Tag Archives: Elim

Restaurant Review: Seafood at The Plettenberg not 5-star Relais & Chateux standard!

imageI have been to The Plettenberg hotel a number of times to eat at its former Sand and now renamed Seafood restaurant.  Given that the hotel is five-star graded, a Relais & Chateux property, and under the supervision (long distance) of Eat Out Top 10 Chef  Peter Tempelhoff, my expectations are high of the restaurant in being the best in Plett, yet sadly are  Continue reading →

La Motte Pierneef Collection Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah Viognier a work of art!

La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc Whale CottageLa Motte has changed the packaging of its Pierneef Collection range, bringing the J.H. Pierneef lino cut prints to the front label, having originally been launched with prints of the valuable artworks on the back label.

The late artist Pierneef, said by many to be our country’s best artist ever, has made an important impact on La Motte, his lino cut prints collection having been used by the wine estate for a number of years.  In negotiating the right to use the prints, of which Hannelie Rupert-Koegelenberg had received a set of 128 prints as a gift from her father Dr Anton Rupert, she and her husband Hein Koegelenberg got to know Pierneef’s daughter Marita Bailey, who lives in the UK.  Mrs Bailey approached the Koegelenbergs to buy the private family collection of Pierneefs, which they agreed to, and they built a special gallery and museum to house the works of art.  It did not stop there.  As La Motte was building a restaurant (and a new Tasting Room as well as Farm Shop) at that time, it was decided to name the restaurant Pierneef à La Motte, wishing to associate the success of the artist and his pursuit of excellence with that which they planned for the Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 28/29 August

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Mosaic Team South Africa participating in the World Blind Challenge on 18 October in Champagne against 22 other teams will consist of the winners of the South African Wine Tasting Championship 2014: wine writer Samarie Smith, Chris Groenewald, Lizé Oosthuizen, Ralph Reynolds, and Gavin Whittaker. (received via e-mail from Jean Vincent Ridon)

*   Nominations for the 34th Diners Club Winemaker of the Year (dry white blends) and 14th Young Winemaker of the Year (30 years or younger, producers of red blend) are now open, the winners receiving a flight to the USA for two as well as prize monies of R50000 and R25000, respectively. The winners will be announced in November. (received via media release from African Sky Media)

*   Guinness is targeting its (black) beer at Africa, via a multimedia campaign using artists and performers from Africa, which positions the brand as #madeofblack.

*   The 17 gold medal winners of the SA Olive Awards have been announced in three categories:  in the Delicate Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 24 July

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   SA Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima seems to have making a rare visit to Cape Town, the jewel in the tourism crown, where he has come to attend the Mercedes-Benz  Cape Town Fashion Week at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.  He is upbeat about tourism to our country, saying it is ‘the new mining!  It is good to hear him compliment our city, which receives the bulk of international tourists to our country: ‘It is endowed with natural beauty. No matter how other provinces want to compete, they don’t have Table Mountain, Robben Island, the wine routes’.  Good media coverage for Cape Town, as well as its conference facilities benefit Cape Town.  When asked about the new Immigration Regulations he said that he would wait for the Ministers of Tourism and Home Affairs to discuss the impact of the Regulations on tourism.

*   Lovers of the MasterChef cooking series can now join a MasterChef Cruise around the Caribbean from 8 – 15 November, passengers being put through their paces in a  number of challenges including Pressure Tests and Mystery Boxes.   MasterChef judge Graham Elliot, and past winners of the series will be taking the passengers through the cooking programme, which includes blind taste tests, making macaroons, sushi, pasta, cocktails, all leading to a winner chosen as the MasterChef Cruise Champion.

*  The Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition 2015 has kicked off, seeking the best cocktail in the country.  The competition Continue reading →

Wine Tourism South Africa 2014: Sip, Stay, and Play!

Wine Tourism South Africa HandbookMonika Elias of World Focus Media has done a great job over the past ten years in documenting the contribution of the wine routes, and the wine estates on them, to Wine Tourism South Africa, in helping to inform and educate locals as well as tourists about wine in general, and to boost wine sales.  Her 2014 edition of ‘Wine Tourism South Africa’ handbook has just been published , bearing the slogan of ‘sip, stay and play‘!

In her ‘Publisher’s Letter‘, Monika defines Wine Tourism as ‘…in the glass, on the plate, in the bed, around the vines, and for the planet’.  She writes about ‘winery atmospherics’, such as architecture, lighting, sound, temperature, and kinetics, playing an important role in creating a point of difference for wine estates in an increasingly competitive world.  Wine is becoming an increasingly important part of the Tourism experience, and most visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape will be very likely to visit a wine farm to taste their wines, to eat at a Winelands restaurant, or visit an event linked to wines.

The Handbook evaluates top restaurants on wine estates, using chefs hats (three maximum) to denote how good or not they are;  and evaluates the winelists of the restaurants on the wine estates, by means of wine glasses (three maximum).  A price range indication is also provided for the Winelands restaurants.  The Handbook starts with tourist information and advice about car rental, taxis, trains, parking attendants, banking hours, VAT, the weather, tipping, and more.  It lists the winners of the fifteen categories in the 2013 KLINK Wine Tourism Awards, which received votes from 15000 consumers last year. Continue reading →

WOSA Sommelier World Cup clever way to market South African wines!

WOSA Sommelier Cup Will Predhomme Whale Cottage PortfolioYesterday I spent a most entertaining afternoon at the Grande Roche hotel in Paarl, to observe the last phase of the Wines of South Africa (WOSA) Sommelier World Cup competition, the announcement and evaluation of the Top 3, and the awarding of the prize to the winning sommelier Will Predhomme.

The invited guests were the twelve finalists for the Sommelier World Cup, media representatives from the USA (I sat next to Rebecca Canan from the Terroirist Blog), Sweden, and Belgium, local writers, the local and international sommelier judges, and WOSA staff from its international offices as well as from its head office in Stellenbosch.   After a welcome glass of wine, we sat down for lunch at Bosman’s, and it was clear to see why this Continue reading →

Hermanus Wine & Food Fair celebrates food and wine from Elgin to Elim!

The Hermanus Wine & Food Fair is more low key than similar ones in Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Riebeeck Kasteel.  This year the Fair is expanding its reach by putting close to 50 wine producers’ more than 250 wines, from Elgin to Elim and including Hermanus and Stanford, on show over the Women’s Day long weekend, from tomorrow until Sunday, in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village at the entrance to Hermanus.  The proceeds of the Fair will go to the nearby Camphill School for children with special needs.

This is the 15th year that the Fair will be staged.  The wines on show represent a wine region which has more 4 and 5 star Platter-rated wines than any other in South Africa, says the Fair write-up in Bay.

For the first time an interactive website www.thevine.co.za will allow winelovers attending the show to rate and review the wines they have tasted, and so build up a history of their wine tasting experiences, and share these with other wine lovers.  The producers who will present their wines, many of them on the Hermanus Wine Route, are the following: Arumdale, Almenkerk, Ataraxia, Barton, Beaumont Wines, Belfield Wines, Black Oystercatcher, Boschrivier, Bouchard Finlayson, Brunia, Creation, Domaine des Dieux, Feiteiras Wines, Ghost Corner, Henry, Hamilton Russell, Hermanuspietersfontein, Hornbill, Iona, Jakob’s Vineyards, Jean Daneel, La Vierge, Lomond, Newton Johnson, Raka, 7Springs, Southern Right Wines, Spioenkop Wines, Spookfontein, Strandveld & First Sighting, Stanford Hills – Jackson’s, Southhill, Sumaridge, The Berrio, Vaalvlei, Whalehaven, Walker Bay Vineyards, William Everson, Winters Drift, and Zandfontein.  Paul du Toit, owner of Wine Village, is the co-ordinator of the Hermanus Wine & Food Fair.

The food at the Hermanus Wine & Food Fair will be provided by the restaurants in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village centre, including The Class Room, B’s Steakhouse, and Season.  EAT will run a Peroni Beer and wine bar.  In addition, cheeses, olive products, charcuterie, buchu teas, bee products, herb liqueurs, nuts, sundried tomatoes, pomegranate products, pesto pastes, artisanal chocolates, and breads will be available for tasting and to purchase.

Hermanus Wine & Food Fair, Hemel-en-Aarde Village, Hermanus. 9 – 11 August, 11h00 – 19h00. R 95 per day, or R200 for 3-day pass. Free parking.  www.hermanuswineandfood.co.za. Book via Computicket.

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

Adoro Mourvedre wine and cheese Taste & Tweet a treat!

Last night Adoro Wines held a Tweet-Up at L’Aperitivo in Loop Street, with twenty-five Cape Town Bloggers and Tweeters invited to join them for a cheese and wine Taste & Tweet.

Erica Liebenberg from Meles PR organised the Taste & Tweet.  She has a number of PR clients, including Graham Beck, Belfriend, Elgin Valley Vintners, Eagles’ Nest, Freedom Hill Restaurant, Glenwood, Hidden Valley, and Paarl Vintners. 

The wine that Adoro winemaker Ian Naude used for the cheese tasting is his Mourvedre, with a port nose, and sweet taste on the palate, having acidity of 8gm per litre and 14 % alcohol, creating a good balance of sweet and sour.  Ian explained that what makes South African wines so unusual is that it makes “old world meets new world wines”.  The Old World (German, French, Spanish) style wines are created from grapes from the Elim/Hermanus area, while the New World Style wines are made from grapes sourced from the Swartland.  Ian says he makes his wines in his head first, and then he decides on the regions from which he can source the grapes to make his dream wine.   The Adoro Mourvedre bottle is an attractive and slim one, described by some as looking like an olive oil bottle.

All present were in agreement that the wine was excellent as an accompaniment to the six cheeses tasted, being the following:

*   Simonsig six-month matured Gouda, a soft cheese with sweet andfruity flavours.  This cheese won second place in matching with the Mourvedre amongst those present.

*   Fairview Roydon Camembert, made from pasteurised Jersey cow’s milk and cream, with some goat’s milk added, and aged for four weeks

*   Asiago is an imported Italian cheese from Veneto, made from pasteurised cow’s milk, and is aged for 12 – 14 months.

*   Taleggio is imported from Italy, made from pasteurised cow’s milk and aged for four weeks

*   Gruyere tasted came from Kleinrivier near Stanford, and had a surprisingly bland taste.  It is classified as a hard cheese and is aged for 4 – 6 months.

*   Gorgonzola is imported from Lombardia in Italy, made from pasteurised cow’s milk and aged for 6 – 8 months.  This cheese was voted as being best matched to the Adoro Mourvedre.

To reflect the reaction of the Tweeters present to the cheeses tasted and their match to the six cheeses, we list the Tweets written during the Taste & Tweet (read from bottom up): 

StefanLuka 8:36pm via web

Verdict: Gorgonzola cheese is voted the best match for Adoro Mourvedre 2009! Couldn’t agree more! Connoisseurs watch out! #adorocheesewine

Final verdict: cheese really works with Adoro Mourvedre ’09 and the wine retails at R110 for 500ml #adorocheesewine

Amazed at the gorgonzola pairing, great match but the asiago wins for me #adorocheesewine

Game over. Now we can park our analysis and just enjoy the evening. Really interesting exercise. Cheers! #adorocheesewine

Best Tweeter at Adoro Taste and Tweet @StefanLuka #adorocheesewine

#Adorocheesewine Seriously guys.

Having a OMG moment with this Gorgonzola, imported from Italy. #adorocheesewine

#Adorocheesewine I really deserve to win.

#Adorocheesewine Vote for me

Last cheese great gorgonzola gastronomic heaven! #adorocheesewine

Gorgonzola wins this for me – wine shines like a superstar #adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewineAdoro Mourvedre & Gorgonzola: a match made in heaven

Find the Gorgonzola shortens the finish of the wine on the first sip. It kinda offers swell of flavours, troughs and peaks #Adorocheesewine

Gorgonzola cheese & Adoro Mourvedre, spirit is lifted & brooding above earthly things, heavenly match & made for lovers #adorocheesewine

Woohoo imported gorgonzola rocking the room! #adorocheesewine

Not my gig @laurencohenGot invite from melespr for the #adorocheesewine Will slap organiser for not inviting you.

@406 Is very excited about the Gorgonzola. apparently “the real cheese has arrived #Adorocheesewine

Ok, final round. Let’s see how it handles gorgonzola! #adorocheesewine

The wine is mouvedre with 14% alc and 60g residual sugar #adorocheesewine

Just in case we forgot to say what this amazing wonder wine is- Adoro Naturally Sweet Mouvedre… #adorocheesewine

Gruyere & 09 Adoro Mourvedre: a symphony of sweet and salty flavours resulting in seamless match, a pure dolce vita concept #adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewinecardboardy gruyere spoils the Adoro Mourvedre ’09

Ok, left field comment: the adoro mourvedre apparently goes well with choc souffle. #adorocheesewine

Gruyere, sweet and salty profile, creamy & nutty (when younger), develops earthly & complex flavour over time, hard cheese #adorocheesewine

Difference of opinion now, gruyere up for some grrr-not for others they balance out…#adorocheesewine

Combination of Gruyere (our first hard cheese) and the Sweet Mourvedre is nuts, full on mushroom flavour has been created #Adorocheesewine

Now tasting gruyere with the wine. Saltiness assertive makes wine too sweet #adorocheesewine

Adoring Adoro Mourvedre 2009, perfect to drink with cheeses, @StefanLuka writes the most beautiful wine tweets #adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewine James diligently taking notes… http://twitpic.com/353l88

@StefanLukaKak! You’re wrong. Raw garbage more like! #Adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewineAdoro Mourvedre: Taleggio cheese intensifies the flavours of the wine

The Taleggio pairing with the Sweet Mourvedre is like a slap in the face. Bam. flavour! Bam Bam! Other flavour! not fun. #Adorocheesewine

Taleggio creamy, tangy delicious! Bit nutty. Wine coping well. #adorocheesewine

Taleggio with its distinct smell & 2009 Adoro Mourvedre from Swartland – a marriage of elegance and raw power. Superb match #adorocheesewine

Italian asiago cheese and this adoro mourvedre like each other are u over it yet, I’m having fun #adorocheesewine

Adoro spam continues…..Now on to Taleggio from the North of Italy, feet smelling wine. Not a good pairing. #Adorocheesewine

Adoro Mourvedre wonderful pairing with cheeses: Asiago, Taleggio, Gruyere, Gorgonzola, Camembert, Gouda #adorocheesewine

@smokingsheddoesn’t normally drink, but loving the Adoro Mouverdre, fab cheese #adorocheesewine

Get stuffed… Not you but where you can buy the wine! #adorocheesewine

3rd cheese from Veneto Italy – Taleggio. So yum & strong – good match #adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewineAdoro Mourvedre, Asiago, creamy sweetness intensified by the wine

Heading into stronger territory, Asiago. 12 – 14 months of ageing. Remarkable that the wine is standing up to it. #adorocheesewine

Taleggio: soft, washed-rind cheese made from cow’s milk, aromatic & mild, tangy, meaty notes, a fruity finish, aged 4 weeks #adorocheesewine

Asiago, from Veneto is semi-soft cheese from cows milk. It was fated to be consumed with this wine. Coming on a bit strong? #Adorocheesewine

Wow – asagio has lovely bite that sings opera with the wine #adorocheesewine

Sweet, passionate and gentle confluence of Asiago and Adore Mourvedre 2009… a poetry in making, a hint of fiery desires #adorocheesewine

The cheese is now asiago. The pairing is killing. Adds massive complexity. I just heard it is “haunting” #Adorocheesewine

Pairing with the Camembert is like a fresh berry falling from a tree, quickly squelching into the mushroomy forest floor #Adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewineasiago up next. For those as clueless as I was asiago is imported italian semi-soft cheese…

Erica from @aussiewinechickis a supremo behind this gorgeous wine and cheese exercise at L’Aperitivo bar #adorocheesewine

I prefer nr 2 @fairviewwinecamembert roydon paired with #adorocheesewine

2nd cheese from @FairviewWine– Roydon Camembert. Creamy & delish. Gouda better with wine #adorocheesewine

@fairviewwineroydon next pairing #adorocheesewine

After the romp home there is a funky, forest floor flavour left behind. #Adorocheesewine

Asiago: cheese from Veneto, Italy, semi-soft, from pasteurized cow;s milk (aged 12 -14 months) & is DOP (Protected origin) #adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewineRoydon camembert & adoro ’09 mourvedre: strawberries & cream

Next cheese Camembert: four week aged from Fairview. I find the wine romps home, trampling the cheese in the process. #Adorocheesewine

Fairview Roydon 4-week aged Camembert paired with Adoro Mourvedre #adorocheesewine http://plixi.com/p/55761479

Cheese 2, Fairview Roydon – yum yum. Creamy but a little cool. Again great affinity withe wine. #adorocheesewine

Camembert and naturally sweet Mourvedre… awesome… like a kissing softly a young lady 🙂 #adorocheesewine

Sorry forgot #adorocheesewine! On the ball now got too carried away with fab mouvedre….

#adorocheesewineAdoro Mourvedre 09 and aged gouda. Better together than apart

“This is a semi-soft or semi-hard cheese” lol only in sa #adorocheesewine

Gouda Tasting with Adoro dessertstyle wine, specially made for pairing with cheese #adorocheesewine http://plixi.com/p/55760726

Hello everyone #Adorocheesewine

The chef says its a semi soft/hard cheese -haha! a gouda from parmalat #adorocheesewine

Adoro has done well to get everyone tweeting. Hoping everyone likes the wine. Good Launch. #Adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewine Fee Mac is loving the fruit garnish with the wine http://twitpic.com/353e5k

Parmalat gouda with adoro works well… Wine a lot lighter than nose gives away #adorocheesewine

The sweet Mouvedre: like a loveable uncle with a sharp wit. #Adorocheesewine

Gouda: traditional hard cheese with sweet & fruity flavours that intensifies with & is made from pasteurized cow’s milk #adorocheesewine

Liking the Gouda with the Mourvedre. Cheese gets more creamy with added nuttiness, wines’ fruit undiminished #Adorocheesewine

First cheese a six-month matured gouda good match #adorocheesewine

Gouda Tasting with Adoro Mourvedre #adorocheesewine

Cheese 1, local gouda. Described by chef as semi-hard or semi-soft. One wag quipped: “sounds like a porno!” #adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewinechef James explaining cheeses gouda up first http://twitpic.com/353d60

At L’aperitivo about to begin tasting new Adoro Natural Sweet Mourvedre. Starting with a Parmalat gouda #adorocheesewine

Gouda is very mild, creamy and fruity cheese which blends in superbly with Adoro Mourvedre Natural Sweet 2009 #adorocheesewine

Natural sweet 2009 Adoro Mourvedre with 14% alcohol rocks… let’s se how the marriage with Gouda will work 🙂 #adorocheesewine

Smells like port but not jammy #adorocheesewine

So we are gonna taste a wine that’s not fortified but it has 60mg residual sugar. #adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewineGreg Ladman’s comments priceless!!

Its a sweeter red wine made to pair with cheese but not fortified #adorocheesewine

This is our naturally sweet Mourvedre(it is not fortified, RS is around 60g/l) #AdoroCheeseWine

One of the first south africans about to taste adoro’s new wine made specialyfor cheese #adorocheesewine

Wine maker Ian naude talking about how this project started #adorocheesewine

Mourvedre from Swartland was our first “cheese wine” (it is very much sought ‘sweetish’ red wine) #AdoroCheeseWine

The basic idea: we need wine that will complement cheese #AdoroCheeseWine


At Adoro cheese and wine Taste & Tweet at Aperitivo #adorocheesewine

#adorocheesewine http://twitpic.com/3539jo

Adoro Wines from Latin word meaning “to adore” #AdoroCheeseWine

A great evening was had by all, and new friendships were made over lovely glasses of Adoro Mourvedre, six cheeses and lovely snacks presented by L’Aperitivo. Dusan Jelic, Tweeting as @StefanLuka, was proclaimed the most creative and eloquent Twitterer of the evening.

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

Restaurant Review: Pierneef à La Motte is a work of art!

After spending four hours at the La Motte wine estate, during the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival on Sunday, I had to pinch myself to check that the wonderful time I had experienced there had been real.  The pinnacle of the La Motte experience is the new Pierneef à La Motte restaurant, which opened on Saturday.  It is sure to make the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list in 2011/12, and gives Franschhoek a new jewel in its Gourmet Capital crown.   It pays homage to the master artist JH Pierneef, and to the historical roots of South African cuisine, presented with a contemporary twist.

I had booked a few days earlier, and found that one of the weaknesses of the new restaurant was the automated switchboard, which put me through to the selected option for the restaurant, but no one answered.  Eventually I got through to the main La Motte switchboard, and a most helpful lady took my booking, first requesting that it be done in writing.  This resulted in my booking having been made for a table indoors.  I asked Hetta van Deventer, the culinary consultant, if I could sit outside.  She did relent eventually, and I couldn’t have wished for a better table, on a wooden deck opening onto a lawn area shaded by mature oak trees, budding with the freshest green leaves.   The restaurant is green in many respects, and I was impressed with how theming was carried through into many different aspects of the restaurant.  The furniture outside almost looks custom-made, with a green woven-effect, giving it a nature-look.  The placemat was in the shape of a vine leaf.  The silver container had a green glass candle holder (as well as beautiful hand-blown glass bottles for the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and little silver salt and pepper grinders).

The Pierneef name and theme comes from the priceless collection of 44 oils and other works by JH Pierneef (1886 – 1957), which La Motte bought from Pierneef’s 82-year old daughter Marita, who now lives in the United Kingdom.  The work is displayed in a special new building, housing the Rupert Museum, a general art gallery, and the Pierneef art gallery.   Given that Pierneef is synonymous with the pinnacle of South African art, La Motte honoured the artist by naming the restaurant after him, to demonstrate that they wish to follow his high standards.

The Pierneef name and art has also been carried over into a new range of La Motte wines, called the Pierneef Collection. Some of the collection of 1957 Pierneef lino cuts, which Hanli Rupert had received from her father Dr Anton Rupert years ago, have been used for the back labels for these wines.

The restaurant manager Simon Chennells, a charming young man, brought the menu and the winelist to the table.   They are obviously brand new, and look pristine, with bound covers, as if they are books.   Inside the menu is a photograph of Pierneef and his daughter from 1929, and the same photograph has been printed on the back of the high-back chairs standing at the kitchen counter.   The restaurant is large, divided into the kitchen section, which opens onto the outside seating deck, allowing one to see Chef Chris Erasmus (previously with Le Quartier Francais and Ginja) and his team hard at work in the super shiny stainless steel kitchen.   Pierneef’s work has been printed onto the lampshades hanging over the kitchen counter.  The interior restaurant section is separated from the kitchen, and is dominated by three chandeliers from which dangle crockery from the Dutch East India Company, which had brought Jan van Riebeeck to Cape Town.  The chandeliers are in blue and white, orange and white, and black, white and gold.  La Motte had bought the valuable crockery collection from a museum, and had the chandeliers custom-made for the restaurant.   Christo Barnard is the creative interior consultant who did the decor.

I had the incredible luck that Hein Koegelenberg, the CEO of La Motte, came to chat with me, despite it  being a busy restaurant day.  Other than having invited Hein to our next Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting on 22 September, and seeing him in July at Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine,  I had not spoken to him for more than 5 minutes before.  I do not think he knew who I was, and he therefore impressed me even more by sharing his passion for the ‘new’ La Motte so extensively, and even introduced me to his wife Hanli.  No documentation is available yet for the ‘new’ La Motte, which is a pity, and the gems of information I received from Hein were therefore doubly precious.   Hein impressed upon me that it was early days for the restaurant, and requested that I give him feedback about the menu and winelist.   He will read it in this review for the first time.  Hein was such a gracious restaurant owner, that he came to check on me regularly, repeating his request for feedback.   One is impressed with Hein’s warmth and passion, and even more so that he did not mention the cost of the project at all.  This is not about the income that will be generated for La Motte – this is a project that brings pride in South African cuisine art, the return of the Pierneef collection to South Africa being the foundation of the restaurant, with the related buildings housing the Farm Shop, art galleries and museum, as well as the Tasting Centre, and creating what Hein calls a ‘tourism destination’.

The restaurant being new, word had spread about it, and eating there led to a reunion of the most wonderful people during my lunch there.  First, I saw Cyrillia of Bizerca Bistro, who hugged me as if I was a long lost friend.  Then I saw Bernard and Petro Immelman, an old PR client, who own Clouds wine and wedding estate next to Delaire Graff in the Helshoogte Pass.  Then, the biggest surprise of all, was when John Fourie approached my table, and asked if I was “Christine”, a name I was called many moons ago before I shortened it.  I recognised John’s voice, and he reminded me that he had been a Marketing student of mine at Damelin twenty years ago!   He was there with a group of Harley friends, and invited me to join their table.  The whole table tasted bits of my food (they were having sandwiches and wine), especially loving my dessert.

I never had a chance to try the Portuguese rolls and ciabatta, served with farm-style butter, which got left behind on the original table I sat at.  The menu opens onto a welcome page: “Welcome to Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant.  We have pleasure in hosting you and sharing with you our restaurant’s association with one of South Africa’s greatest masters.”  Homage is paid to both Pierneef, and to his daughter Marita, who has become a friend of the Koegelenbergs. “Pierneef’s creativity in portraying the beauty of the South African landscape and architecture has served as a model for this restaurant’s creativity in offering cuisine inspired by centuries of variations on cooking – a unique presentation known as Cape Wine-lands Cuisine”.  After extensive research into the origin of South Africa’s cuisine, or “boerekos”, from Dutch, Flemish, German and Huguenot settlers about 350 years ago, and British settlers 150 years later, about 200 recipes were developed for use in the restaurant over time. The cuisine style really is meant to be “Boland Boerekos”, and the input from Professor Hetta Claassens, author of “History of South African Food”, was sought to select the recipes. Hein says international chefs will be invited to translate these recipes into a contemporary context.  TV cooking will be introduced at the kitchen counter.

The menu is short and sweet, with a choice of 5 starters, 6 mains and 6 desserts. It is signed by Hein and Hanneli, reflecting their personal involvement. Starters are reasonably priced, Koningsbrood soup costing R35, served with braised veal knuckle ‘karmenaadjie’, roasted bone marrow and pot brood; up to R57 for the Trio of boerbok terrine served with roasted swede puree, apple and sultana chutney, and saffron yoghurt balls.  Other options are a Cape Bokkom Caesar salad, Russian fish pie, and Pumpkin, ginger and walnut cheesecake, two of these being vegetarian-friendly.  The mains peak at R 120 for a Fragrant fish curry, and other options include a roasted endive and goat’s cheese tart, Pumpkin seed and almond crusted Franschhoek salmon trout, Pomegranate glazed smoked pork belly, and Impala neck and stewed prune skilpadjie.  I had the Laquered smoked soutribbetjie, served with an interesting combination of pickled tongue, dried pear kluitjies, verjuice poached pear, wilted boerboon shoots and parsnips, and crispy lamb’s liver biltong.  I was fascinated by the biltong, and could not see it on my plate when served.  When asking the manager, he took the plate to the chef, and returned it with more of it – it was finely chopped and sprinkled over the dish, and gave it a distinctive taste, even when chopped to pieces smaller than peppercorns.  The soutribbetjie had a strong smoky braai taste, and overall it was a most unusual combination of tastes.   The menu does not describe the very South African terms, and this could be a weakness.  I also am surprised about the menu’s spelling of “Wine-lands”.  I would think that the information provided by Hein could be added to the menu, to help one appreciate the effort that he and his team have made in bringing cuisine history back to La Motte.

The dessert I chose was called “Breakfast”, a surprise dessert costing R65.  I cheated by asking a waiter to let me into the secret, so that I could choose whether I should have a starter or a dessert.  It was a most wonderful wacky selection of breakfast foods served in a dessert style – miniature banana muffin, ‘Cornflake’ brittle, yoghurt pannacotta, citrus sorbet balls, berry yoghurt sorbet and ice cream, freshly made “Fruit Loops”, all beautifully presented on muesli crumble.  Desserts seem expensive, but an incredible amount of work has gone into the creation of these.  Other dessert options are Brandy chocolate pudding, Engelen kos, Apple and cinnamon tart, as well as two cheese selections, one of them being goat’s cheese only.   My only criticism is that the ‘Breakfast’ dessert seemed very modern and did not fit the historic foundation of the menu.

Children are catered for as well, with chicken fritters and chips, and fish nuggets and chips, at R30.  One is not obliged to eat off the menu, a blackboard offering chicken and lamb sandwiches, at R35 and R45, respectively, using the lovely breads baked and sold in the new Farm Shop.

Hein told me that they grow grapes for their wines in Bot River, Elim, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Macasser, Darling, and in Franschhoek.  In making their wines, they decide which flavours they want each of their wines to have, and therefore use grapes from the terroirs of their different farms in the making of the wine.  For example, the La Motte Shiraz is made to give white pepper, blackberry and red berry flavours.  For the opening of this wonderful facility, the La Motte Hanli R was launched – a 2005 Shiraz that Hein says is in the league of the best Shirazes in the world.  Only 3000 bottles were produced, of which about a third were given away as gifts to the VIP guests who had attended dinners earlier that week, a priceless gift, given that the wine retails at $100!

The winelist runs to 13 pages, and includes the full range of The La Motte Collection and The Pierneef Collection wines, as well as the La Motte MCC Brut (at R235) and the Hanli R, at R845.  Two pages of “La Motte Vinoteque Wines” follow, and do not explain which wines these are, and only vintages and detailed flavour descriptions, for Shiraz, Millennium, and Cabernet Sauvignon, are provided.  Champagnes range from R600 for Pommery, to R965 for Billecart-Salmon Rosé.   Ten Franschhoek MCC bubblies are listed, almost all under R200.   The rest of the winelist features Meridian Wine brands (Hein founded this international distribution company, with leading wine brands such as Meerlust).  Other Rupert family brands (Rupert & Rothschild, and Anthonij Rupert) are also featured, as is the Leopard’s Leap wine range, a mass market brand that was developed by Hein, selling 600000 cases a year.   A small selection of wines from New Zealand, Argentina, Germany and France is also available. Hein is aware of some typing errors in the winelist.  In the Tasting Centre one can choose an unusual Food & Wine Pairing, with a choice of five out of eight La Motte wines, with a specific dish paired per wine, at R195.  The dishes for the pairing also carry the Winelands Cuisine theme.

The wonderful afternoon had to come to an end.  Not only had I received the greatest gift of all – the time Hein Koegelenberg devoted in chatting to me, with Chef Chris joining him later – but I was also given a bottle of the new La Motte Hanli R, something I will keep for a very special occasion.  The La Motte team is to be congratulated for their vision in bringing history back to La Motte and for making it come alive. I’ll be back!

Pierneef à La Motte, La Motte, R45, outside Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8000. www.lamotte.co.za.  (The website needs a page just for the restaurant, as well as an Image Gallery of its beautiful food and facilities – it does not do justice to this amazing project).   Twitter @pierneeflamotte.  The restaurant is open for Breakfast on Friday – Sunday; for lunch on Monday – Sunday; and for dinner on Thursday – Saturday.  The Tasting Center is closed on Sundays.

POSTSCRIPT 23/9:  We enjoyed another wonderful meal at Pierneef à La Motte, this time a dinner and inside the restaurant.   I had not paid enough attention on the restaurant interior on my last visit, and was in awe of the Dutch East India Company crockery chandeliers, with a modern interpretation.  Each of them has downlighters built into it, and the way in which the crockery is hung in the chandeliers makes them chime when the airconditioning is on, a most soothing ‘music’ in conjunction with the soft classical background music.    There is a large fireplace, and a lounge seating area, at which one can have coffee.   I saw the Chef’s Table, a separate room close to the kitchen, seating 8, for which Chef Chris will cook his choice menu, at R1000 per head.   In addition to the “Boerekos” menu (which now has definitions of the traditional “Boerekos” items), there were three specials – sweetbreads, an excellent steak served with mushrooms and shiraz chips, and wonderful chicken with sorrel sauce.

POSTSCRIPT 6/3: I met Dutch friends for lunch, and was blown away by a chilled butternut soup, which I had as a starter, both in its presentation, and also by its refreshing antidote to the hot Franschhoek day.   I was however disappointed that I could not taste the advertised crayfish.  Hein Koegelenberg was at the restaurant too, and came to greet my guests.  They were very impressed with his friendliness.   For the main course we all had the pork, a dish which did not blow me away.

POSTSCRIPT 8/3: I took a colleague to La Motte, to show her around, and we had a sandwich as we arrived just on 15h00.  I remember the lamb sandwich prices being R 25 when the restaurant opened about 6 months ago, so was rather shocked when the sirloin and mozzarella sandwich cost R 75, and the salmon and avocado paste one cost R70, served with a small green and parmesan shaving salad.   It did not match what the restaurant stands for in its presentation or its content.  I also was rudely dealt with by the security person Inge when we signed in at the boom – rudeness is not something I associate with La Motte at all.   I was disappointed about the reaction to the feedback I gave Chef Chris about the lack of the crayfish taste in the butternut soup, and he gave me an unsatisfactory reply, saying that European palates are more sensitive to an over-strong fish taste, and therefore he had to tone down the crayfish content!

POSTSCRIPT 26/1/12:  Our dinner tonight was disappointing – tiny table for two, waitress who did not know her desserts, and she sounded a little like a tape recorder.  Grateful to Manager Anne for organising a table, even though they were full.  I am disappointed that the Cape Winelands Cuisine recipe basis of the menu appears to have almost all gone, with only the Bokkom salad and trio of Cape desserts reflecting the origin of the Cape Winelands cuisine.  Enjoyed the steak (a taste of my son’s) and wild mushroom ragout. Very disappointed with ‘Sweetie Pie’ dessert, with hard sugar crystallised crust around soft meringue, on summer fruit and guava cream, the sugar crust being very hard to eat.

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