Archive for January, 2010

The power of FIFA in organising the world’s largest sporting event is hitting home to the media, which is subject to draconian requirements if media representatives want to be accredited for the event, according to www.moneyweb.co.za 

Some of the  media restrictions for media accreditation include:

 

1.   Newspapers may not publish photographs or videos relating to the event on their websites – only copy may be transferred there

2.   Reporters may not write about the hotels at which the soccer teams are staying

3.   Newspapers may not be sold in a restricted area around the stadium, in a radius of about 800 meters

4.   Whilst FIFA commits to guaranteeing freedom of speech, it has a clause that states that news organisations “may not bring Fifa into disrepute”.

“Freedom of press is guaranteed”, says FIFA’s Head of Media, Pekka Odriozola.   “That is very important for us, and you will be able to cover the World Cup in the best possible conditions.  We really work hard to have the best possible facilities, the best possible access to the teams, and the competition.  I can tell you that the international press in general are always satisfied with the service because at the end of the day, we are servicing the media.  Really, there is nothing to fear” he added.

FIFA came under fire in Germany for its media restrictions.  It appears that the media simply ignored FIFA’s restrictions regarding positive reporting about FIFA, and no journalists appear to have been evicted in that country in 2006.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says as follows: “It’s outrageous what Fifa is used to get away with.  The tragedy though is the virtual absence of outrage by local media and editors on the violation of freedom of the press on such a scale.”

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

The Top Gear team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and The Stig will be performing in Cape Town’s GrandWest Arena from 28 – 31 January, the first visit of this hugely popular BBC motoring programme team to the Mother City.   5FM presenter Sasha Martinengo will also participate in the Top Gear Live show.

Consisting of both an expo and stunts (outside the arena),  and “the best bits of Top Gear and will be attempting them live in the arena.  It’s ambitious, but I am sure it will work out well” Clarkson is quoted in the Cape Argus.  The report says that the world’s fastest cars will be pushed to the limit. “Fans on four continents can expect an edge-of-the-seat experience with flaming rally cars, extreme underground street racers, and cars that change colour.  Other sequences will feature The Stig leading  a troupe of international stunt drivers with a mix of hand gestures, sonic pulses and Morse code, showing audiences the ultimate in precision driving.”   Audience members will be able to interact with the Top Gear personalities.   Sound levels of up to 104db. and 30 000 sq meters of fireballs will be experienced.

The equipment required for the show will be transported in 135 trucks, 3 ships, and a freight plane, and the show entails the use of 94 cars and 150 sets of tyres.

Clarkson and his team have such a vast following that most of the tickets have been sold already.  The wine industry of South Africa has been up in arms about some of Clarkson’s views of South African wines.

Top Gear Live is at the GrandWest Arena, from 28 – 31 January, with shows twice or three times a day. Tickets cost R 250 – R 450, and can be booked at Computicket. www.mphshow.co.za

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

The best value for money and fastest pizzas served in Cape Town must be those from the Pizza Club in Hout Bay, which are 30 cm in size and have a very thin base.  One is offered the unusual ability to order a “duo” or a “trio” pizza, with two or three topping combinations out of the list of 23 choices offered.

Celebrating its first anniversary in Hout Bay, the Pizza Club formerly traded in the south-west of France.  Wife Tracy from the United Kingdom and Italian husband Massimo Orione met in an internet chatroom, Tracy tells us and laughs.   Both worked in the UK at that time 12 years ago, and they fell in love, moved to France to start the Pizza Club there, and moved to South Africa after a life-changing holiday.  

The Pizza Club is next door to the Spar at the Oakhurst Farm Park, and for those who have not been there before, the entrance is not easy to find.  We walked past the restaurant, expecting the entrance to be at the back end of the building.  Tracy saw us taking the wrong turn, and called us to guide us.   We sat outside on a lovely Cape summer evening, next to the kids’ jungle gym, overlooking the mountain.   The kids’ screeching was irritating initially, but they were mercifully taken home soon thereafter. 

The menu and winelist is printed on brown paper, to give a pizza look, and is laminated.  It is immediately evident that the PizzaClub is a no-nonsense pizza place with “two non-celebrity pizza designers”, as tweeted by Massimo recently.   The 23 pizza choices include two sweet ones, banana and ricotta cheese, and one served with chocolate spread.   A basic Margarita pizza costs R 44, and the most expensive R 79.  A board advertised four further special topping combinations at R 89 each.   A daily salad costs R24 as a side serving, and the salad of the day was a butternut, spring onion and soy honey sauce one.  Two “bulk” deals are offered: the Pizza Festival offers 6 persons or more an unlimited pizza and side salad for R 98 per person, while the full Italian Experience at R 140 per head for a minimum of 10 persons offers antipasti, unlimited pizza, side salad, dessert and lemoncello.

The menu welcomes one “in our home, and we’ll treat you as such”.  It lays a few ground rules: no doggy bags for their Pizza Festival or Italian Experience, and one is not allowed to bring one’s own food or beverages.

Unbelievably the pizzas were served within 5 minutes of placing our order, and such generosity of ingredients on the pizza has never been seen before – one could not see the pizza base at all, only on the outer edge.  The pizzas are large, larger than a dinner plate.  The pizzas cooled quickly, being so large, so that the last bitefuls are cold by the time one gets to them.  

The dessert choice costs R 32, and was a chocolate mousse and tiramisu, and the latter was made the real Italian way, and pronounced delicious.  Generously Massimo brought a glass each of lemoncello and chocolate liqueur served in a chocolate cup once he had identified the writer as a fellow Twitterer!    Kim Maxwell, a food writer and winetaster, was also at the restaurant.  On its menu the Pizza Club proudly refers to its good reviews on Rossouws’ Restaurants, Eat Out and Relax with Dax websites, and requests patrons to add comments to these websites if they are happy, or to feed back to the owners any dissatisfaction.   The website also reflects the good feedback the Pizza Club has received, and cleverly gives the Italian feel on its homepage, with basil, mozarella and tomatoes representing the colours of the Italian flag. 

The winelist offers Bianco, Roso and Rossato at an unbelievably economical R 18 by the glass.  White wines start at R 65 (Welgemoed Sauvignon Blanc and Perdeberg Chenin Blanc) and the Jordan Chardonnay is the most expensive at R 165.   The price range for the red wines is from R 65 (Rietvallei John Cabernet Sauvignon/Tinta Barrocca) to R 170 for the Warwick Three Cape Ladies.   Three sparkling wines are on the winelist, and range from R 70 for an unknown Vendaye to R 180 for the Steenberg 1682 Brut.

Pizza Club, Oakhurst Farm Park, off Main Road, Hout Bay.  Open Wednesdays – Sundays, from 17h30 onwards.  Tel 021 790 7906, or sms the word “pizza” to 073 390 1373 so that they can return your call. www.pizzaclub.co.za  Twitter: @pizzaclub_hb

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

South Africa is one of 31 destinations recommended for travel in 2010 by the New York Times on its site www.nytimes.com.  The top five destinations are Sri Lanka, Patagonia Wine Country (San Patricio del Chavar), Seoul, Mysore in India, and Copenhagen. 

“Waiting in the wings”, according to the article, as places to go to in 2010 are countries/cities which include Damascus, Antarctica, Leipzig, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Shanghai, Minorca, Costa Rica, Marrakesh, Bahia in Brazil, Kitzbuehl in Austria, Norway and South Africa.

South Africa made 22nd place on the list, and its selection is motivated by the Soccer World Cup taking place this year,  and Cape Town is highlighted as the best city in the country.  The full text motivating the selection of South Africa on the list follows:

“As host of the 2010 World Cup this summer, South Africa has gotten its game on with a flurry of new stadiums, new hotels and safari lodges.  While soccer is being played across nine cities, much of the action off the field is taking place in Cape Town. Already known for its stunning beaches, mouthwatering cuisine and sophisticated night life, the city is welcoming high-end hotels, including the recently opened One & Only Cape Town and the forthcoming Taj Cape Town (www.tajhotels.com/capetown). Set to open this month, the Taj will have 166 rooms, many with views of Table Mountain. Also scheduled to open in Cape Town this year — but not in time for the World Cup — is the second branch of the nascent Missoni Hotels group (the first property opened in Edinburghlast year, with future outposts planned for Kuwait, Brazil and Oman). Between matches, there’s plenty of time to go on a safari. If money is no object, check out the Ulusaba  (www.ulusaba.virgin.com), a private game reserve that’s part of Richard Branson‘s collection of luxury vacation properties. It has opened the new Cliff Lodge, with private swimming pools and spectacular views of the bush. Prices start at 13,800 South African rand (around $1,878 at 7.35 rand to the dollar) a night for two.”

The full article can be read here.

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

The new Tokara DeliCatEssen, which opened late last year on the Tokara wine estate in the Helshoogte Pass, has everything going for it as far as its beautiful setting and the large spacious L-shaped building design goes, but the management of it and its service was close to a cat-astrophe yesterday.

Tokara wine estate has long had a strong following, with excellent wines being produced under the Tokara and Zondernaam labels.   Its restaurant, run by once-top restaurateur Etienne Bonthuys, used to have a strong following, but Delaire Graff across the road will have taken business away.   Due to the new deli, one can no longer park at the side of the Tokara winery building for the restaurant, and one has to enter via a gate which leads one to the winery as well.  One almost feels that Ferreira is cutting business off from the Tokara restaurant, as signage only leads one to the delicatessen.   It has been rumoured that Bonthuys would be setting up a new restaurant in Stellenbosch.

Tokara owner GT Ferreira invested in a major revamp of his wife’s original Oil Shed, a little further down the road from his winery, and has created a delightful-looking open plan delicatessen and restaurant serving breakfast (until 12h00) and lunches.    It has a large outside terrace, next to a large water feature, and children are well-catered for with a tree-like jungle gym.   No expense has been spared in the building.   An interesting “chandelier” made from white tree branches attracts attention as one arrives inside the deli.

Shelving along the back and side wall displays Tokara wines and its olive oil products, and also traditional deli-type products like pastes, biltong and dry-wors, jams, breads and cakes.   Separate counters with chilled tops displaying chocolates from a chocolatier in Betty’s Bay and cheeses are in front of the shelves, and one is not sure if one may go behind them, to take products off the shelves.   Pastries and muffins can also be bought.

A chap called Del, wearing a green shirt, runs the deli section and its till, but this is not clear nor indicated as such when one arrives, as it appears that the deli and restaurant are one and the same thing.  The only thing that sets him apart is his shirt colour, as the regular waiters wear a white T-shirt, so the assumption was made that Del was a manager of sorts.  As his station is closest to the entrance door, one gravitates to him naturally, when asking for a table.   Arriving at 11h45, and not seeing any “Reserved” signs on the tables, a table was requested for a quick breakfast.  Del’s instant response was that all tables had been booked – however only half of the tables had clients sitting at them.   He went off to ask a manager if he could make a table available, and  was given permission.  But I was told clearly that I was only allowed to occupy it for half an hour.   I ordered a cappuccino, a glass of water and scrambled egg off the breakfast section of the menu, and had to chase the coffee and water as it had not arrived by the time the egg was served. I was told that “our drinks department is very busy m’am”.  More and more guests left, and even more tables were available by the time I left half an hour later.

The scrambled egg arrived with bacon, a croissant and a container of grated cheese, which was not stated on the menu, so toast was requested.  This arrived as wholewheat toast, which was not requested.  The waitress was asked for white toast, and said they do not have it, as they serve healthy foods.   The kitchen did manage to find a slice of white bread,  and it made a lovely piece of toast.   The very soft butter was served in an egg cup, which was a nice touch as far as the container was concerned (one of only two nice touches I saw).   The scrambled egg was most unspectacular.

The theme, as emphasised in the brand name, is on cats in the menu (not taken through into the decor though), and the menu reflects the theme of a cat in the logo, and cat illustrations in the inside cover of the menu.  The menu asks “Cat got your tongue?” and states that “Curiosity killed the cat”.  Little cat illustrations are spread throughout the small, badly-handled paper menu.   Breakfast options are a health breakfast (R35), coconut bread and jam (R 22), scrambled egg and bacon (R35), and baked egg and spinach (R 25).   A nice touch is a children’s breakfast choice, of corn flakes, and scrambled egg.

Lunch is a buffet on weekends, and is beautifully presented and displayed deep into the restaurant – it is so far from the entrance or the terrace, that one would not know that it is set up.   It costs R 18 per 100 gram weighed, and yesterday the salad choices were Panzanella salad (chickpea, mixed greens and tomato), Chremoulla salad (radish, cucumber, tomato and basil), tuna salad, a salad of carrot, pumpkin, and sweet potato, a fruit sald, roast chicken, pork, and a fruit salad.   Wines on offer are Zondernaam (R 85 for the whites and R 110 for the shiraz) and Tokara (R 135 for the Sauvignon Blanc – R 360 for the Tokara Red).

In the half an hour of being at Tokara, I was seated by Del, and served by 3 waiters.   Madeleine was the most organised waiter, but things really fell apart when it came to leaving and paying,  Other than Del, who had imposed the half an hour deadline on the use of the table, no other staff seemed in a rush to get me out of the restaurant.  No bill arrived, and as I could tell Del what I had ordered, I moved to where he was.   He had a packet of dry wors I had selected.  Then came the surprise – he mans the deli computer, and can only take payment for the deli items, but not for the food eaten.   Right at the other end of the restaurant is the restaurant computer, on which system one can pay for deli items and the food eaten!  The only problem is that six waitresses were waiting in line to access the one restaurant computer, while Del was standing idle at his deli computer!   It took 10 minutes for the waitress to bring the new total bill, unusually presented inside a Tokara-branded Tetrapak milk carton, and another 10 minutes for her to come back with the change.   While waiting, I observed a customer wanting to buy Tokara wines and olive oil, having taken them off the display shelf.  He was told that he was allowed to buy the olive oil but not the wine, as one is not allowed to sell wines in a venue in which it is also served.  The customer was muttering because he was expected to drive 500 meters down the road to the winery, to buy it there!

When asked if one could speak to Anna-Marie Ferriera, GT’s wife and owner of the new venuture, or to Kara, the chef daughter, I was told that they are on holiday until the end of the month.  A lady in a purple top could have been a Manager, but she did not come to the customer tables at all, and seemed quite distant.

The Ferreira fortune behind the venture is evident when one reads that the deli was closed between Christmas and New Year, one of the busiest times of the year in the Cape.

POSTSCRIPT 25/3:  Yesterday, after a very long time, I went back to Tokara Deli, finding the Tokara Restaurant closed for a wedding.  The service level has increased dramatically, and the staff were exceptionally friendly. The menu remains limited, and the salad buffet is very expensive. I loved the care that was taken with the display of the bread rolls by one of the staff.

Tokara DeliCatEssen, Tokara wine estate, Helshoogte Pass, open Tuesday – Sundays from 9h00 – 16h00, tel 021 808-5950, facebook On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

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

The first ever G20 meeting of the world’s Tourism leaders, scheduled to take place in Johannesburg in February, should be a start to co-ordinate international tourism strategies.

The South African Minister of Tourism’s advisor, Shaun Vorster, said about the Tourism Summit:”Tourism is one of the world’s top job creators.  It is also responsible for 30 % of the world’s services exports and is a key stimulus for the transition to a greener economy” reports Southern African Tourism Update.

The issues which could be discussed by the Summit, and which could lead to better internationally co-ordinated activities include swine flu, global trade, taxes and levies on air travel, bunker fuels, visa insurance and travel by disabled tourists.   The way in which to “ride out the global recessionary storm together, whilst building greater reliance and exploring new frontiers for growth and development” will also be discussed.

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

The Sweet Service Award goes to the contractors and staff responsible for the magnificent Cape Town Stadium, which was completed on schedule. It has become a modern landmark for the Mother City, and will give soccer fans a view onto Table Mountain or on to the Atlantic Ocean.   It is proudly supported by Capetonians, many of whom were resistant to it initially.   The area around the stadium is almost complete and the 9-hole Metropolitan Golf Club is likely to have a better course and clubhouse than ever before.  The road system near the Stadium is outstanding, and it is quick and easy to connect to the V&A Waterfront from Sea Point, Green Point and Fresnaye.  Some of the many contractors include consulting engineers Arcus GIBB, Henry Fagan & Partners GOBA, BKS, ILISO Consulting, Martin & East; quantity surveyors MLC, HP and Abakali;Architects gmp Architects, Munnik Visser, jakupa, Paragon Architects, Louis Karol; OvP Landscape Architects; and many more.  Mr Bev Mitchell was the Chairman of the management committee and Andre Lambrechts the chief project manager.  None of this would have been possible without monies from the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape government, and the national treasury.

The Sour Service Award goes to Vodacom once again, for receiving payment for the cellphone subscription via Pick ‘n Pay’s EasyPay.  Such payment is meant to register on the system the following day, but does not appear to, as the customer was once again cut-off, without warning, despite payment having been made on due date.  It appeared that Vodacom was cash-flow short, as it sent an SMS on 1 December to chase payment, when it usually did so around the 4th or 5th of the month!  The customer was cut off on 3 December.  Once one registers the cut-off at Vodacom, one is promised a one-hour reconnection time, but this is never accurate, the reconnection taking 6 hours, even though proof of payment was sent to Vodacom’s Johannesburg offices, and all ID and address verification procedures had been followed and checked.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

Christophe Dehosse is a passionate owner of his new Restaurant Christophe in the ‘Skuinshuis’ on Van Reyneveld Street in Stellenbosch, adding further weight to the prediction that Stellenbosch will soon wear the crown of the gourmet centre of South Africa  His restaurant joins an illustrious collection  of restaurants in this Winelands town, which includes Rust en Vrede, Overture, and Delaire Graff. The restaurant opened a month ago.

 

Dehosse first started cooking at Chamonix in Franschhoek, then was the chef at Au Jardin in the Vineyard Hotel, and moved to Joostenberg Deli nine years ago to join the Myburgh family he has married into, running a good value for money lunchtime restaurant there.  While he was very low key at Joostenberg, JP Rossouw of Rossouws’ Restaurants awarded the restaurant his highest rating of 3 stars, awarded to such greats as Reubens, La Colombe, and Rust en Vrede.  Le Quartier Francais did not even make his 3-star grade.  Christophe speaks with a delightful French accent, and epitomises the French chef.   What reflected his passion was that he spent more time with the patrons, after having done all the main courses, chatting at length at their tables, something rarely seen in restaurants these days.  He even takes the bookings during the day.   Chef Dane Newton of Allee Bleue also understands the art of connecting with his clients.

 

While his wife continues at Joostenberg, Christophe has set up in the building which also houses a coffee shop, and a decor shop.  The transformation of the part of the building that he uses is almost unbelievable.   It is a two-room restaurant, the entrance section having three tables and the other section almost three times in size, giving the restaurant the choice of where to seat the guests.  Christophe proudly compliments interior designer Liesel Rossouw for the understated yet chic interior.  The subtle green walls, tastefully decorated with beautiful works of art which can be bought, and shocking pink and orange chairs (with 5 colour variations) made from wine barrels especially made for the restaurant to give patrons a comfortable seat during the meal.   The lamps are unusual too – they are made from woven laminated ads, creating an unusual effect.  A simple metal structure serves as the desk at the entrance – slick and simply designed.

 

It having been a 42C day, and still hot at mid-30C in the evening, all patrons chose to sit outside.   The tables were beautifully laid with white tablecloths, silverware, and glassware, and each table had a fresh rose on it.   A lovely flower arrangement, in white and pink flowers, was the first statement the restaurant made on arrival.  A single palm tree towers above the courtyard, and an almost wild bougainvilla hedge in shocking pink complements the pink and orange chairs.  

 

Darren is the Manager, and he was very friendly in welcoming us, and patiently answered all the questions.   He is from Birmingham, and last worked at Umami in Stellenbosch.   He served all the tables.

 

The menu is very simply typed on a piece of paper, and looks unpretentious, and almost contradicts the lovely interior and special food served.   It is short, offering four starter choices: quail salad (R 65), seafood salad (R 65), foie gras with Noble Late aspic (R130), and marinated vegetables and goat’s cheese (R 50).  The foie gras was outstanding, and a surprise was the complimentary glass of Joostenberg Nobel Late Harvest, served well-chilled with it.

 

Five main courses were Cape Salmon (R 95), yellowtail (R 95), Bouillabaisse (R 110), beef fillet (R 135), and roast duck jambonette (R 110).  The steak was pronounced to be excellent, while the duck was disappointing, probably due to a duck lover’s experience of  ˜roasted’ being different to that served.   The dessert choice costs R 45, and was apricot and almond tart, chocolate biscuit, and chilled fresh fruit soup, which would have been ideal for such a hot evening, but space did not allow it.  A cheese selection is available at R 60.   The fruit soup was a berry berry nice lunch the following day.  The menu changes every two weeks.

 

The winelist is equally printed on white paper, and is unlikely to win a mention in the Diner’s Club winelist awards as far as presentation is concerned.   It is very understated, yet offers a good selection of South African and even some French wines.   A full page is devoted to sparkling wines, Graham Beck supplying the least and most expensive bottles, at R 150 – R 290.   It can also be ordered by the glass, in a price range of R 22 – R 35.  The Joostenberg wines appear in almost every category, as does a brand not commonly known, called MAN, named after three Myburgh ladies: Marie, Annette and Nicky.  Jose Conde’s wines also feature on the wine list, as do Thelema (R 600 for Cabernet Sauvignon) , Klein Constantia, Kanonkop (Pinotage at R 480), Veenwouden (Merlot at R 420), Hartenberg (Shiraz at R 490), Hamilton Russell (Chardonnay at R 350), Paul Cluver,  Simonsig and Villiera.

 

Restaurant Christophe, Skuinshuis side entrance, Van Reyneveld Street, between Nook Eatery and the synagogue, Stellenbosch,  tel 021 886-8763.  On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.

 

POSTSCRIPT 23/9: Restaurant Christophe has been named a Top 20 Eat Out Restaurant Awards finalist.

 

POSTSCRIPT 1/6:  It was sad to receive the fillowing e-mail from Chef Christophe today, announcing the restaurant’s closure later this month:  It is with regret that I wish to inform you that due to insufficient trading in the last 18 months, I have made the decision to close down Restaurant Christophe as of the 25th of June 2011.  I want to take the opportunity to thank long time and new clients as well as friends who have supported me in the last 18 months. I will again be based full time at Joostenberg from the beginning of August. Hope to see you there in the future.”

 

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

Three weeks after first visiting Vaudeville, I returned with family.  I am a firm believer of the “second-time-round syndrome”, which can make one disappointed when one returns to an hospitality establishment, due to the service and product mix differing each time.   Everything was different, except the show, which is still as good as ever. 

When we arrived at Vaudeville I was spoken to by the girl at reception as if was a third party.  My three guests had already arrived, but were not given a welcome drink.   Our waitress Elaine left much to be desired, and the service became progressively worse during the evening.  She did not know what “vintage” meant.   Our Neil Ellis Shiraz never returned to the table after the first round was poured by a very rough and unpolished barman doing us the “honours”.  We were never offered any more wine by the waitress, nor told that it was supposedly finished.   Jennifer claimed that I had my back to the table to see the show, and did not see the waiter pour more wine, but no further wine was brought to the table.

A positive surprise is that Dish caterers have listened to feedback from their customers about the food, and the main course choice and dessert had changed since our last visit.   The dips, salad and ciabatta are still the starter course.  The misleading “sirloin” has been replaced with rolled Karoo lamb with mustard sauce (the portion size had increased, but the sauce and the lamb preparation may not to be to everyone’s taste) and two further main course options were linefish (we were not told what fish it was), and butternut and amaretti ravioli.   The dessert changed to a very bitter ”bruleed” lemon tart with berries and creme fraiche.  The “brulee-isation” of the dessert was not visible and could not be tasted.

The music was incredibly loud, so that we could barely speak to and hear our guests.  Then we were badgered 3 times during the evening to sign the credit card slip for the first 50 % deposit, something we did not have to pay last time.  I asked them to bring it with the final bill when we leave, but this did not happen.  I was mad when disturbed about this during the highlight tango towards the end.  By this time the waitress had disappeared completely, and we had to beg another waitress for a bill.  Then the credit card machine did not work properly, nor did the stapler to staple all the paperwork together.

But worst of all was the unbearable heat.  They claim to have airconditioning in the building, but we were so uncomfortably hot that the loud music and the payment hassles just became a greater issue due to the discomfort.  Apparently the aircon blows above the drapes, but the drapes block the cool air from coming through into the theatre.   This is an urgent area of improvement. 

The GM Jennifer is very nice, but showed a not so nice side when we queried what had happened to the rest of our wine.  She did bring 2 extra glasses to the table, but with huge attitude.  She fobbed us off when we raised the issue of the extreme heat.

A most disappointed evening at Vaudeville.  We have told so many Capetonians about it, and feel even more disappointed as a result.   Vaudeville is more ‘dreadville’ than ‘wonderville’ now!   Read our original review.

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

The festive season saw fewer holiday makers in the Cape, they stayed for a shorter period, and they spent less during their stay, say the tourism authorities, reports Fin24.   According to the Cape Argus, international tourism numbers dropped by 6 %, compared to 2008, due to the recession and due to the stronger Rand, offering lesser value for money.

According to Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfillan the Garden Route was quieter, speculating that this was due to the water shortage in the area.   The bookings however were slow compared to previous years, long before the water crisis became a reality.   The Overberg (especially Hermanus) and the Cape Town city centre were quieter, while the Boland reported similar tourism numbers as last year.   The West Coast had improved visitor numbers, being a more affordable destination.

Tourists were looking for affordability, says Cape Town Tourism, and that is why 5-star hotels struggled financially as guests traded down to lower star accommodation or even to self-catering accommodation.   Fedhasa Cape reports that occupancy in 5 star hotels reduced by 10 – 20 % compared to last year, over the festive period, while 3 and 4 star hotels “did better”.

The lower number of visitors from Johannesburg was evident in Cape Town and especially Plettenberg Bay.  It is said that the Johannesburgers stayed home this festive season, to save money in order to renovate their homes, which they want to rent out for the FIFA World Cup, at which time they want to leave the country.  Even the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company had mainly Capetonians as visitors.

At Whale Cottage Camps Bay bookings are starting to look good from 28 January onwards, the start of the weekend on which the J & B Met takes place, and almost all of February is booked out already.  The Argus Cycle Tour in March is also good for business.

Upmarket restaurants have been reported to have also felt the pinch over the festive season, and many did not manage to fill their expensive tables for New Year’s eve, with prices as high as R 2 000 per person.

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