Food & Wine

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Dreaming of a Narina Trogon in Braamfontein

The perfect setting for a quiet lunch where the bustling streets are muted can be found in the heart of Braamfontein. Narina Trogon, a sophisticated and stylish restaurant has a subtle presence in the part of the city that is constantly buzzing with student activity. Our lunch was drizzled with a silent magic that exists within this uniquely designed restaurant.

Meticulously curated, it reflects the ideas of its owner. American-born Carlyn Zehner, an art curator by trade, who moved to Johannesburg in 2006.After decades of living in New York City and London, she brought into fruition her dream of owning a restaurant. She has put much care into every detail from glassware, furniture, lighting fixtures right down to the salt cellars and teapots.

81 De Korte Street is the home of Narina Trogon, a perfect location for passers-by keen to grab a quick coffee or light lunch however, not ideal for guests planning to graze all day as parking along the street is limited. We eventually found parking – which tested my parallel parking skills to the maximum!

The restaurant’s striking green mosaic facade and wide-street side windows welcomed us into a blendof urban renewal with a strong design ethos. We made our way into the main dining room which seats up to 80 people. The venue also consists of a small courtyard and two smaller dining areas, which, with retractable glass screens can be converted into private or conference spaces. Continue reading

Daily Collection

Meet for High Tea – a decadent afternoon affair!

The time-honoured tradition of high tea may be long gone in most homes and establishments but there are still a select group of hotels and venues that indulge their visitors!

Guests at some of the country’s top hotels can enjoy a mouth-watering selection of decadent sweets and treats lovingly created by celebrity chefs. Then wash it down with a dazzling array of teas and coffees.

It’s not just the culinary experience, but the act of stopping your day to take time out with friends and maybe put on a special outfit – all in luxurious comfort.

Whether you’re a regular tea aficionado or an occasional crumpet-lover, High Tea is something you should experience at least once!

10 things to do this Heritage Weekend

Whether you’re staying at home this Heritage Day long weekend or you’re heading out to explore South Africa, we’ve got some ideas of places you can visit and events you can enjoy to celebrate!

In KZN…

1. White Mountain Festival

Acoustic music in the mountains… what more could you ask for? Brought to you by the same experienced crew that produce Splashy Fen every year, White Mountain is its’ smaller, mellow cousin. Discover new local artists or support your favourites, all while indulging in the magical mountain vista. Take the family for an unforgettable experience.

2. Witness Hilton Arts Festival

Broadly considered to be KZN’s premier arts and culture festival the annual Witness Hilton Arts Festivaland produces a sterling programme of drama, comedy, music, cabaret, arts and crafts, children’s theatre, Mindscapes discussions, workshops, films and exhibitions appealing to all who visit the festival each year. This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the festival.

3. Fun in the Sun

For the fourth year running over 3000 KZN electronic music lovers will once again gather on the banks of the Hazelmere Dam for a massive outdoor festival involving two days of house, dance and electronic music, Swimming, Tanning, Partying and fun times.

Gauteng

4. The Cradle Festival

Head to where it all began to celebrate in the ultimate Heritage Day place. Expect musical performances from the likes of Louise Carver, and Idol’s winner, Elvis Blue as well as the Cradle Festival Wine Weekend, which includes cheese and wine tastings, as well as loads of fun activities and competitions for the whole family to enjoy. The daily kids programme offers parents peace-of-mind and a day-off to spoil themselves and relax while being able to enjoy the live entertainment, cheeses and wines. A Craft Expo allows exhibitors from the Cradle and surrounding areas to showcase their business and service offerings. Continue reading

Drink Pisco with a dash of Lima

In December 2012 a unique new restaurant opened in Cape Town. Keenwa celebrates all things Peruvian with a menu that highlights some of the country’s most famous dishes like Salchipapas, Empanadas, tequeños and Ceviche, prepared with love by Chef Fabricio Durand from Lima.

Owner German de la Melena was also born in Lima and travelled the world as a model before deciding to settle in Cape Town.

Now German has gone one step further by opening the country’s first and only Pisco Bar above the restaurant. Pisco is the national liquor of Peru, made from grapes and is particularly popular when combined into a sour cocktail.

We chatted to German about bringing a taste of Peru to Cape Town.

X: Can you explain the concept behind a “Pisco Bar”?
G: Pisco is a Peruvian liquor and it is very well known to every tourist that goes to Peru and it is at every party in Peru as well as in every bar and restaurant there. When I opened the restaurant (Keenwa) the venue was perfect for a bar as well so I thought, why not make it as unique as the restaurant and serve Pisco? P.I.S.C.O. Bar comes from a trip we did with 20 friends to Peru to do the Amazon Jungle and the Inca Trail. The guides started calling us the Pisco group because that was what we always drank and we had a joke about the D.I.S.C.O. song from the late 70′s or early 80′s.

X: What makes P.I.S.C.O. Bar unique?
G: The fact that we are the only ones in the whole country that serve Pisco and not only the popular Pisco sour but also a couple more cocktails made with Pisco. Our tapas Peruvian style and also the decoration and venue are very different.

X: Can you tell us a bit about some of the beverages you have on offer?
G: We import the Pisco from Peru and we serve Pisco sour – lime juice, sugar, Pisco and a little bit of egg white. We also make these with passion fruit, chilli, raspberry and chichi – the last is a drink from Peru made of purple corn. A different cocktail that we also make is Chilcano, the trendiest drink in Peru nowadays, with Ginger ale and Pisco and a dash of lime juice. I just go with whatever is trendy at the bars in Lima and Peru in general.

X: How has the local community reacted to the bar?
G: The bar is still new and not well known yet but the people that come around love it! They love the decor, they love the vibe and especially everybody loves the Pisco sours! Continue reading

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Do Dim Sum – Dumplings for Dinner!

Similar to hors d’oeuvres and a bit like Spanish tapas, “Dim Sum” literally means “to touch your heart,” and consists of a variety of dumplings, steamed dishes and other goodies served in Asian restaurants.

Though Dim Sum has been around for centuries in the East, it’s only fairly recently been gaining popularity in the West and South Africa is also jumping on the buffet trolley.

Currently Cape Town leads the way once more with the largest selection of venues and flavours, but there are also a handful of places serving traditional as well as more modern Dim Sum in Joburg and Durban.

Falling in love with the laundry

Guaranteed you’ve probably never actually WANTED to do laundry, and certainly you’ve never raced down to the laundromat with great excitement! But Clayton Howard & Mico Botha have decided to change all that. They’ve made laundry fun.

In April this year the dynamic and creative pair opened the doors of I LOVE MY LAUNDRY in Cape Town, giving life to South Africa’s one and only destination laundry! I LOVE MY LAUNDRY is not just a laundry you see. It’s also a quirky coffee and Dim Sum Bar and entertainment venue.

We chatted to Mico about this unique business.

Xtra: What kind of menu can customers expect at I love my laundry?
Mico: We are a Coffee Bar & Dim Sum Bar specializing in Korean Dim Sum and we offer vegetarian and meat flavours on our ever-changing Dim Sum menu. I LOVE MY LAUNDRY also caters for private functions and events around our 14-seater dining table and on Thursday evenings we host our popular fondue evenings. It’s an off-the-wall and unique venue offering a personal touch and client specific service.

X: What factors do/did you consider regarding your business location?
M: Definitely visibility for the brand.

X: Would you say you have a defined target market?
M: We attract like-minded creatives, people who understand great value and appreciate style.

X: As far as the laundry side goes, what kind of services do you offer?
M: We wash dry and fold your laundry at only R10 per kg. Ironing, alterations and dry-cleaning services is also available but what really defines our service is the fact that we only use organic top quality chemicals on all your fabrics and we package and fold your process parcels in our eye -catching orange wrapping paper. A “gift” to all our loyal clients and a mark of our caring attention to detail when it comes to your laundry needs. Continue reading

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P-Town Taste – Best restaurants in Pretoria

Far from how its’ often portrayed, Pretoria is actually a stylish and cosmopolitan city filled with vibrant culture, bustling business and delicious cuisine.

In this collection, we’ve highlighted some of the city’s best dining spots as recommended to us by various online and personal sources.

There’s plenty of variety too – from Korean, Chinese and Indian to excellent Italian and fabulous French and even a healthy dose of African tastes.

Heavenly chocolate dippingz in the Midlands

Anything goes with chocolate. This is the philosophy of Kereth & Cindeez Guilbride, the couple who opened Chocolate Heaven in Rosetta in the KZN Midlands.

This wacky, one-of-a-kind store is earning quite a reputation on the Midlands Meander for giving their customers a fresh taste sensation with their favourite ingredient at the centre!

Biltong, gherkins and even olives are some of the crazy components you might find yourself mingling with your melted chocolate delight during their patented Chocolate Dippingz Experience.
“We decided to do things differently,” explains Cindeez, “not your usual truffles, pralines etc. We have gone in a totally unique way with chocolates that contain biltong, curry, and many other combinations that really work. We also make more normal chocolates for the not so adventurous and therefore cater for all tastes.

However, she says, the biggest draw card at Chocolate Heaven is the Chocolate Dippingz® experience.
“This is where we sit you down give you a pot of melted chocolate and come and offer you a variety of different condiments, from your biltong, gherkins, olives to strawberries, fudge and Turkish delight. We have four trays of goodies to choose from, and one rule – YOU HAVE TO MAKE A MESS!”

Although Cindeez admits it takes passion to create such unique products, these wannabe Willy Wonkas only started concocting crazy chocolate recipes seven years ago. Continue reading

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Braai 4 Heritage – Bond around the fire!

Mix Heritage Day weekend combined with Braai Day and it all adds up to fun times in the sunshine surrounded by friends and family.

We created this unique Braai Day collection in celebration and support of one of our favourite holidays in the year as well as one of our favourite past-times.

Get all the info you need to follow the Braai Day revolution with our links, learn the awesome Braai Day anthem featuring Soweto Gospel Choir, HHP and Die Heuwels Fantasties.

Then use our listings to plot out all your braai requirements – from charcoal to braai equipment and venues where you can stoke your fires.

Daily Collection

PE Cuisine – The best of Port Elizabeth Dining!

Smaller cities are often neglected in the “best nosh” lists and we don’t think that’s fair! We want all popular establishments to get their dues!

That’s why we created this latest collection highlighting some of Port Elizabeth’s best places to wine and dine.

As a tourist city, PE can’t afford to rest on its’ laurels in the entertainment arena and that’s why it’s no surprise there are a solid group of restaurants, bakeries, delis and bistros that keep the locals and tourists smiling, serving everything from steak to sushi to fresh seafood.

24 hours in paradise

It’s a sorry state of affairs when you sneak off for a weeknight getaway in the winelands and you pack your laptops, external hard drives, USBs and flash drives because you intend to work while you are away.
As it turned out, we couldn’t connect to the wifi at Holden Manz and the 3G was iffy. It was all we could do to manage to keep the world updated with our pictures on Instagram. So, work went very quickly out of the window and I swear it had nothing to do with the complimentary bottle of estate rose in the room, nor the pre-dinner drinks. Not even the wine with our meal. The lack of connectivity was a blessing in disguise, forcing us to kick back, relax and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings, excellent food and great company.

The Franschhoek valley is one of my favourite places in the Western Cape. A little – okay, a lot – more commercial than it used to be, but that’s mainly in the “village”.
I visit fairly often, but this was the first time I had reached the Monument and turned right. We stopped to take pictures of orchards of blossoming fruit trees on a glorious not-quite-yet-spring day before turning off to Holden Manz, where the Franschhoek and Stony Brook rivers converge on the 22-hectare farm.

The Cape Dutch-style guest house and spa has a light, airy communal area with couches on the deck overlooking the lawns, gazebo and small lake complete with Egyptian geese. The long courtyard has a water feature filled with monster Koi, and everywhere you look there is art. For all intents and purposes, the Holden Manz guest house is a gallery.
Instead of the high tea laid out, we klapped that first bottle of wine on the patio of our room, with its view of the vineyards and mountains. In the right light, and if you squint just so, you’ll be able to spot the massive elephant in the rocks; the region was once called “Olifantshoek” (Elephant’s Corner) on account of this.

The cellar, wine tasting room and restaurant are situated a short distance away. It can be walked, but we drove to our dinner prepared by executive chef Cheyne Morrisby, who has cooked for celebrities such as Kylie Minogue and Kate Moss – and now us. The menu is tweaked seasonally, and the estate tries to grow as much of its own produce as possible; the next day when we took an exploratory stroll accompanied by the enthusiastic trio of resident dogs, besides the orchard and vegetable garden, we discovered a coop full of chickens and turkeys. The former are so far earmarked for eggs only, but I suspect the gobblers will see their fate come Christmas.

Cheyne’s menu is deeply Pacific Rim inspired, with lots of coconut, miso, lotus root and so on. Presentation for several dishes is artful arrangements of colour and shape on unglazed black tiles.
Miss Christy started with the recommended warm Asian mushroom salad with cucumber kimchi and braised pistachio puree which was delicious. I had the grilled tiger prawns (thankfully entirely shelled, lord I hate having to take the face off my food) atop a perfect lemon and pea risotto with garlic croutons, also good.

We followed with duck breast with sweet miso, sweet potato puree, and red wine and star anise syrup for her, and pork belly with sweetcorn and cumin puree, coconut and potato dumplings (a bucket of those to go, please), soy and maple, lotus root crisps, and airy crackling for me.
I had to admit defeat but Christy had the Belgian chocolate mousse with salted caramel to finish. I had more wine.

When we got back to our room, the fire had been lit to warm it in anticipation of our return and I embraced my inner cavewoman by feeding it into a roaring blaze. With more wine, of course. Bliss.
Needless to say, the next morning got off to a very slow start and it was extremely difficult to get out of the wonderfully comfortable bed.

We eventually declared ourselves presentable enough not to frighten anyone and took our breakfast, of Earl Grey tea and what Christy claimed to be the best eggs Royale she’s ever had, in the dining area.

It was with great reluctance we finally headed back to the smoggy city. So what if we had to work all weekend?

Top 5 Cape Town Bakeries

As with most things food-related, Capetonians are mad about their bakeries and, as usual, they are spoiled for choice with a selection so great that it’s almost criminal to start picking favourites… However, we’re going to do just that!

1. Jason

His croissants found fame at the former Jardine Bakery, but since Captain Bread opened his Bree Street hole-in-the-wall bakery, the work lunch crowd are just as interested in his delectable sarmies, bread, pies and quiches at Jason. Rumour has it the New York cheesecake is also mind-blowing.

2. Knead

What started out as a humble artisan bread shop has turned into a bustling franchise frequented by Cape Town’s surfers and salesmen looking for a killer cup of coffee and a decadent baked delight or even a wood-fired pizza for the lunch crowd.

 

3. Olympia

Charming and quirky, Olympia has won the hearts of the Kalk Bay locals with its’ wholesome baked goods and meals, divine speciality breads and good coffee. Famous for their ciabatta, people have been known to make the drive across town to get their fix.

 

4. Dinkel

Bread is the firm focus of this tra­di­tional German bakery with specialities including 100% rye, dinkel­brot, plum­cake and apple cake. Sit down and indulge in some Dormans cof­fee and milch­bro­etchen and don’t forget to leave with some pretzels.

 

5. The Foodbarn

Not strictly a bakery, but certainly skilled in the art of producing magnificent fresh pastries, pies, cakes, muffins and biscuits, which are baked daily at dawn. This explains why Foodbarn is such a popular choice for breakfasts. But really, the country-chic relaxed atmosphere and amazing food is a hit with locals and visitors at any time of day!

Joburg’s mad for Moemas’ Muffins

They say husbands and wives should never go into business together, but if that were true Moemas Patisserie & Food Shop would never exist!

Danielle Postma believes her husband Mike is the backbone of their popular Johannesburg eatery, having put in place all the systems & procedures necessary for its success.
“We work together,” she says, “but I am more of the creative side, dealing with outside catering and new products, whereas he deals with staff issues and the day to day running of the business.”

Mike & Danielle met in London where she was studying (and dreaming of owning a pastry shop of her own.) Then Mike followed her across the ocean, where their plans started to come together.

“I convinced myself I would sit on a chair in the corner and watch the happy customers. The reality is that I’m always too busy! I always knew I’d return, and when we did, we started seeing a life coach who helped us break it all down into manageable steps so that it became a reality.”
They now have two children, Charlie (3) and Jess (1), who keep them busy when they are not being more busy at Moemas.
“When you have a young family you never seem to spend enough time with them – balance is a daily struggle, but when you’re trying to create a strong successful business maybe even more so,” Danielle admits, but she’s proud of how her marriage and family life are holding fast amidst the mayhem.

Moemas has earned a reputation – not just in plush Parktown, but all the way across the city – for exceptionally high standards and the ability to surprise and delight their patrons time and again with their daily selection of cakes, pastries, sweet and savoury tarts, steaming pies and delicious fresh salads.

“Our window display of pastries is a popular drawcard. The fact that customers can’t make up their minds, compelling them to return works well. At the moment our cupcakes are super popular, our customers know they can rely on the fresh deliciousness! I think it’s our ability to evolve and continue creating beautiful food that our customers enjoy.” Moemas also won the 2012 Joburg’s Choice Award for Best Muffin with an unprecedented score of 5 and a half. Continue reading