I had parked nearby when I visited the bottling of the wine made from the oldest vines in the Southern Hemisphere at Dorrance Cellar inside the Heritage Square courtyard earlier today. It Continue reading →
The most unusual name for a classy cocktail bar must be that of newly opened Orphanage on Bree Street, which is on the corner with Orphan Street, a street name I had not noticed previously. I was impressed with its elegant and classy interior, unusual cocktails and other drinks, and interesting value for money food.
As I was driving to the Labia cinema last Saturday, I drove past the former Rhubarb Room space, and saw the new brown painted exterior, with candle-holders outside attracting one’s attention. With the front door open, one could also see a massive chandelier, which runs along the length of the room. I stopped to take a quick interior photograph, and returned after the movie, when the venue had filled up a little more, its first day of opening to the public and also the birthday of Johnny Friedman, the owner of the building and a partner in the business. Manager and co-partner Raymond Endean seemed a bit hesitant about sharing information initially and about letting me have a menu to take along for this story, but mellowed as more guests arrived and all appeared to be running smoothly.
The massive chandelier dominates the interior, almost detracting from the massive wooden bar running along the length of one wall. On the opposite side are striped couches with coffee tables, creating sections, as well as a collection of high bar tables and stools. More seating is available in the little courtyard, which one had not noticed before. In the far end a DJ had set up his equipment, and played mood music, which became progressively louder, but did not overpower the conversation. He was later joined by saxophonist Jamie Faull, and they performed together. Jamie plays his sax on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. The staff wear amazing outfits, with waistcoats, black pants, Orphanage aprons with the key logo, and bowler hats, and are all very friendly and eager to serve. There is low lighting, despite the chandelier, with many candles. Cleverly the high table tops have been cut out to hold a bucket, into which a candle had been placed. If one orders sparkling wine or white wines, it becomes an ice bucket, a clever touch, as it is space-efficient too. A chest of drawers allows one to store one’s left over bottle for a next visit, and hence the key is the symbol printed on the brown serviettes, on the business cards, and is incorporated in the design of the menu too. The decor design was done by Inhouse architects. A large rectangular serviette contains the Inox fork and unbranded knife in a brown sleeve, with the key logo, brought to the table on a silver tray. Everything is printed on brown paper, with the key logo, and even the bill was presented in a brown sleeve. They purposely try to steer away from what everyone else does, wanting to be unique.
The first indication I had that things are different at Orphanage was when the cappuccino was served in a ‘blikbeker’, the sugar sticks being served in a smaller size. Raymond explained that he managed Asoka Bar for seven years, and Eclipse and Caprice in Camps Bay prior to that. The idea behind Orphanage is to go back to the time of the Prohibition, to create the feel of a ‘hidden bar’. In deciding on a name, they were aware of their location on Orphan Street, also the home of the St Paul’s Church across the road. A dreadful influenza epidemic swept through the region in the early 1900’s, leaving many children in the Cape orphaned. Children would come to the church for food, giving the street its name, and Reverend Sidney Warren Lavis helped set up the first ‘orphanage for boys’ in Cape Town in 1919, called the St Francis Childrens’ Home, in Athlone. The placemat proudly shares: “ORPHANAGE are very proud supporters of the St Francis Children’s home that we derive our quirky name & rich heritage from.. because this type of tomfoolery has a social conscience too”. R15 of the ‘More Tea Vicar?’ drink of Finlandia vanilla, rooibos syrup, cranberry, and lemon, which costs R55, is donated directly to the St Francis Children’s Home. In December and January R 10 will be added to every bill, to donate to the St Francis orphanage. The Rector of St Paul’s blessed Orphanage on its first day of opening. Raymond said that they understand that the name is controversial, as showed when we Tweeted about it.
The drinks list has a number of Orphanage branded wines, and Raymond told me that sommelier and consultant Kent Scheermeyer is helping them to source two red and two white wines, as well as a sparkling wine. He wasn’t sure where they were coming from, but the Pinot Noir will be from De Grendel, and Mullineux will supply a red blend. The cocktail list was compiled from a study of bar trends and 200 cocktails were evaluated. Most have a quirky name, and are served in quirky ‘vessels’ too, such as a fine Victorian tea cup. A cucumber Martini is served with a cucumber sandwich on the side. Interesting is that a drink is named after the police commissioner in the Western Cape, Hilton Hendricks, who arrived for the birthday party too, with his bodyguards, who (surprisingly) were very hesitant to share his first name. Moët & Chandon costs R800, Ruinart R1000, Dom Pérignon R1800, and Krug R3600. &Union beers, Grolsch, Peroni, and some commercial beers are available. More than twenty cocktails, with interesting names, many related to the name of the establishment (e.g. ‘Innocent Orphan Annie’) cost between R35 and R65.
The menu will be changed every three months or so, and is restricted to only ten items at the moment. It is the domain of Chef André Hendricks, with consultant chef Mac Mulholland, who has worked with HQ, Asoka and Tank. A kingklip carpaccio (‘Fishy on my Dishy’ – photograph right) sounded unusual, and was exceptional, drizzled with lemon and olive oil (R50). I was less impressed with ‘Rabbit Food’, with too much rocket, and little asparagus and aged pecorino (R45). Other tapas options are Cauli-fritters (R40), ‘Crayfish Signature’ (R95), ‘Milanese Chick Chick’ (R65), ‘Octopus Crunch’ (R55), and ‘Little Lamb Buns’ (R60). One senses that the team had great fun in coming up with the names. One can also order platters of mezze or charcuterie (R95 each), and cheeses (R75), olives, nuts and truffle chips, or a dessert (at R35 each) of ‘pineapple thins’ or ‘Molten Coco Loaf’, which turned out to be a lovely chocolate fondant served with vanilla ice cream. The dessert and the salad were served in bowls set inside wooden blocks, again an interesting and unusual presentation.
Raymond said that they are almost purposely ‘anti-marketing’, wanting to grow their business on the basis of word-of-mouth, on the strength of their service, which was friendly and kind. I was lucky that charming and passionate co-owner Katie Friedman was at Orphanage too, and that she spent time with me to give me more background to the establishment. She has worked in marketing film production companies in the USA, and her business card describes her as the ‘House Marketeer’. She emphasised how blessed they are to have St Paul’s as their neighbours, and that they can contribute to the work that they do for the St Francis orphanage.
Orphanage cocktail emporium is a definite must-see and try, and a convenient stop before and after a night out, with ample parking at night. It is a classy place to visit, fun and quirky, and having a drink there has a social benefit too.
POSTSCRIPT 5/4: A lovely 26°C evening, at the start of the Easter weekend, was a good opportunity to go back to Orphanage. I couldn’t believe that it was jam packed outside, and some customers said they had come because of this review. Co-owner Katie Friedman came to chat and thank me for the review, and told me that next summer they will do breakfast (with porridge options) and lunch too. She also said that they will be open every night of the week now. I tried their crayfish buns.
POSTSCRIPT 18/4: Talk about customer service. On a last visit I asked if Orphanage had Bailey’s or Cape Velvet, and they told they only had Amarula. When I went back to re-photograph the kingklip carpaccio in better light tonight, Raymond proudly showed me the Bailey’s they now stock!
Orphanage cocktail emporium, 227 Bree Street, corner Orphan Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 424-2004. www.TheOrphanage.co.za Twitter:@OrphanageClub Monday – Sunday 17h00 – 2h00, Fridays from 15h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
The opening function, one of two, at Leopard’s Leap last night, was a welcome indication of how the gourmet bar in Franschhoek is about to be raised, with the addition of the Liam Tomlin Food Culinary Studio. Not one of the 300 guests could have left not being impressed with the architecture and decor of the building, dominated by its beautiful new chandelier, with the generosity of the hosts, and with the excellent food, served with Leopard’s Leap wines.
I have been to Leopards Leap a number of times since it opened in November, and noticed the new chandelier immediately on arrival, after entering the building on a green carpet, being offered a choice of six welcome cocktails. Flowers in massive vases lining the entrance were by creative florists Okasie in Stellenbosch. The chandelier was designed by interior decorator Christo Barnard, and he is very chuffed with how well it was executed by Pierre Cronje. The tasting room staff collected vineyard leaves, which Christo had dye cut out of stainless steel, replicating different leaf shapes, and then spray painted them in yellow, green, and red leaf colours, making a magnificent statement over the tasting counter, and bringing the vineyards into the tasting room, the vine design looking absolutely realistic.
Guests of honour were ex-President FW de Klerk, who had addressed a lunch of 40 members of the Beijing University alumni club yesterday afternoon (a lunch that made CEO Hein Koegelenberg beam, in that he signed up R1,5 million in business during the lunch, he shared with us), and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, who looks younger and more stylish than ever before, all due to her stylist Janine Schouw, she said. Premier Zille came to say hello, and remembered us meeting at Artscape about five years ago, which makes her such a remarkable person, and such a respected and well-loved politician. It was touching to see the Premier connect with Mr de Klerk, holding hands. The mutual respect was clear to see.
Leopard’s Leap CEO Hein Koegelenberg made a short speech to welcome the guests to the new Leopard’s Leap Vineyards, housing Leopards Leap Wines and Liam Tomlin Food. He recounted that he had created the Leopard’s Leap brand twelve years ago, and he acknowledged the work of label designer Anthony Lane in developing it into an international brand, now sold in 41 countries. It had not had a consumer interface in the past, and the neighbouring farm to La Motte was ideal for a tasting room, not only due to its location on the R45 and its proximity to La Motte, but also because the grapes on it had been planted by Hein’s father, and he still looks after the garden team on the estate. Hein said that Leopard’s Leap is the most diverse wine company in the world, focusing on diversity in sourcing grapes and producing the wines in different regions.
It was the ancient marriage between wine and food that led Hein to seek the ‘perfect pairing of wine and cuisine’ with chef Liam Tomlin, who moved from Sydney to Cape Town some years ago, consulting to La Motte when its restaurant opened, and opening his own Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in Cape Town. Now Liam Tomlin Food offers cooking demonstration classes, upping the standard of Franschhoek’s gourmet cuisine offering. The venue was designed to blend Franschhoek’s ‘proud heritage of wine and cuisine’ with modernity and innovation, to create a world class experience for its visitors. The building was designed by architects Mokena Design Lab, Christo Barnard did the interior design (having done that of Pierneef à La Motte too), with furnishing by Pierre Cronje. The building houses offices for Leopard’s Leap Wines and Liam Tomlin Food, a state-of-the-art cooking school and demonstration area, a shop selling cooking equipment, ingredients, and utensils, a garden in which to enjoy picnics in future, and a reading lounge. Reflected in the building too is the passion the family has for the conservation of the Cape mountain leopard, which is reflected in the magnificent 9 meter high steel sculpture by Marco Cianfanelli, outside the building. Hein believes that the ‘statue will become a landmark in the Franschhoek Wine Valley’.
Chef Liam’s speech was short and sweet, and he won brownie points when he said that it was much better moving from Australia to South Africa, and not vice versa. He also said that South African wines are better than Australian ones. He told us that initially he would concentrate on establishing the cooking courses, whereafter the Food Shop will be created, eagerly awaited by locals. An organic vegetable garden has been planted, for use in his kitchen.
Different food stations were created throughout the kitchen to feed the 300 guests, a mix of food and wine writers, wine farm neighbours, and local winemakers, with trays of material serviettes and cutlery at each, and each dish labelled. Chicken roasted in the brand new rotisserie was served with a sticky soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and ginger, and a cucumber salad, its Thai basil giving it a sharp edge. There was sea bass served with delicate noodles. The pork belly served on a pancake with Hoisin sauce and spring onion probably was the most popular dish. A most interesting duck sausage was another hit, containing raisins, pistachio nuts, confit leg, and duck liver, served with a potato salad and duck jus. Chef Liam told us that they had ordered 150 ducks to make the duck sausage, and that their supplier had initially let them down badly, it costing them five days in time to get the sausage made as a result. A sweetcorn and basil veloute was served in an espresso cup. An interesting dish was a melted Raclette cheese served with steamed potato and bruschetta. Desserts were a lemon posset, and a Bailey’s Irish cream parfait with cocoa crunch. In tasting each of the delicacies, one could get a close look at the kitchen equipment, and Grande Provence owner Alex van Heeren spontaneously described the facilities as ‘world class’.
The clearing of plates and serving of drinks was organised by Aleit event company, and Aleit Swanepoel, the owner, and his team made each guest feel like a special VIP, bringing one drink after the other (a delicious berry Shiraz drink).
As if the hosts’ generosity had not been enough already, each guest received a magnificent presentation box with a thank you from Liam and Hein ‘for sharing this special celebration with us’, and containing a bottle of Leopard’s Leap Shiraz Mouvèdre Viognier 2008, as well as a pack of risotto rice, dried mushrooms, and a bottle of Black Truffle oil, with a recipe card for mushroom risotto.
La Motte and Leopard’s Leap are a new gourmet gateway to Franschhoek, and it would appear that further exciting developments are underway at both wine estates, from what was suggested to me last night.
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