On Monday I was hosted for lunch by the Twelve Apostles Hotel, invited to try its new Sushi Menu, which was launched at the beginning of this month. With Chef Sarawut Sukkowplong, previously with Nobu at the One & Only at the helm, I knew that it would be a good experience. Continue reading →
I hadn’t seen Anél Potgieter for a while, and met with her on Monday at SeaBreeze Fish & Shell, my new favorite restaurant in Bree Street, on an atypical winter’s day, at 28C. She shared details of her fun new TV program ‘Bak of Brou’. Continue reading →
Last night’s episode 6 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ was set in beautiful Knysna, showcasing its timber industry, being the Oyster Capital of our country, and home to Ile de Pain, one of the best bakeries in South Africa. It is a pity that beautiful Plettenberg Bay, and the fertile farming region of George, Sedgefield, and Wilderness were excluded.
The episode opened with Hayden meeting Markus Farbinger, the Austrian baker who opened Ile de Pain a number of years ago on scenic Thesen Island, baking breads and pastries, which one can buy to take away or to enjoy in their coffee shop. Schoon de Companje owner Fritz Schoon worked with Markus for a year, and learnt all he knows from Markus, before setting up De Oude Bank Bakkerij in Stellenbosch, now renamed. Fritz featured in Stellenbosch episode 2 with Hayden, showing him how to bake mosbolletjies, and went zorbing with him at De Morgenzon! Liezie Mulder is the chef and Markus the baker in their business, having a restaurant in the town centre too. Markus had baked some lavash flatbread in his woodfired oven, which Chef Liezie used to make South African Boerewors Wraps for breakfast, adding scrambled eggs, boerewors, and sheba, a salsa made from tomatoes, onions, garlic, cayenne pepper, red pepper, sugar, salt, and pepper. This was followed by a surfing Continue reading →
Prince Albert and Princess Charlène will be hosting a second wedding reception for not only South African friends and family, but also for some of the dignitaries attending the 123rd International Olympic Committee session, at the Oyster Box in Umhlanga later today.
While the details of the wedding menu and the attendance at the cocktail function have been shrouded in secrecy, some information about the wedding meal and its 450 guests have been found. The guests at the lunch will include FIFA President Sepp Blatter, FIFA ex-President Joao Havelange, International Association of Athletics Federation head Lamine Diack, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg (who both attended the Monaco wedding), Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Princess Anne, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, IOC member Sam Ramsamy, King Mswati of Swaziland, and Vivian Reddy, report The Times and Sowetan. The couple was invited to lunch with President Zuma at King House, the presidential residence in Durban, yesterday.
Executive Chef Kevin Joseph of the Oyster Box Hotel will prepare the meal, saying it is not the largest event that he has catered for, but certainly the most high profile. With nine years at the hotel, and previous experience at Raffles in Singapore, the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta and the Milestone in London, he is confident that he and his team will do a great job today. Asked why Princess Charlène had chosen the hotel for the reception, he said that her father “is part of the horse-racing fraternity and the Oyster Box has always been a big part of that world”, reports the Sunday Times. Earlier this year, Princess Charlène stayed at the hotel, and loved its Indian food.
The menu is a secret, but Chef Kevin says that he was given carte blanche for it, but with the specification that it should contain both South African and French cuisine. The colour theme for the decor is the Monaco red and white. Local produce will be organic, and fish, meat and cheeses will come from KwaZulu-Natal. All breads, pastries and ice creams will be made in-house. An oyster bar will offer oysters prepared in different ways, a butler service keeping guests topped up with ‘beautifully plated’ food. Boerewors and mealie pap will be on the menu too, as will sardines. Dombeya Chardonnay and Samara will be served, and Haskell winemaker Rianie Strydom will be one of the reception guests.
“Of course I hope the bridal couple enjoy it, but I really want the guests, international and local, to leave with the conviction that South African hospitality is amongst the best in the world. I want our guests to go home and say, ‘You’ve got to go and experience South Africa – and particularly Durban!”, he said.
Princess Charlène flies to Cape Town tomorrow, to attend a function of the Giving Organisation Trust with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Noordhoek, and visiting the Cotlands HIV/AIDS hospice and the Fynbos Project at Lourensford, both in Somerset West.
POSTSCRIPT 8/7: A special Oysters Charlène dish was created by The Oyster Box for the function, reports AFP, being oysters baked with creamed spinach, curried lentils and asparagus.
POSTSCRIPT 11/7: Now that the reception is over, and confidentiality agreements no longer apply, more details of the reception menu have been made available by The Sunday Independent. A total of 60000 canapés, prepared for the 500 guests by a team of 30 chefs, included crayfish with lime and palm sugar glaze and wasabi egg puree; seared tuna loin with Japanese seven spice, crisp seaweed salad, soya and mint dressing; ostrich bobotie and raisin spring rolls; Dargyl duck liver and truffle paté; mini raspberry and honey Pavlovas; a duo of opera chocolate slices, mini chocolate and bitter orange éclairs; French apple tartlets with frangipani topping; and malva pudding. Moët et Chandon was served, as well as Dombeya and Bouchard Finlayson wines, the latter wine estate owned by the owners of The Oyster Box. The wedding cake was a lighthouse, the icon of The Oyster Box. Sad if true, is the report in The Times today that Prince Albert and Princess Charlène stayed in different hotels whilst in Durban.
Quick to make capital of the most high profile event The Oyster Box has ever hosted, parent company Red Carnation Hotels has launched a “You’re One in a Million” R1 million wedding package at The Oyster Box and sister hotel The Twelve Apostles in Camps Bay. The two night stay at The Oyster Box includes a Rolls Royce transfer, accommodation in the Presidential Suite on the wedding night, a microlight trip, ‘free-flowing oysters, champagne, strawberries and chocolate fountains throughout their stay’, use of the spa, a pre-wedding spa party for the female guests, a Zulu dance welcome, a gourmet seafood evening, champagne breakfast, golf for the groom and three friends, hair and make-up for the bride, flowers for the wedding, horse-drawn carriage, the services of a photographer and videographer, a parting gift of an oil painting of The Oyster Box, and two nights at Phinda. The Twelve Apostles package includes a return business flight, a silk Madiba shirt, champagne, canapés, rehearsal dinner, South African smorgasbord and seafood barbeque, entertainment by Cape Minstrels and a jazz band, champagne breakfast, hair and make-up, manicure and pedicure, barber service for the groom and best man, as well as massages and mini manicure and mini-pedicure, scenic drive for waiting wedding guests on Harley Davidsons or vintage cars, the wedding ceremony, a music trio, butterflies, marriage officer, photographer and videographer, a cheetah for photographs, venue decoration, seven-course banquet, Bouchard Finlayson wines, champagne, wedding cake, a jazz trio, a one hour scenic helicopter flight, a half-day cruise, and a two-night stay at Bushman’s Kloof.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
For the third year running, twenty of Franschhoek’s wine farmers are inviting wine and food lovers to visit their wine estates this coming Saturday and Sunday (4 and 5 September), to taste their new vintages, to eat specialities from the Gourmet capital of South Africa, and to enjoy French-style activities over a weekend of food, fun and wine.
Tickets for Franschhoek Uncorked cost R80 each, and can be bought at Computicket, or at any participating wine estate. The full programme offered by the 20 wine estates is as follows:
* Vrede & Lust will have a cigar lounge, Aston Martins will be on display, chocolate can be tasted and diamonds will sparkle
* Plaisir de Merle will serve more of their lovely pancakes, offer live music, and for the first time offer bread made from flour ground in a historic water mill on the wine estate.
* Allee Bleue will offer live jazz, and a tasting of their new Brut Rose’. Smoked salmon croissants, Flammkuchen, Chicken Tandoori wraps, and Shrimp Guacamole wraps will be available for sale.
* Solms-Delta will offer “Kaapse” music, food, and wine.
* L’Ormarins has the Franschhoek Motor Museum on its property, will make its Antonij Rupert Protea and Terra del Capo wines available for tasting, boules can be played, and gourmet sandwiches can be bought
* Graham Beck will offer its Methode Cap Classique bubblies as well as wines to taste, and oysters, cheese and charcuterie platters will be available to eat. Winemakers Pieter Ferreira and Erika Obermeyer will host masterclasses at R 75 a head, on Saturday and Sunday, at 10h00 and 14h00
* Lynx Wines will have a Spanish Fiesta theme again, and live Spanish music will be played. Tapas served include serrano ham and calamari
* Topiary Wines will release their Rose 2009 and their Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. Visitors can blend their own wines. Live music is offered.
* La Chataigne offers boules and live entertainment
* Moreson offers live music, and a food market
* Maison is the newest Franschhoek wine estate, and belongs to Chris Weylandt of Weylandt’s, and is now also a winemaker. Food, jazz and wines will be offered.
* La Motte’s new and Franschhoek’s latest restaurant Pierneef a La Motte offers Cape Winelands cuisine, a Farm Shop sells wines, gifts and farm-baked bread. The new La Motte Art Gallery, one of the rooms dedicated to the priceless paintings by Pierneef, has opened, and a classical guitar recital will be hosted on Saturday evening.
* Glenwood will host a Boules Trophy, and is pairing its wines with gourmet food prepared by Camil and Ingrid Haas, previously of Bouillabaisse and Camil’s, serving Bouillabaisse, Chicken Curry and Crepe Suzette.
* Rickety Bridge offers tapas too, and its Top 10 Shirazes. Live music, boules, as well as farm rides in their Dodge truck are also available.
* Grande Provence offers live music, five vintages will be paired with five dishes, a Chef’s Table is offered, and the Grande Provence Pinot Noir will be launched. Cheese and charcuterie boards will be available.
* Franschhoek Cellars offer cheese and wine tastings, as well as cheese lunches
* Dieu Donne offers live music, Vineyard platters, “wine-infused casual food”, and micro-beer on tap
* Cabriere offers a wine tour and tasting, with a Sabrage, at 11h00 on Saturday and Sunday
* La Petite Ferme offers wine tours, and salmon and wine pairing at R120.
* Boekenhoutskloof will launch The Chocolate Block 2009, a band will provide the “gees” and Reuben Riffel will offer his famous Reuben’s Barbeque Experience.
Further details can be obtained from the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau, Tel (021) 876-3603.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
For my last World Cup viewing I chose The Twankey Bar at the Taj Hotel in Cape Town, a bar I had wanted to visit on a previous occasion, but which was closed for stocktake on that day (the Germany versus England match). Last night it was the 3rd and 4th play-off between Germany and Uruguay, and the five Germans at The Twankey Bar were delighted with their team’s 3-2 win.
I did not know that the Widow Twankey is a well-known character in Alladin. According to Wikipedia, she is a “pantomime dame portrayed as a man” (read more here). The Widow Twankey figurine is a feature outside on the erstwhile Board of Executors building in which The Twankey Bar is housed, and gave the bar its name.
The Twankey Bar has a swanky feel, as you step into it from the corner of Adderley and Wale Streets, in a venue separated from the Taj Hotel. It has beautiful wooden floors, marble table and bar tops, red leather tub chairs (uncomfortably high and very sharp arm rests), bar chairs and some of the other tub chairs are in silver leather, a silver painted pressed steel ceiling, beautiful art deco lamps, and silk-like curtains in a deep red and silver. The silver and red theme is not carried through in the staff uniforms, which are a creme shirt, black cap and black pants, odd given the colourful uniforms the staff wear in Mint and Bombay Brasserie inside the Hotel. A lone black and white photograph of a boat decorates one wall, and echoes the “seafood” theme, probably picked up from the anchor in the Twankey statuette. I would have liked a little more light, especially to read the bill.
We were given the choice of rugby or soccer, as the initial guests in the Bar were not watching any sport. When they left, soccer won, and the volume was turned up. Nothing in The Twankey Bar reflected the world’s largest sport event taking place in the country. With five of us in the Bar during the match, we certainly made the “gees”, but there were not enough customers on the rainy and cold Cape Town night to give it the spirit. But when your team wins, you don’t need other people’s “gees”! It was an exciting match, and kept one holding thumbs and begging Paul the Octopus to make his prediction of a win for Germany come true, his seventh correct prediction!
The menu is a simple yet elegantly designed one, laminated, and I was encouraged by the Manager Leslie Heaven to take it home with me so that I did not have to write it all down. The menu states “Seafood * Champagne * Guinness * Oysters” on the front, and this gives one a feel of its focus immediately. The manager told me it is an Irish pub, due to the Guinness served. The Seafood focus is odd for a pub, but it is only Calamari (R55), Tempura Prawns (R85), and the Tuna Tatiki (R85) that meet this description. On the table were heavily spiced cashew nuts, wasabi peanuts and chilli poppers, encouraging one to drink more beer to get over the spiciness. On the reverse side it refers to its “Tapas Menu”.
Our food and beer were brought quickly after placing the order, with new-looking quality cutlery and very small material serviettes. The Guacamole and spicy tortilla dish (R50) was massive – despite having asked for the least spicy tortillas, they were still pretty hot, and the manager organised some toast instead. The guacamole was spicy too, with a strong taste of onion. I am used to guacamole being smooth – The Twankey Bar’s was chunky. The Quail spring rolls were served with chilli plum sauce, and were an expensive choice at R 65 for four small rolls, but were enjoyable. I liked the Karoo Lamb Samoosas, four small ones costing R 55, not having any spices in them. The serving of four large prawns came with a very diluted soy sauce, but I was brought the real thing when I requested it. Oysters cost R90 for six. Other “Small plates” one can order are Chicken Tikka Wrap served with mint chutney (R55), Tequila Salmon Gravlax (R75) and Jalapeno Poppers (R45). What I liked was that as far as pub food goes, this was the most creative menu of all the pubs I visited during my World Cup journey. What I disliked was the spiciness of almost all the dishes, limiting my choice.
The Menu is dominated by the drinks on offer; including ten Cocktails all costing R40; four non-alcoholic ones (R30 each); two draught beers (Guinness at R 29 and Jack Black at R 20); and bottled beer – Heineken, Peroni and Windhoek are very reasonably priced at R 20, while the Brewers Union Unfiltered, Dark and Stepheiss (sic) all are charged at R 40, the same price at which it is sold at &Union up the road. One can order Moet et Chandon at a precious R 225 per glass, or at R 900 per bottle, and even splurge on a bottle of Dom Perignon Brut Rose at R 8000! Seven of the thirteen Methode Cap Classique wines offered can be ordered by the glass, and seem expensive – Pierre Jourdan Cuvee Brut and the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel are the cheapest at R 50 per glass, while the Teddy Hall Blanc de Blanc costs R 100 per glass. I was proud to see Melissa Nelsen’s Genevieve Blanc de Blanc listed – what a prestige for the new sparkling wine producer who only launched her brand earlier this year! A small selection of red and white wines is offered, by the glass and per bottle, and commendably the vintages are specified. The prices seemed more reasonable here – for example the 2007 Villiera Merlot costs R 35 by the glass, and the Warwick First Lady Red Blend 2008 costs R40.
I was grateful when the Manager took over looking after our table when our waitress seemed more interested in chatting to her colleague and watching the soccer. She was asked to bring the prawn tempura dish to the table in the halftime, but this did not happen and had to be requested. While the World Cup is history after tonight, it surprised me that, generally speaking, bar staff do not seem to understand that one would like to hear the commentator during a match – a problem I picked up at Harvey’s Bar and Salt Vodka Bar too. It irritated me that they kept coming to ask something and even blocked the TV screen during what was a most exciting match. At one stage we had to ask them to stop the icemaking machine because it made such a noise. It was one of few pubs (also Salt Vodka Bar, and Pure at Hout Bay Manor) in which I saw a manager, and whilst he could have been more assertive with his staff about the disturbances, he was good at reading customer irritations, coming to check with us, and acting upon feedback immediately.
The Twankey Bar is not a food destination in itself, but would be the start or end to a special evening in town. Recently it was decided that The Twankey Bar should stay open until 23h00, as guests were popping in for a late snack. The food is expensive and spiciness dominates, but the drinks are more reasonably priced.
The Twankey Bar, Taj Hotel, corner Wale and Adderley Streets, Cape Town. Tel (021) 819-2000. www.tajhotels.com (The website exaggerates, in my opinion, when it describes The Twankey Bar as a “seafood restaurant”. It also claims to have “sublime jazz”, but we did not experience any music). Open from 11h00 – 23h00, Mondays – Saturdays.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
The World Cup has always been said to have the benefit of showcasing South Africa, and the world’s media are descending on the country to prepare profiles of South Africa. Some of it is negative, but much so far has been positive, especially in showing off the beauty of Cape Town.
A South Africa-based correspondent for SkyNEWS seems to be in the townships every day, negatively reporting about the poverty of these residents, while the ‘rich’ sector of the country benefits from the World Cup, it is highlighted continuously.
Much more positive reporting is coming from ZDF, Germany’s largest TV station, which is pulling out all the stops to showcase South Africa. Yesterday, for example, the station did a 24 hour broadcast on its online channel, about our country, a conglomeration of various documentaries the station had produced on previous occasions. Unfortunately an on-line broadcast is not as powerful as a television broadcast, but it will have attracted a young audience. ZDF put a lot of advertising muscle behind the 24-hour broadcast, so it created strong awareness amongst ZDF viewers. The country brand ‘Suedafrika’ is definitely top of mind.
However, 90 minutes of the on-line broadcast was broadcast on ZDF TV throughout the day, in three sets of 30 minutes each. The programme started with beautiful shots of Table Mountain, and then of Cape Town filmed from Table Mountain. It was said that a trip up the mountain by cable car is a must for every visitor. Then the documentary jumped in contrast to a school in Wuppertal, showing children in a boarding school having to brush their teeth in an irrigation canal, because there are not enough facilities in the hostel for all the children. Then it moved to showing burning tyres, set alight by taxi drivers protesting against the new BRT bus system to be introduced. A township resident was interviewed, who positively stated that he would never leave his township : ‘I do not want to change my life for anything’, despite the poor facilities in the township. Children receiving a swimming lesson in Khayelitsha were filmed, and a sangoma throwing the bones interviewed. Then the production team interviewed Pieter-Dirk Uys, who initially spoke in German, but switched to English when he spoke about how dangerous it was for him to have mocked the Government when he first started, and melodramatically stated that had he been black, he would have been imprisoned! (He did not tell the interviewer that he has declared Evita se Perron in Darling soccer-free during the World Cup!).
Then the action moved to Captain Crash, who chases after stolen cars and minibus taxis in his helicopter (I have seen this insert twice already), and then to a Soweto-based Event Manager Tshepiso Mohlala, who is involved in the organisation of the World Cup Concert on 10 June. A lot of airtime was given to a German wedding co-ordinator from Wedding Concepts, who was organising a wedding at Allee Bleue outside Franschhoek.
Capetonian and ex-Miss South Jo-Ann Strauss features regularly in a ZDF TV advert for the World Cup Concert, from which Strauss and revered ZDF talk-show host Thomas Gottschalk will be presenting for ZDF. She speaks near-perfect German, her partner being from Munich, saying: ‘Suedafrika begruesst die Fussballwelt’ (South Africa welcomes the football nations).
Other programmes, like ‘Traumstaedte’ (Dream Cities), start off positively, with beautiful views of Camps Bay beach, the Promenade, the Bay Hotel, the Waterfront, but soon move to the townships, and interviews are conducted with extremely negative residents, talking about the crime and drug situation in the townships. The ZDF reporters talk about Cape Town’s ‘Hell and Paradise’ not the lasting impression we would like to create marketing-wise amongst international viewers.
‘Traumflug durch Afrika: Von Kapstadt nach Kenia’ (Dream flight through Africa: from Cape Town to Kenya) was far more positive, documenting a Eurocopter pilot flying over beautiful Cape Town (Table Mountain and Cape Point), flying 3 meters above the sea, the Garden Route to George and Knysna for some golf and oysters at the Dry Dock restaurant, to the Addo Park for a safari, to St Francis, Coffee Bay, the Hole in the Wall, and then off to Lesotho, reaching his end destination of Kenya.
In a cooking program with some of Germany’s top chefs, the cooking stars all wore German soccer jerseys, to show their pride in and support for the German team, indirectly attracting attention to the World Cup.
Given that Cape Town Tourism has appointed PR companies in Germany and the U K, and in other European countries, we trust that the city’s tourism body will help influence the content of documentaries of our city, and that they show the tourist side of Cape Town, without having to focus so much on the townships.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
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 – 25 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 – R 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 – 2 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
The upmarket tapas-style eatery is designed around a central food preparation station, and patrons sit on bar chairs with a full view of the station. The menu is identical to that of the Franschhoek restaurant, and includes predominantly fish dishes, but meat lovers and vegetarians are catered for as well. The portions are small, and the idea is that one enjoy a number of different bites to eat, building up one’s own menu.
Located in The Rockwell, parallel to Somerset Road in De Waterkant, Bouillabaisse and its sister restaurant Crepe Suzette are the first retail outlets to open in what will become the food centre of Cape Town, when its Epicurean Food Emporium opens in May. The Market will provide the freshest foods under one roof.
Camil Haas, the Bouillabaisse chef and owner, will be largely based at the Cape Town branch, while his wife Ingrid will travel between Franschhoek and Cape Town.