Hayden Quinn 8 Potjie and mini-pizzaHayden Quinn covered a large distance in last night’s episode, travelling from Oudtshoorn to Prieska via Prince Albert, and ending off in Hertzogville in the Free State. Farmer Hennie de Bod tried to teach Hayden some Afrikaans sayings, which Hayden wasn’t too bad at repeating.

The 500 km trip in a lovely red new Mercedes-Benz GLA began outside Oudtshoorn, at the Gamkaberg Reserve, where Dr Quinton Martins, the founder and Director of the Cape Leopard Trust, showed Hayden the research camera capturing the movement of leopards, as well as of other wildlife, demonstrating the Biodiversity in the area.  Hayden was made to do a leopard crawl, to get a feel of a leopard’s movement.  Dr Martins has more than 1000 photographs of leopards,Hayden Quinn 8 Leopard Crawl and his research shows that there is an average of one leopard per 100 km².  Then it was onto the gravel road of the Swartberg Pass, which separates the Little and Great Karoo and was built in 1888 by Thomas Bain, which took Hayden to Prince Albert.  Here he only spent the night at the only hotel in town, the Swartberg Hotel and its Victoria Room Restaurant ‘from a bygone era’, Hayden said.  Hayden did not see anything else in the village, which has become famous in serving as the location for Kokkedoor Seasons 1 and 2. (more…)

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*  It’s the start of Tourism Month, and Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has advised South Africans to visit the sites that pay homage to the late Nelson Mandela at the launch of the month long focus on tourism, culminating in World Tourism Day on 27 September.  The theme this month is ‘Tourism Transforming Lives’.  Domestic Tourism is an important focus for our country, especially given the decrease in international tourists which can be expected due to the new Immigration Regulations.  A target of 18 million domestic tourists has been set for 2020.  The theme of World Tourism Day is ‘Tourism and Development in the Community’.

*   Coca Cola has won Grand Prix Awards for Overall Favourite Brand as well as Community Upliftment at the Sunday Times Top Brands Awards, as well as Favourite Soft-Drink Award.  Eskom received the ‘Green’ Grand Prix for preserving the environment, and Shoprite was named the top Grocery Store Award.  Other winning brands are Nokia, Tastic, KOO, Nike, KFC, and Ricoffy.

*   MasterChef SA Season 3 Finalist Sipho Mdlankomo has made headlines in the UK Telegraph, for her (more…)

Chenin Blanc Top 10 Huguenot Cheese Brulee Whale CottageIn the past week three further Top 20 Restaurant candidate chefs have announced their resignation, making the restaurants at which they work ineligible to be nominated for the 2014 Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist.  This year is the most volatile we have ever seen as far as top restaurant chef departures go, opening up the opportunity for a fresh 2014 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards list.

The latest chef resignations are the following:

*   Chef Oliver Cattermole left Mondiall Kitchen & Bar two weeks ago, today joining the Leeu Collection as its Executive Chef for its five star Dassenberg Estate hotel and Leeu Restraurants Oliver CattermoleRusthof Country House in Franschhoek, both opening next year.  Chef Oliver has worked locally at Dash at the Queen Victoria Hotel, the Le Franschhoek hotel, and Mondiall, as well as internationally at Ivy Restaurant, La Gavroche, Novelli, and at Cannizaro House hotel.

*   Chef Brad Ball, who helped open Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg, leaves in two weeks to start up what sounds like a collective of three restaurants at Pedlars on the Bend in Constantia

*   Chef Christiaan Campbell leaves Delaire Graff Estate, after opening up the main restaurant more than (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines 

*   The price of petrol will drop by 67 cents a litre from Wednesday, good news for Tourism generally, and domestic tourism specifically.

*   Minister Alan Winde will petition Parliament tomorrow to suspend the new Immigration Regulations, coinciding with the start of Tourism Month.  The new regulations are already leading to booking cancellations or reduced business, with a number of international tour operators no longer marketing our country as a result of the regulation requirements.  The Western Cape economy will be badly affected due to the drop in tourism, Minister Winde says. A 12 month delay in implementing the Regulations will be requested. (received via media release from Minister Winde’s office)

*   Cape Town is described as ‘one of the world’s newest filming hot spots, given its favourable crew cost, locations, (more…)

Truffle Exterior Whale CottageThe bottom end of Chiappini Street has housed two of my favourite restaurants in their time – Bruce Robertson’s The Showroom and Cormac Keane’s Portofino, both the talking point of Cape Town in their time.  After a surprisingly long tenancy by low class Leaf, a smart ’5 star 100% Halaal Fine Dining Bistro‘ has opened, called TRUFFLE.  The restaurant was opened to offer top-end Halaal cuisine, which has not been available in Cape Town before.  The name was chosen for its association with indulgence, which is echoed throughout the restaurant.

I had seen the exterior branding whilst driving down Buitengracht Street a week ago, but could not find any website via Google.  Yesterday I stopped by, and was astounded how the restaurant interior has changed since Leaf occupied the space until about a year ago.  Mohammed Adam was kind enough to spend time with me, to share information about the restaurant. Truffle Mohammed Adam Whale Cottage He and Nisreen Ebrahim are joint owners, Nisreen and her husband Rafiq being previous owners of four fast food outlets they would not reveal the names of (LinkedIn revealed that they were Nando’s outlets), and took over the space in January. Mohammed did all the interior design, after some building work was done, half of the upstairs being closed off by means of a wall now, to give the kitchen double volume space.  Almost everything has been changed, other than the wooden floor in the outside section, with a new wooden floor upstairs; new wooden steps for the staircase to match the tops of the tables and the (more…)

FedEx logoThe Sweet Service Award goes to FedEx and its manager Peter, who assisted in getting the Kokkedoor cookbook delivered, after various attempts to receive it failed.  Despite an instruction to call and make a delivery appointment, the delivery staff just arrived, when we were not at the delivery address.  We were then sent an sms, detailing how many times they had attempted the delivery, requesting that we call FedEx!  I did call them, although I felt that they should have called me. The duty manager could not divulge what was in the parcel – 2 weeks prior the same delivery company had put me through (more…)

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*   Mosaic Team South Africa participating in the World Blind Challenge on 18 October in Champagne against 22 other teams will consist of the winners of the South African Wine Tasting Championship 2014: wine writer Samarie Smith, Chris Groenewald, Lizé Oosthuizen, Ralph Reynolds, and Gavin Whittaker. (received via e-mail from Jean Vincent Ridon)

*   Nominations for the 34th Diners Club Winemaker of the Year (dry white blends) and 14th Young Winemaker of the Year (30 years or younger, producers of red blend) are now open, the winners receiving a flight to the USA for two as well as prize monies of R50000 and R25000, respectively. The winners will be announced in November. (received via media release from African Sky Media)

*   Guinness is targeting its (black) beer at Africa, via a multimedia campaign using artists and performers from Africa, which positions the brand as #madeofblack.

*   The 17 gold medal winners of the SA Olive Awards have been announced in three categories:  in the Delicate (more…)

MasterChef SA 3 ep 2 Tomatoes 2The pace in last night’s episode 2 of MasterChef SA Season 3 was a little slower than that of the first episode, but irritating was the judges whispering amongst themselves in evaluating the contestants, so softly that one could barely hear what they were saying.  The episode was designed to reduce the 24 contestant from Bootcamp 1 to the 12 Finalists going to the Nederburg MasterChef SA kitchen, ending off with a last-minute scone-baking competition.

The 24 contestants were still in the Cape Town harbour for Bootcamp 2, but now inside a warehouse, with cooking stations set up for each of them, and a Woolworths pantry too.   The brief for the Invention Test sounded easy enough, in preparing their choice of dish within 60 minutes. The pantry would be closed down during the episode, the contestants were told.  Chef and judge Pete Goffe-Wood said that the pantry was so well stocked that ‘if you can dream it, you can cook it’.  One contestant was looking for tomatoes for her dish, and was surprised that there were none. Midway a curved ball was introduced, Chef and (more…)

Chenin Blanc Top 10 Logo Whale CottageThe inaugural Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge winners were announced yesterday at a cosy function on a wet Winelands day at the ever smart Delaire Graff.  The function and competition, combined with the recent three-year sponsorship by Standard Bank of the Chenin Blanc Challenge, are giving Chenin Blanc the recognition it deserves, said Ken Forrester, Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association.  ‘Chenin Blanc is a wine whose time has come’, he said,Chenin Blanc Top 10 Ken Forrester Whale Cottage adding that ‘Chenin Blanc is THE white wine of South Africa‘!

A total of 126 wines was entered for the Challenge, and assessed blind by a panel of judges which included chairman Christian Eedes, Jamie Goode, Alan Mullins, Carrie Adams, and Higgo Jacobs. Interviews were conducted with the judges,  Allan Mullins of Woolworths saying that Chenin Blanc has been underrated for so long. He lauded Standard Bank for the support of the competition, and as Chenin Blanc drinks so well, it should be drunk by all.  It is a gem of a wine variety, and ranges in price between R25 – R 300 in retail outlets.   British wine writer Jamie Goode said that our country has a variety of Chenin Blanc styles, ‘ranging from the ‘VW Beetle to a ‘Rolls Royce’! Eedes said that he was honoured to chair the judging panel, and while he may be ‘shot down‘ for the results, having the auditors made the results indisputable. Out of the wine (more…)

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*  SA Tourism will spend R100 million to market our country domestically, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has announced.  The domestic campaign ‘Nothing’s more fun than a Sho’t Left’ communicate that local travel is fun and economical.  Local tourists spent R24 billion last year. The goal is to have 18 million domestic tourists by 2020.

*   The Wine & Spirits Board has revised its definition of premium brandy, following legislation to this effect.  The legislation dictates how vintage and potstill brandies are made. Vintage brandies must be matured in oak casks of maximum 340 litres for eight years or more,while potstill brandy must contain 100% potstill brandy, previously up to 10% unmatured wine spirit having been allowed.   Our country’s brandy industry is worth R3,5 billion per annum.  The changes were introduced as brandies compete directly with single malt whisky and cognac. (more…)

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