Tag Archives: Le Franschhoek

Franschhoek ‘Magic of Bubbles’ Cap Classique & Champagne Festival to sparkle this weekend!

MCC Champagne FestivalOne of Franschhoek’s most popular festivals take place this weekend , on Saturday and Sunday 29 and 30 November, ending off a year of festivals which Franschhoek is so good at organising.  The MasterCard Franschhoek ‘Magic of Bubbles’ Cap Classique Champagne Festival is a mouthful of a title, but the 22 Méthode Cap Classiques (MCCs) and champagnes make the pilgrimage to Franschhoek worth while.

Taking place in a marquee close to the Huguenot Monument, top South African MCCs and imported champagnes are available to taste.  Bubbly brands available to taste are Pierre Jourdan, Morena, Môreson, La Motte, Boschendal, Leopard’s Leap, Noble Hill, Plaisir de Merle, Anthonij Rupert Wines, JC le Roux, Krone, Pongracz, Steenberg, Continue reading →

Are there enough top chefs left to make up a credible 2014 Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant list?

Chenin Blanc Top 10 Huguenot Cheese Brulee Whale CottageIn the past week three further Top 20 Restaurant candidate chefs have announced their resignation, making the restaurants at which they work ineligible to be nominated for the 2014 Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist.  This year is the most volatile we have ever seen as far as top restaurant chef departures go, opening up the opportunity for a fresh 2014 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards list.

The latest chef resignations are the following:

*   Chef Oliver Cattermole left Mondiall Kitchen & Bar two weeks ago, today joining the Leeu Collection as its Executive Chef for its five star Dassenberg Estate hotel and Leeu Restraurants Oliver CattermoleRusthof Country House in Franschhoek, both opening next year.  Chef Oliver has worked locally at Dash at the Queen Victoria Hotel, the Le Franschhoek hotel, and Mondiall, as well as internationally at Ivy Restaurant, La Gavroche, Novelli, and at Cannizaro House hotel.

*   Chef Brad Ball, who helped open Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg, leaves in two weeks to start up what sounds like a collective of three restaurants at Pedlars on the Bend in Constantia

*   Chef Christiaan Campbell leaves Delaire Graff Estate, after opening up the main restaurant more than Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 8 August

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   It’s Women’s Day tomorrow, and Franschhoek is celebrating!   Hildegard von Arnim, co-owner of Haute Cabriere, will conduct the Cellar Master’s Tour with a sabrage tomorrow.  Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa is offering a High Tea from 11h00 onwards, at R135/R165 with bubbly.  (received via newsletter from Franschhoek Wine Valley)

*   Cape Town Fringe is an inaugural festival running from 25 September to 5 October, with 89 music, theatre, art, and comedy productions, created by the City of Cape Town in conjunction with the National Arts Festival.  Some of the performances were recently staged in Grahamstown.   The City Hall will be the ‘hub’ of the festival.

*   SAA is offering flights to our country from the USA at the unbelievable low price of Continue reading →

‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ – who is he, are SA viewers being misled, Woolworths pushing its Australian investments ?

Hayden Quinn Title page sunflowersThe question on the lips of many South African viewers of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ is: why Hayden Quinn?  Why choose a MasterChef Australia top 3 finalist (no, not winner) of 2011 (no, not even 2013) to promote the beauty of South Africa and its abundance of sustainable foods amongst South Africans? We did some research, and found that South African viewers are being misled about the TV show host, and that Woolworths appears to have a hidden agenda in pushing its Australian investments!

I started with the Cardova Group, the production company of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘, and of the ‘Expresso Morning Show’ and ‘Top Travel‘ too, all flighted on SABC3.  A random e-mail landed in my Inbox from LinkedIn, asking me to congratulate Mark Bland as newly appointed Producer of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’, just as the series kicked off and my interest in it was piqued.   I got Mark’s cellphone number via LinkedIn, and asked him for more information about the food series.  He was extremely hesitant in talking to me, even though we have known each other for  a good two to three years.  He is a regular reader of my blog, and has commented on it on occasion.  I was taken aback about his hesitancy to meet, to talk about the new show, stating that he had just been promoted, and did not want to jeopardise his new appointment in case I wrote something that could land him in trouble. As a regular reader he would have known that I can only write what I have been told.  As the producer of the show, one would have thought that he would have wanted information about the series to be shared, or expected that he would have referred me to a PR person within his company, or at Woolworths, SABC3, and/or Nedbank, the major sponsors of the series.  The best he could send me was this bland (pardon the pun) media release: Continue reading →

Franschhoek celebrates ‘Magic of Bubbles’ at Cap Classique and Champagne Festival!

Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne FestivalOne 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 →

New Restaurant openings celebrate Spring in Cape Town & Winelands!

Beerhouse Bottled Beers Whale Cottage PortfolioDespite one of  the worst winters ever experienced by the Cape hospitality industry, few restaurants have closed down recently.   A surprise however is the movement of staff between restaurants. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Beerhouse has opened on Long Street, with 16 beers on tap and 99 bottled beers from around the world.

*    The House of Machines has opened on Shortmarket Street, building motorcycles, offering good Evil Twin coffee, and serving very healthy food.

*   Pure Good has opened downstairs in the Associated Magazines building opposite Parliament, and is owned by Shannon Smuts, the first MasterChef SA Finalist to have been eliminated.

*   The Harbour House group has opened La Parada Spanish Tapas restaurant on Continue reading →

Tough winter for Cape restaurants, many restaurant and staff changes!

Four & 20 Cafe via The Pretty BlogNo significant events have been planned to attract visitors to Cape Town and the Winelands this winter, and it appears to be the worst winter ever experienced by the hospitality industry in the Cape.  A surprise is the number of restaurant changes, as well as the the movement of staff  between restaurants.   Given the poor winter business, many restaurants have taken/are taking generous winter breaks. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Four & Twenty Café and Pantry has opened in Wynberg

*   The Crypt Jazz Restaurant has opened below St George’s Cathedral.

*   Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.

*   Cavalli restaurant on the stud farm on the R44 must be opening shortly, as Carl Habel has left the Mount Nelson Hotel as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier to join the restaurant.

*   Shake your Honey is to open in the original Madame Zingara building on Loop Street next year, after renovations commence later this year, according to an iolTravel report.  The ‘vibrant spirit of India’ is to be reflected in the 5-storey building, with a theatre, markets, restaurants, and shops.

*   Burger King has opened its (second) Tygervalley branch. Branches at Cavendish and at Grandwest are to open soon. Continue reading →

Cape Restaurant Week: new restaurant specials, new reservation system!

An Amsterdam restaurant concept has been introduced to South Africa, kicking off in Cape Town and the Winelands, offering a real-time reservation system, and introducing the first Dining City Restaurant Week of specials from 22 – 29 September, whereby locals will be able to enjoy two and three course lunches and dinners at reasonable prices, and experience the real-time booking system of new restaurant website www.diningcity.com.  In the Netherlands the most recent Restaurant Week generated 200000 bookings from more than 1000 restaurants.

DiningCity Restaurant Week is the concept of ​​the world’s leading online restaurant guide www.DiningCity.com. The company was founded in 1998 in Amsterdam, and is currently active in Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Italy and Spain, and outside Europe in cities like New York, Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai, and Beijing. On the South African website one can select restaurants on price, cuisine, location and atmosphere. Information about the restaurants is presented by means of photos, menus and videos.

The principle of the system is that for Restaurant Week restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands offer a certain number of their seats to Restaurant Week, with a 3 course lunch costing R125 and a 3-course dinner costing R200.  Some restaurants will charge a supplement of R50, indicated with a star on the Dining City website (and in the list below). The condition is that all restaurant reservations must be made via the website, which automated system will confirm the booking, send reminders on the date of the booking, and will request feedback about the meal experience the following day. This will eliminate the taking of bookings telephonically or by e-mail, and should reduce no-shows, a problem which Cape Town restaurants experience regularly.  Initially the restaurants will not be charged to join Restaurant Week (in Amsterdam restaurants pay € 200 per year to be part of the system, said Dining City CEO Tertius van Oosthuyzen), but they will pay R10 per seat booked.  I caught Tertius just before his flight back to Amsterdam, and he was delighted that he had managed to get 20000 seats on board in the first few days of launching Restaurant Week almost a month ago. He is hoping to get 40 restaurants on board by the time that Restaurant Week starts.

The 38 restaurants which have signed up for Restaurant Week already are: Planet Restaurant*, The Roundhouse*, The Duchess of Wisbeach*, Pigalle*, 5 Rooms*, Ashton’s at Greenways, Baia, Balducci’s, Belthazar, Blakes*, Blues Beach House, Buitenverwachting*, Bukhara*, Café Chic, Café Dijon, Catharina’s*, Chandani, Five Flies*, Gold Restaurant*, Haiku*, Il Cappero, Jackal & Hide, L’Apero*, La Mouette*, Marimba, Myoga*, Paranga*, Pepenero*, Pure, Reserve, Roberto’s, Savoy Cabbage, Signal Restaurant, The Bungalow,* The George @ Romney Park Hotel, The Grand Café and Beach, Top of the Ritz, and Westin Executive Club*.

Few Winelands restaurants have been signed up to date:  Roca* at Dieu Donné, Haute Cabriere*, Dish at Le Franschhoek (photograph), Mange Tout*, Monneaux*, and Waterkloof*.

Tertius was at pains to explain that they are not taking on beleaguered Eat Out, the largest restaurant database in South Africa, and he was happy to see that they have posted a write-up about Restaurant Week on their site.

Restaurant Week will form part of Cape Town’s promotion of tourism in September. “We are keen to encourage locals to come out of hibernation, with an offer that will not be equalled in terms of quality and value, until the next DiningCity Restaurant Week,” said Tertius.  Next year Dining City SA will focus on Johannesburg, for the second Restaurant Week they will organise, in April.  It is planned to host two such restaurant special promotions every year.

POSTSCRIPT 22/9: The Restaurant Week started today, and I tried to make a booking at Dish Restaurant at Le Franschhoek via the Dining City website, but it has no link to the Restaurant Week website, on which one has to make the restaurant bookings for the Restaurant Week.  When I got to the right website, I could not make the booking, as it had already eliminated today’s date, and only offered dates from tomorrow onwards. Earlier in the day I was asked to provide feedback about the booking process by Dining City via Twitter, which I did, and I received a number of defensive and aggressive Tweets as well as DM’s (Direct Messages), basically questioning my intelligence about not understanding their websites and booking system.  The Tweeter was Tertius van Oosthuyzen, the Dining City CEO! Not a good introduction of this Dutch businessman to our local restaurant industry!

Despite the bad Tweet start with Dining City, I had a lovely evening at Dish Restaurant, and Chef Oliver Cattermole and his team were firing on all cylinders. Three courses at R200 is exceptional value. His amuse bouche was the highlight this evening, a cranberry-coated chicken liver ‘popsicle’.  The starter was a mushroom soup which I have tasted previously.  The main course was beef fillet with Chef Oliver’s famous ‘vegetable garden’ plating, using vegetables grown for him especially at La Motte by Daniel Kruger.  The dessert was a chocolate fondant made from 100% smoked chocolate, served with a cognac ice cream, and a hazelnut chocolate paste smear.  Chef Oliver sent a taste of Le Franschhoek’s new Lemoncello, which he made from the hotel’s own produce, to the table.

Dining City Restaurant Week, 22 – 29 September. www.DiningCity.co.za Twitter: @DiningCitySA

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

Western Cape dominates Diner’s Club Winelist Awards, La Colombe best in the Cape (and SA)!

More Western Cape restaurants were recognised for their winelist quality than those in other provinces, it was announced at the Diner’s Club Winelist Awards 2012 yesterday.  A total of 30 Western Cape restaurants won a Diamond Award, 36 received a Platinum Award, 25 received Gold Awards, and two received Silver Awards.  La Colombe was recognised as having the best winelist in the province, and its Ewan Mackenzie was acknowledged as the Best Wine Steward.

Judged by MasterChef SA judge Pete Goffe-Wood, Cape Wine Academy head Marilyn Cooper, Winestyle owner Nikki Dumas, restaurant reviewer JP Rossouw, Fiona McDonald, Christine Rudman, last year’s Diner’s Club Young Winemaker of the Year winner Matthew van Heerden, a panel which was chaired by David Hughes. The Diner’s Club Winelist Awards has been run for more than twenty years.  The judges evaluated the winelists on the basis of creativity; choice offered in respect of ‘price, producer and area’; the range of wines-by-the-glass offered; the range of price points offered; the listing of boutique winery brands; the description of the wines; guidelines for food and wine pairing; vintage information; and the overall impression, layout and legibility.

Diamond Award winners, scoring 91% or more for their winelists, are: 96 Winery Road, Abalone House in Paternoster, Aubergine Restaurant, Azure at the Twelve Apostles Hotel, Bientang’s Cave in Hermanus, Bombay Brasserie, Bosman’s at Grande Roche, B’s Steak House in Hermanus, Bushman’s Kloof, Catharina’s at Steenberg hotel, Dash at the Queen Victoria hotel, Durbanville Golf Club, Ellerman House, Flavours at the Devon Valley hotel, Harvey’s at the Winchester Mansions, Karibu in the V&A Waterfront, La Colombe, Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House, Monneaux Restaurant at the Franschhoek Country House, Mint at The Taj, Pure at the Hout Bay Manor, Rust en Vrede, Signal at the Cape Grace hotel, The Atlantic Grill at the Table Bay hotel, The Bayside Café, The Mount Nelson hotel, The Plettenberg hotel, The Square at The Vineyard hotel, Tokara, and Zachary’s at Pezula.

The Platinum Award category (81 – 90%) was won by the winelist of Pierneef à La Motte, and other winners were 95 Keerom, Belthazar, Blakes, Blowfish, Buitenverwachting, Balducci’s, Carne, Chatters Bistro, City Grill, Cru Cafè, Den Anker, Greek Fisherman, La Capannina, Meloncino, Milkwood in Hermanus, Panama Jacks, Peddlars on the Bend, Pembreys Bistro, Pistachio, Simola Hotel, Surval Boutique Olive Estate, The Garden Lounge, The George, Hussar Grill branches in Green Point, Camps Bay, Steenberg, Stellenbosch, Willowbridge, and Rondebosch, The Slug and Lettuce in Newlands, The Wild Fig, Turbine Boutique Hotel, Wild Peacock Food Emporium, and La Pentola in Hermanus.

Surprising was the low score of the winelist of The Roundhouse, its Gold Award (71 – 80%) putting it into a category dominated by Col’Cacchio Pizzeria branches.  Notable exclusions from the Awards list (signalling that they did not enter, or predominantly offer their own wines if the restaurant is located on a wine estate) are Grande Provence, The Tasting Room, Le Franschhoek, Delaire Graff, Overture, Terroir, Waterkloof, Burrata, The Test Kitchen, The Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenhort, Nobu, and Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine.

POSTSCRIPT 18/9: La Colombe has informed us that they have also won the Best Winelist in South Africa, in addition to being the best in the Western Cape!  We have been promised the national results on Friday.

POSTCRIPT 19/9: La Colombe Chef and Manager Scot Kirton has corrected its Diner’s Club Winelist Award achievement, as follows: May we please offer a correction and our humble apologies. La Colombe was awarded best winelist in the Western Cape and not the entire South Africa. Perhaps in his excitement our Scottish Wine Steward got a little over excited and forgot that the Western Cape is not the entire South Africa :) We apologise for the misinformation and we abide by the National results out on Friday”.

POSTSCRIPT 21/9:  The national Diner’s Club Restaurant Winelist Award winners were announced today, and La Colombe did indeed take the honours of having the best winelist in the country!  Ewan Mackenzie also took the national honours as best Wine Steward in South Africa.

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

La Motte Herbs & Vegetables: supplying organic specialist produce to restaurants!

I first heard about La Motte’s Herbs & Vegetables organic vegetable and herb supply from enthusiastic client Chef Oliver Cattermole at Dish restaurant at Le Franschhoek,  who shared that La Motte’s Daniel Kruger supplies him with specialist vegetables in colours and sizes he requests for his beautiful dishes.  It is a fantastic example of collegiality, in that La Motte is sharing its organic produce with its restaurant colleagues.

Meeting with Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte last week, he connected me with Daniel Kruger, who is in charge of the specialist vegetable and herb farm, and the La Motte farm manager Pietie le Roux.  I met both at Leopard’s Leap, where Daniel shared that the new business was started at the beginning of the year, and that it has grown to not only supply Pierneef á La Motte, but also other top restaurants in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.

Daniel told me that he has been involved in large scale vegetable farming in the Free State, and has only more recently operated in the Cape, in the capacity as a consultant in the past.   The emphasis is very definitely on the organic production of the vegetables and herbs, and this means not using pesticides nor herbicides.  Daniel said they do nothing chemical to counter any problems, and there are few threats, having no snails, and few aphids or worms. Guinea fowl are the biggest threat, loving to eat the fresh leaves of the small cabbage plants, and therefore Daniel has created a clever ‘boer maak ‘n plan’ system of wires to keep them out of his vegetable beds. Many of the weeds have pretty flowers, and these are used by the chefs to decorate their plates.  Compost is made from wood chips and winery offall, and can reduce the growing of weeds when the beds are covered with the compost.  Using compost also means that the vegetable growth is slower, but the taste is better, Daniel explained.

Daniel has got to know his chef customers well, and each has his or her own requirements in terms of the types of vegetables and herbs they want, as well as the sizes and colours they want them in. He explained that his seed suppliers are able to provide him with the colour requirements of his chef customers, and he can control the size of the vegetables according to the chefs’ requirements – the photograph shows the baby aubergines in yellow and green, which are Chef Oliver’s special choice.  Chef Chris Erasmus of Pierneef á La Motte has first choice of all Daniel’s planting, and then the other chefs are served.  If Daniel has an oversupply of an item, he will contact the chefs, and offer it to them.   Carrots, beetroot, lettuce, spring onions, radishes and turnips are some of the vegetables which Daniel can supply in more than one (traditional) colour.  The main photograph contains a medley of these, including bulls blood baby beetroot, radicchio, golden beetroot, mange tout, sugar snaps, kale, and purple spring onion.

Daniel is testing which plants are most suitable to the area, peas and mint for example being very sensitive to the southeaster in Franschhoek, despite the netting which he uses to prevent wind damage.

Vegetables and herbs grown by Daniel and his team of eight include peas, bold fennel, beetroot, radicchio (bitter salad), spinach, English spinach, chives, spring onions, lemon thyme, silver thyme, normal thyme, lettuce, rosemary, sorrel, basil, sage, rhubarb, nasturtiums, French tarragon, Bayleaf trees, mint, artichoke, wild rocket, specialised heirloom tomatoes, black and red potatoes, kohlrabi, black and pink turnips, and granadilla.  Edible flowers are supplied too, including radish, pak choi, rocket, fennel and spring onion flowers.  Even some of the weeds, including ramnas (wild mustard), Kaapse misbredie, and varkslaai are used, as they have a good taste and texture. Daniel is very excited about how well his test strawberries are growing, ready to bear fruit in three weeks, and he will plant more next season.

We spoke about the availability of fresh herbs all year round, and Daniel said that it wasn’t a problem for most herbs.  However, coriander is impossible to supply fresh in summer, it being too hot to grow, and would have to be flown in at up to R250 per kg.  A herb such as rosemary tastes different when it flowers, its branches being harder in this time.

Daniel said that they have the capacity to supply more local restaurants, but emphasised that it takes up to three months to grow specific vegetable and herb requirements.  He supplies daily, and he went back to pick produce for his chef clients after we had finished our tour at 17h30, saying that ‘the fresher, the better’.

The day after the farm visit I popped in at Pierneef à La Motte, and asked Chef Chris Erasmus which dish he could recommend to encapsulate the produce from the farm the best. He prepared a most beautiful and special Spring Salad with the produce which Daniel had brought to him, picked at 7h00 that morning. The salad contained a nasturtium flower, pea flowers, sorrel flowers, nasturtium leaves, watercress leaves (the first harvested ever on that day), baby carrots, baby beetroot, peas, mange tout, sugar snaps, baby onions, and rocket leaves, with praline nuts, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds, and a nasturtium dressing.  Chef Chris said that Daniel brings him what he has supply of, and they work around the produce to create dishes for the day.  Chef Chris emphasised that there is a relationship of trust, Daniel providing special vegetables and herbs for each chef, but never sharing that information with others.

The ‘marriage’ between the farm and kitchen at La Motte is true foraging, and is testimony to this wine estate’s slogan of ‘A Culture of Excellence’.  It is ahead of most other restaurants in the country in this respect, and one can hardly eat fresher vegetables and herbs than at Pierneef à La Motte!  It makes Pierneef à La Motte a strong Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant contender.

La Motte Herbs & Vegetables, Tel 071 438 1760 (Daniel)

Pierneef à La Motte, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8800. www.la-motte.com Twitter: @PierneefLaMotte Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Thursday – Saturday dinner.

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