Archive for April, 2009
When one thinks of Table Mountain, it conjures up a feeling of pride and contentment knowing that we locals get to look at it everyday.
For tourists it’s a feeling of utter fascination and the need for exploration.
Yet many people don’t know that Table Mountain has been likened to a fortress, a sleeping goddess, the stairway to heaven, guardian of Cape Town, and even a warrior and watcher of the south.
For this reason it tends to become the central character in many strange tales from surrounding myths and legends.
Dragon of the Sea
According to African legend, Tixo who was God of the Sun, and Djobela who was the Earth Goddess conceived Qamata who created the world. The Great Dragon of the Sea was so jealous that he fought with Qamata to try and stop him forming dry land.
In the battle Qamata was badly crippled, but the Earth Mother Djobela came to his aid by creating four mighty giants to guard the far corners of the earth.
Djobela placed the biggest and strongest giant at the gateway to the south where Cape Town now lies.
After many terrible battles with the great Dragon of the Sea, the giants were killed one by one. But before they died, they requested that the Earth Mother turn them into mountains, so that even in death, they could guard the world.
And so, the greatest giant of all – Umlindi Wemingizimu – became Table Mountain, the watcher of the south. (Who would have thought?)
With such beginnings, it is hardly surprising that other strange tales cling to this iconic landmark that looks out over the South Atlantic Ocean.
Do any of you remember that old saying: “Be good or Aintjie Somers will get you”. It is still used in the Cape to try and induce good behaviour in children.
Aintjie Somers was a slave who worked herself to death and came back to avenge her hard life in the guise of a gnome-like spirit with poltergeist tendencies. (Pretty scary!) She tormented those who did her wrong whilst she was alive.
There is another ghost tale that haunts Table Mountain.
The ghost of Verlatenbosch (Bush of the Forsaken). This tale surrounds a Governor’s son, infected with leprosy by a vengeful citizen who held a grudge against the Governor.
According to the legend, the boy was tempted into using a flute that had been used by an old leper whose shrunken lips produced the most beautiful tunes. Soon the youth contracted incurable leprosy and was forced to live in isolation in a lonely hut in the forest where he died.
When evening falls, the haunting sounds of this flute may be heard in the breeze that whispers through the trees on the slopes of Table Mountain.
Some people have actually claimed to hear it!
Apparitions are also a feature of Table Mountain. Since all the way back in the 1920 the prolific theosophical author, Geoffrey Hodson, wrote about the Table Mountain spirits that he encountered. (Yes, encountered.)
He described seeing these Mountain Gods as like entering a realm of light.
His friend Ethelwynne Quail was commissioned to illustrate his shimmering visions in drawings. She depicted their auras and wavelike layers. According to Hodson they are forces flowing at their full power, producing great brilliance and dazzling brightness.
As you might have guessed, people found this very hard to believe.
Where to look
Several people in Cape Town have confirmed seeing these apparitions. They seem to think that given the right place, right time and a little imagination, you may well be able to see them for yourself.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a good place to start looking, as Light Beings are known to inhabit the mountain slopes here.
According to the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, Cape Town is the perfect city for Light Beings. This is because of its auspicious configuration in the shape of an armchair. One has the protection from Table Mountain to the rear, and Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak acting as the armrests.
The city itself sits in an energy-filled bowl to the front. Add the wealth-creating properties of water and Robben Island to slow down the qui (energy) before it hits land, and you have the ultimate Feng Shui city.
Apparently, ghosts need ultimate calm to roam around once they die!
So next time you are walking around in Cape Town alone, remember, someone is watching.
Whether you believe it or not is up to you…
This article was written by Lisa Bartlett
South African eateries have proven that they can compete with the best in the world. Two Cape restaurants have made the coveted San Pellgrino World’s Top 50 Restaurants list.
The splendid Franschhoek Restaurant, Le Quartier Francais, was judged to be the Best Restaurant in Africa and the Middle East. This restaurant climbed 13 places this year and obtained the 37th spot on the San Pellgrino list.
Cape Town’s pride and joy, La Colombe, took the 38th position. This is proof that the standards of South Africa’s fine cuisine is up there with rest of the world.
Here is the Top 50 list
1 El Bulli, Spain (1)
2 The Fat Duck, UK (2)
3 Noma, Denmark (10)
4 Mugaritz, Spain (4)
5 El Celler de Can Roca, Spain (26)
6 Per Se, US (6)
7 Bras, France (7)
8 Arzak, Spain (8)
9 Pierre Gagnaire, France (3)
10 Alinea, US (21)
11 L’Astrance, France (11)
12 The French Laundry, US (5)
13 Osteria Francescana, Italy (new entry)
14 St. John, UK (16)
15 Le Bernardin, US (20)
16 Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville, Switzerland (27)
17 Tetsuya’s, Australia (9)
18 L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, France (14)
19 Jean Georges, US (17)
20 Les Creations de Narisawa, Japan (new entry)
21 Chez Dominique, Finland (39)
22 Ristorante Cracco, Italy (43)
23 Die Schwarzwaldstube, Germany (35)
24 D.O.M., Brazil (40)
25 Vendome, Germany (34)
26 Hof van Cleve, Belgium (28)
27 Masa, US (re-entry)
28 Gambero Rosso, Italy (12)
29 Oud Sluis, Netherlands (42)
30 Steirereck, Austria (new entry)
31 Momofuku Ssam Bar, US (new entry)
32 Oaxen Skargardskrog, Sweden (48)
33 Martin Berasategui, Spain (29)
34 Nobu, UK (30)
35 Mirazur, France (new entry)
36 Hakkasan, UK (19)
37 Le Quartier Francais, South Africa (50)
38 La Colombe, South Africa (re-entry)
39 Asador Etxbarri, Spain (44)
40 Le Chateaubriand, France (new entry)
41 Daniel, US (41)
42 Combal Zero, Italy (re-entry)
43 Le Louis XV, France (15)
44 Tantris, Germany (47)
45 Iggy’s, Singapore (new entry)
46 Quay, Australia (new entry)
47 Les Ambassadeurs, France (45)
48 Dal Pescatore, Italy (23)
49 Le Calandre, Italy ( 36)
50 Mathias Dahlgren, Sweden (new entry)
Back in 2001, Leonard Lauder, then the chairman of the cosmetic giant Estée Lauder, described the relationship between the state of the economy and the sale of cosmetics. After September 11, he noticed the sales of lipstick jumped higher and suggested that the sale of lipstick was a good measure of the health of the economy; when the economy was down, people bought more lipstick. He dubbed this phenomenon the “Lipstick Index”
Similarly, during the Great Depression, it had been found that cosmetic sales increased despite the enormous reduction in disposable income. During World War II, lipstick sales were on the increase; whether that indicated difficult economic times or just the availability of non-rationed, desirable, and affordable products is difficult to determine.
Some fashion aficionados, on the other hand, suggest that it is the hemline of dresses, whether they are long or short, that indicate the state of the economy instead of lipstick sales. Sports enthusiasts suggest that which team wins the Super Bowl is a predictor of economic times.
The origin of the “Lipstick Index” – being observed and coined by a cosmetic company who would clearly derive marketing benefits from its acceptance and popularity – does incite scepticism and doubt about its reliability; yet, the concept of people enjoying an affordable product during difficult economic times does resonate as a logical conclusion.
Noted wine consultant, Jan Fredrikson, finds that people are trading down to less expensive wines that they consider of value.
When looking at the cost of dining out, consumers will make less risky choices and stick with grape varieties and regions they are familiar with. In South Africa, Merlots and Cabernets (or Boudreaux blends) wines are easy to recommend since they offer consistent quality at a great price and pair well with a broad range of foods.
American wine consumers have discovered a new snack, biltong. These traditional South African dried beef strips are becoming increasingly more popular in America, especially California.
American consumers are warming to the beef snack, proving that Americans have a big appetite for a diverse variety of food products.
Larry Burnet, owner of Biltong business in California, indicated that the Californians love this snack. Larry left SA more than 30 years ago and for years, he searched without success to satisfy his craving for a taste of home –authentic biltong.
“I tried everyone’s homemade biltong, but the spices were not consistent, and most of the time I was really disappointed with what I got,” Burnett says. So he started making biltong for his own personal use. He experimented with recipes, flavors and production methods, finally creating a winning recipe.
Burnett made biltong the traditional way, mixing coriander, vinegar and spices imported from Cape Town to create his own original marinade. Word got out about Burnett’s biltong with the authentic South African flavour, and he soon found himself making biltong for others.
After starting his 800BILTONG company in 2000, Burnett spent five years diligently working with the US Deptartment of Agriculture to obtain their stamp of approval. Since no standards existed for biltong, Burnett invented them.
In 2005, Burnett began shipping his biltong to retailers and consumers nationwide. He uses premium cuts of USDA-approved beef and a secret blend of herbs, spices and seasonings. Unlike regular beef jerky, which is cooked, biltong beef strips are air-dried in a strictly-controlled environment.
“Americans say biltong is like gourmet beefsteak because it’s so tender and moist,” Burnett says. “Biltong is 99 percent fat-free, making it an inexpensive, high-energy source of lean protein. It’s ideal for hunting and camping trips, and it goes great with beer.”
In South Africa Biltong is also immensely popular at sporting events and for sports crazy Americans, biltong should also become a standard feature at the games.
Perhaps the Steers TV ad of Biltong at the Indy 500 is not so far fetched…
Visitors to the upcoming SA Cheese Festival will enjoy sampling a diverse selection of fromage favourites, as well as cooking demos, entertainment and shopping at the market.
The following chefs and celebrities will be presenting the Welmoed demo in the Cooking Pot:
Friday 24 April: Craig Cormack
Saturday 25 April: Minki Visser +chef Ricardo from The Library
Sunday 26 April: Pete Goffe-Wood
Monday 27 April: Craig Cormack
Craig Cormack career profile
Award winning chef working at 5 star properties in South Africa, did his 3 year apprenticeship with Southern Sun hotels, during this time he had the honour of cooking for Queen Elizabeth 11, in Zimbabwe followed by stints locally at Victoria and Alfred Hotel, The Bay Hotel, running of Hotel kitchen’s as Executive chef at Ellerman House, Cape Grace Hotel where he was part of the team that won the coveted award of Best Hotel in the World 2000. He was invited to join the Chaine des Rotisseurs a prestigious society as Maitre Rotisseur. Then lastly he worked as Executive chef, at the Village Hotel on Spier Wine Estate.
Experience abroad: He worked the summer on the Greek Island of Santorini, a six month stint at Millerhowe, a Boutique Luxury Hotel, United Kingdom under master chef John Tovey. He also spent a 3 month food sabbatical in Australia and New Zealand. Craig has represented South Africa in two overseas food promotions in Mauritius and Turkey. Chairman for the South African Chefs Association, Western Cape in 2005/2006.
Biography: Minki Visser (nee van der Westhuizen)
Born in Cape Town on 26 February 1984, Minki van der Westhuizen has become one of the hottest international models South Africa has to offer. Self described as happy go lucky, Minki catapulted into the international modelling world at just 16 years old.
It wasn’t long before an agent from Max Models spotted her, signed her up and the campaigns came flooding in. Her biggest break came in her Matric year when Guess? booked her for their international campaign. Her shoot with SA Sports Illustrated Swimwear Edition came soon afterwards. After matriculating from Stellenberg High School in 2002, Minki decided to give modelling a shot for one year. Working off the success of the Guess? campaign and Sports Illustrated shoot she soon found that her future was paved with opportunities, both locally and abroad. Minki has completed shoots for some of the hottest glossy magazines including Elle, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Bravo and she has also been voted the Sexiest Woman in South Africa by FHM readers. In addition she has won many awards voted by the public and has a dedicated fan base in South Africa as well as internationally.
She says of all the shoots she’s done over the past five years, her personal highlight are both the Guess? and Sports Illustrated shoots and she says the best part of her job has been the traveling. Besides modelling, Minki says she’s also always had a passion for television. The producers of Pasella approached her about a position for a presenter and she accepted it with open arms. “As much as I’ve enjoyed modelling, you can only do it for so long and I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do in the modelling industry so when this opportunity came along I couldn’t say no.”
Pete Goffe-Wood career profile
Pete played a key role in the renewal of Blues Restaurant and is the author of its newly launched book Blues – Essence of Cape Town, re-affirming the legendary status of this Camps Bay landmark. He is currently involved in developing 95 Keerom Street for Rhodes House, and is working with the Meikles Hotel group in Harare and Victoria Falls. His recent culinary projects include Cape Town Chilli Fiesta, Nederburg Fashion Week, Marimba Restaurant, Winchester Mansions in Sea Point, Sérénité Wellness Constantia, the Nose Wine Bar in De Waterkant, Fancourt in George, Killimanjaro in Johannesburg and the Oasis Restaurant Group in the Sultanate of Oman. Between makeovers of great eateries and creating daring new menus, Pete actively works to build respect for his profession as chairperson of the Western Cape Chapter of the South African Chefs Association and lecturing in Operational Management at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch. Whether Pete wears his chef’s jacket, shares in the conviviality and pleasures of food and wine as a dedicated Slow Food supporter, or writes on the topic as food editor for GQ and monthly columnist for Hospitality magazine, his energetic creative approach and insight into industry issues earned him the respect of his peers.
Tickets can be purchased prior to the festival only at Computicket or Checkers. Cost is R110 for Saturday and Sunday, R85 for Friday and Monday. Reduced rates for children and seniors.
For more details visit: cheesefestival.co.za
The Platter Wine Guide is not opposed to blind tasting as a wine evaluating method. This is according to the Philip van Zyl, editor of the popular South African John Platter Wine Guide.
Van Zyl made these remarks at Platter’s open discussion forum which was held in Somerset West on Thursday 16 April. This forum was initiated by the editor and publishers of the Platter guide after its tasting methods, objectivity and transparency came under public scrutiny by wine writers such as Neil Pendock. Public interest in the contentious issue was immense and more than 220 people working in the wine industry attended the forum.
Van Zyl said the guide will publish its 30th edition next year and boasting more than 1.25 million copies sold, the guide has definitely become part and parcel of the South African wine industry. He stressed that transparency, objectivity and honesty are very important to the Platter guide and therefore the forum was initiated to educate and inform the public about their tasting methods.
With reference to the blind versus sighted tasting debate, Van Zyl differentiated between sighted, blind and double blind tasting methods. He elaborated on their multi-stage tasting process and ensured that consistency plays a very important role in their evaluating and reporting process. The guide will continue to be a consumer advisory publication and sighted tasting will remain the main tasting method for future publications.
The Platter guide will taste about 6500 wines for the next edition. This vast amount of wines causes practical and logistical constraints and that is one of the reasons why blind tasting methods cannot be exclusively used to evaluate the wines.
Van Zyl added that the guide is not against blind tasting as an evaluation method. He indicated that the guide uses blind and double blind tasting in certain cases to confirm their results. The potential Five-star and Super-quaffer wines are all tasted blind and this implies that hundreds of wines are therefore tasted blind.
I think that the huge turnout confirmed the importance and popularity of this guide and their mythologies. This guide will remain the benchmark of SA wine evaluations and consumer will still trust and act on the recommendations.
After years of non-stop growth, global wine consumption started to retreat last year, along with the rest of the world economy, The International Organisation of Vine and Wine said.
The overall drop isn’t too dramatic: The group says its initial estimates for 2008 show consumption down 0.8 percent, at 243 million hectolitres (6.4 billion gallons) compared to 2007′s 245 million hectolitres.
But the latest figures on wine making and drinking around the world reveal a few key shifts.
For the first time, the United States surpassed Italy in terms of total wine consumption, with 27.3 million hectolitres compared to 26 million for Italy, the group said.
On the vineyard end, European vineyards accounted for less than half the world’s grape production for the first time last year.
Consumption fell in all of Europe’s major wine-producing and consuming countries, including France, Italy and Germany, Europe’s biggest wine-drinking nations.
The United States, Canada and Australia saved the day by raising more and more glasses, partially offsetting the European drop.
Wines from the so-called “New World” — Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the United States – saw their share of global wine exports rise to nearly 30 percent last year, up from an average of 23.3 percent between 2001 and 2005. Italy remains the world’s largest wine exporter measured by volume, although France keeps the title of biggest wine exporter in terms of value.
For the South African wine industry it seems that the successes of the New World Wines are positive for the industry. Wine consumers globally are shifting towards value wines and some South African wines are definitely attracting interest from these consumers.
South Africa is an amazing country with natural beauty , friendly people and off course excellent wines. Apart from this there is also uniquely and interesting aspects to South Africa.
Here are a few:
Strange Nature and history
- -South Africa has the oldest meteor scar in the world, just across the Vaal River near Parys, called the Vredefort Dome. The meteor plummeted to Earth nearly two billion years ago (Earth is said to be 4,5 billion years old), predating the heady days of oxygen and multi-celled life.
- -The rocks around Barberton in Mpumalanga are some of the most ancient in the world – over three billion years old. Because they are also the most accessible such formations, NASA scientists come here to gain an idea of how life might form on distant planets.
- -The Tugela Falls is the second highest waterfall in the world, where the water tumbles down 850 metres. First place goes to the Angel Falls in Venezuela at 979 metres.
- -There are 18 000 indigenous vascular plant species in South Africa of which 80% are uniquely South African.
- -Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world – and the largest green one. The Grand Canyon in the US is the biggest, and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia the second, but both are dry as bones.
- -South African grasslands have 30 species per square kilometre, greater than the biodiversity of rainforests.
- -Can mountains be folded? Yes they can, and you can see such wonders in the Western Cape at the Cederberg and the Swartberg mountains.
- -South Africa and its neighbours are some of the most generously endowed geographic solar hotspots in the world, soaking up just over half of the world’s highest category of solar wattage per square metre of land.
- -Therapsids are the true ancestors of mammals, and lived over 200 million years ago, long before the upstart dinosaurs of the Jurassic Age (which ended abruptly 65 million years ago). Most of the world’s proto-mammalian fossils are found in the Karoo – along with a 280 million year old fossilized shark.
- -According to recent studies, the star-watching town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape is one of the most geologically stable places on Earth, yet it has a 66-million year old volcano, not yet officially extinct.
- -Kimberley may have the biggest man-made hole in the world, but did you know that the southern Free State town of Jagersfontein has the deepest vertical man-made hole (and that a pair of Verreaux’s Eagles breed in it?
- -South Africa is home to the world’s smallest succulent plants (less than 10 mm) and the largest (the baobab).
- -Lake Fundudzi in Venda is possibly the world’s only inland freshwater lake formed by a landslide.
- -The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street in Soweto.
Food and Wine
- -Walt Disney serves South African wine exclusively at its 73-acre Animal Kingdom Lodge in the United States.
- -South Africa has the longest wine route in the world, the R62 wine route
- -South Africa is the world’s largest producer of macadamia nuts and the nuts and oils are exported to countries across the world.
- -South Africa is the only country in the world where you can order something called monkey gland steak at a restaurant without the risk of a real internal organ being placed before you. It was invented many decades ago by overseas chefs as a pointed insult, aimed at the brash inhabitants of Johannesburg who poured Worcestershire and tomato sauce over everything.
- -No other country eats as much kingklip as South Africans do (also known as Congrio, Ling and Rockling in other parts of the southern hemisphere).
It’s the perfect excuse to have another glass of Red wine - research has shown that drinking red wine helps you think.
Men and women did better in mental arithmetic tests after being given resveratrol, the ‘wonder ingredient’ in red wine.
It is thought that the plant chemical – said to have abilities from burning off junk food to warding off heart disease – increases blood flow to the brain.
Northumbria University researchers set 24 healthy adults a series of tests before giving them a resveratrol pill or a dummy tablet.
When they were tested again, those that had taken resveratrol performed better, the British Psychological Society’s annual conference will hear today.
Other tests confirmed that the drug, which is found in grape skins as well as raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and peanuts, widened blood vessels, boosting the brain’s blood supply.
Other studies have linked resveratrol with fighting old age, cancer, obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
It is also claimed that just half a glass of red wine a day can greatly cut the odds of death from heart disease.
Is wine a mysterious product of soil, soul, weather, grapes, sweat and tradition? Or is it an industrial product for mass-consumption?
This question is at the core of the heavily debated rosé wine issues in Europe. The EU and French wine producers from Provence are debating how to make authentic rosé wines and how to label these wines.
The debate is basically fueled by the fact that rosé wines have become extremely popular in all the important and new wine markets. Adding to the popularity it seems that white and red wine surpluses are pilling up and that by allowing rosé wines to be produced by mixing red and white wine, the surplus problem can be addressed.
The EU realised that in other countries, notably in South Africa, Argentina, Chile and Australia, cheap rosé can be produced, quite legally, by blending red and white wine to achieve an acceptable and easily marketable taste.
The EU also stated that by easing the rosé regulation, their “blended” rosé wines will be more competitive with the new world blends.
Rosé sales have been booming worldwide, defying the problems of other types of wine. Young people, especially, have taken to rosé as a fun drink, which is refreshing, uncomplicated and relatively cheap.
The rosé wine debate has turned into a commercial, social and moral debate and it seems that all the parties are fiercely defending their views.
From a South African (New World wine) perspective I think that the recent market share improvements of rosé wines will come under pressure when the French (Europe) enters this “blended” rosé wine market.
Source: The Independent