Entries tagged with “Jacques Erasmus”.


Chenin Blanc Top 10 Logo Whale CottageThe inaugural Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge winners were announced yesterday at a cosy function on a wet Winelands day at the ever smart Delaire Graff.  The function and competition, combined with the recent three-year sponsorship by Standard Bank of the Chenin Blanc Challenge, are giving Chenin Blanc the recognition it deserves, said Ken Forrester, Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association.  ‘Chenin Blanc is a wine whose time has come’, he said,Chenin Blanc Top 10 Ken Forrester Whale Cottage adding that ‘Chenin Blanc is THE white wine of South Africa‘!

A total of 126 wines was entered for the Challenge, and assessed blind by a panel of judges which included chairman Christian Eedes, Jamie Goode, Alan Mullins, Carrie Adams, and Higgo Jacobs. Interviews were conducted with the judges,  Allan Mullins of Woolworths saying that Chenin Blanc has been underrated for so long. He lauded Standard Bank for the support of the competition, and as Chenin Blanc drinks so well, it should be drunk by all.  It is a gem of a wine variety, and ranges in price between R25 – R 300 in retail outlets.   British wine writer Jamie Goode said that our country has a variety of Chenin Blanc styles, ‘ranging from the ‘VW Beetle to a ‘Rolls Royce’! Eedes said that he was honoured to chair the judging panel, and while he may be ‘shot down‘ for the results, having the auditors made the results indisputable. Out of the wine (more…)

I felt honoured to have been invited by Errieda du Toit to attend the Cape Town launch of ‘MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook’ at Exclusive Books at Tygervalley on Thursday evening.  With a number of the finalists present, it was impressive to see how much camaraderie there is between the Finalists, even though the filming for the series ended more than six months ago.  The Cookbook documents the journey of the MasterChef SA finalists, in addition to their best recipes.

Published by Human & Rousseau, the text for the book was written by Errieda, the food was styled by Jacques Erasmus of Hemelhuijs, and photography of the food was done by Myburgh du Plessis, all under the editorship of Daleen van der Merwe, and is the ideal keepsake for everyone who loved MasterChef South Africa.  Errieda said that MasterChef SA was a landmark program, which changed the face of food in South Africa. Even children are becoming excited about cooking.

The book profiles each contestant and judge, and summarises each episode, sharing the best recipes of each contestant, e.g. Deena Naidoo’s prawn curry, Thys Hattingh’s Cherry Frangipane tart, Sarel Loots’ Boerewors with Polenta and butternut mash, Khaya Silingile’s Chicken Ballotine, Sue-Ann Allen’s Oysters with horseradish mayonnaise, Lungi Nhlanhla’s pork tails, Jade de Waal’s warm Cape berry chocolate tart with pistachio and cardamom ice cream, and Samantha Nolan’s Dutch croquettes.  Recipes for traditional South African dishes such as koeksister, koesiesters, denningvleis, tripe and phutu pap, Waterblommetjiebredie, and chicken pie, are also offered.  The book culminates in the Grande Finale, and Deena winning the title of first MasterChef SA.

Each page offers a tip or hint, or an interesting comment, by one of the MasterChef SA finalists.  There are guidelines to sustainable cooking, food and wine pairing suggestions by sponsor Nederburg, and Le Quartier Français Chef Vanie Padayachee’s tips for cooking curry.  Visiting chefs Peter Tempelhoff from The Greenhouse, Coco Reinharz from Le Petit Sel and Sel et Poivre in Sandton, Michel Roux Jnr from La Gavroche in London, Margot Janse at The Tasting Room, Michael Broughton from Terroir,  Reuben Riffel from Reuben’s, and Lorraine Meaney from the Cape Grace hotel, are captured in the Cookbook, and most have a recipe included in the book.

The book also provides background information on how many kilograms of butter (100), cheese (250), litres of fresh cream (100) and milk (600), 215 kg fresh herbs (no Robertsons spices were used, as they are not stocked by Woolworths, despite the joint sponsorship of MasterChef SA), and vegetables (200 kg onions, and a further 3 tonnes for the bootcamp, 100 kg mushrooms, and 250 kg avocado), 57 kg prawns, 165 kg chicken, 400 kg lamb, and more than 2500 eggs were used!

A number of the Cape-based MasterChef SA Finalists attended the book launch, including Sue-Ann (now a private chef, with her own demonstration kitchen at the newly opened V&A Market on the Wharf, Ilse Fourie (now a private chef), Guy Clark (now a private chef, having left the Madame Zingara group), Samantha, Charles Canning, Jade (who has recently published ‘Luscious’ vegetarian cookbook), and Lungi (now Deputy Food editor of Drum magazine).  Ilse and Sue-Ann have signed a book deal for ‘Gourmet Sisters’ for next year.  Sarel Loots travelled all the way from Sabie to be present, and Chef Pete Goffe-Wood also attended.

As MC, Errieda asked the Finalists how their lives had changed in the past year.  Sarel related that he did not expect to be moved emotionally, and to cry about food! He also shared that he was mobbed at the Good Food & Wine Show in Johannesburg. Sarel is about to launch a range of Boerewors with fruit chutney, in conjunction with a spice company, first in Mpumalanga, and then nationally.  Lungi shared that she has always been creative, and being creative about food was a further extension, showing who she is. Chef Pete said that he was seen to be ‘insensitive’ and tough, but he knew how much was at stake for each contestant, and how much they had given up in their professional and family lives to be there. Chef Pete was chased by a traffic cop for making a call on his cellphone – when they recognised him, the traffic cop told him he wanted to share how much he enjoyed MasterChef SA!  The traffic cop opened the highway for Chef Pete, so that he could get to his function on time, referring to this as ‘culinary corruption’!  Sue-Ann said that she is cooking for 120 guests with ease now, and that her knowledge of food and wine has improved dramatically.  Ilse said that she has learnt knife skills, and how to eat and cook, yet stay small, being a ‘plus size model’. The finalists were most gracious in signing the book, and writing personalised messages.

Food trends for 2013 are Refined (beautiful plates of food, even if one is making it for oneself), Clean (in its content and origin), and Considerate (evaluating its impact on the environment), said Sue-Ann.  Chef Pete added Sustainability, seeing this as THE food trend for the next ten years.  Consumers are becoming more aware about environmental responsibility, both in supermarkets and in restaurants.

A dinner at Zibaldone in the Tygerberg Waterfront after the launch was even more special, as it allowed one to get to know Lungi, Sue-Ann, Sarel, and Ilse even better, and provided interesting behind the scenes MasterChef SA information: The contestants stayed at the guest farm in Paarl for up to 10 weeks (Sue-Ann and Deena), and were cut off from all communication (no cellphones or internet connection was allowed, with only a few calls to their families). They shared rooms. There was a ghost in one of the accommodation buildings, which frightened Sue-Ann and Ilse, especially when most of the other contestants had been sent home. They got home late at night, and had to get up at 6h00 to be back on set. They made their own food at night when they got back to the guest farm. They were provided with loads of cookbooks.  The judges brought their own clothes, Woolworths not using the opportunity to market their clothing lines.  Sue-Ann and Deena had to buy their own clothes for the Grande Finale dinner cooked for them at Montecasino in Johannesburg, and bumped into Ilse at Canal Walk by absolute coincidence on that day, not being allowed to tell her anything. Not shown on the program, but shared with Sue-Ann, was that good performance was rewarded with a shopping pass, which allowed her time off to shop at Paarl Mall!  Almost all the contestants got on like a house on fire.  Some of the male finalists were like naughty boys, dropping insects on Ilse, who is petrified of them, and other even worse pranks.  Charles was the ‘papa bear’ and Samantha the ‘mama bear’ of the group.  It was 54° C in Zanzibar, the heat and humidity affecting everyone badly, even the judges.  A large number of the MasterChef SA team got food poisoning from eating the food at the Zanzibar night market, due to the food having been exposed to the heat throughout the day.  The Finalists were not allowed wine.

The two owners of Zibaldone, brothers Adriano and Roberto Pietrella originally from Umbria, were extremely generous, in sending antipasta to the table, including Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna sauce), Coppa ham with a spelt, tomato and mozzarella salad, lamb tortellini, Veal Romana, and ending off with Tiramisu. I was impressed with Sarel’s love for food, so many months after the reality TV series, spending more time with the owners in the kitchen than at the table with us, always keen to learn something new.

The MasterChef SA interviews we had done during the season one series, and the book launch, showed how the Finalists have bonded, and become friends for life, it would seem, some becoming like brothers and sisters to each others. All the Finalists seem to have remained humble, even though they are instantly recognisable wherever they go.  They will become famous in the United Kingdom, the UK TV channel soon flighting our MasterChef SA series, Chef Pete announced on Thursday.  I asked Ilse, Sarel and Sue-Ann how they felt about season two of MasterChef SA, and each of them had a different reaction: Sarel said he is already working on building more Twitter followers, Ilse said she is concerned, while Sue-Ann said it will have no effect on them, as they were the first Finalists in the first MasterChef SA program in our country. Season two of MasterChef SA has commenced, the cold tests completed, and the hot dish tests are underway. Filming at Nederburg will probably start late in January, and flighting will be twice a week, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, from about end March. Chef Pete said that the quality of the contestants is of a very high standard, having learnt a lot from MasterChef SA season one.  The new ‘MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook’ is compulsory reading for all MasterChef SA hopefuls, and for the fans of the TV series.

MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook, Human & Rousseau.  www.mnet.co.za/masterchefsa Twitter: @MasterChef _SA  Available at leading booksellers.  R350 recommended price.

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

Neil Pendock, writing on his blog yesterday, knocked bloggers and food writers by applauding their absence at the inaugural Fleur du Cap 100 Places to Eat Cape Town 2011: What made the awards cocktail party unusual was that the usual cast of thousands – journos, hacks, bloggers, twits and hangers on – was conspicuous by its absence..” Yet the ‘Awards’ were organised by ‘little Irish devil‘ (his words) blogger Clare (‘Mack’) McKeon-McLoughlin!  How embarassing for sponsor Fleur du Cap, wishing to gain support from the media and bloggers for its brands, given that Pendock no doubt had an organising hand in the ‘Awards’!

Neil Pendock can be a really nice guy, as I experienced at the Compass Box Whisky Co tasting and blending afternoon a week ago.  But he has a nasty side too, as poor Su Birch of WOSA well knows, being the target of regular attacks in his Pendock Uncorked Sunday Times blog.   We can attest to his fierce loyalty to McKeon-McLoughlin, as he has blocked us on Twitter, due to our criticism of Cape Town Tourism’s involvement in his and McKeon-McLoughlin’s organisation of the frivolous ’100 Women 100 Wines’ in August.

Now poor Abigail Donnelly is the next target, being the sole judge and editor of the Eat Out DStv Food Network Top 10 Restaurant Awards for the first time.  This year the judging committee of Pete Goffe-Wood, Anna Trapido and Arnold Tanzer, who received a substantial remuneration, it is said, fell away, and whilst there has been some muttering about this, I have not heard any chef denigrate Mrs Donnelly because of the organisational change. The Top 20 Eat Out finalist list has been announced, and the only rumblings about it is that Rust en Vrede is not on the list, having been the winning restaurant on the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list last year, but its Chef David Higgs left mid-year, and that Chef Henrico Grobbelaar has not been at Azure Restaurant of the Twelve Apostles Hotel for a full twelve months, which is what the Eat Out rules dictate.

On Sunday McKeon-McLoughlin had invited some of the Fleur du Cap ‘Top 100′ restaurants and announced the following (alphabetically listed) restaurants to be the Top 10 Restaurants in Cape Town, out of an initial list of 100:

95 Keerom – Giorgio Nava.

Aubergine – Harald Bresselschmidt

Bizerca – Laurent Deslandes

Dear Me – Vanessa Marx

The Foodbarn – Franck Dangereux

The Greenhouse – Peter Templehoff

Hemelhuijs – Jacques Erasmus

Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson – Rudi Liebenberg

Societi Bistro – Stefan Marais

The Test Kitchen – Luke Dale Roberts

If one compares the list to the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Top 20 Finalist list, Azure at the Twelve Apostles Hotel, The Round House, and Nobu at the One&Only Cape Town are obvious exclusions, while The Test Kitchen, The Greenhouse, and Planet Restaurant also feature on the Eat Out Top 20 list.  What makes the list above lose all credibility is the inclusion of Societi Bistro – whilst very popular amongst bloggers, who are regularly invited for lunch or dinner, and appears to be the McKeon-McLoughlin’s permanent dining room, it certainly does not feature on anyone’s top restaurant list for Cape Town!  Amusing is that Aubergine fell off the Eat Out Top 20 Finalist list, whilst having been an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant last year, and appears on the above list!  A number of restaurant lovers queried its Eat Out inclusion last year.   Hemelhuijs and Dear Me Foodworld are great lunch venues, but only open in the evening once a week, and therefore are not in the same league as the other restaurants on the list, which serve lunch and dinner.

Ironic too is that Cape Town has lost its reputation as a top restaurant city, this accolade now having moved to the Winelands, Stellenbosch in particular, and therefore a list focusing on Cape Town only is like only handing out a second prize!   Pendock writes about the judges Bianca Coleman, Jos Baker and Anna Trapido that they are the ‘biggest culinary cannons’, an extreme exaggeration!  Trapido lives in Johannesburg, and hardly would have been able to judge all 100 Cape Town restaurants, especially given the short time between conceptualisation and execution of the Fleur du Cap Restaurant list.

A request sent to Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly for a list of the finalists in the new categories of the Eat Out Awards has surprisingly been declined, even though some restaurants on the list are ‘bragging’ about their inclusion.  All eyes will be on Eat Out and Abigail Donnelly on 20 November, when the country’s Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants will be announced, in ranked order!

POSTSCRIPT 8/11: Interestingly, the Fleur du Cap website has no reference to the Top 100 Cape Town Restaurants list, nor to the Top 10 Cape Town Restaurants.  The media release issued by the Fleur du Cap PR consultancy GC Communications oddly does not provide any quotes by nor contact details for the Fleur du Cap Brand Manager Danelle Kietzmann!

POSTSCRIPT 8/11: This evening I chatted to Jos Baker, one of the four judges of the Fleur du Cap Top 100 and Top 10 Places to Eat Cape Town 2011, at the Platter’s launch.  I asked what the criteria for inclusion were, and she said it was to find restaurants that would ‘not be intimidating‘, ranging from the top-end to the ‘hole-in-the-wall’, to give a good spread!  She told me that most of the judges’ deliberations were done via e-mail.  When I asked her about Eat Out having one judge only, she said ‘no comment’.  When I asked her if further regional lists would be published, she gave me a look that confirmed this, without answering directly.

POSTSCRIPT 9/11:  One would have thought that the Mount Nelson Hotel’s marketing department would have known better than to have described their inclusion in the Fleur du Cap Top 10 Places to eat list as ‘a most sought after achievement’ in their November newsletter today!

POSTSCRIPT 10/11:  Food24 has included a link to this blogpost in its newsletter today.

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

Cuvée Restaurant opened on Simonsig wine estate nearly three years ago, and its interior curation by Neil Stemmet put him on the map, with its unusual marriage of old and new.  Cuvée Restaurant is a sparkling complement and compliment to the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Simonsig is on the Kromme Rhee Road, one I had never previously driven, connecting the two roads to Stellenbosch via Klapmuts and Joostenberg.   There is ample parking, and one sees the modern oddly shaped posters within red frames outside the tasting room and restaurant entrance.  Dirk the waiter told me that Strijdom van der Merwe, co-owner of Casparus restaurant and nature artist, had prepared the curved large metal posters on the lawns outside to commemorate the 350th anniversary of winemaking in South Africa for Simonsig last year, a very modern statement for a long established wine estate owned by the Malan family. The late Frans Malan, with Spatz Sperling of Delheim and the late Neil Joubert of Spier, was one of the trio establishing the Stellenbosch Wine Route, which itself celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.  The Simonsig 210 hectare farm has been farmed by the Malan family for ten generations, and the late Frans Malan was a pioneer in creating the first Méthode Cap Classique, being their Kaapse Vonkel.  The Malan brothers Pieter (Marketing), Francois (CEO and Viticulturist), and Johan (Winemaker) run the farm.   In addition to the Kaapse Vonkel, there is a Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé, Cuvée Royale, and Encore Vin Sec. Other wines in the Simonsig range include Vin de Liza noble late harvest, Chenin avec Chéne, Chardonnay, Sunbird Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Tiara Bordeaux blend, Frans Malan Cape blend, Redhill Pinotage, Merindol Syrah, Labyrinth Cabernet Sauvignon, Mr Borio’s Shiraz, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, Shiraz Mouvèdre Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, and Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot.

The tasting room and restaurant are design extremes, the tasting room being part of the historic building, with traditional sash windows, yet it has a modern crockery and sparkling wine glass chandelier made by Jacques Erasmus of Hemelhuijs, and Tord Boordje paper curtains, one of only three establishments to have these designer curtains in Stellenbosch!  The restaurant appears to be a building addition, with more modern architecture but with classic interior touches added by Stemmet.  The room is on two levels, the lower one having a very dominant thick black and white striped wallpaper, with black, brown and white striped curtains, modern crystal chandeliers, a riempiesbank hanging from the ceiling, a red painted wall, and glass doors facing the vineyard.  A massive fireplace ‘divides’ the room into two.  The higher level appears more modern, with a raw concrete ceiling, one wall painted in a deep grey, and another left in rough brick.  At the back end, or entrance to the restaurant, is a modern black bar counter, behind which the wines are stored across the length of a wall.  Above the bar counter are large ‘Fifties style black and silver round lights.  One wall has seating as benches against the wall, and there is a small lounge area. The tables are black stained wood with glass tops.  There is a large Persian carpet in each of the sections, adding a homely touch.  Contrasting the more modern furniture is the traditional yellowood and stinkwood heritage furniture, such as a bakkis, and an amoire.  Modern perspex lamps and shades are spread around the restaurant, and there are bold white leather pouffes near the fireplace.  An interesting Ikebana tree, with coloured silk wrapped around it, is a ‘small wishing tree’, Dirk explained. Classical music chosen by Stemmet rounded off the quality impression. I would have loved to walk through the restaurant with Stemmet, to hear the ‘story’ about his curation.

Each table has a ceramic vase with a red protea, with cutlery by Arthur Krupp, and a most impressive serviette which has a crown logo and 1971 date embroidered on it, to attract attention to the October 40th anniversary celebrations of the Cap Classique at Simonsig.  The bread knife is by WMF.  Three types of bread, beautifully folded into a serviette, were brought to the table.  Coarse salt and pepper were brought in small bowls, with a spoon.  Stemmet dictated the crockery and cutlery, and it reflects class.  Staff wear black T-shirts and trousers, with a black apron.  Dirk showed me the Van Niekerk Room upstairs, a special events function room for about 20 guests, which also has strong elements of black and white stripes, with red leather chairs around a large table.  Mr van Niekerk was the father-in-law of the late Frans Malan, whose family is now at the nearby Knorhoek, on which wine estate Stemmet did the interior curation for their Towerbosch restaurant.

I met the new chef Lucas Carstens, who had moved across from Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town at the begining  of the month.  He has introduced some of his own dishes on the new menu, and kept other favourites.  He previously worked at Terroir restaurant and at the Kleine Zalze Lodge.  Dirk Smit, ex-Tuscany Beach, is the new Restaurant Manager, but was not on duty on Saturday.

The menu is A3 size on white board and well-presented, each item having a Simonsig wine suggestion. The Black pepper-seared tuna (R85/R140), with a Kaapse Vonkel pairing recommendation, is printed in gold, with the logo for the 40th Cap Classique celebration on it in gold too.  Starters and mains are not separated on the menu, as most dishes can be ordered as a starter or a main portion. Not listed on the menu, but offered was fresh oysters at R12,50 each.  I chose a starter portion of pan-fried kingklip, a smallish but very juicy thick piece of fish, served with asparagus (not specified on the menu and offered as a replacement for artichoke, but was served with artichoke too), braised fennel, slices of naartjie, and a most unusual citrus butter sauce.  With this was served an apple salad with a good dressing, not mentioned on the menu, making the R70 (R130 for full portion) charge good value.  Other interesting starter/main course options are Wild mushroom soup (45), Warm green bean and tomato salad (R50/R90), Tomato tartlet (R50/R90), Kleinrivier Gruyère soufflé (R85), Cape Malay butter chicken with Basmati rice (the restaurant smelt of this lovely curry when I arrived, and will be my first choice for my next visit, at R100), Grilled Mocambique prawns (R70/R140), Bobotie (R90), Joostenberg pork neck (R60/R110), Lamb shank (R140), Venison and wild mushrooms (R80/R150), and Flame-grilled beef fillet with Café de Paris sauce (R85/R160). I had the Valrhona  66% chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream (substituted for a red wine and cherry ripple ice cream), baked in a white dish, and thick and creamy inside (R60).   Crème Brulée, pecan nut tart, malva pudding served with Amarula and rooibos ice cream, and White chocolate panna cotta cost between R45 – R55.  A South African cheeseboard with preserves sounded expensive at R150, but I did not see it to judge the price.

The winelist is a folded A3 board, listing only Simonsig wines.  Kaapse Vonkel, the Brut Rosé, and Encore Vin Sec cost R27/R135, a R45 surcharge on the bottle price in the Tasting Room.  I had a glass of the Brut Rosé, and it was a good match to the kingklip. Cuvée Royale costs R54/R270.  The Mr Borio Shiraz costs R18/R90, and the Merindol Syrah R66/R330.  No vintages are listed for the wines, but the Platter star rating and awards won are denoted.

I almost felt sorry for Cuvée that such an excellent restaurant is so hidden away in the Winelands.  It has a dramatic ‘Cape Dutch modernism’ interior, excellent food, and stands for quality in everything that it does, much like its excellent sparkling wines.  I will go back, now that I know where it is.

Cuvée Restaurant, Simonsig, Kromme Rhee Rhee Road, between R44 and R304, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 888-4900.  www.simonsig.co.za  (The website contains the menu and winelist, but still has details of the previous chef.  Few of the many photographs in the Image Gallery are of the food).  Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday dinner.

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

I met the dynamic ‘warrelwind’ interior curator (not designer!) Neil Stemmet from KONCEPT for the first time at Decorex about two weeks ago.  There he stole the show with his amazing BOS Tea House that he designed for the ice tea brand, and the stand won an award for the best Green stand.  It was here that Stemmet started talking to me about his vision of the Restaurant of the Future, which he had embodied in his BOS stand design, but it was too much for me to comprehend in the busy and noisy exhibition hall, so we agreed to meet at Hemelhuijs with Sonia Cabano, highly respected chef, cookbook writer, and now Twitter fan.

Neil told me that he grew up in Upington, and Hemelhuijs owner Jacques Erasmus did too, and it was at Neil’s Le Must restaurant in Upington that Jacques cut his first chef’s teeth.  Neil’s restaurant made the Style Top 10 restaurant list in 2004, unheard of that a restaurant so far from the Cape Town and Winelands could achieve this.  He says that his was the first restaurant to introduce “Afrikaanse kos” in Upington. Neil started a blog called ‘Sout & Peper’, a blog solely in Afrikaans, and he is proud in documenting the recipes and stories about food preparation of up to 200 years ago, which he is transforming into a book.   ‘Sout & Peper’ food preparation is based on the ‘keep it simple’ principle, a good design principle too he says, and he gives the example of Karoo lamb, which should be prepared in the local way by just popping it into the oven with salt and pepper, and one should not make a Greek lamb out of it.  Neil’s book will be called “Sout en Peper”, and will be a collection of stories about the origin of South African food, and it will only be published in the ‘volkstong’ Afrikaans, being a ‘kos storieboek’.  It will explain how to cook local dishes, and more than one recipe may be provided for a particular item.   Neil said his book will be ‘sout en peper’ too in containing both sadness and humour.   He will also include recipes from South African cookery icons from many years ago, such as Hildagonda Duckitt and Louis Leipoldt.

Neil is so avantgarde that he put up a sign on his BOS stand to say “Decor is dead”.  He explained this as not being the slavish following of design trends, but rather ‘anything goes’, he said, with a focus on sustainability and heirlooms, utilising timeless classics.  His mantra is “curate, not decorate”.  He is somewhat of a trend setter, and therefore he recently read the work of Dutch trend forecaster Li Edelkoort, who spoke at the Design Indaba earlier this year.  He was so excited that she forecast the colours purple and green as the new trend colours, and these two colours are the ones he chose for a project to be launched this evening at the new Freeworld Design Center on Waterkant Street, next door to Hemelhuijs.  Green symbolises the heart chakra, he said, and stands for universal love, while purple represents the 7th chakra of spirituality.  He calls these ‘heirloom colours’.  Green is going back to a shade with a black tone added, as it was used 200 years ago, he said.

Neil proudly says that ‘curation’ comes from the heart and the soul, and it is not pre-planned or pre-designed to scale.  It just happens. The curator trusts his/her mind, and one should not ‘theorise’ the process.  There must be an ‘altar’ as the focus point the restaurant, on which the food is displayed – in the BOS Tea House this was a lit high table, and the food was presented on large platters, Neil getting the Cape Town International Convention Centre to serve food in these that he felt suitable.   He became very serious when he talked about the use of purple in making an “anti-Roman Catholic/papal statement”, in retaliation to how this religious group “has raped the world for money”, his view contentious to many, no doubt.   But Neil speaks his mind, and has done so for many years.  Food is blessed by those eating at the ‘altar’, but it does not mean prayer necessarily, but rather is a sharing and connecting with those that one is having the meal with.   Vitally important is what is served – it must be fresh, real and imperfect (in other words, it is no longer the perfectly round tomato from Woolworths, but an odd-shaped one fresh from the farm).  ‘New food’ is roasts, and pies for the left-overs.  Woolworths is a no-no to shop at, he says, as its products are too perfect!  He told Sonia and I that he could feel a shift in energy amongst the people who ate at the BOS stand, due to his curation, which was focused on “designing a space to accommodate and enhance human life”.   “Altar Music” is vital too, and he often uses film scores (e.g. from ‘The English Patient’), ‘chakra music’, or Lebanese music, as he did on the BOS Tea House stand.

I ordered the pork and chicken liver terrine with the most unusual accompaniment of orange preserve at Hemelhuijs, and Neil was very envious of my choice, saying it embodied ‘food of the future’.   Neil said that the restaurants can no longer be run as currently, and he sees neighbourhood restaurants springing up, which are supplied by the residents in that neighbourhood, and supported by them too as customers.  This creates a relationship with one’s social community, and waiters must know their patrons, and serve them accordingly.   Neil also talks about ‘lardering”, using fruit and vegetables of this season for next season, by preserving them, and making relishes, keeping all of this in the ‘spens’.  “Real’ bread will be baked at home again instead of supermarket bread being served, simple cuts of meat will be served, and gas will be used as a means of cooking to conserve electricity, and all one’s baking will be done on one day for the week ahead, to save time and energy.   Consumers will become more independent in their supply, growing their own vegetables and herbs, and turning them into long-term sustenance.  Restaurants will not have menus any more – the chef will decide on the day what he can prepare, given what fresh supplies he has.  Clients will learn to be brave in trusting the chef in his food preparation choice, and clients will be in the kitchen inside the restaurant, with the chef, while he prepares their food. 

Restaurants will have chairs, couches, or even beds in them, with music, books and children – they will no longer be elitist.  Good examples of such restaurants are Pierneef à La Motte, Towerbosch  (for which Neil did the interior), Babel (seven years ahead of its time, Neil says), and Hemelhuijs.  The food served in such restaurants is elementary, honest and sustainable as far as possible (e.g. in New York restaurants grow vegetables on top of city skyscrapers, Dash restaurant is growing vegetables and herbs on top of the V&A Hotel roof, and Dear Me is growing its herbs in special containers hanging from its ceiling).  Restaurants are no longer places at which to just eat, but also serve as a replacement of one’s office and home, a ‘connecting space for like-minded people’, our ‘home away from home’!  This trend will spread to accommodation establishments too, with guest houses and hotels becoming ‘non-guest houses’ and ‘non-hotels’, making the guest feel at home but in which one’s privacy is not compromised. As customers we will become ‘excessively open’, Neil says, becoming so ‘naked’ that all can ‘see’ one, and one can say “here, this is me”!

It was the accolades and attention that his BOS stand created that led Ravi Naidoo, the organiser of the Design Indaba, to invite Neil to create a pop-up store in the very fashionable Fashion Mall of the V&A Waterfront, for an as yet unannounced project.

POSTSCRIPT 16/5:  Neil Stemmet was one of four curators/designers invited to present their interpretation of “Openness to Explore” at the Freeworld Design Centre on Waterkant Street.  Each designer designed a pod.

Neil Stemmet, KONCEPT, Cell 082 373 3837. www.konceptdesign.co.za

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

Hemelhuijs is a heavenly new restaurant which opened two weeks ago in Waterkant Street, close to the World Cup pedestrian bridge crossing over Buitengracht Street, on the city side.   It is owned by Jacques Erasmus, who was one of the founders of Manna, which had a strong following on Kloof Street, whilst it was owned by Maranda Engelbrecht (she has just opened Babel at Babylonstoren).   Jacques assured me that Hemelhuijs is not another Manna, and that there will be no coconut bread, part of a Manna signature dish.

I asked about the restaurant name, and the Dutch imprint.   The name came from the direct translation, which would be the house of joy, or it being heavenly.  The restaurant is also around the corner from the Lutheran Church, which one sees on Strand Street.  He chose the Dutch link, to give it a more charming feel and it reflects his heritage and family tradition, coming through in the menu, for example the fresh farm eggs, farm chicken and lamb ribs, all of which Jacques and his team have reinvented.

The restaurant is a large space, and spills out onto the traffic-free pedestrian walkway.  Neighbouring buildings sell products relating to the design and decor industry (Lightworld, Finda spa baths, and a paint shop is being set up).  A Peruvian restaurant is set to open across the walkway.   When one walks in, one sees a display space for Jacques’ ‘home ware’ range, black ceramic crockery which Jacques has designed and is made for him. The black colour, not just on the outside but inside too, retains the heat of the plates when pre-warmed, for half an hour, he told me.  I thought them to be great for getting a better photograph relative to the dominant use of white plates in restaurants.   Jacques uses the restaurant as an outlet for the home ware, as well as for the wonderful slick classic yet modern square-shaped zen-feel furniture, made from wood and black steel structures, all of which can be ordered.  Material serviettes are provided, and the cutlery is new and shiny, a classic modern design. 

Jacques told me that he is the creator of crockery chandeliers, which I first saw at Manna, and he also made the three modern chandeliers with crockery from the Dutch East India Company for the new Pierneef à  La Motte.   There are no crockery chandeliers at Hemelhuijs.  Not only is Jacques an interior designer and restaurateur, but he is also a restaurant consultant, helping others to set up new restaurants.   On the ceiling is a large rectangular white structure, on which Jacques created images, ‘like a 5-year child having fun and playing’, he explained.   I asked him which his favourite restaurant is, and he immediately said it is his home, having eggs on toast.  He most regularly goes to Chef Pon’s in Gardens, for its predictability, nothing about the menu or the food changing.

Business has been good to date, and lunches tend to be fully booked, mainly by female supporters, rather than city businessmen, as Jacques had expected.  Many of the clients are ex-Manna friends.  The A3 white menu looks just like that which Manna first used, and on one side it says simply: “Hemelhuijs: Everyday Luxury”, a nice and simple positioning.   Breakfast is served all day, and most of the menu items are relatively standard dishes with one surprise ingredient, giving them a creative twist.   The wine selection is very small and focused, the “boutique house wine” being Henry Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, made by Hennie Andrews near Napier, not only a good wine maker, but the original bread baker at Manna.  Two sparkling wines are served: Graham Beck Brut Rosé and Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, reasonably priced at R35/R160. 

The menu has no dishes costing more than R90, for Baked salmon trout, pine nuts, dried cranberries and grapefruit butter.   I ordered Fresh asparagus, smoked salmon and a wonderful hollandaise sauce (R70), served with home-baked rye bread, which I dunked in the sauce, to mop it up.  The white asparagus spears were lightly blanched, making them super crunchy.  The dish looked beautiful in the black bowl.  For breakfast/brunch one can order fruit and yoghurt (R40); poached eggs, prosciutto, artichoke and hollandaisse sauce (R55); scrambled egg, salmon and toasted apple cake! (R50); and omelette and maple syrup glazed bacon, figs and goat’s cheese! (R55).  Salads cost R55 – R65.   Marzipan and dried apricot roasted chicken, a definite for the next visit, costs R 60; slow roasted lamb ribs cost R75; and the Hemelhuijs burger with creamed mushrooms and poached egg costs R70.   Crostini with various toppings range from R35 for mozzarella and tomato, to R50 for chicken and avocado.  The duck liver paté and preserved orange also sounded wonderful (R45).   Balsamic vinegar and olive oil (Hamilton Russell) are served in the most exquisite glass carafés, the olive oil one containing a herb sprig, giving it a special touch and taste.  The cappuccino (R17) was served with ‘anys-beskuit’, three generous helpings, at no charge.

I will be returning to heavenly Hemelhuijs for a breakfast later this week.  Jacques was very generous with his time and information.   The business card says: “Wholesome food, freshly made juices, artisan home ware, delicious daily bakes’.

POSTSCRIPT 6/11:  I have been back to Hemelhuijs twice since writing the review earlier this week, having the scrambled egg and salmon breakfast dish, as well as the most wonderful roast chicken with cherries, rocket cream, and marzipan and dried apricot stuffing.

POSTSCRIPT 13/4:  I went to look at the dinner at Hemelhuijs last night (only open on Wednesdays), but had to wait until 19h00 for it to open, so went to Keenwä, the Peruvian restaurant close by first, as they open at 18h30.  I ordered what sounded like a nice watercress and poached egg salad, at R55 – it was half a boiled egg on a side-plate full of hard-to-eat watrecress with some pine kernels.  I felt more than ripped off, especillay when the manager did not flinch nor ask a question in presenting the bill in full, after I left the plateful of watercress minus the egg!

POSTSCRIPT 10/5: Today I had lunch at Hemelhuijs with interior curator Neil Stemmet, also owner of award-winning Le Must in Upington, at which Hemelhuijs owner Jacques started his cheffing career, and with chef and cookbook writer Sonia Cobano.  I had a most unusual and very tasty combination of pork and chicken liver terrine, served with orange preserve and toasted rye bread.

POSTSCRIPT 16/5:  This evening Hemelhuijs was opened especially to cater for the persons invited to the opening of the ‘Openness to Explore’ exhibition at the Freeworld Design Centre next door.  The menu at Hemelhuijs was changed yesterday, and prices are creeping dangerously close to R100 – they had used the lunch menu and not their Wednesday evening menu.   While delicious, the three ‘frikadelle’ on a lick of mash accompanied with a sprinkling of tomato and onion was expensive at R95, but it was delicious.

Hemelhuijs Restaurant, 71 Waterkant Street, Cape Town. Tel (021)  418-2042.  No website.  Monday – Friday 8h00 – 15h00.  Saturday 9h00 – 15h00.   Wednesday evenings from 19h00.

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