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johannesburg

Giuliano eating pizza at Bistro Dolce Vita restaurant in Morningside

Jozi Restaurant Round-Up

When I first started 2Summers, I blogged about practically every Jozi restaurant I went to. (Even Spur.) I’m a bit more selective these days, as writing about every restaurant in town is neither feasible nor desirable. But I’ve been to quite a few interesting Jozi restaurants in the past few weeks, and as I don’t have time to write eight individual posts I’m lumping them all into one. Here’s a quick round-up before I dash off on my annual month-long pilgrimage to America. Jozi Restaurant #1: Che Argentine Grill in Parkwood Che is not new but it has a new location — the trendy Parkwood retail strip on Jan Smuts, near Rosebank. Many of you will remember Che from its former location on Fox Street in Maboneng, and before that its stall at Maboneng’s Market on Main. Luckily the new location maintains the same cozy, rustic feel as the old one. Che is owned by two South American guys, Oscar and Bernardo, who now live in Joburg. Their multi-flavored empanadas are magical, as is their meat — grilled in the traditional Argentinean way over a blazing fire. Che is at 128 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood. Jozi Restaurant #2: Pablo Dos […]

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Bacon-avo burger from Hodad's in Edenvale

This Is the East: Hodad’s of Edenvale

Seventh in an occasional blog series called This Is the East, about hidden spots on Johannesburg’s East Rand. This edition features Hodad’s, a locally owned fast-food joint in Edenvale. I love supporting small, locally owned businesses that do their jobs better than big, international corporations. Hodad’s in Edenvale is a perfect example of this. Why would you buy a bland, assembly-line-style burger and fries from McDonald’s or Burger King when you can buy the same meal — only way better — from a charming, independently owned shop for basically the same price? Hell if I know. Go to Hodad’s. Hodad’s, Born in Edenvale Hodad’s is owned by a guy named Dylan, who used to work for Nando’s (a South African fast-food chicken restaurant) and hence ate chicken for lunch almost every day. After work Dylan often craved a good beef burger, and he went everywhere looking but couldn’t find one to his liking. Dylan swore to himself that if he ever opened his own restaurant, he would serve the best beef burgers in town. In 2014 Dylan opened Hodad’s, on a friendly little food strip in Van Riebeek Avenue, Edenvale’s main drag. And although Hodad’s does serve flame-grilled chicken, like Dylan’s old […]

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Sobae apple-cinnamon-pomegranate sorbet at Victoria Yards

Sobae Sorbet: A Frozen Joburg Love Story

Today is Heritage Day, a holiday celebrating South Africa’s incredible cultural diversity. It’s also the unofficial start of summer and a day when South Africans celebrate their diversity by grilling meat. (Heritage Day has been rebranded by many as “Braai Day”.) I thought it would be a good day to tell you about Joburg’s best and most inspiring frozen dessert: Sobae sorbet. Thato Masondo and Thula Ndema didn’t like seeing all the overripe fruit being discarded onto the street by Joburg’s downtown produce vendors. So after a few years of scheming and saving funds, Thula and Thato started Sobae Frozen, making sorbet from that overripe fruit and selling it on the streets of Braamfontein. Today, the couple makes and sells their sorbet at Victoria Yards and at pop-up events in the Wilds. Sobae Sorbet Sobae is no ordinary sorbet, with basic flavors like lemon and strawberry and mango. Thato and Thula are master flavor magicians, whipping up exotic combinations like apple and pomegranate with cinnamon or butternut and banana with chai spice. Using very ripe fruit (and vegetables!) makes the sorbet taste particularly sweet without a lot of added sugar. All of Sobae’s ingredients are locally produced and in season. […]

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Fish and chips from Tiberius Fish Emporium in Sandringham, Johannesburg

Five Great Places for Fish and Chips in Joburg

It was a Monday and it was my birthday. I had a photography assignment in the morning and then I went to Cresta Mall to do some shopping. After shopping, I thought I should buy myself a birthday lunch. What could I treat myself to for lunch on a random winter Monday? Suddenly I had it: Fish and chips. I drove to a fish and chip shop in Randburg that I had heard was good. I ordered a “small” fried hake and chips for R52 (about $3.50) and salivated during the 10-minute drive home. Once home I devoured half the fish and chips (it was way more than I could eat in one sitting) at my kitchen counter. It was the best birthday lunch imaginable. At that moment I decided to do a Jozi Top Fives post on fish and chips. Fish and chips has been a cheap, popular meal in Joburg since the early gold-mining days. (I touch on that history in this post about slap chips.) It’s not really possible to do a definitive “top five” ranking of fish and chip shops: Everyone has their own favorite for their own reasons — nostalgia or taste or a combination […]

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Succulent flowers in my garden

Feeling South Africa’s Pain

Back in the olden days, I often used this blog as a vessel for my grief and sadness. I went through a lot of tangible pain in the early 2Summers years — losing a partner to addiction, among other things — and the blog was one of my coping mechanisms. (You can find those old posts under the grief hashtag — scroll back to the early ones.) As the years wore on I blogged more about having fun in Joburg and South Africa than I did about pain and grief. My life got happier, and my blog became more popular as a resource for things to do and places to travel to. I took the ball and ran with it. I’ve loved Joburg and South Africa since the day I arrived here, and expressing that love through upbeat, informative blog posts came naturally. I’ve received so many wonderful messages from people who have used this blog to get to know Joburg and South Africa. People thank me for my optimism — for showing them the “good side” of this city and this country. I’m incredibly grateful for those messages and I’m grateful I discovered a path that allows me to […]

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Daouda Fashions shop in China City, downtown Joburg, visited during the JoburgPlaces "Of Origins and Migration" tour

Musings on Migration in Joburg

JoburgPlaces, a downtown tour company that I’ve written about many times, recently introduced a couple of different city experiences that center around the concept of migration. The JoburgPlaces Migrant Cuisines Storytelling Dinner is an epic evening at the Thunderwalker (formerly Somerset House) on Gandhi Square, in which JoburgPlaces guide Charlie Moyo explains the history of Johannesburg in terms of the multiple and overlapping waves of migration that have been happening since the city was founded 133 years ago. The historical overview is accompanied by a series of migrant-inspired food dishes cooked up by in-house chef Princess Bulelwa Mbonambi. The Of Origins and and Migration Tour is a walking tour mainly around Troyeville, Ellis Park, and Doornfontein, exploring some migrant communities in that part of Joburg as Charlie explains the city’s history. The tour begins and ends at Thunderwalker. Thoughts on Migration Charlie taught me a lot of interesting facts about the migrant history of Joburg. For example, I never knew “New Canada”, just north of Soweto, was so named because that’s where all the Canadians settled during the Joburg gold rush. I never knew Chinese and Indians — not blacks — were the first people required to carry passbooks. (Passbooks […]

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Mishack Rapalalani in his studio

Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge: An Art-Lover’s Paradise

I love Limpopo and I also love African craft art. So when I went to Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge — a lodge outside Louis Trichardt in far northern Limpopo that promotes the work of Venda and Tsonga artists — I was in heaven. Madi a Thavha started 15 years ago when Dutch immigrants Marcelle Bosch and Aart van Soest decided they wanted to open a lodge in northern Limpopo. There was very little tourism development in this area and Marcelle and Aart had a particular interest in this region’s artists and artisans — sculptors, potters, beaders, textile-makers, etc. — as the Venda and Tsonga cultures have very strong and unique artistic traditions. (Read more about the art from this region in my 2016 post about the Ribola Art Route.) Marcelle and Aart bought an old farm, about 10 kilometers west of the town of Louis Trichardt, and set about turning it into a lodge. They named the lodge Madi a Thavha, which means “water from the mountain” in Venda, because the farm’s water comes from natural springs that flow down the mountain. Today, this lodge is basically paradise. I don’t think my photos properly convey the sense of tranquillity […]

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Trixie the Melville Kitten in a tree

From the Melville Cat: The Midget Fluff Ball Menace Turns One

From the Melville Cat: Forgive me friends, as it has been many months since my last update. I’ve been busy. For a while I was spending most of my time outdoors in an effort to escape the insufferable badgering of the Trixie, the Midget Fluff Ball Menace. She has grown larger and her harassment progressively more tiresome. I was away so often, Heather frequently worried about me. This was by design, of course. In one instance I stayed away for two days and two nights, and when I returned Heather was just about to publish a blog post announcing my disappearance. She welcomed me with tears in her eyes, held me tightly, and fed me a full packet of moist kibble. Mission accomplished. Then winter came, temperatures dropped, and I grew bored with sleeping outdoors. I decided to swallow my pride and start sleeping in Heather’s bed again, despite the Menace’s constant presence there. Fortunately the Menace has enough respect to remain at the foot of the bed and yield to me my rightful place beside Heather. The Fluff Ball’s Birthday Heather asked me to write a post this week because the Midget Fluff Ball Menace is now one year […]

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20 Pictures From Walk the Talk 2019

I’d never really considered signing up for MTN Walk the Talk with 702. Even though I knew this is one of the most iconic events in Johannesburg with 55,000 participants, and even though lots of people told me it’s great, and even though the walk starts and ends around the corner from where I live, and even though I’m awakened at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday (every single year) by the noise from Walk the Talk anyway, it somehow never occurred to me to participate myself. I didn’t get it, to be honest. I mean, Walk the Talk doesn’t involve running or cycling (not that I do much of those things either) or any real sport. It’s walking. Who wants to get out of bed at 6:00 a.m. in the middle of winter on a Sunday to just…walk around? But this year Walk the Talk invited me to be part of a public awareness campaign (see my previous post on the topic) and to participate in the walk. It was a special year for Walk the Talk: Since South Africa is celebrating 25 years of democracy in 2019, there was a 25-kilometer route in addition to the usual 15-, 8-, […]

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Owner Christophe at Ophelia in Emmarentia

My Favorite Jozi Coffee Shops: Ophelia in Emmarentia

This post, featuring Ophelia Café, is the ninth in an occasional series about my favorite coffee shops in Joburg.  Making a great coffee shop is about more than just serving great coffee. In the global indie coffee culture of 2019, coffee shops must also have style. They must be bright and Instagrammable, in a cool but unlikely location, with pretty tableware and light fixtures. The food must be good. The servers must be attentive and friendly, preferably with tattoos and cool but effortless-looking hairstyles. The furniture must be attractive and comfortable but not too comfortable, as customers need to stay awake as they type away at their MacBooks. Ophelia Café in Emmarentia checks all these boxes. Ophelia opened a couple of months ago in this funny, retro little shopping center/apartment cluster at the corner of 5th Avenue and Thomas Bowler Street (just behind the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens) in Emmarentia. I go past this center all the time — it’s a four-minute drive from Melville — and have been waiting for years for something cool to open there. (The fantastic Craft Beer Library, which used to be up the road in Linden, is now at the back of this same center.) I had […]

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The Rand Club, Reinvented

I last blogged about the Rand Club — one of the oldest, most historic, most colonial buildings in Joburg, founded by Cecil John Rhodes — more than six years ago. I just reread that post — titled The Rand Club: It’s Old — and (as with many of my old blog posts) felt a little ashamed of it. Although it’s informative and historically accurate, I was subtly making fun of my visit to the Rand Club that night. I implied the club was stodgy and uptight and said I’d probably never consider becoming a member myself. Last week I went past the Rand Club to deliver a copy of my book to one of its members. What I initially intended to be a 10-minute stop turned into an entire afternoon; I literally could not bring myself to leave. I realized a lot has changed at this place over the past six years and it’s definitely time for a new blog post. The Rand Club is still old and it always will be. (I won’t repeat the whole checkered history here — see my previous post for that.) But it’s also changing with the times. And after a brief closure in […]

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Ba-Pita: A New (Old) Restaurant in Melville

Ba-Pita opened at the end of last year in Melville, at the top of 7th Street where the old Golf Tea Room used to be. A few weeks after it opened, a great article on Ba-Pita’s interesting origin story appeared on New Frame. I shared the article on my Facebook page and it got so much traffic that it somehow felt redundant to write a post of my own. Now that a few months have passed, I can’t let another day go by before getting Ba-Pita onto my blog. I went there for lunch again today — the food tastes so damn good and the vibe of the restaurant is so damn nice. So here’s an abridged version. (Read the New Frame article above for more detail.) To cut a 30-year-long story short: Ba-Pita opened in 1986 in Yeoville, which — as I’ve been told — had a similar kind of hippy-ish/hipster-ish vibe to what Melville has today. The Middle-Eastern-style restaurant became a legendary eating and drinking hangout for Yeoville’s bohemians. Times changed, the city changed, and Ba-Pita closed its Yeoville doors in the late 1990s. In 2018, the eatery re-opened in Melville under the same ownership. Lunch at Ba-Pita […]

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