Tag Archives: Shaun Schoeman

Noma back as top World’s 50 Best Restaurants! The Test Kitchen Best in Africa and ranked 48th!

World's 50 Best Restaurants logoThe eagerly awaited 12th The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards was held last night at The Guildhall in London, and the Top 50 Restaurants were announced. Restaurants ranked 51st – 100th were listed on the Awards website, which crashed just after the Awards ceremony!

The initiative of Restaurant magazine in the UK, and using 900 judges from around the world, a total of 6552 votes were cast to vote for the world’s best restaurants.  The world was divided into 26 regions, chaired by an expert for that region.  Tamsin Snyman heads the Africa panel of 36 members, who had to eat at 4 local as well as at 3 international restaurants to cast their vote.  No score is required – the vote is purely for the best restaurants they ate at, and must be presented in ranked order.  Every year 10 panelists step down per region, to be replaced by new ones.   For the first time in seven years Snyman did not attend, for family reasons.

The biggest surprise was that Noma in Copenhagen went back to its number one Continue reading →

Solms-Delta launches Gemeenskap wine club for its gemeenskap!

Solms Delta Gemeenskap Mark Solms Whale Cottage PortfolioI have not previously experienced Solms-Delta owner Professor Mark Solms as such a ‘grapjas’ (could this be a new name for a future wine?), bringing the house down with his honesty and ‘loskop professor’ talk about his wines and its Gemeenskap, losing the thread of what he wanted to say on a few occasions.

Mark is a passionate wine estate owner, whose mind races ahead faster than he can say the words, and is internationally renowned as a neuropsychologist, lecturing in London and at the University of Cape Town. His students must have a ball in his lectures. On Sunday he hosted members of the wine estate’s gemeenskap, to introduce to them the latest vintages of his wines, to introduce the new winemaker Solms Delta Gemeenskap Hagen Viljoen Whale Cottage PortfolioHagen Viljoen, and to introduce the Gemeenskap community club.  He came to the farm in 2001, and explained that the building in which we were tasting the wine was already called Fyndraai, and therefore they kept the name.  They now have consolidated three neighbouring farms, ‘because we are so good at what he do’, he said.  Music is an important passion on the farm, and Mark said that they ‘farm with music’ as much as they ‘farm with wine’!  Next year a Music Centre will be established on the wine estate. Continue reading →

‘Cook Franschhoek’ to spice up local master chefs!

The Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism organisation is celebrating the cooking talents of its top restaurant chefs and its award-winning wines by pairing them in ‘Cook Franschhoek‘, a festival of cooking running over this coming long weekend, from 14 – 16 June.

Taking the form of cooking demonstrations in the chefs’ restaurant kitchens, food and wine lovers will be shown how to prepare the chefs’ special dishes, and will be taken through wine tastings, with a Franschhoek winery paired with each restaurant.  The cost of demonstrations ranges from R85 – R2100 each.

Participating restaurants are :

*   Antonij Rupert Tasting Room/L’Omarins – guided tour of culinary and medicinal herb garden with glass of L’Omarins sparkling wine, olive oil tasting, and a goodie bag. Friday 9h30 -11h00 and 15h00 – 16h30, Saturday 9h30 – 11h00 and 15h00 – 16h30,  Sunday 9h30 – 11h00 and 15h00 – 16h30, R85 each.

*   Le Quartier Français/Môreson – Tandoori chicken demo and tasting by Chef Vanie Padayachee. Friday 10h00 and Saturday 10h00, R370 each.

*   Leopard’s Leap Rotisserie/Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards – Chef Pieter de Jager will demonstrate making a salt meringue Santer on garlic brochette, paired with Leopard’s Leap Culinary Pinot Noir, introduced by Eugene van Zyl.  Friday 10h30;  Breakfast Tart demo, paired with Leopard’s Leap Culinary Methodé Cap Classique, Saturday 9h30,  R110 each.

*   Terra del Capo Tasting Room – Chef HW Pieterse will host an Italian food and Italian wine variety pairing at Antonij Rupert. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11h00 – 12h00, R85 each.

*   Ryan’s Kitchen/Rickety Bridge – Chef Ryan Smith will demonstrate the making of a guava and vanilla soufflé with a Tennis Biscuit ice cream, and serve a 2 course meal, paired with Rickety Bridge Paulina Reserve Chenin Blanc by winemaker Danie de Bruyn. Friday 12h00, R300;  Chicken and crab curry lunch paired with Paulina Reserve Semillon, and includes 2 course meal. Saturday 12h00, R300.

*   Franschhoek Kitchen/Holden Manz Winery – Chef Maryna Frederiksen will demonstrate the use of fresh herbs in creative ways, and a light lunch will be served, winemaker Schalk Opperman introducing  their 2012 Chardonnay and 2010 Merlot. Friday 12h30 and at 16h00, Saturday 12h00, R220 each.

*   Café BonBon/Haut Espoir – Chef Tijn Hahndiek will demonstrate the making of Butter chicken curry and basmati rice. One course lunch and gift. Friday 14h00, R220; Eggs Benedict demo, inclusive of breakfast and gift, Saturday 10h30, R110;  Home-made pasta demo with one course lunch and gift, Saturday 14h00, R220.

*   Allora/Rickety Bridge – Chef Roaan Erasmus will demonstrate making gnocchi and folded pasta, paired with Rickety Bridge wines by winemaker Danie de Bruyn. Lunch included. Friday 15h00, Saturday 12h00, R220 each.

*   SalmonBar/Haut Espoir – owner Gregg Stubbs will demonstrate how to debone and fillet trout, and tasting of cold smoked, hot smoked, cured, marinated, and grilled salmon.  Friday 17h00, R250; sustainability talk and salmon tasting, Saturday 17h00, R250.

*   Haute Cabrière/Pierre Jourdan – 6 course Pinot Noir winter Tasting Menu prepared by Chef Ryan Shell and presented with Takuan von Arnim, Friday and Saturday at 19h00, R655 each.

*   Bread & Wine/Môreson – Chef Neil Jewell will demonstrate Wagyu beef three ways, with winemaker Clayton Reabow pouring the wine. Saturday 10h00, R110.

*   Paulina’s at Rickety Bridge/Rickety Bridge Winery – Chef Melissa Bruyns will demonstrate making seafood risotto, paired with a tasting of Chenin Blanc by winemaker Wynand Grobler. Saturday and Sunday 11h00, R180 each.

*   Fyndraai/Solms-Delta – Chef Shaun Schoeman will demonstrate the use of culinary fynbos flowers, with a 3-course meal and wine pairing by Joan Heatlie of The Vastrap Chenin Blend and The Hiervandaan Shiraz Blend, Saturday and Sunday 12h00, R320.

*   Pierneef à La Motte/La Motte – Chef Chris Erasmus will demonstrate making classic pâté and terrines, paired with La Motte wines by Michael Langenhoven, Saturday 17h00, R165.

*   Reuben’s/L’Omarins – Chef Reuben Riffel will take attendees to Antonij Rupert Wines, to taste their sparkling wine and to see the culinary and medicinal herb garden, followed by lunch at Chef Reuben’s home, winemaker Dawie Botha pouring L’Omarins wines, with a gift pack and herb bouquet, Sunday 12h00 – 15h00, R2100.

Cook Franschhoek, 14 – 16 June. www.cookfranschhoek.co.za. Tel (021) 876 2861.  www.webtickets.co.za

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

El Celler de Can Roca Top World’s 50 Best Restaurant! The Test Kitchen ‘One to Watch’ special honour!

While South Africa did not make the The Restaurant S.Pellegrino & Aqua Panna The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 list, Cape Town’s The Test Kitchen was singled out in a newly introduced award ‘One to Watch’, proudly received by Owner/Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, which also made 61st position.  Noma’s hold of the number one position on the world restaurant list in the past three years has been broken, with the three Roca brothers at El Celler de Can Roca taking over the coveted top world restaurant accolade.

A Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Diners Club, went to Chef Alain Ducasse, while the World’s Best Female Chef Award went to Nadia Santini of Dal Pescatore in Italy, which has had 3 Michelin stars since 1996!  The Chef’s Choice Award went to Grant Achatz, of Alinea in Chicago.  The Highest Climber Award went to Astrid y Gastón in Lima, Peru, climbing 21 places to number 14.  The Sustainable Restaurant Award went to Narisawa in Tokyo, also winning the accolade of best Asian restaurant.

El Celler de Can Roca is based in Giron in Spain, and is run by the three Roca brothers Josep, Joan,and Jordi, who opened their restaurant in 1986. They were in second place for the past two years. They pioneered sous-vide cooking, and are described as creating ‘magic without undue theatrics’. Brother Joan is the head chef, Jordi is the Pastry Chef, and Josep is the Sommelier and Front of House.  Noma slipped to second place, having set a new benchmark for Nordic cuisine, but was dealt a bad blow when numerous customers suffered a very bad virus after eating at the restaurant earlier this year. South African chefs Eric Bulpitt (now of The Roundhouse), Chris Erasmus at Pierneef à La Motte, and Shaun Schoeman at Fyndraai all have done a stage at this world-renowned restaurant.

The Test Kitchen (left) improved its ranking from last year’s 74th position by 13 places this year, while The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français improved by four positions to number 53.  Until two years ago the latter restaurant featured in the top 50 list.

The 900 international judges each submit their top seven ranked restaurants, of which three must be from outside their country, based on eating experiences in the past eighteen months.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 list is the following, allegedly leaked by a Spanish journalist earlier yesterday, with six French and six American restaurants in the 50 Best Restaurant list, five from Spain, and four from Italy:

1. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
2. Noma Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Osteria Francescana Modena, Italy
4. Mugaritz San Sebastián, Spain
5. Eleven Madison Park New York, USA
6. D.O.M. São Paulo, Brazil
7. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, UK
8. Arzak San Sebastián, Spain
9. Steirereck Vienna, Austria
10. Vendôme Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
11. Per Se New York, USA
12. Frantzén/Lindeberg Estocolomo, Sweden
13. The Ledbury London
14. Astrid y Gastón Lima, Perú
15. Alinea Chicago,
16. L’Arpège París, France
17. Pujol México DF, México
18. Le Chateaubriand París, France
19. Le Bernardin New York
20. Narisawa Tokio, Japan
21. Attica Melbourne, Australia
22. Nihonryori RyuGin Tokyo, Japan
23. L’Astrance París, France
24. L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon París, France
25. Hof Van Cleve Kruishoutem, Belgium
26. Quique Dacosta Dénia, Spain
27. Le Calandre Rubano, Italy
28. Mirazur Menton, France
29. Daniel New York, UK
30. Aqua Wolfsburg, Germany
31. Biko México DF, México
32. Nahm Bangkok, Thailand
33. The Fat Duck Bray, UK
34. Fäviken Järpen, Sweden
35. Oud Sluis Sluis, The Netherlands
36. Amber Hong Kong, China
37. Vila Joya Albufeira, Portugal
38. Restaurant Andre Singapore
39. 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana Hong Kong, China
40. Combal.Zero Rivoli, Italy
41. Piazza Duomo Alba, Italy
42. Schloss Schauenstein Fürstenau, Switzerland
43. Mr & Mrs Bund Shanghai, China
44. Asador Etxebarri Atxondo, Spain
45. Geranium Copenhagen, Denmark
46. Mani São Paulo, Brazil
47. The French Laundry Yountville, USA
48. Quay Sydney, Australia
49. Septime París, France
50. Central Lima, Perú

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

Taste of Cape Town dishes up a feast of Cape restaurants and chefs!

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

*   Savour at 15 on Orange, headed by Chef Sanel Esterhuyse, offering Norwegian salmon and avocado tartare (photograph), quail curry, and seared scallops

*   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

Franschhoek chefs up their gourmet game, learn Nordic cuisine at world’s No 1 Restaurant Noma!

Franschhoek is upping its gourmet game, with two local chefs having spent some weeks at Noma in Copenhagen, the number one restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and bearing a 2-Michelin star rating since 2008, in the past three months. Both Chef Shaun Schoeman from Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta and Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte returned inspired and have fine-tuned their menus and cooking to incorporate Nordic cuisine into their local gourmet offering.

The restaurant’s philosophy is on the homepage of its website:

“In an effort to shape our way of cooking, we look to our landscape and delve into our ingredients and culture,
hoping to rediscover our history and shape our future
.”

Chef Chris Erasmus, Pierneef à La Motte

Yesterday I met with Chef Chris Erasmus, a week after his return from Noma, at which he had spent close to a month.  I asked him why he had taken the time to leave his post as Executive Chef, and start from scratch at Noma. Chef Chris said he wanted to study how Chef René Redzepi had taken a restaurant which had been laughed at initially for focusing on Nordic cooking, initially not very exciting and then synonymous with ‘whale blubber and fish eyes’ (like Bobotie would be for South African cuisine, he said), and taking it to the number one restaurant in the world, and having kept it there for three years running.  What Chef Chris does at Pierneef à La Motte, in foraging from nature, and in cooking what one has, is reflected at Noma too. Chef Chris has Daniel Kruger growing a range of unusual herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers for him at La Motte,  with only one of 13 items in the salad farm grown, and the balance foraged,  while Noma is supplied by specialist producers.

Chef Chris was impressed by the systems of the restaurants, each person working for the restaurant knowing what is going on.  A meeting is called by the Restaurant Manager prior to service, in which they discuss any specific dietary requirements of guests, so that the chefs are prepared for this upfront, and not told about them when the guests arrive.  The Restaurant Manager, from Australia, is in the running for a Restaurant Manager of the Year Award in Denmark. Chris said that his knowledge is amazing, having spent so much time with the chefs to get to know the dishes that he can cook them himself. There are 45 kitchen chefs, with another 25 volunteers unpaid and just there to learn more from this leading restaurant.  Only two of the chefs are Danish, the others coming from the USA, Australia, Germany, and Mexico in the main.  The rules are strict, and one is expected to follow them 100%.  A mistake made a second time will lead one to be told to leave. Staff are treated politely, even though Chef René can lose his cool on occasion. No dishes are allowed to be photographed or distributed via Social Media by staff or volunteers.

There are three kitchen sections that the volunteers go through, starting with the Preparation Kitchen, foraging produce, and getting them ready. Chef Chris spent less than a week here.  The second level was the Hot Kitchen, dealing with the restaurant service, and here Chef Chris gave more than expected, already coming to work at 5h00 in the morning (instead of 9h00), and usually getting home to the hostel he was staying at at 2h00 instead of the usual 23h00.  This allowed him to work with the other chefs and learn from them, and to show them how eager he was to learn, so that he could move through the three kitchens.  The third kitchen is the experimental Test Kitchen, which has two scientists and a chef, creating new dishes. Lactic acid fermentation is the foundation of many of the new dishes, a natural process bringing out the Umami in food, eradicating the need to add salt or sugar to food.  There is no salt on the restaurant tables, nor is it added to food.  The maximum sugar content of any dish is 12%. They make their own Miso paste too, taking a few months, ant purée, fermented crickets, and more. Chef Chris shared that he tasted bee larva, having a very rich creamy wax taste.

Chef René greets each guest as they arrive at his restaurant. He works seven days a week, even though the restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Chef Chris came to work on Mondays, again to learn as much as possible.  Noma has an excellent Head Chef and Sous Chefs, on whom Chef René can rely while he is busy with the guests, and spends time in the Test Kitchen. The chefs serve the guests.  Waiters cannot work at Noma if they have not studied to be a waiter for three years at a local college.  The role of the waiters is to explain the dishes to the guests. Guests are served 16 ‘snacks’ as a start to the Tasting Menu in rapid succession over 12 minutes, literally a mouthful each. This is followed by four courses, the size of our starters, being a vegetable dish, a meat dish, a fish dish, and a dessert, at a cost of about R2250. The restaurant is flexible in what they serve, to allow for dietary requirements. The Test Kitchen’s role is to add new dishes to the menu, and Chef Chris saw five new dishes being developed in the time that he was there. One of the dishes developed while Chef Chris was in the Test Kitchen was ‘Lacto Plum and Forever Beets’, served with lemon verbena and fennel soup, the beetroot being roasted for three hours, and its leathery skin then peeled off, the inside tasting like liquorice.

To learn from each other, especially the visiting chefs, they have Saturday night ‘Projects’ after service, in the early Sunday morning hours, presenting their own dishes, which are evaluated by the fellow chefs and the scientists.  Chef Chris missed the opportunity to present a dish.

Chef Chris has been inspired by his experience at Noma, and changes are already being made to his current menu.  He has added Lacto-fermented Porcini broth to his menu, inspired by Noma, made by adding salt to the mushrooms and vacuum-packing them, until they ferment at ambient room temperature. This creates enzymes which break down the bad bacteria, bringing out the natural savoury flavour.  The summer menu will be much lighter, with far more foraged herbs and flowers, and some unique vegetables grown for him by Daniel.  Artichokes, peas, and broadbeans are at their best right now, and Chef Chris showed me the some of his vegetables and herbs, which had been picked for him at 10h00 yesterday morning.  They are only using Raspberry Vinegar now, instead of vinaigrettes.  He will focus on only using vegetables and herbs from the La Motte garden.

Chef Chris has invited Chef René to visit (he was in Cape Town for what seemed literally a flying visit in February when he addressed the ‘Design Indaba’).  He was inspired by his experience, and it is visible in his big smile, and new passion for his craft. While others may not have had such a good time, he said that ‘you get out what you put in’. He lost 15 kg in the time, just working and sleeping for a short while.  He can’t wait to go back in a winter time, to see how they use all the preserved foods they prepare in the summer months, such as pickled rosebuds, and fermented plums. Having had to start at the bottom at Noma, he has a better understanding of his staff, yet expects ‘150%’ of them, Chef Chris said.  One of his American co-volunteers at Noma started at The Test Kitchen in Cape Town this week.

Chef Chris’ Noma experience, coupled with the fantastic vegetable and herb garden on the farm, are sure to earn Pierneef à La Motte an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Award in November!

Chef Shaun Schoeman, Fyndraai, Solms-Delta

In June, Chef Shaun Schoeman of Solms-Delta’s Fyndraai Restaurant spent two weeks working in one of the kitchens at Noma.  Chef Shaun’s feedback was that the simplicity of Noma’s menu, which lists items like ‘pike perch and cabbage’‘cooked fava beans and beach herbs’ and ‘the hen and the egg,’ belies its sophisticated appeal, as evidenced by the backlog of keen diners waiting for bookings. Noma is known for its contemporary reinterpretation of Nordic cuisine. This includes a return to the traditional methods of pickling, curing, smoking, and fermenting as well as the integration of many indigenous herbs and plants. Redzepi himself has worked with the world’s best, having spent time at both El Bulli in Spain (when it was the world’s number one restaurant), and the French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley.

“There are many similarities between the kinds of indigenous elements we use here at Fyndraai and what chef Redzepi has become known for in his cuisine,” said Shaun, who felt that he could only benefit from doing a stint at the world-famous Noma. After his acceptance as a stagier, he packed his bags and flew to Copenhagen, where he joined a production kitchen staffed by over 50 chefs from around the world, all there to learn the philosophy and techniques of this influential chef. “Everyone who works at Noma, no matter what their experience, starts in the production kitchen,” explained Shaun, where the standards for preparation and hygiene are exacting and the hours extremely long, with shifts of up to 14 hours. Only after three months will Chef Redzepi consider moving a stagier into the main service kitchen.  Every morning, a group of the production kitchen chefs go out to the nearby seaside to forage for fresh wild herbs and leaves, like nettles, wild rocket, sea coral, and wild garlic. Upon their return, they set to work on their pickings, cutting leaves into uniform sizes, all done on a tray kept over ice. “Temperature is extremely important as the herbs must be kept cold, but never below the temperature of the fridge.”

For a Franschhoek-born and bred native, it was an amazing experience for Shaun. He was overwhelmed by the incredible fresh fish and seafood that came through the production kitchen daily, including live crabs and luscious sea scallops still in their shells. All vegetables were organic and specially grown for the restaurant. A great example of Noma’s high standards was the daily sorting of fresh green peas into varying sizes!  But aside from the differences in product and handling, when it came to the indigenous plants themselves, Shaun found that they were not dramatically different from the plants he relies on at Fyndraai, which are grown in the estate’s Dik Delta Garden. “We have many versions of the same plants, the major difference being that the Scandinavian herbs have more subtlety. South African indigenous herbs are sharper, which means that you really need the knowledge and training to harness their flavour without overpowering dishes.” Shaun returned from Copenhagen infused with energy and appreciation for the wide variety of herbs he has at his discretion, which collectively he refers to as “my baby.” He uses only indigenous herbs grown on site, so management of ingredients is crucial. That said, he feels he has a great deal of flexibility – one of the perks of a kitchen garden – and is always able to find a pleasing substitute if one herb is temporarily depleted.  The ingredient he’s most crazy about is citrus buchu, which he says is the most fantastic herb he’s ever worked with. “It’s got a sexy, citrus flavour that really lifts everything it touches. It works equally well with savoury dishes or desserts, and can be used in anything from infusions to a flavouring in bread rolls.”

He’s also extremely partial to spekboom, a small-leaved succulent also known as ‘elephant bush’, which is very versatile. At Fyndraai, it receives various treatments, from a quick stir-fry to lightly-dressed salad greens, and from pickling to its use as an ingredient in a cold cucumber soup. In its pickled form, it’s one in a range of signature Dik Delta products Shaun has recently started producing and selling on the farm. Some of the others are lemon and wild rosemary chutney, lemon and gemoedsrus (fortified Shiraz) marmalade, and wild herb rubs. Customers love taking these products, which they cannot find elsewhere, home to their own kitchens to experiment with.  “The indigenous herbs play sometimes starring, and more often supporting roles in the food we create at Fyndraai, depending on the nature and flavour of the plants themselves,” Shaun said.  The key is quantity, and knowing how much to add to a dish, and when to add it. Sometimes they are added directly to dishes, at other times infused into sauces, used to create syrups which provide complementary flavours to a dish and even as flavourings in ice cream!  The plants are propagated at Dik Delta, the large ‘kitchen garden’ on the wine estate. The two-hectare veld garden is overseen by a team of trained Solms-Delta residents. It yields crops of dynamic herbs, many of which were on the verge of extinction before the birth of this valuable culinary-bio project.

Today, the garden is the restaurant’s source for everything from wild asparagus to spekboom to makatan, an indigenous melon which Shaun cooks into one of the Dik Delta preserves. The garden is in full spring flower, with sunny yellow patches of honeybush, which flowers will be picked and dried for honeybush tea, and the dark mauve flowers of the Bobbejaantjies (little baboons) or Babiana. While this striking flower is most often used as an ornamental plant, it has a highly nutritious bulb or corm that can be eaten raw or cooked; it tastes a little like a potato and can be used as a vegetable in stews or in salads. Since Fyndraai opened four years ago, cooking with these plants has been an ongoing learning process for Shaun as well as his staff, all of whom were initially kitchen novices. This had many advantages, because they had no preconceived notions or bad habits to break. He is extremely proud of his kitchen crew, who handle the complex menu and its preparations with confidence and expertise.

Pierneef à La Motte, La Motte, R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8000.  www.la-motte.com Twitter: @Pierneeflamotte

Fyndraai, Solms-Delta, Delta Road, off R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 874-3937.  www.solms-delta.co.za Twitter: @Solms_Delta

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

Cape Town and Winelands Restaurants: New Tamboers Winkel a top hit, Caveau caves!

Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures fortunately lists more openings than closures, and is updated continuously, as we receive information.

Restaurant Openings

*   Tamboers Winkel has opened on De Lorentz Street, just off Kloof Street, Gardens (photograph)

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef, is to open a real test kitchen, called The Kitchen of Dreams, a private experimental place to develop new recipes, at the Old Biscuit Mill

*  Chef Luke Dale-Roberts is opening a pop-up Pot Luck Club in Swiss ski resort Verbier, at the Hotel Farinet, from 8 December – April, to be run by Chef Luke, his chef Nicolas Wilkinson, and front of house Selena Afnan-Holmes.

*   Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlets in Westlake, and a new one is coming in Claremont too.

*   A new Vida é Caffe has opened on Prestwich Street, and a new branch is to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, and one in the new Wembley Square 2 development.  Two more branches are planned for Mauritius, it is said.

*   Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro has opened its dinner theatre, performing ‘Kaapse Stories’, on Main/Glengariff Roads in Sea Point, owned by Richard Loring and Roland Seidel

*    Honest Chocolate is opening a second outlet with a ‘production kitchen’ in the Woodstock Industrial Centre

*   Moyo is to open where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront in summer.  It has taken over the tearoom at Kirstenbosch already.

*   Josephine’s Cookhouse has opened in Newlands, belonging to the Societi Bistro owners

*    Keenwa has opened the P.I.S.C.O Bar above its restaurants, open Thursdays – Saturdays from 5 pm

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

*    Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store at Leopard’s Leap in Franschhoek is opening a Deli, the date to be confirmed

*   FEAST is to open where Franschhoek Food Emporium was, in Place Vendome

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened where Reuben’s Deli used to be in Franschhoek.

*   Okamai Japanese restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek

*   Cavalli restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, this year or next

*   The Slug & Lettuce has opened where Beads was on Church Street in Stellenbosch

*   Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West.  Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open in November with a new name called The Vergelegen Restaurant. The new chef will be PJ Vadas, previously of The Roundhouse in Camps Bay.

*   Coopmanshuijs in Stellenbosch is opening a restaurant.

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery, and has opened his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington.

*    Chef Bjorn Dingemans is to open up The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West.

*   Grilleri (ex-Mediterrea) has closed down, and Chef Shane Sauvage (ex-La Vierge) is now heading the re-named La Pentola restaurant.

*   Ali Baba Kebab (renamed from Laila) has opened as a small beef and lamb kebab take-away and sit-down outlet, next door to Codfather in Camps Bay

*   Gibson’s Gourmet Burger and Smoked Ribs has opened as a 70-seater restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, taking part of the Belthazar space. Owned by the Belthazar/Balducci group.

*   Giorgio Nava is said to be re-opening his Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch

*   Ou Meul Bakery from Riviersonderend is said to be opening a bakery in Long Street

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened a roastery at 6 Roodehek Street to service all its outlets

The Deli on the Square has opened at Frater Square in Paarl.

*   David Higgs (ex Rust en Vrede) is opening a new 30 seater restaurant in The Saxon in Johannesburg.

*   Big Route Top Gourmet Pizzeria has opened on Main Road, Green Point, next door to Woolworths, serving 52 different pizzas, salads and crêpes.

*   Cousins has opened in the Parliament Hotel, where Il Cappero used to be.

* Aces ‘n’ Spades Bar has opened on Hout Street

*   6 has opened at Schalk Burger & Sons wine estate in Wellington, run by the ex-owners of Oude Wellington

*   Café Dulce is to open a new branch in Tygervalley Centre

*   Gourmetboerie is to open at the bottom end of Kloof Street, where Depasco used to be, in October.

*   Kushi Indian Restaurant has opened a branch on Main Road in Sea Point

*   Abantu Restaurant and Bar has opened on the corner of Wale and Buitengracht Street, where Time & Place used to be

*   Make Sushi Bar has opened in Sea Point

*   Thai Café is opening on Plein Street, Stellenbosch

*   Simply Asia has opened in Paarl

*   Restaurant @ Zomerlust has opened in Paarl

* Christina’s has opened at Van Loveren in Robertson

*   Bellini’s is said to open on Greenmarket Square in October

Restaurant Closures

*   Sapphire has closed down in Camps Bay

*   High Level Restaurant in Bo-Kaap has closed down

*   Caveau on Bree Street and Gourmet Burger on Shortmarket Street, belonging to the same owners, have been closed down.

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

*   Mob Inc Tattoo Bistro has closed down in Sea Point

* Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay has closed down

*   Limoncello in Gardens has closed down, but is continuing with its pop-up restaurant truck

*   Paparazzi has closed down on St George’s Mall

*   Wicked Treats in Franschhoek has closed down.

*   Casa Nostra has closed down in Sea Point, until it finds a new venue.

*   Bistro on Rose in Bo-Kaap has closed down as a restaurant, continues as an entertainment venue.

*   The Kove in Camps Bay has closed down, its space to be incorporated into sister restaurant Zenzero

Restaurant staff/venue changes

*    Il Cappero has moved from Barrack Street to Fairway Street in Camps Bay.

*  Table Thirteen has reduced in size in Green Point and will open in Paarden Eiland later this year.

*   The V&A Waterfront Food Court is closed for renovations until November.  A sign outside the construction area lists the following businesses moving into or returning to the area: Primi Express, Anat, Carnival, Nür Halaal, Royal Bavarian Bakery, KFC, Boost Juice, Simply Asia, Steers, Debonairs, Subway, Marcel’s, and Haagan Dazs.  Nando’s is also opening.

*   Chef Darren Badenhorst is the new Executive Chef at Grande Provence.

*   Chef Shaun Schoeman of Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms Delta has the amazing honour to be working at Noma in Copenhagen for two weeks.  Fyndraai will move to another building on the wine estate in November, and will offer fine dining.  The current restaurant will serve light lunches and picnics.

*    Reuben’s, which was said to be moving its Franschhoek branch, appears to be staying at its existing venue.

*   Emile Fortuin has been appointed as Executive Chef at Reuben’s Robertson

*   Josephine Gutentoft has left Grande Roche, and has moved to Makaron at Majeka House as Restaurant Manager and Sommelier.

*   The Reserve has changed its name to Reserve Brasserie. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new consultant chef and GM.

*   Café Dijon has closed its restaurant on Plein Street in Stellenbosch, and has opened in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, opposite Anatoli’s, in which Camil Haas once had his Bouillabaisse restaurant.

*   Chef Andrew Mendes from ex-Valora is now at Nelson’s Eye restaurant, where they are setting up a lunch section and cocktail bar upstairs.

*   Miss K Food has closed down in Green Point. The new owner Maurizio Porro, with his chef Ernesto, has kept the staff and furniture, and most of the menu initially. They are now called Guilia’s Food Café Restaurant, and they are open for Italian-style lunch and dinner as well, but have retained some Miss K breakfast and pastry items.

*   Rob and Nicky Hahn have left Proviant in Paarl, and now run eat @ Simonsvlei on the Old Paarl Road

*   Karl Lambour is the new General Manager of Grande Provence.

*   Virgil Kahn is the new head chef at Indochine at Delaire Graff Estate

*   Having bought the farm about 18 months ago, Antonij Rupert Wines has taken over the Graham Beck Franschhoek property. They will re-open the tasting room in October, initially offering all its Antonij Rupert, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo, and Protea wines to taste.  They are renovating the manor house, to which the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be moved for tasting at a later stage.

*   Orphanage is expanding into a property at its back, opening on Orphan Street, in December, creating a similar second bar downstairs, and opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers

*   GOLD Restaurant has moved into the Trinity building

*   Opal Lounge has closed down on Kloof Street, and has moved into Blake’s Bar building, renaming it Dinner at Blake’s. A wine and tapas bar has also been opened, called Bar Rouge.

*   Mano A Mano has opened on Park Street, where Green’s used to be.

*   MondeVino Restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg, the MasterChef SA prize for the next two years, is to be renamed Aarya, and is to be run by Chef Deena Naidoo from November onwards.

*   Chef Ulli Stamm has left Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro.

*   Bizerca is moving into the ex-Gourmet Burger space in Heritage Square on Shortmarket Street.

*    Co-owner Abbi Wallis has taken over the running of The Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery in Wellington.

*   Roodehek Restaurant has changed its name back to The German Club, after the departure of the previous owner.

*   Marcelino has left Marcelino’s Bakery, leaving the control with Mr Zerban.  A Zerban’s style restaurant is being added onto the bakery, and is said to open in September.

*   Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte is doing a stage with Chef Rene Redzepi at Noma, the number one World’s 50 Best Restaurants in the World, in Copenhagen in September

*   MasterChef SA runner-up Sue-Ann Allen is joining South Africa’s number one Eat Out Top 10 restaurant The Greenhouse as an intern for a month, from 21 August.

*   Vintage India has moved out of the Garden’s Centre to the corner of Hiddingh and Mill Street, around the corner.

*   Nook Eatery in Stellenbosch has been sold, with new owners taking over in September

*   Crêpe et Cidre has closed down in Franschhoek.  Gideon’s The Famous Pancake House is taking over the main road space in September.

*   Liam Tomlin Food is to relocate from Leopard’s Leap in Franschhoek to Cape Town in November.

*   Brampton winetasting bar on Church Street, Stellenbosch, is undergoing renovations to treble its current size, planning to reopen in the first week of September. Also said to be opening a winetasting venue at the entrance to Franschhoek.

*   Juno Café in Paarl no longer belongs to Fairview

*   Noop restaurant in Paarl has new owners

Restaurant breaks

*   Constantia Uitsig is taking a winter break from 25 June – 24 July.

*   The River Café is closing for a winter break from 13 August – 4 September.

*   Nguni in Plettenberg Bay closes from 1 May – 31 July

*   The Kove in Camps Bay will be closed from 1 May – 30 August

*   Olivello at Marianne Estate will be closed from 30 July – 21 August

*   Grande Provence is closing on Sunday evenings until the end of September.

*   Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor will be closed from 23 June – 3 August

*   Pane e Vino is closed from 1 – 31 July

*   Bistro 1682 at Steenberg is closed from 1 – 26 July.

*   The Kitchen at Maison is closed until 3 August

*   Massimo’s Pizza Club is closing from 23 – 31 July

*   Rust en Vrede is closed from 8 July – 6 August

*   Reuben’s Franschhoek is closed from 16 July – 1 August

*   Dear Me Foodworld is closed until 3 August

*   Warwick wine estate’s restaurant is closed from 6 – 20 August

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

Restaurant Review: Fyndraai at Solms-Delta serves fine ‘food of origin’!

I had not been to Fyndraai at Solms-Delta for a while, and an invitation to join a Franschhoek friend in celebrating her birthday was an excellent way to try out the new winter menu of Chef Shaun Schoeman. Exciting news is that the restaurant is raising its bar, with a location move on the wine estate and opening for evening fine dining from November.

The Fyndraai winelist and menu are impressive in their design – they are large (A3) with black and white covers with beautiful photography, and a mix of colour and black and white photographs inside.  Immediately the menu gives the restaurant a classy image.  The positioning of Fyndraai serving ‘food of origin’ is proudly placed on the menu and winelist covers, and refers to its focus on local South African food, the only restaurant with such a specific focus in Franschhoek.

Chef Shaun Schoeman came to say hello, despite a photo shoot taking place, and we laughed at his response when my friend asked him if he would become the next Chef Reuben (Riffel) of Franschhoek, when he told us about the restaurant move and opening in the evenings, and wanting to compete with the best restaurants in Franschhoek.  His spontaneous reply was: ‘No, I will never use Robertsons’, without him knowing what we have written about Chef Reuben’s endorsement of Robertsons!  The restaurant is to move to the building in the Oesfees section of the wine estate, and is set to open on 18 November.  The most interesting news for the restaurant is that Chef Shaun will be spending two weeks at the end of this month at Noma in Copenhagen, the number one World’s 50 Best Restaurants for the third year running, a tremendous honour. It is a restaurant at which Solms-Delta co-owner Professor Mark Solms, who recently won an international award in New York for his contribution to psychoanalysis, has eaten a number of times.

We were offered ‘roosterbrood’ with wild garlic and farm butter whilst studying the menu. My friend enjoyed her Kingklip topped with ‘suurlemoen pelargonium‘ crust, served with a crushed potato and crab meat salad, drizzled with a slow roasted tomato and olive dressing (R98).  The Karoo Lamb Wellington was delicious, served with a mushroom and asparagus sauté, steamed spinach, and a wild herb sauce to which the Solms-Delta Africana flagship wine had been added, excellent value at R98.  The dish was one of two options on a specials board. Every dish on the menu has an Afrikaans word or more, emphasising the South Africanness of the menu. Solms-Delta has been clever in giving its wines predominantly Afrikaans names. Starters cost about R45, and include pan-fried pickled ox tongue, bobotie springrolls, West Coast mussels cooked in a Cape Malay ‘tamatie bredie’, and baked Camembert salad with a ‘pers vye salsa‘.  Scallops cost R78.  The Fyndraai tapas platter sounds delicious, a selection including ‘bloukaas tert’, ‘boerewors’ roll, olives, ‘bokkom‘ salad, a vegetable pancake, ‘droëwors’, and biltong, served with ‘blatjang‘ (R98).  Main courses start at R92 for a wild mushroom and ‘knoffel’ risotto, and the ‘bokmelkkaas’ wrap is under R100 too. Other options are grilled calamari (R119), free range chicken and tiger prawn masala (R122), ‘Wilde roosmaryn’ crusted Karoo lamb rack (R132), ‘Wildsbok-skenkel’ (R127), and grilled beef rib-eye steak (R142). Desserts range in price from R39 – R48, and each sounded delicious: ‘yskas tert’ with a ‘koeksister’ and melon ice cream; ‘heuningbos’ cheesecake; ‘Rooibos’ panna cotta; cocoa coupe with mango, Amarula and strawberry ice cream; and the most delicious and refreshing orange blossom flavoured crème brûlée, served with chilled fruit stew, and a lemon and rose petal sorbet.  Cappuccino was served in a Terbodore branded cup, an excellent coffee brand roasted outside Franschhoek.  Picnics cost R145 per head, and are a collection of local treats, including a shared bottle of Solms-Delta Lekkerwijn. Half a page of the menu is a glossary of culinary terms, each of the Afrikaans terms translated for non-local visitors.

Only Solms-Delta wines can be ordered, at very reasonable prices. White wines range from R25 per glass/R75 per bottle for the Solms-Astor Vastrap 2011 to R43 per glass/R130 for a 500 ml bottle of Solms-Delta Koloni 2010.  Red wines range from R25/R75 for Solms-Astor Langarm 2011 to R74/R220 for Solms-Delta Africana 2010.  The Solms-Delta Lekkerwijn 2010 Rosé costs R28/R82. Under the heading ‘Innovative’, three wines are listed: Solms-Astor Cape Jazz Shiraz NV (R26/R78); Solms-Delta Gemoedsrus 2010, a port-style wine (R40/R240); and Dik Delta! Karri 2010, a Khoe fermented honey beverage (R26/R78).

The excellent quality of the food served at Fyndraai and its presentation in the menu unfortunately is not matched by the table settings – a blue plastic placemat, a paper serviette, no table cloth, and ordinary cutlery – but once the restaurant moves into the fine dining arena this may improve.  The service was very friendly, with a collection of staff coming to check on our well-being.  The working visit to Noma by Chef Shaun, and the growth of the restaurant into a fine-dining one, will make this a restaurant to watch for the 2013 Eat Out Top 10 restaurant awards.

Fyndraai Restaurant, Solms-Delta, R45, Franschhoek. Tel (021) 874-3937. www.solms-delta.co.za Twitter: @Solms_Delta  Monday – Sunday Lunch.  Dogs allowed.

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

Cape Town and Winelands Restaurant openings: De Grendel, Vovo Telo, Orinoco. Lots of winter restaurant closures!

Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures fortunately lists more openings than closures, and will be updated continuously, as we receive information.

Restaurant Openings

*    De Grendel wine estate has opened De Grendel Restaurant, with Chef Ian Bergh and owner Jonathan Davies (photograph left)

*   Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef, is to open a real test kitchen, called The Kitchen of Dreams, a private experimental place to develop new recipes, at the Old Biscuit Mill

*   Col’Cacchio has opened a new outlets in Westlake, and a new one is coming in Claremont too.

*   A new Vida é Caffe has opened on Prestwich Street, and a new branch is to open on Maindean Place in Claremont, and one in the new Wembley Square 2 development in July.  Two more branches are planned for Mauritius, it is said.

*   Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant

*   Hussar Grill is to open at Steenberg

*   Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro has opened on Main/Glengariff Roads in Sea Point, as a dinner theatre, and Bistro restaurant, owned by Richard Loring and Roland Seidel

*    Honest Chocolate is opening a second outlet with a ‘production kitchen’ in the Woodstock Industrial Centre

*   The Fez has reopened as a nightclub on Friday, to be called Sideshow

*   West Street Café has opened in the new Woodstock Foundry, owned by Chef Alan West

*   Moyo is to open where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront in summer.  It has taken over the tearoom at Kirstenbosch too.

*   Josephine’s Cookhouse has opened in Newlands, belonging to the Societi Bistro owners

*   Vovo Telo has opened in the V&A Waterfront, in half of the original Vaughn Johnson shop. They have branches in Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, and Johannesburg already.  The name is Portuguese, and means ‘Grandfather’s place’.

*   Orinoco has opened on Bree Street, serving Mexican and Venezuelan food

*    Keenwa has opened the P.I.S.C.O Bar above its restaurants, open Thursdays – Saturdays from 5 pm

*   Characters has opened on Roeland Street

*   TRUTH Coffee has opened on Buitenkant Street

*    Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street

*    Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store at Leopard’s Leap in Franschhoek is opening a Deli in September

*   FEAST is to open where Franschhoek Food Emporium was, in Place Vendome

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks has opened where Reuben’s Deli used to be in Franschhoek.

*   Okamai Japanese restaurant has opened at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek

*   Cavalli restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, this year or next

*   Dorpstraat Deli has opened in Stellenbosch, where Cupcake used to be.

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened a bar, serving Bartinney wines, and craft beers.

*    Slug & Lettuce is to open where Beads was on Church Street in Stellenbosch

*   Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West.  Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open in June with a new name called The Vergelegen Restaurant.

*      Chef Jonathan Heath has left Indochine, and will be opening a restaurant at Coopmanshuijs on Dorp Street in August.

*   Chef Johan van Schalkwyk has left the Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Winery, and has opened his own restaurant Twist Some More in Wellington.

*    Chef Bjorn Dingemans is to open up The Millhouse Kitchen restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West in July.

*   Grilleri (ex-Mediterrea) has closed down, and Chef Shane (ex-La Vierge) is now heading the re-named La Pentola restaurant.

*   Cassis Paris Salon de thé has opened in the Gardens’ Centre, on the first level.

*  Melissa’s has opened at Somerset Mall in Somerset West

*   Ali Baba Kebab (renamed from Laila) has opened as a small beef and lamb kebab take-away and sit-down outlet, next door to Codfather in Camps Bay

*   Gibson’s Gourmet Burger and Smoked Ribs has opened as a 70-seater restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, taking part of the Belthazar space. Owned by the Belthazar/Balducci group.

*   Giorgio Nava is said to be re-opening his Down South Food Bar, previously on Long Street, in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch

*   Tamboers Winkel has opened on De Lorentz Street, just off Kloof Street, Gardens/Tamboerskloof *   Ou Meul Bakery from Riviersonderend is said to be opening a bakery in Long Street

*   Deluxe Coffeeworks is opening a roastery to service all its outlets, at the previous German Club and Roodehek Restaurant.

* The Deli on the Square is to open at Frater Square in Paarl in July.

*   David Higgs (ex Rust en Vrede) is opening a new 30 seater restaurant in The Saxon in Johannesburg.

*   Big Route Top Gourmet Pizzeria has opened on Main Road, Green Point, next door to Woolworths, serving 52 different pizzas, salads and crêpes.

Restaurant Closures

*   Valora on Loop Street has closed down

* Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.

*   Toro Wine and Aperitif Bar in De Waterkant has closed down

*    Gesellig on Regent Road in Sea Point is standing empty, closed down or undergoing a major renovation

*   Sapphire has closed down in Camps Bay

*   Caveau at Josephine’s Mill has closed

down and the Bree Street venue is up for rent

*   High Level Restaurant in Bo-Kaap has closed down

*   Caveau on Bree Street and Gourmet Burger on Shortmarket Street, belonging to the same owners, have been closed down by their bank.

*   Sabarosa in Bakoven has closed down.

Restaurant staff/venue changes

*    Il Cappero has moved from Barrack Street to Fairway Street in Camps Bay.

Table Thirteen has reduced in size in Green Point and will open in Paarden Eiland later this year. *   Chef Fred Faucheux is the new Executive Chef at Nobu.

*    Piroschka’s Kitchen has moved from Bree Street to Waterkant Street, De Waterkant

*  MasterChef SA finalist Guy Clark, who was eliminated in episode 9, has started as a chef at the Madame Zingara restaurant group, at Café Mozart and the Bombay Bicycle Club.

*   Rotisserie 360° on Bree Street has changed its name to Café Frank

*   Salt Deli has changed its name to Salt Café

*   The V&A Waterfront Food Court is closed for renovations until November.  A sign outside the construction area lists the following businesses moving into or returning to the area: Primi Express, Anat, Carnival, Nür Halaal, Royal Bavarian Bakery, KFC, Boost Juice, Simply Asia, Steers, Debonairs, Subway, Marcel’s, and Haagan Dazs.  Nando’s is also opening.

*   Chef Darren Badenhorst is the new Executive Chef at Grande Provence. Chef Darren Roberts has left for a new appointment in the Seychelles.

*     Alton van Biljon has been appointed as Restaurant Manager at Haute Cabriere.

*    Ryan’s Kitchen is now offering cooking classes on Friday mornings, starting on 1 June

*   Chef Shaun Schoeman of Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms Delta has the amazing honour to be working at Noma in Copenhagen for two weeks in July.  He also shared that Fyndraai will move to another building on the wine estate in November, and will offer fine dining.  The current restaurant will serve light lunches and picnics.

*  Taste South Africa, belonging to Cybercellar, has closed down in The Yard off the main road. They have Tweeted that they are looking for new premises.

*    Reuben’s, which was said to be moving its Franschhoek branch, appears to be staying at his existing venue, despite having bought another restaurant venue off the main road close to Place Vendome.  He is also thought to open a restaurant in his home on Akademie Street.

*   Emile Fortuin has been appointed as Executive Chef at Reuben’s Robertson

*   Sommelier Josephine Gutentoft has left Grande Roche, and starts at Makaron at Majeka House in July, F&B Manager Chretien Ploum having left

*   The Reserve will change its name to Reserve Brasserie next month. Seelan Sundoo, ex Grand Café Camps Bay and ex La Perla, is the new chef.

*   Haiku does not enforce the minimum 4 star order requirement in winter.

*   Café Dijon is closing its restaurant on Plein Street in Stellenbosch later in June, and re-opening in the Rockwell Centre in Green Point, Cape Town, where Camil Haas once had his Bouillabaisse restaurant.

*   Chef Andrew Mendes from closed down Valora is now at Nelson’s Eye restaurant, where they are setting up a lunch section and cocktail bar upstairs.

*   Miss K Food closed down in Green Point, now ex-owner Kerstin going on a well-deserved break after 5 years. The new owner Maurizio Porro, with his chef Ernesto, has kept the staff and furniture of Miss K, and most of her menu initially. By September they will have transformed themselves into an Italian fine-dining restaurant to be called Guilia’s Food Café Restaurant, and will be open from 8h00, as well as for dinner.

*   Rob and Nicky Hahn have left Proviant in Paarl, and now run eat @ Simonsvlei on the Old Paarl Road

*   Karl Lambour is the new General Manager of Grande Provence.

*   Virgil Kahn is the new head chef at Indochine at Delaire Graff

*   La Motte is said to be working on a relaunch of a restaurant it owns in Somerset West.

*   Having bought the farm about 18 months ago, Antonij Rupert Wines has taken over the Graham Beck Franschhoek property. They will re-open the tasting room in October, initially offering all its Antonij Rupert, Cape of Good Hope, Terra del Capo, and Protea wines to taste.  They are renovating the manor house, to which the Antonij Rupert and Cape of Good Hope wines will be moved for tasting at a later stage.

*   Chef Marco, who opened Rocca at Dieu Donné in Franschhoek, has returned to Durban.

*   Orphanage is expanding into a property at its back, opening on Orphan Street, in December, creating a similar second bar downstairs, and opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers

Restaurant breaks

*   La Colombe is closing for renovations from 17 May – 16 June.

*   Constantia Uitsig is taking a winter break from 25 June – 24 July.

*   The River Café is closing for a winter break from 13 August – 4 September.

*   Nguni in Plettenberg Bay closes from 1 May – 31 July

*   Bientang’s Cave in Hermanus is closed for renovations until 21 June.

*   The Kove in Camps Bay will be closed from 1 May – 30 August

*    Burgundy in Hermanus will be closed for dinners until 17 June

*   Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House will be closed until 2 July

*   Olivello at Marianne Estate will be closed from 30 July – 21 August

*   Grande Provence is closing on Sunday evenings until the end of September.

*   Pierneef a La Motte will be closed from 18 June – 13 July.

*   The main Delaire Graff restaurant closes from 3 June – 6 July, but Indochine continues to trade.

*   Blues will be closed from 1 – 30 June

*   Waterkloof in Somerset West is closing for all June.

*   The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz is closed for all of June

*   Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor will be closed from 23 June – 3 August

* L’Apero at the Grand Daddy Hotel is closed for repairs until 17 June

*   Charly’s Bakery closes between 23 June and 16 July.

*  Kitima is re-opening from its winter break on 17 July

*   Terroir, Kleine Zalze: Closed from 25 June – 9 July. Open for dinner only 10 – 13 July. Open for lunch and dinner 14 July. Open for lunch 15 July.

*   Pane e Vino is closing from 1 – 31 July

*   Bistro 1682 at Steenberg is closed from 1 – 26 July.

*   The Kitchen at Maison is closed until 3 August

*   De Oude Bank Bakkerij will be closed from 8 – 16 July

*   Massimo’s Pizza Club is closing from 23 – 31 July

*   Rust en Vrede is closed from 8 July – 6 August

*   Tokara is closed between 9 – 16 July

*   Reuben’s Franschhoek is closed from 16 July – 1 August

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

‘Taste of Cape Town 2012’ tastes very good, Tokara tops!

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