Entries tagged with “Simonstown”.


imageLast night the stately Casa Labia Cultural Centre in Muizenberg was relaunched, with a new permanent exhibition, a new restaurant, and the launch of the venue for special events.

Antonia Labia, Director of The Casa Labia Cultural Centre, provided imagea brief overview of the building, which was built in 1924 by her grandfather Count Natale Labia (later Prince Labia) as a family residence as well as the official residence of the Italian Ambassador, her grandfather being the first holder of this position in our country. The architectural style of the building is Venetian, and many fittings were imported from Italy. It was designed to impress statesmen, artists, and musicians who visited the residence. (more…)

Tiger's Milk Main Table and lights Whale CottageEven though we are halfway through the summer season,  new restaurants continue to open, and more are planned before summer ends.  This list of restaurant openings and closings and restaurant staff movements is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Michael Townsend (who owns the Harbour House emporium, with La Parada, Lucky Fish, and Harbour House restaurants) has opened Tiger’s Milk in Muizenberg (photograph).  The Lucky Fish on Long Street will be transformed into Tiger’s Milk.

*    Kokkedoor judge and Chef Nic van Wyk and Roxy Laker have opened bistro 13 at Stellenbosch Vineyards (Welmoed)

*   Idiom Wines is said to be opening a restaurant.

*   The Butcher Shop & Grill has opened next to Sotano in Mouille Point. (more…)

Bruce Robertson in sea 2Today we celebrated the life of one of our country’s most creative and maverick chefs, Bruce Robertson having passed away suddenly of leukemia on Monday, only four days after he received the diagnosis.  Hundreds of restaurant industry friends, family, and past patrons gathered at the False Bay Rugby Club in Constantia, to pay tribute to the happy-go-lucky man.

A special marquee had been erected, with benches, a table with eats brought along by the Bruce Robertson Programme Whale Cottagefoodies, and lots of wines supplied by Cederberg (he only served this brand ‘with altitude and attitude‘ at his former The Boat House, and most recent The Flagship), Spier (where his close friend Tony Romer-Lee is involved), Villiera MCC, and Flagstone (winemaker Bruce Jack and Chef Bruce jointly made a wine called Bruce’s Juice at one stage).  On the marquee walls were blown up black and white photographs of Chef Bruce, including one of him dressed in drag!  There were so many familiar (more…)

The Test KitchenDear Sarah

We are extremely proud to have you living in your newly adopted home city Cape Town, and that you are such a fantastic tourism ambassador for our country in general, and for Cape Town in particular.  You put Cape Town on the world tourist map with your article earlier this year in the New York Times about Cape Town being the number one  ’52 places to go in 2014′, the best free publicity our city has ever had.

I was therefore shocked to see your article about Top Chefs in Cape Town’ in Travel + Leisureand the choices you made in selecting what you have listed as the top five chefs in Cape Town: Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen, Peter Tempelhoff of The Greenhouse, Reuben Robertsons Riffel of Reuben’s x 4 (in Franschhoek, Cape Town, Robertson, and Paternoster) plus Racine, Bruce Robertson of The Flagship, and Franck Dangereux of The Food Barn, in that order. You did not define your guidelines for selecting the five chefs, nor did you appear to use the same criteria in selecting the chefs that are on your list – the justification for inclusion appears more anecdotal and random.  Equally, I am surprised about the chefs you excluded from the list!

You seem to praise Chef Franck for his ‘foreign pedigree, but why single him out when Chefs Luke and Peter also have foreign roots?  Does that make them better chefs?  All of the chefs on your list have worked overseas, so they deserve equal mention in this regard.  You ‘warn’ Travel + Leisure readers to ‘watch out for these five Cape Town chefs and memorize their names now – they’re poised to break through to the global stage any day now‘!

Let me comment on each of your Top Chef choices: (more…)

Clem Sunter Book Whale Cottage PortfolioWhat an amazing experience it was to sit next to Clem Sunter at the 5th anniversary of the Thursday Club lunch at Buitenverwachting yesterday, the guest of the wine estate’s PR consultant Sandy Bailey.  At the lunch Sunter’s new book ‘21st Century Megatrends: perspectives from a Fox‘ was launched.  Sunter was the first speaker at the Thursday Club at its launch five years ago.

We were welcomed with a choice of a glass of Buitenverwachting Blanc de Noir or Meifort (a blend of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon).  Sunter was already in the restaurant, and was happy to pose for a photograph, volunteering to move away from the glass door so that the light did not affect the photograph, clearly an old hand at this.   We started chatting before the lunch started, and I received a quick overview of his talk, and learnt a lot more about him.

Christopher Sunter was born in the UK, the only son of a mother he was very close to, and went to school at Winchester College. At school Sunter played the guitar, and the first song he sang was ‘Oh my Darling Clementine‘, which led to his classmates calling him ‘Clem‘ after the song, and the name stuck.  He went to Oxford, and there he started a band with his friend, called the Clem & John Band.  His biggest claim to fame is the fact that the band co-headed a concert in Oxford at which the Rolling Stones performed as well, in June 1964, and he ended off his talk with this information.  We were lucky to have Clem sing for us at the table, his face lighting up as he did so. He shared that he performed with eleven other CEOs at a concert at The Barnyard in Johannesburg last year, organised by Reg Lascaris, the proceeds going Clem Sunter Clem Whale Cottage Portfolioto charity.  He sang ‘Peggy Sue‘ and ‘Blue Suede Shoes‘ at the concert, and ‘Peggy Sue‘ for us at the table too.  Should his career as a scenario planner ever fail, which is highly unlikely, he can fall back into a career as singer!  Sunter also is very funny, saying that every year for three weeks he lived in the home in which his mother lived before she passed away. Every evening they were served a glass of wine, and he told a funny story about the residents of the home which brought the house down as he started his talk.   Sunter joined Anglo in London after university, and moved to Anglo Zambia in 1971, and then to Anglo South Africa two years later, serving as a Non-Executive Director of the company now, as well as consulting to corporates around the world as a scenario planner, and writing books.  Sunter has owned a holiday house in Simonstown for a number of years already, and he and his wife plan to move to Cape Town next year, a ‘semi-gration trend’, he said.  They live in Rosebank in Johannesburg and he said that he loves living in Africa, and feels completely at home in this country.  Two of his three children live outside South Africa, one of them in Perth, which caused a laugh as I had asked him whether we need to pack for Perth again, which he now refers to ‘parched Perth’ due to the impact of climate change on Australia. (more…)

OO Cape Town Great White shark cage Whale Cottage PortfolioLast night I attended an interesting talk on ‘The Great White Shark: a Global Perspective’, given by shark expert and Apex eco-tour operator Chris Fallows at the One&Only Cape Town. Chris’ talk covered the three key seal areas attracting Great White Sharks in South Africa, as well as other well-known shark areas in the world.

I was invited by Ian Manley, the hotel’s PR consultant, to Chris’ talk, one of two (the second will focus on the relationship between Orca killer whales and Great White Sharks tonight), in a series of Guest Speaker Talks, which include Joanne Lifson on 18 June on ‘Lights Canine Action’, Colin Bell speaking on rhino extinction on 3 July, ‘Africa’s Three Big Cats‘ by Lorne Sulcas on 15 July, and more. One&Only Cape Town ambassador Aubrey Ngcungama introduced Chris, who has documented his shark adventures in his book ‘Great White: The Majesty of Sharks‘, and who has filmed documentaries about the Great White Shark with Discovery Channel, the BBC’s Planet Earth, and National Geographic.   In the hotel reception area, a shark cageChris Fallows Great White The Majesty of Sharks with diver, as well as a model of a small shark, were set up to attract attention to the talks programme.

Prior to the start of the talk Chris and I chatted, and he explained that Orcas, known as ‘killer whales‘, are not whales at all, but are members of the dolphin family.   Orcas are known to kill whales, by pushing them under water and making them drown.   In South Africa Great White Sharks can be found where there are concentrations of seals, in three regions: (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Forbes has published a wonderful article by Fathom travel website about Cape Town and the Winelands, describing it as a ‘mix of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Napa Valley – with a little Bilbao thrown in.  It recommends Table Mountain, penguins at ‘Boulder Bay’ (sic) ‘Beach‘, ‘design-centric’ shopping at Cape Quarter, Lion’s Head, Robben Island, ‘Victoria and Albert (sic) Waterfront‘, a township tour, Simonstown, Surf Shack in Muizenberg, Delaire Graff Restaurant, and Babylonstoren.  For shopping O.live, Nap, Merchants on Long, Monkey Biz, and African Nova are recommended.  Restaurant recommendations include Harbour House, Live Bait, Grand Café on the Beach, Bungalow, Bistro Sixteen82, The Greenhouse, The Test Kitchen, and The Round House.

*   Henco J (his surname is not revealed) from Pretoria is one of three winners of the Jameson First Shot awards, an annual opportunity to have a short film produced given to a resident of South Africa, Russia, and the USA by Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey.  The three winners will have their film produced in Los Angeles later this year, with actress Uma Thurman in the lead role in each.  Henco’s script is called ‘The Mundane Goddess’, and tells the story of Hera, the queen of Greek gods.

*   Palm Beach Illustrated writes with praise about South African wines, in an article entitled ‘South Africa Rising: Wine and Vineyard Renaissance’, and how these combine old-world tradition with cutting-edge techniques.  The article features (more…)

Wesgro Judy Lain Whale Cottage PortfolioI was recently told that Wesgro had finally appointed a Marketing head after looking since April 2012.  I called Judy Lain, its new Chief Marketing Officer, and was able to set up an appointment to meet her after her trip to South America.  We agreed to meet last Friday at Café Paradiso, on Judy’s recommendation.

All I knew about Judy was that she was better known as Judy During, and had run an advertising agency called 34 Woman, focusing on generating information about women’s purchasing behaviour, being responsible for not only FMCG but also big ticket brand decisions in their households.  Prior to that she worked at Inviseo Media, at Bester Burke Underground, and at draftfcb, therefore having a practical marketing and advertising background.   Our telephonic interaction in setting up the meeting was very different to the bureaucracy I experienced when I arranged to meet with Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten.  Judy answered the phone herself, sounded friendly and bubbly, and decided that we should meet over lunch.

We had forgotten to describe one another over the phone, but we both (more…)

Mandela Exhibition Mandela and Tutu Whale Cottage PortfolioCape Town was a hive of activity yesterday, as President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, as well as their daughters, visited Cape Town for the day on their three African nation tour.  It also was the opening of the Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition, an emotionally moving event.  The day was focused on the contribution which former President Mandela has made to Cape Town in particular, but also to South Africa and the rest of the world. (more…)

The seventh episode of MasterChef South Africa last night saw the first out-of-studio cooking action since the Finalists came to Nederburg, visiting the SA Navy ship SAS Amatola in Simonstown, mass cooking for the crew of 100. The Blue Team won by a close shave, and the Red Team collectively had to go into the ‘Pressure Test’ back at Nederburg, cooking a whole pig, each team member preparing a different part of it.  Finalist Mmutsi Maseko was sent home when her pork cheek dish did not meet the judges’ approval.

A SA Navy representative said that the meal requirement is that the food be tasty and nutritional, prepared according to a meal plan and calorie count.  The meal must be balanced, and the food must add to the morale of the crew.  Curry dish kings from the previous episode, Deena Naidoo and Thys Hattingh, were allowed to choose their Blue and Red teams for this challenge, respectively, and Deena chose Samatha Nolan, Sarel Loots, Jade de Waal, Manisha Naidu, Brandon Law, and Khaya Silingile.  The rest of the Finalists were chosen by Thys. The teams were given the brief to prepare a meal with a protein, one vegetable, and one starch within 90 minutes. Cooking conditions were less than favourable, the ships’ galley being too small to comfortably accommodate the MasterChef cooks.  Samantha was firmly in charge of the Blue team, even though Deena was the team leader, and she chose to make fried chicken, which had first been marinaded, and then covered in batter and deep fried, served with a rustic potato salad and broccoli. She confidently told a judge that she had made this dish many times before, showing once again that there is little that can rattle her, while Deena fetched ingredients that were required by his team. The potatoes were not as well cooked as they should have been, so they were cut into smaller pieces and the water was reduced by Khaya.  Thys’ Red team made lamb chops with carrots julienne and potatoes, and he instructed his team to make sure that each dish was tasted before serving, as the Finalists have been taught in previous episodes.  The navy crew came back for seconds and more, loving both teams’ food, and had to each ring a bell in voting for their favourite dish. It was a neck-to-neck contest, the Blue Team getting to the majority vote of 51 first. One of the Finalists asked how it was possible for a crewman to vote for chicken when he had eaten 5 lamb chops!

Back in the Nederburg MasterChef SA kitchen, the losing Red team was told that the team is only as strong as its weakest link.  The team members had to rank each other by placing a photograph of each into seven boxes, in front of the rest of the team, forcing an honesty from the Finalists that did not make all of them feel comfortable. Guy Clark had no shame in voting himself first, saying classically that ‘this is MasterChef, and not Master Best Friend’!  On the basis of the rankings, the seven Finalists were allowed to choose one each of seven pork parts, some of the Finalists visibly shuddering at what they saw.  Sue-Ann Allen chose first, having the highest ranking, taking the pork loin, being told that it should not be over-cooked.  Thys chose the pork belly, one of the most popular dishes in restaurants.  Guy looked for a challenge, and chose the pig’s ear, which he was told by Chef Pete Goffe-Woodhas to be braised to get it soft and gelatinous’.  Ilse Fourie chose the pork shoulder (right), being lean and fat, and was told that it must be cooked for long enough. Lungile Nhlanhla chose the tail, deciding to make a stew of it, reminding her of cooking chicken neck, slow cooking being required.  Babalwa Baartman chose the trotter, reminding her of her mother’s cooking at home. Poor Mmutsi Maseko had no choice, being the last ranked, and had to prepare the pork cheek.

During the 90 minutes that the Red team members had to prepare their pork dishes, the judges came up with pig-related phrases (‘bellyful’, ‘rub shoulders’, ‘trot over the finish line’, and more), which were felt to be corny, judging by the reaction on Twitter.  The judges praised the ‘wonderful smell’ of the dishes cooking, saying that they looked forward to tasting them.

Sue-Ann felt confident about her pork loin dish (left), to which she added apple and a honey and mustard sauce, saying that she had thoroughly enjoyed cooking the dish, and once again had realised that she belongs in the kitchen. The judges were less impressed, saying that she had ‘killed it’, despite having chosen the best pork cut, in that it was very dry.  Mmutsi decided to turn her grilled pork cheek into Dim Sum, something she had never made before, having been inspired about the dish in seeing it on TV, which elicited a cheeky response from Chef Andrew Atkinson! He judged the pastry to be too thick, and the cooking time to have been too short, there still being too much fat, one mainly tasting the fat and oil.  Thys braised the pork belly in a red wine sauce, which Chef Pete sounded like ‘Glühwein’ from its ingredient list!  He wanted it to ‘take one to Sunday’, and he succeeded, according to the judges. Ilse had added mash, and a citrus, cherry and star anise sauce, to her pork shoulder dish. Having only received accolades up to now, she must have been disappointed by Chef Pete’s initial feedback that her plating looked very brown, but after tasting the dish he judged it to be the ‘hero of the afternoon’. Guy said that he had never prepared pork ear before, but had once seen a recipe for it, flavouring it and deep-frying it, preparing it whole (right).  Chef Pete said it had been an ‘adventurous choice’, but he was not that happy with it, saying that it had not been cooked properly and was very ‘chewy’. Lungili was proud of her dish, saying that the pork tail meat was falling off the bone, as she wanted it. Chef Benny Masekwameng could not wait to taste it, saying she had prepared a big platter, having brought chakalaka into her pork tail dish. Chef Benny was beaming after tasting it, volunteering to be the man her mother is looking for for her, to much laughter and applause!  Babalwa’s trotter dish was judged to be a ‘good attempt’ by Chef Benny.

Ilse and Lungile were judged to have made the best pork dishes. The two worst dishes were those by Mmutsi and Sue-Ann, and in the end it was Mmutsi that was sent home, given that she had landed in the ‘Pressure Test’ twice before.  She was sent home with the comforting words that she is a winner to herself and her family, and she said that she is leaving ‘better prepared’ and ‘as a more confident cook’.

Interesting was the debate on Twitter after the show about MasterChef SA discriminating against Jewish and Muslim contestants, in having allocated so much time to pork preparation last night.

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