Woolworths Good Food News Front page Whale CottageWe wrote recently how Woolworths has been misleading consumers with claims about its Ayrshire milk, deceiving food labelling, and how it tries to create an image of healthy produce via its ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ series on SABC3. The group Grass Consumer Food Action has been persistent in its criticism of Woolworths, and appears to have hit a raw nerve in the Good Business Journey division at Woolworths, the retailer having launched a brand new ‘Good Food News‘ 16-page insert in the Sunday Times yesterday! It looks like a Taste magazine (the Woolworths sponsored magazine published by New Media Publishing) but printed in Tabloid format on recycled paper!

While the Tabloid has ‘headlines’ on page 1, to attract one’s attention to the content, it consists of a mix of ‘advertorials’ of its award-winning wines (since when are wines a food, as per the name of the publication?) in ‘Crowned as the best‘; ‘responsibly sourced‘ fish;  braai suggestions for ‘Ready Steady Braai’; and ‘Flavours of Home‘ (preparedWoolworths Good Food News Responsible Sourcing Whale Cottage foods with strong spices such as curries, and traditional foods such as koeksisters and milk tart); as well as editorial. It is obviously planned as a monthly insert, numbered ‘Issue 01′, and dated September 2014.  The focus of the first issue is ‘lovelocal‘:

*   ‘New on the shelf‘ (page 3) showcases new pack designs for wine boxes, braai tins, braai marinade, braai (more…)

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   An increasing number of Indian TV shows and series is being filmed in countries outside of India, and South Africa is one of the countries benefiting too (see the promo for Dare2Dance, shot in Cape Town).  SA Tourism Country Manager for India Hannelie Slabber said: ‘We have seen a great increase in films and television channels approaching us for associations over the last few years’.  Most of the shooting has been in Gauteng, the Western Cape including the Garden Route, and KwaZulu-Natal, while the Kruger National Park is a popular film location too.

*   Domaine des Dieux won the 14th Amorim Cap Classique Challenge 2014 with its Claudia Brut 2009, a Pinot Noir Chardonnay blend, for Best Brut Blend and Best Producer against 100 other Cap Classique entries.   Graham Beck and Lord both took the top honours in the Blended Brut category.  The former MCC producer also won Best Vintage (2009) and Best Non-Vintage Rosé.   Laborie won Best Vintage Blanc de Blancs (2010), and Colmant the Best Blanc de Blanc non-Vintage category.  Simonsig won the Museum Class for its Kaapse Vonkel 2004.  Judging panel chairman Allan Mullins of Woolworths said that the sparkling wines showed more consistency this year, and were of a higher quality. Mullins was named the inaugural recipient of the Frans Malan Legacy Award.

*   South Africa has dropped in its rank on World  Economic Forum Global Competitiveness (more…)

The Test KitchenDear Sarah

We are extremely proud to have you living in your newly adopted home city Cape Town, and that you are such a fantastic tourism ambassador for our country in general, and for Cape Town in particular.  You put Cape Town on the world tourist map with your article earlier this year in the New York Times about Cape Town being the number one  ’52 places to go in 2014′, the best free publicity our city has ever had.

I was therefore shocked to see your article about Top Chefs in Cape Town’ in Travel + Leisureand the choices you made in selecting what you have listed as the top five chefs in Cape Town: Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen, Peter Tempelhoff of The Greenhouse, Reuben Robertsons Riffel of Reuben’s x 4 (in Franschhoek, Cape Town, Robertson, and Paternoster) plus Racine, Bruce Robertson of The Flagship, and Franck Dangereux of The Food Barn, in that order. You did not define your guidelines for selecting the five chefs, nor did you appear to use the same criteria in selecting the chefs that are on your list – the justification for inclusion appears more anecdotal and random.  Equally, I am surprised about the chefs you excluded from the list!

You seem to praise Chef Franck for his ‘foreign pedigree, but why single him out when Chefs Luke and Peter also have foreign roots?  Does that make them better chefs?  All of the chefs on your list have worked overseas, so they deserve equal mention in this regard.  You ‘warn’ Travel + Leisure readers to ‘watch out for these five Cape Town chefs and memorize their names now – they’re poised to break through to the global stage any day now‘!

Let me comment on each of your Top Chef choices: (more…)

Slow Food logoThe Sweet Service Award goes to Slow Food, an organisation which was started 25 years ago in Italy, to counter the negative health effect of fast food.  It creates awareness in numerous countries around the world for eating seasonal and sustainable foods, and encourages the getting together with like-minded persons to enjoy the sharing of food.  The Cape Town branch used to be excellently run when Jos Baker was the Chairman. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines 

*   Distell has created a wine marketing subsidiary in the UK, called Distell Vineyards & Estates, which is also marketing its wines in Germany, Holland, and Finland.  UK sales are £ 32 million. CEO Carina Gouws emphasised the importance of the UK market: ‘The UK remains the most important market globally in terms of positioning premium brands.  Wines that perform well in there are noticed by the rest of the world’.   The company is planning to aggressively increase its market share four fold, focusing more on independent retailers and the on-trade in the UK.

*   A review of the MyCiTi Bus performance has shown that the service surpassed its target by over 2 million ‘passenger journeys‘, reaching 7,4 million in the past financial year. The recent introduction of the N2 Express to Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain has boosted the passenger numbers to over 1 million per month.  Changes to be made to routes include culling the Waterfront Silo extension from the Civic Centre on the Camps Bay route (which we criticised from the outset when launched a year ago).  Route 113 along Ocean View Drive from Three Anchor Bay to Fresnaye will be cancelled on 6 October, due to low demand.  One wonders why market research was not conducted to check demand for the service.

*   World Travel Market Africa will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 15 – 17 April next year, (more…)

MasterChef 3 5 Carrots Whale CottageEpisode 5 of MasterChef SA was long and drawn-out, featuring nine desserts made from a surprise ingredient – a Pantry overflowing with carrots, carrot juice, and carrot powder. Three new contestants will go into the Pressure Test in episode 6 next week, Ndumiso Mncwabe clearly heading for an early exit as he is facing his second Pressure Test.

The episode commenced with a recap of episode 4, Roxi Wardman sharing her euphoria about having visited and eaten at Chef Kevin Thornton’s 2 star Michelin Thornton’s restaurant in Dublin, for having won the best dish in episode 3.  She described it as a ‘mind blowing, life changing’ experience.  Philippa Robinson shared that Roxi’s success and her new confidence from her trip makes her feel intimidated, as she is one of the strongest contestants.

Reuben Robertsons Riffel led the contestants to the Pantry, and they were surprised to see the mountain of carrots, in red, orange, and purple, from which they had to make a dessert, with the carrot the focus, said Chef Benny Masekwameng.  Riffel said that a carrot dessert is not as crazy as it seems, and challenged the contestants to apply their mind.  A time limit of 90 minutes was set, MasterChef 3 5 Contestants Whale Cottagebut the Pantry was closed 15 minutes after the start. Once again the contestants were told that the three weakest dishes will place their creators into the Pressure Test, one of them going home in episode 6.  While there are eleven contestants left, only nine of them were interviewed and the evaluation of their dishes shown, Francois Zietsman and Mel Sutherland receiving no airtime last night. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  To grow Tourism, our country should focus on attracting tourists in other African countries, and work with other African countries to combat common issues, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom told the Hospitality Investment Conference Africa (HICA) in Cape Town yesterday.  Issues that need a joint approach are easier inter-country travel on the continent, and addressing the spread of Ebola and the perception that Africa is one country, which is infected with the disease.

*   Slow Food is celebrating its 25th anniversary, having been founded in Italy to counter the growth in fast food.  It celebrates the ‘diversity of food, the richness of our traditions, the connection between what we eat and how it is produced. Since then, Slow Food is the only movement to connect the pleasure of food with social responsibility; fighting for the fundamental right to good, clean and fair food for everyone‘.

*   South Africa has overtaken Spain to become the fifth largest seller of wines in the UK.  Argentina, Australia and South  (more…)

Riedel display Whale CottageI sat next to The Reciprocal Wine Trading Company Cape Town representative Tarryn Thomas at the Chefs who Share‘ Gala Dinner last week, and she invited me to attend the special tasting of wines in the Riedel glassware which they represent in South Africa.  The tasting on Tuesday at The Local Grill function venue was made more special in that it was led by 10th generation Georg Riedel, currently heading up the Austrian-based company. Herr Riedel encouraged the restaurant managers and sommeliers present to invest in glassware and a glass washing machine to bring out the best in the wines they serve.

We were welcomed by Michael Fridjhon, owner of Reciprocal, and he introduced Herr Riedel.  It was the first time that I met Michael, and sat next to him during Riedel Michael Fridjhon Georg Riedel Whale Cottagethe tasting.   I had brought my glass of water into the venue, and was quickly told to put it away, and we were all told that we should not open the bottle of water on the tasting sheet nor taste anything before we were given the go-ahead by Herr Riedel to do so.

Herr Riedel led us to question what makes a restaurant visit successful, the welcome, the food, and the wine selection combined making the cost seem good value or not. Eating at a restaurant is a ‘multi-layered symphony’, he said, to describe the functional and emotional experience of eating out.  He feels that wine (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   A travel study conducted on behalf of Google in the USA has found that mobile Apps are less likely to be used to plan and book a trip, multiple devices now being used to book trips.  The ‘Traveler’s Road to Decision‘ is yet to be published, but report highlights have been released.  Search engines are increasingly consulted first in planning a trip, and in searching for car rental, cruises, and accommodation, at the expense of Apps, for leisure travelers, while business travelers mostly use mobile Apps to make travel bookings.

*   Telegraph Travel recommends how to spend 36 hours in Franschhoek, including staying at La Residence, eating at Pierneef à La Motte, The Kitchen at Maison,Grande Provence, and La Residence; tasting wine at Boekenhoutskloof (sneaking in Waterford in Stellenbosch); and visiting the Huguenot Monument, Babylonstoren, the Franschhoek Motor Museum, and the Holden Manz Gallery.

*   The Hospitality Investment Conference Africa (HICA) has held in Cape Town, and became a platform for the launch of a (more…)

Chenin Blanc Top 10 Huguenot Cheese Brulee Whale CottageThe 2015 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards have been announced, the Western Cape (39) having a small head start over Gauteng (33) in the number of restaurants on the list of 89 restaurants in total.  Five new restaurants have been added to the list: 95 Keerom, Delaire Graff Restaurant, Kitima, and Makaron at Majeka House, all in the Western Cape, as well as The Leopard in Johannesburg.

Restaurants that were eligible to receive an American Express Platinum Fine Dining Award have to accept the credit card as payment, and have to accept a booking for four by a Platinum Card holder within four days of booking. Excellence, creativity, and offering guests an exquisite culinary experience are evaluated.

New head of the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards is Tamsin Snyman, who also is the Africa and Indian Ocean Islands chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.  She has taken over the Awards management from Victor Strugo, who had been involved for the past 16 years.

Nedbank Head of Corporate Card Services Pamela White said about the awards: ‘The awards continue to reflect the country’s rising culinary spirit and serve as a catalyst in championing the enhancement of the fine dining industry and experience in South Africa. As the exclusive issuer of American Express in South Africa, we are honoured to be associated with this initiative as it not only celebrates South African restaurateurs but also promotes fine dining’.

Last year the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards list had 95 restaurants, the Western Cape list having reduced by four restaurants on the list, despite having added four new restaurants, therefore a total loss of eight restaurants.  Western Cape restaurants no longer on the list this year are La Colombe (probably due to the long period of closure and its new premises not yet operating), Zachary’s, Bukhara, Bombay Brasserie at The Taj, Savoy Cabbage, Kurland Hotel Restaurant, Constantia Uitsig (closed down), and Serendipity’s.  The reason for the restaurants dropping off the list may be the tough economic climate, some of the restaurants purposely no longer accepting Amex credit cards due to their high merchant commission rate, or they have been judged to no longer meet the standards.  Missing from the Western Cape list altogether but being in a Top 20 Restaurant league are The Test Kitchen, Pot Luck Club, The Kitchen at Maison, Equus, Camphors at Vergelegen, Mondiall, Tokara, Burrata, Springfontein Eats, Indochine, The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, and Jardine at Jordan.

The 2015 Award winners are: (more…)

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