A lunch at Coco Safar, followed by a dinner three days later, were two chalk and cheese experiences, the former excellent and the latter hugely disappointing, especially as it was a birthday dinner treat for a special friend! I had last been to Coco Safar for breakfast early this year, after it opened in Sea Point, having moved from Cavendish Square. Continue reading →
Ever since I reviewed Chef Bertus Basson’s Spek & Bone dive of a restaurant in Stellenbosch in July last year, Basson has been on a mission to discredit me as a reviewer, not being man-enough to accept my honest feedback. Last week I popped in at his latest eatery, De Vrije Burger, a hamburger and ice cream joint, on Plein Street in Stellenbosch, the take-away outlet being far below the standard of his Eat Out Top 10 award stature! One wonders why he is scraping the barrel with cheap and nasty restaurants, when he started off with the top level Top 10 Overture restaurant, his first! Each new restaurant, of his five restaurants, is one level below the previously opened one in terms of quality! Continue reading →
Last night I attended an interesting group discussion about chocolate, and Honest Chocolate in particular, at their Honest Chocolate Café on Wale Street. It demonstrated that the brand of artisanal chocolate has evolved in the four years since its launch, and that it cares enough to conduct market research to establish what chocolate lovers like and dislike about the brand.
Having received the invitation to attend whilst on holiday, I had not picked up that the event would be more than a chocolate and wine pairing. We had to document our demographic details, our chocolate purchasing habits, and source of information about the brand. Our Continue reading →
The Chenin Blanc Association hosts a tasting of its top members’ wines twice a year, to match the summer or winter season. Last week a tasting of 25 top Chenin Blancs was followed by a summery Italian-inspired lunch with a view onto Table Mountain at Meloncino in the V & A Waterfront.
The tasting of the 25 Chenin Blancs was divided into five groups of five wines, and was led by Jeff Grier of Villiera, a gentle good off-the-cuff speaker, being so good with his notes that he often knew more about the wines than was shared by the winemakers. Jeff stood in for Ken Forrester, Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, who spends a lot of his time marketing his wines in the USA. What makes these events great is that writers can meet a number of the winemakers at the table, getting to know them a little better, the Simonsig (Hannes Meyer), Ayama (Liezel Delport), and Rijk’s (Pieter Waal) representatives sitting Continue reading →
I was invited to the Constantia Fresh Fine Wine and Food Festival held at Buitenverwachting yesterday afternoon. It was a sold out fun event, 44 wine estates (not only from Constantia) presenting their 200 ‘freshest’ and most interesting wines, and chefs (mainly from Constantia) preparing food.
The entrance fee was R400 per person, and included as much wine tasting and food as one liked. The tables were set out by region, with Constantia having the central stage around a massive oak tree in the middle of the large lawn on which the Festival was held. It is always interesting to see how the wine estates market themselves in the relatively small space they have. It was impossible to taste all the wines of all the wine estates represented at the Festival, and it was a pity that one did not receive a leaflet or information about each of the wines and wine estates at the Festival. The Festival is the concept of wine editor, Platter taster, sommelier, and wine consultant Jörg Pfützner, who is known as a Riesling fan.
The Constantia Fresh Festival was preceded by two events on Friday: Jörg led a themed tasting with the interesting title: ‘If modernity is sexy, is tradition passé?’ This was followed by a four course dinner cooked by Chef Bertus Basson, paired with a total of twelve wines from the Constantia valley, which was held at Klein Constantia. Yesterday the ‘walkabout tasting‘ allowed attendees to taste to their heart’s content, and to meet wine estate representatives, although most top winemakers were not present due to the harvest being in full swing. On its website, Constantia Continue reading →
I had eagerly awaited the opening of the Cavalli Estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, its majestic entrance having been completed about two years ago, and having heard a number of times that Chef Henrico Grobbelaar would be heading up the kitchen in the Equus restaurant. Its Equus Tasting Room, Gallery, Boutique, and Restaurant opened a month ago, its 54 thoroughbred saddlebred horses, and olive and vine plantation make up the Cavalli Estate. It must be the largest Winelands tourism offering in terms of size and facilities offered.
Horses dominate everything at Cavalli, the Italian name for the animal, and the racehorse stud was developed while the Equus centre was being built. The stud is the main reason for the estate’s existence, and one passes the large stable building as one drives to Equus, with fynbos evident in the gardens landscaped by Keith Kirsten, who also did the Delaire Graff gardens. I had been invited to be shown around by mother and daughter Gundel and Annette Sogor from Gordon’s Bay, who had been to the tasting room before, but had not yet eaten at Equus. Arriving separately, we each shared how unprofessional the welcome at the security entrance as well as at the parking had been, and Lauren Smith, owner’s daughter, architect, and Operations Manager of the estate, made quick work in having the problem addressed and the outsourced security men replaced.
The Equus building is vast, and consists of a massive art gallery, a boutique, Continue reading →
Chef Liam Tomlim, previously operating in Sydney where he ran the highly rated Banc restaurant (see our previous story on Liam Tomlin here), has opened a Cookery School, where he and local chefs will present cooking courses in a small intimate studio not holding more than 20 persons. It has a hi-tech look, with lots of stainless steel. But the little touches make the venue special – against a wall different coloured glass tiles form an interesting pattern, with glass bottles of spices on a shelf in front of each tile.
In the Cookery School Tomlin is planning to host a 20-lecture “The Basic Techniques and Methods of Cookery” course, with the start date now 8 May. The course, with four hour lectures every second Saturday, has not yet been fully subscribed, and it may be the R10 500 price tag, the start of the quieter and tighter winter season, or the World Cup that falls in the period, that may be causing the slow booking commitment. Tomlin is passionate about food, being the author of two cookery books, and he is likely to make an interesting cookery lecturer, with his Irish sense of humour.
Guest Chef classes can also be booked, with Neil Jewell of Bread and Wine in Franschhoek talking about “The Pig” on 5 May; Peter Tempelhoff, Executive Chef of the McGrath Hotels, will do a course on 11 May (title not yet confirmed); Alexander Mueller of Pure at Hout Bay Manor will talk about “Pure Food” on 24 May; and Carl Penn of Carne will talk about “Basic Lamb Butchery” on 27 May. Classes cost R 575 each, and are held from 6.30 – 9.30 pm in the evenings.
A 12-part winetasting course will be presented by Caroline Rillema of Caroline’s wine shops in the city center and in the V&A Waterfront. Sommelier Mia Mortensson, now with the Winery of Good Hope in Stellenbosch, and Paul Cluver Jnr will also be presenters. The course starts on 8 June, and costs R 7000 for all 12 lectures, but can be booked in sections as well.
A 6-part Artisan Baking course “Knead to know” will be presented by Tim Faull of the Professional Vision Group consultancy, from 2 June – 14 July, and costs R 3 000.
Tomlin’s wife Jan rules the roost in the front section, which is the Chef’s Warehouse, which contains a treasure trove of beautiful kitchen and dining items such as glassware, crockery, cutlery, serving dishes, aprons, carving knives, utensils, massive wooden stirring spoons (must get one!), Le Creuset pots, copper pots, cookery books, coffee machines, wine racks and many more products. The Chef’s Warehouse will give Core Catering and Banks a good challenge, stocking far more beautiful and many imported products, offering better service, and being located in a far more desirable area. It would be the perfect place to buy a gift for a food or a wine lover.
While the name of the shop implies that it is a massive shop, it is not at all, but the available space has been cleverly used. Two smaller rooms lead off the Warehouse, the one being a cold room with interesting products which need to remain chilled, and the other being a food shop, which sells Willow Creek and Hamilton Russell olive oil, 100% pure cocoa powder, Spanish and Iranian saffron threads, Calleebaut & Valrhona chocolate, flavoured oils (white and black truffle, pistachio, hazelnut, porcini, walnut), vinegars (12 year Italian balsamic, Willow Creek Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar, Neil Jewell’s smoked red wine vinegar), Nfuse spices, Lavazza coffee, Von Gesau chocolates, Tea Emporium teas (organic Rooibos, Moroccan mint, Kyoto cherry rose, lemon caipirinha, even a chocolate flavoured one!), Khoisan salts (fleur de sel, salt caviar, sea pearls, smoked salt, truffle salt), and products of the Verjuice company (verjuice, vino cotto, preserved ginger in verjuice). Vanilla syrup, sugar, husks, pods, paste and seeds are also sold, as are vanilla, coffee, rose water, peppermint, almond and orange blossom pure essences.
A beautifully made unit displays 50 fresh spices and dried herbs (including Iranian dried limes, Brazilian pink peppercorns, Indian and Romanian coriander) in small quantities, which will be restocked as they run out, to keep them fresh. Another display unit contains a wide range of dried fruits, nuts and seeds. An eye-catching design element is a photograph of Tomlin’s recipe book collection, which he photographed in his home, and had made as a poster for the shop.
What I missed was a brochure of the Cookery courses to be offered, to take home, and the smell of food. A coffee machine, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee, would signify what the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School is all about. Its little veranda would make an ideal spot for some tables for customers to sit at, as The Warehouse does not allow much space for customers to move around in.
The Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School is an exciting new addition to Cape Town, and enhances the city’s reputation as the food capital of South Africa.
Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School, 50 New Church Street, Cape Town. Tel 021 422 0128. www.chefswarehouse.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com