Entries tagged with “Hamilton-Russell”.
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Wed 10 Apr 2013
Guests attending the Radford Dale tasting at I ♥ my Laundry last night were astounded at the difference in the taste of a wine when it is evaluated in a standard restaurant glass, compared to a varietal specific glass made by Riedel.
Led by passionate wine-lover Tarryn Thomas, new Cape representative of Reciprocal Wines, owned by wine guru Michael Fridjhon and importers of wines and agents for Riedel glassware, she did tastings of the Radford Dale wines, first in what she called a ‘Joker’ glass one would typically find in a restaurant, one design for all white wines, and another for all red wines. Then we tasted the same wine in a Riedel varietal-specific wine glass, and the difference was unbelievable. Even if the same wine is tasted in two different Riedel glass types, the aroma and taste of the wine differs, the varietal-specific glass bringing out the best in each of the wines we tasted, each introduced by charming and eloquent winemaker Jacques de Klerk:
* The Chardonnay 2010 had a different texture in the Riedel glass, being a surprise even to Jacques, and he was instantly hooked, as the Riedel Chardonnay Montrachet glass brought out the best in his wooded wine, giving brioche and fruit at the back of the palate. In the Riedel Chardonnay glass the taste was much softer and more velvety.
* The Chenin Blanc 2012 was tasted in an unwooded white blend glass, and once again tasted far better in the Riedel-varietal glass, even compared to tasting it in a Riedel Chardonnay glass, the citrus and intense fruit notes coming to the fore best. This is their flagship wine, being 100% barrel fermented and matured.
* The Pinot Noir 2012 was said to be ‘Wimbledon’, all strawberries and cream, as well as blackberries. When tasted in the ‘Joker’ glass, the wine had almost no aroma and the tannins were upfront, and could even make a wine taste corked, compared to drinking it in a Riedel Pinot Noir glass. The Radford Dale Pinot Noir grapes come from Elgin, which Jacques said is the leading terroir for Pinot Noir, with amazing soil types, high altitude, and true winter dormancy. He described this grape variety as being ‘heart breaking’, difficult to make, but getting better in South Africa. The grapes are harvested early, and he does not go ‘for a raspberry Kool- Aid style’, he explained descriptively, it having ‘powdery type tannins’, creating a ‘satin feel, almost lace like’.
* Black Rock 2009 is a Rhone blend of 71% Shiraz, 13% Carignan, 12% Grenache, 3% Mourvedre, and 1% Viognier, and was described as having a new car smell and spice aroma. It is ‘big, bold, and mouthwateringly good” in the Riedel Shiraz glass, said Jacques. The Syrah grapes come from the Perdeberg in the Swartland, a region with ancient granite soils, the vines never being irrigated.
* The Shiraz 2009 had been decanted in the unusually shaped Escargot decanter, as ‘wine and air are best friends’, especially for younger wines, ‘bringing the flavours and textures out of them‘, Jacques said. The grapes come from17 year old trellised vines in the Helderberg, which has ‘koffieklip’, pebbles in the shape of coffee beans. The grapes are unirrigated, the clay soil giving the wines a water reserve. The wine has paprika, clove, and violet aromas. It is low in sulphur.
* The Pinotage 2012 is named after Dr Frrankenstein, a humorous ode to the founder of the grape variety, being Dr Abraham Perold, and because Pinotage has been seen to be a monster by some who do not like the varietal. Jacques did say that if you treat it well as a winemaker, it gets better. Riedel does not have a Pinotage tasting glass, and encouraged the producers to club together for Riedel to make a Pinotage tasting glass mould.
* A vine-dried unfiltered dessert wine, fermented in old barrels for one year, and not made from bortrytised grapes, was a sweet end to an interesting tasting. This wine is mainly produced for own use.
Riedel’s new head Maximilian Riedel says that ‘Riedel turns every sip into a celebration‘. Tarryn explained that Riedel has different glass ranges, the Vinum restaurant range being machine made and costing about R70 per glass. The Sommelier range is handblown, and costs about R800 per glass. Riedel is a family owned eleventh generation company run for the past 250 years. The glass design is based on stimulating the senses, including sight, the lead crystal letting in more light; the sound, when the glasses are clinked; the weight is perfect to get it to one’s mouth, and does not have a rim; and its taste, the design directing the wine perfectly to the palate. Riedel was the first glass manufacturer to create glasses made from Austrian crystal on the basis of ‘the content dictates the shape’. The tongue has different ‘taste zones‘, sweet upfront, followed by salt, acid, and bitterness right at the back. The shape of the varietal-specific glasses directs the wine to the taste zone it is intended for.
Riedel would like top restaurants and wine estates to stock their glasses, to bring out the best in their wines. Riedel is used at Creation and Hamilton Russell in Hermanus, Delaire Graff, La Motte, Rust en Vrede, Waterkloof, Reuben’s Franschhoek, and the Kove restaurant group, including Pepenero, Paranga, Zenzero and Bungalow. Tarryn is willing to do tastings of South African wine varietals in Cape Town, and is a passionate champion for our local wines, having worked with Fridjhon for the past eight years.
Sales and Marketing Manager Angela Jordaan explained that The Winery of Good Hope was established by Alex Dale, British born but who grew up in Burgundy, and winemaker Ben Radford, in conjunction with Edouard Labeye, who lives in the Rhone valley, and is the master blender, coming to the wine estate four times a year. Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz are the three lead varietals of the company, which has four brands: Radford Dale, The Winery of Good Hope (Bush Vine Pinotage, Oceanside Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot, Mountainside Shiraz, Reserve Pinot Noir, Bush Vine Chenin Blanc, and Unoaked Chardonnay), Land of Hope (an empowerment project which receives 50% of the proceeds in the Land of Hope Trust, to fund the education of the children and relatives of their farm workers, with a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Chenin Blanc), and Vinum Africa (Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc). All the wines of the company have screw caps, making them age better, giving the wines a better colour, and holding their structure better, Angela said. About three quarters of the wine is exported to eleven countries. The local market is important, but tough to crack, given the oversupply of wines in general. She emphasised that the passion of the company is to make quality wines.
The difference in taste of the Radford Dale wines in different glasses, and the enhanced taste of each wine in the appropriate Riedel varietal glass was an eye-opener to each of the guests at the tasting!
Riedel: The Wine Glass Company, The Reciprocal Wine Trading Company. Tel 073 304 7201. www.reciprocal.co.za Twitter: @ReciprocalWine
Radford Dale, The Winery of Good Hope, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 855-5528. www.thewineryofgoodhope.co.za Twitter: @AngJordie Tasting by appointment only.
I ♥ my Laundry, 59 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town. Tel 084 660 0777 (Clayton)/083 6020291 (Mico) www.Ilovemylaundry.co.za Twitter:@ILovemyLaundry, Monday - Sunday.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Thu 21 Mar 2013
On Tuesday I attended the Chenin Blanc Association Winter Showcase at Delaire Graff Estate, and was reminded by the association chairman Ken Forrester, a passionate champion for the varietal, that Chenin Blanc’s unique attributes are that it comes in a diversity of styles, and that it is the wine that can be paired with the largest range of foods.
Six months ago I had attended a first such Chenin Blanc Summer Showcase at the One&Only Cape Town, which focused on the full spectrum of Chenin Blanc styles, both light and fruity, and rich and fuller. The association has classified chenin blanc styles on the basis of residual sugar:
* fresh and fruity (less than 9g/litre)
* rich and ripe - unwooded (less than 9g/litre)
* rich and ripe - wooded (less than 9g/litre)
* rich and ripe - slightly sweet (9 - 30g/litre)
* sweet (30+g/litre)
* sparkling (tank fermented or Cap Classique)
Interesting consumer research was presented at the previous Showcase, highlighting that our country’s largest grape variety is not well known at all by local wine drinkers. The Chenin Blanc Association is focusing on changing the low level of awareness about the varietal, in hosting bi-annual showcases of Chenin Blancs which are more suitable to drink in summer (light, fresh and fruity), and those that are better suited to winter (rich and fuller). Another goal the association has is to see more restaurant wine lists feature a Chenin Blanc category with a number of different options, instead of this varietal being lumped into an ‘Other/Blend’ category. The association is ably managed by Ina Smith.
Ken explained the procedure for selecting the vast total of 26 Chenin Blancs we tasted, from the hundreds that are made in our country. The 96 association members were invited to submit their wines, meeting the criteria of them being made from 30 year old bush vines or older, and having an alcohol content of 13,5 - 14,5%, which led to 30 entries being received. Jeff Grier from Villiera and Association Vice-Chairman, and Carel van der Merwe from De Morgenzon whittled the Chenin Blanc portfolio for the Winter Showcase down to 26 wines. Grier led the tasting, which was held in the Delaire Graff restaurant, and he shared short notes about each of the wines, which were tasted in flights, it not being clear exactly what each of the seven flights had in common. I shared a tasting table with Delaire Graff GM Johann Laubser, Ken, and Orielle Berry from Bolander.
Our table particularly liked the De Morgenzon Reserve 2011, Tierhoek 2011 (grapes come from the Piekenierskloof area, also the area from which the Botanica chenin grapes are sourced), and Mullineux White Blend 2012 (with Viognier). Other Chenin Blancs we tasted included AA Badenhorst Secateurs 2012, Simonsig ‘Sur Lie’ 2012, Doran Vineyards Barrel Fermented 2012, Nederburg The Anchorman 2012, Spioenkop ‘1900′ 2011, Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2012, Graham Beck Bowed Head 2011, Sijjn 2011 (made by David Trafford), Joostenberg Fairhead 2010, Oldenburg 2012, Jordan 2012, Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Barrel Fermented 2012, Delaire Graff 2012, Diemersfontein Carpe Diem 2011, Bellingham The Bernhard Series Old Vine 2011, Spier 21 Gables 2011, Stellenrust ‘46′ Barrel Fermented 2010, Cederberg Five Generations 2010, The FMC 2010, Kanu Kia-Ora Noble Late Harvest 2010, and Villiera Inspiration Noble Late Harvest 2010. What was impressive is that so many of the top winemakers attended the tasting too, including Andrea Mullineux, Razvan Macici of Nederburg, Erika Obermeyer from Graham Beck Wines, David Trafford, Bruwer Raats, and Kathy Jordan.
De Morgenzon uses cement eggs for its Chenin Blanc production, these fermentation and maturation vessels having been developed in France twelve years ago. Eben Sadie was the first South African wine maker to introduce cement eggs locally, and now they are also used by Boekenhoutskloof and Hamilton Russell. Ken explained that winemakers follow trends too, and cement eggs are one of them. Ken spoke about winemaking, and shared that one must make wine that the customer enjoys, even though it is not always the winemaker’s taste.
To get to Indochine, the Asian fusion restaurant at Delaire Graff, we took a short cut through winemaker Morné Vrey’s cellar, and passed Chef Christiaan Campbell’s vegetable garden. Indochine is in the Delaire Graff Lodge & Spa building, set back from the main restaurant. The entrance is ‘guarded’ by two Dylan Lewis cheetahs, and there are more on the lawn outside the restaurant. The Lodge interior is dominated by art of the same contemporary artists whose work is in the main restaurant building, including Lionel Smit, Anton Smit, and Deborah Bell. The restaurant seats about 40 patrons, and it has a view over Stellenbosch on a clear day. It has the most impressive work of art by Lionel Smit and Andre Stead on the ceiling, called ‘Flight of the Swallows’. The colour scheme is blue, reflected in the leather seating and the very classy looking menu and winelist folder. The chef is Virgil Kahn.
The very efficient waiters brought fritters made from cabbage, fennel and spinach as well as bread crisps to the table, with a black bean and sweet soy sauce, spicy tomato relish, and cucumber and mint sauce. Johann Laubser and Delaire Graff winemaker Morné Vrey were also at the table, and I asked Morne how the Showcase would influence his Chenin Blanc wine making. He said that he had learnt a few things he may try for the next vintage, and it had set a benchmark, but it had also helped him to define what he would not do in his Chenin Blanc making. Johann shared that Africa’s first Graff diamond store will open in the main Delaire Graff restaurant building in September, and it is being designed by the international interior designer of all Graff stores.
The amuse bouche was an unusually presented kingklip su mai (dim sum) with a gengati gel, and a citrus and fennel emulsion, a simple fresh start to the meal. The wine stewards and waiters offered the guests a continuous choice of the Chenin Blanc wines we had tasted. The Thai Duck starter, with pickled radish, bamboo, the most delicious cashew nut brittle, and orange, was the favourite course of many guests. The main course is one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, being the 7 Thai spice pork belly served with edamame beans, pickled garlic, and red pepper. An interesting looking and very tasty black rice was served with the pork. The dessert was a colourful mango parfait served with passion fruit, rose water ginger crumble, and raspberry.
Most of the wine writers and wine makers had not been to Indochine before, and expressed how impressed they were with the restaurant and its good service. Both the Chenin Blanc Association and Delaire Graff were gracious and generous hosts, and Ken thanked all involved for a fabulous event.
Disclosure: We received a bottle of Tierhoek Chenin Blanc 2011 with our media pack. My son is the Manager of Indochine.
Chenin Blanc Association www.chenin.co.za Twitter: @CheninBlancAsso
Indochine, Delaire Graff Lodge & Spa, Tel (021) 885-8160. www.delaire.co.za Twitter: @DelaireGraff
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Mon 11 Mar 2013
Hermanus is synonymous with the annual Whale Festival. This year it is laying on a 10-day Hermanus FynArts festival, a feast of the visual arts, classical music, jazz, literature, wines, and gourmet food, a fusion of Art Festival and Winter School in a town that has long been known for being home to many leading artists. It will run from 7 - 16 June.
Over the ten days entertainment will be offered over the two weekends, while on weekdays one can attend courses and workshops on photography, ceramics, painting, drawing, writing, cooking, and viticulture. Top sculptor Dylan Lewis will exhibit his work outside the Marine Hotel and will host a talk about his work, interviewed by leading writer Christopher Hope, one of the co-founders of the Franschhoek Literary Festival. Land sculptor Strijdom van der Merwe, and co-owner of Stellenbosch restaurant Casparus, will host a photographic exhibition of his work, with a talk. Guy du Toit’s ‘Talking Hares’ will be on show at Sumaridge wine estate. Jewellery, ceramics, sculpture, photography and film will be exhibited. Ceramicists include Clementina van der Walt, Hennie Meyer, and Tania Babb, with Ardmore Ceramics exhibiting at the Marine Hotel. A National Art Competition will run alongside the festival, sponsored by the SA National Space Agency. A talk will focus on JH Pierneef, one of our country’s best artists ever.
Vintage South African movies will be screened, as well as classic Hollywood movies, in the Romantiques vintage shop.
A number of the wine farms on the impressive Hermanus Wine Route (including Hamilton Russell, Creation, Newton Johnson, Ataraxia, La Vierge, and Bouchard Finlayson), as well as the art galleries in the town will host an art exhibition, and will offer special events. During the festival, concerts will take place at lunchtimes in the Anglican Church; high teas will be available at the town’s coffee shops at 15h00 each day; wine tasting and food and wine pairing can be enjoyed on the wine farms and at the town’s restaurants, with Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris and Eat Out Top 10 Chef Peter Tempelhoff cooking a dinner on 7 June; guided walks in Fernkloof nature reserve will be offered; and one can enjoy a ‘virtual tour‘ of South African wines.
The Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra will perform in the Hawston Hall in celebration of Youth Day, and UCT Head of the Opera School Professor Angelo Gobbato will talk about opera, and one of his talks will focus on ‘Celebrating Verdi’. There will be opera recitals too, including by Gobbato! Singer Zanne Stapelberg and Kathleen Tagg (South African pianist now based in New York) will perform ‘Soul of Fire’. Well-loved conductor Richard Cock will be in attendance, and the baroque Camerata Tinta Barocca will perform.
To allow a feast of ‘fine living’ without concern for drinking and driving, a hop-on hop-off bus will take festival goers to the wine estates as well as to the venues in the town. Booking opens today.
Hermanus FynArts 2013. Hermanus Tourism Bureau. www.hermanusfynarts.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Tue 5 Feb 2013
Poor New Media Publishing. They are bravely trying to fix the image of what was once their prestigious restaurant awards, given the radical decision two years ago to cut the committee which helped editor Abigail Donnelly judge our top restaurants, and has commendably embarked on a journey to engage with the industry to hear its feedback and suggestions. Now its judge for the 2012 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant awards, the UK blogger Bruce Palling, is posting a blow by blow review of each restaurant he was sent to by Mrs Donnelly, for evaluation as a Top 20 restaurant. Not even Mrs Donnelly has sat with the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Awards shortlist chefs, to pass on feedback to them.
To save face from the judging debacle of 2011, when Mrs Donnelly chose to fire her judging committee of many years, and appoint herself as the sole judge, New Media Publishing decided that they needed an international judge to give the publication credibility for the 2012 awards. Whoever at New Media Publishing chose to appoint Bruce Palling should be fired, for his vindictive and unprofessional utterings whilst he was in our country as their guest, and currently, seeming to take great joy in slating almost everything about our restaurant and wine industry after having been in our country for a total of only 15 days!
Picking up that Palling had arrived in the country via his Tweets, and finding out via Google searches that he was nothing of the calibre that Eat Out had made him out to be, we wrote a number of blogposts about Palling’s indiscretions whilst he was on his tasting orgy (200 dishes, 30 restaurants, 60 wines in 15 days, he proudly gushed in BA Highlife!). He retaliated immediately on Twitter, writing that I am a ‘pig ignorant peasant‘! A complaint to New Media Publishing CEO Bridget McCarney about their invited judge’s rudeness took forever to be replied to, and was simply dismissed. One senses in retrospect that he would have ignored it anyway, coming across as a MCP and boorish bully. In his latest missives, published on his blog since Sunday, he scathingly refers to our blogposts about him, trying to find a link between my writing about Palling, and a supposed issue between my son and Eat Out - this may come from trouble-making supermarket wine promoter Michael Olivier. Quite the opposite is true - Mrs Donnelly has praised my son’s service regularly, and did so again last week at our meeting about Eat Out 2013. Palling does however appreciate how much traffic his blog received due to our blogposts! He writes: “The idea was that I would be booked into these places anonymously and simply pay in cash so as to not reveal my identity, but that was quickly impossible because of the gleeful reproduction of my photograph on the web by some person who had a grudge against Eat Out for family reasons. There was also an element of nationalist chauvinism peeping through here - who is this bloody ignorant unknown foreigner to come and lecture us about our fabulous food? Well, I suppose only having to deal with one Laager Lout is pretty good going. I later had reason to be grateful for this twisted person, as these bizarre rants against me guaranteed far wider media interest than I probably deserved. Everyone else I was in contact during that fortnight, couldn’t have been more polite, helpful and solicitous. It really is irrelevant whether or not a restaurant knows your identity anyway, as you can always tell if you are being singled out for special treatment. Besides, several of the places, which addressed me by my real name on arrival, served unpalatable food” (our underlining)!
The brief was that Palling eat at Mrs Donnelly’s proposed Top 20 shortlist, score each restaurant on her magazine’s evaluation criteria, and not Tweet about his meals, to not identify where he had been. He likes to ‘eat and Tweet’, so he was left to photograph the copious bottles of wine he was drinking at his meals. He caused affront with his initial Tweets about our boring and bland springbok (which he ate at The Roundhouse, it now emerges).
In his blogpost Palling has a go at our country’s past history, commenting on the staff profile relative to the guest profile: “One thing I did find disturbing was the heavy imbalance of European diners over Black guests at all of the places I visited. There were usually more Black staff than Black customers at every place I went to. The only exception to this was DW-Eleven-13 in Johburg” (sic)!
In the meeting I was invited to by New Media Publishing to discuss improving the Eat Out 2013 Awards last week, Mrs Donnelly still was defensively loyal to Palling, saying that their scores for the top three restaurants (The Test Kitchen, The Tasting Room, Jordan Restaurant) were spot on the same. In Palling’s blogpost he makes Mrs Donnelly out to be an ignoramus when it comes to our local restaurants (we know that she ate at all the restaurants she sent Palling to less than a month before), dismissing many of them outright, and having chosen some others, hinting that it was his influence that they made the Top 20 shortlist. So, oddly Nobu was on the Top 20 shortlist as he had to eat there, despite not being eligible due to the chef change, and Bizerca Bistrot and Babel were not on the initial shortlist, but did make it.
As we saw in the BA Highlife article released on Friday, Palling dissed most of our Top 20 restaurants - he is still releasing additions to his blogpost every few hours:
* Bizerca Bistrot: ‘All in all, this was one of the most enjoyable meals I had as it was simple and straightforward with decent ingredients that weren’t too mucked about. This was the sort of place I would happily go to regularly in any city as a local bistro‘. The highlights were the ‘jolly relaxed atmosphere’, the salad with pancetta and croutons, and the tarte tatin. Palling slated the (original) location in a ’soulless shopping mall’, the oysters had too many additives and herbs, the ’slab of fish piled too high on the plate, which was distracting‘, the lamb was poorly plated, being ‘lumped in the centre of the plate’, and the tuna tartare was ‘vertically challenged’!
* Babel was not on Palling’s Eat Out Top 20 list, but he went there anyway, getting it onto the Top 20 list. He described it as ‘biblically beautiful’, and having the best chips he tasted in our country. The Zorgvliet 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was ’stupendously alcoholic’, and the steak had not been hung for long enough, making it tough.
* Rust en Vrede should not have made the Top 10 restaurant list, given Palling’s criticism of its ordinary cutlery, ‘zero seasonality’, ‘in no way exceptional’ scallops, the tasteless dishes, the long wait of 15 minutes between courses, and the bottle of the Rust en Vrede 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon not coming to its own right, despite being decanted and left to breathe. He did however like the Riedel glassware, and the reading glass selection they offered his wife.
* Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson: His opening shot was completely negative, and it never improved for the restaurant: ‘Why was I sent here? I thought that the Nobu meal was going to be hard to beat in the inedibility stakes, but the Planet deserves a Gold. The composition of the menu wasn’t the problem as it looks inviting and interesting – it was just the poor execution that ruined the meal. Things got off to a tedious start as all of the staff greeted me by name with big grins, even though I was not actually staying here at the time of my visit’. He really didn’t like anything about it all, including its usually charming Sommelier/Restaurant Manager Carl Habel, whom Palling described as a ‘bully‘ regarding the wine choice, who was overbearing, and who tried to eavesdrop on Palling’s conversation! Palling himself chose the ‘Steenburger’ (sic) Sauvignon Blanc 2011, he writes. The springbok was tasteless, the swordfish had been frozen, and ‘the pudding was edible but uneventful’, summarising it as ‘hotel food circa 1970′! He described the hotel and restaurant as a ‘faded film star’, and compared it to the last night before the sinking of The Titanic, without the panic.
* The Roundhouse: Poor Chef Eric Bulpitt and owner Fasie Malherbe! Chef Eric was the first local chef to do a stage at Noma, just after it became the world’s number one restaurant, and Palling has made him out to be close to a fraud, for copying the Noma dishes without acknowledgement. Arrogant Malherbe’s Let’s Sell Lobster service training company is deemed by many to be the best in the industry, yet Palling was not impressed with it at all! He found little to praise except for its setting and the ‘proficient display of cooking skills’, saying that there was ‘no originality’, ‘the service was also incredibly demonstrative’. He was welcomed by name on the menu (a big no!), Chef Eric ‘ripped off’ Noma’s signature dish, most of the dishes were ‘tasteless’, and the organic carrots were ‘overcooked and uneventful‘.
* Hartford House: Palling was most impressed with this restaurant, which he rated to be comparable with Royal Mail in Australia and Faviken in Sweden, for its remote location. He enjoyed all the dishes, especially the quail, except the dessert, which was too sweet. The trip to get to the hotel was the worst he experienced.
* Jordan Restaurant: Despite Chef George Jardine’s swipe at foreign judges evaluating our local restaurants from the stage at the Eat Out Awards in November, Palling raved about the chef and his restaurant. The only negative was the ’slightly too alcoholic’ Luddite Shiraz 2006 (at 14 %)! The meal was described as ’superb’, it being the ‘most low key leading restaurant’, a ‘proper meal’ and not a tasting menu, and the ‘flavours were all straightforward and bold’.
* Tokara Restaurant: Palling praised the many Asian ingredients (being surprised that Chef Richard Carstens is ‘actually South African in origin’ - did they not meet?), and the ‘exceptionally well presented ‘ dishes. He criticised the heavy use of wasabi, the use of between 5 - 9 ingredients in each dish causing an ‘absurd amount of conflicting flavours’, little seasonality in the vegetable and fruit usage, the use of too much sugar, a ‘quite tasteless’ pear puddding, blue mould on the cheddar cheese, the recommendation of a Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2010 was ‘infanticide to drink right now‘, and there was ‘little harmony in any of the dishes‘.
Interesting is the Twitidiots who have lauded Palling for trashing our restaurant industry, including unsurprisingly Michael Olivier, Jane-Anne Hobbs. and Skye Grove! One wonders how Grove can keep her job at Cape Town Tourism, when she supports the annihilation by Palling of a number of top Cape Town restaurants, nclusing Bizerca Bistrot, which her CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold likes to spend her generous entertainment allowance at!
Eat Out and its publisher New Media Publishing owe the restaurant industry an explanation and an apology for Palling’s behaviour, and for publishing his opinions and experiences about our country’s top restaurants. Surely any judge should sign a confidentiality agreement?! It is clear that Palling is getting back at New Media Publishing for not flying him back to Cape Town for the Eat Out Awards gala dinner, the relationship between the two parties having broken down after his visit in September. When I called Eat Out GM-to-be Aileen Lamb yesterday afternoon, it seemed as if she was barely aware of the damage that Palling was causing to their brand, and the company had not even thought of preparing a statement to apologise to the industry for the public humiliation our top restaurants, and talented chefs and sommeliers are suffering at the hands of Palling! We have requested a statement from New Media Publishing, which has been promised for this morning.
Every restaurant that didn’t make the 2012 Eat Out Top 20 restaurant shortlist must be thanking its lucky stars to have been spared the a-Palling humiliation!
POSTSCRIPT 5/2: We received the following disappointing ’statement’ from Eat Out GM-to-be Aileen Lamb: “Thank you for your request for comment of yesterday. As discussed in our meeting with you on Wednesday 30 January 2013, we recognize that certain of the decisions we have made in order to grow and develop the Eat Out brand have not been as well received as we would have hoped. To this end we are committed to our extensive research where we will be interviewing chefs, restaurant owners, bloggers, consumers and certain media to gain a 360 degree view of our brand in the market. This research coupled with our expertise will form the basis of the 2013 Eat Out strategy. Our core objective is to be completely transparent in our judging process and to ensure we are answering the needs of the consumers who engage with our content. We now want to move forward from last year and make positive steps towards the future and I trust you will continue to work with us to the benefit of the Eat Out brand”.
POSTSCRIPT 5/2: Palling is on the Twit-attack, referring to me as a ‘laager lout’, and asking if poor Mrs Donnelly ‘deserves better than to be trashed’ by ourselves. if anyone is doing the trashing, it’s Palling! Michael Olivier has promptly Tweeted about it on his abuse account, as if he is Palling’s new friend, just because he did an interview with Palling last year!
POSTSCRIPT 6/2: We note that Palling has made some copy changes to his blogpost of 3 February, adding extra insults at our comment that the BA Highlife article did not include The Test Kitchen other than showing a photograph of one of its dishes! He seems to also have selectively deleted certain paragraphs and sentences, probably to remove errors!
POSTSCRIPT 7/2: We have written a (hopefully final) blogpost about further Eat Out Top 20 restaurants evaluated by Palling on his blog yesterday (Pierneef à La Motte, Overture, Makaron, The Test Kitchen, The Tasting Room, and Terroir), and highlighted Palling’s poor attention to detail in his writing!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Wed 31 Oct 2012
Franschhoek has shown the wine industry that it is a serious wine destination, winning the Platter’s 2013 Winery of the Year a second year running, the accolade going to Cape Chamonix wine estate, and its winemaker Gottfried Mocke. The Mullineux Family Wines of Riebeeck Kasteel also performed excellently.
Publisher Andrew McDowall announced that the blood orange colour of Platter’s South African Wines 2013 is ‘West Coast Sunset‘ this year. Published for the 33rd time, the publication has started a ‘relationship’ with and has become ‘engaged’ to Diner’s Club, the credit card brand appearing on the wine guide cover for the first time. McDowall hinted that a ‘marriage’ may follow! For the new Guide, 900 wine estates and 7300 wines were evaluated, 54 of the wineries being new. The largest number of 5 stars was awarded ever, to 62 wines. The theme of the publication this year is ‘Backstories’, showcasing the dreams, passions, challenges, and successes of the wines featured in the Guide.
Michael Fridjhon opened the proceedings, and spoke about his first involvement with the Guide 30 years ago, when it was owned by Erica and John Platter, who had just moved to Delaire at that time. He shared that Erica Platter was very strict, and a word such as ‘mouthfeel’ was banned by the tasters. He said that 30 years later, ‘the guidelines for the tasters have become far more rigorous, but that the editors are gentler’. Fridjhon was congratulated for having been announced as the International Wine Columnist of the Year 2012 in the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards.
The motivation for choosing Cape Chamonix as the 2013 Platter Winery of the Year, in addition to winning four 5 Star Platter Awards for its Greywacke 2010 Pinotage, Pinot Noir Reserve 2011, Chardonnay Reserve 2011, and White Blend Reserve 2011, is ‘Kaizen’, Platter’s editor Philip van Zyl said, the process of continuous improvement, and the seamless integration of viticulture and winemaking by the same team. This has made Cape Chamonix one of the top wine growers in the country, he said. Winemaker Gottfried Mocke has worked at Cape Chamonix for eleven years, and proudly shared the honour with his assistant winemaker Emul Ross, who has worked with him for just over a year.
The husband and wife team of Chris and Andrea Mullineux did well last year, and repeated its performance this year, winning three five star Platter awards for its Mullineux Family Syrah 2010, Straw Wine 2011, and Schist 2010, and was recognised for Red Wine of the Year for its Syrah. Nederburg (Ingenuity 2011, Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2011, Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Private Bin D252 2012) and Fairview (La Beryl Blanc 2011, Nurok 2011, Jakkalsfontein 2009) also received three five stars each.
The White Wine of the Year went to Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011. Superquaffer of the Year, selected out of 12 candidates in a 2,5 - 3 Platter star band and costing R 50 - R70 a bottle for reds and R40 - R60 for whites, was selected as the Muratie Melck Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. Three of the Platter’s winners could not be present, being stranded in America due to Hurricane Sandy: Ken Forrester, Pieter Ferreira, and Kathy Jordan.
The 5 star Platter 2013 wines are the following (first time 5 star recipients marked with an asterisk):
Von Ortloff Quintessence 2008*
Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2009
Cape Chamonix Greywacke 2010
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2011
Boschendal Cecil John Reserve 2010
Cederberg CWG Auction Reserve Teen die Hoog 2010*
Delheim Vera Cruz 2009
Fable Bobbejaan 2010
Fairview Jakkalsfontein 2009
Mullineux Family Schist 2010
Mullineux Family Syrah 2010
Raka Biography 2010
Simonsig Merindol Syrah 2010
Dalla Cia Wine & Spirit Company Giorgio 2007*
Fleur du Cap Lazlo 2008
Keets First Verse 2010*
Ken Forrester The Gypsy 2009
La Motte Pierneef Shiraz-Viognier 2010
Mvemve Raats MR De Compostella 2009*
Nico van der Merwe Mas Nicolas Cape 2007
Sadie Family Columella 2010
Boschendal Reserve 2011
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Hamilton Russell 2011
Jordan CWG Auction Reserve 2011
Jordan Nine Yards 2011
Alheit Cartology 2011*
Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2011
DeMorgenzon Reserve 2010
Jean Daneel Signature 2011
KWV Cathedral Cellar 2011
Sadie Family Skurfberg 2011
Spice Route 2011
Fryer’s Cove 2011*
Graham Beck Pheasant’s Run 2012
Tokara Walker Bay 2012
AA Badenhorst Family 2010*
Cape Chamonix Reserve 2011
Cape Point CWG Auction Reserve 2011
David Aristargos 2011
Fairview Nurok 2011
Flagstone Treaty Tree Reserve 2010
Miles Mossop Saskia 2011
Nederburg Ingenuity 2011
Nederberg Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Private Bin D252 2012
Nitida Coronata Integration 2011*
Tokara Director’s Reserve 2011
Méthode Cap Classique
Bon Courage Jacques Bruére Brut Reserve 2008*
Villiera Monro Brut 2007
Dessert Wine Unfortified
Fairview La Beryl Blanc 2011
Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2011
Mullineux Family Straw Wine 2011
Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2011
Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011
De Krans The Last Cape Vintage Reserve Port 2010
Catering was by the Vineyard Hotel, and one of the waiters said that each of their canapés was planned to be paired with a wine varietal. An unusual combination was the strawberry Turkish delight dessert.
It would appear that Franschhoek’s reputation as the best wine destination in South Africa will receive another boost on Saturday, when it is likely that Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof will be announced as the 2012 Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year, judging by the posters on lamp posts throughout the village, announcing that ‘Franschhoek home to the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012‘, without mentioning his name. Kent is the only finalist from Franschhoek. Discussing this with Christian Eedes at the Platter function, he expressed his disappointment, in saying that it takes the ceremony out of the award evening if the result is known up front.
POSTSCRIPT 31/10: This blogpost received an honourable mention from Neil Pendock on the Times Live blog today, quoting our last paragraph about the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year Award in full. The question he raised is how Boekenhoutskloof managed to not receive any 5 stars from Platter yesterday, yet was named Winery of the Year 2012, and how anyone could know the results of the Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012 accolade, as the wines were tasted blind! We have heard that the Diner’s Club awards function will be held in Franschhoek, and the poster headline may have referred to this, yet that would make the wording misleading.
POSTSCRIPT 3/11: The Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year posters in Franschhoek were certainly misleading. Razvan Macici, Cellar Master of Nederburg, has been named Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012. Interesting is the Tweet from Llewellyn Lambert, who attended the event, that finalist Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof did not attend the Awards dinner.
Platter’s Wines of South Africa 2013. Available at book stores, retailers, and wine estates from mid-November. R169.95. www.wineonaplatter.com www.sawinesonline.co.uk Twitter: @WineonaPlatter
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Thu 4 Oct 2012
At the function to present The Christian Eedes Chardonnay Report 2012 at French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar yesterday, sponsor Alwyn van der Merwe of Sanlam Private Investments emphasised that like Team GB obtained success in the 2012 Olympics, so too our Chardonnay winemakers are using ‘incremental improvement’ to obtain success. Uva Mira Single Vineyard 2011 and Jordan Barrel Fermented 2011 Chardonnays were both awarded a 5 star rating, and were the top two Chardonnays out of 60 evaluated.
Chardonnay is a white wine that should get recognition, said competition co-ordinator, wine judge, and wine writer Christian Eedes. The first successful Chardonnay was made 20 years ago by Danie de Wet, of De Wetshof in Robertson.
Eedes explained that he started the Chardonnay competition last year, as he felt that wine judging needed a shake-up, as strange results were coming out of competitions. Involving Roland Peens of Wine Cellar and James Pietersen, Beverage Manager of Belthazar and Balducci, as his fellow judges, they invited 60 Chardonnay producers to enter the competition, not charging an entry fee. 2010 and 2011 vintages were tasted, and Eedes said that they did not have the same richness as those of 2009, which now are ‘fantastically drinkable’. The vintages evaluated this year are ‘big and forceful’ wines, he said.
The Top 10 Chardonnay list, not ranked other than in terms of its star rating, is as follows:
* 5 stars:
Uva Mira Single Vineyard 2011
Jordan Barrel Fermented 2011
* 4,5 stars:
Tokara Reserve Collection Walker Bay 2011
Sterhuis Barrel Selection 2010
Radford Dale 2011
KWV The Mentors 2011
Hamilton Russell Vineyards 2011
French Toast served a number of their tapas dishes, including chicken kebabs, salmon pancakes, deep-fried seafood treats, mushroom bruschetta, and Mediterranean vegetable stirfry bruschetta.
Disclosure: We received a bottle of Uva Mira Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 with our media pack.
The Christian Eedes Chardonnay Report 2012.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Wed 5 Sep 2012
New Eat Out judge, blogger Bruce Palling from the UK, has arrived in Cape Town to assist Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant and associated awards organiser Abigail Donnelly in selecting the top ten restaurants in the country and in ranking them. He has barely set foot in the country, never having been here before, and he has attracted controversy already!
Palling is a rude Tweeter, and on Twitter yesterday afternoon he announced his arrival, having been to Clarke’s second hand bookshop on Long Street, and in having eaten springbok for lunch, commenting on its bland taste: “Cape Town on a glorious sunny Spring day - and my first experience of Springbok - surprisingly mild…was expecting more depth of flavour.. “. A chef retaliated immediately: “It’s not stag steaks stored in the deepfreezer for 3 years wrapped in wellington boots, boet”. Palling also Tweeted a comment which was criticised for its implied racism, by labelling a fellow guest on skin colour at the restaurant: “Black guest excusing lateness@Cape Town restaurant: “Sorry but had to take taxi because my Ferrari cant make it over bumps at entrance here”. For that Tweet he was admonished too, including by Über-Tweeter Jane-Anne Hobbs.
Palling, who is being accommodated at the Taj hotel, will be visiting the Top 20 restaurant list, unless Ms Donnelly has already cut that list down to her Top 10, and he will assist her in ranking the list, and in choosing the winners in the categories introduced last year: Boschendal Style Award, Best Italian, Best Asian, Best Bistro, Best Steakhouse, and Best Country Style restaurant. This is our prediction of where Palling can be expected to eat in potential 2012 Eat Out Top 10 restaurants in the next few days in the Western Cape (we have excluded Grande Provence, The Roundhouse, and Nobu due to chef changes, and other deserving restaurants at which the chefs have been at the restaurants for less than a year):
* The Test Kitchen
* The Greenhouse
* Planet Restaurant
* Makaron Restaurant
* Delaire Graff
* Pierneef à La Motte
* Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine
* La Colombe
* Rust en Vrede
* The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français
From Palling’s blogposts, of which variations are published in the Europe edition of the Wall Street Journal occasionally, one has learnt the following about his eating and drinking tastes:
1. Local is lekker: he wants to eat ‘native produce’ rather than it being imported (e.g. ‘wallaby’ in Australia!)
2. He is fond of wine, and it should be local and single varietal, and not blended
3. His benchmark is Michelin-ism
4. He is quick to describe food as ‘bland’
5. He has a ‘boredom with egg-dominated dishes’
6. He loves ‘Nordic’ (especially Swedish) cuisine
7. He scoffs at molecular gastronomy, which he calls ‘pretend food’, and likes to be able to identify produce on a plate ‘rather than look at an inanimate mixture of textures and smears’
8. He ‘cherishes food which exudes strong, not to say, disgusting odours’.
It will be interesting to see if Palling’s assistance to Ms Donnelly will make any difference to the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards results. Palling has already shown that he is a difficult and opinionated writer and judge, and a rude Tweeter.
POSTSCRIPT 5/9: Eat Out has just announced that it is hosting a weekend of food celebration from 23 - 25 November, with international chefs in attendance too: This is from their website:
“On Friday 23 November, there will be an exclusive dinner with Massimo Bottura, chef at Osteria Francescana, number 5 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the prestigious annual awards sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aqua Panna.
On Saturday 24 November, for the first time ever, we’ll be hosting an Eat Out Conference at The Westin Cape Town on Cape Town’s foreshore. Speakers at the inspiring, interactive day include top international chef Massimo Bottura; Bruce Palling (Wall Street Journal critic, World’s 50 Best Restaurants judge, blogger and Eat Out 2012 judge); and British food designer Andrew Stellitano (check out his incredible food landscapes, sculptural pancakes and edible Louis Vuitton handbagshere). Local speakers include reigning Chef of the Year, Luke Dale-Roberts, and prominent members of the local food and restaurant community, who’ll join a panel discussion led by Eat Out editor and judge, Abigail Donnelly.
On Sunday, the winners of the 2012 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at The Westin Cape Town. A four-course meal will be prepared by top chefs, and the new Top 10 will be announced, along with the winners of the awards for best steakhouse, bistro, Asian, country-style and Italian restaurant, along with the Boschendal Style Award“.
POSTSCRIPT 9/9: Bruce Palling has been eating his way around the Cape, and the only clues that he is leaving is that he has eaten Springbok on more than one occasion, and he is Tweeting photographs of the wines he has drunk with his meals, which must be very frustrating for him, as he is a keen food photographer, but that would give the judging away! His wine choice over the past five days has included Zorgvliet Cabernet Sauvignon (vintage not mentioned), Raats Cabernet Franc 2008, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2010, Raats Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Paul Cluver 7 Flags Pinot Noir 2008, and Luddite Shiraz 2006. He is seeking wines with less than 14% alcohol content, to suit his wife’s requirement, and has been asking for advice on Twitter, a sad reflection on the restaurants at which he has eaten not being able to advise him! He has taken back his criticism of springbok in his Tweet on his arrival (see above), and Tweeted on Friday: “Take back Springbok being boring/bland - had 2 non sous vide versions which lean + voluptuous helped along by Raats Cabernet Franc 08″. No local chefs, with the exception of Oliver Cattermole, who is not in the running for the Eat Out Top 10 Awards as he has not been at Dish at Le Franschhoek for a full year, have interacted with Palling on Twitter. Chefs Peter Tempelhoff (Greenhouse), Jackie Cameron (Hartford House), Gregory Czarnecki (Waterkloof), Margot Janse (The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français), Scot Kirton (La Colombe), Tanja Kruger (Makaron), Eric Bulpitt (The Roundhouse), Marthinus Ferreira (DW Eleven - 13), and Tokara Restaurant are all following Palling on Twitter, perhaps hoping for a clue or two. Further disparaging Tweets in reaction to our Palling blogposts have been posted by Palling, one of which was (unprofessionally) ReTweeted by Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room owner Susan Huxter).
POSTSCRIPT 12/9: Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room and McGrath Hotels’ The Greenhouse must be concerned about Bruce Palling’s attack on ‘Relais Chateau‘ (sic) on Twitter today, both hotel groups belonging to Relais & Châteaux.
POSTSCRIPT 13/9: One hopes that Bruce Palling’s restaurant judging is better than his a-palling spelling and photography. This was his Tweet from Biesmiellah last night: “Taking a break at Biedmiellah (sic) - Babotie (sic) and Denning Vleis (sic)”. Poor quality writing, especially from a ‘journalist’!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Wed 8 Aug 2012
The Hermanus Wine & Food Fair is more low key than similar ones in Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Riebeeck Kasteel. This year the Fair is expanding its reach by putting close to 50 wine producers’ more than 250 wines, from Elgin to Elim and including Hermanus and Stanford, on show over the Women’s Day long weekend, from tomorrow until Sunday, in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village at the entrance to Hermanus. The proceeds of the Fair will go to the nearby Camphill School for children with special needs.
This is the 15th year that the Fair will be staged. The wines on show represent a wine region which has more 4 and 5 star Platter-rated wines than any other in South Africa, says the Fair write-up in Bay.
For the first time an interactive website www.thevine.co.za will allow winelovers attending the show to rate and review the wines they have tasted, and so build up a history of their wine tasting experiences, and share these with other wine lovers. The producers who will present their wines, many of them on the Hermanus Wine Route, are the following: Arumdale, Almenkerk, Ataraxia, Barton, Beaumont Wines, Belfield Wines, Black Oystercatcher, Boschrivier, Bouchard Finlayson, Brunia, Creation, Domaine des Dieux, Feiteiras Wines, Ghost Corner, Henry, Hamilton Russell, Hermanuspietersfontein, Hornbill, Iona, Jakob’s Vineyards, Jean Daneel, La Vierge, Lomond, Newton Johnson, Raka, 7Springs, Southern Right Wines, Spioenkop Wines, Spookfontein, Strandveld & First Sighting, Stanford Hills - Jackson’s, Southhill, Sumaridge, The Berrio, Vaalvlei, Whalehaven, Walker Bay Vineyards, William Everson, Winters Drift, and Zandfontein. Paul du Toit, owner of Wine Village, is the co-ordinator of the Hermanus Wine & Food Fair.
The food at the Hermanus Wine & Food Fair will be provided by the restaurants in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village centre, including The Class Room, B’s Steakhouse, and Season. EAT will run a Peroni Beer and wine bar. In addition, cheeses, olive products, charcuterie, buchu teas, bee products, herb liqueurs, nuts, sundried tomatoes, pomegranate products, pesto pastes, artisanal chocolates, and breads will be available for tasting and to purchase.
Hermanus Wine & Food Fair, Hemel-en-Aarde Village, Hermanus. 9 - 11 August, 11h00 - 19h00. R 95 per day, or R200 for 3-day pass. Free parking. www.hermanuswineandfood.co.za. Book via Computicket.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Tue 10 Apr 2012
In 15 weeks we will know who our own MasterChef SA is. We are curious to hear who our readers think will become MasterChef SA, and why. We ask you to send in your nominations with a motivation via Comment to this Blog (please add your name and surname).
To thank you for your input, we will award one lucky reader a complimentary weekend of your choice location at one of our Whale Cottages in Camps Bay, Hermanus, or Franschhoek, subject to availability, out of all of those entries correctly predicting the winner of MasterChef SA.
Whale Cottage Camps Bay is ideally located 500 meters from Camps Bay beach and 25 restaurants on the Camps Bay Promenade. It offers secure parking on the property, with seven seafacing double rooms, and single rooms facing the Twelve Apostles and Lion’s Head.
Whale Cottage Hermanus is located on the seafront, with a wonderful view onto Walker Bay, in which Southern Right whales and their calves frolic from May - November. The region is also known for its excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines in particular, from estates such as Hamilton Russell, Hermanuspietersfontein, and Creation on the Hermanus Wine Route.
Franschhoek is best known as the Gourmet and Wedding capital of South Africa, and some of its wine estates recognised as the best in the country. Whale Cottage Franschhoek is situated 200 meters from the main road in the village, up the road from Le Quartier Français and Reuben’s Franschhoek.
Jorgensen’s Distillery has generously donated two of its brands to the runner-up of the competition to correctly predict MasterChef SA, their Savingnac Potstill Brandy (value R300) and Naked Lemon Limoncello (value R120). The Savingnac Potstill Brandy is made in Wellington, and has roots of brandy making on the same property going back more than 300 years. Specially made wine is double distilled in owner Roger Jorgensen’s copper pot still to concentrate the flavour and the alcohol, and then is matured for a period of ten years or more in French oak barrels. The Naked Lemon Limoncello is made from hand-picked organic lemons, hand zested, with the skins macerated for 12 days in fragrant wine spirits to infuse the spirit with the lemon oils, giving the liqueur the vibrant yellow colour. It is bottled at 30% alcohol, and can be served with desserts or drunk ice cold.
To get the ball rolling, a listing of the eighteen MasterChef SA finalists, and our predictions of the chances of some of them winning MasterChef SA, follows:
Babalwa Baartman - would it be feasible for her to run the MondoVino restaurant at Montecasino in Johannesburg for a year, being from Cape Town, if she wins MasterChef SA? No exposure in episode 4 and 6. Eliminated in episode 8.
Berdina Schurink - she auditioned in each of the three MasterChef SA cities, so determined was she to become a finalist. The MasterChef SA write-up describes her as ’serious, determined and focused’. They warn viewers to not be fooled by her quiet and reserved nature. Pastry is her speciality. Berdina kept her pose when she fell into the bottom five for a childhood dish in episode 4, and her ‘pressure test’ koeksisters were judged to be perfect. She went into the ‘Pressure Test’ for the second time, but her lamb was undercooked, and therefore she was voted out by the judges in episode 5. Berdina has opened Bella Sophia Culinary Café in Riviera in Pretoria.
Brandon Law - little is known about him, but he has done fan signings at Eastgate. He is interested in molecular gastronomy. Could he become our next Chef Richard Carstens? No exposure in episode 4 and 6. Eliminated in episode 8.
Charles Canning - being based in Cape Town, can he afford to be away from his family panel beating business, a family with four children, and the Cape Town Highlanders, which he leads, to take over the MondoVino restaurant for a year? Both his childhood dish and ‘pressure test’ koeksisters bombed and he was one of two sent home in episode 4.
Deena Naidoo - his Butter Chicken was loved by Chef Pete in episode 1 and he finished it all, it tasted so good! He has been interviewed by the Sunday Times. on 15 April. There is no real story to the interview, entitled “Masterchef hopeful not just ‘curry guy’“, but it does state that he took unpaid leave to participate in the competition. Interesting is that he wears a MasterChef branded chefs’ top in the newspaper photograph. Interesting too is that he is the only one of the 18 contestants to use ‘mcsa’ in his Twitter address. No exposure in episode 4. Made top curry dish of all in episode 6. Leader of winning Blue team in Navy challenge. Did well with Denningvleis dish in episode 8. Only finalist not yet in a pressure test. To go into his first Pressure Test in episode 12. One wonders how MasterChef SA could have chosen Deena as a candidate if he does not drink, given that a chef would have to know his wines, and pair them with his foods. Given that Nederburg is a sponsor, and a wine training course offered by the South African Sommelier Association is part of the prize, they could not have a MasterChef SA winner who does not drink wines. Deena made a superb Passion Hazelnut Gateau in his Pressure Test, to his own surprise, in episode 12. In Pressure Test in episode 13, but survived it, despite heavy criticism from Chef Pete Goffe-Wood of over-smoking his fish. Not very successful in his Springbok loin Pressure Test in episode 15. Won the bell for best dish, to call on Chef/Judge input in episode 17, in episode 16. Highly praised by Chef Michel Roux Jnr from La Gavroche in London. Deena won the best dessert in episode 17, winning him a test drive in the Hyundai Elantra for a picnic with his wife Cathy at Plaisir de Merle in Franschhoek. Deena has gone through to the Finale.
Fortune Kangueehi - could a MasterChef SA come from Namibia? The judges may vote this advertising executive out over time on this basis alone. Her childhood dish did not make it, and she forgot to add baking powder to her ‘pressure test’ koeksisters, and became the second person to leave in episode 4.
Guy Clark - from friends of friends we have heard that he has made it close to the top. He is not visible on Social Media. Has this former model and now property broker gone underground? Does this make him the winner? No exposure in episode 4 and 6. In Red Team ‘Pressure Test’ with not so good pig’s ear dish. Eliminated in episode 9 for his soufflé.
Ilse Fourie - she attracted attention for the most favourable comments of all for her hot cooking (salmon steak) in episode 1, and she was the fastest egg whisker of all finalists in episode 2. She has had a write up on Channel 24. She is also pretty, having been a lingerie model, and this would add an extra touch of spice to the award! No exposure in episode 4. Praise for her curry dish in episode 6, and pork shoulder in episode 7. Did well with Tripe dish in episode 8. Not visible in episode 9 and 10. Seen in M-Net promo ad for MasterChef SA on 15/6, in which she says she will move to Johannesburg, should she win. Eliminated in episode 14, after her mini Boerewors popped, and she struggled to debone her lamb shoulder in the resultant Pressure/Perseverance Test.
Jade de Waal - loved by some and hated by others for her odd English/Afrikaans/undefined accent, she is a true character. Her cardamon ice cream was loved by the judges in episode 1. She was interviewed extensively after this episode by her aunt Sonia Cabano on the Robertsons Twitter account, when she still was the Social Media Manager for Robertsons. Jade received extensive ‘airtime’ in this Twitter interview, which no other contestant has received on this account to date. She has changed the name of her Twitter account, and has locked it as well, only allowing certain Tweeters to read it. Is she too hip, trendy, and frivolous for such a serious accolade? Based in Cape Town. Her Avo Ritz with a twist was highly praised in episode 4. She has announced that she has written a Cook Book on vegetables with her aunt. She was interviewed by Huisgenoot, she announced on Twitter. No exposure in episode 6. First criticism seen, for her Waterblommetjie bredie dish (with Sue-Ann Allen). She made a very poor soufflé, which should have seen her eliminated in episode 9, many on Twitter felt. In the Elimination Challenge in episode 10. Going into Pressure Test in episode 12. Voted out in episode 12, for a mess of a Passion Hazelnut Gateau. Reported to have written a cookbook ‘Luscious Vegetarian’ with her aunt Sonia Cabano, to be published in October.
Khaya Silingile - this Marketing Co-ordinator attracted attention in episode 1 for her highly praised scallop and smoked salmon dish, which she served with an unusual rhubarb tart. Her salmon childhood dish was praised by the judges in episode 4. No exposure in episode 6. Won the International Cuisine challenge in episode 9, with her French dish. In the Elimination Challenge in episode 10. Won best wine and food pairing in episode 11. Was beaten by 4-point margin by Chef Reuben Riffel in making his Seafood Fricasee - had she won, she would have won an Immunity Pin for the next five episodes. Announced her pregnancy in episode 13. In Pressure Test in episode 14. Eliminated due to her Springbok loin dish errors in episode 15.
Lungile Nhlanhla - this young fashion designer from Durban wants to create a link between fashion and food, says her MasterChef SA profile. No exposure in episode 4. Was praised for her curry in episode 6 and pork tail in episode 7. Came in on budget and her R150 budget meal acceptable in episode 10. Eliminated in episode 16 for not getting her chicken ballotine correct. It has been announced that Lungi has been appointed Junior Food editor of Drum magazine.
Lwazi Mngoma - appears very confident in his Tweets, and has been interviewed on Johannesburg radio stations Highveld Stereo and Kaya FM, and proud of it! Due to a less than satisfactory childhood memory dish, he went into the ‘pressure test’, and was lucky to have been retained, as his koeksisters were not perfect in episode 4. Back into ‘Pressure Test’ in episode 6, and was sent home due to his ‘Salmon Three Ways’ not meeting the judges approval.
Manisha Naidu - she cut short her honeymoon to audition for the show, says her MasterChef SA profile. She made the second best childhood memory dish, and was voted a team leader by the judges in episode 4. Commendably she elected herself into the ‘pressure test’ in episode 5, taking responsibility for her team losing the Harvest Celebration challenge, and she did not perform well in preparing the lamb rack. She will live with the conscience of having taken Berdina into the ‘pressure test’, and causing her elimination indirectly. No exposure in episode 6. Did well in Tripe dish in episode 8. Made top Budget family meal in episode 10. Her Boerewors dish voted best of all by the judges in episode 14, becoming a team leader in episode 15. In the Sunday Times on 8 July, a most honest interview reflected a sad past for Manisha, battling bulimia, a suicide attempt, and a divorce. But she remarried last year, and was on honeymoon when she received notification that she had been selected to participate, and therefore cut the honeymoon short. Manisha did not have to go into the Pressure Test in episode 17. Manisha forgot to add the pea shoot to her dish in episode 18, and made plating mistakes which cost her a place in the Finale, and she was sent home.
Mmutsi Maseko - as a ’stay-at-home’ mum, she may not be able to take up the prize of the restaurant chef. She ‘cooks from within’, says her MasterChef SA profile, and her favourite foods to prepare are meat, pap, and chakalaka. Floundering in her childhood memory dish by running out of time, she redeemed herself in the ‘pressure test’, making perfect koeksisters in episode 4. She went into the ‘pressure test‘ for the second time in episode 5, but her rack of lamb was praised by the judges. No exposure in episode 6. Voted out in episode 7.
Samantha Nolan - also from Cape Town, and ’stay-at-home’ mother of four children, according to her MasterChef SA profile, so the MondoVino restaurant prize may also be a problem. Her childhood memory dish was voted the best of all, and she was chosen a team leader too in episode 4. Best judge of spices in Chef Vanie Padayachee’s curry, and could choose main ingredient for curry in episode 6. Clearly leading the winning Blue team in the Navy challenge. First time in Pressure Test in episode 9, for having too many spices in her mince with the vetkoek. Voted out in episode 10 for Minestrone soup.
Sarel Loots - very quick to correct an error on this blog, asked to be followed on Twitter (a no-no), and subsequently blocked our account, possibly due to our Robertsons blogpost. He also auditioned at all three MasterChef SA venues. He loves making desserts most. Embarrassing poorly spelt Tweets were sent by him to Chefs Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, and Guy Fieri, all with the same message:”Love your programs. U insired (sic) me to enter @MasterChef_SA and made it to top 18 and stil (sic) going“! He also Tweeted ‘I will win this’, at a time when the MasterChef SA winner is known to some or all of the last 18 finalists. His poor English and Afrikaans spelling should be enough reason to disqualify him. No exposure in episode 4. Into Pressure Test in episode 6 due to his curry dish, but redeemed himself with an excellent ‘Salmon Three Ways’. In Pressure Test in episode 9, for not trying hard enough with his Brazilian dish. No exposure in episode 10. Second best Boerewors dish in episode 14, to be second team leader in episode 15. Except for his Bearnaise sauce, his Springbok loin dish for the Pressure Test in episode 15 was a close copy of the dish by Chef Andrew Atkinson. His peppadew stuffing of his chicken ballotine clashed with the truffle on his stuffed artichoke in episode 16. Voted out in episode 17, for forgetting the hazelnut gel.
Sue-Ann Allen - also from Cape Town, so the MondoVino restaurant prize may also be a problem. She was so dedicated to participate in MasterChef SA that she resigned her job as lighting designer. No exposure in episode 4. In ‘Pressure Test’ in episode 6, and was lucky to not be voted out. Pork loin not well received by judges in Red Team ‘Pressure Test’ in episode 7. Criticised for poor Waterblommetjie dish in episode 8. No exposure in episodes 9 and 10. Sue-Ann is on holiday in Croatia (June). Due to her Boerewors becoming ‘droë wors’ in episode 14, she did a brilliant Rolled lamb shoulder in the Pressure Test, judged to be her best MasterChef SA dish. Her stuffed artichoke said to be closest to that of Chef Michel Roux Jnr, but her chicken ballotine, stuffed with cream cheese, less successful, in episode 16. Survived the Pressure Test in episode 17. One of the two Finalists going into the Finale in episode 19. Sue-Ann was the Runner-up to Deena Naidoo to MasterChef SA. She is doing a one-month apprenticeship with The Greenhouse, Eat Out’s number one Top 10 restaurant, from 21 August.
Thys Hattingh - received high praise for his dessert in episode 3, when the challenge was to make the best braai dish. Not a ‘braaier’, by his own admission. No exposure in episode 4. Made second best curry dish in episode 6. Leader of losing Red team in Navy challenge in episode 7. Did well in Denningvleis dish in episode 8. Came second with his Moroccan poached pear dish in episode 9, even if he poached it in Nederburg wine, Morocco being a Muslim country! Into Pressure Test in episode 12. Struggled greatly with his chocolate mousse in making the Passion Hazelnut Gateau in the Pressure Test, and was lucky that Jade de Waal’s Gateau was even less perfect than his. Eliminated in episode 13, for overcooking his fish in Zanzibar.
We look forward to your votes - please keep them coming!
POSTSCRIPT 16/4: M-Net’s Senior Publicist Ingrid Engelbrecht provided the following information about the restaurant prize: ‘Regarding the restaurant prize, Southern Sun is happy to tailor-make the options in order to meet the needs of the winner and to ensure that all parties are happy going forward with this amazing prize. They will take into account factors such as the contestant not being from Johannesburg, having a family and any other obligations, and will assist to whatever degree is necessary’.
POSTSCRIPT 19/5: Die Burger ran a poll today, asking readers to vote who will win MasterChef SA. This is how they voted:
Ilse Fourie 32 % 367 Stemme
Jade de Waal 6 % 70 Stemme
Sarel Loots 15 % 175 Stemme
Thys Hattingh 22 % 246 Stemme
Deena Naidoo 5 % 59 Stemme
Khaya Silingile 5 % 56 Stemme
Lungile Nhlanhla 3 % 33 Stemme
Manisha Naidu 2 % 20 Stemme
Samantha Nolan 4 % 41 Stemme
Sue-Ann Allen 6 % 68 Stemme
POSTSCRIPT 27/7: The winners of the MasterChef SA Winner competition are the following:
* Weekend at a Whale Cottage guest house in Camps Bay, Hermanus, or Franschhoek: Francesca Tiganis. Her motivation for nominating Deena was as follows: ‘My vote is for Deena Naidoo - I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching him evolve with such passion and confidence, but in the most humble way. The way he listened so carefully to Chef Michel Roux and Chef Margot Janse really helped him execute his dishes so very well - he deserves to win Masterchef SA!’
* Jorgensen’s Distillery’ Savingnac Potstill Brandy and Naked Lemon Limoncello: Alicia Peter, for nominating Deena as follows: ‘I nominate Deena Naidoo – because he has managed to impress the judges and audience with almost all his dishes. To impress THE Michel Roux Jnr himself is simply superb! He is so talented yet so humble. I take my hat off to him…Go Deena!’
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage email@example.com
Tue 20 Mar 2012
At the Bouchard Finlayson tasting at the Twelve Apostles Hotel last week ‘Wine Tourism Handbook’ publisher Monika Elias gave me a copy of her 2012 edition. It is a very handy guide to the wine estates of the Western Cape in particular, but also in the Northern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. It is ideal for tourists wishing to get a quick overview of our wine routes and regions, and for staff working in the hospitality industry.
‘The Wine Tourism Handbook‘ introduces the topic by painting a picture of the 350 year history of South African wine, as well as the making of the first wines in the world up to 10000 years ago! It tells the story of South African wine-making by Jan van Riebeeck, in February 1659 for the first time, the establishment of the KWV in 1918, the creation of Pinotage in 1941, and the launch of the first wine route, in Stellenbosch, in 1971. From these early beginnings South Africa has become the 7th largest wine producer in the world. It addresses equitable issues of winemaking via Fairtrade, which promotes ‘greater equity for small producers in the international trading arena. The ethos of their work is that trading partnerships should be based on transparency, respect and a sustainable and ethical system of production and purchase’. The growing trend to sustainability led to the development of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, with land of wine farms set aside for conservation, eradicating alien vegetation, and protecting endangered species such as the Cape Leopard, Geometric tortoise, the Cape Leopard toad, and the Riverine Rabbit.
A chapter is dedicated to winemaking, starting with viticulture, and describing the white and red wine making processes. The value of the label, in communicating the region and farm from which the wine comes, the alcohol content, the vintage, the variety, the origin of the grapes is explained. Details about the origin, cultivar and vintage are certified by a seal from the Wine and Spirit Board. Just more than half of vines planted are for white wine production, and Chenin Blanc is the single largest varietal, at 20% of planting. The methods used to make Fortified wines, Rosés, and sparkling wines are also described. A ‘South African Bubbly Route’ lists 69 producers of MCC sparkling wine. The best way to store wine is shared, and companies through which one can order South African wines in other countries are listed.
Brandy production is addressed separately to wine production, and the types of brandy, and tasting it, is covered. Two Brandy Routes are described - the R62 Brandy Route, and the one including Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, Wellington, and Elgin. Twenty brandy producers are listed.
Most of the book is dedicated to the wine routes of the Western Cape, categorised as Central Region, Inland, East Coast, and West Coast. The Central Region consists of Cape Town wine production in Constantia and Durbanville, and also in Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch Berg, Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley, Tulbagh and Wellington. Advice is provided on getting around on the wine routes, and drinking and driving is strongly advised against. Tour guides specialising in wine are recommended. A Top 10 ‘Things to do’ list is presented, which includes lunch at Jordan wine estae, Staying in a tented camp at Clara Anna Fontein Game Reserve, seeing a show and eating at Die Boer Theatre Restaurant, viewing the Hess Collection at the Glen Carlou art gallery, tasting Jorgensen Distillery’s ‘artisanal drinks’, visiting the first biodynamic farm Bloublommetjieskloof, making wine at Stellenrust, enjoying a braai at Midddelvlei, and going on a game drive at Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary.
Highlights of the Constantia Region include Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Eagle’s Nest, Constantia Glen, Constantia Uitsig, Steenberg, and Cape Point Vineyards, and the restaurants La Colombe, Bistro Sixteen82, and Buitenverwachting. Some top Durbanville wine estates include De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Meerendal, and Nitida. The Franschhoek wine route includes Allée Bleue, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal, Cape Chamonix, Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, Morena, Graham Beck, Grande Provence, Haute Cabrière, Holden Manz, La Motte, Rickety Bridge, Solms-Delta, Stony Brook and Vrede en Lust. Restaurants on this Route include Pierneef à La Motte, Fyndraai, Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant, and Babel. The Paarl wine route includes Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Fairview, Glen Carlou, KWV Wine Emporium, Laborie, Landskroon, Nederburg, Noble Hill Wines, Perdeberg Winery, Scali, Veenwouden, Val de Vie, and Vondeling.
Stellenbosch is the oldest and largest wine region, and has a number oif wine routes. Some of the best known estates on these routes include Waterford, Blaauwklippen, De Trafford, Flagstone, Kleine Zalze, Neil Ellis, Stark-Condé, Beyerskloof, Hartenberg, Hazendal, Villiera, Delaire Graff, De Meye, Bartinney, Kanonkop, Mont Destin, Rustenberg, Slaley, Thelema, Tokara, Uitkyk, Warwick, Alto, Dombeya/Haskell, Graceland, Ken Forrester, Longridge, Rust en Vrede, Vergelegen, Waterkloof, De Toren, Dalla Cia, Jordan, Meerlust, Spier, and Vilafonté. Recommended restaurants are the Postcard Café, Terroir, Delaire Graff, Towerbosch, Overture, and Jordan Restaurant by George Jardine.
The Inland region consists of the Breedekloof, Klein Karoo (Boplaas is one of the best known), Swartland, Robertson (dominated by Graham Beck, but also with Zandvliet, De Wetshof, and Van Loveren being better known) and Worcester wine routes. The Swartland wine route is growing in stature, and very fine wines are being made in this region, including Mullineux, Sadie, AA Badenhorst, and Allesverloren.
Agulhas and Elim (Jean Daneel and Raka are best known), Bot River (Beaumont is best known), Elgin (a wine route with increasing recognition for Almenkerk, Paul Cluver, Shannon, and Iona), and Walker Bay are the wine routes classified under East Coast in the book. The new Hermanus Wine Route has excellent wineries, including Creation, Hermanuspietersfontein, Ataraxia, Bouchard Finlayson, and Hamilton Russell.
The West Coast region consists of the Darling (Cloof is best known) and Olifants River (Cederberg and Stellar better known) wine routes. The Garden Route is not well-known as a wine region, and Bramon makes an organic sparkling wine in Plettenberg Bay. In KwaZulu-Natal Abingdon and Meander wines are made.
Twenty-seven wine-related festivals are also listed, with dates for the year ahead.
The Wine Tourism Handbook is a wealth of wine information, and should ideally be given to all tourists arriving in Cape Town, as compulsory reading about the excellent and extensive wine range on its doorstep.
Wine Tourism Handbook 2012: Enjoying Wine at the Source, World Focus Media, Tel 083 631 3393 www.winetourismhandbook.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage