Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Up until recently, the last time I had visited the Brass Bell (www.brassbell.co.za) was in 2004 when I was a student at UCT.
Suffice to say, the crowd and vibe is still very much student orientated, topped off with local surfers and random tourists in search of dinner with a sea view.
The view is the best part about The Brass Bell. The food is pretty average. Expect fish and chips and pizzas. The cocktails are cheap – but not too nasty.
As great as the view is, it's a nice place to perhaps stop over for a drink, but it is a bit grotty and not ideal for a first date for example. There are so many nicer, more upmarket places in the area such as Polana (www.harbourhouse.co.za/polana) and Cape to Cuba (www.capetocuba.com).
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Yes, that's me. I spent most of this past weekend gorging myself on champagne; strawberries; strawberries in champagne; chocolate strawberries; flat bread with cured ham and olive tapenade, oysters, and more MCCs than I could count.
That's right – it was the fifth Magic of Bubbles Champagne and Cap Classic Festival (www.franschhoek.org.za).
The glass of bubbly isn't the only thing that looks rosy – check out my cheeks. That's bubbly bliss
As most of you would imagine, I emerged broke, hungover and a couple kg's heavier.
Well... in actually fact, I emerged only mildly hungover, tanned and probably the same weight as it so tremendously hot, that I was sweating out the bubbly before it could land on my hips.
Yes it was 41 degrees at 3:30 in Franschhoek on Sunday.
This also meant I drank a lot of water, leaving me only mildly hungover.
As for the money spent... well, I was lucky enough to get free tickets and then I just paid for tasting coupons (R100 for 10). Admittedly, these didn't last very long...
But as my fiance wasn't really drinking (he drove), so I enjoyed a vast portion of his share :)
The festival was bigger than it had ever been, and very well attended. Some of us were even convinced that we spotted Lady Gaga (after someone heard she was in SA from the radio). I'm not entirely sure... maybe the bubbles were obscuring our vision.
MCC highlights for me were: Avondale's bio-dynamic MCC (www.avondalewine.co.za), Silverthorn's shiraz MCC (www.silverthornwines.co.za), Grootepost's Sparkle and the newly released winemaker's signature bubbly 'Aurelia' Brut (www.grootepost.com) and Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rose (www.simonsig.co.za). Even though I went over two days, there were many stands I didn't get to.
I had the best time though and can't wait for next year! It's definitely one of those December events not-to-be-missed on the calendar.
Monday, December 5, 2011
What I enjoyed particularly about this year's Cape Town Beer Festival (capetownfestivalofbeer.co.za) were the vast number of microbreweries, of which quite a few of them I'd never come across before (ie: Devil's Peak, Gallows Hill, Saggy Stone and Triggerfish, to name a few). It was the festival's second staging and I presume (by the number of people I saw attending), that it was quite successful.
It's so great to have a platform where breweries (big and small) can showcase their products to us eager beer drinkers. It's also a wonderful opportunity to meet the brew masters and receive an education in beer making and the artisanal processes that go into creating their unique products.
I noticed an increased amount of pale ales on offer, while it was interesting to try them all, my palette is not yet at the point where I could fully appreciate their bitterness.
I did love the newly launched red weiss from Paulaner - even more so than there regular weiss.
My favorites from the festival included: Paulaner's red weiss (www.paulaner.co.za), Darling Brew's bone crusher (www.darlingbrew.co.za), Napier's lager (www.napierbrewery.co.za) and Royal Mzansi.
The German-style oompah band put on a great show and I loved the lead vocalist's sense of humour. I do think they they were downing more beers on stage than the festival goers - which was quite impressive :)
Friday, December 2, 2011
I can't believe it's already December and while I'm happy to see the end of this somewhat tricky year, it was in many ways life changing for me.
On the positive side, I got engaged. On the negative side, my whole team (horizons and khuluma magazines) got retrenched due to 'financial reasons' a couple months ago.
However, here I sit, a couple days into my new job at House & Garden magazine.
I have begun to realise that being retrenched was probably the best thing that could have happened to me at the time.
I was forced to take stock of my life, update my CV, get a new haircut and head out into the streets of Cape Town's publishing industry – all while consuming bottles of wine every evening to calm my nerves.
Okay.... I know the haircut and the wine was not necessary – but it sure was fun*
Above it all, I've come out fighting and have a great new job... plus two new grey hairs – although, that's nothing a bottle of dye can't fix.
So technically I feel like I'm ending the year with a bang (retrenchment package and all).
I had a couple days off to touch base with my soul - walk on the beach, read books, go for lazy late brunches and good coffee, followed by indulgent dinners and limitless bottles of wine...
Yip you guessed it I'm practically broke!
If there's one thing work does, it's that it forces you to sit in an office and avoid splurging.
However, at least I can say with a clear conscience that although my bank account is nearing empty, I have bought and wrapped Christmas presents for my entire family and my fiance's. While this may sound freakishly organized to some... I mean, who in their right mind has all their Christmas shopping done before 1 December, right?
Well I do.
And on that note, if you happen to be living in a timewarp, here are ten ways to tell Christmas is on it's way to Cape Town:
1. The South East blows worse than it has the whole year.
2. Every where you look, there are (freakishly) tall, naturally blonde people. Yes, those are the tourists from the Netherlands.
3. Your domestic gives you the look that says 'just because you got retrenched doesn't mean I'm not getting my bonus'.... FYI: people in the magazine industry (in SA) haven't received bonuses since 2007.
4. There are bridal fairs practically every weekend, with desperate designers trying to get rid of their failed butterflies-upon-chiffon-upon-lace-with-dotted-sequins dresses.
5. It becomes increasingly difficult to reserve a table for dinner on the day...
6. Girls dresses start de-threading and stop just below the bum.
7. You wake up naturally before 7:30am (it's just so damn bright!)
8. And you only eat dinner at 9pm (it's just so damn light!)
9. You get burnt walking from your car to the office.
10. And let's be honest, If you haven't noticed by now... you clearly haven't been into a Woolies since mid-October.
Anthony's Golden Cup (http://goldencup.co.za/) is one of the oldest boutique coffee roasters in the Cape and now that my new job (and office) is located on Loop street, I plan to visit it more often.
It's really tiny inside, and while it looks like nothing fancy, the coffee is super good.
For 45 years they have been offering some of the best African (South African; Malawian; Cameroonian; Ethiopian; Burundian; Kenya Colossian ect) and South American (Colombian; Costa Rican; Guatemalan ect.) Coffees. They also offer a variety of blends from Blue Mountain; Old Vienna and French to Mocha Java and Espresso.
They do take-away coffees and sell the beans at varying amounts depending on how much you want.
Don't be shy to ask Anthony to make up a specific blend to suit your taste - he will be more than happy to do it right in front of you.
021 426 1268, 59 Loop Street.
hours: 6am - 5:45pm, perfect for the early birdies :)
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Mange Tout is another great restaurant in Franschhoek - the food is beautifully presented, is gorgeously modern and rich - which probably explains the small portions. But don't let that put you off! It's totally worth the drive.
The atmosphere is also great – tinkling piano, peaceful ambiance....
It is a classic and cosmopolitan cafe restaurant – the innovation of husband and wife team Jean-Francois and Jacqui Rey.
The cheese platter was one of the bests I have ever had!
Download the menu here: http://www.mangetout.co.za/foodmenu.html
If you are looking for a gorgeous venue for lunching in the wine-lands, head to Franschoek and visit La Motte. The wine estate is home to a simply fabulous nosh spot called Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant.
I tried a number of their dishes during a trip to the area and you will not be disappointed!
Highlights include: the bokkom salad, pork belly, sweet and sour duck and the chocolate dessert plate - yum yum...
Check out these pics for some inspiration.....
You can download the menu off the website http://la-motte.com
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
As much as I am a wine drinker, I equally love good beer.
I can often be found hanging out at &union drinking a berne, sipping on a Jack Black at The Grand, enjoying a weiss at Paulaner or sipping on a Slow Beer at festivals like Pinotage on Tap and so forth.
I unashamedly drank two litres of stout at the SAB bierfest – much to the horror of Mr fabulosity who says in a sarcastic tone: 'classsssy' whenever he sees me putting back the pints (they don't call me 'shameless aimless' for nothing).
It might be that Zimbabwean blood... but either way, I am a beer drinker.
And as such, I am most looking forward to the Cape Town International Beer festival, where I will get to sample vast amounts of top local and international labels (micro and commercial).
So for the November issue of Horizons I was asked to write a travel story on micro-breweries around the country – showcasing a few breweries in different areas where readers would be able to tour the brewery, taste the beers, and stay over nearby.
If you happen to be a beer drinker or are simply interested in how the microbrewery culture in SA is growing, have a read, and let me know of any other great micro-breweries you may come across :-)
Click on the sections of the article to enlarge and read*
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
These Wren Design bags –
a funky mixture of industrial, retro and contemporary style – are made from used coffee-bean sacks reinforced with jute webbing, cotton and organic hemp canvas for structure and durability. The Carry All Bag is a tote for everyday use, the beach or shopping; the Coffee Travel Bag, made with extra-strong fused burlap, includes a 25cm waterproof pocket. Wendren Setzer, who started Wren Design after graduating as a textile designer, has also used PPC cement bags and antique leather to make her recycled accessories. Previously available only online, the bags are now stocked at Kelekt at the Old Biscuit Mill in Salt River and The Fringe in Kloof Street, Cape Town, WOW in Stellenbosch, Artvark in Kalk Bay, Love Warrior in Bloem and M&L in Durbs.
I featured this incredible party shop in the October Khuluma magazine. It literally is a one-stop party shop and filled with unusual items. Do your Christmas shopping here, and get fancy for your New Year's party.
Below is my text from the story:
I try to keep my feet on the squishy circle indicating some sort of pathway, but I’m not sure which way to go. The giant lollipops, oversized mushrooms, liquorice-allsorts ottomans and disco balls bombard my imagination and I’m frozen by all the options. I struggle to find an inch of open wall. A vampire – Jade Thompson, shop assistant extraordinaire – hands me some ‘happy pills’.
I’ve got a hen party coming up and I need help. Retail manager Kama Murray – the creative brain behind the store’s look, and buyer of all its contents – guides me through the mounds of goodies.
I have the same feeling I had when I stepped into Sweets From Heaven for the first time as a kid. A businessman across the way says, ‘I am going to a party tonight and need to dress as something starting with the letter P.’ Jade looks at him and says, ‘A pharaoh from Parow’ and fixes him up with a pharaoh outfit, fake gold tooth and bling necklace.
This Is Not A Post Office – that’s the shop’s name – is the latest venture by the Madame Zingara group. It was created so fans have the option to take some of the Madame’s magic home with them.
‘It’s a one-stop party shop,’ says Kama. ‘I shop for fun, playful accessories. Obviously one of our main features is the costumes.’
It is a weird and wacky world, divided into seven sections. The first room I walk through is Candyland, which stocks gifts and clothing, including ‘I Love My Hood’ hoodies, shirts and aprons (made locally, with profits going to charity). The costumes are also kept here – anything from Red Riding Hood to cowboys, in all sizes. A small purple door leads into the UV Cave, for goodies that glow in the dark, followed by a revolving door into the Wonky Donkey Disco Room, where laser lights dance across wigs and hats through the smoke emanating from a smoke machine (available for hire). There is a sweet smell teasing me through an oversized keyhole, which I step through to enter the Tree Room – aptly named after the money tree in its centre. Bath products, cosmetics, glitter tattoos, hair accessories and jewellery – including ‘knives, spoons and forks’ earrings by local designer Jo – fill every nook and cranny.
Three more rooms branch off from here: the Heart Room (edible massage oils and cheeky adult costumes), the Sweet Room and Johnny’s Room (gizmos, gadgets, posters and boys’ toys). The largest Kid Robot in the world hangs from the roof, and come Halloween
the room will be filled with creepy accessories.
‘There is something for everyone,’ says Kama, explaining her merchandise choices. ‘I always think of whether it’s something I haven’t seen before, and I think of the people I know, like Jade. She loves the religious section [think Buddhas and Virgin Mary lamps]’.
The shop also rents out props, lights, decor and sound equipment, and organises performers, DJs, catering and goodie bags.
This is Not A Post Office is open daily from 10.30am.
110 Kloof Street, Oranjezicht, Cape Town, 021-423-7817
For the November issue of Horizons magazine, Sonya (my editor), Wanita (my features editor) and myself, picked 16 restaurants with amazing sea views from Kalk Bay to Blouberg Strand. We ate at them, reviewed them and combined all our text into one massive feature.
Here are the sections of the feature which I wrote about, in other words, my reviews – for your interest.
In true review style, we didn't let the restaurants know we were coming, we paid for all our own meals etc, so there was no bias or bribery :-)
St Yves was currently closed under renovation, and opened again just as we went to print, so that review is a combination of information from when I was there a few months ago, and some info on their new food menu.
The other restaurants I reviewed include: The Grand Beach Cafe (Granger Bay), La Perla (Sea Point), La Vie (Sea Point), Wakame/Wafu (Mouille Point), The Pepper Club on the Beach (Camps Bay).
The other restaurants that Sonya and Wanita reviewed include: Dunes (Houtbay), Azure at 12 Apostles (Camps Bay), Moyo (Eden on the Bay), On The Rocks (Blouberg Strand), Maestro's on the Beach (Milnerton), The Original Wang Thai at Lagoon Beach (Milnerton), Salt (Bantry Bay), Tobago at Radisson Blu (Granger Bay), Live Bait (Kalk Bay) and Cape to Cuba (Kalk Bay).
if you happen to have read my blog before... or read it on a regular basis, you will notice how completely different it looks.
Being a typical Gemini and well, a woman, I like to change things up every so often, and was getting quite bored of the old layout.
Any feedback would be much appreciated.
Monday, November 7, 2011
During the month of November food-lovers will be salivating over the themed ‘dinner and movie’ events at the Freeworld Design Centre, Cape Town. Local food celebrities will be introducing the screening of their all-time favourite ‘food movie’, accompanied by a meal designed to fit the movie by food artist Jacques Erasmus of Hemelhuijs. The evenings start at 6pm with Sundowners at the Freeworld roofbar – which has panoramic views of the City Bowl – followed by the themed meal at 6:45pm, and the personalized Foodie introduction and the film at 8pm. The movie will be screened in Freeworld’s 98-seater, upmarket auditorium. Guests can choose between the sundowner sessions, the movie-and-meal combo, just the movie, or all three. Tickets are R120 for the meal and the movie (excluding beverages), through www.webtickets.co.za – the movie alone is R40.
The movie schedule includes:
3 November – Chocolat with Tina Bester of Queen of Tarts
9 November – Like Water for Chocolate with Neil Stemmet of Le Must, Uppington and author of new cookbook and theatre production Sout en Peper
10 November – Babete’s Feast with Clare Mack of Spill
16 November – The Freshman with David Cope of FoodieZA
23 November – The Big Night with Justine Drake, TV food personality, editor of Fresh Living and food festival director. Also, the ‘Name Your Hood campaign’ will reveal the name of the hood in which the Freeworld Design Centre is located at the sundowner session.
24 November – I am Love with food writer, Nikki Werner
30 November – Tampopo with Abigail Donnelly of Taste and Eat Out
Ditch Hollywood for traditional African cooking in the townships around Cape Town. Cooking Experience CPT Morning courses, run by Traces of Africa are taking place throughout November and December and include a township tour, as well as cooking in a traditional African Township restaurant. All ingredients and tools are supplied, and interesting options such as mapani worms and cows stomach are some of the ingredients guests can expect to work with. And then of course there is the pleasure in sampling all the finished products. The experience costs R530 per person, www.computicket.com. Contact 079-907-8901 for more info and to arrange pick-up points.
Top local blues acts will gather at the ultra-chilled-out Table Mountain Blues Summit, held on the lawns at Bloemendal in the Durbanville winelands. Taking to the stage will be the Blues Broers, Boulevard Blues Band, Albert Frost, Dan Patlansky and Gerald Clark, among others. Food and drink stands and various craft stalls will be available, and there’ll be a jungle gym for kids. Tickets R180, www.bluesfest.co.za
Q&A Gerald Clark
Has there been a resurgence of blues in South Africa?
It has always been popular among the non-commercial crowds and bands. But there has been a resurgence throughout the whole world, since John Mayer and the White Stripes – they have made a lot of young bands and artists aware of blues, such as Adele.
Why did you choose to play blues music?
I really enjoyed listening to it growing up, and I enjoy playing it, so it happened organically.
Who has inspires you?
Albert Frost on guitar, Dave Ferguson on harmonica. Internationally, Stevie Ray Vaughn… I like old-school country blues.
What are you looking forward to at the Summit?
Launching my live DVD there.
What are three things people should bring to the festival?
Money to buy albums, gorgeous lady friends, some chairs … and a thirst for music.
Unwind under the olive trees on 11 November to the music of Farryl Purkiss followed by Dan Patlansky. On offer are gourmet burgers, boerie rolls, hot chocolate, coffee, soft drinks and Durbanville Hills' wines at the food and wine bar. Picnic boxes can be pre-booked or guests can also bring their own food and picnic blankets, but no alcoholic beverages or chairs. There is a 'Box Full of Fun' for kids, which gives them the chance to create their own pizza. Tickets R100 per person available from www.webtickets.co.za (children under 12 free). Contact 021-558-1337 for more info.
Lievland Wine Estate:Taking place on the first Sunday of each month is the mini folk festival, ‘What We Are Going To Be Doing On Sunday’ from October to May. The line-up for the next event on 6 November includes: the following artists: Albert Frost, Andrew James, Natasha Meister, Bateleur, Gil Hockman, and Tim Hutchinson. There is a cash bar available, and guests are welcome to bring their own picnic. There is also a dam for swimming. Tickets R70 at the gate, contact email@example.com for details on the December event
Voted by National Geographic magazine as the No.1 picnic spot in the world, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town has once an A-list of acts performing from November to March. Book to see: Locnville and Jax Panik (20 Nov); Van Coke Kartel, Jack Parow, JR and Die Heuwels van Tasties (27 Nov); Lira (4 Dec); The Parlotones (11 Dec); and Zebra and Giraffe (26 Dec). Bring your own blankets, picnic baskets and drinks, or buy from the deli upon arrival. Tickets range between R80 - R125, webtickets.co.za. Call 021-799-8783 for more info.
Set in the among a forest of trees, the 600-seater amphitheatre at Paul Cluver in Elgin will be hosting a list of top acts from December through to March. Book to see Prime Circle on 10 December (R325); Nataniel on 14 January (R200) and Barry Hilton on 28 January (R200). All shows are open air and unplugged. Order picnic baskets before hand or bring your own, wine on sale at the venue. Book tickets through www.computicket.com, for more info visit www.cluver.com
The Wines2Whales Mountain-Bike Adventure and Race takes place on 4–6 and 11–13 November, respectively. Both start at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West on the Friday and end at the Onrus Caravan Park on the Sunday. The 230km route takes in 13 wineries,
26 private farms, six mountains and nature conservation areas. www.wines2whales.co.za
The Cape Town Festival of Beer at Hamilton’s Rugby Club in Green Point offers the best of local and international beers – more than 50, including many by local microbreweries. There’ll also be oompah bands, food stands, braais, taste-offs and other activities. Some of this year’s brands: Camelthorn from Namibia, Darling, Napier, Jack Black, Paulaner, Mitchells, German Erdinger, Belgian Liefmans, Cobra from India and Tiger from Singapore. Single entry R60, two-day pass R100, three days R120. www.capetownfestivalofbeer.com
Q&A with the Darling Brew folk
Do you think microbrewing is on the rise in SA?
It’s exciting … microbrewery trends are very popular. People are becoming more aware, and restaurants are becoming more aware of the products out there.
Why the name Slow beer?
Slow beer was our first beer, and we wanted something specific to Darling. And eventually we settled on the tortoise. It’s also about the slow brewing process, natural brewing methods – it all ties into our philosophy.
What beers are you looking forward to tasting?
We used to be wine drinkers, but now do random blind
beer tastings at home with friends, so we are always drinking other beers. We really enjoy the Camelthorn range [from Namibia] – it’s nice to see what they get up to.
Any beer-tasting tips?
My suggestion would be to try every beer, do it like you would do a wine tasting.
Start with a lager or pilsner and end with stout – or the other way round – but make sure your palate is cleansed, and your glass is very clean. Rinse between each tasting.
Afropop band Freshlyground are celebrating their 10th birthday with a nationwide tour of more than 20 concerts. Catch them at The Lyric Theatre in Jozi on the 9th, Sibaya Casino in Durbs on the 20th, The Boardwalk in PE on 23rd November and Cape Town Convention Centre on 9 December. Tickets from R140 at Computicket. See where the other gigs are on www.freshlyground.com
After the great success of the inaugural event last year, this year’s Swartland Revolution in Riebeek Kasteel promises an equally revolutionary experience for wine lovers this month on 11-12 November. Registration takes place on the Stoep at The Royal Hotel on the Main Road in Riebeek Kasteel on Friday afternoon from 4pm. This is immediately followed by Olivier Clape’s presentation of six world-class French wines, the announcement of the Bollnger Wine Service Excellence Award by Michael Fridjhon and a BBQ extravagana by chef Reuben Riffel with entertainment by the Baardskeerdersbos Orkes. Saturday’s activities include a morning tasting of eight wines by Chris and Andrea Mullineux, expert opinions by London-based wine-writer Jamie Goode and local wine-writer, wine judge and consultant Michael Fridjhon and SA based German Sommelier Jorg Pfutzner, as each share three of their all time favourite wines. A festival feast and auction will be held at the popular Bar Bar Black Sheep followed by a street party with open tastings in the evening in front of the Royal Hotel. The full weekend package costs R1750 per person, www.webtickets.co.za, www.theswartlandrevolution.com
The paths of two unique South African music legends will converge when pop/rock singer Karen Zoid and singer/poet Vusi Mahlasela, also known as ‘The Voice’ share the stage at The Fugard Theatre in District 6, Cape Town. These concerts set the example of two distinctly different greats coming together to emphasise the integration of South African people through combining their music and audiences. R150-R200 at Computicket.
13 November to 18 December.
As part of the World Opera and Ballet Season at the Fugard Theatre Bioscope, The Fugard Theatre in association with Emerging Pictures, New York, as proud to present: Coppelia - Bolshoi Ballet Moscow (13, 20 November); Tosca (26&27 November); Giselle 10&11 December; and Swan Lake - Bolshoi Ballet Moscow (17&18 December). English subtitles will be available. Tickets from R50 at Computicket, thefugard.com
Presented by Pieter Torien, Broadway’s longest running musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s
For a weekend of live bands and top DJs, get to Synergy Live at Boschendal estate in Franschhoek. Look forward to three days of dancing in the sun and moonlight, star
gazing and letting your hair down. The line-up features more than 60 local bands, including Ashtray Electric, Hot Water and Zebra & Giraffe. Tickets from R385 at Webtickets.co.za. More info at www.synergylive.co.za
2-4 December (plan for this in Nov)
Sip on local Cap Classique wines and French champagnes at the Franschhoek ‘Magic of Bubbles’ Festival, held in a large marquee on the lawns of the Huguenot Memorial. Top local restaurants, including Bread & Wine, Mange Tout, Babylonstoren and La Petite Ferme will be offering tasty cuisine to accompany the bubbly. Tickets R180, including a tasting glass and coupons, at Webtickets. www.franschhoek.org.za
Sing along to You Raise Me Up, Believe and To Where You Are at ‘A Special Evening with Josh Groban’, whose return to South Africa includes concerts at the Sun City Superbowl (26 & 27 November), Grand West in Cape Town (29 & 30 November) and Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in PE (2 December). Tickets from R375 at Computicket.
events taken from my pages in the khuluma and horizons magazines*