Posts in "Drink"

Busty bombshells bare more than their beautiful butts

Along with the full dose of bitchiness and belly laughs, the Trolley Dollies take the audience into their confidence and a little deeper into the life of a drag queen in their new show, NON-Specific, at Gate 69.

‘Choosing’ to be a woman in a man’s world can be fabulously funny, but it is definitely not just a big joke. The new show really is fabulous and funny; it is also poignant and thought-provoking as the three brassy babes bravely reveal their more fragile side.

The moment the gorgeous Cathy Specific greets us on the red carpet we are whisked away into a world of make-believe. Three former rugby players in enormous wigs, 9 inch heels and fish net stockings make us scream with laughter and sing along loudly as they dust off some classic numbers that unite a diverse crowd. Signalling their wide appeal, groups of all ages, colours and creeds include various birthday parties (at least one 40th and a 70th) and a 40th wedding anniversary.

A tasty and generous tapas-style dinner of meats, cheeses and pates is served on a Lazy Susan on each table before the show. It is great for tucking into before the show and picking at throughout the rest of the evening. The spread on the Lazy Susan would be more than enough but the little extras (a delicious starter of lentil soup, warm bread and ice cream cones) served fresh from the kitchen by the stars themselves adds a lovely touch.

I am not sure it was the usefulness of the Lazy Susan that sold the girls on it; more likely, it was the chance to say Lazy Susan a few times during the show, a silly little pleasure which has proved irresistible to me too. Sometimes it is hard not to be silly, but I am happy to give myself a break here. (I manage to keep up the show of being grown up and serious a lot of time.)

It’s great that the girls are giving themselves a break too. Underneath the bravado and the fabulosity there are three sensitive, if gritty, souls. It is pretty brave of Cathy, Molly and Holly to let us into their dressing room and take off the masks for a while.

They switched between being the big and beautiful bombshells belting out big numbers on stage and three blokes dressed as girls sharing stories about coming out and being stung by the cruel jokes and taunts about being clowns.

This confiding in the audience never feels self-indulgent and there is plenty of bitchy banter to remind you just how tough these three are. A flow of cracking, original one-liners keeps the mood light and the laughter flowing.

The dressing room scenes have their sad moments, but it feels like these three fabulous show girls are somehow having the last laugh. Expect the show to sell out!

NON-Specific stars Brendan van Rhyn as Cathy, Rudi Jansen as Molly and writer-director Christopher Dudgeon as Holly. Additional lyrics are by Brendan van Rhyn, sound and lighting is by Chad Goldsworthy, set design is by Eddie du Plooy, wigs are by Tessa Denton and costumes by Lloyd Kandlin and Kyle Jardine. Choreography is by Sven-Eric Muller and musical direction by Melissa van der Spuy.

NON-Specific runs until July 27 with performances from Wednesday to Saturdays at 8:15pm, with recommended arrival time at 6:30pm for a warm embrace from Cathy Specific on the red carpet and dinner before the show. Cost is R520 to R599 pp and includes the show and dinner. Booking is through or 021 0351627. PG16

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is NonSpecificX-258x300.jpeg

Photographs by
Nardus Engelbrecht

Very familiar and completely vreemd

How I wished I didn’t have to read the surtitles in Moedertaal. Whenever I listened to the Afrikaans words spoken by Sandra Prinsloo I understood snatches of a beautiful, lyrical Afrikaans that cannot be translated. When I heard the Afrikaans and saw the translations in English I wanted to shout out: “That is not what she said; it is definitely not what he meant!”

That’s right, I said ‘he’. Hard as it was for me to believe, a man wrote this poignant and intimate story told in a very powerfully feminine voice by Prinsloo, that grande dame of South African theatre. Familiar and vreemd indeed.

Written and directed by Nico Scheepers, Moedertaal is the third instalment in Sandra Prinsloo’s trifecta of one-woman plays that began so beautifully with Die Naaimasjien. Scheepers, who also composed the music, has been described as “one of the most exciting young theatre-makers in this country”. He and Prinsloo make a formidable pair.

Evocative, compelling narrative (even in the translated surtitles … although less so) grabs us from the beginning. ‘Almost-poetry’ that brings to mind and body the feeling of bare, dusty feet as we explore with Nellie her dead uncle’s farm. (The family has moved here after he put a gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger in a tragically familiar narrative.)

We feel the air thick with sticky, plummy smells and a sweet conspiratorial bond as she helps her dad make moonshine from the maroela fruit.

We feel the fire on our skin and our hearts break as the orchard burns down one night. Later, our hearts repaired a little, we are overcome by awkwardness when Nellie meets her life’s love as a teenager.

Their story is three-quarters familiar, populated and coloured in by many versions and vignettes of our white South African stereotypes. The rest of it we watch from a distance, sometimes amused, often horrified. This quarter is the deeply personal, unique happiness and pain that can never be shared, the private journey between two people in love, touched occasionally by a third: a parent, another lover or, most importantly, a child.

As in life, even as each of them is uniquely quirky, there is a certain familiarity to all the misfits, the loners, the nut-jobs … in Afrikaans and in English. We think we know them and fear what they might want from us, so we back off and thank the heavens we didn’t end up like that … although we can remember more than a few moments when things looked to be heading that way.

Moedertaal gives us a tiny flash of how little we know about all the others – their lives, their loves and their losses – even if it looks so familiar that we thought those dusty bare feet were our own for a minute.

Review: Moedertaal, The Fugard Studio Theatre, November 14 to December 2. Performances are Tuesdays to Fridays at 8pm and on Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm. Tickets (R130-R165), available via 021 461 4554 and Computicket

Pop in to the one and only Dias Tavern next door for pre-theatre dinner, best chicken peri peri and calamari in town, booking essential 021 465 7547

Take one HQ, add a large portion of Bizerca …

 Cape Town foodies will be interested to hear the news that the chef and owner of Bistrot Bizerca, Laurent Deslandes, will be joining the team at HQ, another Mother City favourite, as group executive chef.

The combination of these two celebrated brands means patrons at HQ can look forward to ‘HQ Courtyard by Laurent’ serving a Bizerca-influenced tapas and “plat du jour” menu for lunch from Monday to Thursday, and until 8pm on Fridays.

HQ said in a statement on Thursday that Deslandes’ “passion for cuisine” had already been experienced on HQ’s tapas menu and at signature monthly events such as Fine Wining and Raise the Steaks. Thursday’s statement signalled the start of a deeper association after Bizerca stopped trading at the end of March.

Laurent Deslandes

“Look out for some Bizerca classics, a little bit of new fun, and expect the casual style atmosphere that HQ does best,” said Deslandes.

In addition to “refining the food offering at HQ”, the statement said, the French chef who moved to South Africa after a successful career sweating over a hot stove in Australia would also be cooking up another new restaurant concept.

The mouth waters…

– African News Agency (ANA)

A feast fit for foodies as casino cooks up a change

The ‘hautest’ of foodies might look down on the casino complex culture otherwise so popular in South Africa … but perhaps not for long, if a recent lunch at the Chef’s Table at soon-to-opened Time Square at Menlyn Maine in Pretoria is anything to go by.

The R4 billion Time Square development, which will be the second largest casino in South Africa after Cape Town’s GrandWest Casino, opens on April 1. A group of journalists on a tour of the final phases of construction were given a taste of the complex’s delectable food and beverage offering.

Brett Hoppé, general manager for Time Square, said: “What we have done with this property is try to break the mould… We really wanted to make it completely unusual.”

Time Square will include 18 restaurants, lounges and bars offering a diversity of cuisines and experiences. Notably the list of restaurants excludes any franchised concept except for a Spur, which seems like a natural fit for the children’s area alongside the arena.

Hoppé said they had some “really cool and funky” food and beverage outlets, all of which had been purpose created. Some were brands that Sun International owned; others they were partners in.

The lunch at the end of the site visit was very much purpose-made, having been prepared by five of the company’s top chefs.

Ronald Ramsamy, Sun International’s group executive chef

After seating the touring party at an immaculately set Chef’s Table in the kitchen, Ronald Ramsamy, Sun International’s group executive chef, explained that the kitchen would serve as the nerve centre for all the restaurants in the complex.

One could only imagine that it would never again be so peaceful and quiet that one could hear the delighted murmurings of fellow diners.

Chef Ronald introduced the chefs who had designed and prepared the menu for the day.

First up was Chef Justin, who soon narrowed the distance between us by likening the first course to a first date. He will probably soon have his own TV show, I thought.

Not your average steak tartare

His steak tartare, with nods to the traditional and shouts to modernism and individuality, seemed the perfect start to this meal that felt like a metaphor for Sun International’s re-invention of the food and beverage experience.

Jack Lester, Time Square’s food and beverage manager, who Hoppé describes as having “one of the finest palates in the country”, had chosen a La Motte Syrah/Viognier 2013 to accompany the starter.

Both choices of starter and wine were a little surprising to me, like Tchaikovsky opening the 1812 overture with the cannons perhaps. Any shock at this rather muscular opening soon passed to be replaced by a quick succession of delicious surprises.

Seductive flavours and textures – melt-in-the-mouth steak tartare, caper berry, burnt onion, egg, caviar, parmesan brullée, slightly charred mosbaletjie toast – each all too quickly overtaken by the next.

The charring was done to replicate flavours reminiscent of toasting bread on a grid and the choice of mosbaletjie, a traditional bread made from dough enriched with fermenting grape juice or must (soetmos in Afrikaans), added a thoughtful local touch.

If Chef Justin has a hint of the celebrity chef about him, he will be in good company in the Time Square restaurant environment.

The American celebrity chef and television personality Guy Fieri will be opening his first restaurant in Africa at the complex.

“We think it is a really exciting and unique offering,” said Hoppé.

Local celebrity will also be represented in the form of local chef and radio personality Fortunato Mazzone, and Joao da Fonseca, aka Mi Casa frontman J Something, both partnering in restaurants in the complex.

Mazzone – a much-loved opera-singing restaurateur from just up the road at Ritrovo in Waterkloof Heights – has described his new restaurant at Time Square, Forti Grill and Bar, as “the restaurant of my dreams … a fusion of food, wine, music and art, which is cutting edge, contemporary, exquisite and offers the ultimate in cuisine and hospitality”.

At our very own fusion of food and wine at the Chef’s Table in the Time Square kitchen things moved on to an elegant, second course, prepared by Chef Adrian and Chef Ramon.

Fish and fennel

It is hard to imagine scallop or even halibut appearing in anything but a starring role, but Chef Adrian told us they had built this dish around fennel pollen. He said he had been looking for the pollen of the subtle liquorice-flavoured herb for years and just a day before we met he found a farm that does “micro-cresses and micro-vegetables and all this delicious foliage”.

The chefs said they had kept their course light because they knew what was coming on either side. Served with an unwooded Meerlust chardonnay, this light course inspired by beautiful flowers and herbs felt more like a power nap than a rest.

Just thinking about the choice of places to eat and drink at Time Square makes one feel in need of a real power nap. Other options include Sun International signature food concept, the Brew Monkey gastro-pub, and KungFu Cowboy, an East meets West restaurant created especially for the venue.

These restaurants will be complemented by authentic Indian and Chinese offerings. “Those are something we don’t do ourselves,” says Hoppé. “The authenticity of that cuisine is critical so we don’t give it to our chefs, we find specialists.”

During a visit to a Baccarat suite on the tour Hoppé and food and beverage manager Lester had talked about cultural sensitivity, explaining that this card game, which is very popular with the Chinese community, was something that needed to be understood to be serviced well.

“There is superstition, culture and cuisine … In a heartbeat you can cause massive offence and then you won’t see that community again,” Hoppé explained.

My neighbour at the Chef’s Table – Simphiwe, a photographer who was raised in the Karoo – and myself were talking culture without causing any upset. That might have changed when Chef Chester announced that the next course would be sous-vide Karoo lamb.

I thought Simphiwe did well to say nothing, not even mentioning the French term for ‘under vacuum’, which describes a method of cooking where meat is vacuum-sealed in a plastic pouch and placed in a water bath at a controlled temperature for a number of hours.

The sous-vide process brings out an extraordinary tenderness in the lamb, which seemed to inspire a new tenderness in Simphiwe. Dare I say he murmured approvingly like a little lamb…

The lamb was served with a smoked ponce puree, baby carrots and a balsamic reduction for that hint of tartness. Why bother with a glass of wine, you might think. But I certainly wasn’t going to say no to a glass of Rust en Vrede cabernet sauvignon 2014, a perfect companion to the delicious combination of tenderness and flavour.

After a while, Simphiwe broke his silence to declare: “Heaven on earth!”

A breathy description that reminded me of Hoppé’s earlier comment: “I have been around the business for a long time, at Sun International for 27 years, and this property takes my breath away.”

We still had a couple of courses at the Chef’s Table to evoke breathlessness. The fourth course, a pre-dessert, was delivered to us by Chef Shaun, who was introduced to us as the ‘Molecular King’, along with a glass of De Grendel Shiraz 2015.

A dolce mousse with coffee jelly, a hazelnut and a malted salt caramel streussel on a bed of chocolate that looked a little like a bird’s nest … laced with some secret popping candy to (you guessed it) take our breath away.

You might wonder why so much effort is being put into the food and beverage offering at a casino complex. Hoppé explained that bars and restaurants are footfall drivers.

“Food and beverage might not be as distinctly profitable as gaming is but, without food and beverage, you certainly wouldn’t be as profitable in gaming,” he said.

Cooking up something new: Sun International chief executive Graeme Stephens, left, and Brett Hoppé, general manager for Time Square PIC Simphiwe Nkwali

Sun International’s outgoing chief executive Graeme Stephens agreed. Even if creating the right experience and atmosphere in a casino is a lot less scientific than molecular cooking, he told us that a lot of time and effort is put into creating the experience.

“The experience typically in South Africa revolves around the experience value as much as, Am I winning or losing,” he said.

Stephens said many families visited Sun International’s venues without ever going into the casino. The restaurant offering is a very big part of a South African casino experience for many people, with choice and authenticity being key considerations in getting people to come back.

Hoppé said Time Square had created a service ritual for each restaurant. The various styles of being received and treated should be sustained, he said, from how you were greeted to how your bill was delivered at the end of the meal, the “last touch point on a dining experience”.

An example he gave was at the Globe bar, a super sophisticated bar in the complex, the bill will be delivered in a beautiful silver orb and handed over by a white-gloved waiter.

Chef Lee-andra

Frosted forest PIC Simphiwe Nkwali

The last course at the Chef’s Table was a deserving companion to the champagne, Billecart Salmon Rose, served at its side. From the “little big-hearted pastry chef”, Lee-andra, the frosty, snowy forest that included white chocolate, apple, cucumber, mint, yoghurt gel, kiwi, quince sorbet and mohito macaroons …. Was the sweetest of farewells.

A grand and deliciously decadent end to a site visit that left at least one foodie wannabe hoping Time Square will be successful in its bid to reinvent the casino eating experience after the complex opens on April 1.
– African News Agency (ANA)

Brits get a taste of desert gold in their G&T

Scenes from the Kalahari, a brutal but splendid place PHOTO Luke Daniel

The Gods must indeed be crazy!

Britons looking for something exotic to mix with their tonic at end-of-year cocktail events will be able to spice things up a little this year with some flavours of the Kalahari in KWV’s boutique-style handcrafted gin, Cruxland.

Angie Jacobs, brand manager for KWV’s premium spirits in South Africa, said on Monday that media and other commentators in the UK were responding extremely very well to the recent arrival of this unique gin in the UK, which she described as “a very difficult market to crack”.

With its launch of Cruxland in South Africa last year, the South African wine and spirit producer tapped into the craft-spirit trend and, according to some, raised it a level.

The boutique-style London Dry gin is infused with nine exotic signature botanicals, including rare Kalahari N’abbas, also known as Kalahari truffles or desert gold. The species of truffle, indigenous to the Kalahari Desert, grows only for a short time after the first rains. KWV said in a statement that only a very experienced truffle hunter could spot where to start digging for them.

Well-known British reviewer Oz Clarke, writing on the portal Three Wine Men, said: “Don’t even ask me whether I like this stuff – I love it.”

He added: “Unlike some craft gins, it goes brilliantly with every tonic, good or bad.”

Jacobs said it was too early to comment on sales of KWV Cruxland, but “activity and awareness of the brand has been great and sales have definitely shown a positive trend”.

According to Anneke Mackenzie, KWV’s global portfolio manager for spirits, Cruxland’s successful introduction into this discerning market was due to the gin offering a “distinctive point of appeal”.

She added: “Experts say the gin revival has been sparked by unusual flavours and launches of small batches, which are adding vitality to the category and the re-emergence of a cocktail culture. KWV Cruxland Gin offers gin consumers something that is 100 percent unique and, more importantly, something that has a ‘taste of origin’.”

– African News Agency (ANA)

Spier shares cash from carbon credits with workers

The Spier team celebrates the good news

Workers at the Spier estate in Stellenbosch in South Africa’s winelands will have a little extra to spend this Christmas after the farm decided to divide a portion of cash earned via carbon credits.

Spier announced on Tuesday that it would give 27 workers a share of half of the R204,000 earned for practising regenerative farming on part of the organically certified wine farm through a climate change mitigation initiative.

“The farm has acquired the credits for sequestering 6,493 tons of carbon dioxide in its soil, which is cultivated in as natural way as possible by using regenerative farming practices like high density grazing,” says Spier Wine Farm’s livestock farm manager, Angus McIntosh.

“This is a technique that involves frequent stock rotations aimed at using livestock to mimic nature by restoring carbon and nitrogen contained in livestock and poultry urine into the soil profile.”

The conversion of grasslands and forests to crop and grazing lands across the globe has resulted in losses of soil carbon, which accumulates through photosynthesis as plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When land loses its cover of natural vegetation and becomes degraded through practices such as intensive agriculture and the use of chemicals, carbon escapes into the atmosphere.

Spier’s credits were bought by a South African bank, brokered by Credible Carbon, a business that facilitates carbon trading through credits earned for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Spier said the office of the premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, was among institutions that had bought credits.

Livestock farming on Spier is done using high-density rotational grazing practices alongside the vineyards. A total of 74 hectares of pastureland supports about 300 cattle, 4,500 laying hens, 1,200 broiler chickens, pigs and sheep.

“The presence of a great many animals in a confined space for a short period of time deposits enormous amounts of manure and urine on the land, leading to healthy, vigorous pasture growth without the need of fertilizer,” said McIntosh.

“No inorganic fertilisers nor grains are used as animal feed, thereby disassociating the farming practice with industrial agriculture.”

Soil samples from the livestock farm were tested over an 18-month period by a leading U.S. laboratory. “They confirm a significant and rapid enhancement of soil organic carbon over this period,” according to Credible Carbon.

Spier Sustainability Director, Heidi Newton-King, said this initiative added to the farm’s sustainability and underlined the fact that regenerative farming was not only good for the environment but made good business sense.

“We now have a sixth revenue stream from carbon credits in addition to our other five, from sales of beef, chicken, eggs, pork and lamb,” Newton-King said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

Local is lekker: Hyperli steps into space left by Groupon

Bargain hunters will be pleased to hear that Hyperli, a hyperlocal hypermarket of a deal website, on Wednesday promised to fill the space left when the international discounting business Groupon exited South Africa last month.

Groupon withdrew from a number of markets – from South Africa to Switzerland, Panama to Portugal

Groupon groupees were left feeling short-changed by what seemed to be a sudden exit in early November. At the time, Groupon was reported as saying it was withdrawing from a number of markets – from South Africa to Switzerland and Panama to Portugal – “to focus our energy and dollars on fewer countries”.

Not much longer than a month later, and just in time for Christmas, online discount hunters are hoping that the newly formed Hyperli will honour its pledge to “take the online deal marketplace by storm”.

South African consumers were increasingly likely to shop online with the availability of great deals cited as a reason for the migration, alongside saving time, as well as access to reviews and price comparisons.

Online deal-of-the-day services have been credited with introducing customers to new brands, and driving brand awareness and sales. Research from Groupon showed that around 80 percent of merchants who have used deal sites to attract new customers indicated that they would use them again.

“Times are tough for South African consumers and business alike so being able to deliver well-priced, immediate deals makes great business sense,” said Hyperli chief executive and founder, Wayne Gosling.

“Hyperli connects businesses to consumers. It provides an effective marketing tool for brands and service providers looking to expand their customer base and to profitably grow their businesses.”
Funded by Team Africa Ventures, the early stage investment fund run by entrepreneurs, and backed by the team that brought Groupon to South Africa, the Hyperli platform incorporates various standout features, the company said in a statement.

The merchant offering includes enriched data analytics and seamless redemption through the Hyperli merchant app.

“Recognising that cashflow is king to small business, a transparent pricing structure has been incorporated so that business owners can select the right deal redemption criteria to meet their business needs,” the statement said.

Hyperli added that it had formed strategic partnerships with popular South African brands, including Ster Kinekor, Unilever and Jimmy’s Killer Prawns, to deliver exciting deals in the run up to the festive season.

The company said it valued its relationships with local merchants and had prioritised cost-effective business solutions that drove growth as a core objective in the coming months.
“Hyperli aims to be the business platform that assists SMEs with systems that can manage marketing, reservations and payment so that they can concentrate on what they do best, offering their customers amazing experiences,” it said.

Hyperli has its sights set on becoming South Africa’s foremost online commerce player. Over the coming months, the company said it would expand its reach to cover all major cities across categories such as food and drink, beauty and spas, things to do, goods and getaways.

– African News Agency (ANA)

When the journey is the destination

railstop-copySometimes one goes there and back just to see how far it is, this was a day like that.

A steam train trip from Cape Town to Ceres and back on a hot, still Saturday in November made us feel that we had all the time in the world to do nothing but chill, chat, and gaze out the window at the passing glories of the Cape Winelands. Layers of stress peeled off almost imperceptibly.

trainfine-copyIt was one of those days where one feels nostalgic, yet deeply satisfied. We think our day out was reminiscent of a slower, more elegant age but we don’t really know if such a time really existed, nor do we care much.


Total serenity was interrupted by oohs and aahs and the clicking of camera shutters as various people hung out the windows to better experience sensational views.

The beat of the engine and the echo of the whistle sounded almost primal as we travelled over passes and through valleys pulled by the big, beautiful beast of a steam engine.

This old girl, Jessica, was manufactured in the UK in 1948; the Ceres railway track was completed in May 1912. The Ceres Rail Company story is very much one of revival, of breathing new life into the old.


In the late 1990s, local businessman Derick du Toit bought the property on which Ceres Golf Course is located and built the Ceres Golf Estate development. He soon came up with an idea to bring the old railway track that runs through Ceres Golf Estate back into use.

It is not for nothing that employees describe Du Toit as fearless, hardworking, relentless and visionary. Together with his business partner and fellow off-road racing enthusiast, Simon Beckett, and Transnet he has now made that happen.

So far, the Ceres Rail Company’s fleet comprises of Jessica, a class 19D locomotive #3321; Bailey, a class 19B locomotive #1412; and the very famous, one-of-a-kind South African-built Class 26, fondly known as the Red Devil.

witzenberg-copyThere is nothing devilish about Jessica, who took us on our idyllic journey to Ceres and back. The town is situated in the Witzenberg district, one of the biggest deciduous fruit producing areas in the Western Cape. The scenery on the way is breathtaking, dramatic rock formations and valleys and hills carpeted in fynbos.

After our glorious morning rolling through the countryside, Jessica stopped near the Waverley Hills Wine Estate so we could disembark via stairs brought and deposited in the sand by staff at our own little pop-up station, all a little mad and magical, SA-style.

vineyard-copyWe opted to drift on foot through the vineyard rather than wait for the bus organised for us. On our lazy and languid walk there and back again after lunch it felt like time was stretching out into the distance like train tracks to a new, distant calmness.

The lunch itself and the accompanying wines were a reminder of the bounty of fresh products and raw ingredients on Cape Town’s doorstep as well as the geniuses who put them together.

waverleyhillssalad-copyA highlight for me was the starter of creatively assembled and explosively crunchy lettuce and cucumber salad with a poached egg, croutons, and an anchovy and spring onion mayonnaise that was so subtle it was impossible to separate and identify the flavours except for “delicious” and “knock-out”. Perfectly paired (by yours truly) with a delicious organic Waverley Hills pinot grigio.

Our day was all about luxury and delight but the Ceres Rail Company is dedicated to more than just indulgence.

The trains started rolling after a concession agreement was concluded with Transnet as part of the South African railways company’s branch line strategy. The branch line between Wolseley and Prince Alfred Hamlet has been revitalised with two main aims – to develop the tourism industry in Witzenberg to help with rural development and job creation and to move freight into Cape Town.

The company started running freight, largely juice, pulp, and concentrate, to Cape Town harbour in April, most of it in general purpose containers. There are plans to increase the reefer (refrigerated containers) business, the largest component of freight out of the Witzenberg area.

Since April, Ceres Rail has sent just under 1000 containers out of Ceres to the harbour. The company’s target for next year is 3000-plus containers and, ultimately, it hopes to shift the majority of the 20,000 containers coming out of this area from road to rail.

jessicartpJessica and mates get to rest during the week as Transnet Freight Rail moves the freight train using a diesel locomotive. Ceres Rail Company runs the steam locos to Ceres and back on weekends with a stop for lunch.

More information and booking here:
– African News Agency (ANA)

Vergelegen wins global wine tourism award

vergelegen2Western Cape vineyard Vergelegen was among wineries celebrated on Thursday night at the 2017 international “Best Of Wine Tourism” awards ceremony at the Sao Bento da Vitoria Monastery in Porto, Portugal.

The awards are sponsored by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, a network of global cities in the northern and southern hemispheres that include internationally renowned wine regions.
vergelegen3Encompassing the so-called “old” and “new” worlds of wine, the competition is designed to reward wineries that have distinguished themselves in terms of the excellence of their facilities in various categories, from art and culture to sustainable wine tourism, and delivering quality experiences to the public.

The international winners are chosen from those selected as the “best of” from each Great Wine Capital. There were 359 entrants and 59 local award winners this year.

vergelegen4The awards aim to encourage travel, education and business exchanges between the prestigious wine regions, which include Bilbao-Rioja in Spain, Bordeaux in France, Germany’s Rheinhessen region, Mendoza in Argentina, Porto in Portugal, the Napa Valley in San Francisco, and Casablanca Valley in Valparaìso, Chile, and the Cape Wineleands.

Other 2017 International Best Of Wine Tourism award winners were Seppeltsfield in Australia; Bodegas y Viñedos de Páganos in Bilbao; Château Marquis de Terme in Bordeaux; Rheinhessenvinothek in Rheinhessen; Zuccardi in Mendoza; Quinta do Bomfim in Porto; Trefethen Family Vineyards in the Napa Valley and Portofino Restaurant in Valparaiso.
– African News Agency (ANA)

Her name is Vega

ImageHave just been reminded of this sensational night three years ago. I remember how I felt … in the finest detail .

Come back #SuzanneVega

(November 2 2013)

Held up to the standards of the Madonnas and the Gagas she might as well have been naked. Hers is a show without gimmicks: just heart, hands and voice used to transport us all back to another time, individual and collective.

Suzanne Vega had been singing to me for just a few moments and I was 17 again. Familiar, quirky tracks that mesmerised me as a teenager delivered perfectly … this time by the cool, kooky Suzy V in person.

She, too, is all grown up, but the musical alchemy is completely intact, unspoiled.

Vega1VegaForest1She toyed briefly with wearing the black Top Hat that some will remember from the eighties, but that was soon discarded as she seemed to reach out and touch every one of us sitting in the gorgeous amphitheatre under the trees of the Paul Cluver forest.

Love it or hate it, who could forget ‘My name is Luka’? There was no better accompaniment to my own late teenage angst (part anger, part hurt, 100% drama) than Suzanne Vega’s catchy ballad. Truth be told, Vega’s other numbers, Gypsy and Blood Makes Noise, had a special place too. Most of the old favourites were on show tonight with a sprinkling of new numbers that show she has not lost her knack for cutting through the humdrum and articulating fear and delight (with a dusting of magic dust for good measure).

VegaGerry1Gerry Leonard (aka Spooky Ghost), her only band member, filled all the space around her with his supercool vibe and great base-playing, as well as the only almost-gimmick of the show: playing a number on a guitar made from a Castrol oil drum that he bought that day in Cape Town “after researching and talking about it for months”.

Kinda kooky and extremely likeable on stage, Suzanne Vega doesn’t miss a beat. She is a brilliant, accomplished singer-songwriter with star quality and a solid vein of magic that you catch glimpses of frequently.

I am not saying anything about the opening act. In fact, I am removing promotional material published here earlier about him because … um … well … because this is my ‘happy place’.

Vega plays a second show at Paul Cluver on November 2 and the Teatro at Montecasino in Johannesburg on November 3.

Vega’s SA tour is brought to South Africa by Charl van Heyningen Enterprises in association with Rolling Stone magazine.

Tickets from computicket.

For further information visit