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…)

Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards logo 2It’s the highlight of the restaurant industry tonight, and 1000 restaurant staff, food lovers, suppliers, and media will be at Thunder City to salute and celebrate the Mercedes-Benz Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants.

It must be one of the most oddball years for the Mercedes-Benz Eat Out Restaurant Awards 2014, the goalposts changing in August and September, as more and more Top 20 calibre chefs left their restaurants of employ, to join other restaurants, or to open their own establishments. Some Eat Out judges had already been sent to evaluate potential Top 20 candidate restaurant before the chef departures were announced, wasting time and money for New Media Publishing and its judges Abigail Donnelly (Editor of Eat Out), Andy Fenner (Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants, supplier to a number of Top 20 restaurants, a (more…)

Diners WoY Logo Whale CottageThe 34th Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Awards, held at  La Residence last night, was a slick affair, even if the weather did not play along, it being a wintry evening in Franschhoek.  Quite apt was the beautiful classical music played during two-thirds of the evening, Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons‘ in particular, in describing the variable weather during the day.  The Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Awards are the most prestigious in the industry.

At stake were the awards for Diners Club Winemaker of the Year, and YoungDiners WoY Awards Whale Cottage Winemaker of the Year, recognised with two sculptures, the artist not revealed. The awards are highly desired, and are the only ones recognising the winemaker and not the wines themselves, even though the nominees had to submit wines they had made, Dry White Wine Blends in the Winemaker of Year category, and Red Wines Unfortified in the (more…)

Maison Wedding cakeThe Sweet Service Award goes to Maison, for its generous service for my son’s wedding lunch earlier this week.  I had booked a table, and we chose to sit in the new Deli section, which had been cleared for our party.  Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg sent a complimentary platter of dishes from their new Tapas menu. His team also made a surprise celebratory chocolate cake for the newly-weds.   (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine new headlines

*   KWV has launched Earth’s Essence Pinotage, with the claim that it is the ‘healthiest wine in the world, made with Rooibos bark.  No sulphur dioxide has been added in making the wine, and wooden staves made from the bark of rooibos and honeybush plants, having natural anti-oxidant properties, are used.  KWV chose to use the staves in the production of Pinotage, both Rooibos and the wine varietal having an iconic South African heritage.  The wine should do particularly well in the Scandinavian countries, where organic, sulphur-free or Faitrade wines are high in demand.

*   The massive ‘Perceiving Freedom‘ sunglass frame artwork on the Sea Point Promenade has received heavy criticism as being opportunistic and nothing but commercial exploitation for Ray-Ban, sponsors of the installation.   It is also criticised for its cost of R170000, paid for by City of Cape Town ratepayers!   The City says that its Outdoor Signage by-law is not contravened, as the work carries no branding.  The artwork is dedicated to the memory of the late Nelson Mandela, and faces Robben Island. It is a World Design Capital 2014 approved project.

*   Sales of Prosecco are popping through the roof in the UK, almost tripling in the super-premium category, and increasing (more…)

MasterChef 3 12 Contestants in aprons on beachEpisode 13 of the third Season of MasterChef SA continued its location in Mauritius, and the creators of the two weakest dishes in episode 12, being Penny Fitchet and Roxi Wardman, were to be pitted against each other in an Elimination Test.

The five successful Finalists from episode 12 received a sweet reward, being a MasterClass in Mauritian sugar by the Long Beach Executive Pastry Chef Sandra Scioli.  She showed them the different types of sugars produced in Mauritius, and which sugars are better to use for different types of baking.   It also demonstratedMasterChef 3 13 Sandy Scioli to the Finalists that the outcome of a dessert can be influenced by the type of sugar one uses.   Ian Young was impressed by the plating, ‘because it was very precise and very organised.  And you can see that a pastry chef has got a calmness about them that is very systematic. What she put on the plate was beautiful‘.

The Elimination Test was described as a ‘Fusion’ Pressure Test held at the Hasu Japanese restaurant at the (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Provincial Minister Alan Winde is seeking greater powers in terms of liquor trading control, with amendments to the Liquor Act of 2008 to be tabled to the provincial Parliament. Changes proposed include searching premises without a warrant; repealing the restriction (150 liters) on the storage of liquor by private individuals; amending requirements for the granting of temporary and special events licences; prohibiting persons younger than 18 years from entering the area selling alcohol to be drunk on premises; and to simplify and clarify the trading days and hours in municipal areas not having defined such.  The public and trade will be allowed to comment on the planned changes to the Act, Minister Winde said. (received via media release from Minister Winde’s office)

*   Jordan Wine Estate was named South African Wine Producer of the Year at the 2014 International Wine & Spirit Competition Annual Awards in London yesterday, a welcome celebration of the wine estate’s 30th anniversary of planting its first vines.  Jordan also  won the Blended Red Wine Trophy as well as the Chardonnay Trophy at the awards. (received via media release from Jordan Wine Estate)

*   Babylonstoren offers its visitors guided tours of the estate, highlighting its heritage and produce, including wine and olives, and (more…)

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