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culture

Bagels at Bagel Zone

April Restaurant of the Month: The Bagel Zone

A few months ago I blogged about Feigel’s Kosher Delicatessen in Glenhazel. I was excited to find Feigel’s because they sell authentic boiled bagels, which are hard to find in Johannesburg. Through my post about Feigel’s I learned about another Joburg shop called the Bagel Zone, which opened less than two years ago. I took one look at the Bagel Zone website and knew I had to check it out. This place offers some things I hadn’t found in Joburg before, even at Feigel’s. The Bagel Zone, in the Genesis Shopping Centre in Fairmount. Lunch rush at the Bagel Zone. A Parade of Bagels at the Zone Unlike Feigel’s, a full-service delicatessen with a wide range of kosher foods, the Bagel Zone is a straight-up bagel shop. The Bagel Zone — I’ll call it the Zone for short — does offer salads and a few other extras, but essentially this is a place to buy bagels, cream cheese, bagel sandwiches, and that’s it. The Bagel Zone’s impressive bagel spread. The Zone reminds me of all the bagel shops I frequented in the U.S., with a long row of freshly baked bagels in a variety of flavors. I was overjoyed to […]

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Argentinean restaurant in Linden

Things I Like in Linden

Last week I was invited to try out a co-working space called Basecamp, which is in Linden. Basecamp’s pleasant interior. A co-working space is basically an office for people like me — people who don’t exactly have jobs. I’d been wanting to try one for a while, hoping that working in a quasi-office-like environment would help me to be more productive. Basecamp is in a quirky shopping centre on 4th Avenue called Linden Place. It’s a centre I visit often because my favorite camera repair shop, Sunray Photography, is also there. I definitely got more done at Basecamp than I do in my office at home — especially on the day I had a writing deadline. At home I’m constantly getting up from my desk, wandering around the house, doing dishes, listening to podcasts, petting the Melville Cat. At Basecamp I had nothing to do except…work. But in addition to reminding me what a horrible procrastinator I am and how much more productive I can be under the right circumstances, my time at Basecamp also reminded me how much I like Linden. I like Linden so much, in fact, that I’ve decided to write this blog post about some of […]

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Heather in a dress from Dr. Pachanga

Fashion Makeover with Dr. Pachanga

As I’ve said before, I consider myself to be an unfashionable person. But the longer I live in South Africa, the more fashionable I feel. I find the fashion in South Africa — and Africa in general — more fun than fashion in the United States. (No offense, American fashion designers: It’s not you, it’s me.) Dr. Pachanga is the embodiment of African fashion I like. Dr. Pachanga, the last king of Congo. Handbags à la Dr. Pachanga. Dr. Pachanga’s real name is Jean Rene Onyagunga. He was born in Kinshasa but grew up in Durban. Dr. Pachanga is a designer, an entrepreneur, a stylist, an actor, a photographer, and a social media persona. This photo describes Dr. Pachanga better than my words can. Dr. Pachanga, aka J.R., aka Doc. “I like to jump,” he told me. Fashion Spree at Dr. Pachanga I visited Dr. Pachanga’s shop in 44 Stanley last week to take photos for the Citizen. But somehow I wound up mostly on the wrong side of my camera lens, posing for photos instead of taking them. I also shopped more than I worked. I bought this. (Photo by Marie-Lais Emond) As part of the column she was writing, Marie-Lais asked […]

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Cappuccino from Flynn Coffee

My Favorite Jozi Coffeeshops: Flynn Coffee

In the third installment of an occasional series on my favorite new Jozi coffeeshops, I bring you Flynn Coffee in Kramerville. A Flynn cappuccino. Kramerville, as I’ve explained before, is a quasi-industrial area with a mixture of furniture warehouses, interior design shops, and hidden restaurants/cafés you would never find unless you hear about them from friends or stumble upon them while shopping for sofas. Flynn Coffee is one such café. I discovered Flynn on Instagram. I noticed a few of my coffee-loving friends posting photos from there — the setting looked beautiful and the coffee looked delicious. I eventually arranged to meet my friend Kathleen at Flynn and I wasn’t disappointed: it’s a beautiful place to hang out, with serious coffee (Flynn’s beans are roasted at Thirdspace) and friendly, talented baristas. Coffee At Flynn Like pretty much everywhere I’ve been in Kramerville, Flynn is tricky to find. It’s on Kramer Road (which is easy to find) but set back a bit from the street — kind of on a street behind the street, if that makes any sense — in a little brick structure in front of Coricraft Furniture. Flynn Coffee’s quirky spot in Kramerville.  The shop has a small outdoor […]

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Coffee machine at third space

My Favorite Jozi Coffeeshops: Thirdspace

In a continuation of an occasional series on my favorite new Jozi coffeeshops, I bring you Thirdspace in Fourways. Yes, Thirdspace is in Fourways, which means yes, it’s in a strip mall and opens out onto a parking lot. Trust me though — this is a strip mall coffeeshop worth visiting. Fourways, as I’ve written in a previous post, is a far-northern Jozi suburb known for its abundant shopping malls and traffic congestion. Navigating Fourways can be frustrating and leave one longing for an escape — a secret oasis off the road with comfortable chairs, good coffee, sandwiches, and free wifi. Thirdspace is just such an oasis. The sexy espresso machine at Thirdspace. Coffee + Work at Thirdspace In addition to being a coffeeshop, Thirdspace is also a coffee roastery and a co-working space. This place is extremely popular among freelancers, because it’s free and people are welcome — in fact they’re encouraged — to stay as long as they please. So if you want to spend the day working there I suggest you arrive early to snag a table. (They’re open from 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) Freelancers hard at work. Werk werk werk. I went to Thirdspace to do […]

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Skateboarding tour in front go graffiti

Skateboarding Across Jozi

I consider myself a connoisseur of Joburg walking tours. When I found out there is a skateboarding tour of Joburg, I obviously had to try it. From left to right: Ayanda, Tiffanie, Marie-Lais, and Tshepo during our City Skate Tour, in front of a graffiti piece by Tapz. I somehow made it through more than four decades of life without riding a skateboard. How different could it be from walking? I thought. Quite different, as it turns out. Standing on a four-wheeled piece of wood, sailing downhill, is nothing like walking at all — it’s both far more exhilarating and far more terrifying. I’m really glad I did the tour but the next time I’m going to spend less time taking pictures and more time actually learning how to skateboard. Let’s just say I still have a long way to go. Skateboarding with City Skate Tours Marie-Lais and I met our guides from City Skate Tours, Ayanda Mnandu and Tshepo Tsotsotso, and fellow tourist Tiffanie at Curiocity Backpackers in Maboneng. We spent a half hour or so learning skateboarding basics on the hill in front of Curiocity. Ayanda and Tshepo are great teachers. After many tries, I felt like I was […]

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Bergbron Plaaskombuis breakfast

March Restaurant of the Month: Bergbron Plaaskombuis

Afrikaans is a crazy language, with super-long words filled with many vowels, guttural g’s, and rolling r’s requiring acrobatic tongue movements. Afrikaans food words are no exception; they are delightful and I have no idea what they mean or how to pronounce them. Such were my thoughts as I pondered the menu at Bergbron Plaaskombuis. Bergbron Plaaskombuis. “Plaaskombuis” means farm kitchen. “Plaas” is farm and “kombuis” is kitchen and the two words are combined together into one long word, as often happens in Afrikaans. “Kwekery” means nursery. What is tuisgebakte and how on earth do I say it? What about boepensbroodjie, roosterbrode, sonop jaffel, vaaljapie? Skilpadjies? The menu at Bergbron Plaaskombuis, which the server delivered with a tiny tin cup of homemade ginger beer.  Bergbron (another inscrutable Afrikaans word) is a western Jozi suburb, adjacent to Northcliff, Greymont, and Florida Glen. I was excited to discover an interesting restaurant there (thanks to Gail for the tip), as I find the sprawling West Rand suburbs difficult to penetrate from a “things to do” perspective. The Plaaskombuis is definitely something worth doing. Breakfast at Bergbron Plaaskombuis Marie-Lais and I went to the Plaaskombuis on a cold, rainy Friday morning. The restaurant sits on the property […]

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Two bunnies and lady doing yoga

Yoga + Bunnies

Did I mention that a few weeks ago I was invited to take pictures of a group of people doing yoga with bunnies? Bunnies — as in actual rabbits? Yup. The Lonehill Bunnies is an animal rescue in Lonehill (near Fourways) that focuses on rescuing and caring for stray and abandoned domestic rabbits. The bunny yoga event was a fundraiser for these lost bunnies. I feel kind of bad publishing this post. I’m pretty sure the moment it’s up I’ll start getting messages from people asking how they, too, can do yoga with bunnies. Sorry, wannabe bunny yogis — I don’t have an answer for you. As of now this was a once-off event, but hopefully the folks at Lonehill Bunnies will schedule another one soon. I feel they would be crazy not to, as this looks like a fundraising goldmine if I ever saw one. In the meantime, I can’t not share these photos as they are too awesome. Yoga with the Lonehill Bunnies This bunny yoga session was the first of its kind in South Africa. (Apparently something like this has happened before in Canada, but that’s the only other place anyone knows of.) It was basically the […]

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Shanana Malawi boat

Hi from Malawi

Malawi. I type the word and stare at it, say it over and over in my head. I google Malawi and get this from Wikipedia: The name Malawi is thought to derive from the word Maravi. The people of the Maravi Empire were iron workers. Maravi is thought to mean “Flames” and may have come from the sight of many kilns lighting up the night sky. The Shanana Malawi, docked at an island in Lake Malawi. I spent ten days in Malawi. On the ninth day, sitting in the beach bar at Fat Monkeys Lodge in Cape Maclear, eating a chicken mayo sandwich and staring out at the lake, I began mentally composing a blog post. As I was doing that, I started to cry and had to quickly wipe the tears away when a guy in the bar walked up and asked if I knew where to find an ATM. (I didn’t.) I wish I’d gone to my room right then and written the post. Now that I’m back in Joburg it seems kind of melodramatic and I’ve been stalling on blogging for three days now, because I need to write this before I can move on to anything […]

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Yield coffees and sandwiches

My Favorite Jozi Coffeeshops: Yield Coffee Bar

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote my top five Jozi coffeeshops post. All the places mentioned in that post are still great. But I’ve discovered several good new coffeeshops lately so I thought I’d do a series of short posts about them. First up: Yield Coffee Bar. Yield is in Linden, which has always been one of my favorite Jozi suburbs for eating out. I didn’t discover Yield right away because it’s a block away from Linden’s big cluster of restaurants along 7th Street and 4th Avenue — at the corner of 6th Street and 3rd Avenue. Looking in on Yield Coffee Bar. Inside Yield. Yield is a tiny, simple little place. It serves delicious coffee — the beans come from Urban Grind Roasters, which I wrote about in my top five coffeeshops post — and sandwiches. I met a friend there for lunch and we had iced coffees and salami and cheese paninis. Good iced coffee is hard to find in this town (although it’s starting to get easier, thank god) and Yield serves a good one. Iced coffee and sandwiches. Note the biodegradable cardboard straws. I wish every restaurant would do away with crappy plastic straws and start […]

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Venus fly trap at Jozi Carnivores

“Renee’s Little Killers” at Jozi Carnivores

After I published my recent blog post about Bonsai Magic, a lady named Renee emailed and asked if I’d like to visit her nursery in Houghton. The nursery is called Jozi Carnivores. Carnivorous plants. Plants that murder stuff. Yaaaaassssssss. Renee didn’t have to ask me twice. Here’s a question that just popped into my head: If a human vegetarian eats a carnivorous plant — a plant that eats animals — is the vegetarian still a vegetarian? Discuss. Anyway. I’ve always been fascinated by venus fly traps. This is the species we all think about when we hear the term “carnivorous plant” — a plant with prickly little trap-like hands that clamp shut around their prey. A Venus fly trap at Jozi Carnivores. That bug sitting on the plant is actually a hollow carcass — the plant already killed and ate it. Renee demonstrates how the fly trap traps. But actually, there are lots of other different kinds of carnivorous plants that murder and consume their food in various horrific ways. All of them are fascinating. The American trumpet pitcher, for example, lures insects to its “trumpet” with sweet-smelling nectar. The insect slips and falls down the long, skinny plant shaft and gets trapped […]

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Pigs at Brightside Farm

Brightside Farm: Where Joburg’s Best Food Comes From

Every once in a while, my work affords me an opportunity to do something really incredible that I would never be able to do otherwise and makes me feel grateful to be alive. Visiting Brightside Farm was one such opportunity. Janet Diack, owner and operator of Brightside Farm, holds up a baby wild boar. Brightside Farm is in Magaliesburg, about an hour away from Joburg. The farm is owned by the Diack family. James Diack is a chef and runs four Joburg restaurants: Coobs in Parkhurst, the National in Parktown North (which I wrote about briefly here), Il Contadino in Parktown North, and the Federal in Melville (which is currently closed but opening again shortly with a new name and concept). James’ mother, Janet, runs Brightside Farm, which supplies James’ restaurants with the majority of their food. Brightside Farm is paradise, for people and for animals. Yes, many of these animals eventually become food in a restaurant. But before that happens, I can’t imagine a better place on earth for an animal to spend its life. (Incidentally, Janet is a vegetarian.) Free-range pigs at Brightside Farm. Brightside is also paradise for plants. There are all kinds of interesting vegetables and […]

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