Tag Archives: olives

Corona Virus: Lockdown Journey Journal, Day 51 of Level 1, 10 November 2020.


Tuesday 10 November 2020, Day 51 of Level 1, Day 229 of Lockdown ūüė∑

Corona Gratitude ūüôŹ

#Grateful for a sunny warmer day, with a mild South Easter this afternoon; for a busy writing day; for a tea meeting at Firefly Caf√© with Ryan Rudy, who heads up the Camps Bay Community Security Initiative; for a meeting with Chris Willemse, Chairman of the Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers Association, and Alma Horn, at their home, to be briefed on my Marketing role as a new member of the Management Committee; for harvesting three huge beetroot from the veg garden today; for posting my second SwitchBitch book to Marianne Busche in Johannesburg, so easy via Aramex courier at Pick n Pay; and for being happy and healthy. ūüôŹūüíô Continue reading →

Wacky Wine Weekend 2017: 1 – 4 June Media Visit Tasting Day 2!

Yesterday I posted an overview of the Media Visit day we spent in McGregor for Wacky Wine Weekend, my first taste of the wine event covering the Robertson Wine Valley, which continues until the end of today. It is the 14th Wacky Wine Weekend. I was unable to ascertain where the ‘Wacky’ part of the event name comes from! Continue reading →

Western Cape cheese the focus at 2015 South African Cheese Festival!

Cheese Festival selection of cheesesThe 14th South African Cheese Festival opens today, and runs over the next three days, with more than 30000 visitors expected. ¬†Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde will open the Festival today, and wants to see Western Cape cheese the focus of our country’s cheese industry, and that it be exported.

Two records have already been set for the 2015 Cheese Festival: it has the highest number of exhibitors ever, and the largest amount of space dedicated to cheese exhibitors in the history of the Cheese Festival.  The Cheese Festival is so popular that tickets for today and tomorrow are sold out already.

Visitors to the Cheese Festival will be introduced to new cheeses, and can enjoy cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, and meet personalities:

* ¬† In Dairy Square the Checkers Cheese Emporium has been set up. ¬†In the Checkers Continue reading →

Franschhoek joins The Délice Network of Good Food Cities of the World!

The Tasting Room pink dishFranschhoek has joined The Délice Network of Good Food Cities of the World, an international network of cities promoting the benefits of culinary excellence and good food, in partnership with the Cape Winelands District Municipality.

The D√©lice Network has 21 member cities, including Barcelona, Madrid, Montreal, Lausanne, Milan, Copenhagen, Chicago, Gothenburg, Birmingham, Helsinki, and Brussels. It is the only city in the Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 16 April

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Peace Table 2014 will take place on Tafelberg Road  below Table Mountain on 25 May, with a 3-course lunch for 700 prepared by Chef Peter Tempelhoff of The Greenhouse at Cellars Hohenhort in conjunction with Myatt in the V&A Waterfront.  There will be live music and a fashion show too.  Cost R480, all proceeds go to charity. (received via e-mail from The Little Black Book)

*   Schengen visa applications are likely to become more tourist-friendly from next year, reports Travel News Weekly.   The European Union wants to reduce the processing time of a visa, and to introduce a one-year touring visa in the 26-country Schengen area in Europe.   Regular travellers may receive multiple-entry visas for a three year period.

* ¬† 30000 Two Oceans Marathon runners are participating in the 45th race on Saturday, offered as a half and a full marathon and themed ‘Designed to Run‘ in recognition of Cape Town hosting World Design Capital 2014. ¬†Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde is estimating the event contributing R200 million to the province’s economy. ¬† The province has sponsored R350000 for the event. There appear to be mainly local runners participating this year, with few accommodation bookings received. (received via media release from Minister Winde’s office)

* ¬† All Nippon Airways (ANA) will be serving Cederberg Merlot Shiraz 2010 in Business Class. Continue reading →

Restaurant Review: The Olive Shack adds Greek touch to Allora in Franschhoek!

I have enjoyed chatting to Phillip Aplas since he opened Allora Ristorante, the Italian restaurant at the entrance to Franschhoek, two years ago.¬†¬† He and his wife Amanda are Greek, and they have created a space on the property for The Olive Shack, which is Amanda’s dedicated focus on olives and olive oil, and is an ode to her Greek heritage.

As one drives into Allora,¬†The Olive Shack lies directly ahead, not visible from the road.¬† Some newly planted olive trees provide shade to tables outside the olive emporium.¬†¬†¬†A central table displays all the olive oils they stock –¬†eight brands with many flavour varieties – as well as olives, tapenades, preserves, jams, and soaps.¬† What one can taste one can also buy.¬† There is no charge for the tasting.¬†

Amanda wants to present the best olives and olive oils of South Africa, but most of these are from the Western Cape, she says.  She even heard of an olive oil made in the Karoo recently, so is continuously searching for new additions to her range.   She only opened The Olive Shack three weeks ago.   Greek delicacies such as baklava can also be bought, and a serious-looking coffee-making machine making the best Illy cappuccino in Franschhoek is in the shop. 

One can sit outside on the Allora side of The Olive Shack, or be more private on the parking side, sitting under the olive trees.   Amanda has also introduced a Breakfast Menu for The Olive Shack, a Greek tapas and mezze menu, and picnics are also supplied.   One can order light lunches, including lasagne, cannelloni, panzerotti, mousaka, freshly-made spaghetti and fettucini, and sauces.  She will add kebabs and pancakes in future.

In chatting to Phillip, it is clear that he is dedicated to his restaurants, and is hands-on, one of few restaurant owners in Franschhoek to be so.¬†¬† He says that they have not increased their prices since they opened, and the menu is the same as the opening one.¬†¬† The Allora branches in Bedfordview and Sandton have higher prices, and are run by Phillip’s brother.

The Olive Shack tables are covered in brown paper, over a white table cloth, in Greek style.¬†¬† They look a bit messy on the car park entrance, as the wind lifts up the paper.¬†¬† The menu is printed in green and laminated, and one’s first reaction is disbelief at the low prices of the mezzes.¬†¬† I was brought a beautifully designed glass water jug to the table, with lots of slices of lemon.¬†¬† Olive oil and balsamic vinegar was brought to the table, in glass bottles, and the brand of olive oil used was one I had not heard of before, being Porcupine Hills from Elgin.¬†¬†

While I had not ordered it, Amanda sent ciabatta made with olives to the table, as well as the three mezzes of Tzadziki (their spelling) (R10), grilled halloumi (R20) and grilled pickled octupus (R25), in addition to which came a container of olive oil as well as an olive tapenade, all served on two wooden boards.    It was a feast, which cost a mere R55 in total, which Amanda did not want to take payment for, but I insisted.   The squid was served chilled, which made it refreshing, not only due to its temperature but also its marinade of vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and oreganum.  Other mezzes one can order out of the list of eighteen include hummus, melitzanosalata, grilled aubergine rolls stuffed with feta cheese, grilled brinjals and baby marrows, tiropita, and keftedes, all costing R20 or less.   Ciabatta costs R10 for a basket.  A variety of salads can be ordered, and range in price from R45 РR65.   Paninis with toppings such as smoked salmon trout, roast lamb, and chicken and avocado cost between R 50 РR75.   Desserts range from R25 РR42, and include baklava, chocolate mousse, fruit salad and yoghurt, and sorbets.   Breakfast of free-range scrambled eggs served with salmon, cold meats or feta and halloumi costs R35, or R29 if served with bacon.

Picnic baskets can be pre-ordered, costing R105 per person for the Alfresco Picnic, consisting of a small bottle of water, dips, cold meats, olives and tapenade, Greek salad, French loaf, olive ciabatta, chicken kebabs, fruit, and chocolate brownies. A Gourmet Picnic costs R360 for two persons, which includes a Franschhoek Cellars wine, mineral water, a tapas selection, dips, smoked salmon roses, French loaf, olive ciabatta, Caprese salad, chicken and prawn skewers, a cheese platter, strawberries and chocolate brownies.  Both picnic options offer a generous food selection. 

A small wine list of 17 Franschhoek wines is available, and the wines are very reasonably priced.¬† Six wines by the glass are available, and cost¬†R28/R85 for Franschhoek Cellars Chenin Blanc, The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon¬†and Sauvignon Blanc; Eikehof Chardonnay;¬†and Franschhoek Pass Ros√©.¬† The L’Omarins Protea Red costs R35/R115.¬†¬† Solms Astor Cape Jazz is the only Shiraz available.

I loved the informality and friendliness of The Olive Shack, the authentic Greek mezzes served, and the excellent cappuccino.   It is excellent value for money.   I will be back.

The Olive Shack,  Allora Restaurant, 58 Main Road, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-4375.  www.allora.co.za (No dedicated website for the The Olive Shack, and not mentioned on the Allora website).  Open Monday РSunday, 9h00 Р17h00.

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

Restaurant Review: Sofia’s at Morgenster set to become a star!

Sofia’s at Morgenster in Somerset West opened a month ago, and has been named after¬†the star that Morgenster owner¬†Guilio Bertrand¬†admires most, being Sophia Loren.¬†¬† When one enters the restaurant, photographs of the Italian actress welcome one.¬†¬† Sofia’s adds cuisine class to Somerset West, a town that has not been blessed with good restaurants (The Restaurant at Waterkloof being an exception), but has some service problems to address.

We had to go to Somerset West, and made a last-minute decision to call for a table.  Manager Michelle did not hesitate in saying yes, despite a full restaurant as a result of a birthday celebration by guests, for which we were grateful.  We arrived a little later than planned, but were happy to be given a table just to ourselves outside under the trees.  

Sofia’s at Morgenster¬†is run by chef Craig¬†Cormack, a partner of Bertus Basson of Overture, on the¬†Morgenster estate, probably better known for its olives and olive oils than it is for its wines.¬†¬† One drives through the estate, seeing the olive orchards on the hill, past the winery and tasting room, to get to Sofia’s. The rustic thatch-roofed building has a grape trellis, offering the perfect shade for sitting outside on a hot summer’s day.¬† The building has a number of rooms, not making it feel as large as it is.

The Fortis Hotelware cutlery design is contemporary, and I was delighted that I was offered a fish knife for the kingklip, something I missed at Aubergine¬†at our dinner a few days prior.¬† We did not receive serviettes, and had to ask for them.¬†¬†The menu changes weekly, and the week number is specified on the menu.¬†¬† The waitress looking after us was very willing to¬†check when she did not know something, which was quite often.¬† She brought the menu, a thin strip on a dark plastic clipboard, and talked us through the menu, describing every item.¬† She got stuck with the difficult words, and tried her best to come up with definitions (e.g. ‘parmentier’ she described as ‘shredded’, when it means that it is potato-based).¬† She did admit that she was new to the hospitality industry, having worked in the cosmetics industry before.¬† Every starter she described to us with warts and all of how chef Craig and his team¬†prepares it (I would have preferred to not have known so much detail), and described every dish as “very delicious”.¬† I felt sorry for her, as she was out of her depth in taking orders and in talking through the menu – some names she mentioned¬†I asked her to spell.¬† She told me that they are just taught the words, without the spelling!¬†¬†¬†

Chef Craig sent an antipasto platter of olive-based treats to the table, to demonstrate the partnership with Morgenster.  I loved the tapenade, and the marinaded black olives, but did not eat the mini-pizza slices, as they were topped with anchovies, a personal dislike.

The menu is compact, with four options each per starter, main course and dessert.¬† A two-course meal costs R155 and 3-courses R220.¬† Despite the restricted choice, it was hard to choose what to order, it all sounded so¬†“very delicious”.¬†¬† I chose the chicken liver parfait as a starter, which was served with a peach chutney, as well as a light and fluffy brioche.¬†¬† Other starter options are smoked snoek parmentier, Asian squid salad and onion tarte tartin.¬† The main course was ordered as a “parma ham wrapped over roasted fish” on the menu, but there was no parma ham when it was served.¬†¬† It was served with a vanilla risotto,¬†an unusual taste, and a truffle froth.¬† My partner’s beef stroganoff was tasty, but not exceptional.¬†¬† Other main courses¬†choices were¬†pork fillet and braised lamb shoulder.¬† The dessert choice was a difficult one, all four sounding wonderful – chocolate royaltine and vanilla ice cream; watermelon soup; cr√ɬ®me brule (sic); and the most interesting sounding beetroot ice cream, beetroot cheese and smoked and pickled beetroots.¬†¬†¬†A cute touch was a small Father Christmas gingerbread biscuit¬†that came¬†with the cappuccino served in an unusual¬†glass cup¬†with silver handle.¬†

We ordered the Graham Beck Brut Ros√ɬ© by the glass (R45), only listed on the winelist per bottle (R130).¬†¬† The Graham Beck Brut is charged at the same price, which is unusual, given that the Ros√ɬ© bubbly usually is more expensive.¬†¬†¬†¬†The white house wine is the Collaboration chenin blanc, a collaboration between chefs Craig and Bertus, as well as the Hidden Valley winemaker Louis Nel.¬†¬† Wine vintages are specified,¬†and the price spectrum fair.¬† White wines start at R30/R150 for Lands End Sauvignon Blanc and Kleine Zalze Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc (R150), up to R250 for Rustenburg Wooded Chardonnay and Radford Dale Viognier.¬† The red wine selection is restricted, at R30/R105 for Sofia’s 2002 vintage house wine made by Morgenster¬†– R 300 for Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir 2009 and Annandale Shiraz 2003, to allow¬†the presentation of Morgenster’s Bordeaux Blend wines.¬† The flagship Morgenster range is priced per vintage (R350 – R460), as is their Louren’s River Valley range (R160 – R185).¬†¬†The Morgenster Tosca, Nabucco and Caruso wines are also available.¬†¬† The Morgenster wines have a small mark-up of about R30 per bottle for the Lourens River valley wines, and¬†of R60 for the Morgenster range.

I liked the peaceful country farm setting, the character renovated thatched roof building, the hand-picked ingredients where possible from the Morgenster gardens, and chef Craig’s creativity and¬†weekly menu changes.¬†¬†Staff training needs attention.¬† The hardest challenge for chef Craig is to¬†use culinary terms which the staff can pronounce¬†and explain correctly.¬†¬†¬†¬†The starter arrived almost too quickly after placing the order,¬†while the second course dishes took too long.¬†¬† I will be back, to try more of chef Craig’s creativity.¬† Sofia’s is a star in the making, but the restaurant still needs time to¬†settle in.

POSTSCRIPT 22/4: Returned to Sofia’s¬†for a food and wine appreciation society. In a cosy room with fireplace.¬† Evening started with a tasting of Morgenster wines: Caruso Ros√©, Tosca (60 % Sangiovese), Nabucco, Lourens River Valley, and the Platter 5-star Morgenster Bordeaux blend.¬† Two canap√©s were served: Ham hock terrine and pea spoom, and chicken liver parfait with brioche and green fig, both excellent.¬†¬†The Calamari and coconut curry starter was accompanied by a 2010 Doolhof Sauvignon Blanc, with a very sharp chilli taste, and the least successful dish of the evening.¬†¬† The main course of pork neck, prune and almanad jus was paired with the Sofia’s red blend.¬†¬† Lovely dessert of chocolate truffle cake with raspberry compote and raspberry ice cream.

Chef Craig Cormack is an avid salt collector, and he sent around six of the 42 salts he has (there are 129 kinds of salt in total): Black Hawaiian Lava, Red Lava, Cervia, Bolivian Rose, Pakistani Volcanic, and Persian Blue Crystal.

Sofia’s at Morgenster, off Vergelegen entrance, Lourensford Road, Somerset West.¬† Tel (021) 847-1993.¬† http://www.facebook.com/Sofias.at.morgenster¬†(No website, which is hopefully being worked on, to allow a professional profile of the restaurant, without the grammatical errors on the Facebook page, and¬†photographs of the beautiful plating in an Image Gallery).¬† Open Mondays, Wednesdays – Sundays for lunch, and Wednesdays and Saturdays for dinner.

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

Franschhoek celebrates Le Festival Bastille

For the 17th year, Franschhoek will put on its French dress, and Franschhoekers will dust off their berets,¬†celebrating the 14 July storming of La Bastille.¬† “Again in 2010, Franschhoek’s Bastille Festival, which began as a village fete, will be a celebration of freedom for all!” says the Festival brochure.¬†¬† The Bastille Festival takes place this weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday the Bastille Festival activities get off to a rolling start at 8h00 with a Boules Tournament on the Dutch Reformed Church grounds on the main road. ¬†From 10h00 onwards¬†there is¬†“a showcase of artisanal food and fare”¬†in the Town Hall and one can sit down at a Parisian cafe.¬†¬† Locally made olives and oils, fruit preserves,¬†honey products, tasty take-home treats, Cape cuisine, and fresh vegetables will be sold.

The highlight for regular Bastille¬†Festival supporters is the marquee in the centre of town, that sees almost every Franschhoek winery (Akkerdal, Allee¬†Bleue, Anthonij Rupert, Bellingham, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal, Dieu Donne,¬†Glenwood, Graham Beck,¬†Grande Provence, La Bri, La Motte, Lynx, Mont Rochelle, Rickety Bridge, Rupert¬†& Rothschild, Solms-Delta, Topiary and Vrede & Lust) paired with almost every restaurant in town (Allee Bleue, Dieu Donne, French Connection, The Grillroom, The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Haute Cabriere, iCi, La Petite Ferme, Monneaux, Plaisir de Merle, Reuben’s, and Fyndraai).¬† The food and winetasting marquee is open from 12h00 – 17h00 on Saturday and Sunday, and entrance costs R 100, which entitles one to five tasting coupons.¬†¬† Tickets can be booked at www.webtickets.co.za

The Porcupine Ridge Barrel Rolling competition starts at 14h00 on each of the two days, and a Waiters’ Race will be contested at the Food & Wine Marquee at 13h00 on Saturday.¬†

Whale Cottage Franschhoek has a Bastille Festival weekend accommodation package Рwrite to winelands@whalecottage.com.  

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

April is Food Festival time in the Cape

Four food festivals in April will give food lovers something to look forward to, and will be a tourism boost to the towns in which the festivals will be taking place.   Unfortunately, some of the festivals overlap, but being longer than one day each, may still attract visitors to all events.

The South African Cheese Festival takes place over the long weekend (for those taking Monday 26 April off) from 24 – 27 April at Bien Donne, outside Franschhoek.¬† It offers Turophiles (cheese lovers) lots of cheese tasting, with artisan cheese makers displaying their special cheeses, as well as more standard supermarket ones at the Checkers Cheese Emporium.¬† Well-known entertainer Nataniel will be one of the celebrities doing a cooking demonstration, as will Soli Philander (Cape Talk), Beyers Truter (Beyerskloof), and food editors of women’s magazines.¬†¬† Related products such as breads, pestos, wines, preserves and olives will also be sold.¬†¬†¬†The Festival is open from 10h00 – 18h00 daily, and the entrance fee is R 110 on the weekend days and R 90 on the week days.¬† Tickets must be bought at Computicket and Checkers, and are not available at the gate. ¬†More information: www.cheesefestival.co.za

The Lamberts Bay Crayfish and Cultural Festival runs from 22 Р25 April, and offers crayfish at R 70, which includes salad, potatoes and a choice of two sauces.  Oysters will also be available at R 10 each.   Paella will be served at beach restaurant Muisbosskerm.  More than 100 stalls will be set up, and a new addition is the Music Festival, which includes performers such as Steve Hofmeyer, Thys die Bosveld Klong and DJ Ossewa, amongst others!   Ticket prices change per day of week, and range from R 40 РR 140.  More information: www.kreeffees.com

The Riebeek Valley Olive Festival takes place for the 10th year in Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West from 30 April Р2 May.   Olives are prepared and presented in numerous ways, to taste and to eat, as are the excellent wines, especially shiraz and ports (Allesverloren in particular), from the region.   No entry fee.  More information: www.riebeekvalley.info

The Prince Albert Olive Festival is only two days long,¬†on 30 April and 1 May,¬†and is a celebration in honour of the Prince Albert¬†valley and what¬†is produced from it, focusing on olives.¬† Entertainment is offered with the play “Dinner for one”, “antique” films will be screened, open gardens can be viewed, historical walks are offered, and a half marathon has been organised.¬†¬† African Relish is offering a Cookery Course.¬† More information : www.patourism.co.za

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