I realise that my life is pretty fabulous. We had a moment on Wednesday evening where we were driving in to the city, along the coast road with the setting sun hitting the mountains and turning them a warm shade of pink, comfy in the leather interior of Retha’s air conditioned Mercedes, off to a girl’s dinner with friends and realising that we are rather lucky. Or is it spoiled? Potato, potatoe. Is it acceptable to be spoiled if you realise you are spoiled?
It was a spontaneous evening, something I seldom seem to do these days. I subscribe to a ‘secret eats’ newsletter which holds events in ‘secret’ locations – you sign up to attend with no info on the chef or venue and on the evening you get the info. I have never actually attended one of these events as they are quite pricey for a couple but this newsletter posted a link.
I interrupt this train of thought to say, notice how the lady in the pic looks like she wants that chef naked on a cracker? Meowwwww. Lady number 2 seems to be inhaling his manly aroma. I bet he smells of vanilla and sweat.
Anywayyyy I didn’t read it properly and thought it was a competition to win a watch, so I clicked it and entered into an amusing chat with a guy called ‘Zak’. He teasingly and tentatively offered me entry for me and 4 friends to the event the following evening. I contacted Retha and she managed to round up 3 more lovely ladies.
The next morning we had confirmation that we scored an invite and we all made plans to meet up when they opened at 7. Retha collected me and then we swung by to pick up our lovely friend Alison. We arrived slightly before 7 and decided to sit and chat for a few minutes. A rather dodgy looking guy kept hovering around our car offering to ‘guard’ it for us. To be honest he looked more like the kind of guy we would need to be protected FROM!
But this is the way of the world in South Africa – if you have a scabby looking high viz vest you are deemed to be a trust-worthy guy who can guard our cars and then expect a tip at the end of it.
The venue is down a rather narrow one way street off of Buitengracht. If it wasn’t for our GPS we would still be lost as Church Street is one of those bitty streets broken up in blocks, if you don’t know where it is in that road it can be a nightmare to navigate.
This was proven when Retha’s friend Nola rang to say that Uber taxi had dropped her at New Church Street! She rang them back to tell them they dropped her miles from her requested destination, they came and got her again and dropped her a second time at the wrong location! Shocking service, especially for a woman travelling on her own in the city with the rather illustrious title of the 7th highest murder capital of the world.
After the 2nd attempt to get Nola there Retha just decided to rather go to meet her on foot. Retha was wearing heels which I would only sit quietly in, so this seemed an insane idea but off she trotted, the rather large menacing looking doorman offered to accompany her when she asked for directions, but when she tried to say it wasn’t necessary he sweetly insisted and jogged off with her to collect Nola. Just goes to show you can’t judge a thug by his covers.
We all got drinks and settled in for a chat and a catch up. It is funny how serendipity works, our frantically planned gathering bringing together women who had never met, but who needed to. One of our group has had some health issues and 2 of the women she had never met both put in front of her were offering support in areas she needed. You sometimes don’t know what you are looking for until you find it.
Wednesday nights at Spasie consist of a chilled vibe and street food, they had a visiting chef from The Chef’s Bench, a mobile catering truck. What we used to call a ‘Roach Coach’ in LA. But this is food truck at a different level than dodgy burritos full of mystery meat and week old frijoles.
I snapped a pic of the chef for the night, however I did not get his name and I didn’t get any response from my tweet to Chef’s Bench, sooooo hey ho. Here is a pic of a random chef who cooked our dinner.
Whomever he may be. 😀
Unfortunately I was well into the Sauvignon Blanc and did not take a pic of the menu, so I can only vaguely describe the food. We decided to just order one of each of the items on the menu to sample, there was a boerewors roll, a flatbread with chicken in harrisa sauce and a flatbread with spinach & feta. As I don’t eat boerewors I just tried the other 2, the flatbread with the chicken filling was so divine! The flatbread was lovely and light and the chicken had a tikka-esque taste and chicken tikka is one of my faves. The chicken dish was so good we ended up ordering 5 more portions so we could all have our own.
The mains were about R60 each and chips I think were R30. A bottle of wine was R150 and a glass was R40 as was a shot of whiskey.
The chips were nice and crispy outside and sprinkled with fresh parmesan cheese which had warmed and formed a crust on top. Really yummy chips indeed. (We ordered 3 portions of those to share, but as most of the women seemed to be banting, I probably had at least 2 portions own my own, oops).
The vibe was very chilled and casual, they don’t appear to tend to serve plates or cutlery with the street food, but as we were sharing we had to ask for them to sort that out for us. I was getting close to my Hangry stage as I had been saving myself for dinner and had a few wines in me but kept my annoyance under control until I got a plate and some food into me. The waiters were too cute to be mean to.
The room is simply decorated, just 2 large tables lit with tea lights and a table set up in the corner as a bar. There were large pieces of art on the wall, the walls were all white and the finishing was rough and rustic. There was a large animal head in the entrance so I had a stroke of his neck. As you do.
The staff was all young and male and trendy, there were only a few waiters to serve the whole room, all manning both the bars and the tables. When we arrived I asked who was the concierge Zak that I had been chatting to online, only to be told Zak is no longer with them! It seems Zak is just the joint email account, so who knows who I was talking smack to?! It could have been someone different each response. Odd.
We were both the oldest patrons there as well as the only women. It was a bit of a sausage fest and I don’t mean the boeries! Not that it is an issue, most women are happy to have the ratio of more men to women than vice versa, especially in Cape Town where they guess that the ratio of straight women to straight men is estimated to be 8:1. Our group were all married however and not interested in being chatted up, as you can see the men were at one end of the table and we were at the other. They weren’t any more interested in us than we were them so it was nice to not get hassled by random drunk eejits. Umm not that they were drunk or eejits lol.
I didn’t realise that they were all playing Cards of Humanity at the other table, next time I intend to join up on that group as I do love Cards of Humanity. I also want to attend a chefs night.
My only negative was that it was hot – it was a very warm evening and luckily we were all dressed in cool summer clothes but we still went through many jugs of water to cool us off. They should invest in some ceiling fans. I cannot imagine how hot the chef was, I just know that it is not only my lack of love of cooking that stops me wanting to do that for a living, I could never be trusted in a room full of steam and knives.
At the end of the evening we all posed for one last pic by the kitchen.
And we all had a chat with the guy who seemed to be the host. I mentioned my confusion over the watch saga and he whips out a ‘watch’ for me!
As you can see it is a stopwatch, not technically a pocket watch, but it was a cool gesture. Still not quite clear on why I got a watch or what I do with it but who am I to look a gift watch in the ummm face?
When we left it was late for a school night, I was tipsy and the lovely door man walked us all to our cars and kept us protected from any advances by the group of homeless people who had taken up residence on the doorstep of the house next to where we parked.
In moments like that it is hard to rationalise that we have spent the evening drinking wine and eating yummy food and are off to our lovely homes while that group of people are possibly hungry and most definitely cold. It really brings home the disparity between the haves and the have nots.
The government who has been in power since the end of Apartheid has done so little to raise the quality of life of the voting constituents. The unemployment rate is 25% in SA. Many people still have no running water or electricity and live in shacks made of tin and scraps of wood.
The result of this is that despondency and lack of motivation or goals then often leads to drug addiction. Drug addiction leads to crime. It is all a vicious downward spiral.
It is a hard line to walk between having care and sympathy and concern for people who have less than you do, knowing what balance and how much to offer and not being taken advantage of.
I’d rather buy the guy who sleeps by my office a meal than give a druggy cash.
Every day I am accosted by beggars asking for handouts of money and if you say no then they often go for you.
On Monday a guy actually grabbed me. I was walking through the foreshore from my office to where my car is parked. He ran up right at me, he was tweaking off his face. I just refused to engage with him. I won’t open my bag on the street and these guys often get very aggressive. He started shouting and then started crying. This was when he went in for a wee hug.
I whirled round worried he was trying to remove my laptop from my backpack. I just shouted ‘get away from me’ loudly in his face. Luckily the light changed and I strode off across the road and he stayed behind, it’s for this reason I have to carry pepper spray and a rape whistle.
So like most things in Africa we have the civilized evening, driving home in the light of the full moon, a great evening out, just slightly nipping at the heels of this comfort is the discomfort of the disparity of the various residents of this beautiful country I call home.