Tag Archives: shebeens

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 17 February

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   MasterChef USA is said to have been ‘cooking up a lie’, Chef Gordon Ramsay giving contestants cooking lessons prior to the filming of episodes, according to the revelations on the blog of a former contestant on the show.   The producers responded that each contestant has access to information and to training. ‘Each home cook is given professional training before the challenges to ensure they can cook something decent when they start recording’, it was written.   No such training has been given to MasterChef UK contestants however.

*   Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with his counterpart in Saudi Arabia.  No further details about the agreement are available.

*   The Franschhoek Wine Tram has grown from strength to strength in its first year of operation, having added buses on two routes, and still running the Tram to Grande Provence and Continue reading →

Top Australian Chef Neil Perry praises SA cuisine, advocates SA ‘Food Safaris’!

Neil Perry, top Australian chef of flagship restaurant Rockpool in Sydney, visited chefs and restaurants in South Africa earlier this month, and has returned to his home country, encouraging Australians to experience our ‘Food Safaris’, reports Southern African Tourism Update. His trip was widely reported, and the Sydney Morning Herald sent journalist Anthony Dennis to accompany Chef Perry on his culinary tour, an unfortunate choice with his emphasis on our apartheid past in his article!  Not only did the visit and resultant publicity reflect our country’s unique cuisine, but it also has tourism marketing benefits, the visit having been sponsored by SA Tourism.

Chef Perry’s journey started off at the elite and exclusive boutique hotel Ellerman House in Bantry Bay, where he did a braai of crayfish tails with his Asian touch, kingklip, and soy-marinated yellowtail.  He was assisted by Ellerman House Head Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert, who told the visiting chef that South Africa’s cuisine extends beyond game eaten next to a fire under a safari-style boma. ‘But in South Africa there’s a group of highly trained, skilled chefs who are creating a strong food culture and identity‘, she said.

Dennis praised our country’s ‘fine wine, great seafood and where the barbeque…is a favoured cooking appliance’. It is a shame then that he digs into our country’s past, writing that ‘apartheid can still cast a shadow, even over the dining table’, singling out MasterChef SA judge and Chef Benny Masekwameng as one of few ‘Black South African chefs’. Chef Benny told the journalist that the eating habits of the ‘majority of black South Africans who live below the poverty line, not much has changed at the dinner table‘, but that the ‘middle class’ in our cities are increasingly exposed to global food trends! The ‘shanty towns’ on the way to the Winelands receive a predicted mention from the journalist too, contrasting them with the modern airport built for the 2010 World Cup.

Chef Perry praised the wine industry: ‘South Africa has got amazing wine credentials. One of the real positives is that it has a lot of old vines in the ground and you’re getting some fantastic maturity there’. He praised Franschhoek’s fine white wines. Calling Franschhoek’s Grande Provence a ‘lodge’, Chef Perry and the journalist enjoyed the creative cuisine of Chef Darren Badenhorst, who prepared a typical South African braai lunch for them, with Karoo lamb chops, free-range Spring chicken, and boerewors, ‘a traditional and delicious type of sausage’. The visiting team stayed over at La Residence in Franschhoek.

Their next stop was Phinda Game Reserve, where they enjoyed the traditional Boma dinner (‘with a dirt floor, stone and reed walls’).  They were treated to springbok, impala, and warthog, and entertained by the staff choir.  Chef Perry was impressed with our game meats, saying ‘it was really quite intense’, not having any Australian game (other than ‘Wallaby‘ on their menus, according to blogger Bruce Palling).   In Cape Town the Australian team had eaten springbok at The Twelve Apostle’s Azure for the first time, served as a ‘Cape fusion main course of springbok fillet with celeriac cream, roasted radish, orange tapioca and sultana-caper paste.  The rare, perfectly cooked meat has the consistencey of beef but with a distinct saltiness and dark chocolate-like richness’.

In Durban the visitors ate traditional Indian food, including bunny chow at the House of Curries, described as ‘classic street food from the apartheid years and is a feature of the national diet across all groups’! One wonders who fed Dennis this nonsense information!  In Johannesburg a Chef’s Table dinner at the San Restaurant at the Sandton Sun Hotel represents ‘the Rainbow Nation’s ethnic groups. Under apartheid, this congenial, multiracial gathering would have been deemed illegal‘. Chef Garth Schrier served the visiting chef more Bunny Chow, as an amuse bouche of a mini loaf of bread with a Cape Malay chicken prawn curry.

One wonders what SA Tourism’s understanding of our country’s cuisine is, and that of the Western Cape in particular.  With 16 of the top 19 Eat Out Restaurant Finalists based in the Cape, it is a surprise that not one of these top chefs, most of the calibre of Chef Perry, were exposed to the visiting chef.  At least up and coming Chef Darren Badenhorst at Grande Provence was included in the programme, even though he has not made the Top 19 list due to not having been in charge of the kitchen for a full year.  This is even more evident from the SA Tourism website’s Top 10 Wine estates (gastronomic) list, of which the compiler is not identified:

1.   Buitenverwachting

2.   Rust en Vrede

3.   La Colombe

4.   Pierneef à La Motte

5.   Terroir

6.   Bread and Wine

7.   Overture

8.   The Goatshed

9.   Fyndraai

10.  Tokara

Odd inclusions on the list are Bread and Wine, Fyndraai, and Fairview’s The Goatshed, while surprise exclusions are Delaire Graff’s two restaurants, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, the Restaurant at Waterkloof, and Grande Provence.  The ranking of Tokara in 10th’s position is an insult to the cuisine creativity of Chef Richard Carstens!

While all publicity for South Africa is fantastic, and in Australia’s leading newspaper even more so, it is a shame that a journalist should have turned a South Africa Food Safari story into an apartheid story, which is not the topic of his story at all.  One wonders what gives an Australian the right to point fingers at our country’s past, given their own Aborigine history!  It wouldn’t be a surprise if one were to find that Dennis has South African roots!  At least Chef Perry enjoyed his trip: ‘My food philosophy is all about local, high quality produce and fresh ingredients so I was thrilled to meet with like-minded chefs in South Africa’. He encouraged travellers to our country to ‘add a South African food safari to their bucket list’, advising that they visit the Winelands, shebeens, experience a Braai, and enjoy a seafood buffet on the beach.

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

Indlovu Project in Khayelitsha reaches top of the World (Bank)

I visited Khayelitsha for the first time in about 15 years yesterday, to attend the opening and launch of the Indlovu Project, a community development project aimed at addressing the high unemployment, large numbers of teenage pregnancies, lack of sanitation, and prevalence of TB and HIV, in Monwabisi Park in the township.  The invitation came for SAfm presenter Nancy Richards, and I am delighted to have made the time to attend the opening of this fantastic project.

I had not heard of the project prior to the invitation, so went to the ceremony with an open mind.  I had no fear of driving through Khayelitsha, and felt that little had changed.  When I first moved to Cape Town twenty years ago I ran a Market Research and PR company called Relationship Marketing, and we were the first company to take clients into the townships, to show them the fantastic entrepreneurial spirit of the township residents, and the diversity of retailing in these suburbs.   I drove past Coca Cola branded spaza shops (miniature supermarkets), shebeens, braaiers of meat for “take aways”, sellers of sanitaryware, beds and building materials, all displayed along Mew Way, the main road through Khayelitsha.  I wondered where these items are stored in case of rain and flooding. 

The Indlovu Project is a collective Youth Centre, guest house, daycare centre, clinic, soup kitchen, and creche, which was established in 2008.  Earlier this year the entire project burnt down in a shack fire.  Bishop’s School came to the assistance immediately, helping to clear the site, and monies were raised to rebuild all the facilities, but on a larger scale and following eco-friendly principles, given the donations received from actor Sir Ian McLellan (who is currently in Cape Town, acting in Samuel Becket’s ‘Waiting for Godot’), The Rotary Club of Claremont, actor Ralph Brown (who is busy filming “Dark Tide” with Halle Berry and brought her to the Project a week ago), the 476 Trust, Enzyme, and Investec Bank.   It is planned to market the Indlovu Project as a Tourism Centre, by offering traditional African meals in the community hall, so that the work of the project may be seen and supported.

But what impressed me the most was the work by and dedication of the Bishop’s Grade 10 boys, who worked in two teams of two on a World Bank project called Evoke – over a ten-week period the boys researched the needs at Indlovu, found solutions, and wrote a blog about their work.   Of the 19 000 scholars that signed up around the world for the World Bank’s Global Giving on-line project, the four Bishop’s scholars came first, and were given $1000 in seed money to grow their projects.   The Ecovillage project of Reid Falconer and Martin Dyer investigated self-sustainability in terms of fruit and vegetable supply, and analysed the soil type in the township, to choose the most suitable type of vegetables and fruit to grow.  The other Bishop’s pair, Emile Nauta and Kishan Chagan, tackled the township problem of shack fires, and developed a fire-resistant paint that costs less than one-tenth of the commercial cost of such paint, by simply adding two ingredients obtainable at pharmacies to the paint.   The boys will be flown to Washington to receive their prize, and are pushing themselves to raise funds to continue their work – one goal being to raise money to paint 1000 shacks by 2012.  The project was demonstrated, by lighting a newspaper painted with their paint, but it did not burn.   What impressed me was that the Bishops children come from well-to-do backgrounds, but it was very obvious that they are very proud participants in this project. 

The Makaze guest house is colourful and homely.  There is no TV, but the kitchen is spacious.  The Bishops’ moms assisted with the interior decor, Lucia Brain being the decorator.  I loved the Lion Match papered wardrobe door, and the recycled items dotted around the guest house, as well as the lamp shades made from buckets in the lounge.  Two bedrooms have bunk beds in them, while the third is the “Presidential Suite”, with a king bed.   Dinner is served to guests, being traditional African food.   The monies made from the guest house operation is used to fund the community soup kitchen.  What makes the guest house fascinating is that it is “green”, in that it was built by the community from sandbags and eco-beams; it is powered by solar energy and gas; and it has earthworm sanitation.

I felt enriched in having spent two hours in Khayelitsha, in experiencing a project opening which was blessed by a sangoma, entertained by proud township dancers and musicians, performing traditional music, that I could see a part of Cape Town that we do not acknowledge being on our doorstep, and experiencing the friendliness of the locals towards us as visitors, with so much goodwill to each other.  I will contribute to the Bishops’ Ecovillage and Fire Retard projects.  I encourage you to do so too. 

Indlovu Project, off Mew Way, Monwabisi Park, Khayelitsha.  Tel (021) 657-1026. http://www.shaster.org.za/index.php/projects/6-indlovu-project/6-indlovu-project.html

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