Blaauwklippen Artwork for Blend label Whale CottageFriday’s 31st Blaauwklippen Blending Competition event was not only a celebration of the enthusiasm and skills of wine clubs around the country, but also of the rejuvenation of Blaauwklippen, with a number of changes made with a new Tasting Room venue, the addition of a new Bistro with a new champion for it, a new Spirits Room, and a redecorated entrance and cellar function room.   The Blending Competition made history with its most unusual outcome.

We were welcomed on a perfect function weather day on the lawn between the Tasting Room and the Manor House and Jonkershuis, a space I had never seen before. We were served Blaauwklippen’s Ons Sprankel wine, and canapés made by new Blaauwklippen Bistro owner and charcutier Steve Jeffery.  They were served by dapper looking waitresses, wearing Bistro black outfits and cheeky hats, looking smarter than most restaurant staff I have seenBlaauwklippen Canapes Waitress Whale Cottage in a long time.  They offered platters of spinach and feta phyllo pastry parcels, and mozzarella pesto roulades, which doubled up as the starters (I did not see the third canapé specified on the menu).  Natalie Campbell told me that the Manor House is used for conferences and weddings, while the Jonkershuis is used for staff accommodation.

I had a chance to chat to Steve before we sat down, and he told me that he has been at the Old Biscuit Mill for the past nine years, selling his charcuterie products, having had a stand at Blaauwklippen’s Market at one stage too.  Rolf and Steve had been talking for about two years about doing something jointly, and (more…)

Mercedes-Benz logoThe Sweet Service Award goes to Mercedes-Benz Culemborg in Cape Town, for the assistance by its Service Manager Dean Guimaraes in opening my car roof, which stopped working yesterday morning. Despite arriving at 16h00 on a Friday afternoon after returning from a function in Stellenbosch, Dean checked out the car.  He found that a part of the roof mechanism had broken, and managed to open the roof, despite the broken part, which they will replace next week, once ordered on Monday. (more…)

MasterChef 3 9 9 Finalits Whale CottageLast night MasterChef SA continued with more boring viewing, the simple task of the Invention Test being to make a MasterChef Chicken MasterPiece, using the whole chicken, including the giblets! It was surprising how poorly this challenge was executed.  Penny Fitchet won the Invention Test with her Coq au Vin, while Claire Allen was sent home.  It was shocking to see how casually Reuben Robertsons Riffel was dressed, with a crumpled pair of slacks and a round neck jersey, while his colleague judges Pete Goffe-Wood and Benny Masekwameng looked smartly dressed and professional!  Riffel was filmed with his hands in his pants MasterChef 3 9 Judgespockets too!  Shocking was the spelling errors in the M-Net media release!

Having returned back to the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg, after having spent some time (and two episodes in Durban, Umhlanga, and Ixopo), the Finalists appeared happy to be back ‘home’ in their kitchen. On each cooking station was a black apron, with each contestant’s name embroidered on it.  The contestants had 90 minutes to prepare their chicken dishes, transforming the ‘common chicken‘ to a MasterChef chicken MasterPiece, Riffel said.  They enjoyed (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Silverthorn Blanc de Blancs 2011 was jointly named Wine of Show in the 2014 Six Nations Wine Challenge, with New Zealand’s Dog Point Pinot Noir 2012.   The 600 entries from five southern hemisphere countries plus the USA were evaluated by top wine judges, one from each country.   Our country won the Trophy for Sauvignon Blanc, Australia won for Malbec, Chile won for Riesling, Argentina for Shiraz, the USA won Bordeaux Blend, and New Zealand won for its Chardonnay, and was named Nation of Show. Entry is by invitation from the judges, and is designed to find the New World wine champions.  Michael Fridjhon was the South African judge.

*   A new Table Mountain frame has been erected outside Charly’s Bakery, offering the perfect framework for taking a photograph of Table Mountain, with a mural of the late Nelson Mandela in the foreground. (seen via Twitter)

*   Du Preez Wines is set to produce wines in the Arrivals Hall of Cape Town International, the gateway to the Western (more…)

Haar Exterior Whale CottageIt was a call from Nick, who handles Social Media for Haas Collective, an advertising agency, art and interior decor consultancy, and coffee shop, that motivated my colleague and I to return to the new Haas building on Buitenkant Street yesterday, to write this piece.

Haas became a firm favourite when it first opened more than three years ago on Rose Street, giving life and energy to this Bo-Kaap street, being a convenient stop with parking usually available and devoid of parking marshalls.  It became a second office (even though wifi was always problematical, with changing passwords) and a welcome meeting place, all first-time visitors being impressed with the art-focused interior.  The food was always secondary, prepared from a kitchen across the road in a rented building, adjacent to where the Haas advertising agency had its offices too, in addition to the upstairs offices. Service deteriorated over time, as the waiters became more arrogant and slack, jiving in the entrance section, talking noisily, and not proactively following up with the kitchen. Inge has been the only efficient manager on the coffee shop side of the business, but (more…)

Maison Deli main pic Whale CottageWe recently wrote about Maison Estate, and the visit in winter by its Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg to Portugal, Spain, and Australia, from which he has brought back new menu ideas.  These ideas have been incorporated into their menu, and a clever way of attracting attention to them is to incorporate them into a Tapas menu which greets one when one arrives in the Tasting Room.  The quality of the Tapas is the best I have experienced to date, and is excellent value for money.

As one enters the Tasting Room and The Kitchen building at Maison, a lounge area to the immediate right has been transformed into the Deli, with a High Table at which one can sit with bar stools, and ‘decorated’ with scientific looking equipment and preserves made by Chef Arno and his team.   A large shelving unit ‘divides’ the Deli section from the remaining (now much smaller) lounge, the shelves being filled by the hard work of Chef Arno, including green tomato atchar, pickled broad beans, marmalade, aubergine and courgette chutney, green figs, vinegar, chili relish, pickled Jerusalem artichokes, onion relish, spiced tomato ketchup, plum chutney, olive oil, courgette relish, yellow tomato atchar, olives, lemon cordial, and fresh ciabatta.  The items on the shelves are interspersed with home decor items from Weylandts stores, owned by Maison owner Chis Weylandt,Maison Deli shelves and produce Whale Cottage including tea sets, glass jugs, wooden boards, cutlery sets, placemats, bowls, plates, and more.  A refrigerated display unit contains jars of duck rillettes, pork rillettes, pork terrine, pancettas, saucisson, salamies, smoked yellowtail, fresh farm eggs, lemons, massive 5-year old Angus six week dry-aged thick 500 gram slices of T-bone (R300), and guineafowl pistachio parfait.    Almost all the produce used for the items sold in the Deli was harvested from the farm.   The styling of the Deli section was done by Marc-Anthony Hewson-de Swardt, Group Visual Merchandiser of Weylandts. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine new headlines

*   The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has announced that its profit has increased to its highest level ever, at R1,7 billion, a 73% increase on the year before.  The profit increase was achieved despite the decline in passenger numbers.  The airport infrastructure is to be improved, without any ‘significant’ increases in passenger tariffs.

*   SA Tourism captured attention for our country on Times Square in New York last week, with Hugh Masekela and Sindiswe Nxumalo, a cast member of ‘The Lion King’, performing on a double decker bus to publicise the ‘Ubuntu: Music & Arts of South Africa‘ Festival being held at Carnegie Hall until 5 November. Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela are headline artists for the Festival, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of our democracy, and aims to position South Africa as offering more than the Big Five, in having ‘the most hospitable people in the world‘ as well as the most resilient, given the country’s 350 year history.

*   The Franschhoek-based  Bhabhathane (meaning butterfly in Xhosa) charity promoting childhood development and education (more…)

Diners Club Winelist banner Whale CottageThe Diners Club Winelist Awards for the Western Cape were held at Shimmy Beach Club yesterday, saluting the restaurants in the province, and the standard of their winelist content and presentation. Bushman’s Kloof won best Winelist in the Western Cape.  During the course of this week the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal awards will also be presented.

A judging panel, led by wine judge Dave Hughes, and consisting of Winnie Bowman, Nikki Dumas, Fiona McDonald, and Christine Rudman, evaluated 208 winelists nationally, and 100 from the ‘Cape‘, a province which has not existed for years!  Diners Club threw the Western Cape and Eastern Cape into one ‘Cape’ pot in reporting on the results and in handing out the awards yesterday!  A substantial number of Western Cape restaurants did not enter the competition this year, down from 96 entries last year to 80 this year.

Odd was the choice of venue, being the Bar section of Shimmy Beach Club, which did not have Diners Club Pongracz Whale Cottageenough parking for the attendees, some walking for more than 1 km to get to the venue.  We were welcomed with a glass of Pongracz, and the food was very meagre, being macaroni cheese croquettes and sushi!  There was not enough seating for everyone, in a room which had some round tables, a few chairs and couches, but had no presence in making this function special for the award winners, compared to the venue used at the Vineyard Hotel last year.  It also was not a finalist for the Winelist Awards! Very odd was using Anna Trapido as the MC, not generally known to the local restaurant wine stewards and sommeliers, in being the editor of the 2015 ‘Diners Club Rossouws (more…)

Woolworths Carbclever It is interesting to see Woolworths’ reaction to Banting and the (LCHF) low carb high fat eating plan advocated by Professor Tim Noakes, in how long it has taken the retailer to react to the Banting diet craze, and how it has reacted, in misleading health-conscious consumers with its new CarbClever range.

In essence Professor Tim Noakes, in his book ‘Real Meal Revolution‘, advocates a diet of no carbohydrates, such as South African starch staples rice and potatoes, as well as any wheat products such as bread, pasta, and pizza.  He advocates high fat too, suggesting lamb or other high fat meat types, butter, full cream dairy products, and more.  Sugar is completely off the Banting list.

While two Banting-focused restaurants have opened in Cape Town already (65 on Main Banting Café and the not-1oo%-Banting The Banting Kitchen), no Banting product range is known to have been launched in the six months since Banting caught the attention of South Africans.  Now Woolworths has launched the CarbClever range for ‘Carb Conscious Customers‘, odd in its choice (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Penny Ferry is to be reintroduced in the V&A Waterfront on 1 November, connecting the main shopping centre side to the more commercial and business side at the Clocktower. The ride will cost R5. The ferry stopped opening in 1997 when the swing bridge was constructed.  The Penny Ferry service was officially relaunched by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom earlier this week.

*   The judging for the 2014 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year has been completed, and the winners of the 34th annual competition will be announced next month. In evaluating the nominees, it was ‘the heart and soul of the winemakers that stood out strongly‘, dominating the quality of the wines they made.  The Winemaker of the Year entered in this year’s theme category of White Blends, while the Young Winemaker of the Year was evaluated on any red wine. Judges included Dave Hughes (panel chairman), Beatriz Machado from Portugal, retailer Carrie Adams, Nomonde Kubheka (wine judge and educator), Christine Rudman (wine judge), Colin Frith (GM of Hazendal), and Margaret Fry (Director of Cape Wine Academy). (received via media release from African Sky Media)

*   At the International Spirit & Wine Competition held in London recently, five South African wines won (more…)

« Previous PageNext Page »