On many visits to my son since he started working at Chewton Glen Hotel five years ago, we have driven through Lyndhurst, a town characterized by its Tudor style architecture and always busy High Street, dominated (modernly) by a Maserati dealership! I paid it a visit during my stay, on a lovely sunny 21C day. The town is associated with Alice Liddell, the person who inspired the main character with the same name in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll. Continue reading →
Cape Town has just upped its food game, with the opening of the new artisinal Unframed Ice Cream Parlour on Kloof Street. The taste of the twelve flavours is sensational, and the unique flavour range is impressive!
Commenting on the recall, Health24 said that the retailer is not revealing the number of products recalled, and in which areas they Continue reading →
When Cape Town was voted as the top city in the world in the Travelers’ Choice Destination Awards by TripAdvisor in April, we wrote about our scepticism about the value of the awards, given that this prestigious rank on TripAdvisor, with millions of reviewers the site brags, has not led to any increase in accommodation enquiries.
We also wrote about the laughability of any TripAdvisor accolade, knowing how easy it is for accommodation establishments and restaurants to have reviews written by friends and family, a growing criticism that TripAdvisor has tried to address. The height of absurdity was TripAdvisor’s list of Top 10 restaurants in Cape Town. My eye caught the name of Caffé Hausbrandt, a restaurant which I had never heard of before, which was number 3 on the TripAdvisor list at that time, and which has now dropped to 4th position, in the Top 10 company of Le Colombe, Opal Lounge, Miller’s Thumb, San Marco in the Waterfront, Constantia Uitsig, Fork, Brio, Savoy Cabbage, and Carne, none of which have ever made the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list, other than La Colombe!
A recent trip to the city centre was a good opportunity to try out this ‘top restaurant’, and I found Caffé Hausbrandt on Greenmarket Square, which opened nine months ago in a space where a competitive coffee shop to Vida e Caffé, owned by Ian Halfon, used to be. My first impression was one of disbelief, in seeing an information bureau and ice cream/coffee shop rolled into one. The entrance is dominated visually by the ‘Safari Information Centre’, which belongs to Searl Derman, the owner of Aquilla Game Reserve, sharing the space with Caffe Hausbrandt, but the latter’s branding is barely visible. The interior looks reasonably smart, but an ice cream chest, a coffee making counter and cash register, a shelf of brochures for Safari, and an upstairs seating area are an odd mix. Space is very limited inside, and that is why most customers would sit outside to enjoy the sun and the Greenmarket Square buzz. It is not without its irritation however, with street musicians and pushy salespersons trying to flog their CD’s and other wares.
The Manager of the outlet is Margot, and I could hear her German accent immediately. She seemed very defensive, almost irritated, and less than friendly. Her waiter seemed to have a greater role in attracting tourists into the shop than waitering, proactively enticing them in to try the ice cream, irritating as he was very loud and pushy. He also was the ice cream dispenser with an attitude, and it was clear that he did not have much knowledge about the ingredients of the ice cream, only reading the labels that the customer can also see! Margot proudly told me that she had made the Apfelstrudel herself. When I switched to German, she seemed more friendly, and more ready to answer questions. Odd was that the cake was served with a standard size knife and fork.
Tables are white with red chairs outside, and an all-weather couch as well. Each table has a simple Hausbrandt menu and an Aquilla brochure in a holder. This is clearly a coffee shop aimed at attracting tourists, with the hope that they will make use of the Safari information and booking service too. The South African Caffe Hausbrandt branches are on Greenmarket Square, on the pedestrian mall on Waterkant Street, and in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, and are owned by Austrian Gert Uppinger and local Jaco Viljoen.
The menu is simple – a selection of coffees, muffins (R14,50), croissants (R11,50), chocolate croissants (R14,50), Manner Schnitten (Austrian wafers at R15), waffle and ice cream (R28), and a few cakes served with cream (R25). Cappuccino costs R16,50, and was served on a smart silver tray, oddly with a small glass of luke-warm water. The ice creams take center stage, it appears, and seem to be the only reason why customers enter the shop, the Icezeit Gelato flavours changing weekly. A small cup of ice cream costs R15, and R18 on a cone. It was delicious, very thick and creamy, and is made at the Waterkant Street location, I was told, surprising given how small it is, really just being a take-away outlet with a few chairs outside, and even smaller than the Greenmarket Square branch.
Hausbrandt is an Italian brand of coffee established by Austrian Hermann Hausbrandt in Trieste in 1892 it would appear (the website is not very helpful in providing information), and has branches and sells its coffees around the world. In Cape Town Lufthansa’s call centre now has a Hausbrandt vending machine, and the brand is served at Raith Gourmet shop in Garden Centre (plus its new Constantia shop), and at Andiamo in the Cape Quarter. On TripAdvisor, 14 reviews had earned the Greenmarket Square coffee shop 4th place on TripAdvisor, many reviews being in German, and almost all praised Caffé Hausbrandt for its excellent ice cream! Most of the reviewers were from overseas, and not locals.
Caffé Hausbrandt, Greenmarket Square and 32 Waterkant Street, Cape Town, and Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. Tel (021) 422-3308/(021) 421-0901. www.hausbrandt.co.za. Twitter: @Hausbrandt1892. There is no information about the Icezeit Gelato on the local Hausbrandt website.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Yesterday Warwick wine estate launched its new Summer picnics, with a number of changes relative to last year. Earlier this week I was invited to a sneak preview of the changes, and was one of a panel of volunteer blogger tasters (with Nikki Dumas, Lesley Cox, Anel Grobler, Polly Howard, Cathy Marston, Maggie Mostert and Hennie Coetzee) to give feedback about the new picnic. I was critical of the picnic on a first visit last year, and was happy to see a number of improvements on my latest visit.
So what has changed?:
1. There is a new chef in the house! Mark Springhorn has left Vergelegen in Somerset West, to join Mike Ratcliffe and the Warwick team. Given that Chef Bruce Robertson, who designed the original gourmet picnic for Warwick, is on tour so frequently, he no longer is the consultant chef. Chef Mark has built on Bruce’s quirkiness, and added more of a “Spring-feeling” to the picnic.
The quirky picnic “basket”, consisting of a cutting board, a table cloth, a box with the food items, a baguette and the Warwick newspaper, cleverly held together with a handle so that one can carry everything, remains as is. The packaging containing the food is recyclable. The bread is certainly better than I remember it, and comes from Sweet in Stellenbosch. Inside the box is the following:
* Duo of cheeses: Simonsberg camembert and 12 month matured cheddar
* Chickpea fritters served with home-made tzatziki – this was the only dish that did not excite me
* Home-made rooibos and oak smoked Chilean salmon served with a buttermilk-dill dressing – oh boy, I have never seen such good looking deep-orange salmon cubes (looking like pumpkin), and with the most wonderful smoked taste – the absolute highlight of the picnic.
* Biltong, mushroom and brandy pate – more brandy and mushroom can now be tasted in this foundation element of the picnic
* Homemade apple, pear and pecan chutney
* Tricolour tower of basil pesto, sun dried tomato puree and hummus
* Honey cashew chicken salad with herb mayonnaise and orange slices – the oranges were a nice colour and taste touch
* Decadent chocolate brownies topped with white chocolate ganache and onto which was sprinkled cranberries and pistachios, incredibly rich, and looking like an early mini-Christmas cake.
* A box of Maynards wine gums.
The tasting panel ummmed and ahhhhed, enjoying all the elements. Chef Mark plans to change an item on the picnic menu every week, testing the customer response and reacting to it as the season goes along. When one books, special dietary requests will be ascertained. Vegetarian and kiddies picnic baskets are available too.
2. The price has stayed the same, costing R 299 for a basket enough for 2 persons. (One can order an extra baguette)
3. To address the congestion in collecting the picnic baskets inside the wine tasting building, a new outdoor picnic collection area has been created, which will also be where Jack Black beer can be bought on tap.
4. To address the issue of staff not checking on guests’ drinks’ requirements well enough in the past, a trolley with “flat tackies” and a bell will be wheeled around the vast Warwick picnic area, containing ice cream, Jack Black beer and Warwick wines.
5. “Picnic pods” have been built around the dam, shielded from the South Easter, with tables that have built-in ice buckets to keep the Warwick wines chilled. They differ in size, and can be booked to accommodate groups of picnickers.
6. The Warwick vineyards are hidden from the picnic area, but can be seen on a Big Five Safari (showing the five vine types grown on the wine estate). Grapes have now been planted close to the picnic area, and also at the entrance to Warwick.
7. A suggestion for Warwick to have a presence on Twitter, in addition to that of Mike Ratcliffe, was implemented the following day (@Warwickchef), demonstrating how responsive Mike and his team are in accepting feedback.
A picnic at Warwick on a gorgeous Winelands summer’s day is an enjoyable family outing, with good food and wine, and lots of safe space for the kids to play on the jungle gym, in the little shallow stream, and to just run around.
POSTSCRIPT 20/5: For winter Warwick has introduced a good value Tapas menu, and I popped in for lunch to try it on my way to Franschhoek today. There was very little happening there, and therefore it was a surprise to not see anyone in the Tasting Room nor in the next door restaurant/shop/picnic counter. I called, but no one responded. Luckily the waitress Vanessa came back inside, and showed me to a table outside – it was such a lovely warm day. A material serviette and excellent quality St James cutlery is brought to the table, and the lack of a tablecloth is a disappointment therefore. She brought a blackboard with the Tapas menu to my table, and the handwriting on it did not reflect the stature of this wine estate. Chef Mark Springhorn was on leave and owner Mike Ratcliffe is travelling overseas, so it was disappointing for me. I chose the Mixed cold plate (R35), which was only ‘mixed’ because it contained two slices each of cold meat (coppa and salami), two blocks of cheese and a sundried tomato relish. It was served with a basket of ciabatta bread, which was wonderful. Other Tapas options are: cheese soufflé, smoked camembert and chef’s soup, each costing R25; sole paupiettes, and chef’s salad, all costing R35; Venison samoosas and denningvleis each cost R 45. Sweet treats cost R25, for Persian love cake, and Brownies. Children are also catered for, with salami pizza, a cupcake that the children can make themselves, and ice cream, at R25 each. I enjoyed the LavAzza cappuccino. One can still enjoy picnics at Warwick, but must pre-book them in winter.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com. Twitter: @WhaleCottage
A guest appearance by Gordon Ramsay, the owner of maze restaurants in Cape Town, London, New York, in Tuscany and Sardinia, Melbourne and Los Angeles, amongst others, will be the highlight of the Good Food and Wine Show, taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 13 – 16 May.
Ramsay will cook up a storm in the Chefs in Action Theatre at the show, and will host book signings of his cookery books. He is part of a team of BBC Lifestyle celebrity chefs, including master patissier Eric Lanard, star of Glamour Puds; Anjum Anand of Indian Food Made Easy; Michelin-star chef Giorgio Locatelli from ‘Tony and Giorgio’; chocolate wizard Willie Harcourt-Cooze, star of Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory; and Patrick Williams, specialising in Caribbean-style food. Local chefs George Jardine of Jardine at Jordon, Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris and Luke Dale-Roberts of La Colombe will also offer workshops. Only ten persons can attend a celebrity chef session, to make it completely hands-on.
The Good Food and Wine Show will also have a Celebrity Chef’s Restaurant, offering a menu designed by the BBC Lifestyle celebrity chefs doing the cooking demonstrations. Other interesting attractions are a Grolsch Beer and Food Theatre, in which food and beer pairing will be demonstrated; an interactive cocktail arena, using Roses and Monis products; children’s cooking classes; bargain priced wines; the Alchemy of Gold Brandy Theatre will demonstrate brandy cocktails and educate visitors about food and brandy pairing; the Stellenbosch Slow Food Market members will sell their best fresh produce; vanilla ice cream will be presented in 101 ways by BBC Lifestyle chef Eric Lanlard; and cookbooks can be bought and signed by the chefs present.
Close to 55 000 visitors are expected at the Good Food and Wine Show, and therefore the Celebrity Chef demo’s must be booked in advance.
It costs R 80 to enter the Show, R 350 to attend the “Get Fresh with BBC Lifestyle Hands-on workshops”, and R 300 to attend a demo in the Gordon Ramsay Chefs in Action Theatre. The Gordon Ramsay VIP Experience costs R 750. A special dinner hosted and cooked by Gordon Ramsay will be held at maze at the One&Only Cape Town on 15 May and costs R 1 500, but is sold out already. More details about the Good Food and Wine Show are available at www.gourmetsa.com
POSTSCRIPT: This post was written ahead of Gordon Ramsay’s arrival in South Africa. While his presentations at the Convention Centre were reasonably well received (other than an issue with book-signing), his 2-minute appearance at the charity R 1500 a head dinners on Friday and Saturday evening, without honouring a promise to meet diners and to allow a Q & A session, whilst he was already galavanting at the Tiger Tiger club in Claremont, was highly criticised – read here.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
Well-known Franschhoek tapas restaurant Bouillabaisse is to open a sister restaurant in the new Epicurean Food Emporium in Cape Town next month. Chef and owner Camil Haas previously owned Klein Oliphantshoek, the guest house at which he and his wife Ingrid prepared award-winning tasting menu meals for their guests.
Not only will a new Bouillabaisse open in Cape Town, but a new restaurant Crepe Suzette will also be opened by the Haas duo.
The Epicurean Food Emporium has been designed by Conrad Gallagher Consulting, and will open in The Rockwell, an apartment building in De Waterkant. It will be set up as a neighbourhood food market, with 15 food and beverage stores selling freshly baked bread, homemade jam, chutney, pesto, olive oil, wine, gourmet sandwiches, chocolates, ice cream, confectionery and cheeses. It is to become a one-stop market synonomous with fine food, outstanding service, quality and food trends, reports Supermarket & Retailer. Further restaurants, in addition to Bouillabaisse and Crepe Suzette, are set to open.
Other restaurant news is that onewaterfront, the restaurant in the Cape Grace Hotel in the Waterfront, which became famous when Bruce Robertson was the chef, is changing its name to Signal, reports eatout, in honour of Cape Town’s traditional noon day gun on Signal Hill. The restaurant will serve Cape food, reflecting the French Huguenot, British, Dutch and Asian heritage of the Cape.
Bruce Robertson, now the owner of award-winning and Top 10 restaurant The Showroom, is opening another restaurant, located in the Grand Daddy Hotel, previously The Metropole Hotel, in Long Street, called theshowroomcafe, reports eatout. The menu will be casual, local and “unfussy”, and the chef is Simone Rossouw.
Richard Carstens, top 10 restauranteur when he was at Lynton Hall in KwaZulu-Natal and Bijoux in Franschhoek, is not moving to Franschhoek, as speculated, but is relaunching Relish in New Church Street, and is now called Nova, reports eatout. A tasting menu (at R 325 per person) and an a la carte menu will be offered.