On Thursday we saluted Ken and Allan Forrester, Natasha Wray, and Martin Meinert, the four original founders of 96 Winery Road on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, who still jointly own the restaurant 21 years later. It was a Media Lunch filled with nostalgia and reminiscing, being served the restaurant’s most popular dishes over the 21 years. Continue reading →
On Friday I was honored to have been invited to lunch with our country’s Chenin Blanc king Ken Forrester, at 96 Winery Road restaurant, which he co-owns with his brother Allan, to celebrate the restaurant’s 20th anniversary today. Being his sole guest made the invitation even more special. Continue reading →
On Friday evening I had the pleasure of eating my first meal prepared by a Michelin star restaurant chef. Chef Roger Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, with a Michelin star earned every year in the past ten years, prepared a six-course meal at Continue reading →
Yesterday we were invited by Ken Forrester Vineyards to attend a tasting of twelve of its Rhône blends, produced in the last twenty years of its journey in making Rhône varietals and blends. One could not help associate owner Ken Forrester with the character of these wines, having interesting names of Renegade, Three Halves, and Gypsy. The tasting was followed by lunch at 96 Winery Road, a restaurant co-owned by Ken with his brother.
We met at the Ken Forrester Tasting Room, on a gorgeous sunny autumn day, dressed with a Gypsy theme, in table cloths, carpets, staff outfits, bunting in the vineyard, a banner at the entrance, and ribbons on our media packs, all reflecting the Gypsy theme. Continue reading →
The sixth Taste of Cape Town, to be held at the Green Point Cricket Club from today until Sunday, promises to be a feast of food and beverages, prepared by some of the Cape’s leading chefs, and offered for tasting by top wine estates and beverage houses.
A pop-up restaurant will feature some of our region’s best chefs, hosted by a different chef each day:
* Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, representing The Pot Luck Club, offering Miso-glazed short rib with kimchi, pork belly with XO and red cabbage slaw, and Thai-style prawns with Tom Yum butter on Friday.
* Chef Bruce Robertson, past owner of award-winning The Showroom, and now running The Boathouse from his home in Scarborough, will dish up snot vis (photograph) and sea cucumber, ‘Viss ‘n Tjips’, and Lucky Star pie on Saturday.
* Chef Scot Kirton of La Colombe will offer Lemon verbena cured trout, ostrich tataki, and rose and coconut pannacotta on Thursday.
* Chef Tanja Kruger of Makaron Restaurant, and member of the SA Culinary team, will serve Nigiri sustainable fish, smoked lamb belly, and a rum, caramel and banana dessert on Sunday.
Eleven restaurant stands will offer food to taste, in exchange for crowns (R5 per crown, and dish prices range from 4 – 8 crowns each, as a means of payment:
* Azure Restaurant at the Twelve Apostles hotel, with Chef Henrico Grobbelaar at the helm, serving duck liver cream, Chalmar beef fillet, and Bea Tollman’s rice pudding
* 96 Winery Road in Stellenbosch, led by Chef Natasha Wray, serving crispy pork belly strips, line fish Nobu style, and parmesan and chorizo risotto
* De Grendel Restaurant, which opened a year ago, with Chef Ian Bergh, serving duck and risotto, braised beef, and quail.
* Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta, with Chef Shaun Schoeman, offering Tiger prwan and calamari breyani, Karoo ‘lamsoutribbetjie‘, and venison wild rosemary pie
* Signal Restaurant at the Cape Grace, with Chef Malika van Reenen, serving prawn salad, beef short rib, and pear dessert
* Jewel of India, now located in Bo-Kaap, with Chef Dayanand Shankar Poojary, serving Chicken Tikka, Paneer Makhani, and Madras fish curry
* Beefcakes Burger Bar, based in Green Point, with Chef Wonderful Ndhlovu offering poppers, gourmet ostrich burge, and chocolate brownie.
* Dash Restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel in the V&A Waterfront, with Chef Craig Paterson, serving fish rillettes, braised lamb breast, and ‘Go Bananas’ dessert
* The Brasserie (sister restaurant to Societi Bistro) with Chef Stefan Marais, offering West Coast mussels, Brasserie Scotch egg, and French onion soup
* Il Leone Mastrantonio with Chef Daniel Toledo, serving Linguine ai Gamberetti (prawns), flash-fried calamari, and coffee-flavoured panacotta.
Top chefs will do demonstrations in the Pick ‘n Pay Chef’s Theatre, while the Pick ‘n Pay Wine and Canapé Experience will teach Festival goers how to pair wines and canapés. Lindt’s Master Chocolatiers will demonstrate making Lindor truffles and pralines and chocolate sculpturing, with their Excellence and Creation ranges available for sale. A special focus on Thai foods will be offered via cooking demonstrations by Thai chefs, organised by the Royal Thai Embassy. A Food Market will not only offer artisanal foods for sale, but also beverages such as the new award-winning Bains Cape Mountain whisky from Wellington, the best single grain whisky in the world, as well as Fairtrade wines.
The Taste of Cape Town is one of 18 Taste festivals hosted around the world. Taste of Durban will be held in July and Taste of Joburg in September. Taste of Cape Town is environmentally friendly, with Interwaste recycling at the festival, and biodegradable eating utensils and bowls made by Green Home Products will be used.
POSTSCRIPT 12/4: Parking is in short supply, and traffic cops are all around the venue, to frighten anyone off parking anywhere else except inside the Cape Town Stadium, at a reasonable charge of R20. The evening was wonderful, mild weather wise, lots of attendees but it never felt crowded. The pop-up restaurant (Pot Luck Club this evening, but without Luke Dale-Roberts, as advertised on the program) had the longest queue, so one should go there first. Tweeting is difficult, almost impossible from the festival, given the network overload. Signal Restaurant of the Cape Grace hotel was the ‘best dressed’ restaurant, in giving one a feel of its real counterpart. It is difficult to present one’s dishes under such trying conditions, and there can be little talk of ‘plating’ on a small recycled plate, but the best looking dish was Savour’s Norwegian salmon and avocado tartare with parmesan galette, Ikura caviar, soy-lime broth (this detracted from the dish) and micro-herbs (right). The best tasting dish was the Twelve Apostles’ Azure starter of Duck liver cream, pickled red apple, and lentil leek mignonette (left). I enjoyed sitting at the tables spread around the grounds, just chatting about the dishes and the restaurants they came from. There are a lot of Capetonians interested in our Cape Town restaurants. I heard a lot of Afrikaans spoken, and the PR representative Errieda du Toit told me that Afrikaans media had covered the festival for the first time. Lindt impressed with its shop and demonstration area, the making of pralines and Lindor being demonstrated. One should go here at the beginning or end, as it became very full.
Taste of Cape Town, 11 and 12 April 18h30 – 22h30, 13 April 13h00 – 17h00 and 18h30 – 22h30, 14 April 12h00 – 17h00, www.tasteofcapetown.com Twitter: @Taste Taste Fest app available for free for Apple, Blackberry, and Android devices. R80 entrance and tasting glass, R180 includes R100 tasting crowns.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Taste of Cape Town is part of an international festival of food, run with the same name in cities around the world annually, and is running in Cape Town for the fifth year, at the conveniently located Green Point Cricket Club. The food quality of the dishes prepared in less than ideal conditions by fourteen top restaurants is much improved compared to previous years, when it felt ‘mass produced’, and is excellent this year. It is an inexpensive way to get a taste of what some of the Cape’s best chefs are capable of. Commendable was that the chefs were hands-on and on duty at their stands. We rated Pop-Up stand Tokara tops, when we attended on opening day on Thursday evening.
Parking is an annual nightmare, and if one is not there when the gates open, one has to be prepared to walk quite a distance. The road outside the festival entrance had parking on one side only when we arrived, but had doubled up to the other side of the road on our return. Parking can only get harder to find over the next two days. The lady in the ticket office was unprofessional when selling us the entrance tickets. The entry package is confusing, costing R80 only for entrance and a tasting glass, or R200 for a tasting glass, entrance and 20 crowns (the payment method for food and drinks) but is marked as R120, or R650 for a special package price.
The organisers appear to have struggled to get restaurants to participate, only a handful having committed when Taste of Cape Town 2012 was first announced. We have heard that they had to beg restaurants to participate, the deal being that there is no stand fee payable, and that the organisers and restaurants equally share the crown income. Some high profile restaurants participating in the past (e.g. Le Quartier Français, Pierneef a La Motte, Reuben’s) were visible by their absence. There seemed to be more space allocated for the stands this year, especially the restaurant ones, which allowed them to bring decor elements from their restaurants into the stand. Signal Restaurant of the Cape Grace Hotel (photograph above) was probably the most attractively decorated, but small touches and large photographs of their interior were used by most restaurants to attract attention to their stands. Each restaurant offered a selection of three dishes, which were priced in terms of crowns (1 crown is R5). The average crown price for a main course dish is 6 – 8 crowns, allowing three dishes at most to be bought from one booklet. The stand layout is circular, and one tends to start at the right and make one’s way around. The stands are widely spread over the field, so that one does not feel crowded. The hardest decision is to choose at which restaurant stands to spend one’s crowns. Running parallel to the restaurant stands were wine and beer brand stands, which did not attract as much attention as those of the restaurants, mainly because they were smaller. It took us at least an hour to walk around the field once, with many chat stops along the way, and generous offers of chefs to try their dishes. Chef Henrico Grobbelaar of the Azure Restaurant at the Twelve Apostles Hotel ran out of his makeshift kitchen, and asked us to try his Beef fillet with lentil ragout, almond cream and parmesan crumbs, the steak being beautifully soft.
Tokara Restaurant had taken the Taste Pop-Up stand on Thursday, which will be rotated daily, with Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine hosting it today, and La Mouette tomorrow. Tokara’s stand had by far the most beautiful and sophisticated food of all the stands we tried, and they reflect Chef Richard Carstens’ recently launched winter menu, rich in flavour, and beautiful in colour (left), especially his Bobotie-spiced chicken with eggplant pickle, turmeric crisp and tomato, but his Togarashi beef sashimi tartare, sushi rice, wasabi mayonnaise, ponzu, jalapeno and cashews impressing as well. The Japanese style cheesecake was light as a feather, a lovely medley of tastes of pear, jasmine, green tea, and almonds. The SABC2 Expresso Show was filming Chef Richard when we arrived at the stand.
Chef Bertus Basson shared his Overture stand with partner Craig Cormack of Sofia’s at Morgenster, and their star attraction was one of Bertus’ new projects, being his ‘WORS-ROL’ served with home-made ketchup and ‘wonder-mostert sous‘. Chef Bertus wore the T-shirt as well, and stickers with the fun sub-brand were handed out. Other chefs with stands came to get this special hot dog. The beetroot risotto, beetroot puree, served with beetroot, honey and cumin ice cream looked very striking. River trout pastrami, cocette potatoes, and lemon preserve salad, as well as a Banana split with caramel and peanuts were also served. La Colombe is next to the Pop-up stand, and Chef Scot Kirton served a prawn, coconut and lemongrass velouté, with prawns and chestnut, creatively in an egg shell on a stand. They also offer an Asian style beef carpaccio with shitake mushrooms, sesame crema, avcado and nori puffs. The dessert was a delicious sounding chocolate torte, tobacco caramel, Hennessy marshmallow fluff, coffee meringues and hazelnut crumble. One of the stands with the largest number of food lovers was that of Makaron of Majeka House in Stellenbosch. Chef Tanja Kruger’s Majeka burger is made from Spier pasture-reared beef, in a brioche bun, with foie gras butter, caramelised red onion and crispy coppa. They also offered a prawn laksa with sesame, coconut, basmati rice and sauce; as well as Cauliflower custards, popcorn powder, popped wild rice, truffle caviar, and sweetcorn velouté.
I had an interesting chat with the Food & Beverage Manager of 15 on Orange about whether hotel restaurants can ever reach the standards of independent restaurants. Food & Beverage Manager Andreas van Breda at the Mount Nelson Hotel was at the Planet Restaurant counter, and told me the Titanic dinner had been a great success. Chef Rudi Liebenberg came to say hello, and said that they are running an amended version of the menu until the end of April, at R330. Other restaurant stands were Bistro Sixteen82 with Chef Brad Ball and his team from Steenberg Hotel, Fyndraai Restaurant with chef Shaun Schoeman, the Taj Hotel restaurant collection of Mint and Bombay Brasserie, led by Chef Shyam Langani, Il leone Mastrantonio with Chef Daniel Toledo, 96 Winery Road with Chef Natasha Wray, and The Westin Executive Club Restaurant led by Chef Johann Breedt.
There appeared to be fewer beverage stands this year. Some of the exhibitors included Boston Breweries, De Wetshof, Ernie Els, Gordon’s Gin, Hardenberg Kleiner Keiler Spicy Cherry Liqueur, Hermanuspietersfontein, Idiom, Jägermeister, Neil Joubert, Morgenster, Castle Milk Stout, The Goose, Thelema/Sutherland, Villiera, Vinotria, Warwick, Waterford, Waverley Hills, and Wedderwill. A small market has been set up, as in previous years, and includes Bottega, Buffalo Ridge, Cape Mountain Charcuterie, La Petite France cheeses, ORYX desert salt, Queen of Tarts, Sugar Coated Raindrops with beautiful cupcakes, Yummy Brownies, and lots more. Pick ‘n Pay is a major participant, with a Fresh Living Chef’s Theatre which has demo’s by most of the chefs with stands demonstrating the making of their Taste of Cape Town or other dishes. There is also a Wine and Canapé Experience. Entrance to the Pick ‘n Pay events is free of charge, but is not made clear. There are no announcements about the events prior to their start.
It is impossible to get close to trying all 43 of the dishes offered by the 14 restaurants, and therefore it is advisable to take one’s time to check out the menus of each stand, and then to go back to choose the three most special ones, to buy from one’s booklet of crowns. Eating a top chef’s food with biodegradable cutlery and crockery, ‘mass produced’ under trying conditions is not the best way to appreciate the chefs’ dishes, but Taste of Cape Town 2012 is a good first and inexpensive way to get a bite of what some of our top Cape restaurants have to offer.
Taste of Cape Town 2012, Green Point Cricket Club, Cape Town. 21 April 13h00 – 17h00 and 18h30 – 22h30, and 22 April 12h00 – 17h00. www.tastefestivalssa.co.za Twitter: @TasteofCT
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage