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January 27, 2011

Well now, hallo, I have not blogged since 2008, can you believe it? I guess my real job kept me too busy to care about writing. So now I'm back and wondering where I should start. Maybe the trip to wine country in December. Destination? Hermanus' Hemel-en-Aarde Valley off course. One of my favourite wine regions, no, definitely my favourite. White blue flag beaches, excellent wines and good restaurants.

This was the first year that I drove all the way to the top of the mountain to visit Creation winery and what a surprise. Despite the bad weather on that particular day, the view was still good and the wines, especially the reds, were of a high standard. The wine and chocolate tasting was however the highlight of the day, not just for myself but for the whole family as Creation is probably the only winery that actually caters for children. (My son (8) was asked in school to draw a picture of what he did during the holidays and he drew a wine tasting-oops).

The food in Hermanus this year was a disappointment to me. We went to all our favourite places and some new ones and I found that standards had dropped and prices had increased substantially. I was also of the view that the restaurants lacked inspiration in terms of menu choice.

My partner was most amazed when Fabio's started turning tables away with the excuse that the kitchen was not coping whilst still having at least 6 empty tables. Personally I can respect such a decision, however one has to wonder how they plan on making any money during the season if they do not prepare adequately. I was however less amused when all the food arrived and not the kids' pizza. The excuse, they had run out of pizza dough, my oh my!!

The breakfast at Heaven was extremely average and the service this year lacklustre, even though we had the same serving person as last year! The worst meal by far though must have been my childrens' pasta at Harbour Rock, some glass noodle concoction with what tasted like tomato soup as a sauce. Now I have to tell you, my kids are food connoisseurs, my son especially is an avid foodie so they simply refused to eat it and I had to order another sushi platter for them. My personal worst must have been Bientangs Cave, I had a seafood platter which I am sure even a steak house can improve on. Horribly deep fried and over salted to say the least. And no else's food looked any better. Such a fantastic setting and then they abuse it with substandard food.

Lemon Butta had a good sushi selection but was overpriced and they must get a mention for their disgusting toilets and filthy restaurant windows, how is one suppose to see the beautiful ocean when the glass partition is so dirty?

That is enough complaining for one blog me thinks. So what did I actually like you will ask?

Bouchard Finlayson had an evening with opera music in the cellar on behalf of the cancer association which was phenomenal. The acoustics and the whole experience of being in a cellar surrounded by barrels of great wine made the whole experience wonderful.

We had the most incredible eating experience at Madre's kitchen not far away in Stanford, what a fabulous place. The whole look and feel of the place, the great inspiring menu and a fantastic chenin blanc, the name now escapes me, from the region. Will definitely go back there.

One of my great disappointments every year is how difficult it is to get bookings in the top restaurants. It seems that the only solution is to book 6 months prior to your arrival and to then plan the rest of your holiday around your restaurant bookings!

The wines of the region remain my very favourites. Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir, Creation Merlot and the Ashbourne Pinotage to mention but a few. There are a number of new kids on the block that will be worth watching like Crystallum which is already producing some very good if not excellent Pinot Noir. Iona seems to have opened a tasting room, but I did not get a chance to go past there. Hermanuspietersfontein wines are as usual very very good and the Felicite Pinot Noir from Newton Johnson is not only extremely well priced but also a nice easy-drinking-not-too-serious Pinot Noir.

We are finally having dinner at D W 11-13 in Dunkeld Tuesday evening and I am looking forward to the experience as all the reviews so far have been positive.

And last but not least, I had forgotten what an absolutely fantastic prawn a Tiger Giant is. My partner, now decidedly poorer, was sent to the fish shop to buy prawns and came back with Tiger Giants! Lucky us, unbelievable taste experience. If you have never had any you must give it a try.

That's me for now. Speak soon and happy eating and drinking.

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