I was invited to attend the launch of journalist and restaurateur Tony Jackman’s new book ‘FoodStuff: Reflections and recipes from a celebrated foodie‘ at the Thursday Club lunch at Buitenverwachting Restaurant on Thursday. I was grateful to Club coordinator Sandy Bailey for the invitation, and for seating me next to Tony, allowing me to ask him some extra questions for this story. Continue reading →
Thursday Club organizer and PR Consultant Sandy Bailey invited me to attend the launch of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s autobiography ‘Not without a fight‘, at a sold-out lunch at Buitenverwachting in Constantia last week. The highlight was being seated next to Ms Zille. Continue reading →
Clem Sunter is one of our country’s top and also an international scenario planner, who has consulted for China, the Zanu FP, and Botswana, but never the ANC. Addressing the Thursday Club over lunch at Buitenverwachting yesterday, Sunter encouraged the audience to ‘not get too downcast, as we are still in the Premier League‘, he said. Chef Edgar Osojnik prepared a generous 3-course meal, many guests not being able to finish all of it.
Clem Sunter attracted attention in the ‘Eighties with his ‘High Road, Low Road’ scenarios, and has been speaking all over the world, writing books, and hosting strategy workshops with corporates and even governments. He has used the analogy of a fox, being smart in its competitive environment, and the title of the books now refer to Continue reading →
What an amazing experience it was to sit next to Clem Sunter at the 5th anniversary of the Thursday Club lunch at Buitenverwachting yesterday, the guest of the wine estate’s PR consultant Sandy Bailey. At the lunch Sunter’s new book ‘21st Century Megatrends: perspectives from a Fox‘ was launched. Sunter was the first speaker at the Thursday Club at its launch five years ago.
We were welcomed with a choice of a glass of Buitenverwachting Blanc de Noir or Meifort (a blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon). Sunter was already in the restaurant, and was happy to pose for a photograph, volunteering to move away from the glass door so that the light did not affect the photograph, clearly an old hand at this. We started chatting before the lunch started, and I received a quick overview of his talk, and learnt a lot more about him.
Christopher Sunter was born in the UK, the only son of a mother he was very close to, and went to school at Winchester College. At school Sunter played the guitar, and the first song he sang was ‘Oh my Darling Clementine‘, which led to his classmates calling him ‘Clem‘ after the song, and the name stuck. He went to Oxford, and there he started a band with his friend, called the Clem & John Band. His biggest claim to fame is the fact that the band co-headed a concert in Oxford at which the Rolling Stones performed as well, in June 1964, and he ended off his talk with this information. We were lucky to have Clem sing for us at the table, his face lighting up as he did so. He shared that he performed with eleven other CEOs at a concert at The Barnyard in Johannesburg last year, organised by Reg Lascaris, the proceeds going to charity. He sang ‘Peggy Sue‘ and ‘Blue Suede Shoes‘ at the concert, and ‘Peggy Sue‘ for us at the table too. Should his career as a scenario planner ever fail, which is highly unlikely, he can fall back into a career as singer! Sunter also is very funny, saying that every year for three weeks he lived in the home in which his mother lived before she passed away. Every evening they were served a glass of wine, and he told a funny story about the residents of the home which brought the house down as he started his talk. Sunter joined Anglo in London after university, and moved to Anglo Zambia in 1971, and then to Anglo South Africa two years later, serving as a Non-Executive Director of the company now, as well as consulting to corporates around the world as a scenario planner, and writing books. Sunter has owned a holiday house in Simonstown for a number of years already, and he and his wife plan to move to Cape Town next year, a ‘semi-gration trend’, he said. They live in Rosebank in Johannesburg and he said that he loves living in Africa, and feels completely at home in this country. Two of his three children live outside South Africa, one of them in Perth, which caused a laugh as I had asked him whether we need to pack for Perth again, which he now refers to ‘parched Perth’ due to the impact of climate change on Australia. Continue reading →
I was invited to the Constantia Fresh Fine Wine and Food Festival held at Buitenverwachting yesterday afternoon. It was a sold out fun event, 44 wine estates (not only from Constantia) presenting their 200 ‘freshest’ and most interesting wines, and chefs (mainly from Constantia) preparing food.
The entrance fee was R400 per person, and included as much wine tasting and food as one liked. The tables were set out by region, with Constantia having the central stage around a massive oak tree in the middle of the large lawn on which the Festival was held. It is always interesting to see how the wine estates market themselves in the relatively small space they have. It was impossible to taste all the wines of all the wine estates represented at the Festival, and it was a pity that one did not receive a leaflet or information about each of the wines and wine estates at the Festival. The Festival is the concept of wine editor, Platter taster, sommelier, and wine consultant Jörg Pfützner, who is known as a Riesling fan.
The Constantia Fresh Festival was preceded by two events on Friday: Jörg led a themed tasting with the interesting title: ‘If modernity is sexy, is tradition passé?’ This was followed by a four course dinner cooked by Chef Bertus Basson, paired with a total of twelve wines from the Constantia valley, which was held at Klein Constantia. Yesterday the ‘walkabout tasting‘ allowed attendees to taste to their heart’s content, and to meet wine estate representatives, although most top winemakers were not present due to the harvest being in full swing. On its website, Constantia Continue reading →
* A new (yellow) frame for Table Mountain has been erected at Bloubergstrand, to showcase Cape Town’s icon for tourists and locals wishing to get a perfect picture, and to tie in with Cape Town hosting the World Design Capital 2014.
* In what many see as surprise news, Facebook will buy WhatsApp for $19 billion. WhatsApp has 450 million users, growing by 1 million a day. It is attractive to Facebook in reaching a younger audience and to improve its mobile communication reach.
* Constantia Fresh Fine Wine and Food Festival will be held this weekend. On Saturday 22/2 wines from Constantia can be tasted as can be canapés prepared by Chefs Brad Ball from Steenberg’s Bistro Sixteen82, Bertus Basson from Overture, Edgar Osojnik from Buitenverwachting, and Peter Tempelhoff from The McGrath Collection, all available at Buitenverwachting, from 15h00 – 20h00. The cost is R400 and tickets can be booked via Webtickets. Tomorrow a themed tasting will be held by Jörg Pfützner, from 18h00 – 19h30, at R990 per person. The Annual Constantia Fresh Dinner will be held tomorrow at Klein Constantia, and will be cooked by Chef Bertus Basson. Cost is R990.
* The Cape Winemakers Guild has put together an amazing auction lot for the AfrAsia Bank Cape Wine Auction, which will be held at Delaire Graff on 15 March. The lot includes Continue reading →
Taking our intern Lorraine Bourgogne from Reunion on a recent sightseeing tour of Cape Point and Boulder’s Beach, we stopped at Groot Constantia, to ask for a map of the Constantia Wine Route. To our surprise, the best we were given was a hand-drawn map, an experience that was replicated at two other wine estates in the valley. A week later we returned to Constantia, and stopped at the wine estates we did not manage to get to last Thursday. It appears that little or no marketing, other than a few events, has been undertaken for the Constantia Wine Route, that there is confusion as to who is handling the marketing for the Route, and that there is huge disparity in the wine tasting experience across the ten wine estates on the Constantia Wine Route. Confusion exists amongst the wine estate staff between the Constantia Wine Route and the Constantia Valley Association, and between the roles of Karen Michalowsky of the Constantia Valley Association (a not-very-nice person on Twitter), and Carryn Wiltscher of the Constantia Wine Route, both first names sounding similar! Continue reading →
I have not been to Buitenverwachting for so many years, that I cannot remember when last I had been there. The wine estate has become over-shadowed by its neighbours in the Constantia valley, and seems to have become hidden as a Cape Town restaurant destination in the past few years. By appointing Sandy Bailey as a PR consultant, this is about to change, and resulted in her extending an invitation to food and wine bloggers and to journalists (including the lovely Jos Baker, Angela Lloyd, John and Lynne Ford, Cathy Marston, Maggie Mostert and Hennie Coetzee) to join her and delightful soft-spoken winemaker Brad Paton and his wife Wendy to enjoy the newly launched Sunday lunch buffet last week.
Buitenverwachting was originally part of the Constantia wine farm, belonging to Simon van der Stel. In 1773 it was sold to Cornelus Brink, who named it Nova Constantia, writes WINE magazine. In 1794 Arend Brink bought the farm and called it Buitenverwachting (beyond expectation). Buitenverwachting is now owned by German citizen Richard MÃ¼ller, whose son Lars Maack has been running the estate locally for the past few years, and personally handles the international marketing of the wines, especially focused on Germany. The drive to the wine estate makes one feel that one is leaving the busy city and escaping to the countryside, a beautiful tree-lined lane taking one to the estate, and then one has to drive slowly past vineyards and lawns with grazing sheep, to get to the restaurant.
The chef is Austrian Edgar Osojnik, who came to Buitenverwachting from Grande Roche. A six-month stint at Bosman’s culminated in a farewell party for Osojnik, and it was at this party that he met his future wife, and he decided to stay in South Africa. In 2003 Osojnik was recognised as the Top Chef of the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards for Buitenverwachting. Chef Edgar offers a fine dining menu for dinners, and a lighter Courtyard menu for lunches. He is also offering a special Asparagus menu, which costs R260 for three courses, including a glass of wine, until the end of November.
On Sundays the buffet lunch is set up inside the restaurant, and was a most generous selection of starters, mains and desserts, with a cheese plate to follow, at R240 (half price for children under 12 years). I do not recall seeing so many starter dishes for a buffet before, most unique and special, and not just a variation of salads which one experiences so often. The presentation of the starters and desserts attracted attention. For example, the sushi looked like little gift parcels, as Osojnik created square sushi slices with colourful ingredients such as avocado, rice, and salmon, with a black “tie”.
The starters included Vitello Tonnato, Vegetable-goats feta tian with rucola, Cauliflower-broccoli Royale with Dukkah Chicken Breast, Prawn espuma, smoked Norwegian salmon buttermilk terrine, Bobotie in a ramekin, Duck liver parfait set on caramelized apple, smoked fish, roasted asparagus with Parma-style ham, tomato-mozzarella, Melon with smoked Kudu, Potato salad, Roast Beef filled with French salad, and Caesar salad with white anchovies. Mains are a traditional buffet, with a selection of leg of lamb, Chalmar rib-eye steak, veal breast, roast pork belly, linefish of the day and chicken curry. Potatoes are served roasted and Dauphinoise, there is basmati rice, a choice of five vegetables, and five sauces are served with the main course. Desserts and cakes included Sacher Torte, SchwarzwÃ¤lder Torte, Gugelhupf, Kardinal Schnitte, Chocolate Mousse, Yoghurt CrÃ¨me Catalan, fruit salad with Marsala Zabaglione, Vanilla Pannacotta with fresh strawberries, as well as a cheese platter.
Brad has been the winemaker at Buitenverwachting for the past six years, and his colleague, cellarmaster Hermann Kirschbaum, has been at the wine estate for the past 18 years. Brad worked at Chamonix in Franschhoek with Gottfried Mocke before studying winemaking at Geisenheim in Germany and worked there too, for a total of nine years, now speaking perfect German. He is grateful for his German language skills, as they receive many German visitors at the estate. One gets the feeling that not only is the wine estate steeped in tradition and history, but its staff are loyal, and that consistency in all respects is the success factor at Buitenverwachting.
Brad told me that the recession is hitting wine farms, and the newer small independent operators appear hardest hit, many not being able to pay for their bottles to get their wines sold. He feels that prices of the newer wine estates are too high. Sales to restaurants have been badly hit, he said, as BYO is seeing a growth due to excessive prices of wines in restaurants. He also felt that Constantia restaurants should be more “Proudly-Constantia”, in stocking brands from the Constantia wine estates. Buitenverwachting has recently appointed Meridian for its distribution.
I was surprised to hear how reasonable the Buitenverwachting wine prices are, with entry level Buiten Blanc costing R45, and the Merifort (a lovely smoky Bordeaux Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot) costing a mere R55. The other stalwart wines in the Buitenverwachting range are Blanc de Noir, Chardonnay, Rhine Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Christine, and Merlot. Brad and his colleagues are making “out of the box” wines too:
* Intensity: 85 % Sauvignon Blanc and 15 % Semillon
* Trinity: Riesling, a Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend
* Rough Diamond: 60 % Petit Verdot and 40 % Malbec
Going back to Buitenverwachting after so many years was a reminder of the talent of Chef Edgar and his restaurant team, as well as of the quality of the estate’s wines. I plan to return to try the Asparagus menu. I am a new convert of the Buitenverwachting Merifort, even though I am a dedicated Shiraz drinker.
Buitenverwachting, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia, www.buitenverwachting.com. Tel (021) 794-3522. Monday – Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday Buffet lunch. Corkage R55.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage