Monday, September 29, 2014

Kleine Zalze Lodge Winter Special

On Thursday 25 September, I decided to treat Jacqui and myself to a very special lunch and a night away.

Some time ago a very good friend sent us a clipping from one of their local newspapers, advertising the Terroir Restaurant's Winter Special. I had watched the TV series on the restaurant earlier this year and was extremely keen to try them. But even at the special prices it was quite a bit more than we are used to paying for a meal out, so it was a case of leaving it till the last minute before taking advantage. When I finally decided to take the plunge, I discovered the Kleine Zalze night away special offer. This started off at R650 per person sharing in one of the Lodge's standard rooms (we upgraded to the luxury room, and that was at R775 per person sharing). Also included was a three course meal at the Restaurant (valued at R280 each, including a glass of Kleine Zalze wine), a free bottle of the Estate wine on arrival, a free wine-tasting at the Kleine Zalze Cellar Door, plus a full breakfast. Too good an offer to refuse!

So the booking was made, and we opted to have the meal as a lunch rather than a dinner. We arrived at the Lodge just after midday, booked in with Reception, and went off to spend a few minutes in the grounds, which are simply spectacular. While walking around we could hear an owl, and were lucky enough to spot it. I think it it a Spotted Eagle Owl, but could be mistaken. I went off to fetch my camera from the car and took a few images, which looked all right on the camera screen, though a bit small.So after lunch we went to check that the bird was still there, and I went and fetched my 300mm zoom lens, attached the flash, and this is the final result! You can click on the image for a larger version.

And so to the long-awaited lunch itself. After being seated, we were brought the blackboard menu for starters and mains. To be honest, both Jacqui and I were very disappointed to see that out of the large selection on offer, only two starters and two mains were available for the Special menu. I personally think that was not the best marketing move, as it came across as being a little unfriendly. But what can one do? We both ordered a glass of the Kleine Zalze Sauvignon Blanc, and then decided to order a bottle of the same as well (we were spending the night there, after all). Before the meal, we were brought their special bread board, with butter and olives. The rolls and bread were beautifully baked, fresh and very tasty. And then came the amuse bouche, a tasting of three different items, including a fish ball (our favourite), a cheese puff, and a spring roll. Heavenly! 

Jacqui decided on the stuffed chicken wing for her starter, while I chose the white asparagus. We both decided on the Sirloin for our mains, the alternative being the vegetarian option of their version of macaroni cheese. Needless to say, the food was exceptionally tasty and beautifully cooked and presented. I can't even begin to describe the many different flavours and textures on the plates, but they all contributed to what was a extraordinary and highly-recommended experience. 

And so to the room - beautifully appointed, centrally air-conditioned I think, and with this view from the balcony:

The wine tasting later in the afternoon was yet another highlight, and one could choose 5 wines for tasting. The lady who helped us, Anelda, was knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful.

So - all in all an extremely pleasant and worthwhile experience. All the people we dealt with, from the lady who took our booking (Siobahn), to the guard who let us out of the grounds when we left, all need to be complimented. It was a real pleasure dealing with them.

Possible improvements? Definitely a larger selection from the food menu (maybe 4 items from each course instead of two?), hopefully a better TV picture in the rooms (the aspect ratio of the decoder was incorrectly set, so the image was flat and distorted - we did mention that to reception and maintenance staff on leaving), and then the addition of some suitable plugs in the room that can take the two-pronged cell phone and tablet chargers - my phone battery had gone flat before we got home on the Friday.

Would love to go back again. We just have to hope that the Winter Special will be repeated.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tygerberg Photographic Society - September 2014

The September set subject was 'Macro" and these were my two entries for the month. The photo of the gooseberries was taken way back in May after a very helpful neighbour let me forage in their garden for the gooseberries. The second image was of a Wild Iris from our front garden, and a baby snail from our back garden!

My other two images entered into the "Open" category can be seen by clicking on the "TPS Entries" link on the menu bar.

It's been a big month for me as my four "Gold" ratings moved me up from the 2-star to 3-star category! The requirements for a move to the next star rating are onerous to say the least, and it will take more than a year to get there. And at the 3-star level, the scoring and points needed for the ratings are the same as for the best photographers in the Society, so it makes it that much more difficult for images to achieve Gold status. 

As normal, just click on the images for the large versions.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Success story

To complete our short stay in Melkbos, we had lunch at Die Damhuis today.

I took some photos just to show how this place has evolved over the past few years. The main image is what the restaurant looks like now, and the other two images were taken in February 2009, when it was just an unloved and uncared-for building, and then in April 2010, a few months after they had opened for business.

It's an enterprise that is continually evolving. The food and service today is unrecognizable from when they started out, and that's a compliment to all involved. There were three of us there today, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our food.

Like most restaurants, there is still room for improvement. But I really do believe that with their drive an passion this will take place as simply part of the process. The folk in Melkbos and Cape Town generally have obviously taken a liking to Die Damhuis, and rightly so. On Friday, when we tried to make our booking for today's lunch, there were only two tables inside available!

As usual, just click on the photos for the large image.

Die Damhuis today

February 2009
April 2010

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sunset with the fishermen - 4 September 2014

It's the first time in eight years that we have seen this many fishing boats out in our bay. Here are just three images to share. Click on them to see full-size.

Hope your evening was as beautiful.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mariella's Restaurant - Capaia Estate (2)

We are back in Melkbosstrand for a few days. On the way here we made a short detour to the Capaia Estate again for the wonderful gourmet burgers served at their Mariella's Restaurant.

Here is a slightly different view, this time from their deck and with a touch of mist in the distance. Again, click on the photo for the large image.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tygerberg Photographic Society - August 2014

The August set subject was "slow shutter speed", and this was my entry for the month. The judge seemed to like the shot, but marked it down as he found the red branding on the chopsticks packet distracting. I think it helps balance out the bottom section of the photo, so still obviously have lots to learn.

My other two images entered into the "Open" category can be seen by clicking on the "TPS Entries" link on the menu bar.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Triple trouble

The three ladies who terrorized Cape Town this past week. On the left, niece Lee-Ann, her Mom and Jacqui's sister Lesley in the middle, and Jacqui on the right. So innocent-looking - butter wouldn't melt in their mouths!

A great time was had by all, and everyone is now back home safe and sound. Can't believe just how peaceful this place is right now!

My thanks for all the posing - I really enjoyed the photo sessions. Till next time...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Birthday weekend in Melkbos

What a special weekend to celebrate 67 years! Please click on the photos to see the larger versions.

We arrived on Friday late morning to see 
the bay full of whales

Friday's sunset was clear and crisp

Saturday evening gave us the mist

And we ended off the Birthday with this prelude to a beautiful hazy sunset

My sincerest thanks to all of you who have made this a very special birthday - especially my wife Jacqui, plus all the friends and family members who phoned or sent Facebook and text messages. You are all awesome!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mariella's Restaurant - Capaia Estate

Last Tuesday Jacqui and I celebrated 21 years in our Durbanville home. We went to Mariella's Restaurant for lunch to celebrate. This is the view from their parking lot. Click on the photo for the large view.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tygerberg Photographic Society

One of the most educational and rewarding things I’ve done over recent years is to join the Tygerberg Photographic Society. To quote from their website: The aim of the club is promote photography, by bringing together photographers who wish to express their love for photography by taking photographs and by showing, sharing, evaluating and discussing with friends who share the same interests – those willing to learn more about photography from experts willing to share their knowledge – and those willing to share their expertise with others willing to learn more about photography.

Members are divided into 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Star categories according to their level of skill. New members start off as 1 Stars, and move upward over time depending on the number of points they collect from judged competition entries. After 6 months as a member, I am now in the 2-star category.

Competition meetings are held at 19h00 every 4th Wednesday of every month, January to November. There are four categories for entries, namely the month's set subject, in print or digital formats, plus an open category, also in print or digital formats. There is at least one external evaluator at each meeting. Every entry is publicly judged and priceless valuable feedback is given by the expert evaluators during the meetings.

Photographs are evaluated (out of 15 points) on the level of technical, compositional, and artistic ability shown. For a photo to achieve a Gold award, 1 star members need to receive a minimum of 9 points, 2 star members need a minimum of 11 points, and 3 star and above members need a minimum of 12 points.So the more one progresses, the more difficult it is to achieve Gold awards.

This has been (and is) an incredibly rewarding experience, and I am indebted to my good friend Daniel Rossouw, for introducing me to the club.

I have posted a page, TPS Entries, which can be accessed via the blog menu. It reflects all the entries I have posted so far, with the relevant awards received.

Early last year I spent a good deal of time setting up my personal photography website. I must say that I really like the look and feel of the site, but the fact is that it’s not achieving what I wanted it to achieve, which was to provide an easy way for people to view my photos

Updating the site and informing existing viewers also proved to be a mission. So I have decided to cut my losses and transform my old blog into the vehicle for displaying images and informing viewers of new activities and photographs. The basic tools built into the Blogger platform make this a much more efficient way of doing things.

In addition, I have decided to make use of the facilities to display portfolio images, etc. These can be accessed from the new menu on this blog.

I have deleted all the old information from the blog, completely redesigned the look and feel, and start afresh with this being hopefully the first of many new posts on the new blog. I hope you enjoy!

All comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated – thanks.

2020 Holiday - Last days

Day 3 - Wednesday We woke to a very pleasant, though cold, morning. We again had breakfast outside on the patio, and were treated to the (we...