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#gauteng52

Jamonopolis: Entrance to Fama Deli

#Gauteng52, Week 30: The Joburg Jamonópolis

Welcome to Week 30 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 Fama Deli, Johannesburg’s Jamonópolis. When I first started the #Gauteng52 challenge, I put out a call to my readers and friends asking for recommendations on places to go. (If you’re one of the recommenders, don’t worry if I haven’t visited your place yet. I’m working slowly through the list.) One of the most intriguing recommendations came from my friend Robyn, who suggested a visit to the “Jamón Man”. The Jamón Man is a man who sells jamón (Spanish for ham). Well actually it’s not just one man; it’s a man and his wife and their staff. And it’s not just ham; the Jamón Man sells every kind of pork imaginable, cured in the traditional Spanish style. And the place is not actually called Jamonópolis de Johanesburgo, as the sign says; its official name is the Fama Deli. Other than that it’s all exactly like it sounds. Behold: La Jamonópolis de Johanesburgo. The Fama Deli is in Lorentzville, a downtrodden Joburg neighborhood not far from Maboneng. The first notable […]

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Elizabeth and Vincent in Sophiatown

#Gauteng52, Week 29: Sophiatown The Mix

Welcome to Week 29 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 Sophiatown The Mix. The point of the #Gauteng52 challenge is for me to visit 52 places in Gauteng where I’ve never been before. However, I have been to Sophiatown many times. I’ve done walking tours of the suburb (see here and here) and listened to jazz in the Sophiatown Heritage Centre. But Sophiatown The Mix — a new multipurpose center next to the old Heritage Centre, which offers many new and exciting events and services — had escaped my awareness until two months ago. So I think this still counts as new. Sophiatown The Mix, part of the Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre nonprofit. Some background on Sophiatown: Similar to Cape Town’s District Six, Sophiatown was a multiracial, richly cultural neighborhood that was destroyed under apartheid. During the 1950s, Sophiatown’s black, colored, and Asian residents were rounded up by police and forcibly removed to townships on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The apartheid government razed Sophiatown to the ground — only three buildings survived — then rebuilt the suburb into an […]

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Bapsfontein Hotel neon sign

#Gauteng52, Week 28: Honky-Tonkin’ at the Bapsfontein Hotel

Welcome to Week 28 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 Bapsfontein Hotel. This may surprise those who know only the current, city-girl version of me. But I am no stranger to honky-tonk. I’m American and I grew up more or less in the country, listening to my dad play Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Johnny Cash on the car stereo as he drove me to softball practice in his pickup truck. So when I started spotting pictures on Facebook of the Bapsfontein Hotel — a country-western bar about an hour northeast of Joburg with the greatest neon sign I’ve ever seen — I knew I had to go. The Bapsfontein Hotel’s old-school neon sign. The Story of the Bapsfontein Hotel I can’t dig up much history about Bapsfontein or the Bapsfontein Hotel. Everything I know was gleaned from snatched conversations with the new owners (yelled over the noise of the music) on the day I was there. Bapsfontein is a tiny town — too far from Joburg to be a city suburb, too close to be properly […]

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Face sculptures at Anton Smit Sculpture Park

#Gauteng52, Week 27: Anton Smit Sculpture Park

Welcome to Week 27 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 Anton Smit Sculpture Park in Bronkhorstspruit. I drove slowly up the R25, careful not to miss the turn that would take us to the Anton Smit Sculpture Park. I crested a rise and realized I needn’t have worried. The turn is hard to miss. The road toward the Anton Smit Sculpture Park in Bronkhorstspruit. Anton Smit is a well known South African sculptor. I’ve seen his work all over the country, most recently at the Delaire Graff Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. But Smit’s largest collection is at his home in Bronkhorstspruit, about 90 minutes northeast of Joburg, where he has a sculpture park and a quirky restaurant/café. Giant faces, turned toward the setting sun, welcome us to the sculpture park. I’m struggling to find words to describe the Anton Smit Sculpture Park. Whimsical comes to mind, but I think surreal is better. There’s something about this mystical yet well-branded grassy hilltop, located inside a luxury housing development that doesn’t belong in the middle of South African nowhere, dotted with […]

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Retro Rabbit antique shop in Pretoria

#Gauteng52, Week 26: Pretoria’s Quirky Antique Route 6

Welcome to Week 26 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 Antique Route 6 in Pretoria. South Africa has a tumultuous past and a tumultuous present. The only thing that’s consistent here is change. South Africans tend to be constantly on the move, coming and going, accumulating and leaving behind trails of possessions that must be bought and sold, and bought and sold again. This state of flux leads to many interesting cultural phenomena, one of which is an abundance of antique shops. Antique shops are everywhere in South Africa but in certain places they concentrate together in clumps. Johannesburg’s Long Street is one example. Pretoria’s Antique Route 6 is another. The Retro Rabbit Antique Shop in Pretoria North. Antique Route 6 is a bunch of antique shops in Pretoria North, not far from the Hatfield Gautrain station, clustered mainly around Pierneef Street and Soutpansberg Road. The route has its own online map, at www.antiqueroute6pretoria.co.za. I have no idea why this route is called Antique Route 6. Are there another five antique routes somewhere? If anyone knows the answer I’d love […]

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Chef Martin holding a rainbow cake at Café Patisse

#Gauteng52, Week 25: Scrumptious Pastries at Café Patisse

Welcome to Week 25 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 Café Patisse in Emmarentia. I’ve been hitting the bakeries hard in this #Gauteng52 series. Out of 25 posts so far (browse them all here), at least five are about bakeries or bakery-like dining establishments. I wasn’t planning to add another so soon. Then I tagged along on a visit to Café Patisse and changed my mind. A woman gazes through the window of Café Patisse’s new location on Komatie Street in Emmarentia. I don’t blame you, lady. Everything in there looks delicious. Here’s what she was gazing at. Café Patisse, which belongs to South African pastry chef Martin Ferreira, recently moved from the industrial neighborhood of Wynberg (near Sandton) to the inner suburb of Emmarentia. I had never heard of it before but according to Marie-Lais, who tipped me off about Café Patisse, Martin has had a pastry-loving cult following in Johannesburg for a while and is also a supplier for hotels and other restaurants. Martin is best known for his eclairs but he also produces spectacular cakes and other pastries. Inside […]

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Neck and neck at Turffontein Racecourse

#Gauteng52, Week 24: Turffontein Race Course

Welcome to Week 24 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 Turffontein Racecourse in southern Johannesburg. My home town, Baltimore, is a horse-racing town. The Preakness, one of the three jewels in the Triple Crown, happens every year at Baltimore’s Pimlico Racecourse. Somehow I never went. I attended a few steeplechase-type races in rural Virginia, but never made it to a legit city racetrack while living in America. Finally, two weeks ago, I had a real day at the races at Joburg’s Turffontein Racecourse. Welcome to Turffontein, which means “turf fountain” in Afrikaans. Turffontein is ancient by Joburg standards — founded in 1887 (just a year after the city itself) by the Johannesburg Turf Club. I definitely felt the history there and loved the way the Joburg skyline looms behind the racetrack. A view of the city behind Smart Mart (#5), who was warming up before his race. I bet on Smart Mart because I liked his name. I learned three important things at Turffontein: 1) Photographing horse-racing is hard. 2) Betting on horse-racing (and winning) is even harder. 3) Riding a […]

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Cooking chicken at Food Junxion

#Gauteng52, Week 23: Food Junxion

Welcome to Week 23 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 Food Junxion, a take-away restaurant in downtown Johannesburg. While visiting Master Mansions last week, I noticed a delicious smell emanating from a street-level restaurant in the building next door. There was a man in the window of the restaurant, cooking chicken over a coal-fired grill, painting the chicken bright red using a thick brush. The restaurant’s name was Food Junxion. On a whim, Gail and I decided to eat lunch there. Grilling bright red chicken. I’m sure Food Junxion has a great story, but I don’t know it. It didn’t occur to me until later that I might want to blog about Food Junxion — at the time my mind was swimming with romantic stories of hat factories and secret Hindu temples. So I didn’t ask any questions or take a ton of photos during our meal. But here’s what I can tell you: 1) Food Junxion is cheap: R30 ($2.30) for a platter of chicken, roti (Indian bread), chips (fries), and salad (a small pile of iceberg lettuce). Next time I’ll skip the salad and substitute […]

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Ted Sheasby at his printer in Malvern

#Gauteng52, Week 22: An Old-School Printer in Malvern

Welcome to Week 22 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 PrintALine, an old-school print shop in Malvern, Johannesburg. Ted Sheasby’s letterpress print shop in Malvern — a run-down suburb in eastern Johannesburg dotted with auto repair shops and crumbling semis — will never appear in any guidebook. This story is more about a person, and a process, than it is about a place. Ted Sheasby in his shop — an ancient garage in Malvern.  So this isn’t a typical #Gauteng52 post. But when I look back over my 52 stories about Gauteng Province at the end of this year, I want Ted’s story to be one of them. It’s too interesting and weird not to include. And besides, this might be the only blog post ever written about Malvern. Stepping Back in Time Inside a Malvern Garage When I was a little girl, my father was the sports editor of the Sykesville Herald, a newspaper in the small town where I grew up. I have a vague memory of going with my dad to the room where the Herald was printed. The room […]

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Table at Breezeblock in Brixton

#Gauteng52, Week 21: Breezeblock in Brixton

Welcome to Week 21 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 Breezeblock, a new café in Brixton. I blog a lot about Joburg restaurants, and I must confess it’s not always as interesting as it used to be. When I first moved to Joburg I blogged about practically every restaurant I ate in. But these days I often go to a restaurant set to do a blog post, then leave an hour later thinking, eh…not exciting enough. Breezeblock, the newest hangout in Brixton, is not one of those restaurants. I knew Breezeblock was blog-worthy the moment I walked through the door. A simple, beautiful table at Breezeblock. Breezeblock, the Best New Thing in Brixton First and foremost, Breezblock is in Brixton. Brixton (which is next door to my beloved Melville) is one of Joburg’s most interesting and underrated neighbourhoods, but up until recently there were few places in Brixton to hang out and have a meal. A couple of years ago the Roving Bantu Kitchen opened, and now we have Breezeblock — open every day for breakfast and lunch and serving excellent […]

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The Victorian Secret in Benoni

#Gauteng52, Week 20: Benoni’s Victorian Secret

Welcome to Week 20 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 Victorian Secret, a restaurant and bakery in Benoni. I hate to break it to you guys, but the Victorian Secret in Benoni doesn’t sell lingerie. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great place to take your wife or girlfriend. The Victorian Secret’s pastries are every bit as delicious as a sexy lace camisole. Okay, that was a terrible metaphor but I had to do it. Moving right along. I was introduced to the Victorian Secret by Laurice from the Johannesburg in Your Pocket Guide. Laurice grew up in Benoni and took my friend Marie-Lais and me on an exploration of this quirky town just east of Joburg. (In the past I have referred to Benoni as a suburb — as I would to any smallish town on the outskirts of a huge city — but I found out the hard way that some Benoni residents do not take kindly to this characterization. Lesson learned. Sorry, Benoni: You’re a town and nothing but a town.) We didn’t find any flamingos on […]

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Folded Basotho blankets

#Gauteng52, Week 19: Where Basotho Blankets Are Made

Welcome to Week 19 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 Aranda Textile Mills, home of the Basotho blanket. Basotho blankets are not made in Lesotho, the tiny country for which the blankets are named. Originally produced in England, these woollen symbols of Basotho culture are now produced at Aranda, a factory/showroom in the South African town of Randfontein on Johannesburg’s West Rand. I’ve been wanting to visit Aranda since I learned about it in 2013 from the Basotho blanket ladies of Clarens. (Read more about Basotho blankets and the blanket ladies here and here.) I finally got my chance a few weeks ago. The Basotho blanket sales room at Aranda. Aranda’s extraordinary story started several generations ago with the Magnis, an Italian textile-making family in Tuscany. The Magnis’ factory was destroyed by the Germans during World War II, and a South African colonel convinced the family to move their operation to South Africa after the war ended. After several decades of producing a range of blankets and shawls at their mill in Randfontein, the Magnis added Basotho blankets to […]

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