Pierneef a La MotteThe Sweet Service Award goes to Pierneef à La Motte and its Manager Pierre Theron, who is an angel in always making a plan to find  a table for our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guests, who often request us to book restaurants for the weekend in the last minute.  Usually the reservations staff at the restaurant tell me that they are fully booked, but when I ask for Pierre he always makes a plan to organise a table, making our guests delighted with the excellent service. (more…)

MasterChef 3 14 Final 6Last night the MasterChef SA Season 3 Top 6 finalists returned from Mauritius to a treat in Johannesburg, being lunch at South Africa’s number 2 Eat Out Top 10 restaurant five hundred, at the Saxon Boutique Hotel, a restaurant on my bucket list!  Returning to the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg, the finalists had to replicate each of Chef David Higg’s dishes, Abigail Mbalo leaving the MasterChef SA kitchen, having forgotten to plate some of the elements.

For the second time in a few weeks episode 14 started more than 10 minutes late, without warning or apology by M-Net, not even on Social Media.   We saw the Top 6 Finalists arrive at five hundred, and they were seated at the Chef’s Table.  A screenMasterChef 3 14 five hundred opened to the kitchen, and Chef David welcomed the Finalists, saying that they would be served a 6-course lunch to congratulate them on getting so far in the competition.  The dishes presented would be those that have been the highlight of the five hundred menu in the past 18 months.  He mentioned their rooftop garden, which was planted in the same time period.  Chef David also said that they do things differently at five hundred, the chefs serving the diners.

Nederburg wines were to be paired with each course, but we only saw the sommelier pair the first course of pressed prawns with broccoli coral, mayonnaise, and nori soil, with Nederburg The Anchorman (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The 16th Cape Town International Jazz Festival will be held on 27 and 28 March 2015 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.  A total of 40 groups and artists will perform, the first 20 having been announced to include Beatenberg, Melanie Scholtz, Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, and more.   Five stages will be erected, and 38000 jazz lovers from around the world are expected to attend.  Tickets are for sale, at R530 for a day pass, and R860 for a weekend pass.

*   ‘Kitchenaid by Maryke and Reuben’ opened alongside Reuben’s Franschhoek earlier this week, the first Kitchenaid retail outlet in Africa.  The Kitchenaid mixer is available in 30 colours. (received via media release from Manley Communications).

*   Boschendal Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2012 won a gold medal in the unoaked £10 – 20 category, and Nederburg Winemakers (more…)

Durban Curry covOn Tuesday I attended the launch of the new book ‘Durban Curry: so much of flavour, People, Places & Secret Recipes‘ by writer-editor Erica Platter and photographer-designer Clinton Friedman at what Erica described as Cape Town’s best Durban Curry restaurant Vandiar’s Indian Cuisine on Dunkley Square.

The book is a visual and spicy delight, and follows two earlier collaborations between Erica and Clinton, called ‘East Coast Tables‘, focusing on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) coast, and ‘East Coast Tables: the Inland Edition‘.   The two previous books won World Gourmand South Africa Awards, while ‘Durban Curry‘ was Highly Commended in the inaugural Sunday Times Food Weekly Cookbook Awards.

In the Publishers’ Notes Erica writes: ‘We both love food and cooking and the strong, bright flavours of the multi-cultural kitchens of KZN. But we are not chefs nor do we do artificial studio food shots’.  Assisting in the book foreword as well as content has (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The price of petrol could drop by 69 – 72 cents per liter on 3 December, the Automobile Association has forecast.  The declining international oil prices will benefit motorists.  ’Petroleum prices have dropped by more than ten percent over the past 15 days and the exchange rate has weakened only slightly in the same period‘.

*   The organisers of World Design Capital (WDC) 2014 have condemned the vandalisation with graffiti of the ‘Perceptions’ Ray-Ban glasses sculpture on the Sea Point Promenade.   The art work has generated a huge debate about its suitability in its perceived commercialisation, by promoting the glasses brand.  The organisers said: ‘As WDC 2014, we condone creativity and condemn in the strictest sense, lawlessness. It is a sad day when public debate is substituted with vandalism‘.

*   KWV is hosting ‘Brandy Sensations‘, a ‘long table dinner‘ to be held at the KWV Sensorium art gallery in Paarl tomorrow. (more…)

Montblanc Lectern Caroline Rupert Whale CottageMontblanc’s pay-off line is based on Excellence.  Its launch of a special community project to honour the late Nelson Mandela last Thursday was anything but excellent, coming second in the worst organised events we attended in Cape Town this year (the other was the World Design Capital 2014 ‘Gala Dinner‘ Braai held at the end of February).

My invitation to attend initially came verbally from Elzilda Becker, MD of African Sky Communications, when we met at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel for the launch of the Diners Club Platter’s Wine Guide.  Her promise (at the same function) to fly me to Johannesburg for the launch of the Diners Club Rossouw’s Restaurants Guide disappeared into thin air, and never materialised.  She raved about the fabulous Montblanc event that was coming up, and wanted me to attend that function too.  Surprisingly the invitation arrived a few days later and I accepted.   Ms Becker became extremely annoyed with me about my feedback about the drama her company put me through to obtain a copy of the Rossouw’s Restaurant Guide, which was delivered three days after the launch (in Johannesburg!) with the most shocking inefficiency!  I never heard another word from African Sky Communications about the Montblanc event, but decided to go anyway, as I had sent my RSVP.

The function venue was The Reserve at the Taj, and we were specifically told to use the St George’s Mall entrance, and arrive at 19h00.  I walked inside, and a staff member looked at me as if I had lost it, as there was no Montblanc function in The Reserve, he said.  I was (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines 

*   The reports that Emirates flights between Johannesburg and Dubai will be ‘grounded‘ are untrue, says the Department of Transport.  The Department had demanded that an UAE official meet with the Department by yesterday, it was reported.  The DA has threatened to call for the resignation for the Minister of Transport should the Emirates flights to our country be cancelled as a protection measure for SAA.  The Department said that it is meeting with officials regarding the introduction of the 4th daily flight. The Department spokesperson said: ‘There is no need for travel agents or passengers to panic. We have no intention to disrupt the service’.

*   Fuel surcharges and ticket prices are not likely to decrease in our country greatly, despite the big drop in the oil price to below $80 a barrel, and the first decline in jet fuel prices since 2008.  It appears that the exchange rate is partly to blame;  it is a way for airlines to avoid paying higher commissions on bookings made by agents; and it is influenced by airlines’ fuel hedging strategy.

*   Cape Town is likely to lose tourism income of around R 100 million as a result of the Loeries Awards moving to Durban next (more…)

Travel bloggingTravel bloggers who charge for their service ‘have lost touch with the true spirit of travel blogging‘.

While blogging is a noble form of recording one’s experiences, it should at all times be honest and reflect the full travel experience, good and bad.  Bloggers receiving payment gush about the beautiful scenery, and their experiences, and never criticise.  In addition, they rarely declare receiving a gift or an experience for free, let alone being paid for writing about the experiences.

However, I fear that as tourist boards and travel principles have shifted some of their emphasis from traditional media reviews to blogger press trips, and blog posts about their products, the spirit of blogging (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Western Cape government has committed R 2,4 million to ‘preserving the Western Cape’s culture and heritage and therefore is committed to providing continued support for them’, MEC Nomafrench Mbombo has said, supporting the Cape Minstrels and Malay and Christmas choirs, and their Christmas Choir Bands March on 24 December, The Nagtroupe March on New Years Eve, and the Tweede Nuwejaar Minstrel March.  The community will organise its own Cape Annual Minstrel Carnival next year, after the City of Cape Town’s interference in the past led to problems and poor publicity for the City.

*   Australia has been using its unique food and wine bounty to market tourism via the ‘Restaurant Australia‘ campaign to the country.  Last week it hosted some of the most important food and wine VIPs to its ‘Invite the World to Dinner‘ event in Hobart.  Different creative dishes were served in different artistic venues.  The organisers claim to have reached 400 million viewers through the event.

*   First Thursdays is heading for Woodstock, andThursday Late‘ will take place in the suburb on Thursday 27 (more…)

Eat Out 2015 cover Whale CottageThe Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards event is a highlight on the restaurant calendar, held for the 17th year, and at Thunder City for the first time last night.   The results surprised, with one heavyweight chef sliding right off the Top 10 list, while a new restaurant made Top 10. Two restaurants which did not make the Top 20 Restaurant shortlist in 2013 flew back into Top 10 last night.  Stellenbosch remains the Gourmet Capital of South Africa (4 Top 10 restaurants), followed by 3 in Johannesburg, and 1 each in Cape Town, Franschhoek, and Hermanus.   While the award recipients were acceptable, the food was a disaster.

Thunder City is not an ideal venue for a function of this magnitude (800 guests, but advertised asEat OUt Thunder City Whale Cottage 1000 initially), being difficult to find – the petrol station one block away from the turn-off had no clue where Thunder City is, and there were no signs off Borcherds Quarry Road, other than some posters held by men, only visible in the last minute.  I followed a taxi, there being no further signage to Thunder City.  We were collected from the VIP parking by a Mercedes-Benz shuttle van, and I arrived just as the event started, Chef Pete Goffe-Wood doing a tribute to Chef Bruce Robertson, who passed away two weeks ago.   The lighting was poor for (more…)

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