Tag Archives: MAN Vintners

Corona Virus: Lockdown Journey Journal, Day 86 of Level 1, 15 December 2020.


Tuesday 15 December 2020, Day 86 of Level 1, Day 265 of Lockdownūüė∑

Corona Gratitude ūüôŹ

#Grateful for a sunny day, at 21 C, with a South Easter building up, getting us ready for 10 days or more of wind; ÔŅľfor being taken a step closer to my promising Horoscope for today, when a headhunter for a (different) German Amazon job did a telephonic interview with me; for the honour of being invited to join the international Tourist Guiding committee of my Canadian Tour Operator, having our first Skype meeting on Saturday; for a good walk through Camps Bay, with barely any litter; for a quick call with Jenny Stephens; for a winetasting followed by a cocktail tasting at Utopia, so happy to hear that they are fully booked tonight, so much so that Vivian Warby and I couldn‚Äôt get a table for tonight, booking for next week instead; for dancing to Kfm‚Äôs Dansdag; and for being happy and healthy. Continue reading →

Utopia Restaurant launches best value Tasting Menu in Cape Town, as well as Special Sunday Lunch Menu!


Utopia Restaurant has launched its first ever Tasting Menu, offering five beautiful courses on Monday to Thursday evenings, at an amazingly low cost of R195, the lowest in Cape Town for a Tasting Menu. It has also introduced a Family-friendly Special Sunday Lunch Menu, accompanied by live entertainment. It has  introduced new dishes to its À la carte menu.

Utopia towers above all other restaurants in Cape Town in being the highest, located on the 15th floor of the Mirage building in De Waterkant, offering magnificent 360 degree views of Cape Town.¬† Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 27 January

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

* ¬† Ladysmith Black Mambazo shared a Grammy with the Gypsy Kings for Best World Music last night, for its live album ‘Singing for Peace around the world’. ¬†Their album is dedicated to the late Nelson Mandela, and a percentage of sales will go to the Nelson Mandela Childrens’ Fund.

* ¬† Bruce Springsteen is ‘The Boss’ was the unanimous feedback on Social Media in reaction to his fantastic first ever concert on South African soil, held at the Bellville Velodrome. ¬†He paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, and praised the ‘miracle’ peaceful transformation in our country.

* ¬†German beer brewers have requested that their government refrain Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 31 August/1 September

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Research has shown that the moderate drinking of wine reduces the likelihood of depression amongst 55 Р80 year olds significantly!

* ¬† About 4000 UK pubs are expected to close next year, being old and outdated and serving ‘indifferent’ food, the 2014 Good Pub Guide predicts. ¬†However 1000 new pubs are expected to open next year.

* ¬† Is there a future for blogging? ¬†It appears so, and having a blog may become as commonplace as ‘having a smartphone or an e-mail address‘.

* ¬†¬†The 8th annual South African Food & Wine Festival will be held at Grayhaven Winery in Gum Spring, Virginia in the USA, on 14 and 15 September. ¬†Tastings of¬†¬†30 wines from Anwilke, MAN Vintners, Ernie Els, ¬†Fairview Estates, AA Badenhorst, Kanonkop, as Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: Jardine Restaurant more relaxed, Spring Special excellent value

My previous visit to Jardine, soon after George Jardine had left to start his new Stellenbosch restaurant Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, was not as excellent as I had expected, feeling that George Jardine had left a gap that new chef Eric Bulpitt still needed to grow into.¬†¬† Our return visit last week shows that Chef Eric has got there, and that George Jardine is no longer expected nor ‘present’ at Jardine.¬†¬† The advertised three course Spring Special meal is in fact a 7-course one, thereby offering excellent value.¬†¬†

I was interested in the¬†four week period that Chef Eric had recently¬†spent at Noma in Copenhagen, the number one of the San Pellogrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World and a 2-star Michelin restaurant.¬†¬† It¬†was Chef Eric’s choice as restaurant ‘mecca’, for its focus on¬†‘natural’ gastronomy, and he worked there without pay, and in the company of many other chefs from around the world, to undergo a ‘learnership’ in this renowned restaurant.¬†¬† The first influence that Noma has had on Chef Eric is sourcing¬†ingredients from nature, by foraging with his team¬†in The Glen as well as in Newlands Forest, to find herbs and plants for his dishes, including wood sorrell, chickweed, Cape Chamomile,¬†and nasturtiums.¬† He also learnt about flavour combinations.¬† The goal orientation of a restaurant such as Noma, which is based on focus and excellent organisation, was a further impactful influence, which Chef Eric wants to strengthen across the board at Jardine Restaurant.¬†¬†He described it as being almost “militaristic”, with strict rules and regulations to work by.¬† He noted how the labour legislation differs in Denmark, in that one can fire staff if they do not deliver, and this is accepted by the staff, unlike South Africa and its restrictive labour law.

Other than the hostess Christina, who seemed to know who I was without welcoming me by name and therefore coming across as unfriendly, the service from new Manager Simon Widdison (Johan Terblanche has moved across to be the Manager at Tokara, which opens today) was friendly, as was that of Hannes the waiter (although he must please learn to not stretch across customers to place the fork on the left, and was not quite au fait about wine and food details).   The biggest surprise of all was how friendly and relaxed Jaap-Henk Koelewijn (what an apt surname!), the sommelier, has become.  The waiter had incorrectly indicated that the Jardine Shiraz was from Le Riche, to which I said yes immediately, when it was actually from Cederberg.   Jaap-Henk immediately offered to replace it with Hartenberg at the Jardine price, and had no problem in pouring the wine at the table and allowing me to taste it first.

In coming to try the 3-course Spring Special running until the end of October, at a most reasonable R180, one does not expect any extras.¬† We were therefore most surprised that we were served three pre-starters, and an amuse bouche, prior to the three course meal, making it a 7-course meal.¬†¬† The first dish to arrive was interesting-looking deep-fried tapioca over which frozen goat’s cheese had been grated.¬† I associate tapioca with ‘pudding’, and not favourably from my childhood, so I was a bit nervous about trying it.¬† I felt it¬†to be a little dry, and so only had a taste of it.¬†¬† The second dish was vetkoek with a gorgonzola centre, which my son loved and I did not at all,¬†finding it¬†rather bland.¬† What I loved was the third treat, being a most unusual Kingklip crisp made by¬†dusting the thinnest slice of the fish in¬†tapioca flour, and serving it¬†with a ponzu dressing, made from citrus and¬†soya.¬† My ‘Larousse Gastronomique’¬†defines tapioca as follows: A starchy food extracted from the roots of the manioc plant, which is hydrated, cooked, then ground.¬† It is used mainly for thickening soups and broths and making milk puddings and other desserts”.¬† Clearly this is an ingredient that Chef Eric loves. The amuse bouche was a cauliflower spuma, with a very delicate and light taste on top, and a spicy taste underneath.

The three course Spring Special only has one choice per course, and last Friday it was a Confit duck leg terrine served with spicy orange and naartjie chutney as starter; the main course was sirloin steak served with smoked mash, spinach and carrot puree; and the dessert was a selection of three sorbets and ice creams.¬† The duck terrine was¬†served in a circular slice, quite coarse and crumbly,¬†and bound by a leaf.¬†I had it with the lovely Cape seedloaf.¬†¬† My son preferred to not eat the terrine, and Chef Eric made him a Vegetable Patch starter from their a la carte menu, a most beautifully presented Spring-looking collection of baby beetroot, butternut, cherry tomatoes, parsnip, buffalo mozzarella, and a watercress emulsion, on ‘mushroom soil’, resembling that in texture, and made by drying mushrooms, grinding them, and then adding butter and herbs.

I had asked the kitchen to take the photographs for me, due to the softer lighting at our table, and this may have been the reason why both our steaks had lost their temperature when brought to the table.¬† They were immediately replaced, and were excellent, two small pieces, with wonderful carrot puree and spinach, decorated with tiny nasturtium leaves, foraged by Chef Eric and his team earlier that day.¬† The smoked mash was good, but I would have preferred it plain, as the smoked taste was too dominant.¬† The dessert sorbet and ice cream choices were lemon and thyme, espresso coffee and chocolate, coconut milk yoghurt and chilli, and pear and gl√ɬľhwein.¬† I felt that of all the dishes served, the desserts allowed Chef Eric’s creativity to come to the fore the most, with the unsual combination of flavours, and beautiful presentation with a ‘birdseed’ crisp on a patterned square plate.

The winelist has a black leather cover too, reminding me of that at Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, and its first page contains the names of the artists whose work is on display in the restaurant and for sale.¬†¬† Its introduction states that the winelist is a personal selection of wines to complement the ‘gastronomic feast’.¬† Wines by the glass include Colmant Brut (R65); Sterhuis Blanc de Blanc (R55); Jardine Unwooded Chardonnay, which comes from Vriesenhof (R30); Lammershoek Roulette Blanc (R45), Trizanne Sauvignon Blanc (R45); Jardine Shiraz¬†(which comes from Cederberg, and costs R 40); La Motte Millennium (R45);¬†Sterhuis Merlot (R45); and Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc (R45).¬†¬†¬†¬†The Shiraz selection ranges from MAN Vintners at R95, to Luddite at R450, the Jardine costing R160, Hartenberg R330, and Miglarina R250.

If one does not enjoy the Spring Special before the end of October, a steal at R180 for seven courses, one can order  a 2-course meal at R240, or a 5-course one at R480. 

Jardine is one of twenty finalists for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards, and chef Eric is one of four chefs (with David Higgs, PJ Vadis and Chantel Dartnall)¬†that will be cooking for the guests attending the Top 10 Awards ceremony.¬† It is said that cooking at the Awards dinner is a sure-fire guarantee of making the Top 10 list, although Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly specifically denied this when she met with these chefs recently.¬† With Chef Eric’s dedication to his craft, and his recent unpaid ‘learnership’ at Noma allowing him to re-invent himself after four years at Jardine Restaurant, he stands a good chance of making it onto the Top 10 list.¬†¬†

POSTSCRIPT 14/1: It has been announced that Jardine’s will close down at the end of February – its lease comes up for renewal then.¬† The focus will be on Tokara in Stellenbosch.¬†¬† Part of the motivation is the departure of George Jardine to start his own restaurant, Jordan Restaurant¬†with George Jardine.¬†Chef Eric Bulpitt will move to The Roundhouse.

POSTSCRIPT 28/2: Jardine has closed, without a whimper or a thank you for the client support from the management.

Jardine Restaurant, 185 Bree Street, Cape Town.¬†¬† Tel (021) 424-5640 www.jardineonbree.co.za¬†¬†(It is odd to see George Jardine’s photograph¬†on the website, and to see him listed as an owner, when he¬†is not involved in any apparant way.¬† The website needs to be updated, reflecting the staff promotions and movements, including the¬†Noma visit.¬† The website could also do with an Image gallery, to show off Chef Eric’s cuisine creativity). ¬†Twitter @JardineCape Town.¬† Tuesdays – Saturdays.

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

Restaurant Review: Nook Eatery celebrates, no longer hidden in the corner!

Nook Eatery is one of my favourite eateries, and I have always been made to feel welcome since I discovered it a year ago.¬† Today it celebrates its first anniversary (and co-owner Luke’s birthday yesterday).¬†¬† From a quiet low-key opening, it has grown into a known¬†and loved destination, and having Restaurant Christophe next door, the two restaurants have become a food lovers’ haven on Van Reyneveld Street in Stellenbosch, although they differ vastly.¬† Nook is no longer a hidden corner!

Co-owner Jessie is the chef, and she takes special pride in preparing everything herself, and sourcing organic foods where she can.¬† Nook has become a popular student lunch stop, and their pizza evenings on Wednesdays, the only day they open at night, are extremely popular.¬†¬† They have a collection of¬†cream tables and modern silver chairs outside, and on a summery winter’s day this is the ideal spot to watch the student parade.¬† It is enjoyed by non-students too.¬† Luke connects with his customers, often hands-on in¬†taking the orders and serving the food, and the regulars¬†soon become friends.

Breakfast starts at 8h30, and scrambled eggs cost a mere R20.¬† Lunch¬†is served from 12h00 – 15h00, and one can order the soup of the day –¬†sweet potato and pear soup on the day that I was there¬†(R30); Croque Monsieur (R35); a Nook Burger, made from free-range beef and served with salad, avocado and fries (R50); toasted sandwiches, made¬†with Boerenkaas (R26) or with gypsy ham added (R32), Thai chicken (R35), Roast Beef (R36), and mushroom brushetta (R32).¬† Sweet treats include croissants (R12); massive pain au chocolat (R14); toasted coconut bread (R12); French toast, bacon and syrup (R30); and poached pear and Greek yoghurt (R28).

The lunch buffet opens at 12h00, and is a recent addition at Nook Eatery, for which those that know and want it come to punctually, before the food runs out.¬† It costs R13 per 100 gram.¬† The buffet changes daily, and on the day I visited Nook it consisted of slow roasted lamb and rice; mushroom, cinnamon and lemon; organic pear and gorgonzola salad; organic lentil and spinach salad; and avocado, tomato and herb salad.¬†¬†The ‘Wood-Fired Wednesdays” pizza evenings have become an institution, and eleven pizza choices are available, including Argentinian chorizo, avocado and gorgonzola (R62); organic pear, gorgonzola and fresh rocket (R52); anchovies and capers (R50); and four cheese¬†– with mozzarella, gruyere, gorgonzola and parmesan (R50).

The wine list is short РDe Waal Sauvignon Blanc (R16 by the glass, R65 bottle), Kumala (R18/R70) and Krone MCC (R20/R100). MAN Vintners Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz all cost R70.

Nook Eatery is highly recommended, for friendly service, an homely atmosphere and excellent healthy food.¬†¬† It was selected as the location for the soccer-inspired “League of Glory” TV series.

Nook Eatery, 42 Van Reyneveld Street,  Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 887-7703. www.nookeatery.co.za.  Free wireless internet.  8h00 Р16h00 Monday РFriday, 8h00 Р13h00 Saturday.  Pizza evening Wednesdays 18h00 Р21h00.   On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

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

Restaurant Review: Gaaitjie in Paternoster one of West Coast’s best

A mid-winter break in Paternoster had to include a repeat visit to Gaaitjie РSalt Water Restaurant, a restaurant with the most stunning setting on the rocks overlooking the bay, and one of the best restaurants on the West Coast. 

Suzi Holtzhausen is the owner of Gaaitjie, and moved to Paternoster from Johannesburg, where she had a cookery school, six years ago.¬† She started off setting up¬†the Salt Coast Inn, offering self-catering accommodation, followed by the Eatery, which offered breakfasts, “lite meals and sweet treats”, the business card says.¬†¬† Here I once had a bizarre cheese omelet (ordered as such) drowned in a¬†boerewors and onion sauce for breakfast.¬†¬†Suzi ran cookery courses.¬† ¬†Suzi’s mother¬†ran the Eatery¬†when Suzi opened Gaaitjie six months ago, but it has been closed down now.

Gaaitjie probably is better suited to a summer visit – in the early summer evening it is still light enough to sit on the terrace outside (I learnt that it is important to book the exact room you want to sit in), and to enjoy the beautiful view onto the sea, and to hear the waves crashing.¬† Blankets are provided should it become chilly once the sun sets.¬† For lunches outside it is perfect.¬†¬†In winter customers have to sit inside, and this makes space restricted, and¬†last-minute bookings hard to make.¬† The best tables in the main restaurant room, with a fireplace, are the first to go.¬† I thought I had done well with a booking¬†five days ahead, but other bookings¬†had been received a month ago, I was told, making my power to change my table allocation close to zero.¬†¬† I was seated furthest from the action, in a¬†room that only had a very smelly gas heater, so I asked to be moved to the main restaurant room.¬† This is when I learnt of my low rank from Camilla.¬† The best she could do was to seat me in the entrance room, which has one table, but also a fireplace.¬†¬† For a single diner it is a very lonely place, but Susan, the manager for the evening and a good friend of Suzi, kept me company as she was buzzing along, checking on everyone.¬† She is an absolute natural at customer care and friendliness, unlike Camilla, who looked unfriendly.¬† A new waitress struggled with a simple order for cold water.¬† She received training behind the counter, which I could hear.¬†Given the stature of Suzi’s cooking, the new waitress was not yet an asset to the restaurant.¬† She was allocated to my table – again I felt to have hit¬†rock¬†bottom.

Gaaitjie is the name of the building which Suzi rents from the local Sea Fisheries’ department, and they renovated it to her requirements. It looks like a Greek cottage, as do most of those in Paternoster.¬† One can only see the signage from the road, as the restaurant is so low down, at close to sea-level.¬†¬† The kitchen is in the middle of the building, and one has to walk through it to get to the main restaurant room and terrace.¬†¬† The generator for the fridge ticks away, and¬†evokes a farmhouse memory.¬†¬† The ceiling is covered in reeds, giving it a further Greek feel.¬†¬† The doorways are low, especially for tall gentlemen passing through them.¬†¬† The walls have framed yellowing newspaper clippings with general articles about Paternoster.¬† The cutlery is nothing special, but the serviettes are made from material, with a shell forming a serviette ring.¬† Here and there a fishy decor touch can be seen – an ashtray filled with shells, a fish-shaped water bottle, and a ceramic fish on the bar counter.

Gaaitjie’s menu is restricted to¬†seven starters and mains each,¬†and¬†four desserts.¬† Each one of¬†Suzi’s dishes are unique, and her stature as a chef comes from¬†her marriage of ingredients, often demanding a brave palate from her patrons in trying unusual ingredients or combinations.¬†¬† The paper menu starts with the sentence: “Taking time to prepare the best of what’s around the West Coast area, served by the people of Paternoster”.¬† The menu can change daily, depending on the produce that Suzi can get hold of.¬† Gaaitjie is not inexpensive, and hence it is mainly Capetonians and other out-of-town visitors who eat there.¬† I recognised a fellow Slow Food Cape Town member arriving¬†with a¬†party of six others.

I chose the mielie chowder with scallop and green pea wontons, at R 50, an ideal dish for the first chilly night of the winter.¬†¬† The wontons were deliciously crispy, and the chowder very filling, topped with green beans, and I regretted having it before the¬†main course, both being very filling dishes.¬†¬† My pork belly choice was stated on the menu¬†as requiring 45 minutes’ preparation time, so the chowder was a good way to pass the time, giving little action on Twitter that evening.¬†¬† The chowder was served with the most unusual muffin-shaped bread with an onion marmalade centre and crowned with black sesame seeds and fresh herbs.¬†¬† It was served with an anchovy, garlic and olive tapenade.¬†¬† Anchovies are one of few things I do not eat, so I¬†was presented with a slice of butter, beautifully¬†served¬†with a twig of chive balancing on top of the slice standing on the plate, so simple but so attractive.¬†¬† Other starter options were angelfish bobotie spring roll on coconut and bean sambal; chicken liver peri peri vetkoek with creme fraiche and roasted chilics; spinach and curd samoosas on hot tomato and basil salad; grilled pear and deep-friend labna cheese salad; and a house salad of greens, feta style cheese, cucumber, tomato and seeds, all costing between R45 – R55. On a summer visit I had eaten the chilled pea and fresh crayfish soup, at R75, which was outstanding, but there was no crayfish¬†on the menu as the season closed a month ago.¬†

The main courses range in price from R110 for the snoek lasagne to R125 for a braised lamb shank and butter bean pie with mint and pumpkin broth.  Other mains were yellowtail fillets simmered in curry leaf masala and lentil rice; a stew of black mussels, baby calamari, sweet pepper and spicy sausage; the crisp pork belly (and crisp it was, with the most delicious crackling, which I left for last) served with an unusual leek mash; roasted quail on a hot beetroot salad; and chicken breast with pesto pasta.

Dessert choices were preserved naartjie and ginger praline cheesecake; malva pudding topped with molten local blue cheese and melon preserve;  baked custard with Witblitz-soaked Cape gooseberries; and rich chocolate mousse with salt dust (I wanted to order the mousse, but could not get a good description of its ingredients, as it was new on the menu that evening Рthe fact that part of the mousse was white chocolate which contained passion fruit made me decide against it, and none of the other dessert options attracted me).

The winelist is on a¬†separate sheet of paper, and is introduced as follows: “We keep waste to a minimum and km’s travelled low so choices are local and small”.¬† For this reason most wines are from the West Coast.¬† Each wine is briefly described, and the wine estate it comes from mentioned.¬†¬†Corkage is charged at R 40.¬† One sparkling wine (Kasteelberg) is offered at R 135, five white wines range from R 95 for a Kloovenburg Chardonnay and an unknown La Capra Chenin Blanc from Fairview, to R 145 for Fryer’s Cove Bamboes Bay Sauvignon Blanc, and The Ollo from Altydgedacht.¬†¬† Four red wines include two Shirazes (Spice Route at R 165 and Nieuwedrift at R 95), an unsual sounding Cappupino Ccinotage (R105) and Cloof Inkspot R 105.¬† The wine-by-the-glass choice is limited to Cloof (white and rose’ at R 25), and MAN Vintners¬†Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 at R 30.¬†¬†

I left with mixed feelings, having enjoyed my two previous dinners at Gaaitjie more.   The food is outstanding, but one must make a lot of allowances in the other things one expects from a restaurant in terms of decor, service and wine selection.   Suzi strikes me as one of a rare breed of restaurateurs who believes that a focus on food is of paramount importance in a restaurant, and that little else matters. 

Gaaitjie – Salt Water Restaurant, off¬†St. Augustine’s Road, Paternoster. Tel 022 752 2242.¬† www.saltcoast.co.za/gaaitjie¬†(page does not open).¬† Open for lunch and dinner on all days except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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