Entries tagged with “mediterranean”.


Episode 5 of the JAN TV series of nine episodes broadcast weekly on viaTV, and dedicated to our country’s best chef  Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen of JAN restaurant in Nice, focused on the relationship between sons and their fathers, and more specifically between Chef Jan-Hendrik and his dad.  (more…)

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 (more…)

Sirocco facing Sushi Bar Whale CottageI had been led to believe that one of the better restaurants in Knysna is Sirocco, and I do recall having eaten there once before, when it was more of a fine-dining restaurant.  I was very disappointed when I spent part of my S&T allowance from the Department of Justice at Sirocco last night. Sirocco entrance Whale CottageLoadshedding was not the only problem the restaurant had to cope with, Manager Sonia de Lange having shed her service ethic too!

I had popped in at Thesen Island earlier in the afternoon, and had a look at the fire-damaged Ile de Pain, speaking to staff at a neighbouring shop, and they recommended Sirocco.  When I visited Knysna a month ago, also with the compliments of the Department of Justice, I had experienced
dreadful service at three restaurants I had attempted to eat at, in particular at the Island Café at The Turbine Hotel & Spa! On Facebook a number of visitors to Knysna shared that the town appears to have a problem with restaurant service.

It was hard to see the entrance to the restaurant, as there is a Col’Cacchio now, and (more…)

Chefs-Warehouse-Chef-Liam-and-chefs-Whale-Cottage-Portfolio-300x225Slowly but surely Bree Street in the Cape Town city centre has become the most talked about restaurant street, with ten new restaurants having opened in the past twelve months, and more are to come.

We have compiled a list of the 26 restaurants on Bree Street below.  While Kloof Street has about ten restaurants more, the Bree Street restaurants generally are of a higher standard, with only one franchised restaurant outlet on Bree Street, unlike Kloof Street.  We have started our Bree Street restaurant list from the Table Mountain side, moving down towards the harbour, the FNB building being the bottom boundary: (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   South Africa is the most attractive tourist destination in Africa, overtaking Egypt for the first time, and is on the Top 25 global tourism destination list,  in the Bloom Consulting’s Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2014/2015. Close to 200 countries were included in the survey, which measured the performance of the tourism industry, brand strategy, and online presence.  South Africa was followed by Egypt and Morocco in Africa.

*  South African accommodation establishments Babylonstoren, Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Grace hotel, and the Saxon Boutique Hotel & Spa have made the Condé Nast Traveler 2015 Gold List of 100 World’s Best Hotels. 

*   Global tourism should exceed 1 billion this year, already at  978 million between January and October this year, as (more…)

ChoppedSA Banner Whale CottageChopped South Africa’ was launched at Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris’ studio in De Waterkant yesterday, to publicise the 10 programme Food Network series on DStv channel 175, commencing on Wednesday 23 July at 21h00.

Chopped South Africa‘ is the first professional chef reality TV competition in South Africa, based on the American ‘Chopped‘, but with a South African flavour. It is the first international adaption of the programme, and was created due to the series’ very strong following in our country, with 25000 viewers per programme, I was told by Nikki Cooper, the Commissioning Editor of ‘Chopped South Africa‘, based in London and working with programming for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  She said that she was ‘blown away by the talent and graciousness’ of our local chefs.  Due to the strong support of South African viewers, Food Network is investing in creating content for our country, but with appeal to its international viewers too.

We were welcomed by Jacques Verster. He introduced the four judges, being Jenny Morris who has hosted programmes on Moroccan and on Mediterranean cooking for Food Network (and who turned out to be a tough judge, explaining that she wanted to be honest with her feedback, and for it to have integrity); David van Staden, the Executive Chef of the Tsogo Sun Group; Siba Mtongana, who has her own ‘Siba’s Table’ program on Food Network; guest judge Rebecca Hurst, who runs the Hurst cookeryChopped SA judges Whale Cottage school; and guest judge and Chef Lindsay Venn of Tsogo Sun The Cullinan (not in the photograph).  We were told how strongly the judges believed in their standards, and fought for their point of view in deciding which chef would be ‘chopped’. Heinz is the main programme sponsor, while Shoprite-Checkers provided all the ingredients for the cooking on the program.

Nikki explained how the series works, with each of the ten programmes having four contestants, 40 selected from many applications received from young professional chefs in South African kitchens.  Shot in Johannesburg, hosted by Denvor Phokaners, produced by Sue Nel from Snelco in association with (more…)

La Parada Kitchen with Bull head Whale Cottage PortfolioDespite one of  the worst winters ever experienced by the Cape hospitality industry, most restaurants appear to have survived it. A surprise trend is the number of Mediterranean style restaurants opening, with true Spanish and Italian owners and/or staff. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*   The Harbour House group has opened La Parada Spanish Tapas restaurant on Bree Street, with a subterranean bar/nightclub (above).

*      Café Puerto Cabo has opened on Loop Street, a Spanish eatery and men’s clothing shop.

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

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

*   Equus restaurant on the Cavalli stud and wine farm on the R44 has opened. (more…)

We were invited to try the new themed Tapas dinners at Steenberg’s Bistro Sixteen82, my first evening visit to one of my favourite restaurants headed by one of the nicest and most honest chefs.  We enjoyed a tantalising ‘Taking Tapas to Turkey’ evening, which was the theme for June, and for the last few days of July.

On entering the wine tasting area the striking chandelier attracted my attention once again, in symbolising red and white grapes, making a powerful statement.  The restaurant was cosy, being brightly lit, with modern gas heating, and had a buzz from the patrons having arrived at the early dinner time.  A shock was the new grass green colour of the ladies’ cloakroom, which Chef Brad Ball agreed was extreme, but better than the ‘prison orange’ in the gents’ loo, and the shocking pink of the disabled loo, being the choice of interior designer Richard Perfect, Brad said!  However, compared to the other Constantia Valley Wine Route estates we had visited earlier that day, surprising in their ordinariness, Steenberg is by far the most attractive and professional of all the Constantia wine estates.

While the Bistro is more relaxed than its sister restaurant Catharina’s at the Steenberg Hotel, the neat presentation of the side plate with a material serviette embroidered with the restaurant name and good cutlery give a classy impression, as does the beautiful display of the Steenberg wines on both sides of the restaurant.  A modern Maxwell & Williams salt cellar adds a sophisticated touch.  Flower arrangements have always been striking in the building, with proteas in tall glass vases. (more…)

The Sweet Service Award goes to Mezepoli Meze and Wine Bar in Camps Bay, for hosting the members of the Camps Bay Guest House Association for lunch last week. The restaurant has a sister restaurant at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, and can seat more than 100 guests. It serves sushi as well as a selection of nearly 100 Mediterranean and Middle East meze dishes, including cheeses, vegetarian mezes, dips, salads, meats, seafoods, and desserts.  The restaurant offers platters for a set price of R135, including salads, haloumi, dips with pita bread, falafel, spanakopita, dolmades, calamari, keftethes, and souvlaki chicken, which we sampled, a very enjoyable meal.

The Sour Service Award goes to FNB, and its poor service in supplying its client, the V&A Waterfront’s newly opened Vovo Telo, with a credit card machine.  Having eaten and shopped at Vovo Telo soon after it opened, it was a surprise to hear that they did not have a credit card machine, which meant that the goods selected had to be returned.  A few days later the situation was the same, so we decided to call on customer Twitter power, Tweeting FNB MD @MichaelJordaan about the problem.  He delegated this to @RBJacobs, who calls himself the ‘FNBGuy’, and he seemed a real go-getter initially, in  terms of his Twitter responses. Every deadline FNB gave Vovo Telo Cape Town in terms of delivery date and time was not met by them, and when they delivered a credit card machine four days after the commencement of the Twitter requests, and two weeks after the outlet opened, it was a fixed line one, and not a portable credit card machine required by restaurants!  Their service levels are unacceptable, and FNB demonstrated that it cannot satisfy basic customer needs on Social Media, not even if Tweets are directed to its MD.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

A chance Facebook post about Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro earlier yesterday took me to the entertainment venue last night, and I was delighted to meet entertainment legend and director/producer Richard Loring, who is the co-owner with Roland Seidel, who had owned Seidelberg wine estate.

A double story venue which previously housed Adega restaurant, next door to the 7-Eleven on Main Road Sea Point, will become a 200-seater ‘Supper Stage’ upstairs, with entry via Glengariff Road (the new striking red and white striped awning is a promise of great things to come).  Richard has redone the paving outside the entrance, and received permission to plant a garden on the pavement, to lift the tone of the neighbourhood.  Even 7-Eleven owner Elia Hadjidakis has promised Richard and Roland that this branch will become their flagship, to match the quality of the new entertainment venue.  Upstairs the massive space will sport Richard’s white piano, and some of the guests will see Robben Island from there. Upstairs too will be Richard’s Bar, which will be decorated with all Richard’s memorabilia spanning the past 50 years, the anniversary being celebrated later this year.  All the walls will be covered with wallpaper of Cape Town images, some of Adderley Street in black and white, and others in colour, such as of Bo-Kaap.  On Main Road a new red canopy with see-through ‘windows’ protected the Bistro deck downstairs from the strong southeaster wind.

Richard’s wife, former model Jeanette Stuart, is in Johannesburg, packing up their house there for the move to Cape Town.  Richard owned a house in Camps Bay for many years, but has now bought a house in Gordon’s Bay. In Johannesburg Richard ran the Sound Stage Theatre and dinner venue for 18 years, having put on 40 productions in this period. After selling the theatre he worked for the 1100-seater Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City as theatre show consultant before moving to Cape Town in November.

I asked how Richard and Roland had met.  ‘African Footprint’ promoter Wolfgang Bocksch introduced Richard to Roland about eight years ago, and they talked loosely then about doing a theatre in Paarl.  Nothing came of this, but Roland did make an African Footprint wine to be sold at the ‘African Footprint’ shows. After an illness, which necessitated the sale of Seidelberg to Fairview last year, Roland contacted Richard, and they rekindled their idea of a show, choosing Sea Point. Originally the idea was to get Adega to provide the food service, but increasingly Richard and Roland realised that they should be in control of this side of their business too, and appointed Chef Ulli Stamm.  Richard and Roland have developed the story for ‘Kaapse Stories from the Mother City’, with Basil Appollis writing the script for the show.  They are busy casting for the show, which will be specifically aimed at tourists, but also at locals.  The cost of the show and buffet dinner should be around R350.  The show will be a fun mix of dance, humour, pathos, and history, a celebration of what Cape Town is all about, Richard said. Richard sees their venture making a contribution to tourism, in informing tourists about the history of the Cape, in allowing the employment of about 40 staff members to run the operation, and the development of new local entertainment talent.  While we were chatting Richard was keeping an eye on his staff all the time, giving them feedback about do’s and don’ts.

Chef Ulli previously worked at Arnold’s, Papino’s in Hout Bay, and then owned Trattoria Maranello in Camps Bay.  Despite his German background, there are no German dishes in his extensive menu, instead being more focused on Mediterranean cuisine, and specially Italian.  The tables on the deck outside have grey tops, and the chairs are grey plastic.  There are no table cloths but there are material serviettes.  Each table has a red candle in a glass, a salt and pepper grinder, and Willowcreek decorated olive oil and balsamic vinegars jars were brought to the table. Cutlery is ordinary. Small self-baked seed loaf slices were brought to the table. The menu is introduced by Chef Ulli in English, French, and Italian, and he writes: “It has always been my passion to bring the real culinary traditions of the Mediterranean to my table and ‘Richard’s’ is my way of sharing this experience. We proudly use locally raised and organically grown ingredients wherever possible and make sure high quality imports are used wherever necessary. Our menu is designed to encourage you to sample many different items. My team and I are honoured to cook for you and look forward to seeing you again and again and…” . The rules of the house are also listed, children under three years generously eating for free, food tolerance information is welcomed, all dishes are prepared ‘al minuto‘ and can be ordered without chilli. All dishes come with a side of salad or vegetables, and a choice of starch.

Ten starters have a good price range from R26 (foccacia) – R79 (carpaccio of smoked salmon), typical Italian dishes including minestrone, calamari, bruschetta, and antipasto. Six salads range from R45 – R62 (Moroccan lamb), including Caprese and Greek salads. Sandwiches (around R50) and burgers (even a salmon one at R89) are available. Pasta dishes range from R58 (Capellini al salmone) to R89 (prawn risotto). Fish dishes include cod, queen and king prawns, and calamari.  I had a fish dish off the specials board, a kabeljou with plain white rice and the most heavenly caper cream sauce (R108).  Steaks range from R96 – R135, and chicken dishes cost R69 – R88. Thirteen pizza options, made from Eureka Mills stone ground flour, include two Flammkuchen choices, and range from R46 for margherita – R97 for a salmon pizza, ensuring that no one will go hungry at Richard’s. Dessert options are plentiful, and cost R34 – R 49, including a good Tiramisu (R37), gelato, cassata, and Créma Catalana.  Coffee is by Italian Makamba. There is a separate breakfast menu.

The winelist has about three brands per variety, the regions are specified but the vintages are not.  Bollinger Special Cuveé Brut costs R1500, and Moët & Chandon R850. Prosecco Tereza Rizzi (R38/R220) and Maximilian (R240), Krone Borealis (R35/R199), and Pongracz (R194) sparkling wines are offered.  Shiraz options are Excelsior Paddock (R34/R115), Annandale (R440), and Rickety Bridge (R169). Local wines made from Italian grapes Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Barbera, and Nebbiolo are on the winelist, as are imported Italian wines, including Brunello (a 2006 at R1350, and a 2004 at R3800).  A wide selection of commercial beers is also available.  I was spoilt by Chef Ulli with a small taste of Limonché, made by local Belgian Jochen Nickmans.

It’s early days for Richard’s Bistro, the menu perhaps being too extensive and unfocused, and the service needing finetuning.  When Richard is there, things will run more smoothly, but no manager seemed to be in charge.  The opening of the new theatre/dinner venue in May is an exciting new tourism attraction for Cape Town, and can be expected to be a slick show.

POSTSCRIPT 31/3: I returned to Richard’s Bistro for breakfast, and had a long chat with co-owner Roland Seidel.  Attractive murals have been added to the walls on the deck downstairs, giving a strong message of the music that will be performed upstairs from May onwards.  The Italian Eggs Benedict cost R47, and included spinach.

POSTSCRIPT 27/7: Chef Ulli Stamm has left Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro.

Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro, 229A corner Main and Glengariff Roads, Sea Point.  Tel (021) 434-6738 (Bistro)/(021) 434-4497 (Supper Stage from May). www.richardscapetown.co.za Twitter:@KaapseStories Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 1h00. Free wi-fi.

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