On my third day in the Durban area I had almost given up the hope of finding a near-perfect foodie place in the city. My heart started beating with excitement when I entered Old Town Italy in Umhlanga, which opened Continue reading →
* At the International Wine & Spirits Awards, South Africa did very well, with 632 awards in total, and 7 Gold Outstanding awards, of which three went to Nederburg. KWV won 22 medals. Chile won 375 awards, with one Gold Outstanding, and Argentina won 234 medals. The results were announced at The Beautiful South South Africa/South America showcase in London.
* A number of top Cape Town designers will be showcasing their work and the collective creativity of South Africa at 100% Design in London from 17 – 20 September, attended by 30000 architects, interior designers, and retailers, representing a collective buying power of £2,7 billion. Designers include Mervyn Gers Ceramics, Martin Doller, Meyer von Wielligh, and furniture designer Pierre Cronje, and the trip is sponsored by the Department of Trade & Industry. (received via media release from Wesgro)
I am a fan of High Teas, and was delighted to receive an invitation from the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa communications agency FIVESTAR PR to try out their new Pink High Tea, which celebrates Women’s Month in August, and Breast Cancer Awareness month in September.
I invited my friend Whitney to join me, having recently joined me for the Alphen Hotel’s 5Rooms’ new Afternoon Tea, which we experienced as being very disappointing. The first thing that impresses at the Twelve Apostles is the friendliness of the staff, from the time one enters the front door. The High Tea was served in the Leopard Bar, and we were lucky that the sun had come out at the time we were there, giving us a lovely view of Lion’s Head. Phumlela looked after us perfectly, bringing more tea and cappuccino, and topping up our water. The second impressive aspect is the time which management and the staff make to chat and to obtain feedback. First to greet us was Assistant Food & Beverage Manager Dominic Berenato, who has moved across from The Westin, and who was very friendly and helpful in finding us the perfect table. Next to pop by was Jill Wagner, who is in charge of Sales & Marketing for the Red Carnation hotels in our country, including The Oyster Box and Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve. Then GM Michael Nel came to greet us, clearly enjoying his new role at the hotel.
Phumlela talked us through the Pink High Tea. She told us that it costs R160 per person, and it includes Continue reading →
The question on the lips of many South African viewers of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ is: why Hayden Quinn? Why choose a MasterChef Australia top 3 finalist (no, not winner) of 2011 (no, not even 2013) to promote the beauty of South Africa and its abundance of sustainable foods amongst South Africans? We did some research, and found that South African viewers are being misled about the TV show host, and that Woolworths appears to have a hidden agenda in pushing its Australian investments!
I started with the Cardova Group, the production company of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘, and of the ‘Expresso Morning Show’ and ‘Top Travel‘ too, all flighted on SABC3. A random e-mail landed in my Inbox from LinkedIn, asking me to congratulate Mark Bland as newly appointed Producer of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’, just as the series kicked off and my interest in it was piqued. I got Mark’s cellphone number via LinkedIn, and asked him for more information about the food series. He was extremely hesitant in talking to me, even though we have known each other for a good two to three years. He is a regular reader of my blog, and has commented on it on occasion. I was taken aback about his hesitancy to meet, to talk about the new show, stating that he had just been promoted, and did not want to jeopardise his new appointment in case I wrote something that could land him in trouble. As a regular reader he would have known that I can only write what I have been told. As the producer of the show, one would have thought that he would have wanted information about the series to be shared, or expected that he would have referred me to a PR person within his company, or at Woolworths, SABC3, and/or Nedbank, the major sponsors of the series. The best he could send me was this bland (pardon the pun) media release: Continue reading →
In a tough three day challenge, with seven top bar tenders from around the country vying for the title of Diageo Reserve WORLD CLASS National Final, held at The Marly and its Umi restaurant in Camps Bay earlier this week, Brent Perremore of Orphanage Cocktail Emporium was named South Africa’s best Mixologist. He will represent our country against 49 other mixologists in the Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final in Scotland and in London later this month, with literary-themed cocktail challenges.
Brett said about winning the South African title: ‘Winning the opportunity to compete in the Global Final is a great honour. WORLD CLASS is about elevating the standard of mixology across the world, and I am very excited to represent South Africa in London and Scotland’. The two runners-up were Haroon Haffajee from Harry’s Cocktail Bar in Durban, and Marson Strydom from Buena Vista Social Café in Somerset West. Other finalists were Jeff Lopes of The Michelangelo Hotel, Johannesburg’s best barman; Simphiwe Ngcobo, also of The Michelangelo Hotel; Assaf Yechiel, also from Orphanage Cocktail Emporium; and Steven Saunders from The Oyster Box. The finalists were judged on the flavour balance and taste of their cocktails, aromatics, expression of the base spirit, overall presentation, brand and category knowledge, entertainment value, originality, and interaction with the judges.
The judges that evaluated the performance of the finalist bar tenders were Chef and MasterChef SA judge Pete Goffe-Wood, 2012 Global World Class Champion Tim Philip, 2013 South African World Class National winner Nick Koumbarakis (also from Orphanage Cocktail Emporium), Travis Kuhn from Pure Bar Studios, and Tim Etherington-Judge, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador for Africa and Global Ambassador for Bulleit Bourbon. Continue reading →
* Table Mountain National Parkis offering South African residents free entry to its Silvermine, Oudekraal, Perdekloof, and Newlands Forest picnic spots today, in celebration of its 16th anniversary.
* SAA has announced that its three weekly flights to Beijing are departing at a more passenger-friendly time of 20h35 from today, four hours earlier than in the past, for the 15 hour flight from Johannesburg to China.
* Only 40% of British men would order a bottle of wine in a pub, compared to 90% of them enjoying wine in their homes, for fear of being ridiculed by their mates. Half of male drinkers would order wine in a restaurant. Male hosts to dinner parties at home would be more likely to choose a wine that could be a talking point to serve their guests, while women hosts are very unlikely to choose such a wine.
* Chef Chantel Dartnall of Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient up north is a magnificent plater and creative Continue reading →
On Wednesday evening I attended a special tasting of the wines of Bouchard Finlayson, a Boutique Vineyard according to its marketing material, at the invitation of Janie van der Spuy of FIVE STAR PR. It was held in the special function room upstairs at Mondiall, with Chef Oliver Cattermole and his team preparing excellent tapas dishes which were paired with the four flights of wines we tasted.
I have to admit that I have not previously stopped at Bouchard Finlayson on the R320 Wine Route in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in Hermanus, it being the longest standing wine farm in the area. I was fortunate to sit next to Peter Finlayson, who has been at the farm for 25 years. He studied Oenology (Chemistry was a tough subject, but he is grateful for the grounding it gave him for winemaking) at Stellenbosch University, which he followed up with a year at Geisenheim in Germany. Of his class of nine graduating in 1974, only two have become winemakers. Peter previously worked at Boschendal. Only 22 ha of the 125 ha farm is planted to vine, Peter having bought it in 1989 from a farmer who farmed with ‘mielies, sheep, and baboons‘, Peter said, at a time when the locals said that the valley was only suitable ‘for farming by poor Whites’! The baboons are still there, he told me with a laugh! The remainder of the land is covered with fynbos, and Bouchard Finlayson is committed to conserving and adding fynbos, and they joined the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative. Peter was the first winemaker to import Nebbiolo and Sangiovese vines, planting them in 1994. His real achievement has been with Pinot Noir, known as the ‘Pioneer of Pinot Noir’, and now the whole valley is synonymous with the varietal. Galpin Peak Pinot Noir is the flagship Bouchard Finlayson wine. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also do exceptionally well in the valley. Continue reading →
Yesterday was a picture perfect day to try out the new Summer menu of new Executive Chef Christo Pretorius at Azure restaurant at the 12 Apostles Hotel, at the invitation of its GM Horst Frehse. The amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean is brought into the restaurant and reflects in the menu too.
Chef Christo was promoted when Chef Henrico Grobbelaar left the hotel to head up the kitchen at Equus restaurant at Cavalli Estate in Stellenbosch a few months ago. He had previously worked at De Huguenot (no longer operating) with Chef Tanja Kruger, and at the Cape Royale before joining the 12 Apostles. He travels overseas every year, to experience international cuisine. He acknowledged that he is nothing without his team, and that he delegates to his staff, mentors and trains them. Chef Christo focuses on ingredients that are seasonal, and sources them as locally as he can, the game coming from Uitenhage and Oudtshoorn. Only green-listed SASSI fish is served. He has a good relationship with his suppliers, and knows that they will assist him when he has urgent requests. His focus at Azure is on ‘flavourful food‘. Horst shared that they have had very good feedback about Chef Christo’s menu, and that the chef comes out of the kitchen as much as he can, to meet the guests and to obtain their feedback. Continue reading →
* Wilhelm Pienaar, Nederburg winemaker, led a tasting of the 56Hundred range at the residence of the South African High Commissioner to Kenya last week, oddly with entertainment by dancers from Botswana!
* Kfm’s Breakfast Show with Ryan O’Connor and his team is broadcasting from The Rubens at The Palace Hotel in London, sister hotel to the Twelve Apostles, The Oyster Box, and Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, all belonging to the Red Carnation group, until Wednesday. (received via FIVE STAR PR)