In my passion of writing about food and restaurants in the main, I am very lucky and often spoilt. Yesterday I attended a historic event for the food and restaurant industry, the launch of the new Ruby RB1 chocolate by Callebaut, an iconic new pink chocolate, the first new chocolate launch in 80 years since the introduction of dark, milk, and white chocolates. It was developed over a period of ten years by Callebaut with a University in Germany. Continue reading →
* KWV has launched its first ever ‘Finish Great‘ consumer advertising campaign, reflecting the wine and spirits company’s proud heritage and product innovation it has embodied since 1918. The campaign has been launched with the flighting of its first-ever TV commercial, representing both its range of wines and its brandies. Ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi Brandrock motivated its campaign as follows: ‘This is a tribute to the great legacy of KWV, but also demonstrates that by standing on the shoulders of giants, we are inspired to aim higher, to reach even greater heights and inevitably ‘Finish Great’. The campaign idea was based on a core insight that through persistence, character is revealed and in everything we do, we strive to finish great. The heart of KWV is Proud Pioneers brought to life through the spirit of: respecting tradition while challenging convention and through persistence character is revealed. We are telling this story through the campaign theme of ‘On the shoulders of giants’’. Giants have stature, they are larger than life and undeniably impressive. We revere them and in South Africa, KWV is a giant, it’s a brand that has a 97 year-old history and credible credentials to support such a bold statement. The story line follows an affirmation to the giants who enable us to Finish Great. We are bringing to life this story with a 360 degree approach, which we will aim to further build on the ‘Giants’ theme through a product-centric print and fully integrated user generated social and digital campaign’. The TV ad will be Continue reading →
Last night I saw the first episode of MasterChef SA Celebrity Chef, being episode 2. I missed out on episode 1 due to loadshedding on Sunday a week ago. It seemed a disorganised mess, the celebrities clearly not being well-endowed with cooking skills, and they came across as being really silly.
Chef Benny Masekwameng introduced the episode with the concept of Ubuntu, to symbolise the spirit of teamwork and togetherness. Celeb Tol A$$ Mo headed up the Red Team, and chose four other team members: TV presenter Lorna Maseko, singer Patricia Lewis, model Lerato Moloi, and comedian Chris Forrest. Actor Terence Bridgett was the leader of the Blue Team, and chose photographer Merwelene van der Merwe, radio presenter Alex Jay, TV presenter Sade Giliberti, and Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to Huguenot Fine Chocolates, the oldest chocolate manufacturer in Franschhoek. They completed wrapping Easter eggs for an order for our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests within half an hour of placing the order, even though we would have been happy to collect them the following day. We were able to choose the colours of the foil wrapping of the eggs too, to match our colour scheme. The chocolate eggs tasted delicious, quite unlike the commercial eggs which were available in retail outlets. Continue reading →
* 70% of the economic activity of the Western Cape is focused in Cape Town, says Wesgro. In the period July – September last year the trade, investment, and tourism promotion agency attracted R219 million in investments to the province, which led to the creation of 2000 jobs.
* ‘Long lazy lunches, huge servings of artisan chocolate and wine, lavish estates and emerging wealth are what this booming area is all about‘ is how journalist Rachel Olding from the Sydney Morning Herald Traveller describes the Cape. She visited Thelema, Delaire Graff, Plaisir de Merle, Huguenot Fine Chocolates, The Tasting Room, Vergelegen, the Constantia Wine Route, Solms-Delta, and La Residence as a guest of SA Tourism.
One of Franschhoek’s most popular annual events is the Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, which will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday. Close to 50 top Champagnes and MCCs (Méthode Cap Classique) will be available to taste, as is food supplied by Franschhoek restaurants.
The theme is ‘Black and White‘, with an emphasis on spots and stripes, and bubbly fans will be enjoying ‘The Magic of Bubbles‘ on what is forecast to be a perfect weather weekend. Not only will MCCs from Franschhoek be on show, but top sparkling wines from other regions and Champagnes will be too.
Veuve Clicquot winemaker Pierre Casenave will be at the brand’s stand between 12h00 – 13h00 on both days. Other Champagne brands available for tasting are Billecart- Salmon, Champagne Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon, Piper Heidsieck, Thierry Lesne, and Tribaut.
The 40 well-known MCC producers pouring their bubblies are Pierre Jourdan, Continue reading →
One can commend Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism for constantly finding new ways to attract visitors to its gourmet food and wine village. Now it has launched the Franschhoek Artisan Food Route, attracting attention to the diversity of 21 hand-made high quality small quantity food producers in the valley, with more to be added.
The little A5 Franschhoek Wine Valley leaflet about the Franschhoek Artisan Food Route does not do justice to the quality of the food artisans on the Route, and one wonders why they skimped to keep the map so small, when the Wine and Restaurant map is A3 in size! The result is that the detail provided is minimal, just three lines per food artisan, with the exception of La Motte’s entry. The Franschhoek Artisan Food Route will be launched to the media later this week. Many of the food artisans on the Route have operated in the valley for years. Not all the listed artisanal outlets seem true to the definition provided in the Route map: ‘Artisan producers understand and respect the raw materials with which they work. They know where these materials come from and what is particularly good about them’! A number of artisanal producers have been left off the list, Continue reading →
The Cap Classique and Champagne Festival is one of the highlights of the Franschhoek calendar, and its contribution to tourism is in the league of the Bastille Festival and Franschhoek Literary Festival. In the next two days 51 Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) and Champagne producers will be offering their bubblies for tasting, at marquees alongside the Huguenot Monument. Thirteen MCC producers are from Franschhoek. The dress theme is ‘Black and White’ with an emphasis on ‘Birds and Bows’, and the Festival is open from 12h00 – 17h00. Entrance costs R200.
The bubbly producers are as follows: Colmant, Graham Beck Wines, Krone, La Motte, Morena, Môreson, Pierre Jourdan, Simonsig, Steenberg, Allée Bleue, Avondale, Bon Courage, Boschendal, Bramon, Cederberg, Chabvin, De Wetshof, Dieu Donné, Domaine des Deux, Francois La Garde, Villiera, Genevieve, GM & Ahrens, Guinevere, Groote Post, JC le Roux, Kumkani, Laborie, L’Omarins Anthonij Rupert, My Wyn, Plaisir de Merle, Pongracz, Quion Rock, Rickety Bridge, Ross Gower, Saltare, Saronsberg, Silverthorn, Sterhuis, Stony Brook, Tanzanite, Villiera, Weltevrede, Wonderfontein Paul René, Woolworths, Billecart Salmon, Tribaut, Guy Charbaut, Claude Beaufort, Follet-Ramillon, Therry Lesne, and Veuve Clicquot.
Food and other beverages will be offered for sale by Franschhoek restaurants, including Café Bon Bon, Deluxe Coffeeworks, Chamonix, Haute Cabrière is offering salads, Huguenot Fine Chocolates, Jessie’s Ice Cream, Le Franschhoek Hotel is offering pork pies and macaroons, Le Quartier Français, Bread & Wine, Mont Rochelle, Roca Restaurant, Salmon Bar, with Wild Peacock selling oysters.
POSTSCRIPT 2/12: The Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival has just endeded, a highly successful event. The best dressed stand, in our opinion, was Morena from Franschhoek, always looking classy. Graham Beck was the best branded stand.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
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
Cape Town received wonderful coverage in a three-part article in the UK The Guardian on Saturday, praising in particular the beauty of the city, and the gourmet and wine wealth of the near-by towns in the Winelands, which should be good for attracting visitors from the UK to our city, given the weaker Rand.
The writer of the trio of articles is Gloria Hunniford, a highly regarded mature Northern Ireland radio and TV presenter, writer (including ‘Gloria Hunniford’s Family Cookbook’,) a travel writer for The Guardian and The Telegraph, and presenter of travel guides for National Geographic. In the fineprint it is clear that the articles were sponsored by SA Tourism.
Gloria reports about her first ever visit to Cape Town, a city that she says she has never heard a bad word spoken about, and about which she had heard ‘glorious stories about the weather, the food, the wine, the people and, of course, Table Mountain’. Worried that her high expectations could be disappointed, she writes that ‘it is more beautiful, more dramatic, and more extraordinary than anything I had imagined’. She writes that she was at a loss of words on top of Table Mountain, and fell in love with a dassie.
During her visit to the Cape, Gloria saw the Twelve Apostles, Cape Point, Lion’s Head, the city centre, the floral diversity of 2000 species on Table Mountain, Chapman’s Peak (exhilaratingly experienced on the back of a Harley Davidson), and stayed at the Camps Bay Retreat. She enjoyed the Camps Bay restaurants and its strip and beach, about which she wrote: “…you would be forgiven for thinking you were on a remote, palm-fringed island, not in South Africa’s second most populous city“! She refers to Cape Town being ranked second in the Lonely Planet’s world 10 best beach cities (after Barcelona and ahead of Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, and Miami), an accolade for Cape Town I had not heard about nor seen publicised by our tourism authorities. She mentions the surfing beaches of False Bay, the ‘remote beaches’ of the South Peninsula, ‘fashionable Clifton’, and the ‘sundowner-haven of Llandudno’. She was taken to Bo-Kaap, to eat Cape Malay food at the home of Zainie. She also ate at the Cape Grace, and was served fresh fish in Camps Bay. She highlights Kirstenbosch as the perfect picnic venue, having recently been named by National Geographic as one of the top 10 places in the world to have a picnic.
In the Winelands, Gloria visited L’Omarins in Franschhoek, enjoying its Cape Dutch architecture, flower paradise, and a wine-tasting. Gloria saw a chocolate-making demonstration at Huguenot Fine Chocolates, raving generally about Franschhoek, with its ‘atmospheric shops and sampling the great food and wine on offer is a must for every visitor’s itinerary‘. She had lunch at Delaire Graff, praising it highly for its setting in the Helshoogte Pass: ‘It’s sheer bliss. To be embraced by the sheer luxury of this elegant, beautiful crafted estate, sipping on fabulous wine and indulging in the tastiest food around, is what dream holidays are made off (sic).” Then she tastes wines at Spier, calling it one of ‘South Africa’s oldest, biggest and most tourist friendly estates’, and its wines as being affordably priced and winning awards. A highlight for Gloria was stroking Hemingway, the cheetah, at Spier. She enjoyed her gourmet picnic at Warwick, writing about it: ‘Our picnic basket is filled to the brim with delicious salads, cold meats, bread, smoked salmon, and sweet treats, a far cry from the picnics I am used to…. It introduced us to more South African culinary treats, from snoek pate to biltong’.
Despite being sponsored articles, it is Gloria’s concluding paragraph that is sure to connect with potential visitors to our city, and her valuable endorsement should be of benefit to tourism to Cape Town and the Winelands: “The last few days have been happy, happy days, thanks in no small part to the people of South Africa who have been so open and friendly and made us feel so welcome. It is the people of a country who can really make an experience memorable. They are so proud of their country and it is this enthusiasm and South Africa’s sheer beauty that I will take away with me”.
POSTSCRIPT 25/10: Today Cape Town and the Winelands received further favourable coverage, this time in the Mail Online, in an interview with Suzi Perry, BBC motor sports correspondent and presenter of the Channel 5 ‘The Gadget Show’. She described her honeymoon in South Africa last year as her ‘most memorable holiday’, having stayed in Camps Bay (staying at Cape View Villa), went on Safari at Richard Branson’s lodge Ulusaba in Sabi Sands, and went winetasting in Franschhoek, staying at Rickety Bridge. She loved going up Table Mountain, recommending abseiling down it, hiked up Lion’s Head at full moon, raved about the vineyard picnics, she saw whales in Hermanus, and ‘baboons on the cape (sic)’.
POSTSCRIPT 27/10: Cape Town has been selected as runner-up as ‘Favorite City World-wide’ in the Telegraph Travel Awards announced yesterday, won by New York, and alongside Venice. La Residence in Franschhoek was a runner-up with Shangri La’s Barr Al Jissah in Oman for ‘Favorite Hotel World-Wide’, a category won by Villa d’Este at Lake Como in Italy.
POSTSCRIPT 27/10: Cape Town is basking in the spotlight, and now the New York Times has written an article “36 hours in Cape Town’, published on-line today, and to appear in print on Sunday. It opens as follows: “Cape Town overwhelms the senses. Its cultivated side, the bright lights and big buildings of the city centre, collides with its geography – the dazzle and danger of the wind-whipped mountains and the two oceans that embrace it.” Writer Elaine Sciolino writes that prices soared in the city during the World Cup, and that the ‘tourist trade since then has disappointed‘, that some businesses have closed down, and some constructions sites stand unfinished. ‘Despite the grinding poverty in the townships on the city’s outskirts, this is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world’, she writes. Sciolino’s 36 hours in Cape Town were action-packed, and included a visit to the District Six Museum, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain (stating that it is to Cape Town what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, defining and dominating the ‘cityscape’), dinner at Marco’s African Place, followed by drinks at Café Caprice and clubbing at St Yves in Camps Bay, which has just re-opened. On Saturday it’s an ostrich burger for brunch at the Biscuit Mill, shopping at Greenmarket Square, and then off to ‘wine sipping’ at Groot Constantia, eating sushi at Sevruga in the V&A Waterfront, and then to Asoka on Kloof Street for cocktails, followed by Fiction DJ Bar and Zula Sound Bar. On Sunday morning it’s a drive to Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope), stopping at Simonstown and Boulders’ Beach on the way, returning via Chapman’s Peak. The article links to a travel guide, with accommodation (Mount Nelson and V&A Hotels strongly recommended) and restaurants (Africa Café recommended of all the 27 restaurants listed, but sadly out of date, with Jardine still listed) recommended.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage