This past weekend the Highcliffe Food and Arts Festival was held, the emphasis being on the Food, with Beverages, and gins in particular, of the New Forest area. Highcliffe is a small town down the road from Chewton Glen, the hotel at which my son works in the New Forest in southern England, an area well-known for its heathland, forest trails, and native ponies. And it surprised me at the variety of craft beverages and craft foods that were on offer to buy, in full size or as a tasting portion. Continue reading →
A weekend break at Grand Dedale on the Doolhof wine estate introduced me to the wealth of food produce available in Wellington. With the help of Grand Dedale owner Angelo Casu, and feedback from the restaurants visited, we compiled the following list of suppliers:
· Vrugbaar is one of the oldest pork butchers in the Western Cape. Vrugbaar farm, Bovlei. Tel (021) 864-1222.
· Foxenburg Estate supplies goat’s milk cheeses, including Chevre, Chabris, Cream cheese, Crottin, Foxtail, and Caprino Romano. Agter Groenberg. Tel (021) 873-5617. www.foxenburg.co.za
· Bontebok Ridge Reserve has wild boar, which it is breeding in captivity, and supplies biltong, as well as venison (wildebeest, eland, springbok, and wild boar). Tel 082 576 9657. www.bontebokridge.com
· Olive oils come from local farms Kleinfontein (Tel (021) 864-1202), Foxenburg Estate (Tel 021 873-5617), Upland Organic Estate (Tel (021) 873-5724), and Clarins
* Olives come from Foxenburg Estate (Tel (021) 873-5617) and Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm (Tel (021) 873-3696)
· Rabbit is supplied on a small scale to Wellington and Paarl restaurants by Stephen Taylor, Tel 083 4511 775
· Wild boar is also supplied by Schalk van Schalkwyk, Tel 082 829 7161
· Buffalo Ridge is the only Buffalo Mozzarella and yoghurt supplier in the country, having imported 30 Water buffalo from Campana in Italy. Tel 082 375 0977.
* Butter, Yoghurt, Peasant cheese, Cottage cheese, and Feta come from Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm. Tel (021) 873-3696 www.bloublommetjieskloof.com
* Compote, jams, and marmalade come from Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm. Tel (021) 873-3696
* Herbs come from Bloublommetjieskloof Biodynamic Farm. Tel (021 873-3696
· Cured meat comes from Walter Brink, the son of the Potjiekos king. 082 9224848
· Cordial comes from Wilde at Heart, and is available in amazing flavours: Victoria Rose, Lemon, Fresh Ginger, Indigenous Buchu. Wolvenhoek. Tel 084 734 2087
* Organic asparagus in September and October, Wilde at Heart. Wolvenhoek. Tel 084 734 2087
· Honey comes from Ringrose
· Safari dried fruit and vinegar comes from S.A.D.
Wellington also has a number of restaurants, many of them using the Wellington produce. Some have opened recently, and are less well known than their counterparts in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. I popped in at some last weekend:
· Vino’s is the newest restaurant, only about 2 weeks old, and is owned by Kobus and Yolande Fourie. ‘With Vino’s we have decided to bring back the good old steakhouse’, says their menu, and they explained that they don’t encourage children nor students to eat there, to keep it a romantic and special ‘spoiling’ restaurant for couples. They serve 250g ‘grade A steak’ with chips and a salad, and one can order sides. They have a small Café Prive too for special dinner parties. They describe themselves as ‘salt and pepper chefs’, and guests praise their ‘eerlike kos’. Snails cost R42 as a starter, 250g Rump and Sirloin R89, Fillet R105, and beef schnitzel R65. 600g of pork ribs cost R85. Cordon Bleu costs R89, beef burgers R 45, and hake and chips R45. Can seat up to 60 inside and outside. Monday – Saturday dinner. 111 Main Road, Wellington. Tel (021) 873-5075
· Kristies belongs to the same owners as Vino’s, and is a day-time coffee shop, catering for local pensioners and students, their dish of the day (e.g. bobotie, chicken pie, tomato bredie) priced at R35 being hugely popular, discounted to R30 per day for regulars. Menu changed every week. Cooked Breakfasts from R20 – R45. Hamburgers and chips R40/R45. Lasagne and Curry and rice R25. Platters and free fruit in back garden in summer. It recently relocated to its new location, from Church Street. Monday – Saturday breakfast and lunch, 8h00 – 17h00. 111 Main Road, Wellington. Tel (021) 873-5075
· The Stone Kitchen on Dunstone opened over a year ago, with Johan van Schalkwyk as chef, but he left to open his own restaurant three months ago. Owner and Chef Alli Wallace is now in charge. Supplies from the Estate vegetable garden, and guavas, grapes and lemons too. Winelist only has Dunstone wines, including Shiraz, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Blackboard menu, with chicken pie (R85), venison casserole (R85), own-made thyme, marjoram and rosemary pork sausage (R65), fresh baked bread (baguette, ciabatta, rye, bagels and croissants) barrel boards at about R55, starters in two sizes/prices, desserts around R40. Special children’s menu. Picnics to be offered in guava orchard, with live music, on weekends from November, with a childminder service. Spit braais once a month on family Sundays, starting on 14 October. Very friendly manager Rosanne. Bovlei Road, Tel (021) 873-6770. Twitter: @StoneKitchen10 @Dunstone Wednesday – Sunday 9h00 – 16h00
· Twist Some More is the interesting name of the new restaurant of charming Chef Johan van Schalkwyk, and he is proudly Wellington in sourcing his supplies of wild boar, rabbit, vegetables, herbs, cheeses, and more locally. He is also slowly building up a Deli section to his restaurant, which will stock a cross-section of Wellington produce. He is already stocking a granola mix, honey, olives and oils, charcuterie, cheeses, cordials, dried porcini mushrooms, nuts, dried fruit, cakes, cupcakes, scones, rusks, and muffins. Extensive innovative blackboard menu, with cooked breakfasts at about R55, starters at about R45, mains range from R65 for a wild boar burger to R115 for aged T-bone steak, desserts R45. Winelist Proudly Wellington. Hexberg Road, Bovlei. Tel (021) 864-1467. Twitter @ChefTwist. Wednesday – Saturday dinner, Wednesday – Sunday open from 10h00.
· No 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht is a restaurant which opened in August in honour of Springbok Schalk Burger, who wears the number 6 rugby jersey, and who grew up on this wine estate. Its table number 6 is for 6 guests, and is the best table in the house, closest to the fireplace. A chef’s table will be set up soon. The restaurant can seat about 80 guests inside and outside, with more guests once they complete a pergola and deck all the way from the restaurant to the tasting room. Tapas will be offered with winetasting. Owned by Susanna and John Tecklenburg, who ran the Oude Wellington for six years. Extensive menu of classics (e.g. Avocado Ritz, ox tongue, Coupe Denmark), Dutch specialities (e.g. Bitterballen), and local dishes such as waterblommetjie soup, presented on black board. Source supplies locally, from Goedehoop butchery in Paarl, and venison comes from Schalk Burger Snr’s farm in the Karoo. Picnics at the dam planned for summer, with an au pair service for the guests’ children. High Tea at about R85 per person from October. Special private function rooms in the cellar. Welbedacht wine estate. Tel 082 836 8924/079 663 4039. Wednesday – Sunday lunch, Wednesday – Saturday dinner.
· One of the best kept secrets of Wellington is the good restaurant at Grand Dedale, which caters for its accommodation guests, and accepts bookings from outsiders subject to demand. Its new chef is Daniel de Villiers, previously with Delaire Graff. I spent a restful weekend there, using it as a base to ‘forage’ the Wellington ‘Restaurant Route’. They serve a 5-course dinner which includes an amuse bouche and cheese selection for a reasonable R350. The highlights I tasted over two dinners were a beef carpaccio with leeks and oyster mushrooms and a horse radish cream salad; Norwegian salmon with braised cabbage, baked crispy potato, mange tout, and a basil sauce, for which a fish knife was served. The most interesting dish was a wild boar lasagne served with a brie sauce, the first time that I had tasted this. I was expecting a wild taste, but it was not prominent. Grand Dedale owner Angelo Casu told me that they use wild boar for carpaccio, mince, and sausage.
Breakfasts are equally generous, with a range of cereals, a fresh fruit salad, two choices of yoghurt, a selection of nuts, honey, freshly squeezed juices, cappuccino, cold meats, cheeses, rolls, freshly baked bread, and a selection of wonderful cooked breakfasts, the Wellington Breakfast consisting of ingredients all sourced in Wellington, being free-range eggs from the Bovlei valley, back bacon from Vrugbaar butchery, sautéed oyster mushrooms from Foxenburg Estate, venison sausage from Bontebok Ridge Reserve, and fresh garden tomatoes. Other options are scrambled free-range eggs, with smoked salmon roses, capers and crème fraiche; omelettes with venison sausage; sautéed spinach, oyster mushrooms, Buffalo Ridge feta cheese; as well as crepes. The salmon on rosti was a beautiful breakfast addition, and tasty too!
Grand Dedale, Doolhof wine estate. Tel (021) 873-4089. www.granddedale.com Twitter: @GrandDedale
If there is anything to fault about all the Wellington restaurants, then it is that their portions are massive. Their customers are not complaining! It will be interesting to see how Wellington’s restaurants develop, with the excellent quality and variety of produce coming from this fertile town.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
I had heard about the Long Table Restaurant and Cafe on the Haskell Vineyards outside Stellenbosch on Twitter, and tried it out recently. I left overwhelmed by the unexpected quality of the food, matching the stature of the wine estate. However, not all is perfect. With some better-polished service staff, and some attention to its table presentation and housekeeping, it can rank with the best Stellenbosch restaurants.
Haskell Vineyards is at the end of the Annandale Road near Mooiberge Farmstall, high above and beyond Rust en Vrede. I was impressed how three competitive wine farms (Rust en Vrede, Haskell and Bilton) have a collegial co-existence in sharing the security for the communal entrance to their farms.
One cannot see the entrance to the restaurant from the parking area, as the restaurant signage is set back too far above the entrance door. One enters a reception area, that of the restaurant on the left, and that of the winery on the right. I was greeted by Corli as I entered, but I did not realise that she was the chef. Using the bathroom first (door lock does not work on the middle door), I then connected with Werner Els, who does the wine tasting and sales, and he answered my question about the relationship between Dombeya and Haskell.
Dombeya was originally the name of the farm, and was known as a mohair wool farm and factory. It also had grapes, and the wines made were branded Dombeya, a Latin family name for the wild pear, which is found on the farm. Preston Haskell bought the farm earlier this decade, and introduced the Haskell wine label from 2007, when highly regarded winemaker Rianie Strydom started making the wines. The Haskell wines are super-premium ones, selling at high prices. The wine estate also represents PHD Wines, selling their Australian and New Zealand wine brands from the wine estate and from select retailers such as Caroline’s Fine Wines and Norman Goodfellow’s. Werner told me that the new restaurant is pulling in feet through the door, and leading to wine sales since it opened five months ago. Previously one had to make an appointment to taste the estate’s wines.
Werner showed me around the restaurant, demonstrating the collegiality that exists between the restaurant and wine sales, and I only learnt afterwards that Corli Els (no relation) is the chef and owner of Long Table, and leases the restaurant space from the winery. The long table is in the last section of the restaurant, a beautiful wooden table that can seat about 20 persons. Here they host regular Winemakers’ lunches. Blackboards list the wines and menu items inside. I noticed some odd looking lampshades, made from beads, but preferred to focus on the view from the terrace outside on a lovely summery winter’s day.
The outside area is large, with many tables and chairs, the trees providing shade if required. The wooden tables and chairs are garden furniture, and the waiter brought a cushion for my chair after I had sat down. The waiter was an irritation – he kept wanting to talk to me in Afrikaans. I found him extremely lightweight, and not a credit to the restaurant nor the wine estate. I found it hard to understand what he was trying to tell me, and the pork belly which I ordered without chickpeas was served with chick peas! It took him forever to bring the bill (there were only 2 tables in total booked for lunch).
Chef Corli was previously from Pretoria, and last worked at Ernie Els’ (no relation) Guardian Peak restaurant close by. She has also worked at Hazendal, and owned the Fusion Cafe’s in Observatory and in Stellenbosch, but sold them.
Corli bakes her own bread (I loved the whole wheat bread), and is excited that the farm is creating an organic vegetable and herb garden for her. I ordered the Avocado and papaya salad served as a stack with Black Forest ham, with a yummy dressing, and finished off with a pansy – I have not seen one on food for years. I loved the salad, and the look of it, and I would come back again just for it alone! The main course choice was pork belly, costing R98, served with a generous portion of creamy mash, crispy fresh vegetables, a tangy orange sauce and fine orange rind (and the unwanted chickpeas!).
The menu and winelist are attached onto unattractive clipboards, and could be more attractively presented. The menu has an eclectic mix and a good number of dishes to choose from. For Starters one can have beef carpaccio; lamb kidneys; fresh corn, or pear and camembert soup; a “super foods” salad or crunchy Caprese parcels, costing between R 50 – R60. There are 14 “Light Meals and Main Courses”, in what seems a waste to have all ingredients available for so few people. One can have a chicken salad; Beef Burger (with all sorts of yummy-sounding additions like wild mushrooms, prosciutto, onion confit, mustard bearnaise, for R70); beef strips; cajun chicken sandwich; farfalle pasta; mushroom ravioli; lamb medallions; duck breasts; spiced quail; fresh linefish; grainfed sirloin steak; Moroccan lamb shank, and oxtail braised in red wine. All of these range from R 59 to R 105 for the last two dishes. Two specials were also available, kingklip at a reasonable sounding R85, and Springbok at R108. When speaking to Corli, she told me that preparing venison is one of her food favourites. I did not have a dessert, but will do so on a next visit, most costing a reasonable R35. Chocolate fondant, pecan nut praline cheesecake, confit apple tart and malva pudding are some of the options. There is a Kiddies Menu, with “Foodies”, and “Goodies”(the sweets) to choose from. The menu is changed every 2 -3 months.
The winelist is disappointing, only having one page of local wines, with unforgivable vintage corrections made by pen (commendably though the vintages have been changed to older rather than younger ones!). “Riesling” is incorrectly spelt. The remainder of the five pages lists imported wines, which are the Australian and New Zealand PHD wines. The Australian wine brands are Hoddles Creek, Kalleske, and Spinifex, and are in line with South African prices, the Spinifex Shiraz Viognier being most expensive at R 435. The New Zealand wines sold are Craggy Range, Felton Road, Lawsons Dry Hills and Wild Rock, the prices not being unreasonable – the Craggy Range The Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend the most expensive at R475. No vintages are specified for the PHD wines. Dombeya wines can be bought from R60 upwards (Sauvignon Blanc), the Shiraz being most pricey at R 96. The Haskell wines are far more expensive, the Aeon Syrah costing R 290, and the Pillars Syrah R 400, both being 2007 vintages. The Dombeya wines are marked up by R20 each in the restaurant, the Haskell ones are not. A glass of Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc costs R25, and the Samara costs R30.
The “Cafe” part of the restaurant name refers to the freshly baked cakes, muffins, scones and tarts that are served before and after lunch.
I will come back in a flash for the Avocado and papaya salad, and was most impressed with Chef Corli’s food, and good value. I found a number of dissonances between the high quality of the Haskell Vineyards’ brands and the image they are creating, and Long Table’s far more casual decor, the laid back and less than adequate service from the waiter, the lack of table coverings, and the unattractive and unprofessional winelist, making the Long Table feel amateurish in almost all respects, other than in the high quality of Chef Corli’s food.
Long Table Restaurant and Cafe, Haskell Vineyards, Annandale Road, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 881-3746. www.longtable.co.za. (The website is a model website for a restaurant – lots of beautiful photographs create appetite appeal and demonstrate Chef Corli’s food presentation skills, winelist and menu available, and I even saw some recipes on the Haskell website. Beautiful presentation of information – a pity this appetite appeal is not reflected in the actual menu and winelist). Tuesday – Sunday 8h00 – 17h00. Breakfast and Lunch. On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.
POSTSCRIPT 8/8: I returned to the Long Table for lunch today. Disappointingly, the winelist still has handwritten changes, and the Avocado & Papaya Salad did not have the salad dressing, which made the salad so tasty on my last visit. I had a taste of the Mushroom Ravioli, which was outstanding, and I loved the presentation and taste of the Apple Tart, even though the portion was small. The winelist did have vintages for the imported wines offered today, but the copy I saw on my first visit did not.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
Bruce Robertson, owner of The Showroom which closed down in Cape Town just over a month ago, has hopped back onto the restaurant scene with the opening of The Quarter, a tiny take-out bunny-chow restaurant located underneath the New Space Theatre at 44 Long Street, just two doors away from his The Showroom Cafe.
Robertson has his roots in Durban, and made a trip to his homeground to learn more about bunny chow from the locals, it having originated from there. Bunny chow is usually a street food which is cheap and easy to eat, being half a loaf of bread, hollowed out and filled with a curry food. Robertson calls it the “quintessential South African dish”.
Robertson’s restaurant’s name refers to the quarter size of bread he serves his bunny chow in. The restaurant has the ordering lingo and eating style written onto the wall, so that one can order and eat bunny chow correctly!
After suffering the closure of his award-winning restaurant The Showroom due to the bleak winter lying ahead, Robertson decided to open a “gourmet bunny chow shop”, with a “more hands-on restaurant feeding a bigger client base”. His bunny chow fillings include Crayfish potjie, waterblommetjie bredie, mussel and garlic pot, ‘welsh rabbit’, oxtail, gemsbok, and the standard mutton, chicken, beef mince, venison and goat. None of these cost more than R 65, and some dishes cost as little as R 20. Extra toppings, sauces and side dishes can also be ordered.
Robertson will also rent the premises to private functions of up to 16 persons, at R 860 per head, including wine, for which he will cook. The bunny-chow menu is set aside for such functions, and Robertson will cook a gourmet meal, washed down with wines from his collection .