Tag Archives: William Kentridge

Delaire Graff sparkles with new Graff jewellery store and iconic The Chinese Girl!

Delaire Graff The Chinese Girl painting Whale Cottage PortfolioOne of the social highlights of this year was the unveiling yesterday of Vladimir Tretchikoff’s ‘The Chinese Girl’, South Africa’s most internationally recognised painting, at its new home at Delaire Graff in Stellenbosch, which celebrates its 10th year of being in Mr Graff’s ownership.  The 40th Graff jewellery store was also opened at the wine estate, the first in Africa.

Delaire was bought by Laurence Graff OBE in 2003, and he invested a lot of money in setting up a cellar, a winetasting centre, the main restaurant, and investing in interior design created by the late David Collins from London. The Boutique Hotel followed, which houses Indochine and the Spa, also decorated by Collins.  Commendable has been Mr Graff’s investment in South African art, and his William Kentridge dominates the main restaurant,  while Lionel Smit’s work is striking, a four-piece work as well as a portrait of Mr Graff dominating the reception of the main building. Continue reading →

Luvey ‘n Rose a unique Art and Antique Lounge!

It’s the low key openings, without fanfare, that are often the most exciting.  Luvey ‘n Rose on Rose Street in Bo Kaap opened earlier this week as a coffee shop, art gallery, antique shop, adding wines once the liquor licence has been approved, and soon to be a permanent artist’s residence too.

Owned by Ignatius Claassen, an erstwhile actuary who decided to go it alone and start a completely different business, the business is located in a historic pink painted three storey building on Rose Street.  Ignatius cannot find the date of the completion of the building, but it is sturdily built, and he does know that there was a workshop downstairs, a button factory in the middle, and that it had an apartment on the top floor.  In the early days, when Cape Town’s cobble stone streets were tarred, the building was owned by a shoe and trouser tar-protection clog manufacturer.

Ignatius grew up in Despatch in the Eastern Cape, and took art as a school subject until Std 7, and says that he can draw and paint.  In the army (he was part of the last intake) he made money from his army friends by drawing them, which portraits they sent to their girlfriends and parents, as they could not send photographs in those days. When some starting receiving what he called ‘Dear Johnny’ relationship-ending letters, they felt that the drawings were jinxed, and so a promising art career came to an end.  However, Ignatius’ interest in art never waned, and he bought works at auctions, from art galleries, and from artist friends directly in Stellenbosch, Cape Town, and in Johannesburg where he lived for part of his career.  A short-lived guest house career followed, until he sold two properties, moved to Cape Town, found the property, and put his money into art and antiques.  It was meeting up with his school friend Paul Noppe Adams that was a sign to change direction, and his children living in the Cape that made him settle in Cape Town.  He and Noppe live in the building, and Ignatius’ neat bedroom (reflecting his army training, he laughs) is open to view, as is the bathroom, as they contain art works that are for sale too.

Ignatius is quite philosophical about art, saying that one buys a work because of an emotional bond that it creates with the purchaser.  He buys works that appeal to him personally, that he would want to hang in his own home.  He will sometimes buy a piece for the concept, and not for its beauty, he said.

The first two floors are filled with art works from artists such as JH Pierneef, Walter Battiss (left), Shaney van den Bergh (photograph right, unusual in being painted on woven paper strips), Penny Siopis, Peter Clarke, Paul Emsley (once an art lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch and now lives in the UK, whose recent portrait of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, was controversial), Wayne Barker, Stanley Pinker, and Alexandra Ross.  A table is dedicated ‘as a shrine’ to the late David Botha, with prints and drawings available for sale.   The third floor will be dedicated to the use of a studio apartment for a promising artist, and the first resident will be Johannes Phokela, a Soweto-born Masters in Painting graduate from the Royal College of Art and one of the artists chosen to represent our country at the International Venice Biennale later this year.  The view from his apartment is onto Table Bay harbour, and onto the colourful Bo Kaap, a stimulating inspiration for the artist.

The two floors are filled with an array of furniture, none matching, but forming clusters of seating, firstly available to buy, but also to invite one to sit down, to meet with friends or with clients and colleagues, over a good cup of Deluxe coffee (made in a mean-looking Sevruga coffee machine) and a Cuban cigar, with Buena Vista Social Club or Cesaria Evoria as background music.  The windows are big and let in light, uplifting in the winter months to come.  The latest newspapers are available, as are art books for one to peruse.

They are not offering a restaurant service, but have partnered with Jason’s on Bree Street, in carrying his menu.   At a R15 surcharge paid by the customer, the order is collected from them by scooter and delivered back, it taking 16 minutes from placing the order to the BAB (Bacon, Avo, and Brie) sandwich (R55) being delivered.  On the coffee table where we sat was a book called ‘No, It Is’, in which William Kentridge sketches have been printed inside over the book copy.

Luvey ‘n Rose is sure to become cult.  It is laid back, friendly, and a most unusual environment in which to meet others, or just to have a quiet moment away from others!

Luvey ‘n Rose, 21 Rose Street. Bo Kaap, Cape Town.  Cell 0835577156  Facebook page. Monday – Sunday 7h00 – 18h00 (opening times variable, to be adjusted once the liquor licence has been received).  Wifi to come.

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

Delaire Graff Restaurant brings its greens into the restaurant this winter!

A return visit yesterday to Delaire Graff Restaurant, on the invitation of its Marketing & PR Manager Tanja Mackay-Davidson, revealed a number of surprises, the three year old restaurant having re-opened from a month-long break ten days ago.

The first prominent new addition is a large portrait of Laurence Graff, the owner of Delaire Graff Estate, by artist Lionel Smit, who has a number of portraits in the main Delaire Graff Restaurant, and in its Boutique Hotel.   It is hung in the impressive entrance hall, and one cannot miss it as one makes one’s way to the restaurant. Delaire Graff Estate is committed to art, and has an impressive collection of artwork by artists which include Anton Smit, Deborah Bell, William Kentridge, Dylan Lewis, and many more.

When stepping into the restaurant entrance one notices the new content in the glass display case, being a collection of herbs and vegetables (kale, celery, spring onion, broad beans, red peppers, mint, and more), which are displayed in such a way that they look like they are in a hothouse, with a pair of garden gloves, little clay pots, and rolls of string.  The display reinforces what its Chef Christiaan Campbell has become known for, being a passionate advocate for healthy eating generally, and for sustainable and ethical sourcing of the organic (where possible) ingredients used in the two restaurants (Indochine is the second restaurant) on the estate. So, for example, Delaire Graff has a Biodynamic greenhouse on the estate, growing its own vegetables. It sources its beef from Greenfields in Natal, and Farmer Angus at Spier supplies beef too, as well as chicken and eggs. Only line-caught fish is served, and therefore there is no kingklip on the menu.  No European fish is sourced, cutting out prawns and scallops, and fish is caught locally, or sourced from Mocambique and Namibia.  Duck is barn-reared, and have not been fed antibiotics or growth hormones. Chef Christiaan is quiet-spoken, enjoying being in the kitchen, which now sports a brand new French-made industrial stove, which helps him in the preparation of the food for a restaurant which has become busier, giving him twice the heat he had from the previous stove, and is easy to clean. He also has a new Josper, one of only two in the country, being an oven fired by charcoal, getting up to a temperature of 300°C, which he uses to prepare fish, meat, sealing off braised lamb neck, and to prepare root vegetables.  I was impressed with his beautiful Gregor Jenkin table, on which the plating is done.

Sommelier Mortimer suggested we try the Delaire Botmaskop, a Bordeaux Blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 % Cabernet Franc, 8 % Petit Verdot, 7 % Shiraz, 3 % Merlot, and 3 % Malbec, the 2009 vintage having achieved a 4½ star Platter rating for winemaker Morné Vrey.  The wine is named after the mountain peak behind the wine estate, the timber suppliers to the boating industry in the Cape Town harbour scaling the Botmaskop regularly in olden days to check if new ships had arrived at the Cape Town port.

The winter menu is almost brand new, Chef Christiaan only retaining the Linefish, and Mr Graff’s favourite Fish and Chips, being hake for which the batter is made from three types of flour, and served with chips made from Van der Plank potatoes, which are fried four times to make the perfect chip.  The menu cover is made from the same tan leather as is used in the striking seating, which in turn picks up the colour from a William Kentridge painting over the fireplace.  I chose the Golden crab, avocado and Fromage Blanc wafer, served with bitter lemon, pea shoots, and octopus, a fresh crisp and crunchy starter.  Twitter follower Christian Smit commented, on seeing the photograph: “That is looking so fresh and good I can almost hear the crunching. Beautifully plated”.  Other starters are poached oyster, confit duck with duck ham, ceviche of kob, trout, and malt glazed shortrib, costing R85 – R90.  Fresh garden salads range in price from R55 – R80.

The medley of mushrooms, with the clever title of ‘Wild and tame mushrooms’ served with artichoke, a crepe, courgette, and thyme beurre noisette, was a perfect filling winter’s dish as a main course for a still grey day after the very wet Cape weekend.  Tanja insisted that Ray bring a portion of the Fish and Chips too, which we had a bite of each.  It remains the most popular main course on the menu. Other main courses are slow cooked lamb neck, farmed kob, Greenfields sirloin, springbok loin, and pork shoulder, costing from R138 – R185.

The desserts all sounded marvellous, so we asked Chef Christiaan to choose one. Ray brought the Caramelised apple Napoleon, with frangipani, a scoop of malt ice cream which had been rolled in honeycomb, and apple pudding, with rich golden colours, the crispy pastry and crunchy honeycomb adding texture. Desserts cost between R60 – R85, and one can also order hot chocolate pudding, tastes of caramel, and a hot lemon pillow.  With the cappuccino came a plate of friandises, being Turkish delight and pistachio macaroons.

We were well looked after by waitrons Ray and Megan, Tanja explaining that they have a principal and a back-up waiter, forming a team per table, to ensure perfect service, with Manager Werner Wentzel keeping an eye over the smooth operation of the restaurant.

Eating at Delaire Graff Restaurant is more expensive than at many other restaurants, but the restaurant has a magnificent view over the Helshoogte valley and the Simonsberg, a quality interior with impressive artwork, excellent quality food, not only in its creative plating but also in its dedicated commitment to sourcing ethical and sustainable ingredients, and very good and attentive service, all these elements making a meal there an occasion and a special experience.

Disclosure: The media pack contained a bottle of the Delaire Graff Cold Pressed Extra Virgin premium olive oil.  My son works at Indochine.

Delaire Graff Restaurant, Delaire Graff Estate, Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 885-8160. www.delaire.co.za

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

Restaurant Review: Tokara’s creative cuisine chemistry is SA’s El Bulli, Richard Carstens our Ferran Adria!

El Bulli was the world’s top S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants  for a number of years, and its chef/owner Ferran Adria has been saluted as one of the world’s most creative chefs, who closed his restaurant near Roses in Spain for a number of months every year, to try out new recipes in Barcelona.  Whilst he will close down his restaurant for an undefined period later this year, he remains a cuisine guru.  For Tokara chef Richard Carstens Adria has been an icon chef, and Chef Richard has been following and has been inspired by Adria since 1999, buying Adria’s recipe books that he publishes annually, yet he has never eaten at El Bulli.  After an invitation to try out Tokara’s new winter menu on Tuesday, I could not help but associate Tokara with El Bulli, and Chef Richard with Ferran Adria, always searching for a higher level of cuisine creativity.

Chef Richard showed me the five volume ‘Modernist Cuisine’, which he bought recently, and is edited by Nathan Myhrvold from America.  This chef was an academic wizard, worked for Stephen Hawking and Microsoft, and moved into cuisine, one of his passions.  The books document the newest ideas and techniques in cuisine, being modern interpretations of classical cuisine.   Chef Richard described the movements in cuisine, from Auguste Escoffier, to Nouvelle Cuisine, to Deconstruction (now renamed Techno-Emotional, Chef Richard told me!) led by Adria, to Modernist Cuisine.  Adria was the first chef to blur the definition between savoury and sweet, by creating savoury ice creams, for example.

Chef Richard has received six Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant awards in his career, whilst he was at Le Provencal (previous name of Grande Provence), Bijoux and Lynton Hall, and may have had more, had he stayed at past restaurants for longer than a year.   He seems really happy and at home at Tokara, having been given the freedom to experiment and create, whilst serving food that the Tokara guests appreciate.   Tokara Restaurant owner Wilhelm Kuhn wrote about Chef Richard: “Richard is a supremely talented chef and a real inspiration to the chefs in the kitchen.  I haven’t met such a nurturing, creative and intelligent chef before.  A lot of things that some chefs have cottoned on to recently, he was doing more than 10 years ago.  He has an encyclopediac knowledge of food, techniques and the industry, local and international.   It was overdue that someone gave him a chance to really show his mettle. I am sure he’ll be as much part of Tokara’s legacy as Etienne Bonthuys before him and winemaker Miles Mossop.”

I visited Tokara just after Kuhn and Carstens took over Tokara in October last year, and it was good to see that there were familiar waiters from then, and from Jardine, which Kuhn closed down in February.  It being a cold wintry day, I was happy to sit at the table close to the massive fireplace.  In the past few months the restaurant has had a make-over in terms of a new carpet, softening the sound in the room and the interior, and the chairs have been upholstered in an attractive blue fabric.  Each of the chairs has the name of a wine cultivar on it, bringing the wine estate into the restaurant.  New lights have been added too.  Wooden tables and chairs fill the restaurant, and I liked the design of the half-round tables placed against the glass doors, seating couples. There is no table cloth, but material serviettes, Eetrite cutlery and good stemware. The Tokara tasting room is in the same building, a large room with a massive fireplace, that was buzzing with tasters.  The cloakrooms are shared with the tasting room, and are a modern combination of stainless steel basins set in wood.

In the tasting room a specially designed William Kentridge drawing for his “The Magic Flute” opera and Tokara wine series hangs over a display of Tokara wines.  In the restaurant a Kentridge tapestry called ‘The Porter and the Bicycle’, inspired by the Second World War and hence the map of Europe forming the background to the tapestry, Manager Johan Terblanche explained, dominates the interior, the only artwork in the main restaurant.  It was specially made for Tokara owner GT Ferreira.   A Jacqueline Crewe-Brown painting is in the second room, and a second is to come.  Art is an important part of Tokara Winery, and they regularly exhibit art made from wine.  An extensive collection of art is displayed in the passages leading to the restaurant and tasting room, and even in the cloakrooms.  At the entrance to the building, a fascinating tree-shaped ‘sculpture’ attracts attention, a modern statement of what is lying inside the building.

Chef Richard came to welcome me at the table, and had prepared a special 10-course menu of small dishes to try, consisting of some of the starters, main courses and desserts on his new winter menu.  He told me that he and his team try to take the menus one step higher.  He invited me to come to the kitchen at any time, to see him and his team prepare the dishes, which offer I took up, and immediately another little dish of smoked salmon ice cream topped with caviar and served with a colourful citrus salsa was made for me to try.  After the restaurant re-opens after a week’s break from 2 – 9 May, a Chef’s Menu will be introduced, consisting of three courses plus an amuse bouche and a palate cleanser, at an excellent price of R 225 (their 8-course degustation menu cost R400 in summer). 

Staff look neat in white shirts and black pants.  They exude efficiency and all are knowledgeable about Chef Richard’s dishes, one needing a good memory to remember all the ingredients that make up his masterpieces.  Even Jaap-Henk Koelewijn, the sommelier, was perfectly at ease in explaining what was in the dishes that he brought to the table, helping the waiter Ivan on occasion.  I made Jaap-Henk’s job difficult, in limiting my wine drinking over lunch, and stating my preference for Shiraz.  He started me off with a Tokara Zondernaam Shiraz 2009,  and told me that the ‘Zondernaam’ will be phased out in future vintages, due to the improved quality of the winemaking, and all wines will be marketed under the Tokara name in future.  The wine was chilled to 16°C, quite cold for a red wine I felt, but Jaap-Henk explained that a colder temperature helps to temper the tannins in a red wine. This was followed up with a Sequillo Shiraz and Grenache blend, made by Eben Sadie.

I started with a beautifully presented and colourful hot butternut soup, thick and creamy, and served in a glass bowl, to which Chef Richard had added a smoked snoek croquette, which gave the soup an unusual distinctive taste. To this he had added shaved almonds and salted apricots, and drizzled it with coriander oil.  On the winter menu this starter costs R60.   This was followed by a calamari risotto, and its lemon velouté came through distinctly  to enhance the calamari.  It costs R65 as a starter, and was decorated with rice crisps and toasted brioche that had been dyed black with squid ink.  A beautiful autumn-inspired dish contained beetroot, and leek which had been dyed a reddish colour using beetroot juice.  It contained a number of interesting ingredients, including a Gewürztraminer-poached pear, gorgonzola balls, a ball each of yellow pepper and beetroot sorbet, pear compressed into small squares, and hazelnut.   This starter costs R65 on the winter menu.  

Another starter dish, costing R75 on the winter menu, was a chicken, crisp pancetta and prawn stack, served with an egg prepared at 62°C to get the white of the egg to set whilst keeping the yolk runny.  It also contained almonds, and was served with a Spanish Sofrito smoked paprika sauce.  This is a cold starter.  So too was the starter of fig, teriyake glazed tofu, goat’s cheese, orange slices, hazelnuts and a tatsoi sauce.  This starter does not appear on the winter menu, but was very popular on the summer menu, Chef Richard said.   A palate cleanser of rose geranium sorbet (surprisingly white but tasting heavenly, more subtle in taste than that at Dash restaurant) and a pickled ginger sorbet (surprisingly pink) was a refreshing break on my culinary journey. 

The first main course was a herb-crusted rainbow trout served on mash and wilted spinach, courgette and pine kernels, with a lovely violet beurre rouge, which costs R120 as a main course on the winter menu.  As the eighth course, I could not finish all of the peppered springbok, which Chef Richard said he sources from Graaff Reinet, and this is one of his best sellers, costing R155.  It was served on parsnip purée, with beetroot and croquettes, decorated with slices of plum, and served with an hibiscus jus.

The desserts were too delicious to refuse, and I had a wonderful strong cappuccino (R20) made from Deluxe coffee with each.  The first dessert had no colour at all other than white, unusual given Chef Richard’s colourful dishes that had preceded the desserts.  It consisted of a refreshing lemon mousse, mascarpone mousse, white chocolate sorbet, pieces of white chocolate and of meringue, and an almond financier, a type of sponge, cut into blocks.  It costs R50 on the winter menu.  The final course was a dessert (R55) made with hazelnut ice cream, pistachio sponge, aerated chocolate, coulant (a mini chocolate fondant), honeycomb and hazelnut streusel.  As if there was not enough food already, the cappuccino was served with a coconut chocolate and two mini-meringues held together with chocolate.   

The winelist and the menu are both presented in beautiful small black leather-covered holders, with the Ferreira family crest on them.  The winelist states that BYO is not allowed.  Cigars and cocktails are offered, as are 100 wines.  Wines by the glass include Colmant Brut (R55/R290), Graham Beck Brut Rosé (R85/R430), Pol Roger Brut (R180/R890), and Sterhuis Blanc de Blanc (R50/R250).  Seven red wines are offered by the glass, ranging from R60 for Hartenberg Merlot 2008 to R125 for Raats Cabernet Franc 2008.  Tokara Zondernaam Cabernet Sauvignon (2008) and Shiraz (2009) cost R35.  Ten white wines by the glass include seven Tokara ones, including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, ranging in price from R25 – R55. Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé costs R1500, its Elisabeth Salmon 1996 R3000, and its Clos Saint Hilaire 1998 R7000.  Steenberg 1682 Brut costs R290.  Five Shiraz choices are offered, starting at R135 for Tokara Zondernaam 2009, to R1400 for Hartenberg’s Gravel Hill 2005.  French wines dominate the imported wine section, with 38 choices, ranging from R600 for Château Margaux 1996, to R8500 for two wines: Chambertin Armand Rosseau 1995, and Le Musigny Comte George de Vogue 1995.  

The only downside of the lunch was the number of noisy children running around, despite the menu not catering for children at all – half-portions of the linefish of the day and of steak are served with chips for children.   I was impressed with the tolerance and patience shown to the children by the waiters, when stepping into the fireplace, for example.

Chef Richard Carstens is a definite Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant contender for 2011.  He is constantly reinventing himself, not happy to just stay with one cuisine style, but looking to challenge himself and his menu regularly.  He is hungry for new knowledge and inspiration, finding it in music, in fashion, in nature, and in books.  His food is colourful, and incredible attention is paid to creating a dish consisting of a number of unusual elements, many of them having undergone prior work to add to the palette on the plate.  When I first visited the new Tokara in October, Chef Richard sent out a carpaccio as an amuse bouche, and my son and I struggled to identify what it was made from, having quite a wild taste – we could not believe that it was made from watermelon, an idea that he had picked up from Mugaritz, now third ranked on the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants, but that he had executed completely differently.  Chef Richard has a passion for his craft, commendable from a chef who has been around for longer than most in the Cape, and it shows in his creative cuisine.  I felt very privileged to have been invited by him to try his new winter menu.

Tokara Restaurant, Tokara Winery, Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch, Tel (021) 885-2550.  www.tokararestaurant.co.za (The website is disappointing for a top restaurant, only containing the address, telephone number, and Facebook and Twitter links.  There is no menu, no winelist nor Image Gallery.  Twitter: @Tokara_  @RichardCarstens. Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Tuesday – Saturday dinner.

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