Yesterday I posted an overview of the Media Visit day we spent in McGregor for Wacky Wine Weekend, my first taste of the wine event covering the Robertson Wine Valley, which continues until the end of today. It is the 14th Wacky Wine Weekend. I was unable to ascertain where the ‘Wacky’ part of the event name comes from! Continue reading →
Tag Archives: Excelsior
WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 19 December
Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines
* The City of Cape Town and the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association have failed to reach agreement on the Tweede Nuwejaar parade,according to a report in the Cape Argus, the City having appointed an event organiser for the event. The minstrel association is planning to take the City to court!
* Team GoodBetterBraai, consisting of Braai Master Jacques Bester and Braai Buddy Nadia Botha, has won Ultimate Braai Master Season 2, beating 14 other teams. (received via media release from the Cooked in Africa production company)
* The Baltimore Sun recommends Fairview’s Goats do Roam 2012 red blend as a wine to honour the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela, costing $9.
* British holiday-makers are not choosing international destinations for the festive season this year – they are staying closer to home, travelling mainly within Europe, and using lower cost airlines.
* Ryanair was named as the UK’s worst short-haul airline, while Guernsey’s Aurigny Airline was voted best. The best long- Continue reading →
Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro a welcome new Sea Point entertainment venue
A chance Facebook post about Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro earlier yesterday took me to the entertainment venue last night, and I was delighted to meet entertainment legend and director/producer Richard Loring, who is the co-owner with Roland Seidel, who had owned Seidelberg wine estate.
A double story venue which previously housed Adega restaurant, next door to the 7-Eleven on Main Road Sea Point, will become a 200-seater ‘Supper Stage’ upstairs, with entry via Glengariff Road (the new striking red and white striped awning is a promise of great things to come). Richard has redone the paving outside the entrance, and received permission to plant a garden on the pavement, to lift the tone of the neighbourhood. Even 7-Eleven owner Elia Hadjidakis has promised Richard and Roland that this branch will become their flagship, to match the quality of the new entertainment venue. Upstairs the massive space will sport Richard’s white piano, and some of the guests will see Robben Island from there. Upstairs too will be Richard’s Bar, which will be decorated with all Richard’s memorabilia spanning the past 50 years, the anniversary being celebrated later this year. All the walls will be covered with wallpaper of Cape Town images, some of Adderley Street in black and white, and others in colour, such as of Bo-Kaap. On Main Road a new red canopy with see-through ‘windows’ protected the Bistro deck downstairs from the strong southeaster wind.
Richard’s wife, former model Jeanette Stuart, is in Johannesburg, packing up their house there for the move to Cape Town. Richard owned a house in Camps Bay for many years, but has now bought a house in Gordon’s Bay. In Johannesburg Richard ran the Sound Stage Theatre and dinner venue for 18 years, having put on 40 productions in this period. After selling the theatre he worked for the 1100-seater Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City as theatre show consultant before moving to Cape Town in November.
I asked how Richard and Roland had met. ‘African Footprint’ promoter Wolfgang Bocksch introduced Richard to Roland about eight years ago, and they talked loosely then about doing a theatre in Paarl. Nothing came of this, but Roland did make an African Footprint wine to be sold at the ‘African Footprint’ shows. After an illness, which necessitated the sale of Seidelberg to Fairview last year, Roland contacted Richard, and they rekindled their idea of a show, choosing Sea Point. Originally the idea was to get Adega to provide the food service, but increasingly Richard and Roland realised that they should be in control of this side of their business too, and appointed Chef Ulli Stamm. Richard and Roland have developed the story for ‘Kaapse Stories from the Mother City’, with Basil Appollis writing the script for the show. They are busy casting for the show, which will be specifically aimed at tourists, but also at locals. The cost of the show and buffet dinner should be around R350. The show will be a fun mix of dance, humour, pathos, and history, a celebration of what Cape Town is all about, Richard said. Richard sees their venture making a contribution to tourism, in informing tourists about the history of the Cape, in allowing the employment of about 40 staff members to run the operation, and the development of new local entertainment talent. While we were chatting Richard was keeping an eye on his staff all the time, giving them feedback about do’s and don’ts.
Chef Ulli previously worked at Arnold’s, Papino’s in Hout Bay, and then owned Trattoria Maranello in Camps Bay. Despite his German background, there are no German dishes in his extensive menu, instead being more focused on Mediterranean cuisine, and specially Italian. The tables on the deck outside have grey tops, and the chairs are grey plastic. There are no table cloths but there are material serviettes. Each table has a red candle in a glass, a salt and pepper grinder, and Willowcreek decorated olive oil and balsamic vinegars jars were brought to the table. Cutlery is ordinary. Small self-baked seed loaf slices were brought to the table. The menu is introduced by Chef Ulli in English, French, and Italian, and he writes: “It has always been my passion to bring the real culinary traditions of the Mediterranean to my table and ‘Richard’s’ is my way of sharing this experience. We proudly use locally raised and organically grown ingredients wherever possible and make sure high quality imports are used wherever necessary. Our menu is designed to encourage you to sample many different items. My team and I are honoured to cook for you and look forward to seeing you again and again and…” . The rules of the house are also listed, children under three years generously eating for free, food tolerance information is welcomed, all dishes are prepared ‘al minuto‘ and can be ordered without chilli. All dishes come with a side of salad or vegetables, and a choice of starch.
Ten starters have a good price range from R26 (foccacia) – R79 (carpaccio of smoked salmon), typical Italian dishes including minestrone, calamari, bruschetta, and antipasto. Six salads range from R45 – R62 (Moroccan lamb), including Caprese and Greek salads. Sandwiches (around R50) and burgers (even a salmon one at R89) are available. Pasta dishes range from R58 (Capellini al salmone) to R89 (prawn risotto). Fish dishes include cod, queen and king prawns, and calamari. I had a fish dish off the specials board, a kabeljou with plain white rice and the most heavenly caper cream sauce (R108). Steaks range from R96 – R135, and chicken dishes cost R69 – R88. Thirteen pizza options, made from Eureka Mills stone ground flour, include two Flammkuchen choices, and range from R46 for margherita – R97 for a salmon pizza, ensuring that no one will go hungry at Richard’s. Dessert options are plentiful, and cost R34 – R 49, including a good Tiramisu (R37), gelato, cassata, and Créma Catalana. Coffee is by Italian Makamba. There is a separate breakfast menu.
The winelist has about three brands per variety, the regions are specified but the vintages are not. Bollinger Special Cuveé Brut costs R1500, and Moët & Chandon R850. Prosecco Tereza Rizzi (R38/R220) and Maximilian (R240), Krone Borealis (R35/R199), and Pongracz (R194) sparkling wines are offered. Shiraz options are Excelsior Paddock (R34/R115), Annandale (R440), and Rickety Bridge (R169). Local wines made from Italian grapes Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, and Nebbiolo are on the winelist, as are imported Italian wines, including Brunello (a 2006 at R1350, and a 2004 at R3800). A wide selection of commercial beers is also available. I was spoilt by Chef Ulli with a small taste of Limonché, made by local Belgian Jochen Nickmans.
It’s early days for Richard’s Bistro, the menu perhaps being too extensive and unfocused, and the service needing finetuning. When Richard is there, things will run more smoothly, but no manager seemed to be in charge. The opening of the new theatre/dinner venue in May is an exciting new tourism attraction for Cape Town, and can be expected to be a slick show.
POSTSCRIPT 31/3: I returned to Richard’s Bistro for breakfast, and had a long chat with co-owner Roland Seidel. Attractive murals have been added to the walls on the deck downstairs, giving a strong message of the music that will be performed upstairs from May onwards. The Italian Eggs Benedict cost R47, and included spinach.
POSTSCRIPT 27/7: Chef Ulli Stamm has left Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro.
Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro, 229A corner Main and Glengariff Roads, Sea Point. Tel (021) 434-6738 (Bistro)/(021) 434-4497 (Supper Stage from May). www.richardscapetown.co.za Twitter:@KaapseStories Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 1h00. Free wi-fi.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Cape Town Show is a magical feast of song, dance and food!
A unique magical musical and dinner show has opened at The Rainbow Room in Mandela Rhodes Place, in time for the festive season, as well as for tourists arriving in Cape Town. It is a unique way in which the his(story) of the establishment of Cape Town until the present day is told via music, dance and food.
Conceptualised by dynamic event co-ordinator Alison McCutcheon of event company Rainbow Experience Marketing, written by Deney Willie, directed by Godfrey Johnson (known for his Brel productions) and choreographed by ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ Didi Moses, the Cape Town Show is a â€˜Marvellous celebration of the people of the Cape, their history, freedom and magnanimous spirit of Ubuntu”. Talented young 19 and 20 years olds have been selected into The Rainbow Academy, and trained for the show. The Rainbow Academy allows its students “to earn while they learn” The show is hosted in a large space, perhaps too large initially until the audience size builds up, and is complemented with audio-visual images screened alongside the stage â€“ the vibrancy of the performers attracts one’s attention to the stage, so that one does not pick up much of the additional information on the screens. Images of Nelson Mandela flank the screens. The show with a three course dinner costs R295, and without dinner it costs R 120.
Prior to the first act one is served the starter, which is the most more-ish French-inspired Lavache crisp bread coated with black and white sesame seeds, served with hummus and a real Cape delicacy Cape snoek fish patÃ©. The first act focused on the arrival of the first visitors to the Cape, going as far back as 1488, with first arrival Bartholomew Diaz making a stop on his way from Portugal to the East. The cultures of the Dutch, German, French, Malaysian, Northern African peoples and other settlers is described, and the historical events of occupations and settlements, as well as the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 and of the Republic of South Africa in 1961 is narrated and sung. The songs chosen to tell the story were not all known, and included a David Kramer/Taliep Pietersen song from their musical â€˜Goem’, a very vibey 1930’s â€˜Get Happy’, and the emotive â€˜Meadowlands’. A Klopse scene includes standards such as â€˜Suikerbossie’, ‘Vat jou goed en trek Ferreira’ and more. District Six also makes an appearance in the show.
In the break, the main course is served, the orders for which are taken prior to the start of the show. Whilst not typically Cape, we ordered the dukkah-crusted beef fillet served on mash and spinach, with a very strongly spiced chakalaka sauce. The fillet was served perfectly as ordered, medium and medium rare for my colleague and for me, respectively. One has two other choices for the main courses, which are more Cape-like: vegetarian curried lentil cottage pie, and Cape butter chicken curry served with a homemade roll and sambas.
The second half of the show focused on the impact of the apartheid laws, the defiance of the population affected by them, and the freedom achieved for the nation, with soundbites of then-President FW de Klerk announcing the scrapping of all laws of segregation, and Nelson Mandela’s speech after his release from Victor Verster prison, saying that all South Africans have the “right to human dignity in our rainbow nation”. The show ended with the celebration of freedom and the spirit of Ubuntu. The music chosen for the second act included the well-known â€˜Pata Pata’, made famous by Miriam Makeba; Jeremy Taylor’s â€˜ Ag Pleez Deddy’ brought back nostalgic memories of a by-gone era of drive-in movies, popcorn and bubblegum!; â€˜Gimme Hope Jo’anna’; â€˜Paradise Road’ by Eddie Grant; and the national anthem â€˜Nkosi Sikelelel iAfrika’, presented in a vibey way.
Dessert is a sweet treat trio of a mini-koeksister, melktert and chocolate brownie. I had it with an excellent LavAzza cappuccino, a surprise, in that I was wondering where I would have to go to find one close by after the show. The catering is done in-house, with a contracted chef doing a great job in a tiny kitchen, we were told. The Beverage list is short and sweet, especially on the wine side, and very inexpensive. Wines-by-the-glass offered are M’Hudi Rea Dry at R20/R90, M’Hudi Kwea Red at R20/R90, and Excelsior Pure Bred Red R25/R100. No Shiraz is offered, with only one or two Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinotage options. Pongracz Brut costs R150, and 2 Oceans RosÃ© R 20/R90. Amstel, Castle, Windhoek Lager and Windhoek Lite all cost R16; Heineken, Peroni and Millers, Hunter’s Dry and Savannah cost R17; and Jack Black costs R20.
A surprise was when the cast came back on the stage for an un-announced encore, singing real Cape classics such as â€˜Daar kom the Alabama’, â€˜Dina Dina Oh’, as well as Ipi Tombi.
The Cape Town Show is a great way for locals to be reminded of the colourful and often painful history of the Cape, and the rich heritage it has. It is also a quick way for tourists to learn about the history of our country, and have a memorable evening, enjoying Cape culture and food. The audience enjoyed the enthusiasm of the performers, and were captivated by the music. There are a few teething problem, like waiter training and understandability of all the words in the spoken story, but as it is early days for the show, they are sure to be addressed.
Disclosure: As a member of the Food & Wine Bloggers” Club, having attended the October meeting which was hosted by the Rainbow Experience, we received complimentary tickets to the Cape Town Show.
Cape Town Show, The Rainbow Room, Mandela Rhodes Place, Wale Street, Cape Town. Tel 072 875 9723. Book at www.webtickets.co.za. Wednesday and Friday evenings. Doors open at 19h00, show starts at 20h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Restaurant Review: Piroschka Kitchen’s Hungarian food for hungry appetites
A little hidden gem in the center of Cape Town, that offers a warm and welcome escape from the cold winter, is the recently opened Piroschka’s Kitchen. It offers a very small selection of only four dishes, inspired by the Hungarian grandmother Piroschka of sisters Jutta Frensch and Inge Niklaus.
I had heard about Piroschka’s Kitchen a few months ago, but could not find it when described as being opposite the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, but I was looking on Loop Street. It is one of a collection of outlets underneath the Saint Stephen’s Church on Bree Street, near Cheyne restaurant and &Union. Jutta was on duty, and our German roots and guest house experiences connected immediately. When the other guests had left, she sat down, and told me about herself. She came to South Africa to follow her sister Inge, who came to live in Cape Town fifteen years ago. Jutta is an architect by training, and worked on a house she saw in De Waterkant, which became the guest house Cedric’s Lodge that they created, followed by another in Greyton.
As if the two guest houses are not enough to challenge them, the two sisters took on the responsibility of looking after the two children of their late housekeeper, and put them into private schools. To pay for their education, the sisters had to earn extra income, and they decided to start at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, selling Flammkuchen there. The downside for them was that their home smelt of onions, and so they sought a venue in which to prepare it. They found the Bree Street premises, and loved the space, its natural stone walls, and the fact that it offered them a small and cosy space in which to set up a tiny restaurant with a few tables inside. A bar counter takes four chairs, and one can sit outside when the weather is good.
The first thing you feel on entering is how warm it is inside, a modern gas fireplace creating the heat. A welcome sight is the sign that says that Gluehwein is served – a good start to the weekend on a Friday afternoon. The menu is on a flyer on the table and also written on a blackboard, the latter containing the prices. The tables are covered with a sheet of white paper, and a small container with crayons encourages the inner child to come to the fore, and to decorate one’s own table cloth. Jutta tells me that they will photograph the best designs, and make tablecloths from them. Mine served as a handy sheet on which I made all my notes while we chatted.
I ordered the “Hungarian Original Puszta Goulash soup”, which one could say is expensive at R 50, but it was a broth with lots of shredded beef, slow cooked with seven paprika spices in Gypsy style, says the menu. I found the broth a bit thin, and would have preferred it thicker and creamier. It was well matched to the Gluehwein (R25). The Goulash soup is served with a slice of delicious rye bread from Jardine Bakery, but no butter is served with it. The split pea soup costs R 40, while the Flammkuchen costs R 50. Flammkuchen is a thin crispy base covered with creme fraiche, smoked ham, baby leek and red onions, for the savoury option. I had the sweet one, containing vanilla cream, apple slices with cinnamon and sugar, and topped with almond shavings. It was huge, served on a wooden board, and I could only manage a few small pieces, taking the rest home with me, Jutta generously giving me the board as a memento of my visit.
Excelsior and Arabella wines are sold, both being from Robertson, in fact from two neighbouring farms owned by two brothers who do not get on, Jutta tells me, and both love horses and have these as the logo on their wine labels. Pierre Jourdan bubbly is sold at R 160. I missed a cappuccino to have with my Flammkuchen, and Julia quickly organised a good one for me from another restaurant close by. We discussed Social Media Marketing, and I encouraged Jutta to embrace Blogging and Twitter – they are already on Facebook.
Jutta and Inge do private catering, and also offer private functions for up to 30 persons in their restaurant. I will be back, to try the savoury Flammkuchen and the split pea soup, especially on a cold winter’s day, Piroschka’s Kitchen being the warmest place in Cape Town, in its temperature and its welcome! On Saturdays the Piroschka sisters can still be found at the Old Biscuit Mill.
Piroschka’s Kitchen, 106 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel 083 327 3203. www.piroschka.co.za. (The website is more focused on the activities at the Old Biscuit Mill, and does not have the menu or the wine prices. A large part of it is in German). Open Mondays – Fridays, 11h00 – 19h00.
POSTSCRIPT 27/7 : I returned 10 days after my first visit, and Jutta proudly told me that they have addressed some of the issues raised in this review. Bread is now served with butter, and they have added the menu to the website.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottge.com