August was a crazy month. As of September, I am on the road on and off until early December so work needed to be done, and people needed to be seen. Here’s some of the things I got up to:
I learned to bake biscotti from a true Italian artisan baker. Giovanni came to South Africa from Italy in the 60-ies, with little more than a suitcase. But he brought generations of experience in hospitality, baking, ice cream making and cooking. He has become something of a legend, having started the first wood-fired pizzeria in South Africa (Giovanni’s). If you are ever in Pretoria, you must try the most authentic Italian restaurant in the country: Ritrovo is run by Giovanni and his son Fortunato, together with an all-Italian chef and management team. And the biscotti? Delizioso! Best enjoyed with a glass of dry Marsala.
I finally managed to go on a Graffiti tour in Maboneng and Jeppestown. It was fascinating, and quite an eye-opener in terms of learning more about the graffiti culture and its impact on this particular area. It was also one of the best urban photography opportunities I’ve had in a long time. Check out Past Experiences to find out when the next tour is.
After the graffiti tour, I finally got to try out the new kid on the foodie block; Urbanology. It’s been hyped up quite a bit, but still managed to live up to expectations. It’s located at the Fox Street market precinct, which is also worth a visit both for the food and for the funky fashion.
We went to visit family in Harare. The country is, weirdly, still hobbling long quite alright, despite hyperinflation, crazy president, protests and pretty much no cash at all. But it looks a little like it did the other side of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War; very grey and drab with infrastructure slowly falling apart (think traffic lights dangling precariously and the words falling off road signs). But life goes on, and the colonial ways are still present. It is like a great, old mansion where the people have lost all their money but are still keeping up the routines; having afternoon tea served in chipped cups by servants in frayed waistcoats. The dollars too, are rather frayed…
I started a routine that I was very sad to let go of, and that I will pick up as soon as I am back: Saturday morning yoga followed by breakfast at Hazel Market. This market has gone from being 15 stalls on a dusty parking, to a thriving weekly feast. The food is yummy, and you can also get anything from hot, Indian curry spices to pink cupcakes and anything in-between. My favourite is the local lamb farmer, who sells The Best Lamb Fillet Ever!
The last weekend of the month, I was whisked away by my wonderful husband for a long weekend at a secret location. I intended to make my 40th last all year (at least), and so far it’s going well! The location turned out to be Hartford House; a beautiful stud farm and hotel in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands. They are known far and wide, as much for their hospitality as for their cuisine. They take local produce to a whole different level, with for instance “the chicken is from Sue who lives down the road; she lets them sleep on beds of lavender each night”. I am planning a separate blog for this, but to summarise it was a weekend of lots of champagne, delicious food, long walks, bubble baths and fast canters through the fields. It was perfect.
On our way back, we explored the Midlands Meander with its quaint little shops selling everything from goat’s cheese to ale (locally produced, of course) and a wealth of art and craft. We continued the theme of staying on a stylish farm with a stop at Brahman Hills. After a wonderful massage and a fine dinner in the wine cellar, we ended the evening in our private jacuzzi under the star studded African sky.
Now it’s September, and I am travelling. As I am writing this, I am sitting next to the Orange River having explored the Namib desert for one week and enroute to the spring flowers in Namaqualand. I have a small and totally great group of Swedes, and it almost feels ridiculous to call it work!