WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   For the first time Cape Town will be one of the locations for the International Triathlon Union’s 2014 World Triathlon Series, which was added to the 2014 schedule (with Chicago) this year.  Locations for the Series this year are Auckland, Yokohama, London, Chicago, Hamburg, Stockholm, Edmonton, and Cape Town, the latter event taking place in the V&A Waterfront on 26 and 27 April.  The ‘world’s best’ triathletes are said to participate in the Cape Town event.

*   Charlize Theron is to star in a romantic film ‘The Last Face’,  which her new fiancé (they are said to have got engaged yesterday) Sean Penn is to direct.  Theron is to star with Javier Bardem.  The movie is to be shot in ‘Africa’, and the couple has been sighted in Upington and the Augrabies Falls for their location search.  Penn was seen lunching at Dias Tavern in Cape Town last Thursday.

*   The La Colombe staff has been told that the restaurant is closing down.

*   Sir Richard Branson has bought the Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyard in Franschhoek.

*   Oxford University Professor Charles Spence is testing a theory that the enjoyment of wine is influenced by the music (more…)

Mont Rochelle Supplied picThe biggest news ever for Franschhoek is that Sir Richard Branson has bought the Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyard, his second South African property, also owning Ulusaba Private Game Reserve near the Kruger National Park.  The hotel was previously owned by Erwin Schnitzler and the late Miko Rwayitare.

Commenting on the deal Sir Richard said: ’I’m thrilled to be able to announce that we have entered into a sales agreement for Mont Rochelle and what I’m sure will be a ‘must visit’ winelands experience in South Africa and a fantastic addition to the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio’.

The 22-bedroom hotel on the 40 ha property is likely to close during the winter period for a refurbishment, and will re-open in summer.

Tara Whiting and Marius Botha of Acquire Africa, who handled the sale of Mont Rochelle to Branson, said: We’re positive that (more…)

Cape Town StadiumThe media release issued by the City of Cape Town last week appeared like a PR exercise to make its Tourism, Events, and Marketing Directorate look good after the sudden departure of the Directorate’s Grant Pascoe, former Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing.  The Directorate was blamed by Mayor Patricia de Lille for not performing well under Pascoe’s leadership.
Odd too was that the media release was issued by the City of Cape Town, and not by Cape Town Tourism, which has a PR agency, and usually is the spokesperson for the tourism industry in Cape Town.  Whilst quoting Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy towards the end of the release, its main spokesperson in the release was Anton Groenewald, the Tourism Directorate’s Executive Director, who has never been quoted in a media release before, all communication expressed by Pascoe in the past, even in Cape Town Tourism releases at one stage!   In releasing the statement via the City, the Cape Town Tourism media list did not receive the media statement.  We requested a copy from Groenewald, but have not received it yet, almost a week later!
If the City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism had the tourism statistics relating to the period ending February 2014, one wonders why they waited four weeks to release the results, and why they were released the day after Pascoe’s departure!  Ironic is the (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Forbes has published a wonderful article by Fathom travel website about Cape Town and the Winelands, describing it as a ‘mix of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Napa Valley – with a little Bilbao thrown in.  It recommends Table Mountain, penguins at ‘Boulder Bay’ (sic) ‘Beach‘, ‘design-centric’ shopping at Cape Quarter, Lion’s Head, Robben Island, ‘Victoria and Albert (sic) Waterfront‘, a township tour, Simonstown, Surf Shack in Muizenberg, Delaire Graff Restaurant, and Babylonstoren.  For shopping O.live, Nap, Merchants on Long, Monkey Biz, and African Nova are recommended.  Restaurant recommendations include Harbour House, Live Bait, Grand Café on the Beach, Bungalow, Bistro Sixteen82, The Greenhouse, The Test Kitchen, and The Round House.

*   Henco J (his surname is not revealed) from Pretoria is one of three winners of the Jameson First Shot awards, an annual opportunity to have a short film produced given to a resident of South Africa, Russia, and the USA by Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey.  The three winners will have their film produced in Los Angeles later this year, with actress Uma Thurman in the lead role in each.  Henco’s script is called ‘The Mundane Goddess’, and tells the story of Hera, the queen of Greek gods.

*   Palm Beach Illustrated writes with praise about South African wines, in an article entitled ‘South Africa Rising: Wine and Vineyard Renaissance’, and how these combine old-world tradition with cutting-edge techniques.  The article features (more…)

Eat Out produce2014nr2-2269 (1)The winners of the 8th annual Eat Out Zonnebloem Produce Awards were announced at the Stellenbosch Slowmarket yesterday.  The Eat Out media release states that the quality of produce was excellent this year, and that it was not easy to choose the overall winners.

Judges were Deena Naidoo, MasterChef SA Season 1 winner, Eat Out Top 10 Chef Jackie Cameron of Hartford House,  Chef Vanessa Marx of Dear Me, Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, and Eat Out Editor-in-Chief Anelde Greeff.Eat Out Produce AWards 2014 judges produce2014-2534

We are delighted that the Oranjezicht City Farm has received recognition for its excellent work, in winning the South African Heritage Award.  Anel Potgieter’s ‘Life is a Zoo Biscuit’ won Best Local Food Blog for the second time.  Farmer Angus has been a pioneer for organic meat and egg production at Spier, and has been a previous winner too.  It is no surprise that Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants has received the ‘Outstanding Outlet’ award for the Cape area, having been the former 2013 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge, yet it is surprising in that the outlet is in a dive location, and the service arrogant and poor – we are still waiting for the calf’s liver we ordered more than a month ago!

The 2014 Eat Out Zonnebloem Produce Awards winners are: (more…)

Burrata Fig and pancetta Whale Cottage PortfolioOn Thursday evening I attended the launch of the South African leg of the Global Pizza Challenge, a project which belongs to Chef Arnold Tanzer from Johannesburg and  Martin Kobald from Australia.  South African pizza makers have done well in the past seven years of the competition.

I almost did not make the function, which was held at the offices of Dish Food & Social,  giving us a street address of 423 Main Road in Observatory. A building marked 423a on one side of a Shell garage was visible, but not the street number on Main Road that we were searching for in the near dark, which turned out to be on the other side of the petrol station.   To complicate matters the entrance gate is in a side road off Main Road!  Having survived the panic of finding the venue, it was great to catch up with Chef Arnold, whom I had met last year on a Media Day for MasterChef SA Season 2 at Nederburg.

Before we got into pizzas, we caught up about Season 3 of MasterChef SA, which is being filmed at the moment and will continue until June. The series will be broadcast from August onwards.  Chef Arnold did not answer all my questions, such asGlobal Pizza Challenge Arnold Tanzer Whale Cottage Portfolio if there would be two broadcasts per week again as in Season 2.  He would not discuss how strict new MasterChef SA judge Reuben Robertsons Riffel is with the contestants, given that he may not want to rock the boat!  We talked about the very honest and harsh review by Chef Arnold of Aarya, the Montecasino restaurant, the use of which Deena Naidoo won for a two year period in winning MasterChef SA Season 1.    We chatted about how low key Season 2 winner Kamini Pather is, not being visible,and not (yet) having created her planned food communication channel, as she announced when she won.   As before, there will be guest chefs. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The MyCiTi Bus service has announced that it is using another bus size for its Cape Town International airport run from Monday onwards, to allow it to use the larger buses on its new Atlantis route, which opens tomorrow.   Buses which had been ordered for the Atlantis route have not been delivered!  It would appear that the City’s planning of its bus service, and continuous introduction of new routes is straining its service, with numerous complaints by commuters of buses not running according to schedule.  The change in bus size impacts on the route to the airport, and excludes certain bus stops temporarily.

*   USA-based Domino’s Pizza, a ‘world leader in pizza delivery‘, with 10800 outlets in 70 countries,  has signed a license agreement with Taste Holdings, owners of 150 Scooters and St Elmo’s pizza outlets in South Africa, to rebrand to Domino’s.

*   Google is looking to accept direct accommodation advertising on its site, in direct opposition to booking sites such as (more…)

La Residence Entrance Hall and High Tea  Whale Cottage PortfolioThe Sweet Service Award goes to La Residence, and its staff Kalika, Galant, Jean, Lee, Ashwin, and Jaleel, who assisted in fetching my laptop and a basket from my guest house in Franschhoek, when I had left them  behind due to a rushed departure to meet a deadline in Cape Town last week.   I met Galant at Cape Town International early the following morning, after Jean had collected the laptop in a house he had not been to before, to collect the laptop, and Ashwin brought the basket to our guest house in Camps Bay, both exceptional service acts. (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   South Africa only has one visa official in India, in Mumbai, to process visa applications for travel to South Africa.  The backlog is as large as 850 applications, taking about a month for a visa to be processed.  The travel and tour operator industry is saying that the situations is causing a very damaging image for South Africa, and that business could be lost to other countries!

*   Sean Penn was sighted in the pedestrian Dias Tavern in Cape Town yesterday.  Making media mileage of the sighting was Cape Town Design NPC CEO Alayne Reesberg, managing World Design Capital 2014.  Reesberg  is reported to have said that Penn is charming, having waved back at her when she waved at him, when lunching at the same restaurant!  Last week Penn and Charlize Theron were seen at the Augrabies Falls.  Penn is said to be in Cape Town to look for locations for a new movie.

*   Bo-Kaap featured in the New York Times yesterday, with the headline ‘In Cape Town, Local Color comes in Bright Shades’,  mentioning Luvey ‘n Rose, Atlas Trading Company, Bo-Kaap Food and Craft Market, and Agua Dreamz. (more…)

Tracy van Maaren Tracy Whale Cottage PortfolioLast night I attended the first Tracy van Maaren Wines Trade Tasting, representing a handful of select fine boutique wine estates, held at Auslese. Each of the wine estate’s wines offered for tasting was personally paired with a canapé designed by Chef Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine.

Tracy started her wine career by working as PA to Dana Buys at Vrede en Lust.  She then moved into the clothing industry, but regretted this move.  She returned to the wine industry, working at Jordan.  Almost nine years ago she started her company, her first wine clients being Vriesenhof, Raats, and Catherine Marshall.   She represents her clients’ wines in the ‘mid to top restaurants’ and independent retailers (e.g. Caroline’s, Wine Concepts, and Vino Pronto) in Cape Town and Stellenbosch, with Paarl and Franschhoek.

Auslese is a renovated house, available to rent for functions, about two blocks from Aubergine.  It has a smallish kitchen, and the space was cleverly used to set up tasting tables for nine brands, with Pol Roger (Churchill’s favourite champagne) represented in the entrance hall by Great Domaines’ Derek Kilpin andTracy van Maaren Pol Roger Whale Cottage Portfolio their brand new French import Morgan Delacloche.

Arriving at about 18h30, there was no crush, and one could get to easily taste the wines and food pairings, chat to the wine representatives, and to the invited guests, which included John Maytham of Cape Talk, Mark Bland of Expresso, Mandi Jarman of Aquila, Chef Vanessa Marx and her colleague  Rumby of Dear Me, Catharina’s Manager Ronel Smidt, sommelier and consultant Jörg Pfützner, John and Lynne Ford, and Mike Duggan of Wine Concepts. (more…)

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