Last week I joined Steenberg Public Relations Consultant Gudrun Clark for lunch at the recently opened Tryn restaurant, in the transformed space that was the home of Catharina’s at Steenberg for twenty years. Tryn was the nickname of founder owner Catharina Ras. Its Kitchen is now headed up by Chef Kerry Kilpin, who has been in charge of Bistro Sixteen82, also at Steenberg, for the past five years. Catharina’s has been transformed, renamed, and modernised, to bring her into the 21st century. The restaurant transformation was accompanied by a major renovation of the Steenberg Hotel. Continue reading →
* The World Bank has warned our country to face its electricity supply problem, saying that the situation is ‘very severe‘, and warned that South Africa should not ‘sugar-coat‘ it. Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown has estimated the cost of loadshedding at R20 – R80 billion per month!
* ‘Happy’ Pharrel Williams was spotted partying in Cape Town nightclub Continue reading →
Last night’s episode 9 had little to do with Woolworths, it being odd to have chosen Johannesburg as a sustainable destination, but this was defined more broadly in terms of transportation and how it impacts on climate change.
The episode was different to others before, with most of the content shown in the first 20 minutes, with little advertising, and then one concentrated burst of commercials. Hayden met with Chef Citrum Khumalo of Asidle Gourmet Catering, the two of them cooking on top of the 22 storey Randlords building, to test Hayden’s fear of heights. Chef Citrum showed Hayden how to make a colourful Chakalaka, its vibrant colours reflecting the diversity of the population of Johannesburg. The chakalaka was to be served with mango atjar (pickled in Oriental spices), beetroot, free-range chicken, ostrich, boerewors, and dumplings. Chef Citrum made the chakalaka with onions, parsley, beetroot, garlic, onions, and stock, frying them at high heat, and then adding white wine. Amazi (sour milk) was added too, as was chili, mustard seed, carrots, celery, spinach, black and sugar beans, and tomato paste.
Chef Citrum told Hayden that one hasn’t experienced Johannesburg if one has not been to Soweto (a name created from its original name South Western Townships), the most densely populated area in South Africa, in which 2 million persons live. Orlando is the best known suburb, and it is here that the well-known Vilakazi Street can be found, with the houses of the late Nelson Mandela and Continue reading →
‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ focused on the Overberg last night, visiting Hermanus and Stanford, as well as Elgin, but this was not mentioned, being described as being just outside Hermanus! It was a whale of an episode highlighting the Southern Right whale visitors, the sustainable apple and pear farming in Elgin, and Marianna’s sustainable restaurant in Stanford. No mention was made however of Hermanus’ produce nor its world-renowned wines in the Hemel en Aarde Valley!
Hayden raved about the Southern Right whales, which visit Hermanus’ Walker Bay from July, he said incorrectly (they arrive from the Antarctic from May onwards) until early December. On the Facebook page of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ it is incorrectly claimed that Hermanus is the ‘Whale Watching Capital of the World‘, copywriting nonsense. Hermanus is however known as the offering the best land-based whale watching in the world, which is something different, and Hayden did say words to this effect in the episode!
To add some real adventure to his visit to Hermanus, Forest Adventures’ Clinton Lerm (infamous for wanting to change the name of the village to ‘Lermanus‘ when his family tried to take over the tourism management of the town, to their own Continue reading →
* Tourists do not want to ‘face administrative hurdles‘ in their visa application process when travelling in Africa, said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairman of the African Union Commission, at Indaba at the weekend. Making visa applications easier, liberalising air routes, and acting against animal poaching could increase tourism to Africa, she added. Joint visas to travel within Africa are being considered. The African Union is working on making Africa the preferred travel destination in fifty years from now! Another goal is to motivate Africans to travel within Africa.
* Indaba 2014, which closed its exhibition doors today, attracted significantly fewer buyers than in previous years, and was criticised for having become ‘stale’, and for not having re-invented itself as was promised last year by SA Tourism’s Marketing head Jan Hutton. While larger than the recent World Travel Market Africa exhibition held in Cape Town, it disappointed attendees, many especially smaller tourism players not planning to return next year. The speed networking sessions were a shambles on Saturday and Sunday, with many buyers not present. Costs of catering were said to be prohibitive.
* The Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards is open to entries for the 2015 Best of Wine Tourism Awards, in the Continue reading →
Monika Elias of World Focus Media has done a great job over the past ten years in documenting the contribution of the wine routes, and the wine estates on them, to Wine Tourism South Africa, in helping to inform and educate locals as well as tourists about wine in general, and to boost wine sales. Her 2014 edition of ‘Wine Tourism South Africa’ handbook has just been published , bearing the slogan of ‘sip, stay and play‘!
In her ‘Publisher’s Letter‘, Monika defines Wine Tourism as ‘…in the glass, on the plate, in the bed, around the vines, and for the planet’. She writes about ‘winery atmospherics’, such as architecture, lighting, sound, temperature, and kinetics, playing an important role in creating a point of difference for wine estates in an increasingly competitive world. Wine is becoming an increasingly important part of the Tourism experience, and most visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape will be very likely to visit a wine farm to taste their wines, to eat at a Winelands restaurant, or visit an event linked to wines.
The Handbook evaluates top restaurants on wine estates, using chefs hats (three maximum) to denote how good or not they are; and evaluates the winelists of the restaurants on the wine estates, by means of wine glasses (three maximum). A price range indication is also provided for the Winelands restaurants. The Handbook starts with tourist information and advice about car rental, taxis, trains, parking attendants, banking hours, VAT, the weather, tipping, and more. It lists the winners of the fifteen categories in the 2013 KLINK Wine Tourism Awards, which received votes from 15000 consumers last year. Continue reading →
* SAA says it will not be making a profit before it takes delivery of more eco-friendly aircraft in three to four years time.
* A new app has been launched to guide tourists around the Cape Peninsula, and Cape Point specifically. Developed by Tourism Radio, the Cape Point Route app contains information about 80 tourism facilities on the route, including restaurants, accommodation, and cultural and historic attractions. (received via e-mail from Cape Point Route)
* World leading chefs Rene Redzepi, David Chang and Alex Atala will appear on the front cover of Time next week, in a story with the headline: ‘Gods of Food: Meet the People who Influence what (and how) you eat’. Chefs Dan Barber and Albert Adria also feature in the article, as well as ‘farmers, activists, bureaucrats and businessmen’.
* The Cape Times reports that the City of Cape Town Liquor By Law allowance to offer ‘champagne’ breakfasts in hotels and restaurants before 11h00 is ‘culturally discriminatory’, in not allowing ‘traditional’ drinks to be Continue reading →
When Michael Olivier first launched Crush! food and wine digital magazine three years ago, it was evident that he and his team had no experience in the design and publishing of a magazine generally, and a digital magazine specifically. We wrote critically about the first few issues, but no feedback was accepted nor reacted to, and Olivier appeared to have lost advertising revenue as a result, thus leaving the magazine about a year ago. His departure appears to have rejuvenated the magazine, and it has improved vastly!
The response by Olivier and his Crush! writers David Cope (@Foodie_za) and Andy Fenner (@JamieWhoSA in those days) to our feedback about the magazine at that time was to create the Whalespotter Twitter defamation account led by Cope, and condoned by Continue reading →
What a diverse and controversial episode 10 was last night, generating many emotions at different levels, as well as criticism of M-Net and MasterChef SA on Twitter for the first time since the commencement of Season 2. There was little that was judged to be favourable in the episode:
The losing Red Team (Joani Mitchell, Karen Els, Khumo Twala, Jason Steel, Leandri van der Wat, and Neil Lowe) from Tuesday evening had to go into the ‘Spice’ Test when they lost the Pizza Challenge by two points. Robertsons ‘Spices’ were the focus point of the Test, annoying viewers for such strong blatant branding of the sponsors’ products, in addition to being subjected to so many TV commercials, especially relative to Season 1. The criticism was two-fold:
* Herbs and spices are two different things, yet the contestants had to guess which combination of Robertsons ‘spices’ had been used in a number of dishes they could smell and taste (the company advertises spice and herb combinations), according to the judges’ brief, yet they had both herbs and spices to evaluate, including in a tomato dish, and in caramelised butternut. Chef Andrew Atkinson said that one’s tastebuds must be attuned to seasoning, so that one can change or enhance a dish’s flavour profile.
* No serious chefs would use Robertsons spices in their kitchens (except Chef Reuben Riffel of course, who endorses the brand and appears in its advertisements!), as ‘fresh is best’, the trend in restaurant and home cooking! Continue reading →
A return visit yesterday to Delaire Graff Restaurant, on the invitation of its Marketing & PR Manager Tanja Mackay-Davidson, revealed a number of surprises, the three year old restaurant having re-opened from a month-long break ten days ago.
The first prominent new addition is a large portrait of Laurence Graff, the owner of Delaire Graff Estate, by artist Lionel Smit, who has a number of portraits in the main Delaire Graff Restaurant, and in its Boutique Hotel. It is hung in the impressive entrance hall, and one cannot miss it as one makes one’s way to the restaurant. Delaire Graff Estate is committed to art, and has an impressive collection of artwork by artists which include Anton Smit, Deborah Bell, William Kentridge, Dylan Lewis, and many more.
When stepping into the restaurant entrance one notices the new content in the glass display case, being a collection of herbs and vegetables (kale, celery, spring onion, broad beans, red peppers, mint, and more), which are displayed in such a way that they look like they are in a hothouse, with a pair of garden gloves, little clay pots, and rolls of string. The display reinforces what its Chef Christiaan Campbell has become known for, being a passionate advocate for healthy eating generally, and for sustainable and ethical sourcing of the organic (where possible) ingredients used in the two restaurants (Indochine is the second restaurant) on the estate. So, for example, Delaire Graff has a Biodynamic greenhouse on the estate, growing its own vegetables. It sources its beef from Greenfields in Natal, and Farmer Angus at Spier supplies beef too, as well as chicken and eggs. Only line-caught fish is served, and therefore there is no kingklip on the menu. No European fish is sourced, cutting out prawns and scallops, and fish is caught locally, or sourced from Mocambique and Namibia. Duck is barn-reared, and have not been fed antibiotics or growth hormones. Chef Christiaan is quiet-spoken, enjoying being in the kitchen, which now sports a brand new French-made industrial stove, which helps him in the preparation of the food for a restaurant which has become busier, giving him twice the heat he had from the previous stove, and is easy to clean. He also has a new Josper, one of only two in the country, being an oven fired by charcoal, getting up to a temperature of 300°C, which he uses to prepare fish, meat, sealing off braised lamb neck, and to prepare root vegetables. I was impressed with his beautiful Gregor Jenkin table, on which the plating is done.
Sommelier Mortimer suggested we try the Delaire Botmaskop, a Bordeaux Blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 % Cabernet Franc, 8 % Petit Verdot, 7 % Shiraz, 3 % Merlot, and 3 % Malbec, the 2009 vintage having achieved a 4½ star Platter rating for winemaker Morné Vrey. The wine is named after the mountain peak behind the wine estate, the timber suppliers to the boating industry in the Cape Town harbour scaling the Botmaskop regularly in olden days to check if new ships had arrived at the Cape Town port.
The winter menu is almost brand new, Chef Christiaan only retaining the Linefish, and Mr Graff’s favourite Fish and Chips, being hake for which the batter is made from three types of flour, and served with chips made from Van der Plank potatoes, which are fried four times to make the perfect chip. The menu cover is made from the same tan leather as is used in the striking seating, which in turn picks up the colour from a William Kentridge painting over the fireplace. I chose the Golden crab, avocado and Fromage Blanc wafer, served with bitter lemon, pea shoots, and octopus, a fresh crisp and crunchy starter. Twitter follower Christian Smit commented, on seeing the photograph: “That is looking so fresh and good I can almost hear the crunching. Beautifully plated”. Other starters are poached oyster, confit duck with duck ham, ceviche of kob, trout, and malt glazed shortrib, costing R85 – R90. Fresh garden salads range in price from R55 – R80.
The medley of mushrooms, with the clever title of ‘Wild and tame mushrooms’ served with artichoke, a crepe, courgette, and thyme beurre noisette, was a perfect filling winter’s dish as a main course for a still grey day after the very wet Cape weekend. Tanja insisted that Ray bring a portion of the Fish and Chips too, which we had a bite of each. It remains the most popular main course on the menu. Other main courses are slow cooked lamb neck, farmed kob, Greenfields sirloin, springbok loin, and pork shoulder, costing from R138 – R185.
The desserts all sounded marvellous, so we asked Chef Christiaan to choose one. Ray brought the Caramelised apple Napoleon, with frangipani, a scoop of malt ice cream which had been rolled in honeycomb, and apple pudding, with rich golden colours, the crispy pastry and crunchy honeycomb adding texture. Desserts cost between R60 – R85, and one can also order hot chocolate pudding, tastes of caramel, and a hot lemon pillow. With the cappuccino came a plate of friandises, being Turkish delight and pistachio macaroons.
We were well looked after by waitrons Ray and Megan, Tanja explaining that they have a principal and a back-up waiter, forming a team per table, to ensure perfect service, with Manager Werner Wentzel keeping an eye over the smooth operation of the restaurant.
Eating at Delaire Graff Restaurant is more expensive than at many other restaurants, but the restaurant has a magnificent view over the Helshoogte valley and the Simonsberg, a quality interior with impressive artwork, excellent quality food, not only in its creative plating but also in its dedicated commitment to sourcing ethical and sustainable ingredients, and very good and attentive service, all these elements making a meal there an occasion and a special experience.
Disclosure: The media pack contained a bottle of the Delaire Graff Cold Pressed Extra Virgin premium olive oil. My son works at Indochine.
Delaire Graff Restaurant, Delaire Graff Estate, Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 885-8160. www.delaire.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage