London, England

London is an amazing  world class city with an incredible vibe and pulse.

Tradition and ceremony abound, with truly fascinating history on just about every block.  2018 London sees classical  and modern architecture sit side by side dominating the impressive skyline.

The Tower of London,  Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, seeing the the winding Thames River and the numerous bridges  from the London Eye, are just a few of the features which stand out as must see experiences for the first time visitor.

Cuisine is at the cutting edge of global trends with a wide range of options tantalising the taste buds across the price spectrum. The Granary at Kings Cross, which as an area has enjoyed a recent rejuvination, was outstanding on this visit.

The West End shows are  a personal favourite and there is something which appeals to each and every taste, from the classics like the Mousetrap, to musicals like Phantom of The Opera, then the modern spectaculars like Harry Potter.  Not to mention the world famous Comedy Store which is an icon in Leicester Square, showcasing some of the finest stand up comedy you will ever see.

Sport in the captial is incredible and for Cricket, Football and Rugby Union fans you are spoilt for choice. On this recent trip we saw a West London Derby between Fulham and Queens Park Rangers, which had an incredible atmopsphere with hilarious football chants and songs from start to finish. This on the same day England met Ireland on St Patricks day in a Rugby Union encounter at nearby Twickenham.

Someone once said “if you are bored with London, you are bored with life” there really is so much to do and experience the challenge is leaving out what not to do rather than selecting what you want to do.

Seychelles

Seychelles, a tropical paradise located on the east coast of Africa, home to an archipelago of 115 smaller islands and some of the world’s rarest animals! The commercial hub, also their capital is the city of Victoria which is within easy reach of the picturesque Avani Barbarons Seychelles Resort and Spa.

Nested in a cove, this 124 bedroomed resort has so much to offer including 3 versatile conference venues accommodating between 8 to 110 pax, dependent on the seating style and staging requirements.

On the doorstep to the Indian Ocean, Tamarind offers authentic dishes in an exclusive setting whilst Elements Restaurant serves a daily buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner in a more relaxed environment. The poolside terrace which overflows into the lounge / lobby encapsulates a holistic experience with all day informal dining.

For groups, pre-dinner drinks can be enjoyed on your private rooftop terrace whilst the sun sets over the horizon and the crystal clear waters and idyllic beach are mere metres away. Our welcome / gala dinner was an outdoor affair, a breathtaking location on the beach with a live local band / DJ to entertain.

Popular with locals and recently launched, TGA club is the latest hotspot hangout! Offsite activities are limitless and range from catamaran cruises, nature walks and scuba diving to snorkeling, ziplining and island hopping for the more adventurous.

Chinchilla Rooftop Cafe & Bar

We recently visited the new Chinchilla Bar located in Camps Bay’s, Cape Town which opened its doors in late November. Not to our surprise, the bar was already bustling with locals and travelers.

 

The bar has dazzling 180 degree views of Camps Bay Beach and is located right in the middle of the hustle and bustle, surrounded by most of the other well known bars and restaurants in the area.

 

Chinchilla’s décor is as cute as its name, fresh and colourful and the venue is furnished with relaxed café chic seating, perfect for that sunset cocktail before heading to dinner or out to experience Camp’s Bay’s night life.

 

Their signature cocktails are their forte with lots of options that have been created by their very own mixologist. They offer classics like “Long Island Ice Tea”  through to more exciting and unpredictable cocktails like “Lolly’s That Make Me Jolly” which are made up of sorbet ice-lollys and sparkling wine.

For those that feel like a snack or wish to dine at Chinchilla, their short but sweet seafood inspired food menu has options from light snacks to sandwiches and more substantial main courses with some dessert options.

The Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen with the brilliant Luke Dale-Roberts at the helm, who has been at the forefront of the Cape Town culinary scene since his time at La Colombe stretching back to 2006.

 

This was the perfect venue for our privatised tasting menu lunch for our VIP Group from Haivision. The TTK team did not disappoint – the meal was outstanding, the service exceptional and each and every member of the group were full of praise and compliments for an out of this world dining experience.

Watching the artistry in the open plan kitchen was spectacular, the team work and various role players coming together to create perfection on a plate was both inspiring and at the same time somewhat mesmerising.

       

Restaurant accolades include

2016 Eat Out Restaurant of the Year
2016 No 22 in The Worlds Best restaurant and Best in Africa.

We have a number of photos from this event, The balance can be found on our Facebook page here: Facebook

The 8 course menu that we used can be seen below, I am sure you will agree extravagant and amazing are suitable adjectives !

TEST KITCHEN

 The below menu will be available for guests on the day.

 8 COURSE SET MENU 

DARK ROOM

TEST KITCHEN BILLIONAIRES SHORTBREAD
PORK SCRATCHING, PINT OF GUINNESS , CELERIAC SALT AND VINEGAR
PEKING QUAIL SANDWICH
SMOKED LAMB, BARLEY AND TOASTED GINGER
WAFER, XO DRESSING 

FIRST COURSE

12 HOUR SMOKED TROUT TARTARE, HOMEMADE SOUR CREAM, LEMON VERBENA OIL, DILL OIL
GOURMAND Almenkerk Chardonnay 2014
TEA Weekend in Shanghai

 SECOND COURSE

 TTK NICOISE SALAD
GOURMAND Bellingham “Bernard Series” Viognier 2013
TEA Imperial Lapsang Souchong

 THIRD COURSE

SEARED SCALLOP WRAPPED IN BACON, CAULIFLOWER AND CHEESE, BLACK GARLIC SALSA
GOURMAND Fable Mountain “Jackal Bird” 2012
TEA Indian Nights

 FOURTH COURSE

PAN SEARED SWEETBREADS, LIQUORICE LIVER JUS, LIME GEL, PRESERVED LEMON AND PINENUT
GREMOLATA
GOURMAND Crystallum Pinot Noir 2015
TEA Indian Nights

FIFTH COURSE

PAN SEARED DUCK BREAST, SOUR CHERRY CLAFOUTIS, DUCK LIVER STUFFING, SOUR CHERRY JUS
GOURMAND Bosman Nero d’Avola 2015
TEA Lemon Bush

 SIXTH COURSE

LAMB MINESTRONE, POTATO PARMESAN DUMPLING, LAMB AND TOMATO EXTRACTION
GOURMAND Oldenberg Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2011
TEA African Ball

 SEVENTH COURSE

“BREAD, MILK & HONEY”

 EIGHTH COURSE

STRAWBERRY ROSE ICE CREAM, COCONUT MERINGUE,
MINTED STRAWBERRY SHERBET,
RHUBARB AND BURNT VANILLA BUTTER, BERRY SNOW
GOURMAND Silverthorn Green Man 2014
TEA Pink Flamingo

 

Italy / Amalfi Coast / Sorrento

Group details:
– 85 pax
– Traveled 2016 (3 nights / 4 days)

Some activities included self-drive cabriolet vintage cars from Positano to Sorrento along the world-famous Amalfi Coastline, guided visits to the 2000 year old “buried cities” of Pompeii & Herculaneum, a day ferry trip to Capri Island and using the local 6 seater cabriolet “Capri taxis”, dinner at an interactive pizza and mozzarella cheese making farm/restaurant, walking tours & Limoncello tasting through the narrow romantic streets of Sorrento.

Making Pizza dough in Naples, Italy

A trip to any destination is never quite complete without taking in some of the historical, architectural and cultural highlights of the region. Sorrento and the Amalfi coastline are absolutely saturated with these boasting some of the most scenic (and hair-raising) drives along a jagged-edge coastline known to man. Celebrities like Sophia Loren and dating as far back as the Ancient Roman empire were only some of the eyes that have gazed upon this beauty and influenced the lifestyle and history of the area. Looking over the bay at Mt Vesuvius, it still lies high and dominant, a strong reminder of the power of nature having once buried two cities (Pompeii & Herculaneum) alive in its eruptive volcanic wake.

From the main shores of the coastline a day ferry trip to Capri Island will accentuate the romance and resilient Roman Catholic nature of this elegant European society. Well known for influencing modern day culinary trends, some of Italy’s more well-known dishes come from this region. Fresh produce lives in rich color with the infamous Limoncello being produced from lemons literally the size of small soccer balls, and tomato’s in deep red flavor (the Caprese salad having been born here).

The Beverly Hills Hotel

The Beverly Hills Hotel

nullThe Beverly Hills Hotel Umhlanga Rocks (spelt Beverly like Sol’s daughters name without the “e”)

 

This hotel has had a huge impact on my life, it is the hotel I fell in love with when working there as Food and Beverage Manager and where I got my first taste of hotel General Management (more than 20 years ago). It is also where I first met my life’s love who later became my wife, she stayed at the hotel on business (we were both working for The InterContinental Hotel Group at the time).

The staff are what made the hotel special many from the very beginning when the hotel opened at that time in the twilight of their careers. They would regale me with incredible stories of when the Hotel opened and Sol Kerzner the hotels South African founder who later went on to develop Sun City and then after that The One and Only Group of luxury hotels and resorts.  I hung literally on every word, the staff, the guests, the owner it was rich pickings for these skilled story tellers.

Stories like lowering tables over the balcony after breakfast in the Society Room to set up the pool terrace for lunch, as there was not enough money to buy tables for both and they wanted to offer guests a different venue for different meals. During my time at the hotel the eccentric “Goldfinger” who came every Sunday morning for breakfast and brought his own gold cutlery to replace the silver the hotel used as standard. He announced his arrival in one of his Cadillac convertibles with Elvis blaring as he handed the keys nonchalantly to the valet.

The passion for quality and personal service were woven into the tapestry of this hotel and it was never a place but rather a living breathing entity. All of us who worked there were entrusted as custodians to make sure it remained the same for the new people who joined and the new guests that visited subsequently.

My wife and I were also incredibly fortunate to be invited to attend the 50th Anniversary celebrations, which did this grand hotel proud. Sol Kerzner himself was present and he too shared stories from the early years, convincing investors that this project in the sugar cane fields North of Durban was not folly and fantasy. Some of the original staff attended as guests and it was incredibly special to catch up and reminisce about the times that we shared at the “Bev”.

 

Last Sunday I was out walking on the promenade in Umhlanga with my wife and kids and we passed this local icon, the memories came flooding back and I found myself telling the stories to the next generation. Long may the legend continue……

Babylonstoren

Having recently visited Babylonstoren for a family wedding in the Cape Winelands, I have to say I was absolutely blown away.

babylonstoren2

The setting was incredible but the truly unique proposition is the incredible solace and being at one with nature that all of the elements of the farm have successfully come together to achieve.

The leisurely walks with the kids collecting fruit and vegetables from the extensive gardens and trails are a standout memory. On returning to your suite having completed your foraging the items are skillfully sculpted into a unique salad with your very own stamp and unlike any other before or after.

babylonstoren1 babylonstoren3

Or of course just feeding carrots to the farm animals which was another big hit and there was a lot of fun and laughter breaking the tranquil silences of nature.

babylonstoren7

babylonstoren4

All in all this is an ideal setting for a breakaway from the rat race, small leisure groups or families enjoying quality time in some of the best surroundings the Wine Region has to offer or of course a phenomenal place to create and share those special family occasions, that will remain etched in your memory for life.

babylonstoren5 babylonstoren6