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 cater for 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…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   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…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  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…)

Bocca coming soon Whale CottageLast night my friend Whitney Wentzel and I enjoyed a very generous dinner at Burrata, losing track of the number of courses we enjoyed.  I had been invited to hear from co-owner Neil Grant what exciting developments are planned at Bocca, which will open on the corner of Bree and Wale Streets in mid-September, as well as longer term at Constantia Uitsig, when they take over the former River Café, with a name change.

Bocca (means ‘mouth’ in Italian) will seat 70 diners on two levels inside, as well as a further 23 on a deck extending out of the restaurant on Bree Street, which has an extra-large pavement.  Neil and Chef Annemarie Steenkamp will open Bocca, with the assistance of Matteo, a sommelier who has worked on the cruise ship The Residence at Sea.  He in turn will have a sommelier supporting him.  The Bocca kitchen is smaller, Chef Annemarie said, but she is excited in having designed most of it herself.  A sister pizzaBurrata Chef Anemarie Steenkamp Whale Cottage oven to the one at Burrata, also sourced from Naples, has been installed, in orange.  Space has been allowed for a bar counter.  Seating is at counters, as well as at custom-designed tables and chairs.  There will be more colour in the interior, and less industrial design, than at Burrata. The interior design was done by INHOUSE designers, who also designed the interiors of Burrata, The Test Kitchen, The Butcher Shop & Grill, and Carné. A number of locations were considered for the new restaurant, including the former Rhapsody’s space on Main Road in Green Point.

Neil and his business partner Barry Engelbrecht are delighted that they found the Bree Street (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Pinot Noir producers in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley are hosting their second Hemel-en-Aarde Pinot Noir Celebration at Bona Dea Estate on 30 and 31 January, with only 150 tickets available for the event.  The key-note dinner speaker will be Norman Hardie, regarded as Canada’s best Pinot Noir producer. (received via e-mail from Hamilton Russell Vineyards)

*   South Africa has the lowest transport costs compared to 50 other countries, according to GoEuro’s Transportation Price Index.  For air travel our country ranked third cheapest, while our costs of train travel ranked cheapest of all countries.

*   Cape Town has been appointed for the second time as Official Host City for World (more…)

Hayden Quinn 7 Oudtshoorn Ostrich EggLast night’s episode 7 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ was focused on Oudtshoorn, and will attract tourists to the town, now not only known for its Cango Caves and ostriches, but also for the cutest Meerkats!

The episode opened with Hayden sitting in the veld in the Klein Karoo, awaiting the sighting of Meerkat in the Meerkat conservation farm, his guide being Devey of Meerkat Adventures, who looked very Australian with his big leather hat!   The Meerkat are observed on De Zeekoe Guest Farm outside Oudtshoorn, creeping out of their burrows to Hayden Quinn 7 Meerkat Whale Cottagecatch the first rays of sun, to warm up their tummies, to get themselves going to forage for food for the rest of the day, including insects, bugs, and worms.

Hayden went to visit Chef Allister Scharneck of Buffelsdrift Game Lodge outside Oudtshoorn, who taught Hayden how to make an Ostrich Egg Frittata.  The first step was to open the thick ostrich egg shell, which (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   A Red Alert has been issued for Europe air travel, with the imminent eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland, the most serious alert indicating an expected ‘significant emission of ash into the atmosphere’.   Four years ago the Eyjafjallajokul volcano erupted, and caused international travel chaos, with 100000 flights cancelled at that time, threatening the arrival of passengers for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

*  Yesterday’s earthquake measuring 6,2 on the Richter scale has shaken San Francisco and Napa Valley, and is expected to have caused damage to bottles of wine in America’s prime winemaking region.

*   Sadly MasterChef SA Season 1 Top 4 Finalist Sarel Loots, better known by his Twitter handle @SarelvanSabie, passed away from a heart attack today.  In the last episode in which he appeared, he was described by the judges as having ‘a big heart’.

*   The 2014 SA Young Wine Show awards attracted 1972 entries. Trophies were (more…)

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