Entries tagged with “vegetarian”.


While I am very conscious of my weight, and focused on maintaining or even reducing it further, I have not become a Vegan or Vegetarian eater, although my eating pattern largely excludes meat and bread. It was therefore interesting to receive an invitation from the hotel’s Food & Beverage Manager Hilton Ruch, to try the new Vegan High Tea last Friday. (more…)

A three-week writing focus at Apricale in Italy saw me complete the writing of a book within the time period I had allocated to this first-ever writing challenge. As the catalyst for The Book was Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen, in that I met a special man at his book launch in March last year, and that The Book tells the story of the transformational effect of the meeting, there was no better restaurant to eat at on Saturday, to celebrate the completion of The Book, than at JAN Restaurant in Nice! It felt like Christmas, it being exciting to experience JAN Restaurant again, my third visit in two years!  (more…)

Last week, over a four-day period, I experienced the gift of a Silent Retreat at Temenos Retreat in McGregor. The essence of the Silent Retreat is to not speak and to look inward, learning to love oneself. (more…)

denny-burger-packLast week I attended the soft opening of Restaurant at Villa 47, and could not believe that I had been seated next to André Naudé, a director of Libstar, the holding company of Rialto (which in turn owns Villa 47), and a former Tiger Brands client of mine of 15 years ago. André had organized an invitation for me to attend the launch of their new Denny mushroom burgers at the Libstar head office yesterday.  (more…)

 

imageWhilst dining at Le Bernardin in New York earlier this week, I received a copy of Zagat 2016 ‘New York City Restaurants’. Paging through it, I discovered some interesting information about the New York restaurant scene.  (more…)

imageAs part of a three-day stay in Franschhoek last week, I made a point of revisiting some older restaurants. One of them was Haute Cabrière, a restaurant which I had heard little of, other than its appointment in November last year of new Chef Dennis Strydom, of late. (more…)

FitChef Mediterranean fresh veg Whale CottageLast night I was invited to the first media launch in the country of FitChef, a new service of healthy meals and smoothies delivered into one’s home, as per one’s chosen mealplan.  A range of options is offered, including Banting/LCHF, detox and weight loss, vegetarian, and wellness. More than 50000 meal portions and 35000 smoothies are sold around the country monthly.

Developed by founder Wayne Kaminsky, who told us that he was a superfit fitness fanatic sportsman, participating in Ironman and Cape Epic challenges, and needing to find a more healthy eating pattern to lose weight.  He was using antibiotics, and could let them go when the benefits of the ‘clean eating’ came to the fore.  He moved more and more to healthy foods which he enjoyed cooking, making a batch of portions over weekends, and finding them selling well when he posted photographs of them on Facebook.  He started FitChef three years ago, and the Cape region was opened a year ago.  Wayne has tremendous energy, and his food preparation skills were impressive, preparing our dinner simultaneously at 10 food stations, at each of which a different dish was prepared.  He had prepared some of the dishes, and talked us through each food preparation station, each containing a different set of ingredients for a dish to be made. I noticed that a lot of ingredients came from Woolworths, but Wayne said that they prefer to use Pick ‘n Pay products. I questioned Wayne about his use of some Robertsons products, and he said that it was just for our dinner, and that they use fresh herbs in the factory food preparation. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Agricultural Tourism is a new opportunity for our country, reports Southern African Tourism Update, offering a learning opportunity for international farmers, according to Margi Biggs, MD at Specialized Tours & Events, Marius Botha, Owner at Guttera Tours, and Eugene Booysen, MD of Cape AgriTours. Farmers from other countries want to learn about new farming products, to network,  and to meet farmers to learn about techniques, to apply in their home countries.  The top source markets for agricultural tours include the UK, Germany, Brazil, France, Austria, India, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Canada, Ukraine, Chile, and the USA.

*   Champagne sales are bubbling in the UK, reports Decanter, almost doubling.   Best sellers include  Dom Perignon 2004, Taittinger 2002 and 2004 and Pol Roger Winston Churchill 2000.

*   South Africa has 14 million internet users, representing 39% of adults, according to research conducted by Digital Media & Marketing Association. (more…)

The large increase in the number of Indian tourists holidaying in South Africa has led SA Tourism to publish a vegetarian cookery book, to guide local restaurants and hotels in the preparation of vegetarian, vegan, and Jain dining. ‘Guide to Vegetarian, Vegan & Jain Dining in South Africa’ is available free of charge to hospitality establishments, and has been prepared with input by the SA Chefs’ Association.

The latest SA Tourism newsletter reports that the Guide has 50 recipes for snacks, starters and sides, salads and soups, main courses, and desserts, and ‘lists food items that each group may (and may not) eat; gives a brief explanation of the culture that informs the dietary lifestyle of these tourists; and offers a wide selection of delicious recipes that will keep vegetarian, vegan and Jain visitors happy and well-fed as they explore and fall in love with South Africa’.  The book also explains the differences between vegetarians, vegans, Jain eaters, pescatarians, and lacto-vegetarians, and suggests the best local places to source ingredients.  Jainism is a religion in India which dictates vegetariasm, but its adherents may not eat root vegetables, says Wikipedia.

South Africa is justifiably famous globally for its cuisine and delicious fresh produce. We want to make sure that South Africa delights the palate of every single visitor – even those whose dietary preferences are strictly vegetarian,’ said Thulani Nzima, CEO of SA Tourism. ‘We also want to educate the local hospitality industry and tourism operators about how to best meet the dietary requirements of these visitors,’ continued Mr Nzima.

One of South Africa’s fastest-growing tourism markets is India, which grew more than 26% in 2011 and continues its strong growth. ‘Our research has found that the culture of visitors from India differs markedly from South African Indians, and although Indian visitors love our destination, their specific dietary needs are not taken care of in South Africa,’ added Mr Nzima.

It would be useful if SA Tourism could also prepare a guide to cultural differences within South Africa in respect of Breakfast.  We have seen expectations for Breakfast of visitors from Johannesburg to be vastly different to those of other South African guests.

‘Guide to Vegetarian, Vegan and Jain Dining in South Africa, SA Tourism, neesha@southafrica.net.

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

After a closure of a few months for a complete make-over, the old Cape Colony at the Mount Nelson Hotel is no more, and what has arisen in its space is the new Planet Restaurant, based on an extension of the planetary theme of the Planet Bar, opening about three weeks ago.  It gives the restaurant, and the hotel with it, a modern feel worthy of the quality of Chef Rudi Liebenberg’s culinary skills.

For a new restaurant to have so much money thrown at it is unusual, with ads in the Sunday Times costing a fortune, even if they are in black and white, and obviously the decor changes were expensive too.  Therefore it was a surprise that when we tried to make the booking a few days prior to our dinner, it was such a struggle to make it with Emmanuel, one of the Maître d’hôtel.   Chef Rudi has been at the hotel for two years now, but the restaurant staff is refreshingly new.  Restaurant Manager Andreas van Breda moved to Cape Town after a long stint at Claridges in London.   For the first time the restaurant has a sommelier, and they could not have appointed a nicer person than Carl Habel, whom I first met at Myoga, and who remembered my love for Shiraz when he came to say hello, even though he was off duty, a reflection of how good he is at customer service.   He enthused about his new job, and his respect for Chef Rudi, whose focus is on quality produce, and on sourcing local ingredients, which makes it easy for him to pair the Planet Restaurant’s food and wine.   It is hard to believe that the Mount Nelson, one of Cape Town’s top hotels, has never had a sommelier before!   It was lovely to receive the warm welcome at the entrance to the hotel from Osnat Gropper, the concierge, and a Twitter friend.

The interior design was done by DHK Interiors, and they have used a less-is-more decor approach, removing the piano and the old-fashioned Capescape mural (excellent decisions).   As one walks down the passage from the Planet Bar, one notices the panels of strings of blue and clear glass balls, representing the planetary theme, interspersed with massive mirrors with illustrations representing the signs of the zodiac, which is carried into the restaurant itself.   Unfortunately not all twelve signs are represented, so I was disappointed to not see Sagittarius on one of the mirrors, having come for a birthday celebration.  The new restaurant is a clean crisp white space, with a central chandelier and new carpet that echo the planetary theme.  The furniture has been replaced, with brown tables, and velvet-covered cream chairs.  In the centre the seating is leather couches. The tables are covered with boring placemats (for the stature of the restaurant and the hotel it could do with a good quality tablecloth), beautiful cutlery from Hepp Exclusive, good light glassware, and a set of modern salt and pepper grinders from Peugeot, which I had also seen a few days earlier at the restaurant at Delaire Graff.  The planetary theme is extended into the sparkly covers of the winelist, the menu and the billfold, as well as on the inside first pages of the menu and winelist.  

The menu is extravagant, running to many pages, with a few items per page. It is printed on a good quality cream board.  It has an introductory statement by Chef Rudi, and is signed by him, stating: “Our kitchen is all about a journey, a journey with many new and sometimes unexpected variables and it is for this reason that we come back inspired and motivated every day. ….The foundation of our process starts with respect, respect for the ingredient, respect for the process, respect for the end product and respect for the guest.   The majority of our ingredients are sourced locally and prepared using a wide range of modern as well as classical cooking methods”.   An insert offers the “Chef’s Suggestions”.    Two tasting menu options are available, strangely a “Vegan Journey” one listed first, followed by the “Journey”, a non-vegan one, both charged at R380 per person for a minimum of two persons to order, and consisting of six courses each.   Each wine recommendation for the tasting menu is priced separately.  Thereafter the menu has a la carte menu options.   Commendably items on the menu are specially marked with a symbol, reflecting them being vegetarian, vegan and containing nuts, where relevant.

Before we could think of choosing anything,  complimentary glasses of Genevieve MCC were brought to the table, as was a small plate of canapés (duck rillette, salmon and feta, as well as ostrich tartare).  If an amuse bouche is a first presentation of the skills of the chef, then this plateful was a disappointment.   We had to ask for the bread.   Three bread options were offered – ciabatta, country bread (the waiter could not explain exactly what this bread contained) and garlic bread.  Starter options range in price from R65 for a “tomato variation, jelly, cloud, sorbet, greens, basil”, not easy to imagine what exactly is served; to R165 for crayfish ceviche and Namibian red crab remoulade.  Duck and quail terrine, smoked salmon trout, and oysters are also available.  One can also order soup and salads, including a crocodile salad (R90), a menu item from the old Cape Colony menu. 

I chose a cold asparagus soup (R85) as the starter, and it was a surprise to have the plate served with a tower of asparagus mousse topped with thin slices of cucumber.   I have seen ceremonious pouring of soup at a table, but the waiter pouring the soup out of the water glass brought from the kitchen by hand, without it being on a tray or in a prettier container, spoilt what I am sure the chef had intended for the presentation of the dish.  I found the dish very bland. It was served in an interesting soup bowl, with a hole in it for design effect.  The advertised egg yolk was left out of the dish, for no reason.   My partner had a slow-cooked free-range egg with local cured ham and mature gouda, served with a pinotage reduction, which he enjoyed, but commented on the runny egg white.   This dish was on the old Cape Colony menu too, and clearly is a hit, for it to have been retained.   For my main course I chose an extravagant abalone and crayfish dish (R295).   The abalone was tiny, making me feel guilty in having chosen something that was clearly undersized (or alternatively out of a can).   It was cut into two, cooked, coated with herbs and then sauteed in butter, but did not have a distinctive abalone taste at all, the herbs overpowering the usually distinctive taste.  A tiny crayfish tail (more guilt), as well as asparagus spears and sweet corn added colour and taste to the dish, but I missed the velouté advertised on the menu as being part of the dish.   No fish knife was served with this dish.   My partner’s flame-grilled beef fillet was butter soft, but the sautéed mushrooms, potato foam and mini fondants were so badly over-salted that he could not finish them (R170).  Other main course options are a pea risotto (R95); monkfish fillet, chicken, pork cheeks and belly, and mussels and calamari, all costing R150; Karoo lamb (R190); and springbok (R180).   For those able to eat more, there is a choice of six desserts, costing around R65, and two cheese options.   Friandises were served with the excellent foamy cappuccino (R20). 

The 24-page winelist specifies vintages and origin, and is introduced with a page of “Sommelier’s latest discoveries”, which were three Solms-Delta wines: Amalie (R60/R175), Langarm (R35/R155), and Hiervandaan (R70/R310), the serving by-the-glass specified at 175ml, making them expensive.   Five “Methode Cap Classique” 150ml wines-by-the-glass are listed, including Pierre Jourdan Brut (R45), Simonsig Brut Rosé (R50) and Genevieve Brut (R60), and surprisingly, the champagnes Billecart-Salmon Rosé (R320) and Veuve Cliquot (R210) were also listed under this heading!   Ten white and seven red wines-by-the glass, the former ranging from R35 – R65 per 175ml, and the latter ranging from R45 – R75 per glass, are offered.   I was disappointed at the small selection of red wines by the glass, and that none of them included a Shiraz.  The rest of the winelist separates white wines into “Crisp and refreshing”, Fragrant and Floral”, “Rich and Opulent” and “Signature and Cellar”.   Red wines are categorised into “Silky and Smooth”, “Elegant and Fresh”, “Rich and Concentrated”, and “The Great Reserve”.  Unique Vin de Constance and Hamilton Russell Pinot Noirvertical vintage selections are also available, but require big cheque books!   Shiraz options by the bottle include Groote Post Reserve (R270), Waterford Kevin Arnold (R430), Saronsberg (R475), Cirrus (R1020), Hartenberg Stork (R1020), Saxenberg Select (R4435), De Trafford (R760), and Fairview Beacon (R515).   Knowing my love for Shiraz, Carl recommended the Saronsberg 2007, a wine not usually available by the glass.  On tasting, it was acceptable, but it had a taste to it that I did not like, the more I drank of it.  We were not charged for the wine.

Having eaten at The Test Kitchen and Planet Restaurant on two consecutive nights, it is clear that the Planet Restaurant is more of a special occasion restaurant, with the staff smartly and professionally dressed befitting the five star status of the hotel, while the food at The Test Kitchen overall was better.  The service levels were on a par.   The Planet Restaurant still needs time to settle in, and for its quality to be consistent, whether Chef Rudi is on duty or not.  The advertising has not yet offered a return on its investment, as we were one of only five tables in what seemed to be a quiet hotel. Having been on the Eat Out top 20 restaurant shortlist whilst at The Saxon, it will be interesting to see if Chef Rudi can take the Planet Restaurant onto the star top 20 restaurant shortlist for 2011.

Planet Restaurant, Mount Nelson Hotel, 76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 483-1000 www.planetbarandrestaurant.co.za (No menu or winelist on the website, and disappointingly almost no food photographs in the Gallery).  Monday – Sunday dinner only.

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