Bocca coming soon Whale CottageLast night my friend Whitney Wentzel and I enjoyed a very generous dinner at Burrata, losing track of the number of courses we enjoyed.  I had been invited to hear from co-owner Neil Grant what exciting developments are planned at Bocca, which will open on the corner of Bree and Wale Streets in mid-September, as well as longer term at Constantia Uitsig, when they take over the former River Café, with a name change.

Bocca (means ‘mouth’ in Italian) will seat 70 diners on two levels inside, as well as a further 23 on a deck extending out of the restaurant on Bree Street, which has an extra-large pavement.  Neil and Chef Annemarie Steenkamp will open Bocca, with the assistance of Matteo, a sommelier who has worked on the cruise ship The Residence at Sea.  He in turn will have a sommelier supporting him.  The Bocca kitchen is smaller, Chef Annemarie said, but she is excited in having designed most of it herself.  A sister pizzaBurrata Chef Anemarie Steenkamp Whale Cottage oven to the one at Burrata, also sourced from Naples, has been installed, in orange.  Space has been allowed for a bar counter.  Seating is at counters, as well as at custom-designed tables and chairs.  There will be more colour in the interior, and less industrial design, than at Burrata. The interior design was done by INHOUSE designers, who also designed the interiors of Burrata, The Test Kitchen, The Butcher Shop & Grill, and Carné. A number of locations were considered for the new restaurant, including the former Rhapsody’s space on Main Road in Green Point.

Neil and his business partner Barry Engelbrecht are delighted that they found the Bree Street (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Pinot Noir producers in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley are hosting their second Hemel-en-Aarde Pinot Noir Celebration at Bona Dea Estate on 30 and 31 January, with only 150 tickets available for the event.  The key-note dinner speaker will be Norman Hardie, regarded as Canada’s best Pinot Noir producer. (received via e-mail from Hamilton Russell Vineyards)

*   South Africa has the lowest transport costs compared to 50 other countries, according to GoEuro’s Transportation Price Index.  For air travel our country ranked third cheapest, while our costs of train travel ranked cheapest of all countries.

*   Cape Town has been appointed for the second time as Official Host City for World (more…)

Hayden Quinn 7 Oudtshoorn Ostrich EggLast night’s episode 7 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ was focused on Oudtshoorn, and will attract tourists to the town, now not only known for its Cango Caves and ostriches, but also for the cutest Meerkats!

The episode opened with Hayden sitting in the veld in the Klein Karoo, awaiting the sighting of Meerkat in the Meerkat conservation farm, his guide being Devey of Meerkat Adventures, who looked very Australian with his big leather hat!   The Meerkat are observed on De Zeekoe Guest Farm outside Oudtshoorn, creeping out of their burrows to Hayden Quinn 7 Meerkat Whale Cottagecatch the first rays of sun, to warm up their tummies, to get themselves going to forage for food for the rest of the day, including insects, bugs, and worms.

Hayden went to visit Chef Allister Scharneck of Buffelsdrift Game Lodge outside Oudtshoorn, who taught Hayden how to make an Ostrich Egg Frittata.  The first step was to open the thick ostrich egg shell, which (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   A Red Alert has been issued for Europe air travel, with the imminent eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland, the most serious alert indicating an expected ‘significant emission of ash into the atmosphere’.   Four years ago the Eyjafjallajokul volcano erupted, and caused international travel chaos, with 100000 flights cancelled at that time, threatening the arrival of passengers for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

*  Yesterday’s earthquake measuring 6,2 on the Richter scale has shaken San Francisco and Napa Valley, and is expected to have caused damage to bottles of wine in America’s prime winemaking region.

*   Sadly MasterChef SA Season 1 Top 4 Finalist Sarel Loots, better known by his Twitter handle @SarelvanSabie, passed away from a heart attack today.  In the last episode in which he appeared, he was described by the judges as having ‘a big heart’.

*   The 2014 SA Young Wine Show awards attracted 1972 entries. Trophies were (more…)

Graham Beck Gorgeous Label Whale CottageOn Friday writers and the trade were treated to a vertical tasting of Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs MCCs, were surprised with the launch of new Graham Beck Gorgeous 2014, and were spoilt with a lunch at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

The late Mr Beck loved the ‘gorgeous’ adjective, and because he loved the Graham Beck wines, it was decided to name the new wine Gorgeous.  Having Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes available from its MCC production, it was decided to use the same ‘recipe’ in making its range of seven MCCs, by blending the two grape varieties (58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay) to produce a still wine, in beautiful soft feminine packaging.   It has a lower alcohol level, at 11,2%, and is good value for money at R60.  The grapes used are from newly planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards,  which will produce fruit going into the production of the Graham Beck MCCs over time.

Pieter ‘Bubbles‘ Ferreira took us through the 2006 – 2010 vertical tasting of the Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs.  He shared interesting information about wines and winemaking in general, such as that the wine region demarcations are becoming smaller and smaller; that Graham Beck produces 1 million bottles of MCC per year, for which 85% of the grapes are brought in from other areas outside of Graham Beck Gorgeous Pieter Ferreira Pierre de Klerk Whale CottageRobertson;  that their non-vintage MCCs spends 18 months on the lees, while their vintage MCCs spend 4 years or more on the lees; to qualify as a Cap Classique the wine needs to spend at least 9 months on the lees; a Champagne spends a minimum of 15 months on the lees; at 12 – 15 months the effect of the yeast is most pronounced, there not being  much impact in the firsts nine months; for their Cuvée Clive there are no rules, Pieter going with his ‘gut feel‘ in deciding when this exceptional MCC should be made, the fourth release in the past 11 years about to be launched; they don’t encourage malolactic fermentation, but it can happen to 10 – 15% of the wine; they are building up a vinoteque of their MCCs;  Magnums (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The City of Cape Town is spending R3 million on the soccer match between Bafana Bafana and Nigeria for the Africa Confederation (AfCon) Cup qualifier at the Cape Town Stadium on 10 September. One wonders what benefit this would have for the tourism industry. In the past the soccer matches with international teams have not benefited our city and its tourism industry when former Councillor and Tourism Mayoral Committee member Grant Pascoe used this as his main strategy to try and boost tourism! (received via Twitter and Kfm)

*   UK wine writer Jancis Robinson praises Franschhoek as a gourmet and tourism town, but writes that there are few wineries. She describes it as a place ‘where the swallows make their own wine!  She highlights Boekenhoutskloof as the best known and Chamonix as the most consistently performing wineries in the village. She generally praises Franschhoek’s terroir as being ideally suited to Sémillon, and particularly winemaker Gottfried Mocke’s Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon blend, the 2012 vintage in particular.

*   Tourism booking cancellations have led Cape Town Tourism to issue a statement about Ebola:‘Cape Town Tourism would like to remind would-be visitors that there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in South Africa during the recent outbreak. In (more…)

Grande Provence Tasting Room Whale CottageI was invited to try the new Tapas Menu at Grande Provence yesterday, a day after it was introduced in the attractive industrial steel-decorated Tasting Room on the wine estate in Franschhoek.  While The Restaurant at Grande Provence may be perceived to be on the expensive side, the Tapas Menu is excellent value for money, and in a class of its own, compared to very average offerings generally available.
The Tasting Room was buzzing at the counter made of steel, with its funky bar stools for which the seats are made to resemble tractor seats, very comfortable and stable seating.  A group of about twenty filled the Tasting Room, having arrived with the Franschhoek Wine Tram, it being their fifth stop of winetasting.  They are fetched from the Wine Tram railway line stop and taken to the Tasting Room by trailer linked to a tractor.  The driver told me that Grande Provence Wine Tram guests Whale Cottagethey are very busy due to the Wine Tram on weekends.
I sat at the only table in the far corner of the Tasting Room, and Chef Zayne Grobler (deputy to Executive Chef Darren Badenhorst who was out of town for the weekend) came to greet me, and talked me through the new Tapas menu.  There is a big board on the right hand wall as one enters, listing the Tapas items and the prices, and a mobile one, which was brought to the table.  As Chef Zayne and I went through the menu,  we noticed some spelling errors, (more…)

KwikSpar Green PointThe Sweet Service Award goes to KwikSpar next to Ultra Liquors in Green Point, and its manager Marius de Beer.  For a while I have received less than satisfactory service at this outlet, yet I have returned due to its convenient location and ease of parking. Unfortunately I tend to go there in the afternoons or evening, when Marius is not on duty (he does mornings). After a really bad incident, I called him and shared my experience, and told him that it is a recurring problem.  Marius asked me to e-mail the details, and promised to speak to the duty manager concerned and to send him on a customer care course.  When I next went to the store, the (more…)

MasterChef SA 3 ep 1 Table Mountain and contestantsI had forgotten how hard it is to stay on top of a new series of MasterChef SA, and last night’s first episode of Season 3 was disappointing in being mainly an hour long tasting of 36 angelfish dishes, for the first day of Bootcamp.  But the tough elimination challenge could not have been held against a more beautiful backdrop than that of Table Mountain, great marketing for Cape Town.  The dominance of Reuben Robertsons Riffel was disappointing, being the new judge.

In the previous two MasterChef SA Seasons, more time was spent in getting to know the contestants, when they had to do basic tests such as peeling  and cutting potatoes, and peeling and slicing onions.  Last night the hot auditions in Cape Town (with Chef Pete Goffe-Wood and guest chef Henry Vigar of La Mouette), in Durban (Riffel with Chef Jackie Cameron, who has just left Hartford House to open her Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine) and in Johannesburg (Chef Bennie Masekwameng was joined by Chef Andrea Burgener, (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Minister of Tourism Alan Winde will launch three wifi hotspots next week, in Atlantis, George, and Robertson, with Delft to follow two months later, connecting 50000  residents in the province to the internet. (received via media release from Minister Winde’s office)

*   Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown is talking about collapsing’ SAA, SA Express, and Mango into one airline, which would have one Board of Directors, and create a ‘leaner and meaner‘ airline.   Privatisation is not being considered.

*   Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde has issued a media statement regarding the new Immigration Regulations and their effect on Tourism for the first time.  Acting on feedback from hoteliers, travel agents and tour operators in the province, he (more…)

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