Entries tagged with “Edgebaston”.


A record 111 South African wines received a coveted 2018 Platter’s Guide five-star rating at the Awards ceremony held at the Table Bay Hotel tonight. Raats Family Wines was named as the 2018 Winery of the Year. (more…)

platters_wine_guide_2017A number of records were broken last night when 94 wines and one brandy were awarded 5 star status at the launch of  the Platter’s by Diners Club South African Wine Guide 2017 at the Table Bay Hotel, a new venue, the event having been held at the Mount Nelson for years. The colour of the 2017 Platter’s Guide is Harvest Green.  (more…)

imageLast week I was invited to try Little Saint restaurant on Upper Bree Street, in the semi-detached section of Cape Town’s top trendy restaurant street. I was pleasantly surprised to find the first working herb ‘garden’ inside a restaurant. (more…)

imageTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Design Indaba has announced that it will eliminate the Design Indaba Expo, largely due to the large drop in attendance this year, reaching the 2009 attendance level. The venue of the Design Indaba conference will change to Artscape, and the date will move from the last weekend in February. Owner Ravi Naidoo would like to take the event to Johannesburg and Durban too, as well as internationally.

*  South Africans traveling in Europe can now access data via an Orange Holiday (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  To grow Tourism, our country should focus on attracting tourists in other African countries, and work with other African countries to combat common issues, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom told the Hospitality Investment Conference Africa (HICA) in Cape Town yesterday.  Issues that need a joint approach are easier inter-country travel on the continent, and addressing the spread of Ebola and the perception that Africa is one country, which is infected with the disease.

*   Slow Food is celebrating its 25th anniversary, having been founded in Italy to counter the growth in fast food.  It celebrates the ‘diversity of food, the richness of our traditions, the connection between what we eat and how it is produced. Since then, Slow Food is the only movement to connect the pleasure of food with social responsibility; fighting for the fundamental right to good, clean and fair food for everyone‘.

*   South Africa has overtaken Spain to become the fifth largest seller of wines in the UK.  Argentina, Australia and South  (more…)

Diners Club Christiaan Groenewald Whale Cottage PortfolioLa Residence pulled out all the stops in hosting the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year 2013 Awards last night, seating and serving 150 guests in its massive entrance hall, lounge and dining room, demonstrating why it was recently voted joint Best Hotel in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.  The Awards evening was described as ‘a gathering of wine aristocracy’, and the ‘Oscars of the Wine Awards’! The Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Award is the only award given to an individual, and is even more special in that it is received in the presence of an audience of experts and peers.

Gareth Cliff of 5FM was a good MC, admitting his ignorance as a wine drinker, and doing a brilliant Julius Malema impersonation based on wines (with Ed Morton and Nick Solomon of La Residence in the photograph below).  As the venue was so large, video screens were set up throughout the venue, allowing each table to see  a screen close by.  A Twitter Feed ran on the screen, Cliff being a heavy Tweeter, which will have pleased his hosts at Diners Club Ed, Gareth Cliff Nick Whale Cottage PortfolioLa Residence and Diners Club, with his 571343 Twitter Followers.  Diners Club Winemaker of the Year 2013 Finalist Johan Jordaan from Spier was an informative and fun table neighbour, as was Franschhoek Tatler editor Siegfried Schäfer and  Helgard van Schalkwyk from Lynx Wines.  Johan was an excellent ‘lighting assistant’, in lighting my plates with his phone to photograph the food! (more…)

Emily's Interior 2 Whale Cottage Portfolio (2)Emily’s restaurant is 21 years old, and has recently opened at its third home on Kloof Street, having spent ten years each in Woodstock and in the V&A Waterfront.  The restaurant has lost all of its previous charm, and its main attraction (Chef Peter Veldsman) is nowhere to be seen.  It has sold its soul to Coca Cola, its branding seen throughout the restaurant, not befitting an establishment of the stature of Chef Peter and his partner Chef Johan Odendaal.

Chef Peter once was the most high profile food editor of Sarie magazine, and was known and loved by all, the doyen of food writers in his heyday. He has written eleven cookery books, and has contributed to many others too. He has won numerous food awards. He started the Culinary Arts Institute of Africa Restaurant School at the same time as opening Emily’s restaurant in Woodstock in 1994, long before the suburb became trendy, and it was extremely popular for a decade.  I remember its quirky decor, inside an attractive building, and being particularly popular amongst Afrikaans Capetonians, it being their first real Afrikaans restaurant.  Chef Johan ran the cookery school, and his students were the servers.

Surprisingly Emily’s moved to the V&A Waterfront, badly (more…)

TWhaleTalesourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Minister of Finance Pravin Ghordan has agreed to relook his ban on the purchase of wines with state funds, announced in Parliament on Wednesday, after he received complaints from WOSA as well as Parliamentarians that entertaining foreign dignitaries without wine is unthinkable!

*   The Finalists for the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year 2013, with Diners Club Winemaker of Year Finalists 8c6ddd0d54d944b20bea1bae_630x462the theme of non-Bordeaux red blends,  have been announced:

+   Christiaan Groenewald of New Cape Wines

+   Mary-Louise Nash of Black Pearl

+   William Wilkinson of Wildekrans Wine Estate

+   Johan Malan of Simonsig

+   Johan Jordaan of Spier

+   David Finlayson of Edgebaston.

The 33rd Diners Club Winemaker of the Year will be announced at La (more…)

On Friday I had lunch at Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House in Stellenbosch, which re-opened after a R10 million new construction and decor upgrade in September.  It is a huge improvement relative to my visit to the (unbranded at that time) restaurant more than a year ago.  Given that its menu was developed with input by Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly,  it may be a good idea for chefs to analyse the Makaron Restaurant menu, if they aspire to make Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant next year.

My motivation for going to the restaurant was to try the talented new Chef Tanja Kruger’s cooking, which I had experienced at De Huguenot Restaurant, from which she moved three weeks ago, and to see the newly created Makaron Restaurant, which is now branded, in line with a recommendation we made in our review after eating Chef Anri Diener’s creations there last year, and pronounced it ‘cuisine paradise’.  Chef Tanja is a talented winner of the Chaine de Rotisseurs Young Chef of the Year 2008, and a member of the South African Culinary Olympic Team, who moved to De Huguenot Restaurant earlier this year from Hunter’s Country House in Plettenberg Bay, having worked at Lanzerac, the Radisson Hotel and Five Flies before.

Majeka House is a 5-star boutique hotel, suitably located for the accommodation establishment in the quite Stellenbosch suburb Paradyskloof, off the road to Vriesenhof.  Its location as a restaurant is less favourable, as one has to know where to find it, as minimal signage is allowed in the residential area, and the name of the establishment and not of its restaurant is signposted.  When I arrived at the gate, the security guard wanted me to ring the bell, but one does not get close enough to the intercom (or does not have an arm long enough) to ring the bell, so he obliged.  There is ample parking on the property, and staff member Jacques was at the entrance, waiting to take me inside. What was once a restaurant leading into a lounge previously, has been separated. The original restaurant has become the ‘M’ Lounge, while the restaurant is in a new space on the opposite side, off the Reception.  The designer is Etienne Hanekom, who is an art director at New Media Publishing decor magazine VISI.  The reception area has been changed around slightly and modernised, and Hanekom’s love for quirky animals, especially pigs and deerheads, dominates the ‘M’ Lounge, which is blue-lit, with very busy decor, the luxury room crammed with leather couches and other furniture.  It must look cosy at night, when it is fuller.

Opposite is Makaron restaurant, with a glass door with the restaurant branding, flanked by a glass-encased collection of fine wines.   The restaurant is far more less-is-more in design, and there is no carry-over of the decor from the ‘M’ lounge, other than the gold colour of the lamps.  As one enters through the glass door, one sees the generous and trendy Gregor Jenkin table (also at Dash and Dear Me), filled with a large container of bottles, multi-coloured menus, and vases with beautiful garden-grown roses, over which hang gold-coloured lamps.  Against the wall are golden pots filled with succulents.  The restaurant has an L-shape, of which the ‘leg’ of the L can be cordoned off via a curtain for a private function, or closed off if it is not very busy.  With the curtains closed, the restaurant seems much smaller than the 60 it can seat inside (with another 30 outside), and becomes long and thin-shaped.  I saw some gold-upholstered chairs in the cordoned off section, picking up the recurring gold colour.  The bathroom is glitzy, with a glass sliding door with sensor, and the space inside is a little tight.  The floor is glass-lit perspex, perhaps an über-design element.  Off the restaurant is a cigar lounge, and a design feature is the collection of glass ashtrays on the coffee table.

I chose to sit outside in the restaurant courtyard, on the first real Cape summer day, not realising that workmen were busy laying paving around the nearby indoor pool, with a very strong adhesive smell and resultant noise.  There was good music to cover some of it, and I picked up that the music choice has improved from my previous visit.  There are fresh roses on each table, decked with a cloth, a silver underplate, and two sets of cutlery are pre-laid, an interesting mix and match of antique sterling silver and plate, none of the elements matching, or being part of a pair, but it is impressive that the owners are spending so much money on quality.  On the table were two bowls, one with black pepper and the other with beautiful Amoleh Iranian blue salt.  I absolutely loved the menu cover design, and this was a concept from the designer too – they are made to look like book covers, some with titles too, but the front has a cut-out spoon shape, behind which is a gold background.  For me, this was the most stylish element of the design at Makaron.  The spoon logo is on the menu and on the winelist, and even on some plates.  The menu has an introduction: “We have sourced the best produce available in the country; by doing so, we keep it real and fresh – the perfect recipe for a great dining experience”, and I could not help think that these words were written by Mrs Donnelly.

While I was there, I did not yet know that the restaurant would be named on Sunday evening as the Eat Out DStv Food Network winner of the Boschendal Style Award, but I did know that it was one of 18 contenders. The Style Award for Makaron Restaurant is controversial, as far as I am concerned, in a number of respects, as I wrote yesterday about the Eat Out Awards.  First, two independent sources told me in one day, when I mentioned that I had been for lunch, that Mrs Donnelly, Eat Out editor and sole restaurant judge, is a consultant to the restaurant.  I would have thought that Makaron would have not allowed itself to be in the running for any Eat Out award as a result, or that Mrs Donnelly would have recused herself from the judging of this award category, but she did not, and did not disclose her business link to this restaurant, blowing her credibility, in my opinion.  Second, the restaurant had only been open for a month at the time that the winner had to be decided, so that photographs could be taken, and the magazine go to print.  The designer is part of the New Media Publishing staff, which could be criticised too, from an Awards perspective.  Having Tweeted that Mrs Donnelly consults to Makaron, the PR company of the restaurant replied as follows: Get a grip. Makaron is no where to be seen on Top 20. AD (Abigail Donnelly) has assisted on a project basis to get the menu right”, confirming Mrs Donnelly’s involvement with the restaurant. One of my information sources confirmed that he had been called by her earlier in the week, about a specific food item, demonstrating a far greater involvement!  In the Eat Out 2012 magazine, the Award is motivated and described, commending its dramatic lighting, quirky details, as ‘simply beautiful and unlike anything else ever seen in South Africa’ (a dramatic overstatement, in my opinion), calm, sophisticated, with playful touches, highly contemporary, functional and cosy without a commercial feel, ‘metal meets plastic and wood’, ‘chairs are ever so comfortable, making you feel very special’, with attention to detail.  Having been there so recently, the platitudes feel overwritten.

Chretien Ploum is the F&B Manager, and he attended to me.  He has worked as part of the opening team at the Table Bay Hotel, was the owner of the Ou Pastorie in Somerset West for four years, worked on The World Resort boat, and has been a F&B consultant.  He was very informative, patiently answering my questions. The 4-course meal costs R325, but one can order a la carte too. Chef Tanja has had little or no input to the current menu, inheriting it from her predecessor (via Mrs Donnelly, it would appear), but has changed small things already, she told me, and will develop her own menu over time.  What is interesting about the menu is that each course is not only paired with a recommended wine, but with a craft beer too!  The lovely waitress Phelisa, who served me on my last visit, brought a slate plate of beautifully presented breads and lavosh, with anchovy mayonnaise (not everyone’s taste), and olives.

Starters range in price from R55 for the warm salad of duck confit and foie gras, served with cherries and blackberries, which was my choice, to R85 for pan-fried sweetbreads, a Muscadel reduction and cauliflower purée.  Other starter options are a garden pea risotto with garlic froth and smoked olive tapenade; Franschhoek cured salmon, raw trout, beetroot and asparagus; and peppered beef carpaccio, parmesan mousse and garden fennel salad.  Eight main course choices are offered, starting at R95 for duck egg ravioli, young artichoke, white asparagus and truffle, up to R180 for springbok loin with red cabbage and walnuts, and also for Asian pork belly, scallop, pickled radish cucumber salad and honey jus.  Other options are Angus beef rib eye on the bone, served with foie gras butter and fine green beans; poached prawns, salmon, truffled bisque and celeriac; a beautiful and excellently prepared kingklip served with verjuice butter, confit tomato, bean fritters and chorizo crumbs (R110); Spier chicken, ‘local foraged mushrooms’, cepes sauces and lemon broad beans; as well as quail, masala and coconut cream.  I was not planning on having a dessert, but succumbed to the description of the Strawberry jelly, rose panna cotta and fresh strawberries, quirkily served in a glass jar with lid and fresh rose petals (R50).  One can also order coffee soufflé and peanut butter ice cream; Valrhona chocolate tart, naartjie pears and grapefruit sorbet; Elgin apple tart fine and salted caramel ice cream; or a cheese plate with lavosh and plum paste.

The winelist is presented in A4 size, with the same book cover feel and spoon logo, and contains a selection of mainly Stellenbosch wines. Five sparkling wines range from R44/R139 for Villiera Tradition Brut NV to R219 for High Constantia Clos Andre, with Pol Roger Brut NV costing R485.  There is a small selection of wines per variety, and one of these comes by the glass, with very reasonable prices, ranging from R31 – R38 for the white wines, and R35 – R44 for the red wines. Shirazes offered are Edgebaston 2008 (R38/R137), Tamboerskloof 2006, Pax Verbatim 2007, Rust en Vrede 2008, and Haskell Pillars 2007.

Chef Tanja proudly showed me her newly revived herb and vegetable garden, with baby plants growing through the straw, which has been designed by the Babylonstoren designer. Fruit trees on the property are creating new opportunities for Chef Tanja, and so a harvest of peaches has led to the creation of peach fruit butter, for example.  Chef Tanja and Chretien are also looking at ways to attract more business to the restaurant (I was the only patron there on Friday), and on 1 December they are hosting the first Fine Dining and Craft Beer pairing evening, at R295, which includes 4 courses, each paired with a Boston Breweries beer and a wine. Chef Tanja brought me a taste of her specially created Pumpkin beer ice cream which she has made for the tasting evening.

It will be interesting to see how Makaron Restaurant develops in the next year.  It is clear to me that the owners of Majeka House will do everything to get to the top, which includes getting Relais & Chateaux accreditation (they did not succeed a year ago) and to make Eat Out Top 20 (my speculation).  Its only downfall is its unfavourable location.  With the talent of Chef Tanja, Makaron Restaurant will be the place to watch!

Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House, 26 – 30 Houtkapper Street, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 880-1549  www.majekahouse.co.za. Monday – Sunday, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

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

A number of wine competition results announced last week were recorded on www.wine.co.za on Thursday, and South Africa’s good performance in these, and that of Spier in particular, was noted.  Spier was the only local wine estate to have won Gold medal awards in each of the four competitions.

In London, the International Wine Challenge 2011 results were announced at the London International Wine Fair.  South Africa won 13 out of 406 Gold Medals (3%), and two of these went to Spier, for its Creative Block 3 2009 and Landmark 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2009.   The other Gold medal winners were Backsberg Family Reserve White 2009, Edgebaston Berry Box 2009, Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2005, Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Semillon 2010 and its Unfiltered Viognier 2010, Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2008 and its Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Kaapzicht Steytler Pentagon 2007, Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2010, Oldenburg Chenin Blanc 2010, and Tokara Reserve Collection Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2009.  

The Decanter World Wine Awards 2011 were also announced at the London International Wine Fair, and attracted 12252 entries.   South Africa won 26 out of 237 Gold Medals awarded (11%), and these included Spier Mitchells Pass Malbec 2010.  Other gold medal winning producers were Asda, Beaumont, Cape Point Vineyards (Chardonnay 2009, Isliedh 2010), Dieu Donné, Drostdy Hof, Fleur du Cap, Holden Manz, Jordan, Kleine Zalze, KWV, Lomond, Longridge (Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Chenin Blanc 2010), Nederburg (Private Bin Edelkeur 2007, Winemasters Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009),  Quoin Rock, Rickety Bridge, Rijk’s, Saronsberg, Saxenburg, Steenberg, Stellenzicht, Thelema, and Waterkloof.  KWV The Mentors Orchestra 2008 was the category winner for ‘South African Red Bordeaux Varietal over £10’, while Klein Constantia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 won the ‘South African Red Bordeaux Varietal under £10’.

The Syrah du Monde 2011 evaluated 383 Syrah/Shiraz wines from 24 countries, and South Africa won 6 gold medals out of a total of 34 (18%).  Spier Private Collection Shiraz 2008 won a Gold medal, as did Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Shiraz 2008, Franschhoek Cellar Baker Station Shiraz 2009, Groot Constantia Shiraz 2008, Number One Constitution Road Shiraz 2008, and Oldenburg Vineyards Shiraz 2008.

At the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2011 7386 wines from 49 countries were evaluated, and South Africa won 45 out of 683 gold medals (6%).  Spier Private Collection Shiraz 2008 was one of only three South African wines to be awarded the highest honour, the Grand Gold Medal, as were The Grande Provence 2006, and Dieu Donné Cabernet Sauvignon 2008.  Gold medals went to Spier’s Creative Block 3 2009, Creative Block 3 2008, and Creative Block 5 2009. 

Our congratulations go to all the award winners, and a special toast to Spier for winning gold in each of the four competitions, a unique achievement.

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