Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Brass Bell

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

Magic of bubbles 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

Cape Town Beer Festival wrap up

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

it's starting to look a lot like....


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.

Buy your coffee here

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 :)