WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   A travel study conducted on behalf of Google in the USA has found that mobile Apps are less likely to be used to plan and book a trip, multiple devices now being used to book trips.  The ‘Traveler’s Road to Decision‘ is yet to be published, but report highlights have been released.  Search engines are increasingly consulted first in planning a trip, and in searching for car rental, cruises, and accommodation, at the expense of Apps, for leisure travelers, while business travelers mostly use mobile Apps to make travel bookings.

*   Telegraph Travel recommends how to spend 36 hours in Franschhoek, including staying at La Residence, eating at Pierneef à La Motte, The Kitchen at Maison,Grande Provence, and La Residence; tasting wine at Boekenhoutskloof (sneaking in Waterford in Stellenbosch); and visiting the Huguenot Monument, Babylonstoren, the Franschhoek Motor Museum, and the Holden Manz Gallery.

*   The Hospitality Investment Conference Africa (HICA) has held in Cape Town, and became a platform for the launch of a (more…)

Chenin Blanc Top 10 Huguenot Cheese Brulee Whale CottageThe 2015 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards have been announced, the Western Cape (39) having a small head start over Gauteng (33) in the number of restaurants on the list of 89 restaurants in total.  Five new restaurants have been added to the list: 95 Keerom, Delaire Graff Restaurant, Kitima, and Makaron at Majeka House, all in the Western Cape, as well as The Leopard in Johannesburg.

Restaurants that were eligible to receive an American Express Platinum Fine Dining Award have to accept the credit card as payment, and have to accept a booking for four by a Platinum Card holder within four days of booking. Excellence, creativity, and offering guests an exquisite culinary experience are evaluated.

New head of the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards is Tamsin Snyman, who also is the Africa and Indian Ocean Islands chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.  She has taken over the Awards management from Victor Strugo, who had been involved for the past 16 years.

Nedbank Head of Corporate Card Services Pamela White said about the awards: ‘The awards continue to reflect the country’s rising culinary spirit and serve as a catalyst in championing the enhancement of the fine dining industry and experience in South Africa. As the exclusive issuer of American Express in South Africa, we are honoured to be associated with this initiative as it not only celebrates South African restaurateurs but also promotes fine dining’.

Last year the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards list had 95 restaurants, the Western Cape list having reduced by four restaurants on the list, despite having added four new restaurants, therefore a total loss of eight restaurants.  Western Cape restaurants no longer on the list this year are La Colombe (probably due to the long period of closure and its new premises not yet operating), Zachary’s, Bukhara, Bombay Brasserie at The Taj, Savoy Cabbage, Kurland Hotel Restaurant, Constantia Uitsig (closed down), and Serendipity’s.  The reason for the restaurants dropping off the list may be the tough economic climate, some of the restaurants purposely no longer accepting Amex credit cards due to their high merchant commission rate, or they have been judged to no longer meet the standards.  Missing from the Western Cape list altogether but being in a Top 20 Restaurant league are The Test Kitchen, Pot Luck Club, The Kitchen at Maison, Equus, Camphors at Vergelegen, Mondiall, Tokara, Burrata, Springfontein Eats, Indochine, The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, and Jardine at Jordan.

The 2015 Award winners are: (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   It is unbelievable that, after almost three months of pressure on Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, he has relented today, and agreed to delay the implementation of the unabridged birth certificate until 1 June 2015, just two weeks before the new Immigration Regulations were meant to apply from 1 October.  The requirement of the permission of the other parent for the child to travel with one parent has also been delayed to June. On Friday the Minister announced at a media conference that the Regulations would be retained, and that a task team would evaluate the most effective implementation of them! One wonders what swayed the Minister to change his mind, after having been so stubborn for the past ten weeks!  The personal application of biometric visas remains in place from 1 October.

*   Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde has been quick to welcome Minister Gigaba’s announcement, but demands more:  ‘It is my intention to ensure that a full impact study is conducted on them and handed to Minister Gigaba prior to them being reintroduced.  The regulations that have already been implemented are threatening livelihoods in the sector. I will continue to push for their postponement too, until such time as a regulatory impact assessment has been conducted.  Gigaba has now shown a willingness to work with other government departments and industry to mitigate the effects of his legislation on our economy and jobs, and I hope he will continue to take positive steps in this regard. The decision to place these two regulations on hold opens the door for South Africa to explore ways of becoming cutting edge. Through the use of smart technology, such as electronic visas, we can solve the problem of illegals while at the same time making our region more attractive to business and leisure tourists’. (received via media release from Minister Winde’s office)

*   The 2014 Unilever Food Solutions Senior Chef of the Year is Germaine Esau from Delaire Graff, while the Junior Chef title went (more…)

Hayden Quinn 10 Lesotho title page Whale CottageLast night’s episode 10 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ showed Hayden Quinn leaving South Africa, and visiting the beautiful Lesotho, ‘Kingdom in the Sky‘, southernmost land-locked country in Africa, and completely surrounded by South Africa.  The content of the episode was motivated by the Katse Fish Farms, which grows trout in Lesotho, a supplier to Woolworths in a production process which is linked to the company’s sister operation Three-Streams Smokehouse in Franschhoek.   Content-wise it was the thinnest episode, both in terms of little meaningful information provided, and even in terms of the few TV commercials flighted!

Hayden was seen on a horse in a traditional BaSotho outfit, with a blanket wrapped around him and wearing a BaSotho hat.  It was explained to him that Lesotho isHayden Quin Basotho outfit 3800 meters above sealevel, its lowest regions still being higher than South Africa, and therefore the locals keep warm by wrapping the blankets around them.  About three-quarters of the country is rural.

In a village near the Katse Dam, Hayden met Rose Lekhoakhoa, a teacher and cook, who grows vegetables (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The introduction of low prices by domestic airlines when FlySafair takes off next month will not be permanent, its competitor Mango has stated.   Prices of all airlines may be lower for the first few weeks, but these are not sustainable in the long run, the competitor spokespersons have said.

*   ‘At the present moment, the clock has not stopped’, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told a media conference on Friday, meaning that the new Immigration Regulations will be implemented on 1 October.  There is no timeframe for the completion of the work of the task team, which will be appointed to evaluate how the regulations can be better implemented.  The Minister confirmed on Friday that the Regulations themselves will not change.

*   When asked about the sudden resignation of Jan Hutton, Chief Marketing Officer at SA Tourism, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said there ‘are many sides of a story’, and said that he did not want to interfere with the SA Tourism’s Board handling of (more…)

Borage Bistro Interior 2 Whale CottageAn unusually high number of new restaurants has opened or will do so in the next month or two.  There have never been so many chefs leaving their employers to start their own restaurants, or to join other employers!  This list of restaurant openings and closings and restaurant staff movements is updated continuously, as we receive new information:

Restaurant Openings

*    Borage Bistro has opened in Portside, with Chef Frank Marks, previously of The Fat Duck, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, La Colombe, The Test Kitchen, and The Pot Luck Club

*   Chef Chris Erasmus has opened his own restaurant Foliage in Franschhoek, having previously been at Pierneef à La Motte.

*   Idiom Wines is said to be opening a restaurant.

*   The Butcher Shop & Grill has opened next to Sotano in Mouille Point.

*   Michael Townsend (La Parada, Lucky Fish, Harbour House emporium) is opening a steak restaurant in Muizenberg in November.

*   Neil Grant and his business partner Barry Engelbrecht (of Burrata) are opening a new restaurant Bocca on the corner of Bree (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines 

*   Cape Town Film Studios is likely to expand to meet demand for its facilities for the increasing use of Cape Town as a location for movies and TV commercials.  It is working at full capacity, and has had to reject 32 productions in the past year due to capacity restraints.    Two new studios are planned to be ready by next year, and to double its capacity by 2017.   Not only the location beauty, but also the wardrobe and set building services offered in Cape Town are highly regarded.  The Western Cape film industry was worth R 5 billion, and more than 7000 film permits were requested in the past year.

*   Tough new packaging and marketing guidelines protecting children under 18 years are being considered by the Department of Health for marketing ‘unhealthy foodstuffs to children‘, including those which are high in sugar, fat, and salt, and ‘nutrient poor food and/or non-alcoholic beverage‘.  Advertising, promotions, and TV sponsorships for unhealthy foodstuffs aimed at children will be prohibited, as will be the use of cartoon characters, celebrities, puppets, and computer animation in their marketing of foodstuffs to children.

*   The 40th Nederburg Auction yesterday generated R7 million is sales. The Nederburg Auction website has not yet been updated to reflect this result. (seen via Twitter)

*   Department of Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced on Friday (less than 3 weeks prior to implementation) that a task (more…)

Chefs who Share Mercedes-Benz Whale CottageWhen Opulent Living‘s Barbara Lenhard and Florian Gast organise an event, you know it will be beyond perfect, the German precision being evident from the minute one enters the venue.   Outperforming its ‘Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving‘ Gala Dinner and Auction of last year, which raised R1,2 million then, R 2,5 million was raised at ‘Chefs who Share‘ on Thursday evening from the 250 tickets sold at R3000 each for the Gala Dinner, and the smart auctioneering of art works and other auction lots.

Arriving at the not-often-used Darling Street entrance to the City Hall, the Mercedes-Benz (the company was a sponsor) CLS Coupé was outside the steps, and photographs taken of the VIPs attending.  Halfway up the steps were the tables to register one’s attendance, with tall vases of beauty created with vegetables, all of which plus the vegetables used for the table decor going to a soup kitchen the following day.  Outside the Hall itself, waiters greeted us with glasses of Chefs who Share Barbara Lenhard Whale CottageGraham Beck MCC, and one could admire the artwork hung in the passages, which was auctioned later in the evening.  A continuous stream of canapés was offered, and the waiters linked to the creators of these Chefs who Share Rudi Liebenberg canapes Whale Cottageserved them, which helped in that they knew what they were serving.  Little name cards, with the description of the dishes and the chef’s name, made the identification for Tweeting easy.  Those served by Chefs Jackie Cameron, Rudi Liebenberg with Michelle Theron, Darren Badenhorst, Malika van Reenen, and Christiaan Campbell attracted particular attention.  It was in the passage that we could chat and congratulate Barbara, who looked beautiful and glamorous in her Gavin Rajah dress. (more…)

Mercedes-Benz keyThe Sweet Service Award goes to VIP Locksmiths, who came to my assistance when I called them to unlock my car boot, into which I had inadvertently locked my car keys in the V&A Waterfront.  My regular locksmith was unable to open a Mercedes-Benz, and recommended VIP Locksmiths.  I was quoted R850 for the job, for which I only had half the cash with me.  The owner was tough in demanding immediate payment in cash on completion, and I had no choice but to agree to their terms, even if it meant driving to my house to collect the balance of the money.  I asked a family of shoppers if their child could climb into the open-roof car, to unlock the door, which set off the immobilisor, and therefore did not allow me to release the boot from inside, or so I thought.  Only when the locksmith arrived did I test the boot again, and was delighted when (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   At the International Wine & Spirits Awards, South Africa did very well, with 632 awards in total, and 7 Gold Outstanding awards, of which three went to Nederburg.  KWV won 22 medals.  Chile won 375 awards, with one Gold Outstanding, and Argentina won 234 medals.  The results were announced at The Beautiful South South Africa/South America showcase in London.

*   A meeting earlier today between airline and travel agent representatives and Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba may lead to good news about the Immigration Regulations next week.

*   A number of top Cape Town designers will be showcasing their work and the collective creativity of South Africa at 100% Design in London from 17 – 20 September, attended by 30000 architects, interior designers, and retailers, representing a collective buying power of £2,7 billion.   Designers include Mervyn Gers Ceramics,  Martin Doller, Meyer von Wielligh, and furniture designer Pierre Cronje, and the trip is sponsored by the Department of Trade & Industry. (received via media release from Wesgro)

*   Opulent Living raised R2,5 million at its ‘Chefs who Share’ Gala Dinner and Auction in the City Hall last night, due to (more…)

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