Diary of events

April 2018

Find out what on this April.

April – May


South Africa, Cape Town, February 2018; IT’S no secret that the word on every Capetonian’s lips at the moment is the terrible drought that has Cape Town in its grip. And with little respite in the weather and an ominous Day Zero looming, the potential impact on the local economy, specifically the hospitality industry, is devastating.

In April 2018, The Test Kitchen will introduce a reduced-water dining experience which will run exclusively for two months until end May. The Drought Kitchen, (essentially a pop-up within The Test Kitchen), has had Luke Dale Roberts and his team focussing all their creative energy on coming up with solutions to the problem of using less water in the kitchen. And the results are yet another creative, and delicious, endeavour.

I’ve had to re-evaluate how we approach what we do in the kitchen and the restaurant,” Luke says. “From preparation to plating, service to clean-up, everything is impacted by using less water. It’s been an eye-opener, for sure,” he adds.

Reducing water usage to an absolute minimum in the kitchen has meant doing things differently, and cleverly. As well as saving grey water from air-conditioning units, using ice bucket water to mop the floors, disconnecting hoses in the scullery, fitting diffusers on taps, switching to disposable napkins and eliminating tablecloths, The Test Kitchen has taken it a step further.

Luke has designed “empty picture frames”, that will have a piece of interchangeable card that the dish will be plated on effectively making every dish a picture. These handcrafted disposable plates will provide the perfect counterpoint for displaying each dish.

By taking away 90% of the chinaware we have effectively eliminated 90% of our water usage from the dishwasher and, along with only operating the laundry for basic essentials, we are hopeful that this will make a difference,” adds Luke.

Those visiting The Test Kitchen can be assured that the six-course menu, adapted from the standard menu at The Test Kitchen, will be nothing short of sublime.

Dishes on the six-course menu are the 12-hour hot-smoked trout served with watercress and yoghurt snow. With the addition of yuzu caviar and blinis, it’s a flavour-packed delight. Another favourite, the sweetbreads, are served with asparagus, peas, morels and a porcini hollandaise. Sauces are kept to a minimum so that the eating experience remains refined and it doesn’t affect the handmade card plates. Other dishes diners can look forward to are springbok with beetroot, bone marrow and hazelnut – perfect for the colder months – and a delectable dessert of peaches and lavender playing beautifully in contrasting texture and flavour. And all still served with the signature flair, precision and consummate style of The Test Kitchen.

The Drought Kitchen by The Test Kitchen’s reduced-water dining experience will run from Tuesday to Saturday. The six-course menu, which also includes three appetizers, is priced at R890 per person, excluding wines. Diners can also opt for the Tea Pairing Menu priced at R1040 per person, the Gourmand Wine Pairing Menu priced at R1190 per person or the Iconic Wine Pairing Menu priced at R1340 per person.

Luke Dale Roberts will also be pursuing other water-saving initiatives at The Pot Luck Club and The Shortmarket Club.

The Test Kitchen is located at Shop 105a, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.  Open for dinner only from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 18h30 – 23h30.


Please note that reservations at The Test Kitchen are online only via The Test Kitchen’s website: Bookings are open three months in advance from 08h00am (South African time). They no longer take reservations via email, however, they will still be able to assist telephonically + 27 (021) 447 2337. 

Bespoke event reservations are open for lunch only from Wednesdays to Saturdays, for a minimum of 12 guests.  For these exclusive reservations, please call (27) (21) 447 2337 or e-mail


Please contact +27 (0) 21 447 2337 to add your details to our waiting list. The Test Kitchen can take up to 35 people daily.


The Test Kitchen does not offer gift vouchers or certificates; however, you are more than welcome to pre-pay for the menu. Once you or your guests have a confirmed booking you can contact The Test Kitchen and confirm the amount that you wish to pre-pay.

21 April

Bot River winemakers bull-ish about 2018 Barrels & Beards

Local is lekker at this most beloved wine and food get-together

Run with the bull this year at none other than Bot River Barrels & Beards on Saturday, April 21, when – for the first time ever – this most majestic beast takes centre stage at a Cape Winelands shindig like no other.

No, of course there won’t be any actual el-toro running in the Pamplonic sense (although the antics of the valley’s famously game winemakers may qualify). This whole shebang is an invitation to party, party, party; make new friends; celebrate the end of another bountiful grape harvest; and, do some good in the process.

The bull referred to here, is the bull in the Bot River Wine Route logo: the link to Bot River’s very foundation. Amongst the Khoisan people, the valley was once called Gouga – the place of cattle; the Dutch made the connection to butter, which led to its modern name. In this sense, the bull represents fertility, virility, leadership and strength. More importantly, it connects the history of all inhabitants of the region for possibly over 1 000 years; a symbol of the meeting of diverse cultures; and, the sense of place offered in every glass of Bot River wine wherever it may be enjoyed around the world.

For Barrels & Beards this year, the region’s wineries have grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and incorporated the Taurean theme in every aspect of preparations. It’ll be all barrels, beards and bulls, if you will (perhaps fortuitously, there are no china shops in Bot River as yet).

The amphitheatre for all this pomp and ceremony is Wildekrans Wine Estate, home of excellent wine and hospitality, and features an all-star cast from: Anysbos, goat farmers with a weakness for wine; Arcangeli, a wine producer with a wild Italian heart; Barton, whose Blue Crane logo reflects its eco-farm approach; Beaumont Family Wines, home to the region’s oldest wine cellar; Eerste Hoop; Gabriëlskloof, the courtyard on a koppie; Genevieve MCC, a uniquely Bot River bubbly; Goedvertrouw Wine Estate, the intimate gem of energetic, teetotaller winemaker Elrieda Pillmann; Luddite Wines, champion for dry-land farming; Maremmana Estate, a blend of great wine and an idyllic farm lifestyle; Momento; Paardenkloof Estate, the single vineyard-single variety winery; Rivendell Estate, a blend of Austrian and South African wine tradition; Thorne & Daughters, simple wines with a modern edge; and, Villion Family Wines, a wine producer “tempting fate with faith”.

The occasion centres around the auction: the sale of truly special Bot River wines. The auction benefits various school-level educational projects in the region. The meal itself, known as the Botriviera dinner, is a feast of local produce.

This year guests will be able to feast on the food of the valley with tables brimming with local produce and specialities. Having served as a valuable waystation for centuries, modern Bot River and the Overberg remains an extremely fertile area and in many ways, is still an agricultural breadbasket of the Western Cape.

As for the beards, the tale of how infuriating stubble became tradition begins like most – by chance. The grape harvest waits for no-one – when the fruit is ripe, it must be picked and taken to the cellar. There’s little time for sleep, but it’s a festive time nonetheless as Mother Nature reveals the proof of the preceding season’s work. Time-consuming activities like shaving must take a backseat too, so beards in the vineyards and cellar are not unusual at this time of year.

Some eight years ago, Luddite winemaker Niels Verburg declared a challenge to his colleagues in what might also be known as The Great Bot River Beard-off. The challenge has stuck and become a tradition. Now, the winemakers of the close-knit wine region deliberately undertake a self-imposed shaving ban during harvest in preparation for the annual Beard Parade – a contest of great inconsequence and almighty mirth. Some (gasp!) may even cultivate a particular style for this climax of Barrels & Beards.

At the appointed time, a panel of dour and determined judges pluck and pull, stroke and measure. They comb through the phalanx of extended goatees, van dykes, balbos, garibaldis, mutton chops and imperials to finally announce the year’s Best Bot Beard.

Once done, the feast sets in and the shaving ban ends. Hair today, gone tomorrow as they say.

“We look forward to the Cut the Bull-theme for Barrel & Beards this year, an event to literally let your hair down and meet the winemakers of Bot River in one festive location,” says Bot River Wine Route co-ordinator Melissa Nelsen, the bubbly personality behind Genevieve MCC.

Bot River lies a mere one hour’s drive up the N2 highway from Cape Town. A divine country getaway, the region has long been known for its wine pioneers and mavericks. There are 13 wine farms, most of them family-owned and run, producing world-class wines. Often underestimated, Bot River is also renowned for its conservation initiatives.

The 2018 Bot River Barrels & Beards will take place at Wildekrans Wine Estate on Saturday, 21 April at 5pm and tickets cost R450 per adult.

The participating farms are:

1.         Anysbos

2.         Barton

3.         Beaumont

4.         Arcangeli

5.         Eerste Hoop

6.         Gabriëlskloof

7.         Luddite

8.         Genevieve

9.         Goedvertrouw

10.        Thorne & Daughters

11.        Momento

12.        Maremmana

13.        Paardenkloof

14.        Rivendell

15.        Wildekrans


Online tickets will be available through as from 2 February. For enquiries and pre-bookings contact Ilse Henderson at Wildekrans Wine Estate at 028 284 9488 or email

Now cut the bull and get over to Bot River.

*No bulls or any other animals for that matter were injured in the production of this literature.

27-28 April 

SA Cheese Festival is cooking

Visitors to the 17th South African Cheese Festival will not only taste cheese and see master chefs in action but can also create cheese masterpieces themselves.

A ticket to this award-winning festival, over the Freedom Day long weekend (Friday 27 to Sunday 29 April), promises a taste experience of local and international cheeses, artisan and gourmet products as well as selected wines.

Interactive food theatres

Celebrity chefs galore will cook up a storm in the three food theatres at the SA Cheese Festival. Jenny Morris (The Giggling Gourmet), Kamini Pather (MasterChef SA winner), The Food Alchemist Pete Goffe-Wood (Master Chef and Ultimate Braai Master Judge), Carmen Niehaus and Leon the Milkman will entertain guests in the Agri-Expo Cooking Pot.

Herman Lensing (Friday), Zola Nene (Saturday) and Johnny Hamman (Sunday) will oversee food demonstrations in the Cape Made Kitchen, in partnership with the Institute of Culinary Arts (ICA) and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. In theStandard Bank Tasting Room specialist presenters will treat visitors to cheese pairings with unique combinations including South Africa’s Top Ten Chenin Blanc wines, craft beer and a variety of teas.

#YourWheyWithCheese Cook-off

Would you like to show off your cooking flair? Amateur chefs are invited to enter their water-wise recipes with President cheese for the #YourWheyWithCheese Cook-off in partnership with Heart FM. Jenny Morris and co-judges Kamini Pather and Sihle Ngobese will choose the Top 30, who will cook off at Jenny Morris’ ChefsPlayground Cooking School in Cape Town on Saturday 17 March, and the Top 15 on Saturday 7 April. Four finalists will cook off at the SA Cheese Festival, two on Friday 27 April, two on Saturday 28 April, with the final Cook-off on Sunday 29 April.

Visit before Saturday 10 March to enter. Prizes include a four-week cooking course with Jenny Morris and a two-day cheese-making course with Leon the Milkman.

Cheese carving and live music

There will be great prizes and of course some delicious cheese to be won in the Ladismith Cheese-carving competition, that takes place daily at Blossom’s Gazebo.

At the Stellenbosch Vineyards Music Gazebo, Cheese Festival goers will be treated to the sounds of popular artists Nic Stevens (Friday), Die Wildberries and Kurt Darren (Saturday), as well as old favourites by Absolutely Fabulous, Sincere Swing, Under Cover and Bev Scott Brown and SHIM SHAM.

Connoisseur’s Experience

Cheese aficionados, who crave a more intimate tryst with cheese and foodies, will do well to book for the exclusive Connoisseurs’ Experience. This tailor-made package (at R850 per person) will entitle you to delights that only the Connoisseurs (limited to 100 persons per day) can experience, including VIP parking and entrance, an exclusive Jenny Morris show, a cheese-making demonstration by Leon the Milkman, a President-curated cheese platter and more.

Date, time and ticket details

The SA Cheese Festival takes place from Friday, 27 April to Sunday, 29 April 2018 at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch.  Tickets are available at any Computicket outlet, Shoprite or Checkers store at R180 per person per day.

Senior citizens pay R120 and children between 2 years and 13 years pay R20 per person per day. No tickets will be sold at the gates. The festival times are from 10:00 to 18:00 daily. Sandringham is conveniently located next to the N1, Stellenbosch turn-off (exit 39), between Cape Town and Paarl.

The SA Cheese Festival has just once again been awarded Best Consumer Exhibition by AAXO (African Association of Exhibition Organisers).

Visit, contact Agri-Expo on tel 021-975 4440 or email for more information.

For competition details and programme highlights, follow the SA Cheese Festival on Facebook (Cheese Festival), Twitter (@SACheeseFest) and Instagram (sacheesefest).

 Note: These press releases are sent to me and I share the ones I feel you, my readers, would be interested in. 

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