Tag Archives: Haas Collective

Haas Collective hops across to Buitenkant Street, now serves Bunny Chow!

Haar Exterior Whale CottageIt was a call from Nick, who handles Social Media for Haas Collective, an advertising agency, art and interior decor consultancy, and coffee shop, that motivated my colleague and I to return to the new Haas building on Buitenkant Street yesterday, to write this piece.

Haas became a firm favourite when it first opened more than three years ago on Rose Street, giving life and energy to this Bo-Kaap street, being a convenient stop with parking usually available and devoid of parking marshalls.  It became a second office (even though wifi was always problematical, with changing passwords) and a welcome meeting place, all first-time visitors being impressed with the art-focused interior.  The food was always secondary, prepared from a kitchen across the road in a rented building, adjacent to where the Haas advertising agency had its offices too, in addition to the upstairs offices. Service deteriorated over time, as the waiters became more arrogant and slack, jiving in the entrance section, talking noisily, and not proactively following up with the kitchen. Inge has been the only efficient manager on the coffee shop side of the business, but Continue reading →

World Design Capital 2014: Highlights design in Cape Town Townships, no Tourism benefit sought!

Cécile and Boyd FoundationOn Friday The Guardian published a very lengthy article about Cape Town’s role as host of World Design Capital 2014 (WDC), and highlighted the unusual locations of design gems in Cape Town, including the townships and previously run-down city areas, as opposed to art galleries.  Unfortunately this is the second international article about Cape Town in two days with errors!  The article highlights what a visitor to Cape Town should see during this design-centred year, and contains shocking news for the Tourism industry.

Journalist Lisa Grainger anticipated visiting upmarket galleries, style emporiums, and seeing craft art, but instead she spent most of her week in Cape Town in townships with guide Fernie, to experience real creativity born from poverty. ‘Because it is in these townships that some of the most inspiring people live: people who are incredible, positive, engaging, brave. And I want visitors to see the good there is here, the real heart of South Africa’, he explained to her.  

She was told by Priscilla Urquhart, PR and Media Manager of Cape Town Design NPC, the company responsible for implementing World Design Capital 2014 for Cape Town, that our city’s budget (supplied by the City of Cape Town) is R 40 million, compared to close to R60 million spent by Helsinki two years ago, when that city carried the honour. Budget constraints prevented the creation of City-led design projects in Cape Town, but allowed the city’s design industry to offer its design projects for consideration, and about 450 have become official World Design Capital 2014 projects, summarised in a fold-open brochure. There is no showcase for these projects, the Design Indaba and Guild design fair having been the only two exhibitions where some of the work linked to some of the projects could be seen, unfortunately having run concurrently at the very busy end of February.

A shock is reading Urquhart admit to the journalist that ‘the WDC programme wasn’t designed to attract tourists, but to try to Continue reading →

‘First Thursdays’ drives feet into Cape Town city centre and its art galleries, celebrates first anniversary!

Cape Town Art Fair Ebony Whale Cottage PortfolioTonight it’s the first Thursday of November, and Capetonians and the city’s visitors can look forward to visiting 31 art galleries (some with coffee shops too) in the centre of Cape Town, including Bo-Kaap, until as late as 21h00 this evening on ‘First Thursdays’.

A unique concept which has been successful in other cities such as London, Ontario and Seattle, First Thursdays is designed to attract locals back into the city centre at a time of day in which parking is freely available and the city is free of its aggressive parking marshalls. Most of the galleries offer a free glass of wine, and even some snacks, many galleries using the occasion to launch new art exhibitions.  Many art enthusiasts walk from gallery to gallery, and pop in at pop-up restaurants such as food trucks which were introduced in October, as well as a City All Sessions free concert on Greenmarket Square at 17h30.  The use of the MyCiTi Bus is encouraged.

The First Thursday website is disappointing in explaining little, and Continue reading →

Cape Town bloggers blend spirit, honesty, and passion!

The October Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting, hosted by the Haas Collective in their gallery across the road from Haas Coffee, reflected the passion and spirit of Jorgensen Distillery and Honest Chocolates, both artisanal producers.

Dawn introduced Jorgensen Distillery, and has been a loyal attendee of the Food & Bloggers’ Club meetings.  Last year she and Roger introduced Primitiv Vodka to the Bloggers’ Club.  Dawn told us that from being a winemaker, Roger moved into distilling, being one of three to start distilling spirits locally.  It’s a family business, and the website address www.jd7.co.za, reflects the seven members in the Jorgensen family, all involved in the business.  The family handles all aspects of the business, being absolutely hands-on. Dawn saw the power of Social Media, and took a one-day course. She registered the Twitter address @PrimitivVodka, which she uses for the whole product range, which has grown to eight, and does not think that she should have a separate account for each brand.  She praised Twitter and Blogging, saying that through Social Media they have made friends and built relationships. Roger is the ‘alchemist’, handling the production, and Dawn the Marketing, which she focuses on Social Media, and participation at smaller shows, locally and in Johannesburg. Interested bloggers and journalists have come to see the Jorgensen Distillery in Wellington. Dawn was almost apologetic about her Twitter Follower and Facebook Friends numbers of around 600, but has realised that it is not the number of persons, but the quality of the interaction that is important.  Dawn has found Facebook to be very visual, with Friends posting photographs, whilst Twitter helps to spread the word about one’s brand if the users are happy with it.  Happy customers become Social Media friends, word of mouth being their most important marketing approach. They value the relationships that they develop at each meeting. Dawn says she only Tweets positively.  She likes to promote like-minded people and their brands on Twitter.

Roger has a South African mother and Norwegian father, and grew up in a home in which spirits were drunk regularly and neat, always enjoyed with food. He was one of three producers to help change legislation relating to potstill brandy production, co-founded the Wellington Wine Route, and founded the Brandy Route in Wellington. He said that if one does ‘not make honest, holistically produced material you are just another brand’.  Roger said that spirits are drunk neat in the north, and with mixers in hot climate countries, including South Africa.  He suggested that they be drunk cold and neat, and not with local mixers, which are far too sweet.  We tasted the Primitiv Vodka first, which is made from spelt, the origin of grain, which Roger sources from the Cederberg, being the only region in South Africa where it is grown.  Roger distills the spelt with the husks, its oil giving the vodka its special flavour. He could make it at an alcohol level of 96%, but has chosen to reduce it to 90%, to allow the flavour of the essential oils to come to the fore.  He was critical of other commercially produced vodka, some of it made from grain not fit for human consumption.  Primitiv has a creamy and oily mouth feel, with floral, pepper and aniseed notes. It is well-suited to eat with cheese, and seafood, including oysters.  Premium white spirits are difficult to make, Roger said.  Lemoncello is a drink they learnt to love on a holiday in Tuscany, there being about thirty kinds in Italy. Roger uses organic Cape lemons, having the perfect aroma in the skin.  The top layer of the skin soaks in strong wine spirit for two weeks, and it absorbs the flavour and oils from the lemons. Roger would like to see restaurants serving a complimentary glass of Lemoncello as a thank you to their customers.  Limes from the neighbours are used to make Naked Lime liqueur, and bartered for product. Roger loves experimenting, and has made liqueurs from bay leaves and naartjies. The Jorgensen Distillery products can be delivered by courier when ordered off their website, or from www.ebooze.co.za, or found at Wines at the Mill. A range of miniatures is supplied to guest houses and hotels.  The Absinthe is the product that is most in demand, and their most expensive product.  New products Roger is working on are a South African ‘Tequila’, a local rum, and liqueurs made from indigenous aromatic plants. The Jorgensen’s gin is an African take on this product, Roger said, and again he emphasised that it should be drunk neat. This is the product that is hardest to make, in ensuring consistency, and therefore Roger holds back one third of every batch, to blend with the next batch.  A unique mix of herbs is used by Roger to make his gin, including ‘grains of paradise’, ‘Natal wild ginger spice’, and Ohandua spice from Namibia.  South Africa’s legislation, driven by the South African Liquor Brand Association, on which the major producers sit, demands that spirits have 43% alcohol, whereas the international norm is 40%.  Imported products therefore need to be adapted to increase the alcohol content, and their packaging needs to be amended for imported brands to be sold locally.  The Jorgensen’s Savignac potstill brandy was the highlight of the tasting for me, not being a brandy drinker at all. It is made in the style of French cognac, matured for 14 years in French oak barrels.  No sugar or caramel is added to the brandy, and the Honest Chocolates we tasted with it was an amazing marriage.

Honest Chocolates’ Anthony Gird told us that he ‘stumbled’ into chocolate-making, not having any culinary background. Using raw cocoa powder he had found in health shops, he experimented with it to make chocolates that his friends loved.  Michael de Klerk was living in London at the time, specialising in website design, and he too was experimenting with chocolate-making, having been inspired by a friend in New York to do so.  The team call themselves ‘imperfectionists’, learning as they go along. They have started with making moulded and dipped truffles, and sold their first handcrafted chocolates at the Old Biscuit Mill.  Their chocolates do not contain dairy or emulsifiers, and they only use natural fructose.  The raw organic cocoa beans are sourced from Super Foods, who in turn source them from a co-operative in Ecuador, which is also known to make one of the top chocolates in the world.  Their cocoa beans are not roasted, unlike other cocoa producers. The beans have a great aroma, have anti-ageing properties, and are good for the heart.  They use agave nectar instead of sugar, which is low GI, and is therefore diabetic-friendly.  In addition to truffles, they make small slabs, each new product wrapper designed by a different designer: a rabbit on the 72 % bar, and an illustration of the Kalahari desert on the Salt bar. They also make a chocolate spread.

Honest Chocolate has a website, a Facebook page, and more recently got into Twitter.  They have a blog on their website. Two months ago they opened their first outlet on Wale Street, from which they both make and sell the chocolate.  They say it is hard to make chocolate and Tweet/Blog. Currently they have about 600 Facebook friends and Twitter followers.  Facebook is like an on-line store for Honest Chocolate, with others recommending their products, while Twitter is a tool to network with partners.  They have had write-ups on blogs and in magazines, giving them free coverage, and this helps them to build relationships.  Every time someone Re-Tweets their Tweet, or Tweets about them, they get more followers, they have found.  For them the number of Followers is not as important as the quality of the Tweets and Followers.  They say that the personality reflected in Social Media becomes that of your business.

The Haas Collective consists of the coffee shop and restaurant, the Gallery, a decor and design section, and an advertising agency partnered with Draft FCB. Partnerships form the business model for Haas, and so Strictly Coffee from Robertson is the coffee partner.   The business is evolving, and their first ‘Underground Supper’ will be held in the Gallery on 29 October.

It was an amazing evening, reflecting with honesty the start-up of both Honest Chocolate and Jorgensen’s Distillery.  The passion for their businesses and brands was palpable, inspiring those present to change their spirit and chocolate brands.  Both companies have in common that they have stories behind them, making products that people fall in love with when they meet the people making them, and therefore the price of their artisanal products is less important.  Their products offer value in a recessionary economy, being anti-capitalist, ‘non-tourism bus’ type products, offering value and purity, taking one back to the days of the ‘tuisnywerheid’, it was said. They are products one can trust, as they are not mass-produced.  Both businesses will grow organically, and Social Media plays a role in achieving a slow and steady growth.

Haas Collective:  67 Rose Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-4413. www.haascollective.com @HaasCollective  @HaasCoffee

Jorgensen’s Distillery: Versailles, Wellington.  Tel (021)  864-1777.  www.jd7.co.za @PrimitivVodka

Honest Chocolate: 66 Wale Street, Cape Town. Tel 082 829 3877/082 736 3889. www.honestchocolate.co.za @HonestChoc

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club: Tel (021) 433-2100.  whalecot@iafrica.com   Facebook @FoodWineBlogClu

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