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johannesburg

Pizza and beer at Impi Brewing Company

February Restaurant of the Month: Impi Brewing Co. in Lorentzville

It’s time for the second installment of my 2018 Restaurant of the Month series. This month I’m featuring the Impi Brewing Co. in Lorentzville. I almost hesitate to call Impi a restaurant, as it’s really more of a hangout. But Impi has such a cool atmosphere, in such an interesting Joburg location, that I feel compelled to include it in this series. Outside Impi Brewing Co. Impi means “war” in Zulu. Impi is in the new Victoria Yards complex, in the tiny suburb of Lorentzville, which is between Bertrams and Troyeville. My friend Gail just wrote an interesting post about Lorentzville, which I recommend. Lorentzville is also home to the legendary Fama Deli. The first cool thing about Impi is it’s in Victoria Yards, this sprawling warren of artists’ studios and gardens and galleries and workshops that just opened a few months ago. (I briefly mentioned Victoria Yards in a post last month.) The second cool thing is the decor: It’s a tiny place filled with an eclectic mix of Zulu art/artifacts, modern industrial furnishings, and quirky antiques. Inside Impi Brewing Co. with owners Nico (left) and Tsietsi (right), and bartender Kgomotso (middle). I love the headdresses on the wall behind them. The […]

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Gerakaris winery in Craighall Park

A Winery in Joburg!

There’s a new winery in Joburg called Gerakaris Family Wines. This is a big deal (hence my use of a rare exclamation point). Let me explain why. South Africa is heaven for wine-drinkers. I rave about it all the time to my American friends. South African wine is as good or better than wine anywhere else in the world, and ridiculously affordable. Also drinking wine in South Africa is a particularly enjoyable activity. We’ve got the right weather and the right scenery and it’s all just perfect. But South Africa’s wine culture is in Cape Town and the surrounding areas of the Western Cape province. No one comes to Joburg for wine. The climate here isn’t right for grapes and it’s next to impossible to buy decent wine by the glass in this town. Up until now, as far as I have been able to determine, there were no wineries in Joburg open to the public. That changed a couple of weeks ago when Gerakaris opened for business on a quaint little property in Craighall Park. Gerakaris Family Wines. Gerakaris is not an actual wine estate, meaning it doesn’t grow its own grapes. But that doesn’t mean the wine isn’t […]

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Pork belly from Reserved Cafe in Melville

January Restaurant of the Month: Reserved Cafe in Melville

Since I finished my #Gauteng52 series in 2017, many people have asked what my 2018 campaign will to be. I actually wasn’t planning to do anything. But upon further reflection it might be nice to do a couple of shorter projects. Hence, I bring you the 2018 Restaurant of the Month series. My January feature is Reserved Cafe in Melville. I stumbled upon this restaurant a week or two ago. It’s on 4th Avenue in Melville in 27 Boxes — a shopping center made from shipping containers. (27 Boxes has received some disdain from the community since it opened a couple of years ago, but the centre is under new management now and I think it’s finally finding its feet.) Reserved is on the ground floor in one of the spots opening out onto the street. The interior of Reserved Cafe, the size of a single shipping container. An iced coffee from Reserved Cafe, at an outdoor table overlooking 4th Avenue. Normally I get annoyed by iced coffees that are more like milkshakes than coffee. But this one was particularly good — not too sweet — so I didn’t mind. I had walked past Reserved a couple of times before and didn’t consciously […]

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2Summers business cards front and back

Printing Handmade Business Cards in Joburg

I’ve had a lot of printing in my life lately. My friend Fiver, who has always been an artist, has specialized in fine art printing over the last few years. I’ve spent a lot of time watching her make prints. Then last year I blogged about three different Joburg printers (see here and here and here). I guess it makes sense that I started off 2018 by printing my own business cards. It all started when Fiver offered to make some customized linocut prints to turn into a new header for my blog. The linocuts are finished and the header is still in progress. In the meantime Fiver and I decided to turn the linocuts into business cards and print them using the old-fashioned letterpress printers at ImPRESSed Studios. 2Summers business cards in the making. (Photo: Fiver Löcker) Here’s a quick step-by-step of how we did it. Making 2Summers Linocuts Fiver started by sketching various modes of transport I’ve used in my travels through Joburg and the rest of South Africa. She turned each sketch into a separate lino plate, including edges inspired by South African Shweshwe fabric. After the lino plates were cut, they were ready to be printed. Fiver rolls […]

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Sunrise at O.R. Tambo, one of Joburg's two major airports

Joburg Airports: O.R. Tambo vs. Lanseria

Travelstart asked me to write a blog post about the cheap domestic flights it offers in South Africa. Of course I agreed — blogging assignments are easy when the thing you’re asked to blog about is actually useful. And every traveler in South Africa knows Travelstart is the best place to book domestic travel. The last time I booked a domestic flight — a round trip from Joburg to Cape Town — I used Travelstart. The process was seamless and the fare was, as promised, cheap. I just made one mistake: forgetting to pay attention to which airport I was flying from. I normally fly out of O.R. Tambo, Joburg’s main international airport. But I accidentally booked this flight out of Lanseria. On Travelstart, flights from Lanseria are clearly marked “HLA” and flights from O.R. Tambo are “JNB”. Somehow I missed this. I noticed my error a day or two before the trip and cursed my stupidity. It was a 6:30 a.m. flight and now I would have to drive myself all the way out to Lanseria at 4:30 in the morning. I didn’t even consider Ubering because I figured it would be too expensive. Because Lanseria is so far, I thought. […]

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Papy at Urban Zulu

10 Really Cool Jozi Places I Didn’t Blog About in 2017

I blogged about a lot of Jozi places in 2017. But there are also a lot of places I visited but never managed to write up, for one reason or another. Lots of these places are really cool and I don’t want their photos to languish forever in my Lightroom catalog. Also, I want you to visit them. So here is a quick rundown of the 10 best places I never blogged about in 2017. Jozi Places I Should Have Blogged About in 2017 1) Urban Backpackers/Kafe Noir (Joburg CBD) Urban Backpackers is a youth hostel smack in the middle of the Joburg CBD, at 98 Anderson Street. The ground floor of Urban Backpackers is Kafe Noir, a funky coffeeshop. The rooftop is a bar and party venue. Chilling on the rooftop of Urban Backpackers after the Hi-Tec #WalkMyCity event. (Photo: Fiver Löcker) Urban Backpackers is owned by Papy Nakuw, a fashion designer who also owns the Urban Zulu clothing label. Papy is impossibly cool. His design workshop is just across the street. Papy at Urban Backpackers. I like the Urban Backpackers because it’s an unexpected place in an unexpected location. Kafe Noir and the rooftop are generally open to the public but […]

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Gauteng52 map

#Gauteng52: The Year in Review

Around this time last year, I got an idea. In 2017, I would publish one blog post per week about a place in Joburg where I’d never been before. I mentioned the idea to a friend, who suggested I expand the project to all of Gauteng Province rather than just Joburg. And just like that, #Gauteng52 was born. The nifty map I made of all my #Gauteng52 destinations. You can zoom in and click on the numbers to see the post I wrote about each place. Some of my friends wondered why I would create such a significant challenge for myself for no particular reason. Others said there was no way I could find 52 interesting places I’d never been to before. I knew that wouldn’t be a problem, but in hindsight I’m also not sure why I decided to do this. I’m so glad I did though, for a few reasons. First, #Gauteng52 gave me a sense of purpose during a year that turned out to be one of the toughest of my life. There were a few weeks when I was in total despair, and #Gauteng52 was the only thing pushing me to get out of bed and […]

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Heather with bagels

#Gauteng52, Week 52: Bagels and More From Feigel’s

Welcome to Week 52 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week — the final week! — I visit Feigel’s Kosher Delicatessen, with locations in Glenhazel and Lyndhurst. For the last couple of weeks I’d been wracking my brain, trying to think of somewhere special to go for the 52nd week of my #Gauteng52 challenge. I wanted it to be a place in Joburg with an interesting story and some kind of personal significance for me. In a post last week I mentioned the tasty bagel I had for breakfast at the Immigrant, and lamented that bagels are hard to find in Joburg. A reader named Colleen commented and tipped me off to Feigel’s Kosher Delicatessen. The old-school Feigel’s sign outside the shop in Glenhazel. I immediately knew Feigel’s would be my final #Gauteng52 post. Feigel’s sells bagels, of course, and the bagels are delicious. But there’s a lot more to the story. Here’s the short version: Feigel was a Lithuanian girl who moved to South Africa in the 1920s. Years later in 1968, Feigel and her two children, Patsy and Jos, rented a shop on […]

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Shoppers at Crazy Groceries

Shopping for “Best Before” Deals at Crazy Groceries

Several weeks ago I was ranting on Facebook about Black Friday. My friend Josef, also an American living in Joburg (in fact Josef and I grew up in neighboring towns outside Baltimore, Maryland), commented he doesn’t bother with Black Friday because he finds way better deals year-round at Crazy Groceries. Black Friday is a hot Facebook topic, and my rant elicited dozens of comments. But Josef’s caught my attention. “Crazy Groceries?” I asked. “What’s that?” I was in for a treat. Outside Crazy Groceries, in the blandest of bland Joburg shopping centers off Malibongwe Drive in Strijdom Park. Crazy Groceries is, of course, a grocery store. But it stands apart from other grocery stores in that: 1) everything sold there is non-perishable; and 2) most of the products are past their “best before” dates. Best before warnings at Crazy Groceries. As I understand it, “best before” dates are different from “sell by” dates. None of the products at Crazy Groceries are fresh or perishable, hence they can’t actually rot or make you sick just because the best before date has passed. (Incidentally, there is a lot of debate about sell by dates and best before dates and whether they mean […]

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Scala Barber

#Gauteng52, Week 51: Scala Barber, the Oldest Shop in Melville

Welcome to Week 51 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Scala Barber, which has been doling out men’s haircuts in Melville for nearly half a century. It’s the second-to-last week of #Gauteng52 (I can’t believe it), and as the year winds down I want to include one more spot in my own neighborhood. I’ve walked past Scala Barber countless times over the last seven years, and have been perpetually tempted to go in and chat to the owner. But I always felt intimidated. Barbershops are so…male. A few weeks ago, Marie-Lais agreed to go with me to Scala and introduce me to Fred the barber. He was much less intimidating than I thought. Scala Barber, on 4th Avenue near the corner of 7th Street. I love the scissor pattern in the security gate. Inside Scala Barber Scala stands out from the businesses around it because it is so old-school. It has those real twirly barbershop lights in the windows, although the lights are enclosed in weird plastic boxes. The plastic boxes and the iron security gate at the Scala entrance are […]

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BCUC at the Orbit

A December Staycation in Braamfontein

For the longest time I have been meaning to blog about the Orbit, a jazz club in Braamfontein, and Once in Joburg, a posh hostel — aka “poshtel” — across the street from the Orbit. I’d been holding off on doing so because I wanted to experience the two places together as a downtown Jozi staycation. I finally did that last week, spending the night at Once in Joburg and enjoying an evening at the Orbit watching my favorite Jozi band, BCUC. My staycation was organized by I Am Joburg, a new collective providing curated tourism experiences in Joburg. The lobby at Once in Joburg. My friend Michelle and I checked into Once in Joburg, which is a cross between a backpackers and a hip budget hotel. I’d visited Once a couple of times before but hadn’t stayed overnight until last week. One Night at Once in Joburg I love the vibe of this place — it’s always busy and the staff are welcoming and fun, offering a range of social activities and tours for guests. Once is right in the center of Braamfontein, within a block or two of half a dozen restaurants, several bars, a fabulous bookstore and, of […]

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Dumplings served at Chez Fong

A Theatrical Dinner Chez Fong

I recently cracked an invite to dine Chez Fong. Fong, otherwise known as Su-yen, chopping up a storm before the other guests arrive. Fong, aka Su-yen Thornhill, is part South African, part Chinese (via Hong Kong), part chef, part comedian, part yoga guru, and part Energizer Bunny. She runs a restaurant that’s not a restaurant (don’t you dare call it a pop-up), in a dining room attached to her sprawling Houghton home, where she whips up eight courses (maybe ten, if the mood strikes her) of pan-Asian taste bud excitement every Wednesday evening. Some dishes re-occur; others surface once and are never seen again. Spicy soy sauce in progress. Dinner Chez Fong is like a lucky packet of flavors, or a Forest Gump box of (savory) chocolates in which you never know whatchyer gonna get. It’s guaranteed to be delicious though. And you’re firmly guaranteed to laugh a lot. People laughing Chez Fong. Su-yen messaged me on a Tuesday, inviting me to attend her dinner the next night. There wasn’t a seat for me, she said, but I was welcome to come hang out in the kitchen and sample the food as it came out. I accepted without hesitation. People […]

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