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food

Vicki and her chocolates

#Gauteng52, Week 10: Joburg’s Best Chocolate

Welcome to Week 10 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Chocoloza, a shop in Milpark selling handmade chocolates and chocolate drinks. I’ve been writing a lot of long blog posts lately, so this is going to be a short one. The Story of Chocoloza There is a South African woman named Vicki, who used to have a 9-5 job before she decided to take a chocolate-making course while living in Belgium. Vicki moved back to South Africa and became a chocolatier. She opened Chocoloza in Milpark, at 44 Stanley. Chocoloza sells delicious, handmade Belgian chocolates and chocolate drinks, the likes of which I’ve never tasted before. Chocoloza is perfect. The end. Inside Chocoloza. Simply Belgian, naturally African. A tray of chocolate from Chocoloza. Top-left: An assortment of truffles. Bottom-left: Tea made with cocoa beans (lactose-free). Bottom-right: Hot milk. Top-right: Chocolate chips to stir into the milk, making the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Chocolates for sale. There are free samples, too. My lovely friend Andrea in front of the Chocoloza menu. Okay, that’s not the end. Here are a few things I […]

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Lungi holds raspberries at Field Berry Farm

#Gauteng52, Week 8: Picking Raspberries in Joburg South

Welcome to Week 8 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Field Berry Farm, a raspberry farm in Joburg’s far south. This will be a quick #Gauteng52 post as I only visited this place briefly. But I need to tell you about Field Berry Farm before raspberry-picking season is over. Raspberries from Field Berry Farm. By the way, did you know that the word “raspberry” has a p in it? I didn’t, until I started writing this post and noticed the autocorrect when I typed “rasberry”. A Quick Visit to Field Berry Farm I stopped by Field Berry Farm a couple of weeks ago with my friend Kate, who grew up in the south of Joburg and was giving me a tour of the area. Joburg’s southern suburbs are vast, incorporating densely populated urban areas, bucolic farmland, and everything in between. (I’ll have more Joburg South posts coming soon.) We followed Kate’s GPS along a winding country road and found ourselves in a gravel parking area, with a small warehouse to the right and a large field covered by shade netting to the left. A […]

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Marie-Lais with Chinese hot pot

#Gauteng52, Week 5: Hot Pot in Joburg’s Third Chinatown

Welcome to Week 5 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Little Sheep, and Asian hot pot restaurant in Rivonia. I recently heard a rumor that Shanghai Hinabe, the Chinese hot pot restaurant in Parkmore, closed down. I was devastated. Shanghai Hinabe is one of my favorite Asian restaurants. Fortunately that rumor turned out to be false — I called the other day and was assured that Shanghai Hinabe is alive and well, although it’s only open for dinner. But in the meantime I was tipped off to an even quirkier hot pot restaurant — Little Sheep in Rivonia. The Little Sheep restaurant in Rivonia. Little Sheep is an international hot pot chain in China and a few other countries. The logo for this restaurant is the same as the chain’s, but the South African location is not listed on the company’s website. So the Rivonia restaurant could be a Little Sheep knock-off. I’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring Rivonia over the years. Once a small, semi-rural suburb, Rivonia is now a dense mass of strip malls with a sprinkling of quaint, family-owned businesses and […]

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Safaa and Yasir, Syrian refugees and the owners of Jasmine Syrian Cuisine in Benoni

A Delicious Syrian Meal and a Rant About Refugees

UPDATE (March 2017): I’m very sad to say that Jasmine Syrian Cuisine has closed. I’m not sure why. I’ll post updates here if anything changes. I recently had lunch at a Syrian restaurant, Jasmine Syrian Cuisine, in Joburg’s far-eastern suburb of Benoni. Safaa Jabri Al Rehawi and her husband, Yasir, opened Jasmine last year after moving to South Africa as refugees from Syria. Jasmine’s beautiful wooden front door. Yasir prepares to serve us aromatic Syrian coffee, flavoured with cardamom. A table of delicious food. “Did you run a restaurant in Syria too?” I asked Sanaa as she took our orders and explained the menu in patient detail. Sanaa smiled and shook her head. She was a student back in Damascus, she explained, and Yasir ran a candy shop. “We had to leave…” Sanaa gestured vaguely. “The war. And we had to find something to do here.” I had initially planned to write a restaurant review of Jasmine as part of my #Gauteng52 series. But I’ve decided not to. My friend Marie-Lais, who went to Jasmine with me, has written a fantastic review of the restaurant. Everything you need to know about the food is there. Instead I’m going to talk about Syrian refugees […]

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Moving Feast meal in Alexandra Township

Discovering South African Food in Alexandra Township

If you browse through the food-related posts on this blog, you’ll notice that most of them are written about food from places other than South Africa: French, American, Mexican, Indian, German, Chinese. But what about South African food? Traditional South African food can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Colonialism and apartheid are to blame for this. I think even most South Africans would struggle to describe South African food, just as I do when people ask me about it. My usual answer is, “…South Africans love meat.” (Cape Malay cuisine, mostly found in Cape Town, is an exception to this rule. Read about Cape Malay food here and here.) Anyway, my perceptions of South African food widened last Friday when I participated in the Alex Culinary Tour by Tour2.0. We ate our way through Alexandra Township, starting with the humblest street food and working our way up to serious fine dining. A takeaway shop in Alexandra Township, otherwise known as Alex. Our first stop was Mbopha’s Café, a takeaway joint on 3rd Avenue in Alex. Eating a Sly Vat-Vat “Sly” is a slang term for a slice of bread. “What-what”, or “vat-vat”, are filler words to replace something that is […]

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Inside Patisserie de Paris

#Gauteng52, Week 4: A Taste of Paris in Blairgowrie

Welcome to Week 4 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Patisserie de Paris, a French bakery and café in the Jozi suburb of Blairgowrie. I’ve known for a long time about the French bakery off Conrad Drive in Blairgowrie. (By the way, I’m tempted to move to Blairgowrie, a Joburg suburb between Linden and Craighall Park, simply for the name. Blairgowrie! Pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. Love it.) I heard good things. But, as I’m sure I’ll say many times over this year, the #Gauteng52 challenge motivated me to finally give Patisserie de Paris a try. And boy, have I been missing out. Patisserie de Paris, The French Jewel of Blairgowrie The first thing I noticed, and liked, about Patisserie de Paris is its unabashed pinkness. I’m not a particular fan (or non-fan) of pink, but I like it when a place goes all-out like this. The walls are pink and the waiters are decked out head-to-toe in pink. The whimsical interior of Patisserie de Paris. Not normally my style, but in this place it just works. Even the books are pinkish […]

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Sausages at the Schwaben Butchery

#Gauteng52, Week 2: Schwaben Butchery, Where Pigs Come to Die

Welcome to Week 2 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Schwaben Butchery on Joburg’s East Rand. I sit at a wooden picnic table outside the Schwaben Butchery, in a nondescript shopping center in Edenvale. I ponder the mustard-slathered bratwurst on my plate. The mammoth sausage intimidates me. The owner of a Jozi café — one of my favorite breakfast spots in town — walks past. “Stocking up on supplies?” I call out as he walks through the butchery’s sliding doors. “Bacon,” he replies, eyes gleaming. “This place sells the best bacon in town. It’s where pigs come to die.” Crass as it sounds, I see what he means. This German butchery has more interesting meat products, and especially pork products, than I’ve ever seen before in a single place. An array of pork in one of the Schwaben Butchery meat counters. Do you know what this is? Me either. There are a fair number of Germans in South Africa, and Germans take their food seriously. I learned this last year when I visited the Black Forest Bakery, a German bakery in […]

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Chicken wings starter from Mamasan

Quickie Restaurant Review: Mamasan in Melville

Last week I had lunch at Mamasan, a brand-new restaurant on 7th Street in Melville. (Mamasan is so brand-new that it doesn’t have a website or even a review on Zomato yet. But here is its Zomato page as a placeholder.) It was delicious and I have very high hopes for this joint. My lunch at Mamasan: pan-fried masala hake with cos lettuce, grape, cucumber, gherkin, green bean, apple, cashew nut salsa, and dhania vinaigrette. Such a delightful combination of flavors, all for R90 ($6.39). Mamasan is at the top of 7th Street, near the intersection of 1st Avenue, next to the ancient Golf Tea Room convenience store. Here are the reasons I’m excited about Mamasan:  1) Mamasan serves Cape-Malay-inspired cuisine. (You can read more about Cape Malay cuisine in this post.) I love Cape Malay food and there is very little of it to be found in Joburg. Mamasan’s meat is free-range and the menu is pork-free, for the kosher and halaal diners among you. My friend Sandy ordered the “sticky suur vy chicken wings” appetizer, which she really enjoyed. 2) Mamasan has beautiful, well executed decor and a professional, thoughtful menu. This is not one of those fly-by-night Melville dives that gets […]

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Oriental Plaza Instameet infogram

News Flash: The First Oriental Plaza Instameet (With Prizes)

I first visited the Oriental Plaza six-and-a-half years ago, on 18 August 2010, 12 days after I moved to Johannesburg. I know this because I wrote a blog post about it the following day. The first photo I ever took at the Oriental Plaza, in August 2010. I’ve been to the Plaza at least 50 times since that first visit (read about other visits here and here and here), and the place still awes and delights me every time. It’s always at the top of my list of recommendations for things to do in Joburg. So imagine my joy when an opportunity arose to work with the Oriental Plaza on a social media campaign, encouraging people to come to the Plaza for an Instameet to kick off the Festive Season. (“Festive Season” is South African for “Holiday Season”.) I am so, so excited to host an Instameet at the Oriental Plaza. Our announcement for the upcoming Instameet — Instagram-speak for a gathering of photographers. As you can see, the Plaza is already decked out for Christmas. It’s a mall, technically, but the Plaza bears no resemblance to the bland, suburban megamalls that Johannesburg is famous for. First of all, the Plaza is in […]

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Lindfield tea scones

My Five Favorite Spots for Afternoon Tea in Joburg

Afternoon tea is very popular in Joburg and I’ve tried quite a few different ones over the years. I’ve been meaning to do a Jozi Top Fives post on this topic forever. Side note #1: Most of the fancy hotels in Joburg refer to their afternoon tea as “high tea”, I think because high tea sounds more grand. But I was recently schooled on this issue by the brilliant Katharine Love of Lindfield House (read more about Lindfield below), and learned that “afternoon tea” is the correct term for a fancy afternoon meal with tea and cake. High tea evolved as a lower class version of afternoon tea, which is the opposite of what these fancy hotel teas actually are. Read more on the distinction here. A waiter pours hot water to make tea at 54 on Bath Hotel. Side note #2: I’m really picky about my afternoon teas, which is one of the reasons I’ve put off this post for so long. Sometimes even the most glamorous teas don’t meet my expectations. I want every afternoon tea to be exactly like my first one in 1994, at Fortnum & Mason in downtown London. That tea was served by a frowning elderly Englishwoman in a […]

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Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank

Keyes Art Mile: A New Jozi Hangout in Rosebank

I feel antsy when I go too long without blogging about something in Joburg. So last week during a brief hiatus between trips to Cape Town and Mozambique (more about my Mozambique trip in the next post), I headed to Rosebank and had lunch at the new Keyes Art Mile. If you’re a Jozi enthusiast, you’ve probably been hearing buzz about the Keyes Art Mile for the last few weeks and wondering what the heck it is. The name has an interesting air of mystery. Is it a mile-long mall? An outdoor market? A massive art gallery? Even after my visit, I’m not sure how to explain the Keyes Art Mile. But here is my best attempt. What is the Keyes Art Mile? The Keyes Art Mile is located at 19 Keyes Avenue at the corner of Jellicoe Avenue in Rosebank, a cosmopolitan suburb halfway between downtown Joburg and Sandton. Jozi art lovers will be familiar with this corner as it houses Circa Gallery and the Everard Read Gallery, two of the best art galleries in Joburg. (Circa featured in my Jozi Top Five Museums and Galleries post.) Next to Circa is a huge new building called the Trumpet building. Trumpet is the heart of […]

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Kalk Bay water and boats

Three Random Days in Cape Town: Mountaintops, Beer, and Big Fat Seals

Last week I went to Cape Town for an Instagram campaign, to attend a single two-hour event on a Wednesday evening. My friend Kate was invited too. Cape Town being one the most beautiful cities in the world and all, Kate and I decided it was silly to fly down for just one evening. We extended our stay to two nights and three days. This decision resulted in two Jozi blogger chicks Ubering madly around Cape Town, meeting up with blogger friends, stuffing our faces, drinking lots of beer and wine, walking our asses off, doing yoga poses on mountaintops, and laughing at big fat seals. It was so random and so fun. Here are some highlights. Random Cape Town Activity #1: Climbing Lion’s Head Lion’s Head is the second-most famous mountain in Cape Town — dwarfed in size and fame by its neighbor, Table Mountain. View of Lion’s Head from Daylight Studio, where I hung out on Wednesday evening. Kate and I had never climbed Lion’s Head and this was our chance. We convinced a few other bloggers to join us: our old friend Di and our new friends Cassandra and Jane. Di picked us up at our hotel at 6:30 a.m. and we reached the base of Lion’s Head […]

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