Entries tagged with “surfing”.


CNN describes Cape Town as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, its ocean and mountain views being what makes it particularly special. It writes that the city experiences four seasons in a day, and that allows its locals and visitors to experience a variety of things to do. Despite the water shortage, it is ‘still one of the planet’s most extraordinary destinations’. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is encouraging its members to use IT to improve the customer experience, saying that airlines ‘fly people and cargo, not planes‘. Consistency of customer experience is not yet satisfactory for airlines, with little differentiation. Customers would like to use IT to check in online, tag luggage themselves, board themselves, and collect bags themselves, an IATA survey found last year.  IATA’s goal is that 80% of passengers have a ‘self-service suite based on industry standards‘ available to them by 2020.

*   PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is not known as a Tourism consultancy, so its prediction about our country’s tourism future is a surprise.  Its report presents growth of 4% in international tourists 2013, far lower than the 10% growth in 2012.  Growth is said to be solid and good, but ‘not fantastic growth‘.  Almost three quarters of international visitors to our country are from Africa, the report confirms.  Nigeria would become the leading source market for our country, the PwC study predicts.  The Guest House category is the fastest growing in respect of room availability.  South Africa’s strength is that it attracts leisure as well as business travelers.

*   France must be feeling the tourism pinch, having announced plans to become more welcoming to tourists, English speaking ones in particular.   The country hopes to increase tourist numbers to 100 million, (more…)

I travel along fashionable Bree Street regularly, and noticed the new Latitude33, a mixed venue selling clothing, artwork, some deli items, and is a restaurant.  Its name reflects Cape Town’s geographical location, and its interior is dedicated to the oceans surrounding our city, and surfing in particular.  Its striking ceiling in the coffee preparation area reflects that this new Cape Town eatery is set to make waves!

I found the venue open last week, and was told that they close the kitchen at 15h00, and the venue at 15h30, as they open early in the morning.  I had never driven past Latitude33 before its closing time, and therefore never previously had found it open and operating.  Arriving just at closing time then, I was still made to feel welcome, was served an iced coffee (R25), and co-owner Charles Post came to chat, to share background information.  The venue was previously a nightclub which had burnt down, and the building was extensively renovated.  Charles lived in New Zealand, where he was a rugby player, but not quite at All Black level, he admitted. While he is not a surfer himself, he loves the surfing lifestyle, and that is what they have brought into the venue decor, with big surfing posters from Australia, and surfboards on some of the walls, some painted by Glen Roe, with tributes to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and more.  A sports corner with big leather couches and a flatscreen TV will serve rugby lovers.  The interesting wave-like ceiling, seemingly flowing out of the shelving unit behind the coffee machine, was inspired by photographs which Charles saw on a website for Melbourne-based Baker D Chirico.  Wooden chairs and tables fill the venue, and also are on the pavement, interspersed with wine vats.  The chairs have blue and red stripes on them, almost giving them an Indian touch. Cutlery is by Fortis Hotelware, and blue paper serviettes are offered. Cape Herb & Spice Atlantic Sea Salt and Extra Bold Peppercorn grinders are on the table.  The multi-use venue was inspired by a shop which Charles saw in Bali. His girlfriend Olivia Franklin runs the upstairs section, with clothing for sale, as is her artwork.

The Chef is Gerald Walford, a friend of Charles from Johannesburg, and he said he enjoys the ‘change of pace in Cape Town’, although he expected it to be slower than it is!  He is aware of Cape Town’s reputation for less good service, and they want to ‘bring Johannesburg service flair’ to their restaurant, and have chosen staff to achieve this. Value for money is important, and they are striving to offer the best possible quality. The feedback they have received is that their portions are too big, and they have reduced them.  The menu changes regularly, and is ‘client-friendly‘.  Suppliers have been ‘hit and miss’, Gerald said, but he seems satisfied with them now.  They stock an interesting selection of unusual jam ‘blends’, supplied by Die Ou Pastorie in Pretoria, including Rooibos Sweet Chilli, Balsamic Pinotage Jelly, and Vanilla Plum. Chef Gerald worked with MasterChef SA judge Andrew Atkinson at the Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg, and calls him his mentor.  He also worked with MasterChef SA Culinary Producer Arnold Tanzer during Season 1 last year. His philosophy is to make his customers as happy as possible, and to offer consistency, and therefore he is hands-on in preparing the food.  I was impressed that he came to check on my feedback about the excellent Salmon Eggs Benedict (R65), which I had ordered from their all-day breakfast menu, a good enough reason to go back again.  The bread range which is offered is rye, bagels, sour dough, white, wholewheat and panini, baked in-house. Eggs Benedict is also available with bacon and spinach. A full cooked breakfast costs R65, and a mini breakfast R50. Omelettes start at R20, and one can select sixteen ingredients to add, the price of each specified.  French Toast sounds delicious, at R45, with a choice of bacon and syrup, Nutella and caramelized banana, berry compote and whipped cream, or chorizo and roasted coconut!  Lunch is served from 12h00, and consists simply of salads (cous cous, grilled chicken, and steak, ranging from R55 – R65), burgers (beef, chicken, or ostrich, at R65), sandwiches (with schnitzel, Asian Pork belly or Club, ranging from R50 – R65) and wraps (mushrooms, grilled chicken, and beef, at R35 – R40).

Andrea Maskew is the Pastry Chef, having owned a catering company previously, and has been a freelance food stylist for Woolworths’ Taste magazine, working with Food editor Abigail Donnelly and assistant Hannah Lewry.  She bakes fresh pastries and confectionery every day, including cupcakes, muffins, triple Lindt chocolate cookies, white chocolate mousse cake, and fudge.  She studied at the SA Chefs’ Academy.

Coffee is by Truth, and they have borrowed a barista from the coffee supplier.  Their iced coffee is good and strong.  Service is friendly, but seemed slow, given that I was the only customer eating at the time.  I returned yesterday, to try one of the dishes, and to photograph the interior, the chairs already having been placed on the tables on my previous visit, not making the eating section of Latitude33 photographable then. The food is excellent, but the paper menu, the paper serviettes, the menu offering, and the service all have potential for improvement.  A liquor licence will be applied for, and therefore clients are encouraged to bring their own wine.  No corkage is charged.

Latitude33, 165 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 4249520. www.lat33.co.za Twitter: @Latitude33_Cpt.  Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h30, Saturday 8h30 – 14h00.  Free WiFi.

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

Earlier this week I attended a winetasting of Sequillo wines, led by well-known and highly respected maverick Swartland winemaker Eben Sadie, at French Toast. It was the most enjoyable wine function I have ever attended, largely due to the refreshing down-to-earth three-hour tasting done by Sadie, and excellent value at R100.

The name of the winemaker leading the tasting was clearly a big drawcard, with 45 winelovers having booked.  I was introduced to Eben by Karen Visser, co-owner of French Toast, and Eben struck me as a really nice and friendly person, without any airs and graces, not what I expected at all, for a winemaker who has achieved a number of career highs, including having his winery selected as Winery of the Year, and his Sadie Family Wines Palladius selected as South Africa’s top white wine in the 2010 Platter’s South African Wine Guide.

It took some time for the tasting to get going, due to some late-comers, but we were served a Mystery wine, which we were asked to identify.   It was a Riesling, only 60 bottles made (unwooded) by Eben from grapes coming from Elgin, and not one of the attendees could identify it.  Throughout the evening, Sadie told us stories, and for him the most important role that his wines play is that they too tell stories.  He loves to play with wine, to experiment, and his greatest goal is to get locals to enjoy wine, without any fancy references to the aroma wheel (which should be burnt, he says), as it puts people off wine-tasting.  He said ‘my guava is not your guava’, explaining his controversial winetasting views.  Eben came across as the most down-to-earth, hands-on winemaker. Awards generally do not mean much to him, and he would not answer my question as to how he views the Platter’s guide.  In the introduction, French Toast co-owner John Harrison said that Eben is recognised as a ‘renegade’, who has broken all the rules of conventional winemaking.  This ‘enfant terrible’ is South Africa’s first certified celebrity winemaker’, Wikipedia writes about him.

Eben’s big passion is surfing, he studied at Elsenburg, and he started his winemaking career at Romansrivier Winery in Wolseley, moving to Charles Back and making his Spice Route wines for him.  Sadie Family Wines is a joint venture between two Sadie brothers Eben and Niko, and their older sister Delana, starting with R9000 in 1999. They grew up on a vegetable and pig farm on the West Coast, and it was grape farming, and winemaking with it, that attracted Eben to this sector of agriculture, telling me that winemaking ‘can carry a century’.  They have three wine operations, making Sadie Family Wines (a wine for weekends and special occasions) and Sequillo (a wine for weekday drinking) in the Swartland, and make wine in Priorat in Spain (Terroir Al Limit label) too. Studying winemaking in Germany, Austria, Italy, the USA, and Burgundy, Eben liked the lifestyle of the Spanish the most, choosing this country, but clearly declaring his love for the Cape. Taking a swipe at ‘molecular gastronomy’, Eben said he believes that winemaking has been ‘intellectualised’, in that wine drinkers are encouraged to sniff and spit the wine.  He said one should not bother with drinking one glass of wine only, as it was as good as drinking a glass of water!  Wine drinking must be done in volume, so that one can enjoy it, he said.

All the Sadie wines are blends, and they do not make any single varietal wines to sell.  Eben said that winemakers could make wines to the ‘100 point formula’, to tick all the judges’ boxes, but this would be an ‘intellectual wine’, made without regard for soil and climate.  It would have ‘blueberries, cigarbox, cream, and fennel on the nose, would be opaque, and have tannin’. He mentioned this dig at the ‘aroma wheel’ a number of times during the evening.  Rather, wines should be an ‘ambassador’ of the place and the climate, and that is why Eben does not irrigate his grapes anymore, to be a true representation of the climate of that vintage. To counter climate, Eben will reduce his crop by half, depending on whether there is late rain or not.  His wines have no added yeast, and only about a third of the allowed quantity of sulphur is added two days before bottling.  Very old barrels are used, adding little or no wood to the taste.  Eben said it was hard to move from conventional farming to ‘natural farming’.  He told us how they have built up the resistance of their grapes in Spain, and plough with mules there.  Mules were not suitable for the Swartland, he found, so they use horses.  We laughed when Eben said that one can read how to get onto the moon, but the internet does not guide him as to how to use horses to plough his land!

Eben became very fiery about Law 70 of 1970, which does not allow the sub-division of agricultural land. This means that Eben leases 53 blocks of land in different areas, which he tends to with his staff, driving from one piece of land to another.

Sequillo is a second label, and the name comes from the Latin, meaning ‘dry arid place of great purity’.  To introduce the Sequillo Red and White blends to us, Eben ‘deconstructed’ the wines for us, and we drank most of the individual varietals that made up each of these two blends.  The Sequillo White blend 2010 consisted of:

*   Grenache Blanc: Eben said this wine is like someone you know who is in jail, being someone you love but you cannot mention it.  This variety came from the south of France.  It is used in the blend to ‘build volume of wine’.

*   Palomino: the origin of this grape is Jerez, from which sherry is made in Spain.  It has acidity, firmness, coming from a 65 year old block in Piketberg.  It has minerality, and white peach and other stone fruit, with a lingering after-taste. There is some saltiness.

*   Verdelho:   This wine is made from grapes originating from Portugal, planted in its northern areas.  Eben said that his wine comes from 8 year old vines, the youngest vines he has.  He tested this variety’s suitability in different soil types, and it does well across a variety of these.  It does not have the prettiest bunch nor leaf, not having been to ‘finishing school’, he says in Sadie-speak, but is a great grape that is conducive to good natural farming.  Their grapes are planted in Wellington, Perdeberg, and Stellenbosch.  It has spiciness, potpourri, great nose and taste, easy to grow but hard to make in the cellar.  Presenting it to Portuguese winemakers, they were very complimentary about his wine, Eben said.

*   Viognier:  This variety comes from Croatia originally. Eben said that it was grown too ripe originally in South Africa, giving too much alcohol.

*   Grenache Noir: This is the most planted grape in the world, about tenfold of the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a Mediterranean grape, which can go to 17% alcohol, but Eben keeps his at 13.5 % by picking the grapes earlier.

*   Semillon and Roussanne are also part of this blend, but we did not taste them.

The Sequillo label design is done in-house, and is refreshingly different, changing every year.  The ‘Dorper skaap’ on the Sequillo White symbolises the hardiness of this sheep variety, like his wine, and is politically correct in being white and black, he laughed!  The Sequillo Red has a locust on it.  The Sadie wines are sold in 35 countries.  When asked how they market internationally, Eben said that he answers his e-mails!  They do not have a website for the Sadie Family Wines, and have only just created a website for Sequillo.  They will never get into Social Media, Eben said, and he probably will throw away his cellphone when the contract expires, he said.  He has no TV nor radio, and does not follow rugby.  He makes all his own wine, and does not buy any of it in.  While Eben had to keep reminding himself to ‘focus’ on the tasting, to great laughter, he explained that he is ‘semi-German’, and has ‘structure and order’, answers his e-mails, and is organised about his wine-making.

Asked which wine estates and their winemakers he admires, Eben mentioned Mullineux, Hamilton Russell, Newton Johnson, Adi Badenhorst, Neil Ellis, Boekenhoutskloof, Paul Benade, and Chamonix, and described them as mavericks too.  He told us that he used to make full-bodied heavy wines, but now he makes lighter ‘roadblock’ wines, that will get one through a traffic control! He said that the wine industry has come a long way, and that the country’s political transformation in 1994 caught the industry by surprise, not being ready to compete on an international platform initially. Eben deplored that rarer and interesting wine varieties do not sell locally.  He is focused purely on making wine, and is not there to set up pretty gardens with fountains on his wine estate!

The Sequillo Red blend 2009 is made from the following varietals:

*  Syrah is Eben’s favourite varietal, and he told us that its origin is said to be Persia or Greece.  The Australians could not pronounce its Old World ‘Syrah’ name, and called it ‘Shiraz‘. While other winemakers pick their Syrah grapes in March, Eben picks his in January, to prevent it being ‘jammy’, sweet and pruny, because of its thin skin, and the intensity of our sun, giving him 13,8% alcohol compared to 16 % for others picked later. He says it is a lunchtime wine, is well suited to the Cape, although it may be too hot, needing altitude to do well. He would not reveal where the special Syrah is grown, but hinted that the block is 60 km from the city, just above that of a very well-known wine brand. Platter’s Guide says 65% of the blend is Shiraz.

*   Mouvèdre is the most difficult wine to make, Eben said. It is great to farm, a beautiful grape and a vertical grower, but difficult to make in the cellar.  It has ‘nervous aromas’, ‘energy and electricity’, ‘is alive’ and great to use in blends, as it raises the fruit in these.  This grape variety makes the world’s greatest Rosé in Bandol in France, Eben said. He added that Rosés are cool wines now, not a ‘chick wine’ any more!

*   Cinsault is like one’s brother that is in jail and about whom cannot talk (Eben likes to use the analogy of wines and jailbirds!), being one of the greatest varietals but that has ‘suffered from human ambition’, he said, extending the analogy to say that it has been ‘framed for a murder he did not commit’, referring to its poor appeal as a variety. He says it is one of the most drinkable red wines in the world, it is seductive, and a wine he thinks about every day.

*   Grenache and Carignan are two further varietals used, but not offered for the tasting.

As if we had not had enough to taste, Eben opened a 5 litre bottle of his newly 5-star rated 2012 Platter’s (for its 2009 vintage) Columella 2007, a Rhone blend of 80 % Shiraz and 20% Mouvèdre, according to Platter’s.

Eben Sadie and his wine brands will continue to make waves, given his passion and charisma, his dedicated focus on what he loves doing best, in making wines, and his fresh anti-bureaucracy and anti-convention views.  Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof said of Sadie that he makes wines as an ‘artisan’, and not as a chemist or a technician!

Sequillo Cellars, Malmesbury.  Tel (022) 482-3138.  www.sequillo.com

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

Today is World Tourism Day, and therefore it is fitting to laud Cape Town Routes Unlimited for the marketing work it is doing for Cape Town and the Western Cape in South America.

One welcome advantage of the tough tourism times is that Cape Town Routes Unlimited is proactively sharing what it is doing for the Cape tourism industry, via almost daily media releases.  Cape Town Tourism, by comparison, is Tweeting torrentially, and does little for its media coverage and member communication.

A Special Edition of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Update provides interesting information about a recent trip to South America by its CEO Calvyn Gilfellan, who visited Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, earlier this month.   The 2010 Soccer World Cup got the ball rolling in developing relationships with the two countries. Two events took Gilfellan to South America:

* SAA São Paulo Workshop, which was attended by 33 Brazilian tour operators, wholesalers, and incentive houses.  At the workshop a ‘speed-dating’ approach was used, whereby the Cape exhibitors and the Brazilian tour operators were each given 15 minutes to represent their tourism products, resulting in 841 business connections

.   Visit SA Expo in Buenos Aires: Organised by the South African Embassy (headed by ex-DA leader Tony Leon), the Expo invited free participation by South African tourism players, including those involved in language schools, sports tourism, business tourism, and luxury travel.

Only one day was spent in Buenos Aires, and here Cape Town Routes Unlimited was encouraged to get involved in a special rugby match in honour of Nelson Mandela on 2 November, identified an opportunity for the creation of a West Coast Rooibos Tea Route on the initiative of the South American offices of South African Rooibos Tea, and the opportunity for tourism players to provide information via the South African Embassy offices in Chile, Uruguay and Buenos Aires.  The number of tourists from Argentina doubled in one year to reach 22000 in 2010, albeit off a low base and many of the tourists coming for the Soccer World Cup.

More time was spent in Brazil, and here Cape Town Routes Unlimited picked up the positive perception that our country has ‘extraordinary tourism offerings, friendly people, a safe environment and top-class infrastructure’.  Their economic growth at 5% per annum appears to have been more resilient to the world recession, and tourism to South Africa grew by 69 % in 2010 (no numbers provided).  With its massive population of 200 million it has fantastic potential for Cape tourism marketing.  Brazilians travel for language training, events, wildlife, golf, adventure, and surfing in the main.  They are ‘habitual’ travellers, enjoying returning to destinations that they have had good experiences in.   Marketing collateral is recommended to be provided in Portuguese, and SA Tourism is commended for having a website in Portuguese.  The BRICS inclusion of South Africa will open a platform for tourism, investment, trade, sport and cultural exchanges, writes Gilfellan.  Online Travel sells packages to Brazilians visiting South Africa, and 120000 brochures will be provided by the tourism body to the South African embassy.  Media visits are on the cards, and host sponsors are sought.  A group of 100 golfers is visiting our country next month, and one hopes that the Cape is on their agenda.  Wine and golf workshops are planned for next year with Brazilian tour operators.  A jazz exchange programme between the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the Bourbon Street Jazz Festival in Brazil is being considered, allowing performers from each festival to perform at the other festival.  A Memorandum of Understanding is to be signed between Cape Town and Rio de Janiero, and a twinning agreement to be established between Robben Island and Ilha Grande, a former political prison island in Brazil.  An African Fan Village is being considered in Rio de Janiero for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2014 FIFA World Cup, and 2016 Olympic Games.

It is time for Cape tourism players to brush up on their Portuguese and Spanish language skills, to welcome tourists from Brazil and Argentina.  With excellent flight connections via Air Malaysia from Buenos Aires and from Brazil via SAA, Cape Town and the Western Cape are sure to benefit from a new tourism market, sorely needed as the traditional tourism source markets are still depressed due to the global recession.

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

A Danish photographer’s love-affair with Cape Town, and its wine, people and food, led to Linda Suhr publishing “A Passion for Wine & Surf”.

The book contains beautiful photographs of seafood, the ocean, surfers, wine-makers, winelands, and a restaurateur, with his recipes.  

 

Wine-makers Miles Mossop from Tokara, Sebastian Beaumont from Beaumont Winery, Rudi Schulz from Thelema, Duncan Savage from Cape Point Winery,  and Italian Luca Castilione, owner of Lemoncello, are featured in the book, both as passionate surfers, and as passionate wine-makers.   Other wine-makers who are profiled are Adi Badenhorst of A.A. Badenhorst, and Sebastiaan Klaasen from Vuurberg.

“A Passion for Wine and Surf is the portrait of a lifestyle.  It’s about wine-making, summertime and wide open spaces.  A beach, togetherness, a country of hope and dreams. It’s about a group of friends with roots deep in South African soils who are riding the wave of the country’s transformation.  It’s also a brief, indulgent journey into some of life’s simpler pleasures – fresh tuna on the braai, a cold glass of Chenin Blanc and the luminous beauty of vineyards on an autumn afternoon”, says the author.

“This book is my love affair with South Africa and the spirit and soul of this country.  It’s about great wines, irresistible food, soul-living and love.   It’s about hauling a battered cooler-box down to the beach sharing a bottle of wine with friends while the sun slowly sets.  These are some of the special moments that make life worth living.  It’s a celebration of spirit and an expression of my gratitude.   I hope one day you get to visit this extra-ordinary country, taste its wines, savour its food and experience its magic for yourself” she adds.

Once a year about 40 wine-makers meet at Stilbaai for a long weekend, and participate in a surfing competition, drawing parallels with wine competitions that they participate in throughout the year.

“A Passion for Wine & Surf”, Linda Suhr, www.suhrphotography.com. Available at Exclusive Books.

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