Cullinan’s Greek treasure

Until a few Sundays ago the biggest find in Culllinan was the 3106 carat diamond discovered there in 1905. No doubt much has happened since but I have no idea what it is. On a sunny winter’s morning we made our way to the area north-east of Pretoria now known as Dinokeng, chasing a tale about brilliant Greek food. There is no limit to how far I will travel for a great meal. Add to that – on a winter’s day Pretoria and its surrounds are even more attractive, with weather that’s always a few degrees warmer.

As Greek as it gets (their photo)


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Joburg’s little Ethiopia Part II

Hanging out on Jeppe Street

The signs are plastered all over this part of the city. They have the look of the Roneo machine – hand-operated printing with its faded purple and blue inks that reminds me of geometry tests. Except these have no questions, just statements. “Penis enlargement”,  “Lost lover back in 3 days”.  Around us  Joburg’s Saturday morning traffic – human and vehicular – jostles with hawker stands selling cellphone chargers, fake branded soccer merchandise and plates of potatoes. A large church group, all dressed in pristine white robes with deep blue sashes gather on the corner for a meeting. They fit in. Most thing do here. I realised that when driving through Joubert Park taxi rank one Saturday morning, trapped in gridlock, watching a man wheel a shopping trolley past my window with a bull’s head in it, it’s eye seemingly fixed on me, it’s tongue hanging out the side of it’s mouth, looking more at home than me.

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Author Justin Cartwright at the Troyeville Hotel

Justin Cartwright, TimesLive

Justin Cartwright, TimesLive

To the Troyeville Hotel book club on a rainy and then crisp Autumn night. And set against the twinkling lights of Ponte and the Hillbrow Tower through the window darkly, Justin Cartwright was being interviewed by Murray Michell, the head of South Africa’s Financial Intelligence Centre. The “banker” and the author had been brought together for an event billed as “The banking crisis comes to Troyeville” in a move intended to cajole those who think that fiction may not be serious enough stuff to leave home in the northern suburbs for. To be truthful the crowd at Troyeville are more attuned to hearing about civil wars, death cults and bloodthirsty Liberian warlords, dark subjects that unsettle, non-fiction that makes claims to be truthful, Continue reading

Winnie Mandela and Pretoria’s other opera secret

Pretoria. Just 35 minutes away, and yet the capital might as well be on a different planet for the number of times I venture there. A few weekends ago it was for an audience with South Africa’s struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and some fine Italian food. Continue reading

Cappuccinos I have known and loved

Left one rainy city for another for an Easter break near that imposing mountain. Cape Town has toyed with us. One sunny day, one rainy day, one sunny day, one cold day, and so on. Saturday morning led us to Long Street in a city that really seems to work for itself. Long Street ties it all together with its appeal to the cosmo-hippie-boho-bergie-Euro set. The antiques arcade – a real find – and Clarke’s awesome bookstore with its incredible selection of local literature sit side by side with a bar carrying huge signs advertising R10 a shooter (visions are conjured, and they are nor pretty), surf shops, a German barber and my latest find, Yours Truly, home of the artistic cappuccino. Or at least home to Sakky, the guy behind the counter that ended my search for cappuccino art. Definitively.
For the past few months I have taken to photographing my daily cup. Continue reading

Dim sum, via the best bookshop in Joburg and a little piece of Italy

An innocent tweet about eating great dim sum in Joburg got me a little more attention than I was seeking. So it’s time to reveal all, well almost. Saturday morning the sky over the city was grey and foreboding and having recently returned from a weekend away in Parys I was still hungry for adventure.  Be warned my idea of adventure usually involves discovering good food and exploring Joburg’s inner city. Continue reading

Best kebab in Johannesburg, dinner on a Mayfair pavement

Friday night and unusually free of family commitments we headed for Mayfair. In some ways my grandmother’s Mayfair is unchanged – it’s still the home of many immigrants, and where once they were Jewish families from Eastern Europe now they are families from North Africa, the Middle East and Turkey. Friday evening in that part of town has its own brand of magic. In the dusky light people swell the streets, the stores are open for the night and a thriving street market takes over Fordsburg.

We were on a quest – to find Burhan’s Butchery (halal), a specialist Turkish butchery Continue reading

Nando’s not too chicken to take on Cell C

Watch the new Nando’s ad with comedian Kagiso Lediga doing his version of Trevor Noah and taking Cell C’s pompous ad campaign to a whole new level. Still irked by the con of “we listened to our customers” when Cell C chose to manufacture a customer instead. What it is with companies who really want customers but just can’t stand having to deal with them. Continue reading

Braamfontein’s 70 Juta Street and Pieter Hugo

Protea wallpaper

Protea wallpaper

#216. Saturday morning in brilliant sunshine we took a walk along the hip stretch of Juta Street in Braamfontein. Braamfontein’s re-imagining is more than talk and the colourful little complex of stores and offices on 70 Juta Street bears this out [It officially opened last weekend]. We started off at POST for their homemade lemonade and a tasty snack-sized prego roll. With its glass front POST is a perfect spot to sip something while observing street life (in this city of malls and walls that’s a luxury). Continue reading

World Cup 2010 in the Free State

#209 Follow the game – which we did to Bloemfontein on Friday to watch Honduras vs Switzerland. At this point we’re watching everyone – loving the mood, the spirit and fan fashion sense of World Cup 2010. And we are learning to love the team we are with. Wednesday was Germany vs Ghana at Soccer City (Go Ghana – of course one of my favourites; loved the men with pots on their head and the German guy wearing lederhosen also deserved a mention). Continue reading