Entries tagged with “Gorry Bowes Taylor”.


Jani ConfidentialThe launch of Jani Allan’s new book ‘Jani Confidential’ created no fireworks yesterday, as many attendees had expected at the Literary Launch lunch organised by Gorry Bowes Taylor for Wordsworth Books.  The low-key, almost hidden, A Tavola restaurant was a good choice, with a special lunch, and reflected Allan’s shy and coy nature as a speaker. Surprisingly few attendees bought books, maybe because Allan did not do a good job in marketing her book to her audience, not reading extracts from it nor providing tidbits which would intrigue one to buy the book.

Soon after we arrived at the fully-booked launch event, for which we paid R280 for the three course lunch, a selection of Antipasti was brought to the tables of ten to share: Bruschetta

 

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Wordsworth Cheese Book 2The Wordsworth launch lunch of Agri-Expo Dairy Manager Kobus Mulder’s book ‘Cheeses of South Africa’ at Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town yesterday was most enjoyable, with great company, good food and wine, a charming hotel ambassador, and entertaining author/speaker.

Gorry Bowes-Taylor has been organising book launch lunches for Wordsworth for years, and will be a comedian in a next life, not being the most diplomatic lunch hostess, but is loved for making her guests laugh, and for finding new venues at which to hold the book launches.   As I have written before, the lunches have a cult following by some of her regulars, who are not really interested in the subject of the book or the author, but who find value in the R225 three course launch lunch, excellent quality wines, the chance of making new friends at the table, the chance of winning a prize in the lucky draw, and for being entertained by Gorry and the author/speaker. She did not disappoint with her lunch organisation yesterday. Wordsworth sets up a table to sell the discounted launch book at such a function. (more…)

Gorry Bowes-Taylor does a great job for Wordsworth in ‘pairing’ authors of recently published books with good wines and meals at restaurants around Cape Town and the Winelands.  However, the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront in Granger Bay let her down badly on Saturday, with the most over-promised and under-delivered lunch ever experienced, for the launch of Melanie Verwoerd’s book‘The Verwoerd who Toyi-Toyied‘.

It was commendable that Verwoerd came to the lunch, having flu, but she was witty for most of the talk about her book, until it came to the sad part about her losing her partner Gerry Ryan (she had divorced her Verwoerd husband Wilhelm some years before).  The ‘talk’ was in the form of a question and answer session, with a witty and sharp summary of key phases in Verwoerd’s life by actress and writer Marianne Thamm (currently writing Helen Zille’s biography, and author of ‘I have Life’ about attack victim Alison, which sold 85000 copies), who clearly was very well prepared and knew the book well.

The book was launched in Ireland and the UK as ‘When we Dance‘ last year, and was subject to an interdict in Ireland for a while, brought by Ryan’s friend David Kavanagh, her South African book containing a statement at the back of the book confirming the state of the relationship between the two friends.  She had been warned against speaking out, but always a rebel, she felt she had the ‘right to write’ her book, and was surprised that despite the court action it became a best seller in Ireland. Verwoerd traces her history, from growing up in Fochville as a Van Niekerk, and then in Stellenbosch, after she was adopted as a Fourie in her late teens.  She met Wilhelm Verwoerd at the University of Stellenbosch, and got married to him at the age of 20, giving up her studies in Theology to join him at Oxford, where he was studying on a prestigious Rhodes scholarship, to the shock of his parents, given that he is the grandson of the late Prime Minister HF Verwoerd, said to be the architect of apartheid. She did however graduate with Honours and Masters degrees. His parents feared that he would be ‘corrupted’ by England’s liberal values, and did not want him to be linked to Cecil John Rhodes either!  In London they met many ANC officials living there in exile, hearing about a South Africa they had never experienced. Returning to South Africa, they met President Mandela, and Wilhelm wanted to apologise to him for what his family had done to him, but Mandela told him that his surname could be a burden or a blessing – it would be Wilhelm’s choice as to how he would use it, in true Madiba style, Verwoerd said.  They became ANC members, under the radar initially, but eventually the news leaked, and it caused mayhem when his family found out, his father banning him from the house and disinheriting his son. Verwoerd ensured that her children stayed in touch with their grandparents.  She spoke fondly about ‘Ouma Betsie’, Wilhelm’s late grandmother, who lived in the all-White enclave of Orania, where she was visited by Mandela, described by her as a visit resembling that of a ‘foreign head of state‘.

Her book reminds one about the country’s conservative past, and we laughed when she related that she could not open a bank account in her own name, earning more than her husband as an ANC Member of Parliament (the youngest ANC MP ever), as it could endanger their marriage, the bank argued!  She did ultimately get her way with the bank.  Having achieved what she wanted as MP, she requested then-President Mbeki if she could head the South African embassy in Dublin, which he agreed to.  She laughed when she said that she was not ‘a born diplomat’ (much too direct, much like her ‘colleague’ Tony Leon, who headed the embassy in Buenos Aires). She fell in love with Ireland from the first day. She saw her challenge as ambassador to give the government a return on its investment in the embassy, and focused on tourism (130% increase) and wine promotion in the period 2001 – 2005, to great success in part due to the rise of the ‘Celtic Tiger’, she said, the demise of which she experienced too.  She then became UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Ireland Executive Director, travelling in Africa on a number of occasions, working with Sir Roger Moore, Bono, Vanessa Redgrave, and Liam Neeson.  She was voted the Irish Tatler International Woman of the Year in 2007.  It was in this time that she met renowned radio presenter Gerry Ryan (with 500000 listeners, and a daily three hour show which ran for 25 years), and fell in love with him within half an hour of her first date with him, despite initially resisting his advances.  He was separated, but could not divorce before four years of separation had passed, as per the Irish divorce law.  They were a couple for two years, when he suddenly died alone in his apartment three years ago, and she became the shunned ‘other’ woman, who was told that she was lucky to be able to attend his funeral!  She and her children were hounded by the media, and Verwoerd ultimately lost her job at UNICEF due to the controversy surrounding Ryan’s death, and her relationship with him, her dismissal settled out of court.  All the VIP supporters other than Bono resigned from UNICEF Ireland to protest her dismissal! She denied that Ryan was a cocaine and drug user, but is open about his financial problems, in that he relied on Verwoerd for his living expenses, despite his big salary, which appeared to have been spent on his five children and an extravagant lifestyle.  Despite being divorced from Wilhelm, she retains his surname, she told me, quite contrary to her self-proclaimed feminist nature.  She still lives in Dublin, having dual citizenship now, and she loves the ‘softness of the country’, and how ordinary people will stop her in the street and give her a hug. Her two children are students at Trinity College.  She visits ‘home’ regularly though!  She is looking forward to the next 45 years of her life, which will include her coming back to live here, she said to conclude her talk.  In reading her book, it is clear why Ireland is so important to her, the memorial bench which she had erected for Ryan in a park in Dublin being an important link to him, despite the terrible treatment she received in Ireland as a result of her relationship with him.  Her children studying in Dublin must be another important reason.

The bookings for the Literary Lunch were taken by the hotel’s event co-ordinator Carmen Jansen, who followed up despite the paperwork having been faxed.  She was abrupt on arrival, and chased the payment after the first course, usually done at the end of the meal.  I discovered afterwards that she had left to go home, hence her eagerness to receive the payment!  The menu sounded fantastic on paper, but what was presented differed vastly from the description.  We had to Google most of the descriptions, to know what to expect on our plates!  Baguette and rye bread was served, with what looked like butter curls but was margarine. I asked the waitress for some real butter, and she brought branded Floro.  Another request led to branded butter arriving at the table!  The same waitress filled the water jug with so much ice that she poured most of it over the table, wetting my notebook.  Service had to be requested, nothing being done proactively, such as refilling the water jug.  Each table had a central display of a hand with flexible fingers holding an exercise book, to tie in with the literary theme, one assumes, but the naughty men at the table had fun in changing them to rude signs!  The venue was most unsuitable, a long rectangular room that had more than a hundred guests squeezed in, meaning that guests had to get up to let others get through.

The starter was ‘Baby Chicken 2ways‘, described as ‘confit leg cannon, grilled maize sage beurre (which must have been the wheel of pap), courgette roulade (which must have been the loosely wrapped vegetable strips), supreme pan seared (the other chicken style, we assumed) with napage (sic) of port wine spuma‘ (no foam was visible).  The pink mayonnaise was not included in the menu description!  For the main course ‘Crisp Salmon Scaloppini’ (thin slices of scallop with the salmon) was served with ‘crumbed aromatic fresh gremolata (lemon zest, garlic, parsley, olive oil), salsa di burro bruciato (appears to be burnt butter salsa), caper berries, gentle braised fondant potatoes and carcisfo frito (sic – the closest wording we found on Google was ‘carciofo fritto’ – fried artichoke!). We could not see the caper berries, but we found olives!  An elderly gentleman at our table asked the waitress if she could put the leftover salmon in a ‘doggie bag’, to spoil his cat, but she refused. I called the Deputy GM (they do not have a F&B Manager in this hotel), and I got the company policy talk (mainly for health purposes, and thus legal reasons, should the customer get ill if he ate it at home). Very kindly, after some persuasion, he relented!  The vegetarian eaters at our table had a rough time, their risotto being burnt.  For dessert we were promised a ‘Decadent Tasting Plate’, being anything but decadent, consisting of ‘Dark chocolate no bake cheese cake (tick) with angel hair (none to be seen), coconut crème brûlée with caramel crackling (curdled, no caramel topping!), coco rico (coconut soda?) jelly (tick), pistachio ice cream (tick) on coffee shortbread soil’ (tick).  No feedback was sought about the meal during the function. We were shocked to hear that Chef Grant Kennedy had not been on duty, and unfortunately it showed!

Allée Bleue sponsored the wines for the lunch, its MCC Brut Rose being a welcome drink if one did not want to start the lunch with a glass of decadent Hendrick’s Gin, served by dapper young men at a table with an interesting table display with cups.  Ansgar Flaatten, brother of Wesgro CEO Nils, heads up the wine division at the wine estate, and will be taking over as MD from Wolfgang Leyrer shortly.  He reminded the audience about the herb production, and their newly introduced herb tours and lunches on Friday mornings. The Starlette range was offered with the different courses, including a Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Rouge, and Shiraz Rosé, all sold for around R40 a bottle.

The Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront has such a wonderful location at the water’s edge near the V&A Waterfront, and one wonders why they would have handled the book launch Literary Lunch so badly, with poor and over-promised food, and poor service!  We requested Gorry to not use this venue for her lunches again.  Verwoerd’s story ends sadly, yet bravely, in that she wrote the book, thereby fulfilling her promise to Ryan to tell his story, warts and all, and corrects many of the terrible things that were said about him after his death. she explained, Ryan appearing to be more controversial after his death, yet having had such a large following for so many years.  The book combines her love story with Ryan with her (and her ex-husband’s) story, using a local title that does not do this brave lady justice, with an odd typeface, and may not encourage book sales as much as the original title may have done.

POSTCRIPT 28/5: We posted our feedback about the lunch at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront on Saturday on this blog and on Twitter only.  Today we received the following reply from the hotel’s Executive Assistant Manager Marcel Eichenberger:  ‘Dear Cherissie (sic), I would like to thank you for the feedback regarding your lunch experience in Harbor View, this is a vital aspect of our business and without feedback such as yours we would not find a platform to grow and improve our quality of product and standards. I would like to apologize for your experience as this is certainly not our standard of food quality, presentation and service. We pride ourselves on what we serve and the personal service which our team provide.  By your feedback this was not the case and I am disheartened by our actions. I have and will address these issues with my team both service and kitchen to ensure we up our game to make sure this does not happen again. I have spoken to chef regarding the execution of the menu as per the menu and he too is very apologetic with regards to the outcome of his menu.  Our team is well trained and we invest a lot of resources to ensuring we serve the highest quality produce so that each guest has a great experience, our lack of execution is with great regret and I do apologize for this.  I have spoken to Mark our banqueting manager and he too will ensure that service delivery is executed on every function according to our standards.  With regards to the “doggy bag”, I do apologize that it was so difficult to arrange but it is to safeguard us as a global brand to ensure food safety is adhered too and I know at times exceptions can be made and we will look into this going forward.  The venue is a fantastic venue for functions and weddings up to 120 guests but we did go over our capacity and therefore making the venue very full, we are however are looking to make some changes to the venue and we hope to see this happen in the following year.  I am confident that this will make functions such as the lunch a more comfortable venue.  We get allot of our business via word of mouth so I would like the opportunity to make this up to you and if you would consider coming for a lunch or dinner to our Tobago’s restaurant I can assure you we will meet and exceed your expectation in both food quality and service. To my understanding you will also be joining us for the Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner and we hope to change your perception of our abilities.  Should you wish to take me up on my offer please contact me directly.  Once again my sincere apologies‘.

Melanie Verwoerd: The Verwoerd who Toyi-Toyied’, Tafelberg Publishers.

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

Gorry Bowes-Taylor has built up a loyal following of book lovers as well as book launch lunch lovers on behalf of Wordsworth.  The launch of Tony Leon’s latest book, ‘The Accidental Ambassador: from Parliament to Patagonia‘, which was released two weeks ago, was sold out at Myoga on Saturday, not only due to the witty smart speaker but also the excellent menu offered by Chef Mike Bassett for the event.

The book, Leon’s second (the first was ‘On the Contrary‘), tells the story of Leon’s retirement from DA (Democratic Alliance) opposition politics after twenty years, and taking up an appointment as ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, ‘jumping before I was pushed’ from his party, as good politicians should do, he said.  The book launch made it clear that politicians have the gift of the gab, and Leon is no exception.  He is an excellent salesman for his book, attracting one’s attention with a provocative question – e.g. how does the previous Leader of the DA promote an ANC government in South America – and then encourages one to buy the book without answering his question, so as to not do Wordsworth (and himself of course) out of revenue!

Leon names-drops a lot – he is a close friend of Joost van der Westhuizen, and Pieter-Dirk Uys’ Evita Bezuidenhout is quoted too: ‘As a fellow accidental ambassador, reading Tony Leon’s adventures in the land of the original Evita and the gauchos, reminded me there are reasons to be grateful we live in South Africa after all‘.  Even ex-President Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying about Tony Leon: ‘Your contribution to democracy is enormous. You have far more support for all you have done than you might ever read about‘, high praise indeed!

Myoga is located in the Vineyard Hotel grounds, and there was a severe traffic jam in getting to park on the property, given a huge exodus of a church group with had used the conference hall, made worse by a hotel security person who could not cope with this nor speed things up.   All 100 guest had pre-booked, and were seated according to a plan.  The seat at the table that I was allocated to had two adjoining table legs where one’s own legs were meant to be, making it impossible to sit there.  The manager Shameemah was most unhelpful, saying that she could do nothing at all, and that is how it is!  Eventually she made a plan by offering a seat at a table with the most friendly ‘Wordsworthians’, who were delighted I had taken the last seat at the table, as it prevented someone else whom they had experienced at the previous lunch from sharing the table with them.  One of the table companions is a regular blog reader, and she quoted reviews she had read on our blog.  Ingrid Crowther and her mother were lovely guests too, and we shared notes about restaurant experiences.

Most of the guests at this table attend each of Bowes-Taylor’s Wordsworth book launch lunches, not necessarily because they like the author, will buy the book, or are avid readers, but because they get to experience new restaurants, meet nice people, eat good food, taste unknown wines, and are entertained by the authors talking about their new books, all at the cost of R250.  The ‘Wordsworthians’ were more than delighted with the Tony Leon book launch lunch, as it ticked all the right boxes, despite some problems experienced in making the bookings! The disasterous Penny Vincenzi book launch lunch at Sevruga three years ago got the restaurant removed from the Bowes-Taylor list, while De Grendel restaurant appears to be one of the popular venues.

Chef Mike and his team put on a lunch of note, which was paired with the wines of the Hemel en Aarde Valley’s Domaine des Dieux. Shane Mullis introduced the wine estate, each guest having received a glass of Rose of Sharon MCC 2008 as a welcome drink, made of 75% Pinot Noir and 25 % Chardonnay, and which spent 42 months on the lees. The boutique wine estate name means ‘place of the gods‘, and is owned by Sharon Parnell. At 320 meters above sea level, the wine estate is one of the highest in the country. It is particularly known for its sparkling wines, the Claudia MCC 2007 being made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir.  Other wines in the range are the Chardonnay 2010, and Josephine Pinot Noir 2010.

The ‘Tantalizer’ was a superb starter of pan fried prawns with the Myoga signature sweet chili, crowned with coriander infused cream, which was paired with the Domaine des Dieux Sauvignon Blanc 2009, with asparagus notes and ripe fruit aromas.  The sauce was so delicious, that everyone at our table requested a spoon, to finish every last drop!  ‘The Main Event‘ was a sous-vide beef fillet, which was served with crispy potatoes, pan fried mushrooms, smoked bordelaise jus, and finished off with a sun-dried tomato mousse. The main course was paired with an excellent Domaine des Dieux Syrah/Mourvédre 2010.   A perfectly made dry cappuccino accompanied ‘The Crowning Glory’, a refreshing dessert of golden tart, which was filled with lemon custard on peach jus, complemented with a most unusual goat’s cheese ice cream.

Leon concluded that if one was not interested in reading his book for the South African or Argentinian politics, one could buy it for the handy tips of where to shop and what to see in Buenos Airies, which his wife Michal had written for the book. His time in South America showed him that Argentina is even more corrupt than South Africa.  He said it was sad to see how Argentina, once the seventh largest economy, now has a smaller economy than that of South Africa. He says the country is very focused on its past rather than on its future, and mocked it for representing a ‘vote for a better yesterday‘! The decline of the country appears to have been triggered off by the death of ex-First Lady Eva Duarte Perron in 1952. Leon also told the story of Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who would not set foot in the cathedral of Buenos Aires, as its Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio had criticised her government.  Yet she traveled to Rome to attend his investure as the new Pope Francis earlier this year! He referred to other famous Argentinians: soccer star Lionel Messi and new Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. Leon took his post in 2009, and the forthcoming soccer World Cup in South Africa helped him to leverage off big events, including rugby.  The book details what happens in an embassy, his budget of about R20 million employing 27 staff per year. Leon told a funny story about his lunch with ex-South African Nobel prize winner JM Coetzee, who had been painted as being a recluse. Coetzee was participating in a Literary Festival in Buenos Aires, and Leon mistakenly invited him to the city’s best steak restaurant, the writer being a strict vegetarian! Leon found him to be anything but reclusive. Leon said that one should live in another country to appreciate one’s own country!

As an ambassador, Leon spent a lot of time in restaurants, and at dinners and cocktail parties at other embassies, and at the homes of Argentian contacts he got to know in his three years.  He raves about the typical Asado barbeque, and the steaks served in the ‘parillas’, their meat cuts differing to ours. His guests will have been served samoosas, bobotie, and malva pudding, he shares. Funny is his chapter in not being able to find any Big Macs in Buenos Aires, the world famous burger being the benchmark for the real value of country’s currencies as measured by The Economist, as it would have shown up Argentina’s high inflation rate (of about 25%).  No mention is made by him of any South African wines or the role they may have played in enhancing trade and cultural relations between South Africa and Argentina!  He did visit Mendoza, the Argentinian wine region, on a number of occasions, but does not reveal which Malbec wines appealed to him.

Leon is articulate as a speaker and as a writer too, and the book is easy to read and hard to put down.  One senses that he must have bitten his tongue on numerous occasions about his host country and his home country in the three years of his ambassadorship, having ended his latest career a year early, not explaining clearly why he did not end the term of his post.  He now is a consultant, writer, and speaker.

Tony Leon: The Accidental Ambassador: from Parliament to Patagonia‘, Picador Africa, 2013. www.tonyleon.com Twitter: @TonyLeonSA

Myoga, Vineyard Hotel, 60 Collinton Road, Newlands, Cape Town. Tel (021) 657-4543. www.myoga.co.za Twitter: @MyogaRestaurant

Domaine des Dieux, Hemel en Aarde valley, Hermanus. Tel (028) 313-2126. www.domainedesdieux.co.za

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

A Wordsworth Books event, to launch Dr Auma Barack’s ‘And Then Life Happens: A Memoir’, was a definite to attend, especially as it was to be held at De Grendel Restaurant, where I had enjoyed an excellent meal just after it opened a few weeks ago. The restaurant handled the more than 100 book lovers admirably, the meal matching the stature of the speaker.

Gorry Bowes Taylor organises the book launch events for Wordsworth Books, and is an entertaining hostess.  She struggled to pronounce the name of Auma (A-Uma), and resorted to calling her Dr Obama to make it easier. She chose not to make a speech about the book, but preferred to be asked questions, having pre-arranged what she was not allowed to be asked, but cheekily Ms Bowes Taylor did attempt to ask them, not with much success in obtaining answers to these!  We were given a fleeting overview of Auma’s life and complex family relationships, and the Barack Obama that she writes about in her book the most is her father Barack Sr.  She calls her half-brother, the President of the United States of America, Barack Jr, saying that he objects to being called Barry, which is what the family used to call him.

Her father had a pre-arranged tribal marriage with her mother Kezia, but they separated (divorce does not exist in their Luo culture in Kenya). He studied at Harvard, and whilst there he met and married Ann, with whom he had Barack Jr.  They divorced, and Barack Sr married Ruth, whom he had also met in the United States, but returned to Kenya with, looking after Auma and her brother, in accordance with the Luo tradition of the father taking responsibility for the children, until they too got divorced after having two sons. The book tells the tale of a once successful father who changed jobs, lost his financial standing to such an extent that he often could not pay Auma’s school and boarding fees, and was emotionally distant to his daughter (‘he was physically there but not emotionally‘), the relationship never being repaired. Auma wanted to study in Germany, having loved learning German at school, as a way of escaping her father, and left Kenya at 19 years, without seeking her father’s consent.  Her father’s death in a car accident, under ‘mysterious circumstances’, however, affected her badly. Auma herself was involved in a number of relationships, with Dieter and Karl in Germany, marrying and divorcing Ian in England, and meeting the American Marvin on a flight, becoming her partner after seven years of keeping in touch.

The book shares a lot of Auma’s heartache, overshadowed by her parents break-up, her father’s emotional distance and financial problems, and ultimately, the colour of her skin, which created problems for her even in liberal Germany and England.  Yet one senses that she felt more at home in Germany for a long time, having lived there for 16 years, obtaining her doctorate after studying at the Universities of Saarbrücken and Heidelberg, and even first writing the book in German (‘Das Leben kommt immer dazwischen’). One of her joys was meeting her half-brother Barack Jr, and she travelled to America a number of times, meeting him for the first time after their father’s death. For both the meeting was an important one, Barack Jr being able to learn more about his absent father, whom he would have wished to  have known better, and for Auma a way of sharing her disappointment in him as a father, having felt let down by him.  She writes about meeting her half-brother: ‘Our encounter was an enormous gift for me’, and that he is a ‘new brother I had gained‘.  They saw each other both in the USA and in Kenya, when he came to meet the family, when they celebrated him becoming a Senator, and ultimately celebrating his inauguration as President of the USA.  One senses that she felt closest to Barack Jr of all her siblings (half and step ones included).  The book ends with the effect that Barack Jr’s presidential status has on their life in Kenya, where she now lives with her daughter Akinyi and Marvin, and cynically she writes how many acquaintances of the past have been looking to make contact with her again, due to her now famous half-brother.  In her book Dr Obama comes across as a complex person, fiercely independent on the one hand, and yet scarred by the relationship with her father and the men in her life.

The only references to food in the book, given the launch at De Grendel Restaurant, were two-fold.  At the age of thirteen, living with her father after he had divorced Ruth, she had to cook supper, being ‘ugali’, a ‘cooked maize flour paste’, or our ‘pap’, and she felt a failure when she could not get it stiff as she had not waited for the water to boil before adding the maize flour.  Her father’s disapproval was evident, as they had to throw away her cooking attempt, and buy another pack to make a new potful, at a time when Barack Sr was down and out financially. She writes about the ‘Abendbrot‘ she experienced in Germany, an unusual (for her) evening meal of breads, cheese and cold meats.

The lunch at De Grendel Restaurant, prepared by Chef Ian Bergh and his team, was a three course one, and I was lucky to sit at the table of De Grendel communications consultant Errieda du Toit (who had her book autographed by Auma) and her husband Ian.  The starter was a beautiful looking Caramelized shallot, confit tomato and chevre tartlet, which was paired with De Grendel Sauvignon Blanc 2011.  For the main course Kingklip was served with basmati rice, shitake mushrooms, prawns, mange tout, baby corn, and tika masala, paired with De Grendel Winifred 2010, their flagship blend of Viognier, Semillon and Chardonnay. For dessert we were served Chocolate Torte with a delicious De Grendel Merlot ice cream.

De Grendel Restaurant, De Grendel wine estate, M14, Plattekloof Road, Plattekloof.  Tel (021) 558-6280. www.degrendel.co.za Twitter:@DeGrendelWines. Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.

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