Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I love Coffee Blog

Superb blog for finding the best of Jhb's coffee shops: http://ilovecoffee.co.za/

The Patisserie, Illovo

The Patisserie is one of Joburg's best kept secrets (as are most of the places in The Post Office Centre!).

It is a little shop in an old but trendy shopping complex in Illovo. Don't be deterred by the less than glam surroundings. I once spotted Edith Venter getting her nails done in the salon opposite it, and the restaurants are filled with business lunch types and families and friends sitting down for a meal and catch-up together.

The pastries and cakes are elegant little works of art. The macaroons and red velvet chocolate cake are legendary, and although pricey are worth every penny. You only need one little, super-rich and chocolaty piece to satisfy your craving. Everything in the shop is a quality item. If you are throwing a high tea and need to impress, I strongly you recommend you come to the Patisserie!

Where: The Post Office Centre, 30 Rudd Road, Illovo, Joburg
Tel: 011 268 0044
Monday to Friday 07h30 to 17h00
Saturday 07h30 to 14h30
Sunday 08h00 to 13h00pm

Duke's Burgers, Greenside

If you like gourmet burgers, you are in luck! There is a little gem of a burger place in Greenside called Duke's Burgers. This is not your usual Steers burger. I had a double falafel burger with tsatsiki and humus called "the Cleopatra". The ingredients were fresh, the portion size good, and the actual burger was delicious! There are over 20 fancy types to choose from (and they were not too expensive). I went there for a friend's birthday dinner, and there was another huge birthday dinner at the table next to us. The vibe was relaxed, young and friendly. It looks like a hole in the wall but is fairly big and the decor is lovely (fairy lights, pretty wall paper).

Tel: 011 486 0824

Physical address: 14 Gleneagles Road, Greenside, Johannesburg
They do deliver as well, so get a delivery menu!

Trendy Joburg Restaurants

Super-stylish places to chill out.


Play spot the super car when driving past on a Saturday. During the rest of the week, it is a chill-out corporate oasis. Perfect for a business lunch, or for a quick catch up with the girls (and guys!).
Where: 18 Chaplin Road, Illovo (Corner of Chaplin and Oxford)
Food: Mediterranean style cooking, (great salmon), with fantastic meat (according to my friends) and salads. The food is delicious and surprisingly will not break the bank.
Tel: 011 880 9168/9

Hours of trading
lunch 11:30am – 3.00pm
dinner 06:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri – Sat:
11:30am -10:00pm
Closed Sunday
For the menu: http://www.bellinis.co.za/

Voodoo Lily Cafe`

I should have reviewed this place months ago while it was still a secret gem. Well, the secrets out! The cafe` was reviewed in this month's Glamour mag, and I do agree with the glowing review it received. The food is delicious and wholesome (sandwiches, burgers, bruchettas, cheeses, salads - made with fresh, organic ingredients). I love the quirky decor, young and fresh ambiance and general good vibes. You can sit inside, or get some fresh air and chill outside.
I saw young couples, families, groups of friends all chatting and having a super time. The prices are reasonable, so it is worth a little visit.
Where: 64 St Andrew Street, cnr of Wrenrose Ave, Birdhaven (opposite Planet Fitness, Wanderers gym)
Tel: 011 442 6965
Tuesday to Saturday: 7 am until 10pm
Monday and Sunday: 7am until 3pm
Free wifi


Wolves is a little cafe on the side of Corlett drive. It is funky, has free wifi and amazing red velvet cupcakes. The owner is in a band (Desmond and the Tutus), and is a really nice guy. The cafe often hosts free concerts and other parties. There are some parties where an entrance fee is charged, but it won't break the bank.
Where: 4 Corlett Drive, Illovo
email: hello<at>wolves<dot>co<dot>za
Tel: 011 447 2360 (Shop), 083 460 3015 (Shane), 083 467 2533 (Angie) 
Secure parking:
There is a parking lot on the corner of North and Oxford, it’s accessible from North Rd.

TopCar Gauteng Motorshow 2012

For your next motor fix!

When: 2 & 3rd June 2012
Where: Zwartkops Raceway (Near Erasmia, just before Pretoria West)
Entrance: R80


Friday, May 25, 2012

Brazil: Parting shots

Clear skies over the Rio Negro. At night, it is so clear you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye.

River Boats

A nearby community and some fishing boats

White cocoa pod used to make white chocolate.

Random Rio

Rio is a pretty cool city. We came in the off-season, so things were a little subdued but we still had a great time wandering its streets and soaking in the culture. Our hotel was right on the Copacabana (currently voted one of the top city beaches http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/life/best-city-beaches-209050) and we were in a really good spot to walk about. Copacabana is a really expensive neighbourhood, tiny apartments here costs millions of  real (one real is about 4 rand, very inflated if you ask me) and the whole of the beachfront strip is covered with hotels and apartment blocks.  Up the road from Copacabana is the Ipanema strip, which is the most expensive neighbourhood in Rio. The people here are the more affluent Brazilians and the beachfront area is covered with pretty buildings, nice stores and is super-clean.


We caught a game of beach soccer whilst chilling on the strip. Incidentally, the Copacabana was named after a Bolivian sacred site after a statue of the Virgin of Copacabana was built here, and there are plenty of Copacabana's all over the world. This, however, is surely the most famous.

The Brazilians here love their dogs as well, and we saw plenty of them picking up their dog's poo off the streets.  There was a real sense that the residents took pride in their city. There was no litter, beautiful, well maintained buildings and a general sense of peace and order. The city was colourful and organised, with trees decorated with paint and colourful street signs. Here is one out of interest. It is the Baden Powell Theatre, named after Roberto Baden Powell ( Brazilian guitarist). Apparently Roberto's dad was a scouting enthusiast and named his son after Robert Baden-Powell.

Samba is huge in Rio, and there are several samba schools and samba stadia for dancers to practice for the carnival.  We were told that schools have tests and give different kinds of shows. Some shows are small allow each school to perform for 30min, whilst some are parades that stretch for several kilometres.

We did catch a glimpse of the less affluent parts of Rio. The favelas, or slums, are parts of the city where millions of inhabitants live on top of each other in poverty. The are tours going into them, but after I had watched the movie "City of God" (brilliant, a must-see!) it put me off visiting them for fear of being shot by coked-out, gun toting, pre-pubescent gangsters. Here is a shot from our tour bus.

Santa Ursula University in Rio (taken from our speeding tour bus.)

Mayan-inspired church


Beautiful stained glass

War memorial to commemorate the 500 Brazilian soldiers who participated in world war two on the side of the Italians.

Beautiful church
Downtown Rio

Catfish in the Sunday market in Rio.

Star fruit and other fruit.

Samba: Rio de Janeiro

What is more Brazilian than Samba?  :) While we were not in season to catch the carnival, we did get to see a fantastic samba show (organised by the Brazilian tourism underground. The network that finds you...)

Samba was created by the African slaves that came to Brazil, and its African influences can be clear in some of the dances and costumes. We saw a fantastic dance by someone dressed as a West African witch doctor, and then there were dancers dressed in animal skins with elephant tusk headdresses. The fantastic plumes may be both an African and Brazilian influence, as with the pulsating drumbeats and rhythm of the music.

The first act was an exhibition of soccer ball skills. The lady in question kept the ball in the air and in play (bouncing it off her head and legs) for 45 minutes without dropping it. It was brilliant.!

The samba show itself was based on the history of Brazil: from the arrival of the first European settlers, the arrival of African slaves, the traditional African culture, to the evolution of the Brazilian samba style of dancing. We were also treated with a capoeira display and a ball skills display.  Capoeira is another Brazilian art form and was developed by the African slaves in the jungles to help them defend themselves. I had heard another story that I have been unable to verify: that capoeira was created by the African slaves as they were forbidden to dance and so they developed a martial art that was akin to dancing (but not). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capoeira

The ball display was a performed by a man with two little hard balls that were fastened and swung by two ropes. We saw this in Argentina as well, and these balls were used by the gauchos to kill small animals. The show here was limited to dancing with the balls and swinging them in impressive, swirling displays without knocking himself (or anyone else) out. It was good fun.

We were also treated to some fantastic Brazilian music using traditional instruments. It reminded me of cartoon music when South American characters were shown.  The best part of the evening, however, was the samba dancing. Here are pictures of the dancers and their impressive costumes!

Cool bags, as seen in Sandton City

Seen at a stall, opposite Woolworths on the second level.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugar loaf mountain is a must-see in Rio. It has spectacular views of the whole city and is a great place to orientate yourself. It was named Sugar Loaf by the Portuguese explorers who visited Rio and remarked that the mountain was the same shape as the containers they used to contain sugar (which were called sugar loaf/ves).  In fact, there are several sugar loaf mountains in Brazil, but the most famous and iconic of all these is the one in Rio.

We travelled up the mountain using two cable cars.  The cable cars have been running since the 50s and are currently in their third incarnation. Like the cable car ride up Table Mountain, they are both a thrilling good time.

The first cable car

The second cable car

Me, next to a mermaid statue

View of houses below the mountain. The best thing about the Sugar Loaf are the incredible views of Rio. Despite it being a gloomy day, we did see a large part of the city and the surrounding urban forest (which is, incidentally, the largest urban forest in the world.)

The city

The yacht club