Entries tagged with “Haas Coffee”.


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

The October Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting, hosted by the Haas Collective in their gallery across the road from Haas Coffee, reflected the passion and spirit of Jorgensen Distillery and Honest Chocolates, both artisanal producers.

Dawn introduced Jorgensen Distillery, and has been a loyal attendee of the Food & Bloggers’ Club meetings.  Last year she and Roger introduced Primitiv Vodka to the Bloggers’ Club.  Dawn told us that from being a winemaker, Roger moved into distilling, being one of three to start distilling spirits locally.  It’s a family business, and the website address www.jd7.co.za, reflects the seven members in the Jorgensen family, all involved in the business.  The family handles all aspects of the business, being absolutely hands-on. Dawn saw the power of Social Media, and took a one-day course. She registered the Twitter address @PrimitivVodka, which she uses for the whole product range, which has grown to eight, and does not think that she should have a separate account for each brand.  She praised Twitter and Blogging, saying that through Social Media they have made friends and built relationships. Roger is the ‘alchemist’, handling the production, and Dawn the Marketing, which she focuses on Social Media, and participation at smaller shows, locally and in Johannesburg. Interested bloggers and journalists have come to see the Jorgensen Distillery in Wellington. Dawn was almost apologetic about her Twitter Follower and Facebook Friends numbers of around 600, but has realised that it is not the number of persons, but the quality of the interaction that is important.  Dawn has found Facebook to be very visual, with Friends posting photographs, whilst Twitter helps to spread the word about one’s brand if the users are happy with it.  Happy customers become Social Media friends, word of mouth being their most important marketing approach. They value the relationships that they develop at each meeting. Dawn says she only Tweets positively.  She likes to promote like-minded people and their brands on Twitter.

Roger has a South African mother and Norwegian father, and grew up in a home in which spirits were drunk regularly and neat, always enjoyed with food. He was one of three producers to help change legislation relating to potstill brandy production, co-founded the Wellington Wine Route, and founded the Brandy Route in Wellington. He said that if one does ‘not make honest, holistically produced material you are just another brand’.  Roger said that spirits are drunk neat in the north, and with mixers in hot climate countries, including South Africa.  He suggested that they be drunk cold and neat, and not with local mixers, which are far too sweet.  We tasted the Primitiv Vodka first, which is made from spelt, the origin of grain, which Roger sources from the Cederberg, being the only region in South Africa where it is grown.  Roger distills the spelt with the husks, its oil giving the vodka its special flavour. He could make it at an alcohol level of 96%, but has chosen to reduce it to 90%, to allow the flavour of the essential oils to come to the fore.  He was critical of other commercially produced vodka, some of it made from grain not fit for human consumption.  Primitiv has a creamy and oily mouth feel, with floral, pepper and aniseed notes. It is well-suited to eat with cheese, and seafood, including oysters.  Premium white spirits are difficult to make, Roger said.  Lemoncello is a drink they learnt to love on a holiday in Tuscany, there being about thirty kinds in Italy. Roger uses organic Cape lemons, having the perfect aroma in the skin.  The top layer of the skin soaks in strong wine spirit for two weeks, and it absorbs the flavour and oils from the lemons. Roger would like to see restaurants serving a complimentary glass of Lemoncello as a thank you to their customers.  Limes from the neighbours are used to make Naked Lime liqueur, and bartered for product. Roger loves experimenting, and has made liqueurs from bay leaves and naartjies. The Jorgensen Distillery products can be delivered by courier when ordered off their website, or from www.ebooze.co.za, or found at Wines at the Mill. A range of miniatures is supplied to guest houses and hotels.  The Absinthe is the product that is most in demand, and their most expensive product.  New products Roger is working on are a South African ‘Tequila’, a local rum, and liqueurs made from indigenous aromatic plants. The Jorgensen’s gin is an African take on this product, Roger said, and again he emphasised that it should be drunk neat. This is the product that is hardest to make, in ensuring consistency, and therefore Roger holds back one third of every batch, to blend with the next batch.  A unique mix of herbs is used by Roger to make his gin, including ‘grains of paradise’, ‘Natal wild ginger spice’, and Ohandua spice from Namibia.  South Africa’s legislation, driven by the South African Liquor Brand Association, on which the major producers sit, demands that spirits have 43% alcohol, whereas the international norm is 40%.  Imported products therefore need to be adapted to increase the alcohol content, and their packaging needs to be amended for imported brands to be sold locally.  The Jorgensen’s Savignac potstill brandy was the highlight of the tasting for me, not being a brandy drinker at all. It is made in the style of French cognac, matured for 14 years in French oak barrels.  No sugar or caramel is added to the brandy, and the Honest Chocolates we tasted with it was an amazing marriage.

Honest Chocolates’ Anthony Gird told us that he ‘stumbled’ into chocolate-making, not having any culinary background. Using raw cocoa powder he had found in health shops, he experimented with it to make chocolates that his friends loved.  Michael de Klerk was living in London at the time, specialising in website design, and he too was experimenting with chocolate-making, having been inspired by a friend in New York to do so.  The team call themselves ‘imperfectionists’, learning as they go along. They have started with making moulded and dipped truffles, and sold their first handcrafted chocolates at the Old Biscuit Mill.  Their chocolates do not contain dairy or emulsifiers, and they only use natural fructose.  The raw organic cocoa beans are sourced from Super Foods, who in turn source them from a co-operative in Ecuador, which is also known to make one of the top chocolates in the world.  Their cocoa beans are not roasted, unlike other cocoa producers. The beans have a great aroma, have anti-ageing properties, and are good for the heart.  They use agave nectar instead of sugar, which is low GI, and is therefore diabetic-friendly.  In addition to truffles, they make small slabs, each new product wrapper designed by a different designer: a rabbit on the 72 % bar, and an illustration of the Kalahari desert on the Salt bar. They also make a chocolate spread.

Honest Chocolate has a website, a Facebook page, and more recently got into Twitter.  They have a blog on their website. Two months ago they opened their first outlet on Wale Street, from which they both make and sell the chocolate.  They say it is hard to make chocolate and Tweet/Blog. Currently they have about 600 Facebook friends and Twitter followers.  Facebook is like an on-line store for Honest Chocolate, with others recommending their products, while Twitter is a tool to network with partners.  They have had write-ups on blogs and in magazines, giving them free coverage, and this helps them to build relationships.  Every time someone Re-Tweets their Tweet, or Tweets about them, they get more followers, they have found.  For them the number of Followers is not as important as the quality of the Tweets and Followers.  They say that the personality reflected in Social Media becomes that of your business.

The Haas Collective consists of the coffee shop and restaurant, the Gallery, a decor and design section, and an advertising agency partnered with Draft FCB. Partnerships form the business model for Haas, and so Strictly Coffee from Robertson is the coffee partner.   The business is evolving, and their first ‘Underground Supper’ will be held in the Gallery on 29 October.

It was an amazing evening, reflecting with honesty the start-up of both Honest Chocolate and Jorgensen’s Distillery.  The passion for their businesses and brands was palpable, inspiring those present to change their spirit and chocolate brands.  Both companies have in common that they have stories behind them, making products that people fall in love with when they meet the people making them, and therefore the price of their artisanal products is less important.  Their products offer value in a recessionary economy, being anti-capitalist, ‘non-tourism bus’ type products, offering value and purity, taking one back to the days of the ‘tuisnywerheid’, it was said. They are products one can trust, as they are not mass-produced.  Both businesses will grow organically, and Social Media plays a role in achieving a slow and steady growth.

Haas Collective:  67 Rose Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 422-4413. www.haascollective.com @HaasCollective  @HaasCoffee

Jorgensen’s Distillery: Versailles, Wellington.  Tel (021)  864-1777.  www.jd7.co.za @PrimitivVodka

Honest Chocolate: 66 Wale Street, Cape Town. Tel 082 829 3877/082 736 3889. www.honestchocolate.co.za @HonestChoc

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club: Tel (021) 433-2100.  whalecot@iafrica.com   Facebook @FoodWineBlogClu

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

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was treated to a wonderful feast of Bistro Sixteen82 tapas with five excellent Steenberg Vineyards wines, and informed about their Social Media activities last week.

First to speak was Sales and Marketing Manager Anetha Homan, who has been at Steenberg Vineyards for almost five years, and at Constantia Uitsig for eight years before that.  Graham de Vries was recently appointed to manage Social Media for Steenberg Vineyards, and the ‘Totally Stoned’ Blog focuses on the wine side of the estate, but does incorporate information about Bistro Sixteen82 and Catharina restaurants.  Social Media was first introduced at Steenberg in 2007, and Tweeting and Blogging is done corporately.  Initially Anetha was so enthusiastic about Social Media, that she wanted her GM and the winemaker to blog too.  In 2009 Steenberg Vineyards did its first Twitter Tasting, and it was a creative way for the wine estate to attract attention.  This was repeated on a larger scale a few months ago. Research findings on Twitter trends in 2010 of South Africans (most Tweeters live in Cape Town, most Tweeting is done on Tuesdays, and from 7 – 8 pm) has been implemented in the Social Media strategy of Steenberg Vineyards. Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging has given Steenberg Vineyards a consumer communication channel, to pass on communication in a fun and informal manner, but even more importantly, to receive it back from their consumers.  The GM, winemaker and restaurant receive welcome messages of support. New friends have been made via Social Media dialogue, and these have become Followers and, even better, Brand Ambassadors.  Anetha cited the example of Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club member Andre Pentz, who met Graham at the previous meeting, and has since interacted regularly with Steenberg Vineyards.  The immediacy of sharing information is a major advantage. Anetha shared with bloggers her rules of Social Media engagement:

1.  No one is interested in how you feel

2.  Dare to be controversial, but do not insult. Tweeters prefer to read feel-good Tweets.  It is a shame that wine writers are tearing other writers apart, she said.

3.  Respond when written to.  Tweeters want dialogue.

4.  Show personality and passion, and don’t be too ‘sterile’ or ‘corporate’ in writing.  Customers want to be talked to as individuals.

5.   Don’t hard-sell.  Provide information

6.   Don’t do ambush marketing

7.   Add value in sending out information

8.   Re-Tweets are an important means of distributing information, and for adding Followers.

9.  Visuals have become more important, and less copy is read.

The ‘Totally Stoned’ website name was chosen as a tongue in cheek reference to the ‘stone mountain’ of Steenberg, from which the wine estate takes its name.  Graham did a fun blogpost about Planking, showing various Steenberg staff ‘planked’ on the wine estate. It was a fun colourful communication which created visual impact for the estate, and doubled traffic to the blog.  It also demonstrated the human side of the business, showing the company as a team of human beings.

Bloggers were offered a glass of Steenberg Brut 1682 MCC Chardonnay 2010 (R120) on arrival, first made by Steenberg Vineyards in 2000.  Initially it contained Pinot Noir as well, but is now 100% made from Chardonnay, with 12 – 18 months on the lees. In 2007 the first Steenberg Brut 1682 Pinot Noir MCC was made, and was launched earlier this month, having spent three years on the lees.  It costs R275.  The Sauvignon Blanc Reserve is what put Steenberg Vineyards on the map, and vintages sell out very quickly. Semillon is one of the oldest grape varieties in South Africa, haviung been planted 200 years ago, and used to make up 96% of planting.  It has reduced down to only 2%, and is often used in making Sauvignon Blanc to give it more body.  It is an excellent pairing with food.  The Steenberg Semillon 2010 comes from a 16 year block, and now spends a longer time in new French oak.  It has a buchu and fynbos character, from the plants growing around it.  Steenberg Nebellio refers to the mist they often experience on the wine estate, and the first plantings were brought in from Italy by the previous GM of Steenberg Vineyards. It has a very earthy character, and also is an excellent wine paired with foods.   Catharina Red is named after the characterful first owner of the wine estate, who had five husbands, and five grape varities have gone into the making of this blend, a more complex wine with a strong mint character coming from the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Brad Ball has been the chef at Bistro Sixteen82 for two years, having opened it at Steenberg Vineyards.  They have appointed Linda Harding as the Social Media consultant for the restaurants and hotel on the estate. Thoughts and experiences of customers are shared, and they look for interaction with guests.  They like the flexibility of being able to promote a particular dish immediately, and not wait for three months or more until they receive coverage in a magazine. ‘Our blog is our press’, Brad said, referring to it as a cost-effective communication medium.   Chef Brad has recently opened his own personal Twitter account (@BradBallBrand), to allow him to Tweet more personally, but he does realise that he still has limitations as to what he says, as he is linked to Steenberg and the Bistro.  He advised that consistency in content is important for the reader of blogs.  He says that one ‘eats with one eyes’, and that is why they post photographs of their dishes on the blog as well as on Twitter, Tweets being carefully scheduled.  The power of Social Media was demonstrated to the Bistro after they re-opened after a three week break at the beginning of the month, to a fully booked first day, and it has been full every day thereafter.  A year ago it took ten days for business to pick up again after their break.  The Bistro did not stop Tweeting while they were closed, and competitions were run, with a count-down to opening day.  The Social Media program for Bistro Sixteen82 positions it as fun, vibey and enticing restaurant to eat at.   Linda did a one-week internship with Chef Brad, and that has helped her with her understanding of the business.  Chef Brad welcomes kitchen help, to share with interested persons how a restaurant kitchen works.   Bistro Sixteen82 has four seasonal menu changes, and Chef Brad sources local produce.  The pork belly and beef tataki are absolute favourites, and cannot be taken off the menu. Produce is sourced from the hotel’s herb and vegetable garden.  Worm composting is used for the large amount of vegetable waste the restaurants generate.  Chef Brad talked about the collegiality that exists between chefs and that they meet regularly.  He would interact with dialogue about other chefs and their restaurants on Twitter, he said.  It is a reciprocal endorsement, and gives credibility.  We commend Chef Brad for being the only restaurant chef to have attended meetings of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, demonstrating his dedication to and understanding of the benefits of Social Media.

To close the meeting, Matt Allison, one of the speakers at our August meeting, shared his experience of being the only South African to attend the Mad Food Camp organised by the world’s top restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen, organised by its owner Rene Redzepi last month. It was a huge honour for Matt to have been selected as one of 250 urban gardeners and chefs from around the world.  The Food Camp was the largest Northern European food festival, and alongside it ran the workshop, focusing on the relationship between restaurants and purveyors of fruit and vegetables.  Chefs are encouraged to grow their own produce, if feasible.  He was wowed by what he saw and heard, for example Amazonian ants preserved in gelatine by the chef of South American  restaurant Dom.  Matt is passionate about honouring the value of food.  He has become such an authority on urban farming, working with local Cape Town restaurants and farming his own vegetables and herbs, which he sells on Wednesdays at Starlings Café, that he was featured in the Sunday Times yesterday, and an article in the New York Times is to appear too.

Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

*   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk of Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street.

*   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, Cape Town. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at whalecot@iafrica.com. The cost of attendance is R100.  Twitter: @FoodWineBlogClu  Facebook: click here.

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

The members of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club have been very fortunate to have been wined and dined in the past eighteen months of the Club’s existence.  This month is no different, and our visist to Steenberg Vineyards, and to their Bistro Sixteen82, is likely to be a very popular event.   The meeting will feature two speakers, being Anetha Homan, Sales and Marketing Manager of Steenberg Vineyards, and Chef Brad Ball of Bistro Sixteen82.

Anetha Homan has been the Sales and Marketing Manager of Steenberg Vineyards for the past four years, and worked at Constantia Uitsig for eight years prior to that. She graduated with a BA Communications at the University of Stellenbosch.  Steenberg’s winemaker is JD Pretorius.  Steenberg is committed to Social Media, having the Totally Stoned Steenberg Blog, which includes wine news and news about its restaurant Bistro Sixteen82.  Anetha says that Social Media allows Steenberg to communicate with its customers in an informal way, and it allows the wine estate to receive feedback from their customers too.

Chef Brad Ball is destined for great things, and deserves to be in the Eat Out Top 20 restaurant list, and is a strong contender for the newly created Bistro category.  Chef Brad comes from a foodie family, in that his mom managed a catering company.   It was a heavenly Tuna Nicoise that inspired him to apply for his first position as chef, and he was appointed at Simon’s Table in Simonstown 14 years ago.  Two years later he went to London, where he worked with Chef Patron Rowley Leigh, known as the father of modern British cuisine, at Kensington Place. It is here that his love for Bistro-style food was born.  On his return to Cape Town he worked as Head Chef at Olympia Café and Deli, followed by the Post House Hotel & Restaurant in Greyton, Pastis Brasserie in Constantia, and at The River Café.  He started his own catering consultancy before he joined Steenberg Vineyards to open the new restaurant Bistro Sixteen82.  Chef Brad believes in ‘simple is better’, and ‘local is lekker’.   He is inspired by Japanese cuisine and Provencal food. He puts his heart and soul into whatever he does, delivering passion and pizzaz in the food that he serves.  Bistro Sixteen82 is probably best known for its Friday Steenburger, and Beef Tataki.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club aims to foster this informal training, and to serve as a social media networking opportunity.

Anetha and Chef Brad will talk for about half an hour each about the Steenberg Blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun. Anetha Homan will lead bloggers through a tasting of the Steenberg wines, while snacks will be prepared by Chef Brad.

Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

*   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk of Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street.

*   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, Wednesday 21 September, 6 – 8 pm: Steenberg Vineyards, Steenberg, Cape Town. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at whalecot@iafrica.com. The cost of attendance is R100.  Twitter: @FoodWineBlogClu  Facebook: click here.

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

Whilst I dislike going into the city centre during the day, due to the irritating parking guards, I am pulled to the city centre more and more due to the ever-growing collection of good restaurants and coffee shops.  This blogpost is a summary of some of Cape Town’s inner-city highlights:

*   Hemelhuijs- owned by interior and restaurant consultant Jacques Erasmus, previously from Manna.  Emphasis is on freshness. Creative unusual menu.  Breakfast and lunch served.  Monday – Friday 8h00 – 15h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 15h00. Open for dinner on Wednesday evenings.  71 Waterkant Street. Tel (021) 418-2042.

*   Dear Me Foodworld - a hot new addition, with a Francois du Plessis decor emphasis on green (both interior colour and herbs grown from the ceiling, see photograph above) and health, with most dishes offered as lactose-free and/or sugar-free alternatives.  Menu changes daily.  Great creative chef Vanessa Marx. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h00.   Open for dinner on Thursday evenings.  165 Longmarket Street.  Tel (021) 422-4920.

*   Tjing Tjing Bar- when Dear Me Foodworld closes late afternoon, its upstairs Ting Tjing Bar opens, serving tapas, changes regularly. 165 Longmarket Street. Tuesday – Saturday from 16h00 until late.  Tel (021) 422-4920.

*   Escape Caffe- one of the hottest coffee shops in the city centre, featured in the media for its lemon cheese cake.  Owner Lameen Abdul-Malik has a Nobel Peace Prize for his joint efforts to ensure the safest possible use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. Serves organic blend artisanal coffee from Espresso Lab.   Monday – Friday 7h00 – 16h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 12h00.  130 Bree Street.  Tel (021) 422-1325.

*   What’s On Eatery- probably the restaurant with the friendliest owner (Trevor Jordaan) in town, serves Breakfast and Lunch on weekdays from 7h30 – 16h00, and Dinner from Tuesday – Saturday.  Coffee by Origin.  Excellent value.  Exciting news is the appointment of Chef Oliver Cattermole from 1 October.  6 Watson Street.  Tel (021) 422-5652 CLOSED DOWN 2011

*   Rhubarb Room- coffee shop inside decor shop, previously in Bo-Kaap.  Serve cakes, coffee (by Deluxe), soup, quiches, and salads.  High tea offered for baby showers, kitchen teas and birthdays.    Monday – Friday 9h00 – 17h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 13h00.  227 Bree Street. Tel (021) 424-2004. CLOSED DOWN 2011

*   Valora- stylish new restaurant, bar and café.  Try Chef Andrew’s Two Tone soup. Extensive menu choice, includes tapas.  LavAzza coffee.  Great for late snack and drink. Monday – Friday 7h00 – 22h00, Saturday 17h00 – 23h00.  Corner Loop and Hout Street.  Tel (021) 426-1001.  CLOSED DOWN 2012

*   Skinny Legs & All - interior decorated with paintings from co-owner João Ferreira art gallery.  Emphasis on freshly made food.  Advised by Brad Ball of Bistro 1682. Run by sweet pair of twins Jamie and Jessie.   Monday – Friday 7h00 – 16h00. Saturday 8h30 – 14h00. 70 Loop Street.  Tel (021) 423-5403.

*   Roberto’s Signature Restaurant – expect interesting things to come from Roberto de Carvalho, leader of the SA chefs team in Culinary Olympics, and ex-chef at Twelve Apostles Hotel.  Simple food, mainly in Portuguese style.  Excellent Tiramisu. Located below On Broadway, so very busy between 7 – 8 pm to cater for the theatre crowd.  Tuesday – Sunday 12h00 – 15h30, 18h00 – 23h30.  44 Long Street.   Tel (021) 424-1195. CLOSED DOWN 2013

*   6 Spin Street - unusual restaurant setting inside the IDASA book shop.  Well-known for its cheese soufflé and duck.  Monday – Friday Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner from 8h30.  Saturday dinner only.  6 Spin Street.  Tel (021) 461-0666.

*   French Toast – focus on its large range of wines by the glass offered, but interesting tapas offering.  Monday – Saturday 12h00 – 23h00. 199 Bree Street   Tel (021) 422-3839.  CLOSED DOWN 2012, BUT RE-OPENED AS THE ODYSSEY IN 2013

*   Jason’s Bakery- recently opened where Jardine’s used to be, owned by Jason of ex-Jardine’s Bakery.  Bakery and Café. Sandwiches, breakfast, soul food, and vegetarian.  Monday – Friday 7h00 – 15h30. Saturday 8h00 – 14h00.  185 Bree Street.  Tel (021) 424-5644.

*   Haas Coffee – increasingly popular city hot-spot without any parking guards, and usually a parking spot available close by.  Friendly and welcoming, and part of Haas Collective decor and art.  Cakes, tarts and food menu, including cooked breakfasts.   67 Rose Street. Monday – Sunday.  Tel (021) 422-2239.

*   Piroschka’s Kitchen – Hungarian Flammkuchen with Gluehwein on cold days. Monday – Friday 11h00 - 19h00.  106 Bree Street. Tel 083 327 3203 CLOSED DOWN, NOW ONLY AT MARKETS

*   Bread, Milk and Honey – busy breakfast and lunch spot, for take-aways or sit-down.  10 Spin Street.  Monday – Friday 6h30 – 16h00.  Tel (021) 461-8425.

Il Cappero - hard-working Sicilian chef and charming husband Aldo in front-of-house.  Not-so-usual Italian and Sicilian specialities.  Monday – Friday lunch.  Monday – Saturday dinner. 3 Barrack Street.  Tel (021) 461-3168.  MOVED TO CAMPS BAY

*   Charly’s Bakeryfamous for its cake creations and cheeky cupcakes, one can also sit down for coffee, cake, pies and cupcakes.  Ample parking, no parking guards.  38 Canterbury Street.  Monday -  Saturday. Tel (021) 461-5181.

Maria’s - Owners Kate and Cleon Romano are charming hosts, and the restaurant has a lovely buzz, and many tapas-like Greek dishes as well as mains.  Monday – Saturday lunch and dinner. Great lunch spot after City Bowl Market. To open for Sunday lunch soon.  Dunkley Square, 31 Barnett Street, Hatfield.  Tel (021)  461-3333.

*   Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery – Quirky milk-crate seating, decor change has opened up the kitchen, great quality food, friendly service.  New owners Keith Mink, and Leigh Trout (ex-chef at Mange Tout, Mont Rochelle Hotel in Franschhoek), opened on 1 September. 127 Bree Street.  Tel (021) 426-2534.

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

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting, held at Den Anker last night, and addressed by Matt Allison of ImNoJamieOliver Blog and Nikki Dumas of Swirl! Blog, was characterised by PASSION: not only in terms of the blogger speakers, but also in the fantastic food paired by Den Anker with six excellent Jordan wines.

Prior to the speakers sharing their blogging passion, Robyn Martin, the most charming, organised and passionate representative for Jordan wine estate, took us through the tasting of the first three Jordan wines.  Being the organised person that she is, she had prepared a tasting summary for groups of wines.  The first three wines tasted were white: the Jordan 2009 Riesling, being ‘aromatic and appley’, and a winner of the Old Mutual Trophy, SA Terroir, and the Five Nations awards, was paired with just-seared sesame-coated tuna, one of the highlights prepared by Chef Doekle Vlietman at Den Anker.  On the same plate was the sweetest presentation of truffle-enhanced scrambled egg served in an egg shell on a bed of coarse salt, paired with creamy and toasty Jordan 2009 Chardonnay.  Wrapping up the trio was a beer-poached katifi-wrapped prawn, draped in a saffron beurre blanc, paired with the tropical green notes of Jordan 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. 

Nikki Dumas, another highly organised lady, presented each of the attendees with a sheet of her ‘Twenty-one Commandments’ on how to blog successfully.  She passionately expressed her love for wine, and all things related to it.      Nikki’s suggestions for successful blogging are: 1. write something useful  2. write something unique 3. write something newsworthy  4. write something first   5. write something that makes those who read it smarter  6. write something controversial  7. write something insightful  8. write something that taps into a fear people have  9. write something that helps other people achieve  10. write something that elicits a response  11. write something that gives a sense of belonging  12. write something passionately  13. write something that interprets or translates news for people   14. write something inspirational   15. write something that tells a story   16. write something that solves a problem   17.  write something that gets a laugh   18. write something that saves people time or money   19.  write something opinionated  20.  write something that is a resource  21. write something about something ‘cool’.

Nikki’s passion for her own brand ‘Nikki Dumas’ came to the fore, and she is a confident blogger, who knows exactly where she is going.  She has two blogs – Swirl!  is a blog she uses to document information about the wine industry, coming from PR agencies, for example.  She does not allow comments on this blog.  Winestyle.biz is the blog on which she writes her own blogposts, with about 4000 hits since she started it in April. She allows comments on this blog, even if they are controversial, to create debate.  She emphasised that she is not a writer nor journalist, and that she will only write about something she judged to be good.  Everything she experiences in terms of food and wine she evaluates against her career in restaurant management.   She likes using Google’s Blogger platform, saying it is user-friendly.  Her blogpost attracting the largest number of hits is the anonymous survey she conducted on restaurant listing fees for wines.  She said she is a ‘Mac junkie’, and evaluates her blog performance through all the statistics that Google makes available, including Google Analytics, AdSense, and more.  She knows exactly where her traffic is coming from, and which keywords are used to get to her blog (wine, winestyle, wine journal, Nikki Dumas).  Nikki  was asked to share her background, and she told us that she moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg ten years ago.  She started Moyo in Norwood, and opened Vilamoura in Camps Bay, and then moved to Belthazar and Balducci.  Nikki offers restaurant wine training, is a wine consultant in designing winelists for restaurants, assists wine estates in getting better sales in restaurants, and sells branded Wine Journals. Nikki told us that 60 % of wines in supermarkets are by Distell.  She feels that the wine industry should teach the consumer more about wine.

The next stage of the food and wine pairing was a lovely plumy and stylish Jordan Merlot 2008 paired with the most ‘butter-tender’ peppered fillet, and the rich Jordan Prospector 2008 Syrah, which was paired with venison served with sauce bordelaise.  Robyn told us that the power of Social Media was demonstrated when more than 6000 persons protested against the planned mining on the Jordan wine estate.  The threat was withdrawn, and in gratitude Gary Jordan named his new Syrah, launched last year, The Prospector.  With our yummy chocolate ravioli with pomegranate jelly the flagship Bordeaux-style Jordan Cobblers Hill was served. 

Without any notes, Matt Allison spoke from his heart, reflecting his passion and principles.  With careers in the wine trade, as a graphic designer, and first as a musician and then as a music producer, Matt realised that he was spending too much time away from home, not what he wanted with his new baby boy.  He realised he needed a change, and became a rare ‘house-husband’, spending almost all his time with his son at home.  He loves food, and became the cook for the family, and his blog ‘ImNoJamieOliver’ was born a year ago when he decided to cook all 60 recipes of a Jamie Oliver recipe book in 90 days.  He lost twenty days when he had his kitchen redone.   We laughed when he told us that his mother had engendered independence amongst her children, and it was a matter of ‘cook or die’ in their household.   He has since blogged a further 60 recipes from a second Jamie Oliver recipe book.  Matt presented who he is honestly, and described himself as a person with a 30′s nature, a 50′s style, living in 2011.

Matt told us that blogging for him is a means to an end, and he has changed direction in that his interest now is the provenance of food.  He has rented a piece of land from the City of Cape Town, and now grows 40 vegetable and herbs, not counting different varieties.  This has led to seasonal eating, fresh out of his garden.  He does not grow potatoes and corn, as these take too much space.  Matt is critical of Woolworths, for their vegetables sourced from countries such as Kenya.  On a Wednesday afternoon he sells his vegetables he harvested an hour earlier, between 4 – 6 pm at Starlings Café in Claremont.  He told us horror stories about supermarket vegetables being picked unripe weeks earlier, and artificially ripened.   Matt also would not touch fast-food any more, and expressed concern that so many people grab a McDonald’s in-between meetings. There are no TV dinners in his home.  He would like people to question where their food is coming from.  He believes that obesity and diabetes can be fixed via ‘healthy food’.  With his help, Cape Town and Winelands chefs at restaurants such as Societi Bistro, Warwick wine estate, El Burro, and Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz wine estate, are moving to sourcing their herbs and vegetables from small ‘bio-dynamic’ (he does not like the word ‘organic’) producers, or planting their own.   He likes restaurants that serve local, seasonal, and sustainable food, and operate ethically in all respects.  Matt has about 5000 unique readers of his blog per month, and about 1300 Twitter followers, but his readership is of no consequence to him.  He is ruthless in unfollowing and blocking on Twitter.  He recently changed his Twitter name to @MattAllison, to build his own brand.  Given his focus on the provenance of food, he will be launching a new blog “Planting Thoughts” soon.  One of the most exciting experiences for Matt is that he has been selected as one of 250 chefs and urban farmers to attend a symposium in Copenhagen, organised by the chef/owner Rene Redzepi of the world’s number one restaurant Noma, the only South African hand-picked by Redzepi.   The symposium takes place next weekend, and co-incides with the world’s largest food festival, the MAD Food Camp, also organised by Redzepi, with more than 10000 visitors expected!  Matt says we pay too little for our food in South Africa, and told us what it costs to raise a chicken.  He buys his meat from Gogo’s Deli in Newlands, or directly from farmers.  Matt encouraged us to ‘think about your food’, that one should not evaluate a restaurant if one has not been a chef and a waiter, given that most chefs put their heart and soul into their meals.  For him a good restaurant is one in which the chef comes out of the kitchen, offers great service, and has staff who love what they do.   He encouraged one to do one’s own blogging and Tweeting, to reflect one’s personality, and to not outsource social media. 

Dusan Jelic of wine.co.za, who has been a passionate supporter of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club since its inception, was wished well, who will be returning to his home country Serbia in September. 

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club aims to foster this informal training, and to serve as a social media networking opportunity.  Each of the two bloggers talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club gives fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

   Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

      *   21 September:  Chef Brad Ball of Bistro 1682, and Anetha Homan, Marketing Manager of Steenberg, at Steenberg

      *   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk of Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street. 

   *   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek   

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club. Bookings can be made by e-mailing whalecot@iafrica.com.  The cost of attendance is R100.  Twitter: @FoodWineBlogClu  Facebook: click here.

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

The August Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting will ‘pair’ Food blogger Matt Allison of I’mnoJamieOliver Blog and Wine blogger Nikki Dumas of Swirl blog,  and will be held at Den Anker in the V&A Waterfront  on Wednesday 17 August, from 6 – 8 pm.

Matt Allison, author of www.imnojamieoliver.com blog, is a “husband, stay at home father, urban farmer, eco advocate, closet designer, photographer & designated household cook”, he writes about himself. His blog originally started when he committed to cooking his way through Jamie Oliver’s ’20 minute meals’ for the iPhone, completing all 60 recipes in under 90 days. It has since grown into a platform to explore the origins of food, rethinking it one meal at a time.

Nikki Dumas has always been in the leisure industry, as Training Manager at Greyhound Citiliner, having obtained her training background at South African Airways.  She has managed restaurants in Johannesburg, including the first store set-up and operations of Moyo on Grant Avenue in Norwood.   She moved to Cape Town in 2000, managing a number of restaurants: Villamoura in Camps Bay, Belthazar in the Waterfront, and Balducci’s in the Waterfront.  Two years ago she started her own consultancy, called Winestyle.biz, and  it specialises in wine list design, wine training, and wine accessories for several wine estates and restaurants.  The company has received the highest accolades, both locally and internationally, for its wine list design and compilation from Diners’ Club International and Wine Spectator.  With its restaurant on-site tutoring program, the company guarantees an increase in turnover in wine sales.  Nikki has produced and manufactured a wine tasting journal, to record one’s tasting experiences.  Nikki writes Swirl Blog.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club aims to foster this informal training, and to serve as a social media networking opportunity.

Each of the two bloggers will talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

   Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

      *   21 September:  Chef Brad Ball of Bistro 1682, and wine speaker from Steenberg, at Steenberg

   *   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk of Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street. 

   *   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek   

Jordan Wines from Stellenbosch will lead bloggers through a tasting of their wines.  Snacks will be served by Den Anker. 

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, Wednesday 17 August, 6 – 8 pm:  Den Anker, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at whalecot@iafrica.com.  The cost of attendance is R100.  Twitter: @FoodWineBlogClu  Facebook: click here.

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

The July Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting will ‘pair’ Maggie Mostert and Hennie Coetzee, both writing Batonage blog about wines and foods that they have experienced, and will be held at What’s On Eatery on Watson Street on Wednesday 20 July, from 6 – 8 pm.

Batonage is made up of two very passionate foodies and wine lovers, says its Blog introduction:  “Together we decided to create a record of our adventures in food and wine, something we indulge in almost daily.  We are avid wine hunters, always on the lookout for something new and unique to talk, write and spread the word about.  When it comes to food we consider ourselves adventurous eaters, scavenging the latest food and wine pairing at the best eateries, but equally happy to indulge in uncomplicated fare at our local bistro.  The focus will be on visiting wine farms and restaurants, both old and new, and telling you dear reader, of our experiences there.   Every attempt will be made to make the information relevant and we might even make you smile once in a while”.

What makes Hennie and Maggie interesting and unique is that their day job is far removed from their food and wine blogging, and that they write about both wine and food on the same Blog.  Hennie comes from the Free State, and developed a love for wine whilst studying at Stellenbosch University, moving from financial management to wine salesperson, and ultimately, as sommelier at Singita, a leader in the accommodation industry. While he learnt a lot about excellence in food, wine and service, the hospitality hours were not for him, so he has returned to the financial industry.  Maggie comes from Pretoria, and studied Accounting at the University of Stellenbosch, worked as a waitress in Stellenbosch and did her articles, before setting up her own practice.  Her past experience as a waitress and her accountant’s perspective gives her a unique evaluation of her eating and drinking experiences.

Batonage is a wine term, and is the wine making operation of mixing up the lees (dead yeast cells from fermentation) in the barrel with the wine to release the mannoproteins, improving the flavour, mouthfeel, and stability of the wine.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club aims to foster this informal training, and to serve as a social media networking opportunity.

Each of the two bloggers will talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

   Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

   *   17 August:  Nikki Dumas of Swirl Blog, and Matt Allison of I’m no Jamie Oliver Blog, Den Anker venue, Jordan wines

   *   21 September:  Chef Brad Ball of Bistro 1682, and wine speaker from Steenberg, at Steenberg

   *   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery and Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street. 

   *   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek   

Wines are brought along by the wine blogging speaker, and Terence from Siris Vintners will lead bloggers through a sparkling wine tasting.  Snacks will be served by What’s On Eatery 

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, Wednesday 20 July, 6 – 8 pm:  What’s On Eatery, 6 Watson Street, Cape Town. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at whalecot@iafrica.com.  The cost of attendance is R100.

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

The June Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting will ‘pair’ Neil Stemmet, interior curator and writer of the Blog ‘SoutenPeper’, with wine blogger Dion Martin, who writes the Blog  The Travelling Vineyard, and will be held at French Toast on Bree Street on Wednesday 8 June, from 6 – 8 pm.

Neil Stemmet  of KONCEPT attracted attention with his restaurant interior curation at Simonsig’s Cuvee and Knorhoek’s Towerbosch restaurants.  More recently, he curated the BOS Tea House at Decorex, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and has very specific ideas about the Restaurant of the Future.  Neil’s focus in his ‘SoutenPeper’ blog is to go back to the traditional South African recipes, and to document them for future generations.  He is working on a book by the same title.  Neil is a dynamic and very entertaining speaker.

Dion Martin is a Capetonian who grew up on
“Vleis, rys, aartappels, brandy and rugby”, he writes.  He became obsessed with food, and how it connects people.  He did a part-time Chef’s diploma with City and Guilds, and passed with distinction while doing his day job in running his digital book printing company. He also completed the Cape Wine Academy Certificate, and the University of Stellenbosch Wine Evaluation diploma.  He started The Travelling Vineyard Blog to share his food and wine experiences, leading to Tweeting as @TVDionysus, and also Vlogging (video blogging).

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club aims to foster this informal training, and to serve as a social media networking opportunity.

Each of the two bloggers will talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

   Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

   *   20 July : Hennie Coetzee and Maggie Mostert of Batonage Blog, at What’s On Eatery

   *   17 August:  Nikki Dumas of Swirl Blog, and Matt Allisson of I’m no Jamie Oliver Blog, Den Anker venue, Jordan wines

   *   21 September:  Chef Brad Ball of Bistro1682, and wine speaker from Steenberg, at Steenberg

   *   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery and Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street. 

   *   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek   

Wines are brought along by the wine blogging speaker, and Dion will lead bloggers through a wine tasting.  Tapas snacks will be served by French Toast.  

 

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, Wednesday 8 June, 6 – 8 pm: French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar, 199 Bree Street, Cape Town. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at whalecot@iafrica.com or call (021) 433-2100. The cost of attendance is R100.

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