About three weeks ago I visited Franschhoek for the day, and saw an amazing collection of brand new SA gin brands at Siegies on Huguenot, all being striking in being unknown to me, and each having very distinctive packaging. Autograph Gin was one of these, and it was one of the brands which I photographed and posted on Instagram and Facebook. On Monday I ‘met’ the brand and its Master Distiller Matt Beech, at the Autograph Distillery in Stellenbosch, a goosebump experience, the second of my day! Continue reading →
I had the misfortune to experience Dubai under less than perfect conditions, and with it Emirates airline, which once was the best airline in the world (now dropped to number four, as rated by Skytrax)! A City Tour by Sun Tours helped to restore my appreciation for what Dubai has to offer! Continue reading →
Reuben’s Franschhoek will close the doors on its current premises on the main road on 31 May, and will re-open at its new premises in September. Continue reading →
It never fails to astound me how much changes regularly in Franschhoek as far as restaurants are concerned. I had heard some time ago that Reuben’s Chef Reuben Riffel will not renew his lease next year, and yesterday I was shown the building that he is said to have bought (above).
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The One&Only Le Saint Géran celebrated its 40th anniversary in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, and in Cape Town two weeks ago. The hotel’s GM and Head of Sales thanked invited guests for attending and joining in the celebration of the important milestone.
In Cape Town the celebration was held at the Cook’s Playground, Giggling Gourmet Chef Jenny Morris having traveled around the country with the Le Saint Géran team. On arrival, we received a garland of flowers to wear, the frangipani in it transporting one to Mauritius immediately. Long tables had been set up for us to eat at, beautifully decorated with Continue reading →
On Tuesday last week I was lucky to be part of a small group of writers invited to attend a special tasting of 21 Ken Forrester Vineyards’ wines, in celebration of their 21st anniversary. The range of wines reflects the multi-faceted personality of owner and winemaker Ken Forrester!
We met at the tasting room, and were welcomed with a glass of Sparklehorse MCC, and oysters and salmon canapés. It was the most beautiful day, and the tasting took place in Ken’s beautiful Cape Dutch manor house, dated 1694 on the gable, with the first vineyards having been planted in 1692. I loved the light yellow walls with a vine leaf mural all along the top part of the walls, the paintings, the vases with flowers, and the ambiance of and views from the Voorkamer.
Previously in the hospitality industry in Johannesburg, Ken and his wife Teresa moved to Stellenbosch in 1993, having bought the property with a house and a vineyard in a derelict state, Ken shared. He and Teresa painstakingly renovated the house, to return it to its former glory, and turned the farm around. Despite experiencing highlights as well as low lights on the property (e.g. the toughest ever year was 2002, with downy mildew a number of times), but Ken said that it was all worth while, and that they live in paradise. They live on a farm but they are almost in town, he added. In answering a question, Ken said that their new venture had to be in Stellenbosch. He had previously worked for Southern Sun when Sol Kerzner was in charge, and then moved into the restaurant industry, buying a share in Gatriles in Johannesburg. His restaurant industry background reflects in the joint ownership with his brother Allan of 96 Winery Road down the road from his wine estate, and he brought Gatriles’ famous duck and cherry pie recipe with him to Stellenbosch, where it has become a favourite too. Their property is 126 ha in size, and he has rented another property of equivalent size, which he and his team manage, to control the quality of his incoming fruit. Continue reading →
* The Elite 100 fine-dining restaurants in the world have been announced for 2014, with three Cape restaurants on the list: The Test Kitchen at 45th place, The Tasting Room at 82nd, and Rust en Vrede (which the Cape Argus placed in Durbanville rather than in Stellenbosch!) at 85th place. The world’s top 10 restaurants, according to Elite, are Alinea in Chicago, Daniel Restaurant in New York, The Fat Duck in Bray in the UK, Eleven Madison Park in New York, Le Bernardin in New York, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona in Spain, Azurmendi in Vizcaya, La Pergola in Rome, The Ledbury in London, and Osteria Francescana in Modena in Italy. The Cape Argus incorrectly created one restaurant name out of the 7th and 8th ranked restaurants! A surprise is the omission of five hundred at The Saxon, which kitchen is headed by South Africa’s Top Chef David Higgs.
* After 45 years in the local and international hospitality industry, which includes the One&Only hotel group, Sol Kerzner is retiring, after selling a substantial stake of his Kerzner International Holdings to a Dubai-based company.
* New York Travel focuses on Spring Travel in South Africa, specifically in Cape Town and surrounding areas. In Cape Town the article mentions I Love my Laundry, the The Crypt Jazz Restaurant and The Marly in Camps Bay. It also refers to Cape Town’s role as host of World Design Capital 2014. Continue reading →
* SAA and Boeing are collaborating on a biofuels project, to create a ‘sustainable aviation biofuel supply chain‘, making SAA the first airline in Africa to become environmentally sustainable.
* The new Cape Town cruise liner terminal should be completed in two years, and will be beneficial for tourism.
* Despite the European air controller strike having been called off for yesterday, the French air controllers did commence their strike yesterday, affecting flights to/from France.
* Hotel king Sol Kerzner has announced the development of a Continue reading →
* International tourism in the first half of 2013 has grown by 5% relative to the same period the year before, reports the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
* The film ‘The Giver‘, starring Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, is to be shot in its entirety in Cape Town from the end of September, reports the Cape Times. Moonlighting Films has been appointed as the production company, which was also involved in the filming of ‘Invictus’ and ‘Safe House’. The Cape Town Film Commission said that the Mother City’s film industry has been growing at 30% per year in the past three years, has contributed R5 billion to our economy in the past year, and is creating positive talk about Cape Town in Hollywood. ‘The Giver’ is expected Continue reading →
Listening to Carl Wessel, co-owner of Deluxe Coffeeworks, it sounds as if their successful coffee roasting business has just evolved over time, with little business planning and marketing, its satisfied loyal customers doing the word of mouth marketing and being repeat buyers. Deluxe Coffeeworks, known for its tiny outlets in Church Street in Cape Town and next to Reubens in Franschhoek, has opened its new roastery in The Yard in Gardens, in a building which will also house its head office.
It was difficult finding the new Deluxe Coffeeworks outlet, being on Roodehek Street (and not Roodehoek Terrace, where the German Club is), which connects Buitenkant and Hope Streets. As no signage nor street number (6) is visible, one assumes that an opening down an alley must be it. Parking is almost non-existent in the street, and one should park on Buitenkant Street. One walks through the alley, without signage guiding one, to enter the spacious Deluxe Coffeeworks with its massive coffee bar counter, made from a solid piece of bluegum, and matching wooden bar chairs, putting an alien tree to good use, Carl said. Olaf Nel was the architect and interior designer.
Against the wall is the trademark piece of ‘art’, which is a ‘deconstructed’ motorcycle. There are motorcycles standing around inside the warehouse-style building, appearing to be a passion shared by most of the staff. In Franschoek the space is tiny, and they have a ‘deconstructed’ bicycle on the wall, while in the Church Street branch it is a ‘deconstructed’ Vespa. Carl and his colleagues serve clients, and he was more than willing to serve a frothy cappuccino, even though I was under the impression that this was not encouraged (it is Truth and Origin that are strict about serving a cappuccino as a flat white). Carl told me that he had got tired of his job in the film business, and his partner Judd Francis, a New Zealander who had been involved in the coffee business while he lived there and who joined Origin when he came to Cape Town, got together, and started Deluxe Coffeeworks in Church Street. After being quiet for 18 months (there was no marketing that one was aware of, and they are not visible on Social Media either), their business suddenly took off, with more and more restaurants serving their coffee, and more customers coming into their coffee shop, to taste their unbelievably low priced coffee – they charged R10 a cup for the first year, and now charge R12, by far the cheapest cup of quality coffee in Cape Town.
I asked about serving food, and Carl laughed, saying that his gentleman’s agreement with Judd in running their business partnership had one rule only – no food! However, on a Friday they pick up 20 croissants from Jason’s on Bree Street, and the first twenty customers get them for free. The alley has tables and chairs, and a central food preparation area, which started off as the Dog’s Bollocks, serving only 50 hamburger portions per evening, said to be the best hamburgers in Cape Town. Nigel Wood, the owner of the whole building, of which Deluxe is using more than half of the space, has attracted two new day-time food businesses, serving ‘deconstructed’ breakfasts, in that one pays for each individual ingredient (R7 per egg, R12 for bacon, R8 for sausage and for baked beans), which is served on a ‘hubcap’ (flatbread, costing R10). From 12h00 one can order sandwiches, being a selection of world-famous mainly American-style sandwiches, it was explained (I had not heard of any of them before, but then I have not been to the USA in years). Costing R45 each, one can order Geno’s Philly Cheese Steak (from Philadelphia), or Lo Priore Bro’s Meatball Hero (from New York) sandwiches, for example. Soup costs R25 with vegetables and R30 with meat. Gilbert Plumbers is in the front of the building, and may vacate sometime, which will make more space available for related businesses.
A brightly painted coffee roaster, twice as big as the one in the Church Street branch, stands in a corner, and bags of green coffee beans lie on the floor. The beans have been sourced from Brazil, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Nicaragua via a local importer up to now, but it appears that they will source and import directly soon. They will soon offer a grinding service too. It is the ‘optimum roasting’ of the beans, small quantities at a time to keep the coffee as fresh as possible, the creation of special blends, and the method of preparation that makes one coffee better than another, Carl said. They prepare all coffees off a double espresso base, including cappuccino, flat white, Americano, Macchiato, Decaffeinated, Latte and Piccolo Latte (the last three cost R15). Restaurants serving Deluxe coffees include Jason’s, Power & Glory, Clarke’s, Red Sofa, Pulp Kitchen, La Mouette, La Boheme, Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants, Fork, Superette, El Burro, Van Hunk’s, Café Mozart, Skinny Legs & All, Tokara, Café Paradiso, Maria’s, KOS, Don Pedro, Yours Truly, Pezula Resort in Knysna, Hola Café in Plettenberg Bay, and more.
I was the only female customer at Deluxe Coffeeworks, and it has a male persona with all the motorcycle ‘props’, yet I felt at home, and enjoyed chatting to Carl, getting information from him first-hand. He says they are not good at technology, explaining their low key Social Media presence, and Carl almost seems surprised that they are doing so well. They have a 20% share in the Franschhoek branch, which is co-owned by Steve Grey and Jo Sinfield. They were invited to participate in setting up a coffee roastery in the foyer of two Lux* group hotels, one each in Mauritius and Maldives, which hotel group is managed by Paul Jones, who once worked for Sol Kerzner. This has led to the likelihood of a next project with Harvey Nichols, which company wants to set up coffee shops in Kuwait, and then expand throughout the Middle East. They also have a partnership with a similar business called Brew Coffeeworks in Istanbul, and the Deluxe staff is regularly flying to that city to work there for short stints.
The success of Deluxe Coffeeworks clearly is focus, doing what they do well and doing it with passion. Signage is due to come next month. They plan to print a fun little paper, which will offer Soduko puzzles. Not only is the price excellent value, explaining its popularity, but its coffee tastes good too.
Deluxe Coffeeworks, The Yard, 6 Roodehek Street, off Buitenkant Street, Gardens. Cell 0826815740. www.deluxecoffeeworks. co.za Twitter:@CarlWessel. Also in Franschhoek, and Church Street, Cape Town. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 17h00, Saturday 9h00 – 14h00. Twitter:@Yard_CT
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage