I ate at KONG Bar & Grill in De Waterkant last Thursday for the first time, at the invitation of its PR Consultant Marina Nestel, and then watched the World Cup Rugby Semi-Final there on Sunday. Not expecting much from the ‘Grill’ part of the name, I was surprised to meet Chef Coenraad Spauner, who heads up the kitchen and who worked at a Michelin Plate restaurant in France last year. Continue reading →
The Western Cape winners of the 2015 Best Everyday Eateries were announced last night, and many are horrified by most of the ten eateries on the Western Cape list, there being no consistency with previous Best Of restaurant awards!
Eat Out seems to like making changes to its Awards on a regular basis, this year the Best Of awards getting a new umbrella name of Best Continue reading →
Last night (7 September) the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards 2016 were presented for Cape Town, the Winelands, and the Garden Route at The Watershed in the V&A Waterfront, a total of 31 awards presented. Last night (14 September) the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal awards were presented at Katy’s Palace Bar in Johannesburg.
Interesting announcements made during the evening in Cape Town appear to indicate that the Platinum Taste Awards (new name from next year) will take Eat Out head on next year! At the awards event, the name change for next year was announced, as was that the Platinum Taste Awards will introduce seven award categories. It is no longer a criterion for a restaurant to accept Continue reading →
Cape Town has just been ranked third Best Food City in the World by Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards 2014. Taste of Cape Town 2015, running at the Green Point Cricket Club until the end of today, gives locals and visitors a taste of what makes our city so special as a food destination.
Hosted for the eighth year in Cape Town, and run by food editor and stylist Justin Drake, Taste of Cape Town has settled in at the cricket club venue after venue changes in early years. Taste of Cape Town is a festive and fun way to eat and drink one’s way around one venue, showcasing not only restaurants and wine estates in Cape Town, but also those in the Winelands.
I was invited by Errieda du Toit PR to attend the Taste of Cape Town, and was joined by Continue reading →
My friend Whitney and I had not met for dinner for a while, after a very busy summer season, and chose the newish ‘Argentinian’ restaurant Don Armando. It belongs to Il Leone Chef and owner Daniel Toledo, who named the new steak restaurant after his Argentinian father. It opened in December, and is a ‘boutique restaurant’ seating about 50 patrons..
We had never heard of Cobern Street in Green Point, and had to call the restaurant for some landmarks to find it, as a Google Map let us down. It is two buildings up a side road on which Il Leone is on the corner, the building once having been a night club.
We were shown to the small terrace right on top of the two storey building, with
space only for 2 small tables and a six seater, and we enjoyed the privacy and fresh air, despite hearing and smelling the extractor fan throughout the evening, and smelling burning fat at one stage. Lighting is very low key, making it hard to photograph the dishes and interior, Whitney using her Torch App to light up the dishes for me. I went back the following day to photograph the decor, and found the daylight streaming into the rooms very bright.
The deck is clad in wooden slats, so that one cannot see the less glamorous Continue reading →
The 2015 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards have been announced, the Western Cape (39) having a small head start over Gauteng (33) in the number of restaurants on the list of 89 restaurants in total. Five new restaurants have been added to the list: 95 Keerom, Delaire Graff Restaurant, Kitima, and Makaron at Majeka House, all in the Western Cape, as well as The Leopard in Johannesburg.
Restaurants that were eligible to receive an American Express Platinum Fine Dining Award have to accept the credit card as payment, and have to accept a booking for four by a Platinum Card holder within four days of booking. Excellence, creativity, and offering guests an exquisite culinary experience are evaluated.
New head of the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards is Tamsin Snyman, who also is the Africa and Indian Ocean Islands chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. She has taken over the Awards management from Victor Strugo, who had been involved for the past 16 years.
Nedbank Head of Corporate Card Services Pamela White said about the awards: ‘The awards continue to reflect the country’s rising culinary spirit and serve as a catalyst in championing the enhancement of the fine dining industry and experience in South Africa. As the exclusive issuer of American Express in South Africa, we are honoured to be associated with this initiative as it not only celebrates South African restaurateurs but also promotes fine dining’.
Last year the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards list had 95 restaurants, the Western Cape list having reduced by four restaurants on the list, despite having added four new restaurants, therefore a total loss of eight restaurants. Western Cape restaurants no longer on the list this year are La Colombe (probably due to the long period of closure and its new premises not yet operating), Zachary’s, Bukhara, Bombay Brasserie at The Taj, Savoy Cabbage, Kurland Hotel Restaurant, Constantia Uitsig (closed down), and Serendipity’s. The reason for the restaurants dropping off the list may be the tough economic climate, some of the restaurants purposely no longer accepting Amex credit cards due to their high merchant commission rate, or they have been judged to no longer meet the standards. Missing from the Western Cape list altogether but being in a Top 20 Restaurant league are The Test Kitchen, Pot Luck Club, The Kitchen at Maison, Equus, Camphors at Vergelegen, Mondiall, Tokara, Burrata, Springfontein Eats, Indochine, The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, and Jardine at Jordan.
The 2015 Award winners are: Continue reading →
Once again the Western Cape has shown that it is the country’s culinary champion in its performance in and dominance of the 2014 American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Awards, which were awarded in Johannesburg last week, and in Cape Town on Monday evening. Of 95 award winning restaurants in the 16th year of review, 43 are from the Western Cape, 35 from Gauteng, 9 from KwaZulu Natal, and another eight from other provinces.
Evaluated by a judging panel consisting of Anna Trapido (previous Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge) and Victor Strugo, under the chairmanship of Tamsin Snyman, the Award-winning restaurants had to meet the criteria of offering ‘culinary excellence to discerning diners’. Eligibility for Continue reading →
As a member of Slow Food Mother City I received an invitation to attend the Green Renaissance workshop on ‘Be Inspired… to forage in your city’ last Thursday in an unusual venue: Heaven Coffee Shop inside the Central Methodist Mission on Greenmarket Square. It was a most inspiring workshop, and impressed in that other than paying for the hot chocolate, marshmallows and other snacks as well as the talks by the four speakers were all free of charge. It was hosted by Green Renaissance to encourage Capetonians to forage foods on their doorstep, having noticed that foreigners are much more likely to forage in our city.
One would have wished every restaurant chef in the city to have been present, and Chef PJ Vadas of Camphors at Vergelegen expressed regret on Twitter that he had not known about it.
Green Renaissance is a ‘little production company that wants to be inspired by nature’ , its co-owner Michael Raimondo said when he introduced the ‘Be Inspired’ workshop series, its second in two months, and wanting its attendees to leave the workshops inspired to implement what they have learnt, in connecting with nature. A lot of material was covered, and many botanical names were used, without notes provided, so its was speed writing to take notes. In between each speaker’s talk, Green Renaissance played a short video it had produced to tie in with a theme, e.g. mussel hunting and cooking, waterblommetjie collecting and stew preparation, mushroom collecting and cooking, the preparation of nettle soup (which is rich in proteins, calcium, and iron, and helps to detoxify the body), and chestnut gathering and preparation. Each one of the videos was short and to the point, using titles only, beautifully shot, each ending with the pay-off line ‘Go Gather’!
(Bruno) Julian Mori, a winemaker, told us that there are so many edible species of sea food on our 2500 km coastline but that little use is made of it. He warned that one should be careful, never turning one’s back to the sea, one should identify what one eats, and one should be careful about red tide, the mussel growers in Saldanha being the most qualified to provide information on this toxic effect on sealife, which is only safe to eat three weeks or longer after the end of red tide. Any seafood with a smell should be left in the sea, one should not take risks, and one should harvest at low tide, below the water mark. All food removed from the sea requires a ‘bait’ licence, bought at a Post Office. He raved about sea lettuce, periwinkle, whelks, ‘alikreukel’, limpets, brown, white and black mussels, sea urchins (which are high in zinc), and clams. He said that Cape Point and the West Coast are the best places to forage sea food. Contact: email@example.com
Loubie Rusch (right) was a passionate (and fast) speaker, referring to a host of bushes and trees in Cape Town (focusing on the Claremont, Newlands, and Kenilworth area where she appears to live), showing photographs of Wild Plum, Water Berry, Num Num (Natal Plum), and Eugenia, all of which she uses to make jellies and cordials under the KOS brand. She also gathers ‘spekboom‘ for salads, ‘surings’ for stews (have a fresh sourness), ‘veldkool’ (for soup and stews), wild rosemary, wild sage, ‘suurvye‘, wild fig, geranium flowers, nasturtium (‘kappertjie’) leaves and flowers, nettles, dandelions, many of these ingredients going into pestos or salads. Making KOS, cell 082 314 7200.
Gary Goldman is known as ‘The Mushroom Hunter’, who has been foraging for eight years, supplying Italian restaurants (Il Leone, Constantia Uitsig) in the main. When he sees chestnuts fall, he knows it is time to forage mushrooms, to be found in a 50km radius around Cape Town. He spoke about poisonous mushrooms, saying that those with a sponge (porcini in the main) are safe while those with gills are poisonous. He explained that one should twist the mushroom out of the ground, and push back the soil to close the hole, to allow new mushrooms to grow. One should not cut the stem with a knife. Gary was not very complimentary about South African mushroom guides, saying that the original ones with drawings were more reliable than the later ones with photographs. Porcinis can only be found under oak trees, and sometimes under chestnuts, conifers, and beech trees. Not all species of oak trees look like oak trees, but they all have acorns, which helps one to identify mushroom growing areas. He advised that one can air-dry mushrooms, and then place them in the deep freeze, where they can be kept for up to 30 years, maintaining their flavour. One can keep mushrooms in a brown box in the fridge at 4°C for a few days, but one must not remove the soil until one uses them. Truffles are problematic, in that it takes 40 years to grow the oak trees that are inoculated with truffle seeds. Our soil also does not freeze over in winter, which truffles need. He added that plants surrounding truffles die off. Contact Gary: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bridget Kitley specialises in medicinal herbs, having a nursery outside Stellenbosch from which one can buy a number of plants (she spoke quickly and mentioned mostly botanical names), including sage (which stimulates memory and therefore is good for Alzheimer patients, is used for hot flushes, can whiten one’s teeth, is good for hormonal problems, and heals sore throats). Wilde Els is also used for Alzheimer patients, and can be drunk like a buchu tea, helping to reduce temperatures, and to treat coughs and flu. Wormwood is good for stomach pain, and helps prevent or heal malaria. Comfrey heals cuts, chilblains, arthritis, bruises, and prevents migraines. Pennywort helps with ADD, lack of concentration, and stimulates the growth of collagen of the skin. Potager Gardens, Cell 079 499 2209. www.herb-nursery.co.za
Slow Food Mother City has circulated details of two forthcoming foraging events:
* Olive picking at Francolin Farm, Alphen Drive, Constantia, tomorrow at 14h30. Cost is R13 per kg. Book: email@example.com
* Delheim Wild Mushroom Forage on 17 and 18 June at 10h30, at R250 per person inclusive of lunch, led by Gary Goldman. Book: firstname.lastname@example.org
The speakers at the Green Renaissance workshop enthused the audience to do their own foraging of free and healthy foods, which are abundantly available in Cape Town and the Winelands!
Green Renaissance, 73 Rose Street, Cape Town. Cell 082 290 0197. www.greenrenaissance.co.za Twitter: @GreenRenaissanc
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The Awards recognise ‘quality and creativity of cuisine, service, wine list, décor, and ambiance as well as overall excellence’, reports Food24. Acceptance of American Express credit cards is a requirement. Judges were Victor Strugo and Anna Trapido from Johannesburg, and Tamsin Snyman from Cape Town, a similar team judging the South African entries for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Twelve first-time winners of an American Express Platinum Fine Dining award include Azure at the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Bombay Brasserie in the Taj hotel in Cape Town; The Kurland Hotel Restaurant in Plettenberg Bay; DW11-13 in Johannesburg; and Ninth Avenue Bistro in Durban.
Western Cape winners of American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards are the following: Aubergine, Azure, Bistro Sixteen82, Bombay Brasserie, Buitenverwachting, Bukhara in Burg Street, Catharina’s at Steenberg, Constantia Uitsig, The Foodbarn, Gold, The Greenhouse, Haiku, Il Leone, La Colombe, Nobu, Planet Restaurant, The Roundhouse, Savoy Cabbage, 96 Winery Road, Boschendal, Bosman’s, Bread & Wine, Fraai Uitzicht 1798, Grande Provence (photograph), Jardine at Jordan, Mimosa Lodge, Overture, The Pavilion at The Marine hotel, Pierneef à La Motte, Reuben’s in Franschhoek, Seafood at the Marine hotel, The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, La Locanda in George, Kurland Hotel Restaurant, Sand at The Plettenberg hotel, Zinzi at Tsala in Plettenberg Bay, Serendipity in Wilderness, Trans Karoo in Great Brak, Pembreys, Zacharays at Pezula, and Kalinka Karoo Cuisine.
Obvious exclusions from the list, probably due to not accepting Amex credit cards, are The Test Kitchen, Tokara, Delaire Graff, Terroir, Babylonstoren, Waterkloof, Makaron Restaurant, and Rust en Vrede.
The list is an interesting mix of top restaurants in the running for Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards, some one wonders about having made the list, and some one has never heard of before.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio : www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The number of 2012 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants has dropped for the first time in its 14 year history, down from 88 restaurants in 2011 to 78 this year, with twelve of last year’s winners having closed their doors, reports Chef!. This demonstrates the severity of the hospitality crisis.
The dominance of the Western Cape, with 33 of the 78 awards, highlights that the province is the cuisine capital of South Africa. New award entrants are also largely from the Cape, being Nobu, Bistro Sixteen82, Planet Restaurant, Reuben’s at the One&Only, and Pierneef à La Motte, out of eight new entrants. Three re-admissions are The Restaurant at Grande Provence (photograph), Bosman’s at the Grande Roche Hotel, and Saagries in Johannesburg.
Chefs said that the recognition is welcome, in being a member of the fine dining programme, given the difficult time of the year, after a very long and bleak winter. The major criterion for consideration by the Programme organiser Tamsin Snyman, in partnership with restaurant critic Victor Strugo, is accepting payment by American Express, which may have disqualified many other top restaurants (such as Dash, The Test Kitchen, Casparus, Johan’s @ Longridge, Terroir, Waterkloof, Indochine, Tokara, and Delaire Graff) from being eligible for evaluation. The judges evaluated the quality and creativity of the cuisine, the service, the wine list, decor and ambiance, the overall excellence, and acceptance of a booking for a table of four on the same day.
Eight of last year’s Programme restaurants did not make the 2012 list, including Rust en Vrede (probably due to the departure of Chef David Higgs), Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant (probably due to the recent change in chef), Emily’s, Myoga, Bizerca and Belthazar. Snyman said that ‘there is an increasing mediocrity on the South African fine dining restaurant scene’, reports Chef! The restaurants that have closed their doors in the past year include Auberge Michel, Linger Longer, Jardine, and Hunter’s Country Restaurant.
The 2102 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants are as follows, according to Business Day:
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage