Hermanus, and neighbouring towns in the Cape Whale Coast region, has recently been named the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) City of Gastronomy, in a bid led by Darryl David, surprisingly from KwaZulu-Natal. Hermanus takes its place alongside top international cities of Gastronomy, such as Parma, Italy; San Antonio in the USA; Phuket, Thailand; and Bergen, Norway.
Within 2 minutes of walking into Biga Café, Bakery, and Deli the rudeness of co-owner Hanli Carstenson came to the fore, and this continued from her, magnified by a rude departure ‘greeting‘ from fellow co-owner Glen Herringshaw, when I popped in there yesterday, after visiting the Hermanuspietersfontein market further down the street!
Biga (meaning sourdough starter in Italian, Hanli said) has been open since December, and has taken over the space of former Season, one of the few restaurants in Hermanus which I enjoyed eating at (mainly for its calf’s liver and mash). It has also taken over some of the space of Hornbill House, an art gallery, Continue reading →
The 2015 Platter’s Wine Guide was launched at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel last night, in a Beaujolais Ferment colour, with a number of changes in terms of its methodology to evaluate the 5 star wines, as well as in the content of the Wine Guide. Out of 6000 wines submitted for evaluation, a total of 50 wines and one brandy received the highly desired 5 star rating. The Platter’s Winery of the Year is Sadie Family Wines, the second time that Eben Sadie has received this accolade. DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2013 was named the White Wine of the Year, and De Trafford Blueprint Syrah 2012 was named the Red Wine of the Year.
The first Platter’s change is that JP Rossouw has been the new publisher for the past year, looking confident last night, relative to his first more restrained presentation a year ago. It was nice to see former publisher Andrew McDowell Continue reading →
I sat next to The Reciprocal Wine Trading Company Cape Town representative Tarryn Thomas at the ‘Chefs who Share‘ Gala Dinnerlast week, and she invited me to attend the special tasting of wines in the Riedel glassware which they represent in South Africa. The tasting on Tuesday at The Local Grill function venue was made more special in that it was led by 10th generation Georg Riedel, currently heading up the Austrian-based company. Herr Riedel encouraged the restaurant managers and sommeliers present to invest in glassware and a glass washing machine to bring out the best in the wines they serve.
We were welcomed by Michael Fridjhon, owner of Reciprocal, and he introduced Herr Riedel. It was the first time that I met Michael, and sat next to him during the tasting. I had brought my glass of water into the venue, and was quickly told to put it away, and we were all told that we should not open the bottle of water on the tasting sheet nor taste anything before we were given the go-ahead by Herr Riedel to do so.
Herr Riedel led us to question what makes a restaurant visit successful, the welcome, the food, and the wine selection combined making the cost seem good value or not. Eating at a restaurant is a ‘multi-layered symphony’, he said, to describe the functional and emotional experience of eating out. He feels that wine Continue reading →
* 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 →
I have driven past the Whalehaven Winery on numerous occasions when visiting Hermanus, and it did not attract me into the building, having looked clinical and functional in all its time, being well located at the entrance to the Hermanus Wine Route. Recently the owners of Whalehaven Winery renovated and enlarged the Tasting Room, creating a welcoming space in which to showcase its wines.
Italian-born Alberto Bottega is the patriarch of Bottega Family Wine, which consists of Whalehaven in Hermanus and Idiom Fine Wine on Sir Lowry’s Pass. He is charming, and explained that his daughter Sylvana is in charge of Marketing since they bought the winery eleven years ago, but that she is based in Johannesburg as the CEO of the Southern Africa Luxury Association. Alberto pops in at the boutique winery regularly, to check that all is in order. The winemaker is Reino Thiart, while Naomi Herbst is the Tasting Room Manager.
The Whalehaven range currently consists of Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Viognier Chardonnay 2012, Chardonnay 2011, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010, Pinot Noir 2010, Merlot 2010, Cabernet Franc Continue reading →
I last visited Creation more than two years ago, when I wrote a story about the Hermanus Wine Route, which had been launched in 2011. Since then a number of changes have taken place, new chef Warwick Taylor offering even more heavenly food to match the heavenly Creation wines, living up to promise made in the Tasting Menu heading: ‘Original, distinctive flavours. Exceptional, harmonious matches’!
The road to travel to Creation was never in great condition, having been a gravel road 7 km before the entrance to the wine estate. They were very excited when the Western Cape province announced the tarring of the road to Caledon, and 3 km of the untarred section had been tarred when the construction contractor went bankrupt, a huge frustration for Creation. A number of months have gone by while the province appointed a new contractor, and work has finally commenced again, it taking ten months for the road to be completed, owner JC Martin estimated. The road currently is in a worse condition than it was on our last visit, in terms of its surface, with more accidents on the road, and having a stop/go system in place. Co-owner Carolyn Martin said she is placing pressure on the Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works Robin Carlisle to get things moving. Creation will have to possibly change its entrance once the tarring is complete. Despite the poor condition of the road, it was a surprise to see the car park at Creation completely full, Carolyn’s marketing of their wines and the Tasting Room being so excellent that tourists as well as Johannesburg and Pretoria locals come anyway.
I thought I had arrived without being recognised, but Carolyn had seen me (I was sitting with my back to the desk) and she called JC to come and say hello. JC was busy in the cellar with the preparation for the start of the harvest the following day, but made time to chat, reflecting how good they are in connecting with their customers (we stock their Whale Pod range) and visitors. JC said that the harvest is only 3 – 4 days later than last year after the wet winter, and that they have some botrytis, which his staff is picking out. He expected the harvest to take a little longer this year, being 3 – 4 weeks, depending on the weather. He shook his head, almost in disbelief, Continue reading →
* Travelers in the UK, USA, and Australia use a mix of e-mails (for reminders), mobile apps, and online (to make bookings) before, during, and after their holiday. Surprising is that 70% switch off whilst on holiday, especially the UK tourists. Most of those sharing their holiday information and photographs do so when they return from their holiday.
After seeing a Tweet by The Collection by Liz McGrath Executive Chef Peter Tempelhoff about the new interior of SeaFood at The Marine earlier this week, I decided to lunch there yesterday, being in Hermanus for the day. It was a most disappointing experience, given the five star and Relais & Chateaux status of the hotel.
The Marine hotel has a long heritage and was bought by Mrs McGrath a number of years ago. and sat on its own on the cliffs overlooking Walker Bay, technically a magnificent location, but little is made of the beautiful view. A recent flurry of development across the road from the hotel has given it a lift. Mrs McGrath appears to be like Le Quartier Français owner Susan Huxter who renovates her establishment annually. Mrs McGrath did the latest interior design of SeaFood at The Marine, her staff told me. The colour scheme now is grey, with grey chairs, grey tables, and grey Continue reading →
In 10 weeks we will know who our own MasterChef SA Season 2 winner is. We are curious to hear who our readers think will become MasterChef SA Season 2, and why.
We ask you to send your nominations with a motivation via Comment to this Blog (please add your name and surname and e-mail address). To thank you for your input, we will award one lucky reader a complimentary weekend of your choice location at one of our Whale Cottages in Camps Bay, Hermanus, or Franschhoek, subject to availability and inclusive of breakfast, but exclusive of other meals and transport, out of all of those entries correctly predicting the winner of MasterChef SA. Continue reading →