Before arriving in Buenos Aires on this my second visit to the city, I had not prepared for my visit from a wine perspective, my main goal in spending a month in Argentina being to learn to dance the Tango. I have planned to visit Mendoza, renowned for its Malbec, have attended a wine tasting and food pairing evening at COWI in Buenos Aires, drunk three wines at the dinner at Buenos Aires’ Tegui, 86th Best Restaurant in the World, one wine at Don Julio, the 34th Best Restaurant in the World and Best in Argentina, and two wines at dinner at 1884 Restaurant in Mendoza. I have summarised my initial knowledge about the wine industry of Argentina, the fifth largest in the world, to which I have added some research information too. Continue reading →
Last Thursday my son and I visited Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens in Horsham, West Sussex, in the UK, on my first day of visiting the country. I loved seeing Chef Jean Delport, previously working at my then favorite restaurant Benguela on Main in Somerset West, and enjoying his creative take on Afternoon Tea at the estate.
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*. Sun International has won the bid to run the Blue Train on behalf of Transnet, the two hospitality services sharing similar guest profiles. More trains and new routes are planned.
This week Cape Town Tourism launched a new ‘Hello Weekend‘ communications campaign at Indaba, to counter the dreaded Seasonality problem the hospitality and tourism industry in our city has in winter. The object of the Continue reading →
* Mercedes-Benz South Africa will be taken for a ride by the V&A Waterfront for the next 12 months, as a member of the V&A Waterfront Partners Programme, which comes with a number of exclusive rights to connect with the V&A’s visitors, including receiving their e-mail addresses, using their venue for events, outdoor advertising, and business to business campaigns. The V&A sees the advantage as being increased footfall, which it overclaims at 23 million per year! For Mercedes-Benz the deal is an opportunity to become ‘visualised at the V&A Waterfront to aspirational consumers‘.
* Fodor’s Travel has written a comprehensive article entitled ‘Wine Lover’s Guide to South Africa‘, praising our country for its excellent terroir suited to wine farming, and becoming ‘world-renowned’, especially our indigenous Pinotage. Linking food and wine, the Western Cape is becoming increasingly associated with food excellence too. Wine tasting in Stellenbosch is recommended, at Kanonkop, Tokara, and Waterford Estate, while Indochine, Delaire Graff Restaurant, and Jordan are recommended restaurants. In Franschhoek La Petite Ferme, Haute Cabrière, Môreson, and the unique Franschhoek Wine Tram are recommended. The Tasting Room and Bread & Wine are recommended restaurants. In Paarl KWV is recommended, with Bosman’s Restaurant, which is overpraised as ‘one of the best restaurants not only in South Africa, but in the world’ (sic)! Groot Constantia is mentioned as being the oldest wine estate, and La Colombe and The Greenhouse are recommended restaurants.
* A clever and cheeky reply to EFF Commissar Andile Mngxitama, who wrote to Sir Richard Branson, saying that the Continue reading →
Each wine estate will offer only one red wine for tasting, and one will be able to taste wines from Anthonij Rupert Wines, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal, Colmant, Four Paws Wines, Franschhoek Cellar, GlenWood, Grande Provence, Haute Cabriere, Holden Manz Wine Estate, La Bri, La Chataigne, La Couronne Wine Estate, La Motte, Leopard’s Leap Continue reading →
The government appears determined to proceed with the ban on alcohol advertising, something it has threatened for some years now, in a bid to reduce the drinking of alcohol, the target being a 20% reduction within the next seven years, reports The Times. The proposal to ban such advertising was approved by a committee on substance abuse, consisting of a number of Ministers, earlier this week, and now the Minister of Health wants to present it to a Cabinet committee and then to Cabinet itself for approval.
The first step in the alcohol marketing ban, as contained in a draft ‘Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill’ was the approval granted by a committee of Ministers of Sports (Fikile Mbalula), Trade and Industry (Rob Davies), Transport (Dipuo Peters), and Social Development (Bathabile Dlamini). The public, the wine and other alcoholic beverages industries, and the Continue reading →
Cape Town received wonderful coverage in a three-part article in the UK The Guardian on Saturday, praising in particular the beauty of the city, and the gourmet and wine wealth of the near-by towns in the Winelands, which should be good for attracting visitors from the UK to our city, given the weaker Rand.
The writer of the trio of articles is Gloria Hunniford, a highly regarded mature Northern Ireland radio and TV presenter, writer (including ‘Gloria Hunniford’s Family Cookbook’,) a travel writer for The Guardian and The Telegraph, and presenter of travel guides for National Geographic. In the fineprint it is clear that the articles were sponsored by SA Tourism.
Gloria reports about her first ever visit to Cape Town, a city that she says she has never heard a bad word spoken about, and about which she had heard ‘glorious stories about the weather, the food, the wine, the people and, of course, Table Mountain’. Worried that her high expectations could be disappointed, she writes that ‘it is more beautiful, more dramatic, and more extraordinary than anything I had imagined’. She writes that she was at a loss of words on top of Table Mountain, and fell in love with a dassie.
During her visit to the Cape, Gloria saw the Twelve Apostles, Cape Point, Lion’s Head, the city centre, the floral diversity of 2000 species on Table Mountain, Chapman’s Peak (exhilaratingly experienced on the back of a Harley Davidson), and stayed at the Camps Bay Retreat. She enjoyed the Camps Bay restaurants and its strip and beach, about which she wrote: “…you would be forgiven for thinking you were on a remote, palm-fringed island, not in South Africa’s second most populous city“! She refers to Cape Town being ranked second in the Lonely Planet’s world 10 best beach cities (after Barcelona and ahead of Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, and Miami), an accolade for Cape Town I had not heard about nor seen publicised by our tourism authorities. She mentions the surfing beaches of False Bay, the ‘remote beaches’ of the South Peninsula, ‘fashionable Clifton’, and the ‘sundowner-haven of Llandudno’. She was taken to Bo-Kaap, to eat Cape Malay food at the home of Zainie. She also ate at the Cape Grace, and was served fresh fish in Camps Bay. She highlights Kirstenbosch as the perfect picnic venue, having recently been named by National Geographic as one of the top 10 places in the world to have a picnic.
In the Winelands, Gloria visited L’Omarins in Franschhoek, enjoying its Cape Dutch architecture, flower paradise, and a wine-tasting. Gloria saw a chocolate-making demonstration at Huguenot Fine Chocolates, raving generally about Franschhoek, with its ‘atmospheric shops and sampling the great food and wine on offer is a must for every visitor’s itinerary‘. She had lunch at Delaire Graff, praising it highly for its setting in the Helshoogte Pass: ‘It’s sheer bliss. To be embraced by the sheer luxury of this elegant, beautiful crafted estate, sipping on fabulous wine and indulging in the tastiest food around, is what dream holidays are made off (sic).” Then she tastes wines at Spier, calling it one of ‘South Africa’s oldest, biggest and most tourist friendly estates’, and its wines as being affordably priced and winning awards. A highlight for Gloria was stroking Hemingway, the cheetah, at Spier. She enjoyed her gourmet picnic at Warwick, writing about it: ‘Our picnic basket is filled to the brim with delicious salads, cold meats, bread, smoked salmon, and sweet treats, a far cry from the picnics I am used to…. It introduced us to more South African culinary treats, from snoek pate to biltong’.
Despite being sponsored articles, it is Gloria’s concluding paragraph that is sure to connect with potential visitors to our city, and her valuable endorsement should be of benefit to tourism to Cape Town and the Winelands: “The last few days have been happy, happy days, thanks in no small part to the people of South Africa who have been so open and friendly and made us feel so welcome. It is the people of a country who can really make an experience memorable. They are so proud of their country and it is this enthusiasm and South Africa’s sheer beauty that I will take away with me”.
POSTSCRIPT 25/10: Today Cape Town and the Winelands received further favourable coverage, this time in the Mail Online, in an interview with Suzi Perry, BBC motor sports correspondent and presenter of the Channel 5 ‘The Gadget Show’. She described her honeymoon in South Africa last year as her ‘most memorable holiday’, having stayed in Camps Bay (staying at Cape View Villa), went on Safari at Richard Branson’s lodge Ulusaba in Sabi Sands, and went winetasting in Franschhoek, staying at Rickety Bridge. She loved going up Table Mountain, recommending abseiling down it, hiked up Lion’s Head at full moon, raved about the vineyard picnics, she saw whales in Hermanus, and ‘baboons on the cape (sic)’.
POSTSCRIPT 27/10: Cape Town has been selected as runner-up as ‘Favorite City World-wide’ in the Telegraph Travel Awards announced yesterday, won by New York, and alongside Venice. La Residence in Franschhoek was a runner-up with Shangri La’s Barr Al Jissah in Oman for ‘Favorite Hotel World-Wide’, a category won by Villa d’Este at Lake Como in Italy.
POSTSCRIPT 27/10: Cape Town is basking in the spotlight, and now the New York Times has written an article “36 hours in Cape Town’, published on-line today, and to appear in print on Sunday. It opens as follows: “Cape Town overwhelms the senses. Its cultivated side, the bright lights and big buildings of the city centre, collides with its geography – the dazzle and danger of the wind-whipped mountains and the two oceans that embrace it.” Writer Elaine Sciolino writes that prices soared in the city during the World Cup, and that the ‘tourist trade since then has disappointed‘, that some businesses have closed down, and some constructions sites stand unfinished. ‘Despite the grinding poverty in the townships on the city’s outskirts, this is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world’, she writes. Sciolino’s 36 hours in Cape Town were action-packed, and included a visit to the District Six Museum, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain (stating that it is to Cape Town what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, defining and dominating the ‘cityscape’), dinner at Marco’s African Place, followed by drinks at Café Caprice and clubbing at St Yves in Camps Bay, which has just re-opened. On Saturday it’s an ostrich burger for brunch at the Biscuit Mill, shopping at Greenmarket Square, and then off to ‘wine sipping’ at Groot Constantia, eating sushi at Sevruga in the V&A Waterfront, and then to Asoka on Kloof Street for cocktails, followed by Fiction DJ Bar and Zula Sound Bar. On Sunday morning it’s a drive to Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope), stopping at Simonstown and Boulders’ Beach on the way, returning via Chapman’s Peak. The article links to a travel guide, with accommodation (Mount Nelson and V&A Hotels strongly recommended) and restaurants (Africa Café recommended of all the 27 restaurants listed, but sadly out of date, with Jardine still listed) recommended.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
The KWV is one of the oldest wine tasting venues, having done cellar tours for a good fifty years. It has shaken off its old-fashioned image in its tasting venue called the KWV Wine Emporium, selling an extensive range of wines, liqueurs, ports, and related products such as chocolates, Platter wine guides, the food and wine pairing guide by Katinka van Niekerk, and much more. Impressive is its creativity in a number of options for food and KWV wine pairings.
I read about the tastings in the Bolander freesheet, and it sounded interesting enough to add to an outing to Paarl yesterday. I got lost trying to find the building, turning down alongside the KWV Head Office on Main Road, and one should get exact instructions and not use the head office building as a guideline to find the Emporium building, as it is on the other side of the railway line, near the back entrance of Paarl Mall. A call guided me to the right street. The exterior of the building shows its history, but one steps inside a buzzing and busy windowless large tasting and KWV product display room. At the entrance the prices of the different tasting options are specified, but a printed version of this list was not immediately available, and was not up to date, the new winter-only Port and Cake tasting not listed on it. The staff was very helpful in setting up the Port and Cake tasting for a photograph, as I intended to do one tasting only, after having already had a glass of dessert wine with lunch at Bosman’s.
The tasting options at the KWV Wine Emporium of KWV wines, brandies, ports, liqueurs, and more are the following:
* Cellar Tour, including an audio-visual of the company and its brands, tour of the barrel maturation cellar, the ‘world-renowned’ Cathedral Cellar, the Big Five Vats, and a tasting of six KWV wines. Tours are done at 10h00, 10h30 and 14h15 in English and at 10h15 in German on Monday – Saturday, and at 11h00 in English on Sunday. One can pre-book tours in French, Spanish and Swedish. Duration is 90 minutes and costs R30.
* Winetasting of five KWV products costs R15
* Wine growing tour, includes the Cellar Tour, but also the tour of the modern fermentation cellar, the crushing facility, a talk with a winemaker, and a tasting of eight KWV products. Tour done by reservation only, and a ‘very good knowledge of wine is recommended’. Duration 2 hours. Cost R50
* Introduction to Food and Wine Pairing, tasting five wines and ‘selected food bits representing the five taste sensataions’. In hindsight, I wished I had reserved this tasting. Reservation required. R35.
* Biltong, Nuts and Wine Experience, a tasting of five KWV wines (Sparkling Cuvée Brut, Sparkling Semi-Sweet, Chardonnay 2010, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, and Cape Full Cream) with biltong, droë wors, and cashew nuts, no reservation required, R 35.
* KWV Mentors Tasting, tasting five wines in the ‘ultra premium’ KWV The Mentors range (Semillon 2009, Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend 2009, Grenache Blanc 2010, Chardonnay 2010, Chenin Blanc 2008, and Viognier 2009), no reservation required, R 30.
* Chocolate and Brandy Tasting, tasting four KWV brandies (5 and 10 year old, as well as 15 and 20 year old potstill) and four Huguenot Fine Chocolate chocolates (hazelnut praline, milk chocolate, 70 % cocoa chocolate and white chocolate), no reservation required, R 35.
* Liqueur and Chocolate Tasting, tasting four KWV liqueurs and four Lindt chocolates. The tasting of the liqueurs is done first, and then the pairing and tasting with the chocolates is done. An espresso is served, to clear the palate. The first liqueur tasted was a 2005 White Muscadel, and it has a soft, smooth, honey, citrus taste. The Van der Hum is an old classic, and is made by putting mandarin skins in brandy spirit for three months. Then eight herbs and spices, including cloves and cinnamon, are added to neutral spirit, and added to the mandarin-flavoured brandy spirit, becoming a refreshing liqueur. Suzanne recommended the Van Der Hum for baking and cooking, and especially for the sauce for Duck L’Orange. Van der Hum Cream Liqueur has cream added with butterscotch notes, and the Wild Africa has flavours of caramel, fresh cream, toffee and coconut, and is the most ‘commercial’ looking product in terms of its pack design, making it popular among tourists, with a taste similarity to Baileys. The two non-cream sweeter liqueurs were paired with the bitter 70% and 85% mini-slabs of Lindt chocolate. Whilst the Lindt Orange Intense was meant to be paired with the Van der Hum Cream Liqueur, it was even better paired with the Van der Hum Liqueur. The Lindt Mint Intense pairing with the Wild Africa made it taste of After Eight. No reservation required, R35.
* Port and Cake Tasting, during winter only, pairing four KWV ports with four home-made cakes (fruit cake, orange and almond cake, Saint-Nicholas cake – with dates, walnuts, rum, and almonds – and a Coffee, hazelnut and chocolate cake, for which I was given a recipe sheet!), no reservation required, R 35.
* Cellar Tour with Chocolate and Brandy Tasting/Biltong, Nut and Wine Tasting/Liqueur and Chocolate Tasting, must be pre-booked, costs R50, and is a combination of tours.
Suzanne did the tasting with me, being flexible in slowing down when I was taking notes. Brigitte came to say hello, and we connected via our German roots, and our parents knowing each other from the local Lutheran Church. Maya is Swiss, and in total there are seven staff. Brigitte says that staff brainstorms led to the selection of tasting options, and that they are constantly looking at new pairing options. The Chocolate and Brandy and Liqueur and Chocolate Tastings are the most popular.
KWV Wine Emporium, Kohler Street, Paarl. Tel (021) 807-3007. www.kwvwineemporium.co.za . Monday – Saturday 9h00 – 16h30, Sunday 11h00 – 16h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
I had the pleasure of rediscovering Buitenverwachting about three weeks ago, having been invited to try their Sunday buffet lunch. Whilst there, I had experienced chef Edgar Osojnik’s excellent cuisine, and therefore decided to return to try the Asparagus Menu, which runs until the end of November.
It was a lovely summer’s day and we sat on the terrace outside the restaurant, facing the Courtyard. It was much quieter than on my previous visit, yet noisy from a field close by, where a sport’s day was being held.
The Courtyard menu cover is made from black leather, is branded, and contains only a few pages, with four pages dedicated to the Asparagus special menu, costing R 260 for a 3-course meal plus a glass of Buitenverwaching Sauvignon Blanc or the Meifort. It also contains a one-page Courtyard menu, being a mix of starters, mains and desserts, thus giving only a few options per course for non-asparagus eaters.
The Asparagus menu offers two standard asparagus dishes that one can order on an a la carte basis, either as a starter (R82) or as a main (R104) course. Two choices are offered : with vinaigrette, offering olive oil, balsamico or truffle oil, and a baguette; and with a selection of sauces, being hollandaise, butter, Mornay, or BÃ©arnaise, with parsley potato. Other asparagus starter options range from R75 – R110, and are asparagus served with potato and an onion salad; asparagus served with quail; asparagus with parma ham; and asparagus with baby chicken. Main courses are expensive, ranging between R145 – R165, and choices are asparagus served with salmon trout gnocchi, hanger steak, veal involtini, ravioli espuma, or with grilled line fish. One of the desserts is served with asparagus, also containing rhubarb and strawberry gratin, and is served with saffron honey ice cream, at R69.
I could not get the waitress to explain to me exactly how the asparagus and linefish dish is served, and the French restaurant hostess came to assist, being very professional with her care of our table. The waitress, by contrast, sulked the minute we said that we did not understand her reply about how the asparagus is served. The hostess was able to offer a compromise, and Chef Edgar made a special dish with a most wonderful firm piece of kingklip, a parsley potato, and crunchy steamed white and green asparagus topped with the most outstanding deep yellow Hollandaise Sauce, at R156. I savoured it slowly, to enjoy every bit of the wonderful taste.
My son is not an asparagus fan, and ordered the Entrecote steak with porcini dauphinoise at R152, and proclaimed it to be excellent, tender, and with a wonderful taste due to the shallot sauce on the steak. Asparagus is one of the vegetables that comes with the dish, and a large thin fried potato slice added a lovely design touch to the presentation.
Other Courtyard menu options are a caeser salad served with anchovies and salmon (R95), a vegetable tian served with sorbet, smoked onion puree and crostini (R73), and Sissy’s open sandwich (R44). We were served an amuse bouche, which looked very attractive in its presentation, but was not really special in terms of its content, being two minute slices of Buffalo Mozzarella (looking like a quail egg slice at first, being so tiny) and a grapeseed Peperonata terrine with a minute panfried crostini, on top of which was a tiny drop of chippollini puree – a mouthful of a description for something that wasn’t! Dessert options are rhubarb and ice cream, and Kardinalschnitte, a mousse cake slice.
If one chooses to sit inside, or comes for dinner, one is offered the Nuptials Menu, a very clever name for the menu which pairs food and wine, but is even more expensive. The menu is a very restricted one in terms of number of choices, but is beautifully presented, in a black leather cover too, with cards that can be changed as the menu changes. So, for example, a starter Buffalo Mozarella and peperonata terrine is paired with Buitenverwachting’s Buiten Blanc at R20 per 125 ml glassful. A Curry Leaf pan-fried langoustine-scallop starter at R 195 was paired with a Jordan Riesling at R25. A veal main course costs R215, and is paired with Whalehaven Pinot Noir at R35. A Raspberry soufflÃ© costs R55 and a chocolate variation R85, both paired with Buitenverwachting 1769 at R35 for 75ml.
I was shocked at the wine prices, not having seen them on my last visit. While the Buitenverwachting Buiten Blanc costs R45 in the wine shop a few meters away, it costs R120 on the winelist, and R40 per 250ml glassful; the Chardonnay costs R85/260; the Sauvignon Blanc R60/R180; the Meifort R60/R175; the Merlot R65/R195; the Cabernet Sauvignon R80/R245, and the Christine R160/R485. The Buitenverwachting Buiten Brut costs R272, and other MCC brands appear very expensive, with Pierre Jourdan Belle RosÃ© costing R383, Graham Beck Brut R474 and High Constantia Clos AndrÃ© Cuvee Brut R479. MoÃ«t & Chandon costs from R990, Veuve Cliquot R1020 and Krug Grand Cuvee R2335. Imported wines are from France (R761 and up), Italy (including a Barolo at R1218), and Australia, the USA and New Zealand (more reasonably priced between R342 – R583). Shiraz wines on the winelist are Boland at R279, Glen Carlou (each vintage costing a different price, most expensive being 2004 at R410), Kevin Arnold at R320, Anatu at R280 and The Foundry at R301.
When I saw the bill, and the cost of the cappuccino in particular, at R26, it really hit home to me how expensive Buitenverwachting is. I have not drunk such an expensive coffee elsewhere in Cape Town. Buitenverwachting cannot be faulted in terms of its gourmet cuisine, but one pays a high price for it, positioning it at the well-heeled Constantia set as well as international tourists. The Sunday Buffet lunch is however excellent value at R240 for the four course meal.
We popped into the wine shop/wine tasting room after the lunch, and in fact did not see that its entrance was in the Courtyard. It was quite disappointing – it is quite a large room with comfortable seating, looking much like someone’s lounge but not with much class, and display cases for the wines, as well as jewellery made by the wife of the Buitenverwachting GM Lars Maack. Given the quality of the wines and the restaurant, I was shocked to see the chap behind the counter wear a Billabong T-shirt and what looked like a swimming costume. I left with a bottle of Buitenverwachting Meifort wine, having tasted it at the Sunday Buffet lunch, at a cost of R60.
Buitenverwachting, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia, www.buitenverwachting.com. Tel (021) 794-3522. Monday – Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday Buffet lunch. Corkage R55.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage