Entries tagged with “dolphins”.


OO Cape Town Great White shark cage Whale Cottage PortfolioLast night I attended an interesting talk on ‘The Great White Shark: a Global Perspective’, given by shark expert and Apex eco-tour operator Chris Fallows at the One&Only Cape Town. Chris’ talk covered the three key seal areas attracting Great White Sharks in South Africa, as well as other well-known shark areas in the world.

I was invited by Ian Manley, the hotel’s PR consultant, to Chris’ talk, one of two (the second will focus on the relationship between Orca killer whales and Great White Sharks tonight), in a series of Guest Speaker Talks, which include Joanne Lifson on 18 June on ‘Lights Canine Action’, Colin Bell speaking on rhino extinction on 3 July, ‘Africa’s Three Big Cats‘ by Lorne Sulcas on 15 July, and more. One&Only Cape Town ambassador Aubrey Ngcungama introduced Chris, who has documented his shark adventures in his book ‘Great White: The Majesty of Sharks‘, and who has filmed documentaries about the Great White Shark with Discovery Channel, the BBC’s Planet Earth, and National Geographic.   In the hotel reception area, a shark cageChris Fallows Great White The Majesty of Sharks with diver, as well as a model of a small shark, were set up to attract attention to the talks programme.

Prior to the start of the talk Chris and I chatted, and he explained that Orcas, known as ‘killer whales‘, are not whales at all, but are members of the dolphin family.   Orcas are known to kill whales, by pushing them under water and making them drown.   In South Africa Great White Sharks can be found where there are concentrations of seals, in three regions: (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The South African wine industry should be more assertive, and not try to please everybody, says Johann Krige, owner of Kanonkop and outgoing Chairman of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), who has handed over the reins to Dr Michael Jordaan.  Transformation in the industry of 680 members of WOSA and exporting collectively 550000 litres of wine is vital, Krige said. He said that the two windfalls of the ‘Mandela factor’ and a weak rand may have been bad for the industry, despite benefiting it financially, allowing inferior wines to be produced too.  The Board of WOSA has the five largest ‘black exporters‘ on its Board of 15, a positive development, Krige added.  He praised his Board members for working together for the ‘good of the whole industry‘.   Bulk wine exports are environmentally-friendly, it being more ‘green’ to bottle at the destination.  He urged the industry to be ‘terroirists‘, planting cultivars suitable to the soils on its farms.  He added that the government sees the wine industry as ‘too white, too male and too Afrikaans‘, and has not acknowledged the transformation that has already taken place.

*   Cape Town is praised in the British InStyle, writing with the headline ‘Why Cape Town should be your next holiday destination’ and stating that ‘Cape Town is the place to be’.  Focusing largely on the Mount Nelson Hotel, almost sounding like an advertorial, it does encourage visitors to go up Table Mountain and to experience Robben Island; go on a walking tour of the city centre; visit the ‘Boulders Penguin Colony‘;  see whales, dolphins, and seals, and even Great White sharks; experience the Neighbourgoods Market on Saturday mornings; and go to Greenmarket Square.

*   An Africa tourism tax on flights and accommodation, currently being considered by the African Union, would have a (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Forbes has published a wonderful article by Fathom travel website about Cape Town and the Winelands, describing it as a ‘mix of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Napa Valley – with a little Bilbao thrown in.  It recommends Table Mountain, penguins at ‘Boulder Bay’ (sic) ‘Beach‘, ‘design-centric’ shopping at Cape Quarter, Lion’s Head, Robben Island, ‘Victoria and Albert (sic) Waterfront‘, a township tour, Simonstown, Surf Shack in Muizenberg, Delaire Graff Restaurant, and Babylonstoren.  For shopping O.live, Nap, Merchants on Long, Monkey Biz, and African Nova are recommended.  Restaurant recommendations include Harbour House, Live Bait, Grand Café on the Beach, Bungalow, Bistro Sixteen82, The Greenhouse, The Test Kitchen, and The Round House.

*   Henco J (his surname is not revealed) from Pretoria is one of three winners of the Jameson First Shot awards, an annual opportunity to have a short film produced given to a resident of South Africa, Russia, and the USA by Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey.  The three winners will have their film produced in Los Angeles later this year, with actress Uma Thurman in the lead role in each.  Henco’s script is called ‘The Mundane Goddess’, and tells the story of Hera, the queen of Greek gods.

*   Palm Beach Illustrated writes with praise about South African wines, in an article entitled ‘South Africa Rising: Wine and Vineyard Renaissance’, and how these combine old-world tradition with cutting-edge techniques.  The article features (more…)

Cape2Rio Yacht Race Logo Whale Cottage PortfolioI couldn’t have wished for a better birthday yesterday, having been invited to join a media sail from the Royal Cape Yacht Club, to generate publicity for the Cape2Rio 2014 Yacht Race, which starts in Cape Town on 4 January.  The 14th 3000 mile Cape2Rio Yacht Race is the ‘PR opportunity of the Year’ for Cape Town, and links to the 2014 Soccer World Cup taking place in Brazil, each of the 36 yachts taking a soccer ball.

Despite my uncertainty as to whether my guest house duties would allow me to participate, my staff gave me off, and the day could not have been more perfect for a sail, with no wind, and the temperature around 30°C.  I had been invited by Wesgro’s Chief Marketing Officer Judy Lain, and she was waiting for me with a bunch of flowers!  I thanked her for choosing such a perfect day and date for the sail!  A number of media representatives were invited, and we gathered in the ‘galley‘ at the yacht club to hear more details about the race and its participants from the Race Marketer Toni Mainprize.  The pioneering spirit and human struggle in making a yacht crossing was saluted, and it was said that Cape Town seems to have turned its back on the sea, despite it surrounding us.  I personally had not sailed in years, having been a regular weekend sailor twenty years ago.  We were encouraged to come to the Yacht Club on a Wednesday afternoon, and volunteer to crew on the yachts going out to sea.  Teams from Angola, the UK, Australia, Italy, and Germany have entered the Race.

A number of representatives of the participating boats were  present, and the idea was that we interview them on the water, the owners of Isla having madeCape2Rio Race Isla Whale Cottage Portfolio their catamaran available for the media outing.  The response had been so great that Judy and other PR executives stayed on land, as the Hendersons, owners of Isla, were very strict about the total number of persons allowed on the yacht.

The 14,8 m catamaran Isla was built by its owner Ian Henderson, and sleeps eight.  He will be putting his business interests on hold for the next year, taking his wife Elskeand their two daughters of 4 and 7 years with them on the race, and they plan to travel along the east coast of South and North America thereafter. Cape2Rio Isla Elske Whale Cottage Portfolio Elske told me that they rarely get seasick now, regularly doing outings along the coast, and sleeping on the boat when they do trips away.  Elske said she volunteers to helm, as it makes her less likely to become sea sick.   She laughed, saying she is quick to delegate the food preparation when she feels queasy.  She has found homeopathic medication to counter the sea (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The first ever Canadian Braai Day will be held in Toronto on 21 September, to celebrate our South African heritage and wine culture, sponsored by Two Oceans and Nederburg wines.

*   The 2013 Champagne vintage could become as good as the legendary 1996, early analyses indicate.

*   The Northern Cape is the province with the second highest revenue derived from Hunting Tourism, earning it R 398 million per year, with a strong interest from Spanish, Danish, and American hunters.

*   ‘Sell stories, don’t sell wine‘ said 1WineDude American blogger Joe Roberts in his keynote address at the Nederburg Wine (more…)

For the 20th year the Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival will be paying tribute to the Southern Right whales, who visit Walker Bay in Hermanus from May – December to mate and give birth, giving Hermanus the enviable reputation of offering the best land-based whale watching in the world.  Food and wine pairing forms a strong foundation of the Festival this year, sponsored by Two Oceans for the first time, the brand also supporting the SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) responsible eating of fish.

Billed as an ‘enviro-arts’ festival, the Two Oceans Whale Festival starts tomorrow and runs until Tuesday 4 October. On the environmental side, the focus will be educational, incorporating whales, sharks, dolphins, penguins and seals, the ‘Big 5′ for the Cape Whale Coast.  A strong focus is on education for children.  Saving the endangered rhinos has been incorporated into the Festival too.

On the arts side, the Festival is mainly music-focused, with concerts by well-known performers such as Chris Chameleon, Dr Victor and the Rasta Rebels, Steve Hofmeyer, and Prime Circle spread over six music venues. Many concerts are free of charge.  A Classical concert by the Odeion Quartet takes place at Bouchard Finlayson in the Hemel en Aarde Valley on Friday evening, while the Fidelio Trio will perform in the Municipal Auditorium on Saturday evening.  A Quilters’ exhibition can be viewed at the Dutch Reformed Church, and there is a craft marquee too.   In addition, a vintage car show, a Mardi Gras, as well as a number of sport activities such as a mountain bike race, a half marathon, and a Harbour to Harbour swim will take place.  The sport events run from 4 – 9 October.  Kfm will be broadcasting live from Hermanus.

It is the food and wine pairing that is of particular interest, and has far more focus than in past years.  At the Two Oceans Food Court at Market Square, a number of food vendors will focus on seafood, and other marine-themed and speciality dishes. In addition, local produce, artisanal cheeses, bakery items, charcuterie, as well as chocolates will be available to taste and buy.  Two Oceans’ wines will be sold at R45 a bottle. Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris, entertainer and Checkers cheese spokesperson Nataniel, and actresses Shaleen Surtie-Richards and Brumilda van Rensburg will be doing cooking demonstrations, and allowing visitors to taste their food as well as wine for free at the Checkers’ Living Table, at different time slots.  A new Mountie Fisherman’s Market will be held in Mount Pleasant, offering fresh fish, snoek, fishcakes, and Cape Malay delicacies for sale. Throughout September twenty members of the Hermanus Restaurant Owners’ Forum, under the chairmanship of restaurateur Fabio Lenci, have been offering a special on Two Ocean’s wines, at R55 per bottle and R15 per glass, and this will continue throughout the Festival. Each of the participants will offer a combination food item with a bottle of Two Oceans’ wine at a special price.

Festival visitors are advised to leave home early, and to expect a traffic build-up coming into Hermanus. Last year 133000 whale lovers visited Hermanus, and this year 150000 are expected to attend the Whale Festival. Tomorrow Tourism Month will be officially concluded with the opening of the Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival by Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, with Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde also attending.  The Whale Festival, and the Southern Right whales with it, have received fantastic coverage, on the front page of the Sunday Times last week, and daily on Kfm this week.   SABC2 is broadcasting about Hermanus and the Whale Festival from 6h00 – 8h00 tomorrow morning, and its camera crews have been in Hermanus, filming the beautiful assets of the region, including whales and the Hermanus Wine Route, for most of September.

Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival, 30 September – 4 October.  Tel (028) 313-0928.  www.whalefestival.co.za. Music tickets can be booked via www.computicket.com

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

The Twelve Apostles Hotel is located at the foot of the mountain with the same name, with a wonderful view on to the Atlantic Ocean, and whales and dolphins can be seen from it on occasion.   Last night it took a step to move closer to Camps Bay, by inviting the Camps Bay Accommodation Association  member guest houses to dinner at its Azure Restaurant.

The impression created throughout, from the time that the guest house members entered the hotel, a member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World and voted Best Hotel in Cape Town in 2010 by Travel & Leisure USA, was two-fold:  Belonging to The Red Carnation Hotel Collection South Africa, every member of staff interacting with the public proudly wears a red carnation in his/her shirt/jacket pocket, a very clever touch in creating brand awareness for the hotel group, which has other interests in South Africa, being The Oyster Box and the regularly award-winning Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, in addition to properties in London, Geneva, Guernsey, Florida, and Dorset.  Secondly, each member of staff that we met during our evening at the hotel went out of their way to be friendly, to chat, and to become one of our group, sharing pre-dinner drinks, and seated with us at dinner at Azure.

Horst Frehse is the new GM of the hotel, a doyen of GM’s, and for many years he was “Mr Grande Roche”, followed by Singita. He moved from Asara to the Twelve Apostles in December.  He personally greeted every guest house member, and apologised for not being able to join us for dinner.  He announced that the Spa will close for two months, to undergo a R5 million renovation, whereafter it will be operated by the hotel itself.  Hotel Manager Brett Davidge and his team were present.  A nice touch was that Chef Henrico Grobbelaar flew back from a meeting in Johannesburg especially to prepare the meal, and he chose the guest house group to try out two new starters and two main courses he is including in his new winter menu, to be launched on 1 June.  He personally introduced the menu, and came to us after the meal, to obtain feedback. Chef Henrico told us that he is wanting to focus more on seafood in his new menu, and that he is sourcing ingredients locally and fresh, seafood coming from Hout Bay. Chef Henrico was a FIFA Executive Chef during the World Cup last year, was Sunday Times  Chef of the Year in 2009, and leads the South African team for the Culinary Olympics.

Azure is a very large restaurant room, but divided into two halves via a central table, with big blue and silver vases and lots of candles.  One side has a fireplace, adding atmosphere, and it was cosy and warm in the room, despite the wintry weather outside.   The colour blue given to the name of the restaurant is reflected by day through the lovely seaview from the restaurant, and from Moroccan-style blue lights by night.  Tables have tablecloths, good quality large material serviettes, and were laid with Hepp Exclusive cutlery and good glassware.

The bread basket contained a wonderful selection of home-made breads and rolls, including rye bread, wholewheat bread, and olive bread, as well as bread sticks, impressive in its presentation.   The starter choices were a most delicious Grilled Yellowfin Tuna served with a sweetcorn relish, avocado puree and cilantro vinaigrette.  The tuna looked beautiful on the plate, almost like marrow bones.  The other starter was a salad of roast beetroot, zucchini, parsnip and Fairview goat’s curd with black olive paint.  The tuna starter was by far the most ordered, and was an absolute hit.

The main course choice was lamb loin with stirfried tatsoi, mizuna, julienne vegetables, lentils and spicy peanut sauce, a fusion dish that Frehse had requested of the chef.  The generous portion of pan roasted kingklip with cauliflower white bean truffle puree, mushroom and adzuki with Port miso veal jelly was excellent.  It was nice to see a fish knife for the kingklip. There was no choice of dessert, as Chef Henrico wanted us to try Mrs Bea Tollman’s Lemon cheese cake with Honeycomb ice cream, a special recipe that Chef Henrico described as the one of the best in the country, and which takes three days to make.  

Azure’s current menu is low key in being typed pages bound in a black holder.  Its introduction lists the fynbos that is added to the food preparation, this having been the speciality of previous chef Ricardo de Carvalho.  It states that the Abalone for its main course has been ‘purchased in terms of Section 13 of the Marine Living Resources Act 1998, and is in keeping with Live Aquaculture Abalone harvesting’.  Starters range from R60 for a trio of cold soup, and a chicken noodle soup, to R 175 for Bea’s Eggs Royale, three scrambled eggs served in their shell, with smoked salmon, black caviar and oysters. Main courses start at R110 for mushroom and tofu lasagne, to R 455 for Crispy fried abalone.  Steaks cost around R150.  Desserts cost R70, with Bea’s cheesecake costing R85.

It is clear that The Twelve Apostles hotel group is ultra professional, and all guest houses left with a bag of information about the hotel’s facilities, including the current Azure menu, and about its sister property Bushman’s Kloof.   Thabang Rapotu was an excellent sales executive in encouraging a group of us to book for the “Tea by the Sea” afternoon tea next month.  The guest house guests were invited on a tour around the hotel, and were shown some guest rooms too, the hotel using the opportunity to educate our group about its facilities.  Malusi offered excellent service in looking after the water and wines, and I enjoyed the Rust en Vrede Merlot 2009.  A most generous and enjoyable evening was spent with the Twelve Apostles Hotel team, and the guest houses left the Twelve Apostles feeling that Azure is the best restaurant that Camps Bay has, and that they would recommend it to their guests for fine-dining in future.

POSTSCRIPT 26/5: Thanks to Kurt Ackermann for pointing out an error as to the tuna used in the starter last night.  I must have misheard Chef Henrico, and I called him this evening to check with him, after seeing Kurt’s comment.  He has assured me that he used Yellowfin Tuna, on the Green SASSI list, and I have corrected it above. 

Azure, Twelve Apostles Hotel, Camps Bay.  Tel (021) 437-9000. www.12apostleshotel.com (The website contains the menu but not the winelist.  It is a pity that the Image Gallery does not contain any photographs of the food served at Azure, other than of the seafood platter).

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

The late Heath Ledger, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for ‘The Dark Knight’, directed an anti-whaling music video, which has now been released, reports www.timesonline.co.uk.

Produced at the time that he was filming the Batman movie, Ledger directed the video in 2007.  It features the song ‘King Rat’ by the Modest Mouse band from the USA, and shows a ‘cigar-chomping blue whale captain out hunting for humans in the sea”, the website says.

Ledger supported the protection of whales and dolphins, and therefore wanted the video to have a shock factor, so that it could make an impact, and highlight what Japan is doing in killing whales.   It shows humans being harpooned, skinned, their meat processed and fed to seal pups.

The actor passed away before the video was completed.  The co-director and visual-effects company decided to complete the project in Ledger’s honour, and to donate the revenue from the iTunes video downloads to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in its first month.  Ledger acknowledged the role the Society plays in campaigning for an end to whaling, especially by the Japanese.

The music video can be seen at: http://blogs.thetimes.co.za/minor/2009/08/05/heath-ledger-his-anti-whaling-message

Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

Of the towns on the Garden Route, Plettenberg Bay appears to be worst hit, with many shops standing empty.   Business has been very slow and few tourists are visiting the beautiful seaside town, despite whale and dolphin sightings. 

Restaurants have been coming to the party, some having closed for longer over the winter break, and most offering exceptional special offers.   So, for example, Emily Moon is offering a two-course “winter warmer menu” for R 100, and 3-courses at R 120.   Nguni offers a “Bring back the “Good Old Times” (plus a little inflation and a day or 2 later!!) on Friday evening, and charges R 50 per head.   Specials have included steak, eat-as-much-pastsa-as-you-can, and sole.   Miguels offers two courses for R 85.

Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com