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
The Chenin Blanc Association hosted the ‘Cape Chenin Unveiled’ seminar at the One&Only Cape Town yesterday, and its main focus was the presentation of a comprehensive three year research project on South African Chenin Blanc wines, a tasting of twelve Chenin Blancs, and a pairing of five dishes at Nobu with fifteen Chenin Blancs. The research presentation by Dr Hélène Nieuwoudt of the Institute for Wine Biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch highlighted that despite Chenin Blanc being South Africa’s largest cultivar at 19% of production, it is one of the least known and understood by wine drinkers.
Dr Nieuwoudt related that scientific research was conducted between 2010 and earlier this year, at three levels: at the chemistry level, analyses were done on grapes, fermentation, and maturation; at the sensory level, the sensory intrinsics, taste and smell were evaluated; and at the consumer level, the perceptions and psychology of wine-drinking were analysed. The research project has been conducted in conjunction with Stellenbosch University, Consumer Check (in Norway, Italy, Australia, South Africa and the Netherlands), and Consumer Perception (in France and USA). Chenin Blanc was one of the wine cultivars which was evaluated in the study.
The diversity of Chenin Blanc in its chemistry, sensory make-up and consumer perceptions led the researchers to conclude that Chenin Blanc suffers from a ‘confusion of style identity’, as to whether it is dry or off-dry. Seventy cellars making 170 wines were evaluated, and at the chemical level there was no obvious measurement of the chemistry of Chenin Blanc. At the sensory level a database of descriptors was built up, and lemon, citrus, peach, pear, and apple were most often identified, and recorded in terms of number of mentions, but also their intensity.
Research conducted amongst 5261 consumers at the Johannesburg Wine Fair and Robertson Wine Fair found that Chenin Blanc has a ‘vague knowledge as a wine style’ amongst local consumers, with only 8% of all respondents interviewed knowing and understanding the cultivar. Chenin Blanc had a very low level of awareness amongst wine drinkers, which would result in a low likelihood of it being bought. The research also showed that there is a confused segmentation of local Chenin Blancs, ranging from ‘fresh and fruity’ (and also less expensive) on one end of the spectrum, to the other end of the spectrum of ‘rich and ripe’, being the more expensive Chenin Blancs. A spontaneous Liking score of 5,8 out of 10 increased to about 7 out of 10 when respondents were exposed to information about Chenin Blanc, showing that consumers need to be informed about Chenin Blanc, to improve their probability of buying it. Dr Nieuwoudt said that consumers are becoming label readers in general, and suggested to Chenin Blanc producers that they evaluate how they are communicating the cultivar on their labels.
Ross Sleet summarised the research findings, and said that the Chenin Blanc Association had contributed financially to the research, to improve the ‘production of quality Chenin Blanc in South Africa.’ The Association wants to position Chenin Blanc as a ‘desirable drink‘, he added. Whether ordered by the bottle or glass, Chenin Blanc is an excellent wine to pair with food. An ‘on-bottle device is being investigated to demonstrate the continuum of Chenin Blanc styles‘, said Sleet.
Jeff Grier, winemaker at Villiera, took the delegates through a wine tasting, segmented into ‘Fresh and Fruity’ and ‘Rich and Ripe‘ Chenin Blancs:
* Fresh and Fruity: Perdeberg 2012, Slanghoek 2012, and Simonsig 2012 were the entry level Chenin Blancs, costing below R40, a price point which is excellent for younger drinkers. These young drinkers will evolve into ‘Rich and Ripe’ drinkers over time. Lutzville Diamond Collection 2011, Radford Dale Renaissance 2010, and Mulderbosch Small Change 2009 are lightly wooded, medium bodied, with minerality, and not too high in alcohol. The latter two wines cost around R200.
* Rich and Ripe: Spier 21 Gables 2010, Rudera Robusto 2009, and Rijk’s Reserve 2008 are wooded, while Remhoogte Honeybunch 2011, Graham Beck Bowed Head 2010, and Ken Forrester FMC 2010 are noble late harvest wines influenced by botrytis. Generally these wines have more tropical fruit, and more yeast on the palate. The Rijk’s costs R170, the Ken Forrester FMC R325, and the other wines in this segment around R120.
Stellenbosch is associated with Chenin Blancs, and the majority of the wines selected for the tastings were from this region, reflecting that a large proportion of Chenin Blanc is made here, with low yields of 7 tons per hectare. The Chenin Blanc Association was formed to collectively market the category, the ‘Fresh and Fruity’ Chenin Blanc brands being used to draw consumers into the category. Jeff warned that Chenin Blanc should not make a Chardonnay look-alike, given that international feedback reflects that our Chenin Blancs are excessively wooded. He recommended using bigger barrels, and coopers in Loire and Burgundy to help the ‘wooding’.
Ken Forrester is the Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, which is administered by Ina Smith.
At lunch at Nobu I was lucky to sit at what someone described as a ‘VIP table’, with Jeff Grier, Chenin Blanc Association founder and MW Irina von Holdt, Alan Mullins from Woolworths, wine writer Norman McFarlane, and Olivia Mitchell from garagiste Andy Mitchell in Greyton. For each of the five courses, three Chenin Blancs were poured for pairing, the first 12 being the same Chenin Blancs we had tasted in the seminar. The Whitefish New-Style Sashimi with chives, ginger puree, garlic, and yuzu citrus soy sauce was paired with Perdeberg 2012, Slanghoek 2012, and Simonsig 2012. The latter wine was found by our table to pair best.
This was followed by a Baby Spinach Salad with Lobster, a sprinkling of parmesan, and a drizzle of truffle oil and yuzu, which was paired with Lutzville 2011, Radford Dale Renaissance 2010, and Mulderbosch 2009. The table found the Radford Dale to pair the best. Shrimp Tempura Cut Roll was served with light soy, and was paired with Spier 21 Gables 2010, Rudera Robusto 2009, and Rijk’s Reserve 2008, the table choosing the Rudera as the most suitable Chenin Blanc to pair with the dish. Irina von Holdt shared that Chenin Blanc is the ‘ultimate restaurant wine‘, she said, being so versatile.
Grilled salmon topped with a salmon skin crisp, served with brown rice salsa, with a light soy sauce, a jalapeno dressing, lemon juice and olive oil was paired with Remhoogte Honeybunch Reserve 2011, Graham Beck Bowed Head 2010, and Ken Forrester FMC 2010, the Graham Beck found at our table to pair best. The dessert was excellent, being a Passion fruit Brûlée served with coconut ice cream, and was paired with Villiera Inspiration 2010, Kanu Kia-Ora Noble Late Harvest (NLH) 2008, and Joostenberg NLH 2005. Jeff explained that the Villiera wine name came from a trip to France, which he and his team had won in a blending competition, where they tasted lots of Chenin Blanc and Noble Late Harvest, which was the inspiration for the creation of the Villiera.
The Nobu lunch demonstrated how well the spectrum of Chenin Blanc wines can be paired with foods, and will have gained Chenin Blanc producers a whole lot more fans.
Disclosure: We received a bottle of Villiera Chenin Blanc 2011.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
It would appear as if the world-wide recession has only hit South Africa, and the Cape in particular, now and with a severe bang. There is almost daily news of restaurant closures, three alone in the past three days, sad given how much the restaurants have invested in building a brand name and a regular following for their businesses.
The more than 100 restaurants in Cape Town and in the Winelands that are offering such generous Winter specials must be commended, and we will do our best to make their specials known to as many persons as possible. We encourage our readers to do the same, to prevent any further closures.
We have created a new blogpost, with the restaurants opening and closing, and chefs moving, since spring 2011.
The following restaurants have closed down in the past few months, and these may not be the only ones as the winter takes its toll:
* Jardine’s Restaurant has closed on Bree Str
* Liquorice and Lime has closed down on St George’s Mall
* Cheyne has closed on Bree Street
* The Kitchen Bar in the Quarters’ Hotel in Hermanus has closed
* The Bistro in Franschhoek has closed down
* The Sandbar in Camps Bay has closed down
* The Blonde building is up for sale, and does not appear to be re-opening in August, as was announced by The Caviar Group, owners of Blonde
* The Green Dolphin Jazz Club in the V & A Waterfront has closed down
* Mezzaluna in Loop Street has closed down
* Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge Pete Goffe-Wood’s Wild Woods Restaurant has closed down.
* Restaurant Christophe closed down in Stellenbosch on 25 June. Eat Out Top 20 Chef Christophe Dehosse will be back at Joostenberg from August.
* Nando’s in Camps Bay has closed down
* Haute Cabriere, under the chefmanship of Matthew Gordon, closed on 7 June at the wine tasting venue with the same name in Franschhoek. See below for re-opening.
* Karma closed down in Camps Bay
* Hermanos in Hermanus has closed down
* Fizz Affair Champagne and Wine Bar has closed down in Franschhoek
* Doppio Zero in Green Point has closed down
* Nzolo Brand Café has closed down in Church Street
* L’Aperitivo has closed down. See below for Valora.
* On Broadway’s in-house restaurant has closed down. Re-opened as Roberto’s on 7 July - see below.
* Doppio Zero Claremont has closed down
* Brio 1893 is closing down on 12 August
* Chenin has closed in the old Cape Quarter
* Cafe Max has closed down in De Waterkant
* Bella Lucia has closed down in Wynberg
* Iconic restaurant Linger Longer has closed down in Johannesburg after the death of chef Walter Ulz, 2010 Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
* Postocini Express has closed on Greenmarket Square
* De Huguenot Restaurant, only having open for six months, closes at the end of October. The Harry Q bar will continue operating, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The De Huguenot Estate will concentrate on weddings and events.
* Wildflour has closed down on Regent Road in Sea Point.
* The Olive Shack in Franschhoek has closed its restaurant operation, and will only operate as a shop selling olive-related products.
* 221 Waterfront has closed down in the V&A Waterfront
* What’s On Eatery in Watson Street has closed down
But all is not doom and gloom, and the restaurateurs that are opening restaurants in these difficult times must be congratulated and wished well. These restaurants opened their doors this year :
* Etienne Bonthuys (ex-Tokara) has opened his long-awaited restaurant on Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, called Casparus, in partnership with artist Strijdom van der Merwe (left).
* DISH has opened at Inn on the Square, Greenmarket Square
* The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek has opened as a deli, doing olive oil tastings, and serving Breakfast, Greek lunches and picnics
* Tables restaurant has opened at Nitida wine estate in Durbanville
* Mozzarella Bar has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens
* Café Benedict has opened on the main road in Franschhoek.
* Trinity has opened as a ’super club’ in Bennett Street in Green Point
* Il Cappero Italian Restaurant* has opened in Barrack Street
* Caffé Milano* has opened on Kloof Street, Gardens
* The Stone Kitchen has opened at Dunstone Winery in Wellington
* The Franschhoek Food Emporium has open in Place Vendome, and is owned by legendary Topsi Venter’s daughter Danielle
* What’s On Eatery* has opened in Watson Street, between Loop and Bree Street
* Haas Coffee Collective has opened on Rose Street in Bo-Kaap
* Crunch:The Pastry Shop coffee shop and bakery has opened in Paarl, owned by Gerard van Staden, previously chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel
* Dear Me Brasserie and Tjing Tjing Bar has opened on Longmarket Street (right).
* Act Restaurant and Play Bar have opened at the Baxter Theatre
* Le Coq has opened in Franschhoek
* Dash has opened in the Queen Victoria Hotel in the Waterfront
* Café Dijon has opened another branch at Zorgvliet wine estate
* Harbour House has opened a branch in the V & A Waterfront, where Fisherman’s Choice was
* KOS Coffee & Cuisine has opened in The Regency on Regent Road in Sea Point
* Café Extrablatt has opened where shu used to be, in Green Point
* Skinny Legs & All has opened on Loop Street
* Leopard’s Leap will open its picnic facility, tasting room and cookery school outside Franschhoek in November/December
* De Huguenot Estate has opened The Marianne, Harry Q Bar and Fraiche, with ex-Hunter’s Country Lodge chef Tanya Kruger in the kitchen. (The De Huguenot restaurant closes at the end of October - see in closures above, and Fraiche Deli will no longer open).
* Cicciobella Pizzeria has opened in Hout Bay
* Takumi has opened, with Chef Papa San the Sushi Master
* Sunbird Bistro has opened in the ex-Sandbar space on Victoria Road in Camps Bay, with Lana Doyle as chef and Pamela Trevelyan as Manager. Smart blue/white interior. Serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails and tapas.
* The Grand Camps Bay will be operated by the ex-Sandbar for Breakfast and lunch. The Grand takes over from 4 pm.
* Mezepoli from Johannesburg is opening in the Nando’s space in Camps Bay on 20 October
* Saboroso has opened in Bakoven, where Marika’s used to operate
* Café Le Chocolatier has opened a chocolate manufacturing and demo outlet Le Chocolatier Factory, next to its restaurant, in Franschhoek, utilising Lindt equipment and chocolate
* Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant has re-opened, with new chef Ryan Shell.
* Cavallo restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, in 2012 or 2013
* Roberto’s has opened underneath On Broadway, owned by Chef Roberto de Carvalho, ex-chef at the Twelve Apostles Hotel and the One & Only Cape Town
* Luigi’s is opening in Paarl where Ciao Bella used to be
* Our Place is opening in Durbanville where Avocado used to be
* Friends Café has opened at 44 Belvedere Street, Claremont. Tel (021) 674-5510
* Valora has opened where L’Aperitivo was, on Loop Street
* Rococoa has opened in The Palms Decor and Lifestyle Centre in Woodstock
* Luke Dale-Roberts (The Test Kitchen) is opening another restaurant in Wynberg, said to be where Bella Lucia is - this report, initially announced on the Spill blog, has been denied by Luke Dale-Roberts
* Reuben’s is opening another Franschhoek branch off the main road, and will run it concurrently until its main road branch lease expires next year.
* Toro has opened in the old Cape Quarter, near the back entrance of Andiamo, as a Wine/Aperitivo Bar, with an ex-Overture chef
* Goloso Italian Deli and Wine Bar has opened on Regent Road in Sea Point, next door to Wildflour.
* Franschhoek Famous Pancake House, with owner Gideon, has opened as a take-away pancake outlet, in Mont View Centre, next to the gym, in Fabriek Street, Franschhoek.
* Cafeteria has opened in De Waterkant, initially selling wraps, sandwiches, coffee, and beautiful pastries, cakes and macaroons by Martin Senekal as take-aways, and planning to expand into a sit-down coffee shop in October.
* A late night dinner and dance restaurant will open in the ex-Brio space in October, with a chef from St Tropez, and a DJ from Cannes
* LM Grills has opened in Onrus, outside Hermanus, previous owners of restaurants with same name in Johannesburg and Mocambique
* Chez Chez has opened as an Espresso and Cheesecake Bar (serving 13 different cheesecakes), 3 De Lorentz Street, Tamboerskloof.
* Bistro on Rose has opened at 35 Rose Street
* The Slug & Lettuce has opened on Long Street
* Rhapsody’s franchise restaurant, mainly in Pretoria, is to open next door to Café Extrablatt in Green Point, where Doppio Zero used to be
* Wale Rose Lifestyle has opened in Bo-Kaap, on the corner of Wale and Rose Street, serving Cape Malay as well as ‘cosmopolitan food’.
* Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends are opening Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants on Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s, in December
* The Kitchen at Maison opens on Maison wine estate in Franschhoek on 16 November, with Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg (ex-Ginja, ex-Myoga), and Manager Julian Smith (ex-Grande Provence, ex-Waterkloof, ex-Pierneef a La Motte)
* McDonald’s is opening a ‘concept store’ in the V&A Waterfront, where 221 Waterfront used to be
* Batho’s Place African Restaurant has opened in the township in Franschhoek. 082 090 8660
* Liam Tomlim’s Cookery School opens at Leopard’s Leap at the end of November, next door to La Motte in Franschhoek, also serving picnics.
* F.east Indian Restaurant has opened corner Long and Bloem Streets, in Cape Town
* Chef Jacques de Jager, has left Salt Restaurant, after about 18 months
* Restaurant Manager Darren Morgan has left Dash Restaurant, and is now at the One&Only Cape Town
* Food & Beverage Manager of Dock House, Queen Victoria Hotel and V&A Hotel, Alton van Biljon, has left
* Chef Lucas Carstens has left Reuben’s at One&Only Cape Town, and joined Cuvée Restaurant, at Simonsig wine estate
* Blues in Camps Bay is reducing the size of its restaurant, and re-opens as Blues Beach House on 14 October
* Chef Leigh Trout has left Mange Tout at the Mont Rochelle Hotel, and has bought Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery on Bree Street, with Kevin Mink. They re-opened on 1 September with an amended interior and a new menu.
* Ex-Hermanos chef/owner Wayne Spencer is now at Burgundy in Hermanus
* Carl Habel, Sommelier of The Mount Nelson Hotel, has been appointed Restaurant Manager of Planet Restaurant too
* Peaches and Cream on the Main Road in Paarl has been taken over by Anica Bester
* Mediterrea in Hermanus has changed its name to Grilleri
* Patron Chef Stefan Louw has taken over the running of Heaven on Newton Johnson wine estate in the Hemel en Aarde wine valley.
* The Black Pearl is the new name of the Tapas, Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, with new owners, of the ex-Seven Sins on Kloof Street.
* Chef Oliver Cattermole has left Dash restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel, and joined What’s On Eatery on 1 October.
* Cocoa Oola has opened on Kloof Street, where Oishii used to be
* Chef Anri Diener has left Majeka House, and Chef Tanja Kruger from De Huguenot Restaurant takes over her position
* Chef Daniel Botha has left Le Franschhoek Hotel, and starts at Salt Restaurant on 1 November
* Chef Oliver Cattermole, previously with Dash and What’s On Eatery, has started as Executive Chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel on 7 November.
* Chef Matthew Gordon in Franschhoek is opening a new restaurant in Paarl
* Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it La Rocca. Chef Jo van Staden has returned to Durban with her husband, Chef Gerard van Staden, who has returned to the Beverley Hills Hotel.
* Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon has resigned
* Chef Christo Pretorius, previously of De Huguenot, has started at 1800 Restaurant at the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel
* Sommelier Neil Grant of Rust en Vrede has resigned, leaves at the end of November, and is said to open a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill
The following restaurants are taking a winter break:
* La Colombe: 30 May - 20 June
* River Café: 10 - 30 August
* Constantia Uitsig: 4 - 26 July
* The Grand Café Camps Bay: June and July
* Pure Restaurant: 1 - 31 July
* Terroir: 1 - 11 July
* Grande Provence: 18 - 31 July
* Pierneef à La Motte: 15 June - 15 July
* French Connection: 30 May - 20 June
* Freedom Hill: July and August
* Overture: July
* Waterkloof: 27 June - 20 July
* French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar 18 - 24 July
* Tasting Room and Common Room at Le Quartier Francais closed until 31 July
* The Olive Shack at Allora in Franschhoek is closed until the end of September
* Tokara Restaurant: closed 8 - 22 August
* Blues in Camps Bay is closing for a month from 22 August - 2 October, for renovations to reduce the size of the restaurant
* Allée Bleue will not be serving lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays during September.
* The Kove in Camps Bay is closed until mid-September for renovations
* Laborie Restaurant in Paarl is closed for renovations until end October.
POSTSCRIPT 28/7: Pete Goffe-Wood, ex-owner of Wild Woods in Hout Bay, has written a frank article on Food24 about why he recently closed his restaurant. He blames Capetonians for not supporting restaurants in winter months, which means that they have to cover costs out of savings created in summer, to keep the business afloat in winter (this is a general Cape winter scenario for all businesses in the tourism industry - if one does not know about this, one should not be in the business in the first place!). He writes that Johannesburg restaurants do not suffer this seasonality. The recent 2-week summery spell proved what an important role the weather plays - business was booming for restaurants and accommodation as Capetonians left their homes, went out, and spent money, a welcome cash injection in these difficult times. The Bastille Festival in Franschhoek had record attendance during this period.
Restaurant Specials cause cost undercutting, which attracts business and provides cashflow, but does not help the industry, he writes. If specials weren’t offered, one probably would have seen a far greater number of restaurants closing down. They are hugely popular, and on this blog the Restaurant Specials listings are the most popular of all blogposts. He also blames restaurant owners, often chefs, for being too ‘emotional’ about their businesses, and for not seeing the signs of tough times early enough, which may call for closing one’s restaurant. Clearly opening any business at the moment is high risk, and for a hospitality business the risk is even higher. Goffe-Wood also lashes out at the recent Weekend Argus article about Restaurant Closures, using names from this blogpost. As much as he blames journalist Helen Bamford for getting her facts wrong, he does too, in calling her Linda! Describing a non-renewal of a restaurant lease as not being a restaurant closure or failure is very debatable - if things were going well, leases would have been renewed, especially for a restaurant like Haute Cabriere, where Chef Matthew Gordon had operated for 16 years!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Christophe Dehosse is a passionate owner of his new Restaurant Christophe in the ‘Skuinshuis’ on Van Reyneveld Street in Stellenbosch, adding further weight to the prediction that Stellenbosch will soon wear the crown of the gourmet centre of South Africa His restaurant joins an illustrious collection of restaurants in this Winelands town, which includes Rust en Vrede, Overture, and Delaire Graff. The restaurant opened a month ago.
Dehosse first started cooking at Chamonix in Franschhoek, then was the chef at Au Jardin in the Vineyard Hotel, and moved to Joostenberg Deli nine years ago to join the Myburgh family he has married into, running a good value for money lunchtime restaurant there. While he was very low key at Joostenberg, JP Rossouw of Rossouws’ Restaurants awarded the restaurant his highest rating of 3 stars, awarded to such greats as Reubens, La Colombe, and Rust en Vrede. Le Quartier Francais did not even make his 3-star grade. Christophe speaks with a delightful French accent, and epitomises the French chef. What reflected his passion was that he spent more time with the patrons, after having done all the main courses, chatting at length at their tables, something rarely seen in restaurants these days. He even takes the bookings during the day. Chef Dane Newton of Allee Bleue also understands the art of connecting with his clients.
While his wife continues at Joostenberg, Christophe has set up in the building which also houses a coffee shop, and a decor shop. The transformation of the part of the building that he uses is almost unbelievable. It is a two-room restaurant, the entrance section having three tables and the other section almost three times in size, giving the restaurant the choice of where to seat the guests. Christophe proudly compliments interior designer Liesel Rossouw for the understated yet chic interior. The subtle green walls, tastefully decorated with beautiful works of art which can be bought, and shocking pink and orange chairs (with 5 colour variations) made from wine barrels especially made for the restaurant to give patrons a comfortable seat during the meal. The lamps are unusual too â€“ they are made from woven laminated ads, creating an unusual effect. A simple metal structure serves as the desk at the entrance â€“ slick and simply designed.
It having been a 42C day, and still hot at mid-30C in the evening, all patrons chose to sit outside. The tables were beautifully laid with white tablecloths, silverware, and glassware, and each table had a fresh rose on it. A lovely flower arrangement, in white and pink flowers, was the first statement the restaurant made on arrival. A single palm tree towers above the courtyard, and an almost wild bougainvilla hedge in shocking pink complements the pink and orange chairs.
Darren is the Manager, and he was very friendly in welcoming us, and patiently answered all the questions. He is from Birmingham, and last worked at Umami in Stellenbosch. He served all the tables.
The menu is very simply typed on a piece of paper, and looks unpretentious, and almost contradicts the lovely interior and special food served. It is short, offering four starter choices: quail salad (R 65), seafood salad (R 65), foie gras with Noble Late aspic (R130), and marinated vegetables and goat’s cheese (R 50). The foie gras was outstanding, and a surprise was the complimentary glass of Joostenberg Nobel Late Harvest, served well-chilled with it.
Five main courses were Cape Salmon (R 95), yellowtail (R 95), Bouillabaisse (R 110), beef fillet (R 135), and roast duck jambonette (R 110). The steak was pronounced to be excellent, while the duck was disappointing, probably due to a duck lover’s experience of ˜roasted’ being different to that served. The dessert choice costs R 45, and was apricot and almond tart, chocolate biscuit, and chilled fresh fruit soup, which would have been ideal for such a hot evening, but space did not allow it. A cheese selection is available at R 60. The fruit soup was a berry berry nice lunch the following day. The menu changes every two weeks.
The winelist is equally printed on white paper, and is unlikely to win a mention in the Diner’s Club winelist awards as far as presentation is concerned. It is very understated, yet offers a good selection of South African and even some French wines. A full page is devoted to sparkling wines, Graham Beck supplying the least and most expensive bottles, at R 150 - R 290. It can also be ordered by the glass, in a price range of R 22 - R 35. The Joostenberg wines appear in almost every category, as does a brand not commonly known, called MAN, named after three Myburgh ladies: Marie, Annette and Nicky. Jose Conde’s wines also feature on the wine list, as do Thelema (R 600 for Cabernet Sauvignon) , Klein Constantia, Kanonkop (Pinotage at R 480), Veenwouden (Merlot at R 420), Hartenberg (Shiraz at R 490), Hamilton Russell (Chardonnay at R 350), Paul Cluver, Simonsig and Villiera.
Restaurant Christophe, Skuinshuis side entrance, Van Reyneveld Street, between Nook Eatery and the synagogue, Stellenbosch, tel 021 886-8763. On the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route.
POSTSCRIPT 23/9: Restaurant Christophe has been named a Top 20 Eat Out Restaurant Awards finalist.
POSTSCRIPT 1/6: It was sad to receive the fillowing e-mail from Chef Christophe today, announcing the restaurant’s closure later this month: “It is with regret that I wish to inform you that due to insufficient trading in the last 18 months, I have made the decision to close down Restaurant Christophe as of the 25th of June 2011. I want to take the opportunity to thank long time and new clients as well as friends who have supported me in the last 18 months. I will again be based full time at Joostenberg from the beginning of August. Hope to see you there in the future.”
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com