I wanted any other bread served with it, I would have to buy one of their loaves, and then they would cut two slices for me and serve it!  I had to laugh out loud.  Thereafter Shannon presented herself, and asked me rudely what the problems were.  She confirmed that the cappuccino could only be made flat, on the basis of which I declined it, but showed some flexibility on the bread request.   Surprisingly, soon thereafter a beautiful foamy cappuccino arrived, but Yolandy told me to not think of ever ordering one like that again, as they are not made that way at Fairview!  I did not see Shannon again.

The restaurant interior is large, but very dark inside, so I preferred to sit outside on the terrace.  There were tables alongside the terrace as well, and in total the restaurant can seat 320 guests.  The outside tables are made from wood and look well used.  Each table has a wire basket, containing a bottle each of Fairview olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a salt and a pepper grinder, and cutlery rolled into orange paper serviettes.  A heavily used tear-off pad is also in the holder, and is the order form for cheeses.  However, one is not advised of the list, and what it is for.   There is no tablecloth nor placemat.  The restaurant was heaving with customers when I arrived at about 14h30, and I heard Italian spoken by guests leaving, and there were Americans sitting close by.

The duck liver paté is the starter I ordered, and is expensive at R74.   It was topped with olive tapenade, an odd combination, and served with two big slices of toasted 70 % rye bread, but is usually served with crostini.  The menu does state that the portion is to share, but it is still expensive, given the serving size.  I found it very dry and crumbly.  I liked the clever plate decoration, which was a vine leaf, on which was placed some grapes, apple slices, peach slices, peppadews, and a lovely whole slice orange preserve.    Other starter choices are a spinach, feta and bacon quiche; snoek and trout fish cakes; stir-fried springbok; and a vegetable and goat’s chevin salad, costing between R 48 – R84.  Main courses include Sunday roast, chicken pie, lamb curry, seared trout fillet, Earl Grey infused Subu duck, pork spare ribs, and linefish, costing between R 68 – R165.  One can order 8 cheeses for one person, at R60, and 10 cheeses for two persons at R66.  Foccacia with parma ham and mozzarella, or smoked trout and Fairview cream cheese, costs R56.

I had a dessert which took me to back to my childhood, being Rote Grütze, a most delicious red berry compote, with a ball of ice cream.   Alternative desserts range in price from R36 – R48, and include cheesecake, pecan nut croquant parfait on pineapple carpaccio, chocolate brownie and ice cream, crème brûlee, and coconut panna cotta.  Breakfast is served from 9h00 – 11h30, and these prices look very reasonable, a health breakfast with muesli costing R28, as do scrambled eggs on a croissant.  When salmon is added, it costs R46, being the price for eggs and bacon, as well as smoked trout with Fairview cream cheese, too.

I was interested in the educational message in the menu, on its first page, which is a note to parents, explaining why, in a roundabout manner, they do not have a children’s menu with “fries, bangers, fish fingers and carbonated sugar-laden drinks” – only two of the menu items have a reduced children’s price, and therefore one must order from the standard menu for children.  “All Goatshed meals are freshly prepared using wholesome ingredients.  A healthy lifestyle starts in early childhood”, the menu stated.  “Thank you for understanding and co-operating in fighting diabetes and obesity amongst children”, it continued.  I was not sure how parents would react to this ‘lecture’.   I was also interested to see how few of the dishes on the menu contain cheese, this being one of the products that are synonymous with Fairview (as is its wine, of course).  The menu also contains a glossary of food and wine terms, such as dukkha, chakalaka, sobu (an Asian buckwheat flour noodle), hummus, and coulis.

Something else that appeared impressive in the menu was the special notes about the breads at Fairview and their coffee.  The ‘artisanal’ breads are baked by bakers from ‘the community’, the menu explains, and the bread range includes ciabatta, sour dough, and rye, as well as Danishes and croissants, and their ‘unique signature breads’.  All the breads had sold out at the counter in the restaurant, and most in the cheese shop too.   There seemed to be only a small space allocated to the bread sales in the cheese shop, surprising, given the attention that is drawn to the breads, and one’s ability to buy them, in the menu.  It was also written that Johan Sörberg, who owns the two top bakeries in Stockholm, has trained the Fairview bakers, and returns regularly.   The menu also proudly states about their coffees: “Our baristas strive to bring you the best in every cup”.  Klaus Thomsen, the ‘World Barista Champion’ in 2006, has travelled from Denmark to train the Fairview baristas in “the art of brewing world quality coffee”, and he returns regularly too, the menu states.  The coffee beans come from Beans for Africa, Yolandy found out for me.  

The wines are very well-priced, and only Fairview-owned wines, being Fairview, Goats Do Roam and Spice Route, are served.  Every dish on the menu has a wine recommendation.  The Spice Route wines are from Malmesbury, and belong to Fairview owner Charles Back too.    The Fairview Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mouvèdre, Pinotage, Pinotage Viognier, Shiraz and Chardonnay all cost R27 per glass and R65 per bottle.  Riesling costs R16/R35, Darling Chenin Blanc R18/R45, Sauvignon Blanc R22/R50, and Viognier R28/R70.   Surprisingly for a wine estate, there are no vintages on the list of wines.  The availability of Jack Black beer is very visible on the menu.  I met the nice tasting room manager Neil du Plessis, and I liked the interesting lamps over the tasting counters, which looked like vine branches with lights in them.    I asked about next-door farm Seidelberg, which Back bought recently, and Yolandy thought it would be business as usual there in terms of their Cape Malay restaurant.  She was not sure what would happen on the wine side of things.   

The cheese shop has a supermarket feel, a large space selling twenty Fairview cheeses, including camembert, brie, Bleu and Blanc, Blue Rock, Feta, White Rock with cranberries, Havarti, Chevin traditional, and with different herbs, four varieties of cream cheeses, La Beryl, crottin, and a Vineyard Cheddar. Surprisingly, one cannot taste the cheeses.   There was no staff in the cheese section to answer questions, or to proactively provide information, as they have in the tasting room, which is just around the corner.  The camembert and brie cost R 16, not much less than one would pay in a supermarket.

Cyril is the chef, but I could not get a surname nor his track record from Yolandy (nor from Shannon, when I called to verify this – she said Cyril has a long surname).  However, the Goatshed website states that Andreas Küng is the chef.   My final poor impression of the restaurant was when the bill arrived in a Diner’s Club billfold, that must be as old as the restaurant is, and was falling apart, a poor reflection on the image of the Goatshed.  Yolandy told me three times that I had to pay the bill at the counter inside, as they do not have a ‘cordless credit card machine’, she said.  The payment taker at the counter did just that, and there is no farewell or thanks to send one on the road with.  There also is no attempt to encourage one to visit the cheese shop or the tasting room, as the entrance is not visible from the restaurant.     I went to the ‘Nanny Goat’ cloak room, with  ‘portable’ toilets, with open top and bottom.  The toilets are cleaned continuously, and are functional, but do not add to the Fairview experience – they just reinforced that Fairview is an expensive mass tourist destination, and that building a relationship with any of its visitors is completely unimportant – not the impression one would want tourists or locals to experience!   

Fairview Goatshed, Fairview wine estate, Agter Paarl.   Tel (021) 863-3609. www.goatshed.co.za  (The menu is on the website, and the website has a clever but restricted slide show with good photographs.  However, there is no Image Gallery.  The photograph of the bread collection does not reflect what is available in the shop and the restaurant).  Twitter: @FairviewWine  Monday – Sunday 9h00 – 17h00.

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

Local restaurant consultant Michael Said has evaluated the potential impact of eleven international restaurant trends on restaurants in our country, writing for www.bizcommunity.com.  The trends were documented by Technomic Inc, an American market research company.

1.   More ordering of “retro cocktails and high-end spirits” and craft beers, away from mass-produced alternatives, at fine-dining restaurants, as restaurant patrons want to celebrate their increasing confidence in the year.   Said’s reaction is that the stricter ‘drink/driving’ legislation may counter this trend locally, and predicts a greater focus on non-alcoholic cocktails in general, and cocktails for designated drivers in particular.

2.   Restaurants are becoming mobile, moving location, without a fixed abode.  Said says that rent-free location is attractive, but is still too large a leap for South African restaurants.

3.   A move away from a celebrity chef to the celebrity farmer, who supplied the ingredients, in marketing communication.  Said is sceptical of seeing “Farmer Brown” style advertising in South Africa.

4.   Technology in restaurants, to gain a competitive edge, including iPads with menus and winelists, and hand-held devices for payment at the table, will grow.  Said says that social media marketing, location-based advertising and online reputation management will certainly be replicated in South Africa.   He is however sceptical about the widespread use of iPads, with the danger of them disappearing with the cutlery and condiments!

5.   The ‘Korean Influence’ is forecast for the USA, resulting from immigration, but is discounted by Said for South Africa.

6.   The trend of ‘Tired of being poor’ could see restaurant patrons spoiling themselves with indulgences on higher-priced menu items.  Said says this could apply locally, given that interest rate decreases have put more Rands into customers’ pockets.

7.  Contradicting the previous trend, but not mutually exclusive, is that customers are demanding even greater value for money, and restaurants will have permanent value offers on their menus, a trend Said agrees will apply locally too.   I would like to add that Cape restaurants have recognised the value of value-offerings, and 37 Cape Town restaurants are offering summer specials, a commendable business policy.

8.  Restaurant chains will reinvent themselves with new branding and looks, as customers look for “new and exciting places to celebrate the new found financial freedom”.   Said recommends that restaurants reinvest their greater income back into their businesses.

9.   Comfort food will remain in demand, as will traditional dishes, either as they are, or with a modern interpretation.   Said questions this trend forecast, as he doubts that patrons want to eat more of the same ‘home food’ at restaurants.  He recommends that they be enticed back to restaurants with ‘old favourites, new experiences and plenty of “love”‘.

10.  Supermarkets are increasingly competing against restaurants, offering their customers family value-for-money eat-in ideas and products.   Locally, Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths “are taking customers out of restaurants and into the aisle”.  Said recommends that ‘warmth and hospitality’ cannot be bought in a supermarket, and are points of difference for restaurants.

11.   Restaurant menus will see a balance of healthy (starters) and indulgent (desserts) items.  Said sees challenges for restaurants caused by menu-labelling requirements, and the Consumer Protection Act, said to be effective from April.   I would like to add my own note to this trend, and call on restaurants to specify the fat content per 100g portion, and the carbohydrate content per serving for diabetics, as it is done on all Woolworths packaging – diabetes is a ‘price’ that is paid by restaurant lovers, and diabetics should be encouraged to eat out healthily without feeling that they are losing out.

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

The Oscar ‘Best Documentary’ nominated “Food Inc.” blames the fast food industry for having created a sick food production industry in the United States of America, which exploits poor workers, treats its animals inhumanely, causes global warming, and makes its consumers sick or kills them!  The movie makers say they are “hungry for change”!   (‘The Cove’ won the Oscar in this category)

Food Inc. is not for the squeamish, and is likely to make one vow to never buy any products from a standard supermarket (other than Woolworths, and even then one is not sure how their suppliers produce their foods) again, to only buy organic foods, where possible, to pay more for good quality food, and to NEVER go near a fast food outlet again.

Robert Renner is the movie director and co-writer of the script, and used the work of investigative ‘Fast Food Nation’ reporter Eric Schlosser, and Michael Pollan, author of ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’, to highlight the problems in the USA food industry.

The movie starts with the supermarket shelves overflowing with brands that give the farm-like feel in their logo’s and pack designs (the “Farmer Brown”-type treatment), but this seems to be a fraudulent depiction of the production of meat products, 80 % of which is in the hands of 4 or 5 production and packaging companies slaughtering 10 billion animals annually.   Chicken production has been altered over time, and a chicken is ready for slaughter in 45 days, compared to double that time in the past, and has bigger breasts to meet market demands.  The big meat producers buy up the farmer’s production, and encourage the farmers to expand the size of their operation all the time, thereby pushing the farmers to get into debt with their banks.  This gives the meat companies power over their supplier farms, to dictate to them how to grow their chickens, and how they are slaughtered.  So, for example, chickens are raised in overpopulated windowless chicken houses, which means that the chickens can barely walk, and do not resist when they are put into containers to be taken to the food factories.   Similarly, pigs and cows are on top of each other on farms, are raised on corn instead of grass, and their skin is covered in faeces.  This leads to undesirable e.Coli and semonella which can contaminate the meat, which is then sold in supermarkets or processed into hamburger patties.

The mother of young Kevin, whose son died from E.coli which was in her son’s hamburger at a fast food outlet, becomes a food “advocate”, lobbying the USA government that food producers who are regularly having to recall their food products from supermarkets or fast food outlets should be closed down.  This is in the face of economic pressure on American politicians to permit such producers to continue producing cheap food.

The corn production industry appears equally corrupt and 45 % of corn produced is genetically engineered.  Corn is purchased below production cost by meat-producing farmers, to keep the cost of meat low.   Corn is a surprise ingredient in numerous supermarket products such as ketchup, chips and other snacks, cola drinks, canned soup and more.   Tomatoes have been genetically engineered to not go bad so quickly, says the movie.   Up to 75 % of the processed supermarket foods one eats in the USA contain genetically engineered ingredients, which can lead to cancer, allergies and problems with toxins.

The fast food industry in the USA has grown dramatically since the drive-ins were started in the 1950’s, and thereafter the McDonalds were started and expanded internationally.   For many families, the low cost of fast food is a more affordable means of feeding a family than is buying healthy fruit and vegetables.  One family is interviewed, and the husband’s diabetes medication takes a big chunk of the family’s disposable money for their food purchases, forcing them to find the cheapest food to feed the family.   A group of scholars is shown, and each of them know more than one person with diabetes.

The result is that more and more Americans are becoming sick, and even die, as did young Kevin, and Americans are becoming more obese.   76 million Americans have become sick from eating contaminated meat, 32 500 have been hospitalised, and 5 000 have died.    Food labelling regulations in the USA do not demand that genetically engineered products are specified on food labels.   The FDA and USDA are criticised for being weak in not protecting the lives and health of the American population.

The documentary spends quite some time on Monsanto, a powerful company which has produced genetically engineered soya beans.  The company does not allow farmers to clean their beans to replant them, forcing all farmers to buy them from Monsanto.   The company sends investigators to farms, and sues farmers who do not follow this directive. The farmers have no protection from the company, and most farmers cannot stand up to its financial and legal power.

The movie shows how much pressure is placed on farmers to tow the food producers’ line, in that filming in chicken houses was not allowed, and all the food companies declined to be interviewed for the movie.  Cameras were smuggled into some of the production sites via staff, to provide footage for the movie.

Viewers are asked to get involved, to lobby for better controls over the food production industry, to eat at home (and therefore not buy fast food), to eat together as a family, to lobby for fair conditions for workers in food production companies (many are illegal workers from Mexico, who are arrested regularly, while their employers are not), to grow one’s own vegetables and fruit, to eat only seasonal foods, to not drink sweetened beverages, to pressurise restaurants to specify the calorie count of each dish, to lobby for schools to not sell junk food or sweetened beverages, to support farmers’ markets, and to do “meatless Mondays”.  The movie ends off on a positive note, interviewing a farmer who supplies an organic yoghurt to Wal-Mart.  Initially he was opposed to supplying a national food chain, but realised that Wal-Mart is bowing to customer pressure, and they flag organic products in the store, which the farmer says is a good thing.

Food, Inc, Cinema Nouveau, V&A Waterfront and Cavendish, Cape Town. www.foodincmovie.com

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