Doolhof Wines launched the newest vintages in its Signatures range as well as of the new Legends of the Labyrinth Theseus, at Dash restaurant at Queen Victoria Hotel in the V&A Waterfront yesterday afternoon. Changes in its wine and accommodation offerings for next year were announced. Continue reading →
# Chef Luke Dale-Roberts has opened Naturalis, as an ‘incubation hub’, for lunches, and a venue for occasional dinners and events (photograph).
# The Harbour House Group is planning to open two new restaurants on the Muizenberg beachfront: a 160-seater Live Bait, and Howlin’ Wolf, a burger and beer quick service restaurant
# Blacksmith’s Kitchen has opened in Paarl Continue reading →
New restaurant openings continue, many working behind the scenes, and not revealing information about their new establishments prior to opening. We update information about newly opened and closed restaurants continuously.
* Giulio’s Café has opened where My Basaar was located (photograph).
* My Sugar has opened in Sea Point.
Invited guests included the Top 20 Finalists for the awards, and tasting tables had been set up to allow the twenty Finalist wines to be tasted. No one knew who would make the Top 10 list. A shelf had been set up to display all top twenty Continue reading →
* The Penny Ferry is to be reintroduced in the V&A Waterfront on 1 November, connecting the main shopping centre side to the more commercial and business side at the Clocktower. The ride will cost R5. The ferry stopped opening in 1997 when the swing bridge was constructed. The Penny Ferry service was officially relaunched by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom earlier this week.
* The judging for the 2014 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year has been completed, and the winners of the 34th annual competition will be announced next month. In evaluating the nominees, it was ‘the heart and soul of the winemakers that stood out strongly‘, dominating the quality of the wines they made. The Winemaker of the Year entered in this year’s theme category of White Blends, while the Young Winemaker of the Year was evaluated on any red wine. Judges included Dave Hughes (panel chairman), Beatriz Machado from Portugal, retailer Carrie Adams, Nomonde Kubheka (wine judge and educator), Christine Rudman (wine judge), Colin Frith (GM of Hazendal), and Margaret Fry (Director of Cape Wine Academy). (received via media release from African Sky Media)
The Public Relations networking association PRNet recently hosted an inaugural ‘PRNET Trade meet your media’ event at Mandela Rhodes Place Hotel & Spa, focusing on the Wine Trade. Cape Wine Master Clive Torr encouraged wine estates and writers to get to know each other better, so that the former can provide writers with information about what is unique about their wine estate and its wines.
Torr was introduced as a garagiste winemaker, and has spent time in the Napa valley. He said currently ‘Chenin is flying‘, being so popular. He noted that consumers are shying away from ‘austere wines’, looking for ‘lesser acidity‘ and ‘quicker drinkability‘. He said that grapes are often picked too quickly, and warned that one should wait for ‘physiological ripeness‘, judged by the colour of the pip, and other factors. He suggested that many of our local winemakers are German-orientated in their winemaking, having studied at Geisenheim, making them precise, clinical, adding what one is allowed, and controlling fermentation. One could sense that he supports the French style of winemaking, which is to add nothing at all, and to keep the wine making process as natural as possible. ‘It is time for transparency‘, he said, and intimated that this will increasingly be the future trend. He was critical of Merlot production, saying that our winemakers are ‘floundering‘ in making it. Riesling is not his favourite either, saying that it has ‘high acidity and little taste‘. He talked about adding antibiotics, which is done locally, but is not allowed in the European Union. He said that many wine drinkers are allergic to sulphur, feeling its effect the following day.
Should the threatened ban on advertising materialise, editorial coverage will be one of few means whereby coverage can be achieved. He emphasised how important it is to stay in contact with the media, as it is free advertising if they write about one’s Continue reading →
* SA Tourism has launched a cinema advertising campaign highlighting the beauty and thrill our country offers, at 94 cinemas in seven Indian cities. In the foyer of the cinemas one is able to book a holiday to South Africa via travel agents, taking the movie-goers to action in booking. Part of the marketing campaign is ‘Take me to South Africa‘ promotion, in which four winners travel with cricketer Jonty Rhodes as their tour guide.
* Comair says that domestic airfares are unlikely to come down, even if new low cost airlines enter the market, as it would not be sustainable to operate as such lower rates.
* Chef Liam Tomlin’s Chefs Warehouse has moved to Bree Street (ex Caveau and ex Awestruck), having dropped the second part of the original business name (& Cookery School). They serve lunch from 11h30 onwards, and an early dinner. (received via newsletter from Chef’s Warehouse)
Last year I attended the ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival, my first visit to the Durbanville Wine Route. Today and tomorrow the fun-loving Durbanville wine valley once again celebrates a grape variety it has become synonymous with, the eleven wine estates winning awards, Diemersdal having recently won the 2013 Champion Young Wine for their Sauvignon Blanc, the first time in the history of the Young Wine Championships that the top wine comes from Durbanville.
The launch function for ‘Season of Sauvignon’ was held at Klein Roosboom, owned by Karen de Villiers, who has a wonderful decor touch in making her weathered cellar the centre for tasting the best wines of the Durbanville Wine Route, and pairing these with foods especially prepared for us by the regions’ top chefs. Rose petals were strewn on the floor, and the cellar had an old world romantic Continue reading →
This weekend the Durbanville Wine Valley celebrates the arrival of Spring, and its fresh and crisp Sauvignon Blancs, produced on eleven wine estates on the Durbanville Wine Route, with the ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival. Each wine estate is offering tastings of its wines, as well as food, and many are offering live music, other entertainment, and activities too.
The Durbanville wine region, with a valley of rolling vineyards, benefits from a cool climate terroir, and has been celebrating its Sauvignon Blanc festival for eight years. The ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival has been designed to encourage wine lovers to visit as many of the Durbanville wine estates as possible, although all the Durbanville wines will be available to taste at each of the wine estates on the Route via the ‘Ward in a box’.
Each Durbanville wine estate has organised its own entertainment and food offering for the ‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival, has different opening hours this weekend, and has different entrance/tasting fees:
* Altydgedacht: Vineyard tours with viticulturist and owner John Parker, live music, slow food. R20 tasting fee. Open 10h00 – 16h00 Saturday and Sunday. Tel (021) 975-7815
* Bloemendal: This wine estate has the second oldest Bush Vine in South Africa. They will be offering picnics. Their new Cap Classique will be launched this weekend. Savvy On-Tap Lounge. Presentations in the Wine Theatre. Open 11h00 – 21h00 on Saturday and 11h00 – 17h00 on Sunday. R40 tasting fee. Tel (021) 976-2682
* D’Aria: A ‘Cirque de Sauvignon‘ will offer a carnival atmosphere with ‘jokes and giggles‘, there will be a Cocktail Bar, food stalls, and one can dance to live music. 11h00 – 20h00 Saturday, 11h00 – 18h00 Sunday. R 20 entrance fee. Tel (021) 801-6772.
* De Grendel: Meet the farm animals, learn how to make mozzarella, sow and grow, learn to bake bread, food pairing with Sauvignon Blanc, Chocolate World, and Family Olympics. 10h00 – ‘sundown’ Saturday and Sunday. No tasting charge. Tel (021) 558-6280.
* Diemersdal: Live music, entertainment, food stalls, tasting of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Rosé 2012. 11h00 – 18h00 Saturday and Sunday. R60 tasting fee. Tel (021) 976-3361
* Durbanville Hills: Oyster and sushi bar, foot-long boerewors rolls, cheese platters, picnics, free tutored tastings by Cape Wine Academy. Rugby match between Springboks and All Blacks screened in Barrel Cellar from 17h00. 10h00 – 20h00 Saturday, 10h00 – 17h00 Sunday. No tasting charge. Tel (021) 558-1300
* Groot Phesantekraal: Live music, Wine tasting. 11h00 – 16h00 Saturday and Sunday. R50 tasting charge. Tel (021) 976-2114
* Hillcrest: American Rock music on Saturday, and New Orleans Blues on Sunday. Food stalls, gourmet burgers, hot dogs, olives, cheese platters. 11h00 -17h00 Saturday and Sunday. R40 tasting charge. Tel (021) 976-1110.
* Klein Roosboom: Catering by Café Rugby, pancakes, cheese platters, live music. 11h00 – 17h00 Saturday, 11h00 – 16h00 Sunday. Tasting charge R50. Tel 082 784 5102.
* Meerendal: Farmer’s Market, live entertainment, and free tutored tastings by Cellar Master Liza Goodwin and Marketing Manager Bennie Howard, all on Saturday. West Coast Braai Buffet with crayfish, mussels and snoek on Sunday, 9h00 – 17h00 Saturday and Sunday. No entrance fee. Tel (021) 975-1655.
* Nitida: Live music at Cassia restaurant 11h00 – 16h00 Saturday and Sunday. Live jazz and picnic baskets at Tables at Nitida restaurant 9h00 – 17h00 Saturday and Sunday. No tasting fee. Tel (021) 975-9357/976-0640.
DISCLOSURE: We received a bottle of Altydgedacht Sauvignon Blanc 2012 with our media pack.
POSTSCRIPT 6/10: My visit to the Durbanville Wine Route started at Meerendal, lying outside Durbanville, in the countryside. They had a Farmer’s Market in a hall on the farm, with homemade chicken pies and melktert, biltong and droë wors, cheeses, charcuterie, breads, olives, and vegetables. The Deli had a selection of good looking tarts and sweet treats.
At Diemersdal I met the Louw family, the owners of the farm, even the 7th generation Louw who is about one year old. The farm was first registered in 1698, and the first Louw forbear took over the farm in 1855. Current owner Tienie Louw came to chat, and struck us as a humble wine producer yet proudly shared the success of his wines at the China International Wine Awards, at which the MM Louw, Private Collection Pinotage and Matthys won Double Gold, and the latter wine winning the Wine of the Show, out of 3500 – 4000 wines judged. They are also eagerly awaiting the results of the China Decanter Awards on 24 October. Tienie shared that the success in the Eastern market is having a family business, reflecting the passion for its business, and being a ‘friend of a friend’. Tienie’s son Thys told us that his father would only give him eight rows to grow his own grapes and make wine from them initially, and it turned out to be an award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, which he branded Eight Rows. He is now in charge of the whole farm! Diemersdal also lies outside Durbanville, and despite more than 1000 visitors tasting the food of Ocean Basket, Piroschka, Bacini’s, and more to the music of a live band, we were truly out in the countryside. A new Restaurant is about to open, with Chef Nic van Wyk at the helm, previously of Terroir, and we tasted a most unusual Brandade, a Portuguese salted dried fishcake made from smoked snoek and hake, with poached milk and mash, olive oil, cumin, lemon zest and parsley, with a crispy coating. Errieda du Toit, PR Consultant to the Durbanville Wine Route, a gracious hostess today, shared that Durbanville has developed a signature dish served by many restaurants in the area, consisting of a sosatie with a cooked curry sauce, served with pearl barley in a risotto style, and pumpkin pickle. Errieda showed me the sweet tiny jam storage building, Tienie’s grandmother having been a keen jam maker.
‘Season of Sauvignon’ Festival, 6 – 7 October. Tel 083 310 1228. www.durbanvillewine.co.za Twitter: @DurbanvilleWine
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage
French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar opened about ten days ago, and is a homely cosy wine lounge that has been created in what was previously a warehouse in Bree Street. It is the type of place that one would pop in to for a drink before or after a function, and have a bite to eat. It has one of the largest collections of wines-by-the-glass in Cape Town, with over 108 choices of local and international wines. It is not cheap to eat and drink there, and portions are small, but it does offer a good selection of price options.
French Toast has a heavyweight management. Owner John Harrison was a stockbroker on the Paris Bourse, and told me that the French bug bit him there, hence the French feel through the name and the café style music that is played. John was the CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company for many years, and built up its business and introduced the new cable cars during his management of the company. He was a client of my then-PR company many moons ago. He spoke passionately about his new project, and how they renovated the double story building in an unbelievable three months, being hands-on in the renovation. Raw brick walls give it a warm feeling, blackboards communicate the wine and food specials, and windows have been built to add light upstairs. There is a bar counter upstairs and downstairs, and the downstairs one will probably be the more popular one in winter, with its massive fireplace. The upstairs section is huge, with seating for at least 80-100 persons. A small boardroom downstairs can host meetings and functions of up to 10 persons, Shane told us. The decor is upmarket, but the food is not fine dining, with an emphasis on wines, explained Shane. The cutlery is shiny and new, the glassware is good, but only paper serviettes are supplied.
Karen Visser is a partner in French Toast with John, was a bio-kineticist, and is a passionate golfer and winelover, studying at the Cape Wine Academy. She compiled the winelist in the main, and has no previous restaurant experience. GM of the new wine lounge is Gidi Caetano, who was the GM of Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, and also oversaw the opening of Salt Deli and Salt Vodka Bar until recently. She also worked at The Showroom and was a hospitality trainer. The Manager Shane has an interesting undefinable accent, having grown up in Hawaii, and lived in the UK before moving to South Africa. He previously worked at the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction, the Devon Valley Hotel, and the 0932 Belgian restaurant in Green Point, which has since closed down. Chef Jannie Mellis owned East London’s best restaurant, he says, the Two Dogs Bistro, and was at Bushmanskloof Lodge prior to that. He said he came back to Cape Town “to get into the hub of food again”, a nice compliment for Cape Town. The staff are smartly dressed in black shirts and pants, a French Toast branded apron, and a turquoise tie.
We found it terribly chilly upstairs, but Shane assured me that the airconditioning was not on. When we moved from table to table, to find the warmest spot, we discovered that a sliding door had been left wide open. When it had been closed, all was fine. The music was rather loud when we arrived, but seemed to have been turned down a little while we were there.
The wines are closed with a wine preservation system Le Verre du Vin, being special rubber wine and sparkling wine bottle stoppers, allowing opened wines to be kept for up to three months. I chose the same glass of wine I had a week ago, the Mullineux Shiraz 2008, at R83 for a 150ml glass. The wine has the characteristic of an old-fashioned smoky shiraz, my favourite, but the very chilled serving, at 13°C, was too cold to my liking. Four Cap Classiques are available, ranging from R44/R195 for Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel to R 81/R380 for Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc. Seven champagnes can be ordered, Le Mesnil Blanc de Blanc costing R135/R650, and the most pricey is Dom Perignon, sold by bottle only, at R3000. They also stock Veuve Cliquot, Billecart Salmon Rose and Guy Charbaut. Seven Sauvignon Blancs are stocked, that of La Motte costing R31/R130, and the Cape Point Vineyard Reserve is the most expensive, at R57/R260. Seven Shiraz/Syrah wines are served, starting with Rickety Bridge at R35/R165, and Haskell Vineyards is the most expensive at R111/R530. Imported wines from France, Italy and Germany are also available, and range from R33/R142 – R153/R740. The branded winelist provides information about the vintage and origin of each wine, but has no descriptions of the wines or the varieties.
The menu, on a laminated sheet without any branding, is broken down into Snacks, Tapas, Charcuterie, Cheese Platters and Desserts, and has a Mediterranean feel to it. Snacks include olives, almonds, chillies (R30 each) and oysters (R10 each). The Tapas selection of 16 dishes range in price from R30 – R50, with empanadas, prawns, smoked salmon trout, caprese skewers and more. The charcuterie platter allows one to select three of a choice of imported meats, including chorizo, parma ham, salami and jamon serano, for R50. Similarly, one can choose three cheeses for R55, from a selection of six. Breads come from Jardine Bakery, a few meters away, and sometimes from Knead. Chef Jannie makes his own preserves and pasta.
There is not much attention paid to the presentation of the dishes, I felt, being functionally presented on white plates. I had the calamari and lemon (R38), and asked Chef Jannie not to add the chilli. My (student) son had the delicious herb and pecorini croquettes (R35), as well as the parma ham and mozzarella aroncini fried stuffed rice balls (R45), but was still starving after the two tapas dishes, and therefore ordered patatas bravas with a homemade spicy tomato sauce (R45), which he proclaimed to be excellent. I had to have the French Toast, after which the restaurant is named, one of the three desserts on the menu (R40), two tiny baguette slices served with not-so-nice almond ice cream. The cappuccino (R16) made from Origin coffee was excellent. The specials board advertised white anchovies, Pisto bruschetta, and cheddar and rice balls. Chef Jannie said that from the feedback received to his dishes since opening, he will be amending his menu next week.
In general the tapas portions are small, and therefore French Toast is not the place to have a meal, but rather a glass of wine with a tapas snack. We paid R385 for five tapas dishes and two glasses of red wine.
POSTSCRIPT 15/1: I have returned to French Toast a few times since I wrote the review two months ago. Every time I have been warmly received by the management team. Today I returned for a late Saturday afternoon cappuccino, and was impressed with the new summer menu. My eye caught the asparagus tapas, at R35, crispy and crunchy, simply served with lemon, the best asparagus I have tasted. Then I saw a Seafood salad advertised on a Specials board, for R55, and had to have it, when the Manager Gidi explained that it contained steamed prawns and crayfish, with bisque aïoli, beautifully presented, which had been a criticism I had expressed previously. I felt that Chef Jannie has progressed by leaps and bounds, not only in terms of his menu selection, food preparation, but also in terms of the food presentation. On the wine side an innovate wine trio 50 ml flight is offered for Sauvignon Blanc (Delaire, Hillcrest and Reyneke Organic), at R40 for the three wines; the Sparkling wine flight is Steenberg 1682, Teddy Hall, and Sterhuis, at R65, or R100 if served with a trio of oysters; and the Shiraz flight is from Eagle’s Nest, Haskell Aeon, and La Motte Shiraz Viognier, costing R80.
French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, 199 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 422-3839. www.frenchtoastwine.com (website still under construction). Twitter @FrenchToastWine. Monday – Saturday 12h00 – 23h00. No BYO allowed, the winelist says.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage