Avondale Wines at Marble Restaurant

It’s not every day that you get to eat lunch at Marble Restaurant in Rosebank, let alone in the company of whom I believe is one of South Africa’s top proprietors in the wine industry.

I was invited to join Johnathan Grieve from Avondale Wines, along with a two other journalists, for what he calls a vertical tasting of Avondale‘s white wine range, Cyclus, paired with a delicious lunch at Marble Restaurant. It’s not the norm for the travel editor of BELLA Magazine to enjoy the food editor’s perks, but this time I got lucky.

Finding Marble Restaurant if you’re a first time visitor, might be challenging as the signage for this high in the sky restaurant (literally) is quite small and almost unnoticeable among parallel parked cars, construction barriers and cones around the Trumpet on Keyes building where the restaurant resides. But, once I entered Marble, on the third floor, my frustration with the concrete jungle was immediately exchanged with awe – what I saw was an almost 180 degree city view and, even though in daytime the view was quite hazy, I can only imagine what it must be at night. Jo’burg truly is the City of Gold.

Marble struck me as a high end restaurant with posh, carefully thought through interiors and a top quality dining experience. The staff are well trained and professional and shares Avondale Wines‘ sentiment for elegance. Chef David Higgs‘ menu is rich in a variety of South Africa‘s finest cuisine: Blackened Octopus with crushed paprika potato, candied lemon and squid ink dressing; Rib Eye Steak with burnt end beans and mature cheddar, homemade pickle, smoked pepper and chipotle sauce and Lamb Cutlets with chimmi churri, crisp potato skins and lemon labneh. Need I say more?

Avondale Wines, a family run wine farm between Paarl and Franschhoek, is known for its unique wine farming techniques. They call themselves slow-wine makers and make handcrafted, organic wines that surprise you with multidimensional flavours. These wines are different. The white wines are only released two years after production, which may cause it to loose the original fruity flavours, but gives it time to develop and age into absolute elegance.

Avondale makes use of ancient, original farming techniques and have mastered the art of focusing their farming on rhythms, energy and homeopathic remedies. Their wines, which are not only unique, but also top quality in my opinion, resembles their utmost respect and symbiotic relationship with nature.

Fabar Restaurant, Avondale Wines‘ latest venture, will open its doors on 19 October 2016. Be sure to pop in whenever you are in the area.

Advertisements

#ThrowbackThursday – 1 Year ago in Germany

Wow – can’t believe it’s already one year ago that we went on our Europe trip! Here are just a few shots we took in the spirit of #ThrowbackThursday :

Titisee

Titisee

Munich

Munich

Back Forest

Black Forest

Loving Germany

Loving Germany

Denslingen

Denslingen

Denslingen

Denslingen

Such beauty

Such beauty

Just a pretty picture

Just a pretty picture

Photoblog: Kalahari and Namibia

Hello and happy New Year!

We are back from Namibia and would love to share a few moments of the trip with you.

Enjoy!

Vanzylsrus. ©Renate de Villiers

Vanzylsrus. ©Renate de Villiers

Vanzylsrus Hotel. ©Renate de Villiers

Vanzylsrus Hotel. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi. ©Renate de Villiers

Toto and Tina at Kalahari Trails. ©Renate de Villiers

Toto and Tina at Kalahari Trails. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi beauties. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi beauties. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi relaxtion. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi relaxation. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi twilight. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi twilight. ©Renate de Villiers

Kalahari Trails. ©Renate de Villiers

Kalahari Trails. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi serenity. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi serenity. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi Springbok. ©Renate de Villiers

Kgalagadi Springbok. ©Renate de Villiers

Horses at Red Dunes. ©Renate de Villiers

Horses at Red Dunes. ©Renate de Villiers

Camping at Sossusvlei. ©Renate de Villiers

Camping at Sossusvlei. ©Renate de Villiers

Camping at Sossusvlei, Namibia. ©Renate de Villiers

Camping at Sossusvlei, Namibia. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei Entrance. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei Entrance. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei beneath your feet. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei beneath your feet. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei patterns. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei patterns. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei mystery tracks. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei mystery tracks. ©Renate de Villiers

Mystery me. ©Renate de Villiers

Mystery me. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei, Namibia. ©Renate de Villiers

Sossusvlei, Namibia. ©Renate de Villiers

Nature love, Solitaire. ©Renate de Villiers

Nature love, Solitaire. ©Renate de Villiers

Henties, Namibia. ©Renate de Villiers

Henties, Namibia. ©Renate de Villiers

Swakopmund jetty. ©Renate de Villiers

Swakopmund jetty. ©Renate de Villiers

Joe's Beerhouse, Windhoek. ©Renate de Villiers

Joe’s Beerhouse, Windhoek. ©Renate de Villiers

Rising moon at the Botswana border. ©Renate de Villiers

Rising moon at the Botswana border. ©Renate de Villiers

We want to know the story

Isn’t it true that you always want to know the story of the destination you visit? I want to know where the restaurant’s name came from, where the photos on the wall were taken and who the old “tannie” was who’s recipe is used in the signature dish.

We all want to know.

One place that got the message loud and clear is OJ’s, a small, quaint restaurant that could easily be mistaken for a take-away shop on route through one of the Freestate towns, Heilbron. From the outside it doesn’t promise much, but believe you me, on the inside it’s a completely different story – literally.

Do you remember the time when all South African cars had yellow coloured number plates? The time when towns could still be identified just by looking at one’s car? Well, that is where OJ’s’ story begins. OJ was Heilbron’s number plate code. Today these number plates are part of the name and décor in one of Heilbron’s finest restaurants. It tells stories of days gone by and paintings of old cars with OJ number plates hang proudly against the walls. The menu has also been carefully planned – catering for the farming community that it is, but also for those who appreciate that extra touch. Still, the community can identify with its story, which is why many of them will keep coming back.

OJ's

OJ’s

Tips on how to tell your story:

  • Use the town’s history as a theme and a timeline.
  • Involve the community.
  • Be creative and use old things to create new things.
  • Include the theme in your décor, your name and your menu items.
  • Add items to the menu which you know the community will enjoy and then just give it an extra touch to make it look more appealing.

So…what is your restaurant or destination’s story?

PR for your town

I’ve recently read an article on the importance of PR for the city of Johannesburg, which made me think: it is not only Johannesburg that needs more PR. It’s every town and every city that we love here in South Africa. Cape Town might be the Mother City of South Africa, but mainly because of its spectacular natural wonder: Table Mountain. We need to find the reasons why other cities and towns in South Africa are PR worthy and tell it to the world!

Table Mountain - Photo taken by Renate de Villiers

Table Mountain – Photo taken by Renate de Villiers

Johannesburg, for one, like mentioned in the article written by Brand Slut, has many different things to offer and its diverse cultures and its history should be just as big an attraction as Cape Town’s attractions when communicated to the world.

Smaller towns like Matjiesfontein, Parys in the Free State, Clarens, Henley on Klip, Haenertsburg, Paternoster – why are they not on every traveller’s list even though everyone who has been there loves it? Because they lack PR!

Matjiesfontein is one of my favourite towns in South Africa. More like a village, actually, consisting of a gravel main road that separates the train station from the Lord Milner Hotel and the rest of the town. It is in this town that you will find the house where the first South African telephone rang – or so the tour guide told us. So much history and stories lie hidden in this town, yet no one knows of it.

Matjiesfontein - My favourite South African town

Matjiesfontein – My favourite South African town

Clarens has become very popular over the years, offering great outdoor activities in and between the Drakensberg. It also allows the not so active to enjoy arts and crafts, which is becoming a very popular reason for travel worldwide according to research from American Express Travel.

Still, I can go on and on about the awesomeness of all these places, but if its inhabitants don’t share their love and appreciation of the place with the world, no one will know and no one will visit. Let’s get up and do some PR, people!

For bookings on workshops relating to the basics of PR and Marketing for tourism and hospitality destinations, contact Travelling Mystery Guest on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za / 082 336 1562.

PS – thanks for the great eye-opener, Brand Slut. Let’s start with Jo’burg.

What German hotels do differently

I’ve recently returned from a tour through Europe – mainly Germany. We stayed in some very fashionable hotels, in small town guesthouses and even in hostels. As a lover of all things hospitality and tourism I couldn’t help but compare their service to that of our own here in South Africa. You’ll be surprised with the following findings:

Breakfast in Berlin, Germany

Breakfast in Berlin, Germany

Very high high-five for SA hospitality

For one, I feel that South Africa’s friendliness in the hospitality industry earned a jump-in-the-air-high-five! It might be that the two cultures’ personalities clash a little, but be that what it is, we get much more smiles from South African receptionists than those in Germany. So, I salute you, SA hospitality peeps.

Make your own bed

One thing that blew my mind was the fact that most establishments, be it a hotel or a hostel, made the beds a little differently than we do. When you walk into the room you will find the duvet cover folded neatly in half and placed on the bed. The pillow cases are all double sized with the unfilled part folded in neatly under the pillow. I suppose they want to really show you that the bedding has been washed.

Coffee (not) in the room

Some hotels offered coffee in the rooms (for the first day). Others encouraged you to use the kitchenette downstairs, but the receptionists tend to watch you like a hawk. Where we get Cremora in most rooms, they provide guests with pourable creamer. Super delicious (and super fattening, I suppose). I’d recommend the small milk containers like those from Parmalat, though. The hostels are another story – most of them provide guests with coffee and tea on the house (as long as you wash your cup). J I must say, I was very impressed with Germany’s hostels. Clean and neat – even the kitchens.

Map on arrival

Most establishments provided us with a map on arrival, circling the exact spot of the hotel to indicate where we are. Some even went as far as to circle some of the most popular attractions, assisting us to identify the things we’d like to see the next day. In Prague (yes, I know it’s not Germany, but it impressed me THAT much!) we got a map that indicated different kinds of attractions – the romantic kinds (indicated with a heart), the historical kinds, the arty kinds, and more. Such a nice gesture showing that they cater for any type of tourist.

That’s why I love travelling – you get some tips from others, but also see what they can learn from you. Keep smiling, South Africa! It’s good to be known for friendliness – that’s one thing that makes people feel welcome and the number one requirement for hospitality.