Entries tagged with “Caffe Milano”.


Ultimate BraaiMaster Season 3 Cape Final Banners Whale Cottage PortfolioYesterday I was invited to attend the judging of the Cape Finals of Season 3 of Ultimate Braai Master held in the parking area of The Lookout at the V&A Waterfront.  Not only was it a good way to catch up with a number of chefs who judged the Cape Finals, but it was also an opportunity to meet Cooked in Africa Films producer Justin Bonello.

Justin chatted to blogger Thuli Gogela of Mzansi Style Cuisine Blog (she appeared in the Bloggers episode of season 2 of MasterChef SA)  and I as the judging came to an end at the Finals.  One sensed his overriding passion for food, which has grown into TV production, with 21 productions to date, including two previous Ultimate Braai Master Ultimate Braaimaster Season 3 Cape Finals Thuli Gozela Justin Bonello Whale Cottage Portfolioseasons, two seasons of Charly’s Cake Angels, as well as Seasons at Terroir, which was launched last week and focuses on Chef Michael Broughton, and his restaurant Terroir at Kleine Zalze.   Justin denied that Terroir not making the Top 20 Eat Out restaurant list last November was a blow to their production, saying that Chef Michael’s food is beyond Top 10 competitions, clearly a fan of the chef’s food. He is fascinated by the revolution of growing one’s own vegetables and herbs, and proudly showed me a photograph of his vegetable garden at home, out Hout Bay way, which will become the subject of a TV series  ‘Green Time’ at the end of 2015, with seven pilot projects of vegetable gardening at schools being developed. (more…)

Medi Clinic Somerset WestThe Sweet Service Award goes to the Vergelegen Mediclinic in Somerset West, its staff, the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk management team, as well as local residents for their amazing work in evacuating more than 100 patients from the hospital after the dreadful flood caused by the severe rainstorm last Friday.  The news spread via Twitter, and assistance was called for.  Patients were relocated to other branches of Mediclinic. Odd was that Mediclinic ran an advertisement in the Cape Argus this week, to thank everyone for their assistance. The ad seemed to be in reaction to (more…)

Eat Out magazine cover Whale Cottage PortfolioAfter two disastrous years, New Media Publishing was brave enough to take stock earlier this year, and asked the industry what it wanted in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards.  Last night that hard work paid off, with a new venue for the event, a slick and short presentation, new Awards introduced, and three new restaurants making the Top 10 Restaurant list.  The surprise was the emotion which the chefs expressed when receiving their plaques, challenging MasterChef SA Season 2 on tears!

We were one of the interviewees, meeting with Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, its GM Aileen Lamb, MD Bridget McCarney, and Director Irna van Zyl.  We were forthright in our feedback and suggestions, including that a team of judges would be needed again (we suggested Garth Stroebel, and have yet to meet him!). We fed back that the preferential relationship with Luke Dale-Roberts in TASTE magazine (also published by New Media Publishing, and of which Abigail is the Food Editor) was unfair towards all other chefs, by featuring him every month – we were told that Woolworths had a contract with him, and therefore he received the coverage in the magazine.  This contract was terminated earlier this year, which is excellent news.  Other recommendations can be read here.  Flowing from the interviews and discussions with previous Top 20 chefs and restaurant managers, owners, and suppliers, as well as media representatives and bloggers, New Media Publishing allowed restaurants to apply to be included in the Eat Out Top 500 Restaurant List, which was selected by a (more…)

Michael Pollan is a man with a food conscience, and has written a number of books on the theme of sustainable food and healthy eating, promoting cooking at home, and eating out responsibly, if one must eat at a restaurant, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Admitting that he once was a McDonald’s fan, having one of their meals daily, and that their chicken nuggets are his son’s ‘Proustian smells and tastes of childhood‘, he would not touch their food anymore.  He is concerned that ‘we don’t cook, can’t cook, won’t cook‘, despite the flood of TV food shows and rise in cookbook sales, leading us to eat unhealthy food, which is not environmentally responsible. Even worse is that we don’t connect socially over home-cooked meals any more.  Pollan is a Professor in Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and was named in 2010 as one of TIME‘s 100 persons to ‘most affect our world‘.

Pollan’s book ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma‘ inspired Angus McIntosh, owner of Spier’s Farmer Angus meat and egg supply, to be environmentally responsible in the biodynamic rearing of his animals.  He gave me a copy of the book, to inspire me to spread the message when I visited his farm. The book is subtitled ‘The Search for a perfect meal in a fast-food world‘ and encapsulates Pollan’s criticism of fast food, which he calls an ‘industrial meal’, and of McDonald’s in particular. Pollan analysed the ‘nutritional’ content of McNuggets from a flyer, and found them to contain 38 ingredients, of which 13 are derived from corn, as well as synthetic ingredients made at petroleum refineries or chemical plants, allowing the food to be stored for longer.  Corn is the staple diet of cattle, yet ‘violates the biological or evolutionary logic of bovine digestion’, writes Pollan.  The omnivore’s alternative to industrial food is claimed ‘organic‘ food, sounding more ethical and sustainable. He concludes his book with a description of a meal he prepared from self-foraged ingredients, the ultimate way of eating but time-consuming to gather, including mushrooms, wild boar, fava beans, pâté, morels, bread (made using wild yeast), a garden salad, and a fruit tart for which the fruit was sourced from a public cherry tree, served with chamomile tea. (more…)

Cape Town positions itself as a Festive Season playground, yet is not very tourist-friendly when it comes to being open for business on Christmas Day.  For a city that is the Gourmet Capital of our country, the best that many tourists could eat yesterday was a McDonalds burger!

A Tweet by Table Bay Hotel concierge Ryan Van Zyl yesterday morning highlighted how difficult it would be for him to find restaurants for his guests on the special day.  In Camps Bay, for example, out of about 25 restaurants in the suburb, about half were closed for the day.  Even more closed late afternoon, meaning that Paranga, Zenzero, and Café Caprice were making a killing on the Promenade.  However, this came at a price, with queues to be allocated a table, and slow service in some instances, we have been told by our guests. Today a similar number of Camps Bay restaurants are closed, expecting the annual arrival of rowdy Capetonians taking over the beach suburb, causing mayhem, with potential theft of tourist and restaurant possessions, making Camps Bay a no-go zone just from the traffic build-up alone. Kloof Street has close to 40 restaurants, and is known as the street that never sleeps, always having restaurants open.  At 19h00 yesterday we found only four of these operating: Nando’s, Mc Donalds, Myög, and Mixa’s Schwarma!  Caffé Milano was open during the day yesterday, but had to close when it ran out of supplies.

A restaurant owner’s wife responded on Twitter to Van Zyl’s retort, saying that it was their restaurant’s annual gift to their staff for their hard work, to be closed for two days, which doesn’t make sense, as one can give staff ample time off during winter, when restaurants cry about how quiet they are.   In addition, the Tweeter shared that the lost business does not weigh up against the problems they experience with reliable supply of produce.  This sounds like a more serious issue, but surely one can order ahead for the two days?  Good restaurants will have well-established supplier relationships, which surely cannot be influenced by public holidays, as the Christmas days are not the only ones on which suppliers could be closed. One wonders how the restaurants that were open yesterday coped, from a supply point of view.  Staff reliability is of course the unmentionable, and this may well be the real reason why so many restaurants were closed yesterday.  No Guest House or Hotel, also operating in the hospitality industry, would dream of closing for two days over Christmas, or would have the audacity to ask its guests to make up their own beds on these two days! Surprising is that most restaurants are open on New Years’ Eve, and making plenty of money out of the rates they are charging, supplier support appearing to not be an issue next week!

We have never understood the country closing down for about three weeks around 16 December, when the hospitality requires supplies of guest refreshment portions and amenities, being more fully occupied in the same period as in any other time of the year.   Retailers feel the brunt of supplier closures too, disappointing their clients with out of stocks.  Our experience with the V&A Waterfront and Woolworths showed that the management was not only away from their businesses over weekends, but appear to be so over this whole Christmas week, the Waterfront’s running appearing to be in the hands of its Information Centre’s Assistant Manager Zulfa Nordien.  Commendable is that the phone of Cape Town Tourism was answered yesterday, albeit at their airport branch, the City head office on Burg Street appearing to be closed, with its management on holiday too this week!  This is one of the busiest tourism weeks lying ahead!  Very few Tweets of Cape Town Tourism and the V&A Waterfront are proactive in providing tourist information to our City’s visitors over the festive season, largely restricted to reTweets, or if one is lucky, to having ones queries answered. Today the V&A Waterfront Tweeter got her information wrong in answering a question about whether the new V&A Market on the Wharf is open today!

Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde has encouraged the hospitality industry to take its breaks over winter. Perhaps it is time for him to be prescriptive in encouraging our Cape Town and Western Cape restaurants to be tourist friendly, and to be open over Christmas.  We salute the restaurants and their staff who put service above self yesterday, and welcomed customers and spoilt them with Christmas cheer and good food.

POSTSCRIPT 26/12: We are grateful that Minister Winde supported our plea, in a Tweet in response to this blogpost:alanwinde @FoodWineBlogClu YES we should be open for business over the festive season. It’s harvest time for the tourism industry. @WhaleCottage

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

In September last year we wrote about Kloof Street, and suggested that it be renamed FoodHood, when the ‘Name your Hood’ campaign made its short-lived appearance.  Kloof Street has 38 restaurants, making it one of the most densely populated restaurant streets.  In the past year seven restaurants closed down on Kloof Street, including Opal Lounge, Chez Chez, Mason’s, and St Elmo’s, with some new restaurants opening.  Frommers’ travel guide calls it “The Dining Mile”.

The restaurant list ranges from inexpensive food on the run (McDonalds, Nando’s, Scooters) to fine Milanese pastries (Caffe Milano), homely baking and cooking (Manna Epicure and Tamboers Winkel), the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant finalist fine dining Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel, and numerous other restaurants.  The street venues offer food served over long hours, meaning that one will always find something to eat on Kloof Street, even late at night.

We have listed the restaurants on Kloof Street, starting from the bottom of Kloof Street, and working up towards Table Mountain:

*   Gourmetboerie - said to open in October, where Despaco and short-lived Sabrina’s used to be. 8 Kloof Street.

*   McDonalds - Monday – Sunday, open 24 hours a day.

*   Best of Asia – 7 Kloof Street.  Tel (021) 423-1177.  Monday – Saturday 11h30 – 22h00, Sunday 11h30 – 21h00.

*   Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants: Deluxe coffee, Jason’s croissants and breads. Fresh and cured meats, eggs, chicken, duck, lamb, beef, pork. Metal Lane, 8 Kloof Street.  Tel (021) 424-7204. Monday – Friday 7h30 – 17h30, Saturday 9h00 – 13h00.

*   Bardelli’s - Italian cuisine, with pizzas.  18 Kloof Str.  Tel (021 423-1502.  Monday – Thursday 18h00 – 22h00, Friday and Saturday 18h00 – 23h00, Sunday 12h00 – 22h30

*   Vida e Caffe – good coffees, few snacks. 34 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 426-0627.  Monday – Sunday

*   Mozzarella Bar – salads, sandwiches and other dishes all contain … mozzarella, plus Puglia Cheese mozzarella to buy.  R10 LavAzza cappuccino excellent value.  Some Caffe Milano (sister restaurant) pastries to buy. Giorgio Nava-owned.  51 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 422-5822.  Monday – Saturday 7h00 – 19h00.

*   Nando’s – chicken, chicken, chicken! – 42 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 426-0240.  Monday – Sunday

*   Knead - artisan bakery sells breads and some pastries, sit-down menu serves sandwiches, pizzas, egg dishes. Lifestyle on Kloof,  50 Kloof Street.  Tel (021) 671-7915.  Monday 7h00 – 18h00, Tuesday – Saturday 7h00 – 23h00, Sunday 7h30 – 18h00.

*   Hudson’s Burger Joint – burgers highly regarded. 69A Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 426-5974. Monday – Sunday 12h00 – 23h00

*   Mitico Pizzeria e Spaghetteria – 71 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 422-2267. Monday – Saturday 11h00 – 22h00.

*   Ocean Basket – Part of a seafood franchise, good value. 75 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 422-0322.

*   Café Sofia Meze & Tapas – Breakfast and Lunch,  part of a franchise.  60 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 426-0801.

*   Arnold’s on Kloof – Well known for (early) breakfasts, but also large lunch and dinner menu, cocktails, salads, burgers, pasta and sandwiches.  60 Kloof Street.  Tel (021) 424-4344.  Monday – Friday 6h45 – late.  Saturday & Sunday 8h00 – late.

*   Planet Green Salad Bar – 103 Kloof Street.  Monday – Friday 10h00 – 18h00, Saturday 10h00 – 14h00.

*   Myög -   frozen yoghurt with wide range of toppings (photograph),  103 Kloof Street. Monday – Saturday 10h00 – 22h00, Sunday 12h00 – 22h00.

*   Planet Restaurant at Mount Nelson Hotel –  fine dining, on Top 20 Eat Out list.  Tel (021) 483-1000. Monday – Saturday dinner.

*   Van Hunk’s – South African cuisine, comfortable dining.  Corner Kloof and Upper Union Str.  Tel (021) 422-5422.  Monday – Sunday 11h30 – 22h00.

*   Royo Kloof Asian Restaurant - 115 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 422-1888.  Monday – Sunday 11h00 – 15h00, 17h30 – 22h00.

*  Tokyo Restaurant & Sushi Bar – 115 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 424-5108.  Monday 17h00 – 22h00, Tuesday – Saturday 11h00 – 23h00, Sunday 12h00 – 23h00.

*   Saigon - Vietnamese and some Japanese food.  corner Kloof/Camp Str.  Tel (021) 424-7676.  Monday – Sunday 12h00 – 14h30, 18h00 – 22h30.

*   Scooters – pizzas, mainly take-away and delivery. Corner Kloof and Union Str.  Tel (021) 422-5995.  Daily until 20h00.

*  Asoka – light meals. 68 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 422-0909.

* The Slug & Lettuce - Bistro, English style pub, tapas, beers, wines by the glass. 64 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 422-5325.  Monday – Sunday 11h00 – 2h00.

*   DaVinci’s – pizzas.  Corner Kloof/Camp Str.  Tel (021) 424-7504.  Daily 11h30 – 23h00.

*   Saints on Kloof – burgers and beer! 84 Kloof Street.  Tel (021) 424-0030.  Monday – Sunday 9h00 – 23h00.

*   Toni’s on Kloof Mocambique Portuguese Cuisine – 88 Kloof Str.  tel (021) 423-7617.  Daily 12h00 – 15h00, 18h00 until late.

*   Shelley’s Gourmet Deli -Bistro, health and light meals served.  90 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 424-2740.  Monday – Wednesday 8h00 – 16h00, Thursday – Saturday 8h00 – 22h00, Sunday 8h00 – 15h00.

*   Melissa’s – Deli, part of a chain. Breakfast and lunch buffet, cakes, coffee.  Monday – Sunday.  Tel (021) 424-5540. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 19h00.  Saturday 8h00 – 19h00.  Sunday 8h00 – 18h00.

*   Cocoa Oola Café and Pizzeria - Part of the Cocoa group, with other branches in Rondebosch Cocoa Wah-Wah), Observatory (Cocoa Chaa-Chi) and on Foreshore (Cocoa Expresso).  Large menu, with pizzas, sandwiches, wraps, breakfast, tramezzinis, burgers, pasta, craft beers, and cocktails served in quirky spacious turquoise and lime green interior. Wireless internet.  TV screens.  Corner Kloof and De Lorentz Str.  Tel (021) 422-3638.  Monday – Saturday 7h00 – 23h00, Sunday 8h00 – 20h00.

*  Tamboers Winkelfarm style kitchen in the city, rotisserie chicken forms foundation for many dishes, increasingly adding sweet treats (cupcakes, macaroons, etc).  Also sell charcuterie, free range eggs, Manna Epicure breads, and other deli items (photograph).  3 De Lorentz Str. Tel (021) 424-0521. Tuesday – Friday 9h00 – 20h00, Saturday and Sunday 9h00 – 16h00.

*   Jackal & Hide - ‘Continental cuisine’, bar. 108 Kloof Street.  Tel (021) 424-1020.  Monday – Saturday 15h00 – 24h00.

*   Café Paradiso - Part of the Madame Zingara group, beautiful view onto Table Mountain, seating inside and outside, inexpensive comfort food.  110 Kloof Str. Monday – Saturday 8h00 – 22h00, Sunday 8h00 – 14h30.  Tel (021) 423-8653

*   Manna Epicure - Good breads, cakes and sweet treats, deli.  Attractive white cottagey interior.  151 Kloof Str.  Tel (021)    Tuesday – Sunday   8h00 – 17h00.

Caffe Milano - Milanese pastries, salads, few cooked foods, excellent breakfast (all day on weekends), fabulous Eggs Benedict. Giorgio Nava-owned.  153 Kloof Str.  Tuesday – Sunday, 7h00 until 17h00.  Tel (021) 426-5566 (photograph).

Bombay Bicycle Clubwacky-looking inside and outside bohemian decor, also owned by Madame Zingara group.  Comfort food, inexpensive.  Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 423-6805. Monday – Saturday

*   Bacini’s Ristorante & Pizzeria - Italian style restaurant. 177 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 423-6668.  Monday – Sunday 12h00 – 23h00.

*  Liquorice & Lime – Coffee shop, Breakfasts and light meals.  162 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) Monday – Friday 7h00 – 17h00, Saturday & Sunday, 7h00 – 17h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

2011: what a year it’s been for the world, South Africa, and Whale Cottage – unpredictable, up and down, and a year in which one had to rethink every way in which one has run one’s business and life.  Most would say that it’s been one of the worst years ever!  But despite the tough times, there has been a lot to be grateful for as well.  I have summarised some of the high and low lights of the year:

1.  The knock which tourism took, especially from May – August, in being one of the worst winters ever experienced, had an effect on all sectors of the economy.  Restaurants frantically offered specials to gain cashflow, guest houses went back to dropping rates as they do in winter, and few took rate increases in summer, unlike their hotel colleagues, who suffered poor occupancy too.  More hotels and restaurants closed down than ever seen before. The recession in the UK hit South African tourism and wine sales badly, previously our major source market. From 50 % of our business in the summer months in Camps Bay, the UK business will be no more than 5 % this summer.  High airfares and the crippling UK airport taxes have not helped. The tourism situation was so bad that we wrote an Open Letter to national Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, as Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited were not aware of how bad things were in the Cape, and therefore did nothing to market the region and to help the tourism industry. Cape Town Tourism spent all its energy on Twitter, not yet the medium of communication of our average tourist, and on wasteful promotions, and therefore we did not renew our 20 year membership. The welcome increase in German tourists has not made up this shortfall, but we have been delighted to welcome many more South African guests.   The World Cup has become a swearword, the reality of its lack of a tourism benefit becoming clear. A blessing from Santa has been a much improved festive season, with no snow-bound tourists or strong south-easter wind, as happened last year.

2.  Events are hugely beneficial for business, and the Argus Cycle Tour, J&B Met, and Cape Town International Jazz Festival attracted out of town guests. The U2 and Coldplay concerts helped fill beds and delighted Cape Town audiences.  A fantastic outcome of Coldplay’s performance is that the music video for ‘Paradise’ was filmed in our city, the Boland and the Karoo – no better part of the world could have been chosen for this song!

3.  Cape Town has had an exceptional year, the darling of the world, winning the World Design Capital 2014 bid, Table Mountain being named one of New7Wonders of Nature (amid some controversy and as yet subject to verification), named top destination in TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination (for what it was worth!), and featuring strongly in the new James Bond book ‘Carte Blanche’.  Our city hotels, especially the Cape Grace and Steenberg Hotel, featured on international top hotel lists. Good news was the sale of the V&A Waterfront to a local company, which is investing in the upgrade of and addition to the country’s most popular tourist destination.

4.   Despite the doom and gloom, there were more restaurant openings, and chef and restaurant staff changes this year than in many years: The Pot Luck Club, Hemelhuijs, Dash, Casparus, Dear Me Foodworld, The Franschhoek Kitchen, Il Cappero, Café Benedict, The Kitchen at Maison, Sotano by Caveau, Knife, De Oude Bank Bakkerij, Ryan’s Kitchen, Caffe Milano, Mozzarella Bar, Cassis Salon de Thé, Power & the Glory, Haas Coffee, Johan’s @ Longridge, Skinny Legs & All, KOS Coffee & Cuisine, Café Dijon @ Zorgvliet, Le Coq, Act and Play Bar at the Baxter, Sunbird Bistro, Societi Brasserie, Jason’s, Bird Café with new owners, Maria’s after a long renovation closure, Toro Wine & Aperitif Bar, Valora, Café Le Chocolatier, Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant after a renovation and chef change, Art’s Café, Spice Route, Mitico, Knead on Kloof, Chez Chez, La Bella, 5 Rooms, Terbodore Coffee Bar, Wale Rose Lifestyle, The Black Pearl, Bistro on Rose, Slainte, Babel Tea House, Rhapsody’s, Café Extrablatt, Harvest, McDonalds in the V&A,  The Mussel Bar, The Franschhoek Food Emporium, Makaron, F.east, Bean There Fair Trade, Sabrina’s, Harbour House in the V&A, MCC Franschhoek, Clarke Bar & Dining Room, Roberto’s, French Toast, Saboroso, Mezepoli, Rocca in the Cape Quarter, and Roca in Franschhoek opening their doors, and new suppliers Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants and The Creamery opening too.

5.  Sadly, the recession was noticeable as it hit restaurants, and it was some of the newer restaurants that were badly hit, including What’s On Eatery, The Olive Shack, Bella Lucia, Blonde, Jardine, Caveau at the Mill, Nando’s in Camps Bay, The Sandbar, The Bistro, Restaurant Christophe, Doppio Zero in Green Point and Clarement, shu, Oiishi Delicious Caffe, Hermanos, The Kitchen Bar, Wildwoods, The Green Dolphin, De Huguenot restaurant, Wildflour, Depasco, Kuzina, and 221 Waterfront.

6.  The eating highlight of the year was the tribute dinner to the closing of El Bulli, one of the world’s best restaurants, by Tokara, Chef Richard Carstens excelling in serving a 13-course meal to a packed restaurant on 30 July, earning him and his team a standing ovation.  This meal alone should have made Chef Richard South Africa’s top chef in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards, but sole judge Abigail Donnelly proved that she was incapable of handling this new role and responsibility, not only in excluding Chef Richard from her Top 10 list, but also in awarding the new Boschendal Style Award to her client Makaron.

7.   Franschhoek evolved as THE wine region, Boekenhoutskloof being recognised as South Africa’s top winery by the Platter Guide, and La Motte the top wine estate in South Africa by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.  In the latter competition, Tokara was selected as top wine estate restaurant in the country. The sale of the Franschhoek Graham Beck farm was announced, and the operation closes mid-year in 2012. The winemaking will take place at Steenberg and at Graham Beck in Robertson, while a Graham Beck tasting bar Gorgeous will open at Steenberg in February.

8.   Hermanus was in the tourism marketing spotlight, when miraculously both the committee of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau resigned, and the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation was disbanded by the Overstrand Mayor.  We had written about the self-interest which had been served by the previous leaders of these two bodies in ‘Lermanus’!  A welcome product for Hermanus is the recently created Hermanus Wine Route, marketing of which will be in the capable hands of Carolyn Martin of Creation.

9.   The Consumer Protection Act was introduced in April, and has shown benefits in product deficiencies and returns.  Little effect has been seen for the tourism industry.  The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa tried to change its accommodation assessment standards, which caused a huge outcry.  Despite changing back to what they had before, many accommodation establishments lost faith in the organisation, and have not renewed their accreditation.

10.  The wedding of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlène in July put South Africa in the world spotlight, not only due to the televised broadcast of the wedding, but also as they celebrated their wedding with a second reception, at The Oyster Box in Umhlanga, now the country’s best known hotel.

11.  This year proved that the ‘social’ in Social Media is a misnomer in many respects, but it is the marketing platform which cannot be excluded.  We celebrated the 10th anniversary of our WhaleTales newsletter, the 3rd year of blogging, and our 1000 th blogpost this year.  We are grateful to our Facebook friends and likers, Twitter followers, and blog and newsletter readers for their support.

It is hard to predict 2012, and we will go with the flow.  2011 has made us tougher and even more thick-skinned, we have learnt to change with changed tourism times.  We look forward to a stable world economy, politics, as well as weather in 2012!

POSTSCRIPT 2/1: The most read posts on our blog in 2011 were the restaurant winter specials, the Festive Season packages, the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Charléne, the review of Casparus, the restaurant summer specials, the review of Gaaitjie in Paternoster, the death in Cape Town of the President of Ferrero Rocher,  the listing of restaurant openings and closures, the Consumer Protection Act, and Table Mountain making the New7Wonders of Nature.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

I was very impressed with the new state-of-the-art Leopard’s Leap Tasting Room and Liam Tomlin Culinary Studio and Culinary Store in Franschhoek, which opened yesterday with a demonstration to 80 chefs by Wild Peacock Pastry Chef Vanessa Quellec of Valrhona chocolates, and opens officially on Saturday.

Liam Tomlin is an international chef, and opened the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in Cape Town two years ago. He has created a joint venture, Liam Tomlin Food, with Hein and Hanlie (Rupert) Koegelenberg, and Hanlie’s daughter Berdine Neethling, who is the Project Manager.   The venue will be shared with Leopard’s Leap wines, which has a central winetasting station, a dedicated group winetasting room, as well as a Boardroom and offices.  The building impresses with lots of woodwork on the exterior, which is carried through into the interior.  One walks in (carefully) through a glass floor over water, into an open plan space, starting with the Boardroom, and then the Lounge/Library decorated in the Leopard’s Leap colours of black, red and gold. The Lounge will have information about the Cape Leopard Trust projected onto one of the walls. Then comes the large interestingly-shaped winetasting desk, with contrasting white and natural wood, followed by a generous space for more than 50 chairs for cooking demonstrations, some chairs set up cinema style, and some around tables. Two large-screen TV’s project what is happening on the food preparation counter. Behind the demonstration counter is the shiny stainless steel kitchen, with 6 work stations for 4 persons each. The idea is for Liam Tomlin Food to get into culinary tourism, hosting cooking workshops on specific culinary themes.  Along the side is a group winetasting room, a wine storage area, and the Culinary Store, all with glass walls.  The shop will contain a selection of top quality products for chefs and food-lovers to buy, as well as produce from the Winelands, such as cheeses, charcuterie, mushrooms, and fresh herbs and vegetables.

The emphasis is on education in the building, and hence the tables have meat cut diagrams on them. I loved the whisk lamps in the demonstration seating area, and in the wallpaper in the shop. Whisks are very in all of a sudden, the ‘i’ in The Kitchen logo at Maison across the road being a whisk too!  The building was designed by Makeka Design Lab, and the interior decor was designed by Christo Barnard, who also designed the stylish Pierneef à La Motte.  A herb and vegetable garden will be planted alongside the building. Picnics will be introduced next summer.

The inaugural function was to celebrate the appointment of Vanessa Quellec as Pastry Chef at Wild Peacock, a ‘dream job’ she said, her sole focus being to promote Valrhona chocolate and to assist chefs in making the best of this delectable French chocolate.  I first got to know Chef Vanessa at Caffe Milano, and she only used Valrhona in her baking.  She left the restaurant earlier this year, and went to Valrhona’s training school in Paris, as well as its head office in the Rhone valley, where the chocolate is hand-made by locals, using the best cocoa beans sourced from around the world. Relationship-building is important to Valrhona, and Chef Vanessa is an excellent ambassador for its products, if the amazing turn-out of chefs from more than fifty restaurants, such as The Tasting Room (including Chef Margot Janse), Delaire Graff (with Chefs Christiaan Campbell and Jonathan Heath), The Mount Nelson, The Roundhouse, Bushman’s Kloof, Dear Me, and Aubergine is anything to go by.  Attendees were welcomed by Charlotte Codron from Valrhona in France, telling us that the company was established in 1922.  Its Ecole du Grand Chocolat provides a training facility for top pastry chefs around the world.  Eleven Valrhona couvertures are available locally, ranging from 85% dark chocolate to 34% milk chocolate.  Chef Vanessa demonstrated the making of a truly African dessert, which consisted of cocoa almond streussel, Valrhona Nyangbo (made from cocoa beans from Ghana) 68% cremeux, pink grapefruit sauce and segments, Rooibos infused ice cream, Valrhona Ivoire tempered chocolate shards containing rooibos tea, as well as Valrhona Nyangbo 68% chocolate shards.  Each attendee was served the dessert at the end of the demonstration, which I chose to have with a LavAzza cappuccino, available from the winetasting station, as an alternative to Leopard’s Leap’s wines.

Valrhona is imported from France by Wild Peacock, and will be for sale at Liam Tomlin Food Culinary Store, from its Deli in Stellenbosch, as well as on order.  I have only got to know Sue Baker more recently, seeing each other at many functions.  She told me that she was once a nursery school teacher, and found an opportunity to sell oysters from Knysna to leading restaurants in 1992.  Over time the chefs requested more and more lines from her, and she started sourcing foie gras, duck, mussels, free-range chicken, porcini mushrooms, French cheeses, and many more products.  Now she sources mussels and oysters from the West Coast. Her son Ross is responsible for adding more product lines and attracting new clients, while daughter Sarah, previously Manager of Rust en Vrede restaurant, runs the Food Emporium.  Husband Andrew is MD of Wineworks, handling the local distribution of eighteen wines, such as Warwick, Muratie, Veenwouden, and Etienne le Riche wines.  The Wild Peacock Food Emporium has just started a wine section.

The new Leopards’ Leap venue will help to regain Franschhoek’s gourmet reputation, with this new state-of-the-art Liam Tomlin Food Culinary Studio and Culinary Store, as well as Leopards’ Leap winetasting centre. The wine brand is a very successful one, making significant inroads into the Chinese market, thanks to the passion of Hein Koegelenberg.

POSTSCRIPT 3/12: Leopard’s Leap and Liam Tomlin Food have delayed the opening to Tuesday 6 December.

POSTSCRIPT 9/12:  I popped in at Leopard’s Leap today, where great strides have been made with the landscaping as well as building interior. Inge helped me to photograph the building interior from the upstairs offices.   Liam Tomlin showed me his completed cooking stations in the kitchen.  Next week the produce is expected to be sold in the Liam Tomlin Food Store.  The Leopard’s Leap branding has been erected on the wall facing the R45.

POSTSCRIPT 28/12: A leopard sculpture has recently been erected at Leopard’s Leap, made by artist Marco Cianfanelli.

POSTSCRIPT 17/2:  I attended the official opening of Leopard’s Leap Winery and Liam Tomlim Food last night, an amazing event attended by 300 guests, including Premier Helen Zille and Ex-President FW de Klerk.

Leopard’s Leap and Liam Tomlin Food Culinary Studio and Culinary Store, R45, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8822.   www.leopards-leap.com www.liamtomlinfood.com Tuesday – Saturday, 9h00 – 17h00.

Wild Peacock Products and Food Emporium, 32 Piet Retief Str , Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 801-3663.  Tel (021) 082 923 1582 (Ross Baker) 082 088 1629 (Vanessa Quellec). www.wildpeacock.co.za www.valrhona.com.  Food Emporium Monday – Sunday.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

I had heard of @FarmerAngus McIntosh, as he calls himself on Twitter, for the first time at Caffé Milano a year ago, when I asked them about the origin of their incredibly yellow eggs. Vanessa Quellec, Pastry chef at the time, gave me a bound booklet about Spier’s Biodynamic Farm, describing the pasture-reared production of beef, chicken, lamb and eggs. Yesterday I spent an interesting afternoon with South Africa’s ‘Al Gore’ and ‘Michael Pollan’!

Angus McIntosh fell into farming whilst building his large home on the Spier farm, renting from his father-in-law Dick Enthoven.  He had been a management accountant and worked in London at Goldman Sachs.  It was reading Michael Pollan’s ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma‘ that turned his career and life around, and now he is this country’s only pasture-fed meat and egg supplier to most of the top restaurants in the Cape, and soon to expand to Johannesburg too. “I wanted to produce food that I could eat with a clean conscience“, he said. Angus is young, walks barefoot, speaks fluent Zulu, and looks very relaxed for being the meat supplier to a collection of the top restaurants. I was surprised that his phone did not ring all the time.  He has ordering and delivery organised, with a once a week delivery to Cape Town and the Winelands.  Orders are placed by chefs on Tuesday,  but Farmer Angus can assist in case of need.  One can hear that he has become friends with many leading chefs in the past two years of operating his business, and he reflected how tough business was for restaurants in May, June and July, which he could see in terms of their orders decreasing sharply. In this period Farmer Angus learnt ‘Expectation Management’, in planning his production to supply chefs consistently.  Since the beginning of this month business has boomed, he said. Restaurants that serve Farmer Angus’ produce, which is cut to their specification (Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine is an exception, taking a whole carcass which he cuts up himself) include Delaire Graff, Buitenverwachting, Pierneef à La Motte, The Tasting Room, The Mount Nelson (for which Farmer Angus is rearing guinea fowl with his chickens especially, he told me), Rust en Vrede, Terroir, The Round House, De Oude Bank Bakkerij, 96 Winery Road, Bread and Wine, and Eight at Spier.

Farmer Angus’ wife was in London for business yesterday, and is only involved in the running of the Spier empire in planting indigenous and endemic trees and shrubs on the farm, these not only acting as a wind break, but also adding nutrients to the soil and attracting insects, which helps bring balance back to nature on the farm.   They also have a vegetable and herb garden, delivering only to Eight at Spier, but elderflowers are supplied to Aubergine, Le Quartier Français, The Round House, and Rust en Vrede.

When he explained about the inhumane ‘production’ of chicken, Farmer Angus’ real passion comes to the fore.  He said that 98 % of our supermarket chickens are battery hens, whose beaks are cut to prevent them from ‘cannabilising’ each other in the small space in which they grow.  At Spier no de-beaking takes place, Farmer Angus saying that this is ‘unethical and inhumane’.  His produce is ‘honestly priced’, he says, not adding any brine to his chicken feed, and his chicken rearing does not cause any environmental damage – in fact, it is adding to nature.  The growing of feed for cattle production is what is causing the environmental damage, and he said that if only 10 % of the world’s cows were reared his way, then all carbon problems would be eliminated, and the carbon would be stored in the soil.  He explained about the mass production happening at the country’s two major beef suppliers Chalmar and Karan, these brand names are often specified on menus (i.e. at Reuben’s), but their production methods do not meet Farmer Angus’ approval, the latter farm only having 10 square meter per animal, they spray the animals per aeroplane, and inject the cattle. Farmer Angus highlighted Chef Christiaan Campbell of Delaire Graff as the biggest champion of Spier’s grass-fed meat production.  Spier has a mix of cattle, including Nguni, Hereford and Beefmasters, as well as Dormer lambs.

We drove around the 600 hectare farm, on which the grapes are grown for the award-winning Spier wines, and Farmer Angus uses 54 hectare for his meat and egg production.  He showed me the chicken production in its various stages. I thought the chicks listening to beautiful classical music was very cute, giving them a harmonious start to life.  They are moved into different sections based on age, and ultimately are placed outside in the ‘pastured poultry houses’ he calls Eggmobiles, which are mobile nesting vehicles for 80 chickens each, 12 square meters in size, in which the eggs are laid, and which are moved daily.  I saw the difference in height of the pasture from the previous day compared to the section for the next day, and the chicken manure goes back into the soil, helping to regrow the grass, a natural cycle. His chicken are slaughtered by hand, ‘as humanely as possible’.  Farmer Angus contrasted this to the 25000 chickens a day slaughtered by County Fair, with their questionable claim of ‘home of quality chicken’, their feed containing chicken parts too.  Farmer Angus mixes and matches the pastures for his animals, and has to safeguard his lamb section electronically at night, to prevent theft.   Grass-fed meat is healthier, with omega 3 to 6 fatty acids in balance, reducing cholesterol, and is healthier to eat for diabetics.

Farmer Angus is so passionate about what he does, that he encourages chefs and their kitchen teams and restaurant staff to visit the farm.  Mother City Slow Food visited the farm earlier this year, and while I was unable to attend, I participated in a buying share of parts of a carcass with other members.  Farmer Angus has just introduced home delivery to private homes too, but then one must take half or a whole lamb, at R91,20 per kg.  Eggs cost R33 per dozen, and chicken R45,60 per kg.  Delivery for orders over R500 is free. Melissa’s, Giovanni’s, Tokara DeliCatessen, Wellness Warehouse, Continental Butchery in Kloof Street, and the Somerset West Spar are some of the outlets selling Farmer Angus’ produce.

Diclosure: Farmer Angus gave me a packet of mince, a jar of chicken stock, and a dozen eggs to take home to try.

Spier Biodynamic Farm, Annandale Road, Stellenbosch.  Tel 082 680 8978.  No website. Twitter: @FarmerAngus.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Kloof Street in Gardens must be the city’s most densely populated restaurant streets, there being at least 35 restaurants.  With the ‘Name your Hood’ campaign, I propose that Gardens be renamed FoodHood, as there are many other restaurants in streets leading off Kloof Street, and in the Gardens suburb.  Frommers’ travel guide calls it “The Dining Mile”.

The restaurant list ranges from inexpensive food on the run (McDonalds, Nando’s, Scooters, and St Elmo’s) to fine Milanese pastries (Caffe Milano), Basque cheesecakes (Chez Chez), the Eat Out Top 20 finalist fine dining Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel, and numerous other restaurants.  The street venues offer food served over long hours, meaning that one will always find something to eat on Kloof Street, even if it is late at night.  It was my discovery of Chez Chez and Cocoa Oola on Friday that inspired this blogpost about the restaurants on Kloof Street, starting from the bottom of Kloof Street, and working up towards Table Mountain:

*   Depasco Café Bakery:  Sit-down or take away cooked meals, sandwiches, etc. 8 Kloof Street. Tel (021) 424-7070. Monday – Friday 6h30 – 17h30, Saturday and Sunday 7h30 – 15h00 (Now called Sabrina’s).

*   McDonalds - Monday – Sunday, open 24 hours a day.

*   Tong Lok Chinese Cuisine: 8 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 423-5552. Monday – Thursday 11h30 – 22h30, Friday 11h30 – 22h30, Saturday 12h00 – 22h30, Sunday 17h00 – 21h30

*   Bardelli’s - Italian cuisine, with pizzas.  18 Kloof Str.  Tel (021 423-1502.  Monday – Thursday 18h00 – 22h00, Friday and Saturday 18h00 – 23h00, Sunday 12h00 – 22h30

*   Opal Lounge – probably the most pretentious restaurant in Cape Town. 30 Kloof Str.  Monday – Sunday dinner only.

*   The Black Pearl Restaurant, Tapas and Cocktail Bar: Newly opened, previously Seven Sins.  39 Kloof Str.  072 127 8831.  Monday – Thursday 7h30 – 22h00, Friday 7h30 – 23h00, Saturday 9h00  - 23h00, Sunday 9h00 – 18h00. (Closed down)

*   Vida e Caffe – good coffees, light snacks. 34 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 426-0627.  Monday – Sunday

*   Mozzarella Bar – salads, sandwiches and other dishes all contain … mozzarella, plus Puglia Cheese mozzarella to buy.  R10 LavAzza cappuccino excellent value.  Some Caffe Milano (sister restaurant) pastries to buy. Giorgio Nava-owned.  51 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 422-5822.  Monday – Saturday 7h00 – 19h00.

*   Nando’s : chicken, chicken, chicken! – 42 Kloof Str.  Tel (426-0240.  Monday – Sunday

*   Hudson’s Burger Joint:  burgers highly regarded. 69A Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 426-5974. Monday – Sunday 12h00 – 23h00

*   St Elmo’s: pizza, pasta, as well as salads.  71 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 422-2267.  Monday – Friday 9h00 – 22h00, Saturday & Sunday 9h00 – 22h30 (Closed down, now Mitico).

*   Ocean Basket: Part of a seafood chain. 75 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 422-0322.

*   Café Sofia Meze & Tapas:  Breakfast and Lunch,  part of a chain.  60 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 426-0801.

*   Arnold’s on Kloof: Well known for (early) breakfasts, but also large lunch and dinner menu, cocktails, salads, burgers, pasta and sandwiches.  60 Kloof Street.  Tel (021) 424-4344.  Monday – Friday 6h45 – late.  Saturday & Sunday 8h00 – late.

*   Planet Restaurant at Mount Nelson Hotel: fine dining, Top 20 Eat Out list.  Tel (021) 483-1000

*   Van Hunk’s:  South African cuisine, comfortable dining.  Corner Kloof and Upper Union Str.  Tel (021) 422-5422.  Monday – Sunday 11h30 – 22h00.

*   Royo Kloof Asian Restaurant: 115 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 422-1888.  Monday – Sunday 11h00 – 15h00, 17h30 – 22h00.

* Tokyo Restaurant & Sushi Bar: 115 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 424-5108.  Monday 17h00 – 22h00, Tuesday – Saturday 11h00 – 23h00, Sunday 12h00 – 23h00.

*   Saigon: Vietnamese and some Japanese food. 110 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 424-7676.  Monday – Sunday 12h00 – 14h30, 18h00 – 22h30.

*   Scooters: – pizzas, mainly take-away and delivery. Corner Kloof and Union Str.  Tel (021) 422-5995.  Daily until 20h00.

*  Asoka: light meals. 68 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 422-0909.

* Mason’s Café and Grill: light meals, including Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Free wifi.  64 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 422-5325.  Monday – Sunday 9h00 – 22h00. (Closed down)

*   DaVinci’s: pizzas.  110 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 424-7504.  Daily 11h30 – 23h00.

*   Toni’s on Kloof Mocambique Portuguese cuisine:  88 Kloof Str.  tel (021) 423-7617.  Daily 12h00 – 15h00, 18h00 until late.

*   Shelley’s Gourmet Deli: Bistro, health and light meals served.  90 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 424-2740.  Monday – Wednesday 8h00 – 16h00, Thursday – Saturday 8h00 – 22h00, Sunday 8h00 – 15h00.

*   Melissa’s:  Deli, part of a chain. Breakfast and lunch buffet, cakes, coffee.  Monday – Sunday.  Tel (021) 424-5540. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 19h00.  Saturday 8h00 – 19h00.  Sunday 8h00 – 18h00.

*   Buzz: Light Meals. 96 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 426-2797.  Monday – Sunday. (Closed down)

*   Cocoa Oola Café and Pizzeria:  Part of the Cocoa group, with other branches in Rondebosch Cocoa Wah-Wah), Observatory (Cocoa Chaa-Chi) and on Foreshore (Cocoa Expresso).  Large menu, with pizzas, sandwiches, wraps, breakfast (14 options), tramezzinis, burgers, pasta, craft beers, and cocktails served in quirky spacious turquoise and lime green interior. Wireless internet.  TV screens.  Corner Kloof and De Lorentz Str.  Tel (021) 422-3638.  Monday – Saturday 7h00 – 23h00, Sunday 8h00 – 20h00.

*  Chez 2 Chez Cheesecake and Espresso Bar: Newly opened and operated by mother Nicole Baiae and son Chris.  Basque theme, with red beret and scarf, red scarf pictures, and strong red decor.  Double-shot coffee R13,50 excellent value.  Thirteen cheesecake choices (e.g. Tiramisu, Pineapple and coconut, Blueberry sour creams, Palm sugar and Lime, Frozen Peanut Butter, Mint Choc Magic, Killer Kit Kat) at R25, fresh-baked croissants, and brownies offered.  Corner Kloof and De Lorentz Str. Tel 082 085 2848.  Monday – Friday 7h30 – 17h00, Saturday 8h30 – 14h00, Sunday 9h00 – 13h00.

*   Café Paradiso:  Part of the Madame Zingara group, beautiful view onto Table Mountain, seating inside and outside, inexpensive comfort food.  110 Kloof Str. Monday – Saturday 8h00 – 22h00, Sunday 8h00 – 14h30.  Tel (021) 423-8653

*   Manna Epicure:  Once a trendy eatery, good breads, cakes and sweet treats, deli.  Attractive cottagey interior.  151 Kloof Str.  Tel (021)    Tuesday – Sunday   8h00 – 17h00.

* Caffe Milano:  Milanese pastries, salads, few cooked foods, excellent breakfast (all day on weekends). Giorgio Nava-owned.  153 Kloof Str.  Tuesday – Sunday, 7h00 until 17h00.  Tel (021) 426-5566.

* Bombay Bicycle Club: wacky-looking inside and outside bohemian decor, also owned by Madame Zingara group.  Comfort food, inexpensive.  Kloof Str.  Tel (021) 423-6805. Monday – Saturday

*   Bacini’s Ristorante & Pizzeria:  Italian style restaurant. 177 Kloof Str. Tel (021) 423-6668.  Monday – Sunday 12h00 – 23h00.

*  Liquorice & Lime: Coffee shop, Breakfasts and light meals.  162 Kloof Str.  Tel (021) Monday – Friday 7h00 – 17h00, Saturday & Sunday, 7h00 – 17h00.

POSTSCRIPT 11/2: I discovered Myög today, at 103 Kloof Street.  A fresh-looking outlet serving only frozen yoghurt with fruit and other toppings.  The serving staff are French, and the person I spoke to is not allowed to divulge the name of the owner nor the supplier of their yoghurt, fruit or any other ingredients. What do they have to hide?  Tastes like Marcels.  No website yet, but on Facebook and Twitter (@Myog_SA).

POSTSCRIPT 11/2:  Driving down Kloof Street about a week ago, it was sad to see that so many restaurants on this list have closed down: Black Pearl, Buzz, St Elmo’s, Mason’s, Depasco (now Sabrina’s), and Tong Lok.  However, Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants, Mitico, and Knead have opened on the street.

POSTSCRIPT 18/2: Chez Chez closed its doors yesterday.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage