Entries tagged with “Gourmet capital”.


At the Eat Out Restaurant Awards 2017 this evening, held at GrandWest, some shock results stunned the restaurant industry. Eat Out continues its love affair with Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, with three of his four restaurants making the Top 10 Restaurant List, a spectacular achievement! The biggest shock was the spectacular slide of La Colombe, the restaurant which had all the opportunity to make the number one slot, but only making the seventh rank, a karmic reaction to the restaurant losing focus, opening too many restaurants, and getting involved in restaurant politics! (more…)

haute-cabriere-restaurant-views-2-exlarge-169In my book CNN is a credible news agency, but this image has been severely dented by an article entitled ‘7 stunning Cape Town vineyards with food as good as the wine’, written last week by one Griffin Shea. Not one of the seven wine estates featured are in Cape Town!

The article introduction is short and sweet: ‘It’s no secret that in Cape Town, good wine abounds. But wine farms also host some of South Africa’s best restaurants, which pride themselves on serving up meals from ingredients often grown just steps away from the tables. These restaurants have won enough awards to fill walls, but like so many of South Africa’s best places to eat, they’re generally relaxed, unpretentious affairs where the prices won’t break the bank. Many of the menus are deceptively simple, heavy on local ingredients and farm fare, but prepared with passion and care’.

It does not state on which basis the wine estates were selected, but obviously they had to have a ‘great‘ restaurant, (more…)

Eat Out 2015 cover Whale CottageThe Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards event is a highlight on the restaurant calendar, held for the 17th year, and at Thunder City for the first time last night.   The results surprised, with one heavyweight chef sliding right off the Top 10 list, while a new restaurant made Top 10. Two restaurants which did not make the Top 20 Restaurant shortlist in 2013 flew back into Top 10 last night.  Stellenbosch remains the Gourmet Capital of South Africa (4 Top 10 restaurants), followed by 3 in Johannesburg, and 1 each in Cape Town, Franschhoek, and Hermanus.   While the award recipients were acceptable, the food was a disaster.

Thunder City is not an ideal venue for a function of this magnitude (800 guests, but advertised asEat OUt Thunder City Whale Cottage 1000 initially), being difficult to find – the petrol station one block away from the turn-off had no clue where Thunder City is, and there were no signs off Borcherds Quarry Road, other than some posters held by men, only visible in the last minute.  I followed a taxi, there being no further signage to Thunder City.  We were collected from the VIP parking by a Mercedes-Benz shuttle van, and I arrived just as the event started, Chef Pete Goffe-Wood doing a tribute to Chef Bruce Robertson, who passed away two weeks ago.   The lighting was poor for (more…)

The Test KitchenDear Sarah

We are extremely proud to have you living in your newly adopted home city Cape Town, and that you are such a fantastic tourism ambassador for our country in general, and for Cape Town in particular.  You put Cape Town on the world tourist map with your article earlier this year in the New York Times about Cape Town being the number one  ’52 places to go in 2014′, the best free publicity our city has ever had.

I was therefore shocked to see your article about Top Chefs in Cape Town’ in Travel + Leisureand the choices you made in selecting what you have listed as the top five chefs in Cape Town: Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen, Peter Tempelhoff of The Greenhouse, Reuben Robertsons Riffel of Reuben’s x 4 (in Franschhoek, Cape Town, Robertson, and Paternoster) plus Racine, Bruce Robertson of The Flagship, and Franck Dangereux of The Food Barn, in that order. You did not define your guidelines for selecting the five chefs, nor did you appear to use the same criteria in selecting the chefs that are on your list – the justification for inclusion appears more anecdotal and random.  Equally, I am surprised about the chefs you excluded from the list!

You seem to praise Chef Franck for his ‘foreign pedigree, but why single him out when Chefs Luke and Peter also have foreign roots?  Does that make them better chefs?  All of the chefs on your list have worked overseas, so they deserve equal mention in this regard.  You ‘warn’ Travel + Leisure readers to ‘watch out for these five Cape Town chefs and memorize their names now – they’re poised to break through to the global stage any day now‘!

Let me comment on each of your Top Chef choices: (more…)

Eat Out magazine 2014 Whale Cottage PortfolioAs the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards were held early in November, it was the first time that we did not receive the annual Eat Out magazine at the gala dinner. It was however sent by post, a surprise gift, last week. A real surprise was that Johannesburg (24%) has almost as many Top 500 restaurants as Cape Town (26%) out of the total of 500.

New Media Publishing changed a number of aspects of its judging of the Top 10 Restaurant Awards this year, and this included their magazine as well. Instead of sending a number of freelance evaluators out to find the best restaurants country-wide, and to write a short summary review about them, they sent theireditorial panel‘ of 50 persons a spreadsheet of their restaurant database, requesting them to rate the restaurants they had eaten at in the last six months.  A number of aspects of the restaurants were evaluated, and the scores were added up, from which the top scoring 500 restaurants were selected.  The restaurant summaries in the magazine are based on a summary each restaurant that applied to be on the Top 500 restaurant list had supplied!

Cape Town has 132 ‘top‘ restaurants on the list, which oddly includes Cattle Baron (a steak restaurant chain), Col’Cacchio (a pizza chain), Dias Tavern (!), Hudson’s Burger Joint (a mini hamburger chain), Hussar Grill (a steak house chain), Jason (a bakery), My Basaar (a coffee shop), Reuben’s One & Only (!), Sababa Kitchen & Deli (predominantly take-away, with only a few chairs at the Bree Street branch), and taschas (coffee shop chain), all in the company of Eat Out Top 10 restaurants The Greenhouse and The Test Kitchen.  It is nice to see the relatively new Cheyne’s (more…)

The opening of Sacred Ground Artisan Bakers just over two weeks ago created big excitement in Franschhoek, it being the first artisanal bakery in the village that has been called the Gourmet Capital of South Africa. Sacred Ground is not just a bakery, but also is a deli, a coffee shop, a wine shop, and gourmet sandwichery.

What makes Sacred Ground special is the spacious selection of Deli treats and the very friendly hands-on owners and staff.  Michelle Hewitt from next-door Surrey Homes and Sannette Koopman are partners in the venture and have both been in the shop when I have visited on two occasions, as has Sannette’s husband Heinrich.  Michelle is used to doing home interiors, so it was a natural that she guided the design of Sacred Ground, wooden counters, wood top tables, and wooden chairs with green seating having been used to give the shop an earthy and warm feel. One places one’s order with the super-nice Michelle van Sittert, who is also Sacred Ground’s Tweeter.  Thomas is the head baker, and joined the Sacred Ground team from Zimbali.  He was the Pastry Chef of the Year in 2008.  The staff wear black, with a branded hessian apron.

There is so much to take in when one arrives at Sacred Ground, but the bread selection probably catches one’s attention first, displayed on shelves, and the names and prices are marked.  So, for example, there is olive ciabatta (R22,50), Panini (R7), Sacred Baguette (R10), Ciabatta (R17), French Baguette (R15), Stumpy (R10), Crusty Sourdough (R25), 10% Rye (R25), and Cheesy Baguette (R18).  Cakes and cupcakes are still bought in, but will be baked on the premises in future.  A slice of cake costs R35, and one can choose from Chocolate orange, Cheesecake, Carrot cake, and Red velvet cake.  The cupcake selection comes in different colours, at R15 each. Macaroons cost R8.  There is fudge, biscotti, nougat, panforte made in Betty’s Bay, and slabs of Honest Chocolate.

The shop has a couch seating section for coffees, wines or a beer and a chat, a counter at which one pays and which displays the cake selection, and a large charcuterie fridge.  Fresh food fridges are placed along the walls, alongside the bread selection, and the rest of the space is filled with tables and chairs.  The colourful red and yellow BOS umbrellas attract attention from the main road, and the owners have planted red and yellow plants outside their door to match these colours.

Bread is the foundation of Sacred Ground and the Deli selection, and the food offered on the menu all relate to it.  Surrounding the bread selection is a fine selection of Truckles, Anura, and Dalewood cheeses,  as well as Bocconcini and Fior de Latte. There is a big range of Allée Bleue’s herbs; unbranded unsalted and salted butter; chicken liver paté; duck eggs; Froggit thyme-infused balsamic vinegar; Kloovenberg and Olyfberg olives; Prince Albert and Olyfberg olive oil; Oryx salt and pepper; Bean There coffee;  Dilmah teas; honeys; a selection of craft beers from &Union, including Steph Weiss and Berne; Whalehaven Idiom, as well as Mon Rêve boutique wines, of which the Merlot 2010 has already won a ‘Michael Angelo’ (sic) Double Gold in its first year of launch; and wooden boards, which are also used to bring the food to the tables.  The Charcuterie counter allows one to choose specific cuts of cold meats supplied by a variety of suppliers, including Raith and Gastro Foods, and includes various salamis, black forest ham, coppa ham, parma ham, as well as speciality cheeses, to take home.

The menu is short and sweet, and a blackboard advertises the Daily Specials.  All food is served on paper placed on wooden boards.  Commendable is that Breakfast is served all day.  I ordered The Artisan Egg Mayo (R35) on my first visit, sounding better on the menu than its execution, promising ‘free range egg, mayo and chives on bread of your choice’. The scrambled egg was cold and was drizzled with Froggit balsamic vinegar, which I was not warned about nor wanted.  An alternative ‘Breaking the Fast’ option is ‘Oeufs Bicyclette’, or Eggs on Wheels (R59), ciabatta layered with parma ham, two eggs and mozzarella, topped with hollandaise sauce.  One may choose the bread on which the eggs are served.  One can also order sandwiches throughout the day, with salami or mozzarella (R49), salmon or chicken (R59), or a ‘Sacred Dog’ with a Frankfurter or a Bratwurst (R40).  The Platters look super, a choice of two cold meats and two cheeses costing R 85, and three of each costing R120.

The cappuccino (R14) is made in the flat white style with Bean There beans, but a second order and careful explanation of a dry cappuccino resulted in a perfect cup. The Fair Trade description of the coffee, in its own outlets too, is misleading, as it is not Fairtrade endorsed.  Sacred Ground is licensed, and it is a surprise to see that no Franschhoek wines are stocked.  Hermanus-sourced La Vierge Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sangiovese style are offered by the glass (R25 – R45) or bottle (R85 – R150) with Whalehaven Idiom (Bordeaux blend) at R280, as well as Paarl-based Mon Rêve wines, at R25 – R45 per glass, and R75 – R250 per bottle for the Merlot.   Pongracz is available by the glass (R45 – R55) or bottle R150 – R180. Pierre Jourdan Cuvee Belle Rose costs R190,  and Krone Borealis Cuvee Brut 2009 is available at R150.

Sacred Ground is a friendly village meeting place, with good service, reasonable prices, a good selection of deli items and excellent breads, as well as cakes and cupcakes, which have been in short supply in the village.  It has added life to The Square, which has not had much traffic since it opened about 18 months ago.

Sacred Ground Artisan Bakers, The Square, Huguenot Street, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-3948.  www.sacredground.co.za Twitter: @SG_Bakery Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 19h00.

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

No restaurants which opened in South Africa from 2010 onwards (with the exception of The Test Kitchen) were judged to be good enough to make the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards 2012, held at the The Westin hotel last night.  As predicted, Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen was named the number one restaurant on the Top 10 list, while Margot Janse of The Tasting Room was named Chef of the Year.  The Best Service Award went to Rust en Vrede.  Stellenbosch now is the Gourmet Capital of South Africa, with four Top 10 restaurants, followed by Cape Town with three, and one each in Franschhoek, Johannesburg, and the Natal Midlands. The biggest surprise of the evening was the ‘slap’ Chef George Jardine of Jordan Restaurant, making third place on the Top 10 list, gave Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly (wearing Gavin Rajah) from the stage, criticising the use of an imported judge for the Awards, clearly referring to the controversial role Bruce Palling played in the Awards. A number of other controversial aspects once again clouded the Awards evening.

Lets start with Mr Palling.  The relationship between New Media Publishing and its ex-judge went sour after the judging, when New Media Publishing was said by Palling on Twitter to not want to offer him a ticket to Cape Town to attend the Awards last night. (more…)

When Franschhoek does something, it does it really well!  No longer being able to claim Gourmet Capital status, due to the dominance by Stellenbosch, Franschhoek is now focusing on chocolate-making, with two new chocolate shops having opened in the past two months, in addition to the long-established Huguenot Fine Chocolates:

Huguenot Fine Chocolates: This started as an empowerment project for the local community with the aid of the Franschhoek Belgium Development Trust, and has operated for years on Franschhoek’s main road.  Staff have been sent to Belgium, to learn chocolate-making, and Belgian chocolate is used to make a range of 35 chocolates.  Partners Danny Windvogel and Denver Adonis run the operation, and offer ‘The Chocolate Experience’ half-hour tour of their operation. Chocolates with customised logos can be made. 62 Huguenot Road, Tel (021) 876-4096. www.huguenotchocolates.com

Le Chocolatier Factory:  This chocolate manufacturing facility and shop opened next door to Café Le Chocolatier in Place Vendome, and uses Lindt chocolate. Swiss owner Daniel Waldis is passionate about chocolate, and is closely involved in his business. They use very little cocoa butter, to make the chocolates less fattening, the dark chocolates containing little sugar. They have the largest selection of chocolates sold (photograph above), and also serve chocolate-related products in their restaurant, including the best cakes in the village, muffins, and drinks (including a chocolate liqueur). Tours as well as chocolate-making courses offered.  Place Vendome, Main Road.  Tel (021) 876-2233.

Bijoux Chocolates: This chocolate shop opened officially this week, and is owned by Suzette and Jason de Jongh, owners of Bijoux Square.  Bertie is the chocolatier, having previously worked at Huguenot Fine Chocolates, and having trained in Belgium.   Bertie did a specialist course in marzipan, ice-cream and chocolate-making in Anderlecht.  With him works Joshua, a Franschhoek local. They use ‘chocolate mousse‘ to make their chocolates, rather than ‘fattening chocolate‘, they say.  They plan to teach young locals the art of ‘chocolate tempering’, which gives chocolates a shiny finish.  Bijoux Square, Tel (021) 876-3407.  Website www.bijouxchocolates.com under construction.  Twitter: @BijouxChoc1

Time will tell if three chocolate shops are sustainable in Franschhoek.

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

After writing about the disastrous error-filled and outdated Conde Nast Traveller  Guide to Cape Town earlier this week, it was refreshing to see a link on Twitter about the Telegraph Travel’s  ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’, written by local travel writer and ‘destination expert’ Pippa de Bruyn (author of a ‘Frommer’s Guide’ to South Africa and to India, and of  ‘A Hedonist’s Guide to Cape Town’), resulting in a far more accurate guide for the tourist visiting Cape Town.

The Guide kicks off with the Beauty positioning for Cape Town (the one that Cape Town Tourism has just thrown away by using Inspirational’, as the new positioning for Cape Town, even though it is not unique for Cape Town and has been used by others, including Pick ‘n Pay!), in stating that “Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world”.  It is accompanied by a beautiful shot of Clifton, with the Twelve Apostles as backdrop.  The reasons for travelling to Cape Town are motivated as its ‘in-your-face beauty’; the pristine white beaches; the proximity of nature; spotting zebra and wildebeest on the slopes of Table Mountain; watching whales breaching in False Bay; being ‘halted by cavorting baboons near Cape Point’; being a contender for World Design Capital 2014 with its art galleries, ‘hip bars’, opera, and design-savvy shops; the unique marriage of Dutch-origin vegetable gardening, winemaking introduced by the French (this fact must be challenged, as it was the Dutch who established the first wine farms), Malay slaves’ spices, and English ‘Georgian mansions and Victorian terraced homes’;  its contrasts of pleasure and poverty, of ‘pounding seas and vine-carpeted valleys’, and its award-winning wines and produce offer ‘some of the best (and most affordable) fine dining in the world’.

The ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’ includes the following recommendations:

*   travel time is suggested as ‘pretty much any time of the year’, and a warning of wet Julys and Augusts now is inaccurate, given the wonderful non-winter weather experienced in Cape Town during both these months this year!

*   misleading is the claim that Cape Town offers the best land-based whale watching in the world – this positioning belongs to Hermanus, and is corrected a few pages further into the guide.   Also misleading is the claim that the best ‘summer deals’ are available in October and November – most accommodation establishments have the same rate for the whole summer, and do not drop rates at the start of summer.

*   it is up-to-date in that use of the MyCiti Bus is recommended to travel between the airport and the Civic Centre, as well as to the Waterfront.  Train travel between Cape Town and Simonstown is not recommended, due to dirty windows and lack of safety, one of the few negatives contained in the Guide.  The red City Sightseeing bus is recommended, as are bus tours, taxis, Rikkis, and car hire.

*  The ‘Local laws and etiquette’ section does not address either of these two points.  Instead, it warns against crime when walking or driving, and recommends that tourists should not ‘flash their wealth’.  Potential card-skimming in the Waterfront and at the airport is also a potential danger, travellers to Cape Town are told, not accurate, and unfair to these two Cape Town locations.

*   Tourist attractions recommended are Cape Point, driving via the Atlantic Seaboard and Chapman’s Peak; wine-tasting in Constantia; the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; exploring the city centre on foot, walking from the city centre to Green Point; taking a water taxi from the Convention Centre to the Waterfront; the Footsteps to Freedom Tour; the Company Gardens; the National Gallery; summer concerts at Kirstenbosch; tanning at Clifton beaches; shopping for wines or going on a wine tour; High Tea at the Mount Nelson hotel; going on tours which allow one to meet the ‘other half’  locals;  walking through the Waterfront or taking a sunset cruise; the Two Oceans Aquarium; eating fish and chips in Kalk Bay; going up Table Mountain by foot or cable car; day trips to Cape Point, the West Coast National Park to see the spring flowers, and the Winelands (referring to Franschhoek as the now out-of-date ‘Gourmet Capital of the Cape’, by stating that ‘it is the only place where you have award-winning restaurants within walking distance of each other’, not correct either).

*   in the ‘Cape Town Hotels’ section, it states disturbingly (and information out of date) that ‘Cape Town isn’t cheap’, and therefore suggests that clients stay in Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof, Higgovale, and Bo-Kaap  (but none of these suburbs have restaurants, something guests would like to walk to by foot from their accommodation), as well as De Waterkant, the V&A Waterfront (probably one of the most expensive accommodation areas!), and ‘Greenpoint’ (sic).  Self-catering and ‘B&b’ (sic) accommodation is recommended.  Hotels previously reviewed by The Telegraph are listed: the Mount Nelson, Ellerman House, the Cape Grace, Cascades on the Promenade, Four Rosmead, An African Villa, Rouge on Rose, Fritz Hotel, and The Backpack hostel, an interesting mix of hotels, and not all highly-rated in its reviews. No newer ‘World Cup hotels’ are recommended. 

*   For nightlife, Camps Bay’s Victoria Road, Long Street and Cape Quarter are recommended.  Vaudeville is strongly recommended, but has lost a lot of its appeal.  Other specific recommendations are Asoka on Kloof Street, Fiction DJ Bar & Lounge, Crew Bar in De Waterkant, Julep off Long Street, and the Bascule bar at the Cape Grace.  The list seems out of date, with more trendy night-time spots being popular amongst locals.

*   The Restaurant section is most disappointing, given the great accolade given to the Cape Town fine-dining scene early in the guide. Four restaurants only are recommended, and many would disagree that these are Cape Town’s best, or those that tourists should visit: The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, Willoughby & Co in the Waterfront, 95 Keerom Street, and ‘Colcaccio (sic) Camps Bay’!  A special note advises ‘gourmet diners’ to check Eat Out and Rossouw’s Restaurants  for restaurants close to one’s accommodation.  Stellenbosch restaurants Overture, Rust en Vrede and Terroir are recommended, as are Le Quartier and Ryan’s Kitchen in Franschhoek, and La Colombe in Constantia.

*   Shopping suggestions include the city centre, Green Point, Woodstock, De Waterkant, and Kloof Street, the latter street not having any particularly special shops.  The Neighbourgoods Market in the Old Biscuit Mill is recommended as the ‘best food market in the country’ (locals may disagree, with the squash of undecided shoppers, and increasingly more expensive), and may recommend the City Bowl Market instead).  Art galleries are also recommended.

While the Telegraph Travel  ‘Cape Town City Break Guide’ is a massive improvement on the Condé Nast Traveller  Cape Town guide, even this guide contains unforgivable errors, which a local writer should not be making.  One would hope that Cape Town Tourism will get the errors fixed.  We also suggest that they recommend the addition of Cape Town’s many special city centre eateries, and that the accommodation list be updated.  The exclusion of Robben Island on the attraction list is a deficiency.   The delineation between recommendations for things to do in Cape Town is blurred in some instances with recommendations in towns and villages outside Cape Town, which may confuse tourists to the Mother City.  Overall, the Guide appears superficial and touristy, and does not reveal all the special gems that Cape Town has to offer.

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

The pioneering Stellenbosch Wine Route, founded in 1971 by winemakers Frans Malan of Simonsig, Neil Joubert of Spier, and Spatz Sperling of Delheim, celebrates its 40th anniversary with an extensive wine and food feast and fest from 28 – 31 July.  The Route has established itself not only as one with the largest number of outstanding wine farms of the 18 wine routes in the country, representing 18% of all vines planted in South Africa, but also with the largest collection of outstanding restaurants in South Africa, Stellenbosch now wearing the Gourmet Capital crown.

The trio which established the Stellenbosch Wine Route was inspired by the wine route Routes de Vins at Morey St Denis in Burgundy, the late Frans Malan and Neil Joubert returning from their 1969 trip and connecting with Spatz Sperling to establish the Stellenbosch Wine Route, the first wine tourism activity in our country.  I was delighted to meet Spatz Sperling (who celebrated his 81st birthday last week) and his wife Vera, as well as daughter Nora and son Victor on their Delheim wine farm recently.  To create the Stellenbosch Wine Route, the founding wine farmers had to overcome red tape and bureaucracy, and even had to have wine legislation rewritten to accommodate the new Stellenbosch Wine Route.  Meals were not allowed to be served at wine estates, and bottled wine could not be sold from a winery in those days.

The renamed Stellenbosch American Express Wine Routes has 147 wine farms, making it the largest wine route in our country, but also is the only one to celebrate its assets with the Stellenbosch Wine Festival for the 10th year running.   Not focusing exclusively on wines, food has been added to the Festival.  Celebrity chefs from Towerbosch Earth Kitchen, The Restaurant @ Clos Malverne, The Restaurant at Waterkloof, and De Volkskombuis (the oldest restaurant in Stellenbosch) will be cooking in the Gourmet Lane at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival venue of Paul Roos Centre in Stellenbosch.  Presentations at the Clover Demo Kitchen will be done by outstanding photographer Russell Wasserfall with his wife Camilla on ‘Home Entertaining at its Best’ in conjunction with De Meye wines; by @KitchenVixen Bianca du Plessis, who reviews restaurants on the Expresso Show; by wine PRO Emile Joubert with wine writer Neil Pendock; by chef George Jardine of Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine on ‘Cheese if you Please’; and by Chef Greg Czarnecki of The Restaurant at Waterkloof, who celebrates the ‘French Connection’.

The Stellenbosch Wine Festival has been stretched out into the Stellenbosch Wine Week, which commenced on Friday, and continues until Sunday.  During the Stellenbosch Wine Week one can enjoy dinner with the Warwick family, a fundraising concert at Delheim, vertical tastings of Simonsig’s Kaapse Vonkel, vintage tastings of Scintilla Cap Classiques at the House of JC le Roux, a salt pairing with Fleur du Cap wines by Sofia chef Craig Cormack, a food and wine pairing dinner at Neethlingshof with Katinka van Niekerk, paired venison carpaccio with Vergenoegd wines, blend and bottle one’s own Cape Blend at Clos Malverene, enjoy free winetastings in the Waterkloof Tasting Room, vertical tasting of Kanonkop wines followed by a snoek braai, vintage and barrel tastings of Jan Boland Coetzee’s Vriesenhof wines, tasting with David Trafford of his De Trafford wines, taste rare Cabernet Sauvignon vintages at Le Riche, wine and venison pairing at Middelvlei, picnics at Chabivin with Champagnes and Cap Classique tastings, art-house films screened at Le Bonheur, ‘Dine and 30 Seconds’ dinners at Uitkyk, and participate in a chipping competition at Ernie Els Wines,

A new feature of the Stellenbosch Wine Festival will be a MCC Lounge, in which Simonsig Estate, which created South Africa’s first Méthode Cap Classique Kaapse Vonkel, Villiera, Mooiplaas, Longridge, Spier, and Pongrácz will be presenting their MCC’s, paired with oysters and other delicacies.

We wrote last year that the Stellenbosch Wine Route should create the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route, and while they have not yet done so, we have created it on this Blog nevertheless, and in honour of the cuisine excellence in Stellenbosch, list from it the restaurants on wine farms in Stellenbosch:

Rust en Vrede – named the best restaurant in the country in 2010 by Eat Out, a slick operation, previously with talented chef David Higgs, on the Rust en Vrede wine estate.  Featured on the Eat Out Top 10 list 2009, and 2010, number 74 on 50 Best Restaurants in the World 2010 list, and Top vineyard restaurant of 2010 Great Wine Capitals in the World – read the review here.  Tel (021) 881-3881

*   Overture – Chef Bertus Basson is a hard-working re-inventor of his menu and operation, always looking to improve.   On the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list for 2009 and 2010.  Fantastic views from the location on the Hidden Valley wine estate – read the review here.  Tel (021) 880-2721

*   Terroir is a perennial on the Eat Out Top 10 list, with Chef Michael Broughton.  The outside seating on the De Kleine Zalze wine and golf estate is great for a warm day.  Tel (021) 880-8167

*   Delaire at Delaire Graff –  no money was spared in building and decorating this restaurant and winery building, and it houses a most impressive art collection.   Chef Christian Campbell is doing outstanding work and good service. Read our review here.  Tel (021) 885-8160

*   Indochine at Delaire Graff- is relatively less opulent in its interior design compared to its sister restaurant.   Young chef Jonathan Heath is a star to watch, and his Asian fusion menu is sure to attract the attention of the Eat Out Top 10 judges.   He explains the menu, and the dishes when he serves them personally.  Read our review. Tel (021) 885-8160

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine –  a mouthful of a brand name but also a mouthful in value and excellent quality. Set at the end of a long road, on the Jordan wine estate, it overlooks a big pond and the beautiful Stellenbosch mountains in the far distance, teeming with birdlife.  Interior functional.  Most beautiful and unique ”bread” plate ever seen.   Read the review.  Tel (021) 881-3612

*   The Long Table Restaurant and Cafe – set at the end of a long road up a hill, above Rust en Vrede, on the Haskell Vineyards (marketers of Haskell and Dombeya wines), the food of Chef Corli Els is a wonderful surprise.  The restaurant interior and waiter service do not match the excellence of her food or the quality of the Haskell wines. The Papaya and Avo salad stands out as one of the special treats.   Read the Review. Tel (021) 881-3746

*   Warwick wine estate – owner Mike Ratcliffe is a good marketer, and his gourmet picnics are a great hit in summer.  Winter Tapas menu – read the picnic review here.  Tel (021) 884-3144

*   Tokara DeliCATessen – has a buffet lunch too, very large restaurant space combined with a deli, but service poor and food quality average – read the review here.   Tel (021) 808-5950

*   Eight at Spier – the menu was designed by Judy Badenhorst, ex-River Cafe, now running the Casa Labia Cafe in Muizenberg. Tel (021) 809-1188

Wild Peacock Food Emporium on Piet Retief Street – belongs to Sue Baker and is managed by ex-Rust en Vrede front of house manager and daughter Sarah, selling deli items, a range of cold meats, imported French and local cheese, fresh breads, and has a sit-down menu as well. Wine shop to come. Tel 082 697 0870

Pane E Vino – this food and wine bar is hidden to those who do not come to Bosman’s Crossing.  Owned by Elena Dalla Cia, husband George and father-in-law Giorgio do wine and grappa tastings in the restaurant too.  Good Italian fare. Tel (021) 883-8312

*   Bodega @Dornier – Tel (021) 880-0557

*   Cuvee Restaurant, Simonsig – interesting modernist Cape Dutch interior curation by Neil Stemmet. Impressive quality food, tableware, stemware, napery, and service.  Tel (021) 888-4932

*   Tokara – Etienne Bonthuys has left Tokara to open Casparus on Dorp Street, and Richard Carstens has stepped into the kitchen, cooking up a storm as South Africa’s Ferran Adria of El Bulli fame. Read the review. Tel (021) 808-5959.

*   Towerbosch Earth Kitchen on the Knorhoek wine estate, designed by Neil Stemmet. Lovely fairy-like setting, fantastic Boerekos feast served in bowls rather than dishing up per plate.  Read the review. Tel (021) 865-2114.

*   Johan’s at Longridge is a refreshing new restaurant on LongridgeWinery, with a focus on fresh vegetables from its large vegetable garden alongside the restaurant.  Co-owner Chef Johan comes from a Michelin two-star restaurant in Holland, as does Chef Marissa.  Attentive service led by Chris Olivier, excellent food, great wines.  Read the review.   Tel (021) 855-2004

*   Delheim restaurant – read about the visit during the Delheim Nouvelle Mushroom Week earlier this month.  Tel (021) 888-4600

*   The Table at De Meye opened in September, and won the Eat Out Best Country-Style Award in November.  It is only open for Friday. Saturday and Sunday lunches.

Stellenbosch Wine Festival, 28 – 31 July.  Paul Roos Centre, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 886-4310.    www.stellenboschwinefestival.co.za. Book www.webtickets.co.za.  Entry R120 on-line, R140 at door.  R350 for a pass for entry over the whole period of the Stellenbosch Wine Festival.

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