Last week I ate lunch at the new Origins Restaurant at The Marine, the second poor experience I have had at the hotel, despite the hotel having new co-owners, and a new GM and Chef. Given its five star status (they have lost their Relais & Chateux status), the dining experience was unacceptable. Continue reading →
* The Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee has kept the repo rate unchanged at 5,75%, the new Governor Lesetja Kganyago has announced. The rate did not change due to the reducing inflation rate, the lower international oil prices being an inflation benefit, and the weak economy.
* The Vancouver Sun writes about ‘Sensational South Africa‘, highlighting its ‘Big Five must-see list’. It includes Cape Town (‘the country’s prettiest city‘, Bo-Kaap, the City Bowl market – certainly not the best Cape Town has to offer – Table Mountain and its ‘tram ride‘, the Mount Nelson Hotel, and Robben Island), the Winelands (Franschhoek and its Wine Tram), Himeville and the Drakensberg, Durban, and Safaris.
* The City of Cape Town has announced its extensive plans for the safety of the city and its visitors over the Festive Continue reading →
* While international sporting events boost tourism to South Africa, our country has a great potential to increase tourism spend. Two constraints to tourism income have been identified: the perceptions about crime, created through media reports; and the negative publicity relating to the new Immigration Regulations, making it far more onerous for international tourists to visit our country, especially if they have children.
* Charlize Theron and Sean Penn were seen at the Mount Nelson Hotel with co-star Javier Bardem on Friday evening, after which they had dinner at Duchess of Wisbeach in Sea Point. Filming of their ‘The Last Face‘ movie is reported by the Weekend Argus to commence next month. Wedding bells are said to be ringing for a South African wedding of the couple later this year.
* The Sunday Times reported today that a number of other top actors are in Cape Town to film movies, including Sacha Baron Continue reading →
It was an e-mail from the Kove Collection I received about two weeks ago which attracted attention to the new High Tea at 5Rooms Restaurant at The Alphen Hotel in Constantia. On Thursday my friend Whitney and I went to try out the afternoon tea offering at the Stefan Antoni interior design hotel
Our interaction started off badly, when I first sought information about the High Tea, the Events Manager Nicola Howard not yet having details about what would be served, nor a photograph. With the intervention of Hotel GM Hannelie Wiese, I received a menu of items to be served, and a photograph, which we blogged about.
I made the booking a day ahead of our planned visit, and this was efficiently taken by the switchboard hostess. Irritating therefore was the call from Lydia McGrail, the 5Rooms Restaurant Manager, who called on the morning of our booking, to check our booking, less than 24 hours after it was made! She is clearly from the UK, and I struggled to understand her, due to her broad British dialect, and a bad line, which meant that she called twice. Then she made Hannelie call me, to sort out any problems ahead of our arrival, which was an irritation, as such confirmation calls are intended as ‘a courtesy‘, Hannelie explained, but I said that it makes one feel distrusted and that one does not have manners. I promised her that I would never not arrive for a booking! Hannelie ended off her call by saying that I would really be impressed with the service from Lydia, as all their guests feed back. When I heard this ‘hotelspeak’, I wanted to laugh, being sceptical already. Continue reading →
I received a media release from Communication Services Africa on Friday, to publicise the new weekend Breakfast offering of their client Shimmy Beach Club, the highlight being their Breakfast Pizza, of which they had sent along a photograph (left). Sadly the photograph sent did not match the Breakfast Pizza I was served yesterday.
The publicity photograph looked so good that I made sure to get to Shimmy on a grey Saturday before their Breakfast service finished at 11h00, making it just in time. I need not have rushed, as I was the only patron in the vast restaurant, which I wrote about a year ago. One of the hostesses took me through to my table, and excitedly I told her that I had come to try the Breakfast Pizza (R89), and described my dry cappuccino request to her. She promptly handed me over to Russian waitress Olga, repeating to her what I had just ordered. The LavAzza coffee did not come dry, being a full cup of coffee with a thin layer of foam. Kindly Olga got them to try it again, and the second attempt was much better. A plate with three containers of garlic, chili, and tomato sauce was brought to the table. Continue reading →
* The South African wine industry should be more assertive, and not try to please everybody, says Johann Krige, owner of Kanonkop and outgoing Chairman of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), who has handed over the reins to Dr Michael Jordaan. Transformation in the industry of 680 members of WOSA and exporting collectively 550000 litres of wine is vital, Krige said. He said that the two windfalls of the ‘Mandela factor’ and a weak rand may have been bad for the industry, despite benefiting it financially, allowing inferior wines to be produced too. The Board of WOSA has the five largest ‘black exporters‘ on its Board of 15, a positive development, Krige added. He praised his Board members for working together for the ‘good of the whole industry‘. Bulk wine exports are environmentally-friendly, it being more ‘green’ to bottle at the destination. He urged the industry to be ‘terroirists‘, planting cultivars suitable to the soils on its farms. He added that the government sees the wine industry as ‘too white, too male and too Afrikaans‘, and has not acknowledged the transformation that has already taken place.
* Cape Town is praised in the British InStyle, writing with the headline ‘Why Cape Town should be your next holiday destination’ and stating that ‘Cape Town is the place to be’. Focusing largely on the Mount Nelson Hotel, almost sounding like an advertorial, it does encourage visitors to go up Table Mountain and to experience Robben Island; go on a walking tour of the city centre; visit the ‘Boulders Penguin Colony‘; see whales, dolphins, and seals, and even Great White sharks; experience the Neighbourgoods Market on Saturday mornings; and go to Greenmarket Square.
The Sweet Service Award goes to the Twelve Apostles Hotel and its GM Horst Frehse and Housekeeping Manager Laaiqah Raven, for their collegiality in lending us some duvet inners and bed linen when we needed to make up twin bed rooms for a group of UK wine sales representatives staying at Whale Cottage recently. The hotel did not charge (we have heard that this is a practice of the Mount Nelson Hotel), and the collection and return was very efficient. Continue reading →
* The wing of a BA plane with 182 passengers on board, rolling to the runway to London, hit a building at OR Thambo airport in Johannesburg when the pilot allegedly did not follow the instructions re the runway to use.
* The City of Cape Town and the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association with the Kaapse Klopse Karneval Association have met and have agreed that the associations will organise their own event in 2015. The City of Cape Town will assist with minstrel competitions held at Athlone Stadium, Florida Park, Vygieskraal, and Delft. The minstrels will march in Cape Town today, on New Year’s Eve, and on 4 January.
* The V&A Waterfront has completed a R 140 million upgrade, adding Pick ‘n Pay’s Western Cape flagship store now 6500 m² in size; created parking on the same level, having linked two different parking garages; and added 1400 m² upstairs by connecting two passages, expanding the size of Edgars, and adding four new shops. Its CEO David Green says that there was little disruption to the operation of the mall, but many customers, including ourselves, have expressed their annoyance at shopping on a building site for nine months. On average they receive 60000 visitors every day, but they have had days of double that number (we question how they measure the visitors, not having an electronic car counter as they had in early days).
* Justine Sacco, who achieved notoriety in writing the ‘worst Tweet of 2013‘, appears to be on holiday in Cape Town Continue reading →
I had eagerly awaited the opening of the Cavalli Estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, its majestic entrance having been completed about two years ago, and having heard a number of times that Chef Henrico Grobbelaar would be heading up the kitchen in the Equus restaurant. Its Equus Tasting Room, Gallery, Boutique, and Restaurant opened a month ago, its 54 thoroughbred saddlebred horses, and olive and vine plantation make up the Cavalli Estate. It must be the largest Winelands tourism offering in terms of size and facilities offered.
Horses dominate everything at Cavalli, the Italian name for the animal, and the racehorse stud was developed while the Equus centre was being built. The stud is the main reason for the estate’s existence, and one passes the large stable building as one drives to Equus, with fynbos evident in the gardens landscaped by Keith Kirsten, who also did the Delaire Graff gardens. I had been invited to be shown around by mother and daughter Gundel and Annette Sogor from Gordon’s Bay, who had been to the tasting room before, but had not yet eaten at Equus. Arriving separately, we each shared how unprofessional the welcome at the security entrance as well as at the parking had been, and Lauren Smith, owner’s daughter, architect, and Operations Manager of the estate, made quick work in having the problem addressed and the outsourced security men replaced.
The Equus building is vast, and consists of a massive art gallery, a boutique, Continue reading →
It was a boisterous Diners Club Platter’s South African Wines 2014 ‘prize-giving’ last night, with a record 80 wines receiving the much-desired 5 star accolade, selected blind-tasted from double the number of 5-star finalists. It was an evening that honoured publisher Andrew McDowall, and saw new publisher JP Rossouw in action for the first time.
A number of records were set last night, with the largest number of wines evaluated ever, at 7434, there being 49 new entries, and close to 900 producers of wine in the Guide. After an absence, brandy and sherry-style wines were awarded again.
On arrival, sipping Klein Constantia MCC, a number of well-known winemakers and estate owners were visible, giving one a taste of some of the 5 star winners, including last year’s Winery of the Year winner Gottfried Mocke of Cape Chamonix, Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick, Razvan Macici of Nederburg, Anthony Hamilton Russell, Johann Laubser of Delaire Graff, and Ginny Povall of Botanica. We commented that it was wonderful to see so many women winemakers amongst the top 5 star recipients! Once we were allowed to enter the venue at the Vineyard Hotel, the wines were displayed in groups, for one to taste and to see the 5 star winners by their presence.
David Hughes sang the praises of Andrew, and his direct involvement with 29 of the 34 Platter’s Wine Guides. He described Andrew as a man ‘massive in character’, who has a nickname ‘Grunter‘, who got himself smuggled into a Nederburg Wine Auction via the boot of a car when he did not receive an invitation, who fell onto a cannon at the bottom of the steps of the Mount Nelson when he slid down the bannister at his 40th birthday party, a man one can trust when he gives you his word, ‘and a hell of a good guy‘, warning JP that he has big boots to fill in taking over from Andrew. There was roaring applause for Andrew.
Andrew looked well, and his dry humour was on full form, saying that the romance with Diners Club last year had led to marriage during the year. He was full of praise for his ‘young, strong and virile’ successor JP. He was proud that the edition was printed locally and not in Singapore. He revealed the ‘Walker Bay blue’ cover, saying that they had considered calling it ‘Pendock sea sick’, which brought the house down! He praised editor Philip van Zyl as the ‘most ethical man’, which led to applause from the floor. The 80 5 star winners include 7 brandies, up from 62 last year. I asked Andrew what he would be doing with his time, and he said he wasn’t sure, but getting better at bridge is one of his goals. Continue reading →