Tag Archives: Jan Laubscher

2015 vintage of 1771 wine bottled by Dorrance Cellar, made from grapes of oldest vine in Southern Hemisphere!

imageI had the pleasure of starting my day today with a glass of Champagne and oysters delivered by neighboring Bizerca Bistro at Dorrance Cellar, to witness the bottling of a historic wine.

I was invited by James Boreland to participate in the bottling by owner Christophe Durand of the 2015 vintage of 1771, a Crouchen Blanc (which used to be referred to as a Cape Riesling) made from grapes Continue reading →

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WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 14 September

imageTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The announcement last week of the discovery of a new hominid species Homo Naledi at The Cradle of Humankind at Maropeng, and its international media coverage by National Geographic in particular, could give Tourism to our country a much-needed boost.

*.  The 31st Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild will be held at Spier on Continue reading →

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WhaleTales Blog: a whale of an apology!

Host Gator logoDear Blog reader

This has been a very bad tech week for our website and Whale Tales Blog.  Following the crash of the website earlier this week, we were able to recover the data with the assistance of our webmaster Jan Laubscher at 406Media, and our American server Host Gator.

Just after I had reposted the 10 days worth of blogposts, which I had received via RSS feed emails, and luckily not deleted (fearing such a day to come, even though it has not previously happened in our 6 years of blogging!), all this work disappeared late yesterday afternoon.  I have not been able to receive feedback from 406Media as to how to secure our blogposts going forward, to prevent this from happening again.  Frustrating is that Host Gator does back ups automatically, but with a 48 hour lag, which means that all the reposting I did on Thursday and yesterday has been lost.

I will slowly repost again, and have added ‘reposted’ in the headlines of the blogposts I am posting again.   I apologise to our RSS Feed subscribers especially for seeing some of these posts for the third time, and beg your indulgence and understanding.

We sincerely hope that this will be the end of our technical hiccups.  Thank you for your loyal support of our Blog.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Tel (021) 433-2100, Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook:  click here

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Pierneef à La Motte ‘Plaisirs de France’ dîner un plaisir!

On the eve of the Plaisirs de France festival, which kicks off in Franschhoek today, Pierneef à La Motte joined forces with the Institut Paul Bocuse, in serving a 6-course dinner conceptualised by its Chef Florent Boivin on Friday.  When I saw the Pierneef à La Motte dinner on the Plaisirs de France programme, it jumped out as the highlight of the month-long French-inspired food and wine festival in Franschhoek, and I booked immediately.  The dinner combined the fresh herbs and vegetables grown on La Motte, South African produce such as springbok, and French gourmet delights such as foie gras, well paired with La Motte wines.

The six-course dinner, costing R690 for the dinner paired with a La Motte wine for each course, was prepared by Chef Florent with Pierneef à La Motte Chef Chris Erasmus. Chef Florent has cooked at a number of Michelin-star restaurants, including Maison Troisgros, Le Jardin des Sens, and Maison Decoret. He has also opened new restaurants at D’Sens in Bangkok, Raffles Hotel Restaurant in Singapore, and Héritage Hotel Restaurant in Mauritius.  Chef Chris has just returned from a three week stage at Noma, the world’s number one restaurant, based in Copenhagen.  Students from The Culinary Academy, located at Backsberg, assisted the La Motte restaurant team for the evening, and were excited by the chance in a lifetime to rub shoulders with a Michelin-star chef.

We received a taste of what was to come when we enjoyed a glass of the La Motte MCC outside under the oak trees, after entering the restaurant area on a VIP red carpet, when Chef Florent sent out sweet potato croquettes containing black truffle and white truffle oil, coated in charcoal crumbs, canapés not tasting of charcoal at all!  I sat with the delightful Jan Laubscher and Anel Grobler of Spit or Swallow, and we had a fun evening, sharing the latest blogger and industry news.  Hein Koegelenberg welcomed the French Consul, and the Institut Paul Bocuse representative Eleanor Visl, and explained that ‘Plaisirs de France’ forms part of ‘Seasons of France’, a co-operation programme between France and South Africa, for the two countries to get to know each other better, which runs in our country until November.  From May – November next year South Africa will receive exposure in France. Hein reminded the guests of the French Huguenot roots of Franschhoek, La Motte itself having been created at the time of arrival of the settlers. He said that the Plaisirs de France festival is well-suited to La Motte, as wine and cuisine are their passion.  Hein intends visiting the Institut Paul Bocuse branch in Shanghai shortly, and wants to bring all twelve the Institut Paul Bocuse branch chefs to Franschhoek. Hein impressed as the perfect host, regularly visiting our table, to check on us and our wellbeing, and requesting feedback.

A bread platter was sent to our table, with a variety of breads, served within an edible bread basket. This was accompanied by a very colourful amuse bouche of smoked salmon trout, which had been lightly steamed with beetroot jelly and sherry vinegar, and was paired with the La Motte Sauvignon Blanc 2012.  The Entrée was an amazing foie gras flan, served with grapefruit segments, a most unusual combination, as well as fava beans, and a duck consommé.  This was the highlight for most diners, especially as the dish looked like a soup, but we were not served a soup spoon.  This course was paired with the La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc 2012, an organic wine.

Our Poisson dish was a Confit of Cob in olive oil, with which a baby vegetable skewer was served.  This dish was my favourite, for its outstanding saffron and Sauvignon Blanc nage (an aromatic broth in which crustaceans are cooked). This dish was paired with La Motte Chardonnay Single Vineyard 2010.  Canon of Springbok was served for our Viande (meat) dish, Springbok fillet being wrapped in caul fat (thin membrane of fat from the intestines of a pig, cow or sheep). It was served with celeriac ravioli, a strong-tasting Wasabi-like square of spinach and mustard butter, and an unusually textured quenelle of carrot, which is described as a dumpling usually made from meat, and the word originates from the German ‘Knödel’, but tasted from its texture as if it contained couscous.  It was paired with La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

In French style, we had a Fromage course before dessert, and they were three French cheeses: Brie de Meaux, a goat’s milk cheese Buchette de Sainte-Maure; and a sheep’s milk Ossav Iraty, which were served with a more-ish strawberry and tomato jam.  The wine pairing was La Motte Shiraz 2009. This was followed by the Dessert of delicate and fresh petit pineapple and mint canneloni served with strawberries, and paired with La Motte Noble Late Harvest 1989.  Coffee was served with a macaroon.

A lovely evening came to an end far too quickly. Sous Chef Michelle Theron told me that it had been a most exciting experience, working with Chef Florent, who was most generous in sharing his knowledge, calling the Pierneef à La Motte kitchen team together whenever he did something, true to his role as lecturer at the Institut Paul Bocuse.  It was noticeable that Chef Florent’s cuisine creativity lay less in the plating (no flowers as is vogue at the moment) and more in the complex dishes he created, yet which (deceivingly) came across as simplicity!  His food is light, focused on a combination of flavours. Two dishes had sauces poured by a chef at the table, something one no longer sees locally. Chef Florent will be involved at some of the other Plaisirs de France events, but this is not specified on the Franschhoek Wine Valley website.  It was lovely getting to know La Motte Marketing Manager Wanda Vlok-Keuler better, who had very generously comped the dinner I had booked for, when I asked for the bill.

Pierneef à La Motte, La Motte, R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8000.  www.la-motte.com Twitter: @PierneefLaMotte

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:   www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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First Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club “pairing” a ‘wine-derful’ success

The first Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting, held at the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in Cape Town yesterday evening, was sold out, and a great success, judging by the positive feedback received from the aspirant as well as regular food and wine bloggers that attended.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club “pairs” a wine blogger and a food blogger per Club meeting, which are held monthly, and each speaker outlines his/her blog and provides blogging tips and guidelines. The Wine Blogger brings some wine for the bloggers to taste, while Chef Liam Tomlin prepares snacks to showcase his Cookery School, and reputation as a star chef in Sydney, prior to coming to Cape Town and setting up his Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School.  Liam prepared Tartar of Tuna with avocado and ponzu sauce, as well as Potato Raclette and pickled vegetables.

Anel Grobler from SpitorSwallow Blog was the first speaker, and impressed with her statistics relating to trends about blogging.  She quoted a recent survey in PR Week, which found that 20 % of bloggers do so to earn money out of it, and that 52 % of bloggers see themselves as “journalists” (surprisingly the Public Relations industry has not yet discovered the power of bloggers in promoting their clients’ brands!).   Anel and her partner Jan Laubscher are on Twitter continuously, saying it is an “easy way to get the word out”.  On Twitter @SpitorSwallow has 3900 followers and on Facebook they have 1 900 fans, a phenomenal achievement.   She indicated that from a total of 6 South African wine estates being on Twitter in 2009, there are now 209!   Anel has played an important role in encouraging wine estates to embrace social media marketing.    She indicated that they see immediate click through once they put a Tweet on Twitter.   She recommended that new bloggers focus on a niche.   A provocative name like SpitorSwallow attracts interest, and through word-of-mouth their Facebook and Twitter pages have received a huge following.   Almost 700 “wineflies” have evaluated the close to 600 wine estates they have listed.  Anel recommended that companies blog and twitter themselves, and not leave this to a PR company, as the client is passionate about his/her brand.   With a blog it is important that the bounce rate be low (i.e. readers leaving the page).  The length of time spent on a page is also important, to ensure that readers read what one has written for as long as possible.  A quick survey around the room indicated that WordPress is the most popular blog template used.

Michael Olivier is an icon in both food and wine circles, and many of the Bloggers’ Club attendees came to meet him, having his recipe or wine books (‘Michael Olivier – a Restaurateur Remembers’, ‘Crush! 100 Wines to drink now’ , and ‘The People’s Guide – navigate the winelands in a shopping trolley’, the latter with Neil Pendock).   His all-round experience in receiving his training at the Cordon Bleue Cookery School in London, working at the Lanzerac Hotel and Boschendal, having owned three restaurants (Paddagang in Tulbagh, The Burgundy in Hermanus and Parks in Constantia), having consulted on the wine side to Pick ‘n Pay, and presenting a weekly wine programme on Classic FM in Gauteng and a daily informal winetasting on Fine Music Radio in Cape Town makes him very well-connected and extremely knowledgeable.  Sending out a regular newsletter, which became a website, Michael has reinvented himself and will be launching ‘Crush’, South Africa’s first digital online food and wine magazine, he announced at the meeting.   It will go to a database of 1,7 million on 3 June.

The feedback received from the Food and Wine Bloggers that attended the meeting last night was that they enjoyed the relaxed and informal opportunity to network, to meet their mentors, seeing old friends and making new ones, the quality of the speakers, the snacks, the wine, the positive energy in the room, and the ability to learn from everyone that attended.

The next Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting will be held on Thursday 1 July, from 6 – 8 pm, and Pete Goffe-Wood of Wild Woods restaurant and Kitchen Cowboys Blog will be “paired” with Pieter Ferriera of Graham Beck and Bubbles on Wine Blog.   Pieter will bring Graham Beck wines and bubblies to taste, and these will be paired with Liam Tomlin’s food.   The cost to attend is R 150 per person, and bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting dates and speakers are as follows:

Thursday 1 July:                  Pete Goffe-Wood of Wild Woods and Kitchen Cowboys Blog, and Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck and Bubbles on Wine Blog

Wednesday 28 July:             The Foodie of The Foodie Blog, and Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick and Vilafonte Wines Blog

Wednesday 18 August:       Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir

Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog

Wednesday 20 October: Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog

Wednesday 24 November:  Jane-Anne Hobbs of Scrumptious Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

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New Bloggers’ Club pairs Food and Wine Bloggers, and food and wine!

The new Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, which has its first meeting at the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in Cape Town next Wednesday 19 May from 18h00 – 20h00, will pair a Food Blogger and a Wine Blogger at each of the monthly meetings of the Club.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share one’s knowledge with others.

Michael Olivier is the first Food Blogger (although he could equally be speaking about Wine Blogging),  writing blog Michael Olivier, to speak at the Bloggers Club.  He trained at the London Cordon Bleu Cookery School, and is a well-known Cape Food and Wine guru.   Michael was a highly regarded restaurateur (Paddagang in Tulbagh, Burgundy in Hermanus, Parks in Constantia), worked at The Lanzerac Hotel, was PR Manager for Boschendal, and has written three books: “A Restaurateur Remembers”, “crush” and “The People’s Guide – navigate the winelands in a shopping trolley”.  He has been a consultant to Pick ‘n Pay on wine retailing, and presents a daily programme on Fine Music Radio (“Michael Olivier Talking Wine”) and a weekly on-air winetasting programme on ClassicFM.   Michael’s Blog focuses on People, Places, Wine and Food. (The photograph is from Michael Olivier’s blog).

Michael will share the platform of the opening meeting of the Bloggers’ Club with Anel Grobler of SpitorSwallow, a unique “website for wine enthusiasts who visit a lot of wine farms.”   Not only is the cellar door experience rated from a winelover’s perspective, but also restaurants, weddings, accommodation and other events on wine estates are rated too.  Anel started her blog with her partner Jan Laubscher 2 years ago, and won 3rd place in the 2009 Bloggers’ Awards, in the Food & Wine Category.  The site has 650 active users, and 2000 reviews of wine estates, from which a monthly eagerly-contested Top 10 list is announced.  Anel herself has visited 260 out of the 600 wine estates in South Africa, and hopes to visit the remaining ones!   She started the www.winetimes.co.za website earlier this year, with local wine news.

Other writers that will be talking at future Bloggers Club meetings are the following:

Thursday 1 July:                  Pete Goffe-Wood of Wild Woods and Kitchen Cowboys Blog, and Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck and Bubbles on Wine Blog

Wednesday 28 July:             The Foodie of The Foodie Blog, and Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick and Vilafonte Wines Blog

Wednesday 18 August:       Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir 

Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog

Wednesday 20 October:     Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog

Wednesday 24 November:  Jane-Anne Hobbs of Scrumptious Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog

Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.   Only 20 bookings will be accepted for each meeting, on a first come, first served basis. 

Bloggers will be able to experience a pairing of the snacks prepared by internationally renowned chef Liam Tomlin, owner of the new Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School, at 50 New Church Street in town, with the wines brought along by the wine blogging speaker.   The cost of attendance is R 150.  Bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

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